Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kitten Project:Day 10

It's amazing how quickly the kitten seems to be growing. If it were a baby, I think we would be about 18 months based on the kitten's skill level. He's beginning to want to explore on his own, although he's still very timid. If he catches even the slightest movement from the corner of his eyes, he flattens and meows pitifully. But if I try to pick him up to comfort him, he scratches and paws at me until I let him down again. I tried dangling yarn for him to play with, but that was too frightening. He prefers to chase my fingers, happily pouncing on my hand to capture it and then using my finger as a teething toy. At the moment I don't mind, but I can see that this particular game will have to be stopped as soon as his teeth finish coming in and he's able to break the skin.

We accidentally started litter box training today. Kitten was playing in the shredded papers and neither of us was expecting nature's call. Kitten was so surprised that he tried to run away, trailing poop behind. If it hadn't been so funny, I would have been annoyed at having to stop work to clean up the mess he made of the plastic tub he stays in.

Although I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep him in the plastic tub. At home I've been letting him run "free" in a large dog crate. That keeps him safe (now that he's too big to even attempt to fit between the bars) and yet gives him a sense of freedom to roam. I think I had pictures yesterday, with the hammock that he's enjoying as a bed. The crate is way too big for me to bring back and forth to work. I don't even attempt to move it from room to room at home. So at work he's been kept in the plastic tub. Today I looked up from my computer just in time to grab him as he was going over the top edge. He had managed to climb the straight, slippery, plastic sides and was perched to fall the 13" down to the floor.

Letting him loose to run around my office is not option. I did try that today, once my heartbeat slowed enough for me to let the kitten loose from my panicked grip. He's still so tiny that I worry about stepping on him, or rolling him over with my desk chair. He'll go off exploring, and gets "lost" in a corner behind a box or under my desk. It's not easy for me to get down and crawl to rescue him. It's even more difficult to maintain my dignity trying to stand back up again holding the kitten, while my boss is watching and laughing.

Kitten might be getting more independent, but he's also showing more affection to me as his "momma." One of my volunteers wanted to hold him, so of course I let her. And he snuggled up to her and enjoyed the attention. Until I came near. Then he struggled and pawed until I grabbed him. As soon as I had him, he started to purr. Okay, it might have been because I had his bottle. But I like the affection explanation much better!

A quick video of Kitten playing

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Project Kitten: Day 9

It's hard to believe that I've had the kitten for a week now. It doesn't seem possible that he's already 3+ weeks old. And yet, it seems like so much longer than a week!

Today at work, he tried to escape from his plastic tub. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. The cage at home is much larger (too large to bring back and forth) and has a cover. I had thought that I could just keep the plastic tub at work, but that's not going to be practical if he can get out of it. But I can't leave him at home. So now I have to try to  try to find another cage that I can borrow for a couple of weeks. Being a foster kitten-mom is complicated!

But so very much worth it!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Project Kitten: Day 8

I moved the kitten into the cage full time now. Before this I would put him in the big plastic tub, and then put that in the cage, when I had to leave the room. I was afraid that he would hurt himself trying to slip through the bars. But he's big enough now that it doesn't seem to be a problem. He's not happy being left alone, but I just can't carry him around with me everywhere I go.

And it really isn't bad, being in the cage. There's plenty of room for a kitten to do a little exploring. He's learned to climb up into the hammock, although he still needs help getting down. The litter box is a great play toy. He's figured out how to completely empty it and loves to play with the paper shreds. (I was told that shredded paper is much safer for a young kitten. The absorbent clay litter can actually make a kitten very ill.)

We did have an adventure today. I've been cleaning kitten off with Cat Wipes. (They actually make Wipes specifically for cats!) But the wipes don't do as good a job as a mama cat's rough tongue would. ?And drooled kitten formula, much like baby formula, tends to get very sticky and smelly. And like a typical little boy, the kitten manages to drool and dribble his formula everywhere! So I tried a damp washcloth but impulsively decided to cut out the middleman and put the kitten directly under the water. Don't worry, I only washed his back and kept his head clear of any water spray. Kitten protested at first, but then seemed to settle down and enjoy the water. And he feels so much cleaner now.

Kitten has started to purr. It was actually funny the first time. He was so surprised by the sound! But now he starts to purr as soon as I pick him up to cuddle.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Project Kitten: Day 7 - I got to spin today!

Oh joy of joys! I managed to find an hour to myself in order to spin. My goal for the year of spinning 15 minutes every day was suspended when kitten came to live with me. Heck, my goal of taking a shower, doing my hair and putting on makeup before going to work had to be suspended. It's only been a week, but seems so much longer.

All I can say is that it's a good thing this kitten is so darn cute. (Hey, that's the same thing I used to say about my children when they were toddlers...)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Project Kitten: Day 6

Kitten has been with me less than a week, but he's already grown so much. I didn't think to weigh him when he first came home with me, but as of today he's 11 7/8 ounces.

Developmentally he's improved as well. From his reactions to things around us, I can tell he's seeing better than he did in the beginning of the week. His focus is still a little off--he still batts the air when he tries to pet my face. He's walking stronger and even starting to try to climb. 

Missy Gray still will not have anything to do with him, however. In fact, she's progressed (regressed?) from simply ignoring the kitten's existence to actively hissing when she sees the kitten. So now I have to carefully balance my time between the kitten and my cat in order to give both equal affection. Being a foster kitten-mom just got even more complicated!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Project Kitten: Day 5

The kitten has found a home!

Here's the rest of the story -- I just couldn't bear to go home after work. I needed a little social time. So I talked my friend Faith into meeting me at our favorite local coffee shop where we could sit outside to knit and chat a bit. Well, it was awfully hot so I asked the barristas if I could sneak the box with the kitten inside. I know it's against the rules, but the kitten was asleep and I promised I would leave him in the box under my table where no one would ever have to know.

Yeah, that didn't last long. It turns out that a kitten, even one hidden in a box under the table, is an attention magnet. Everyone was coming over to ask if I really had a tiny bottle-fed kitten (I had been seen outside with the bottle), and could they please take a peek. People offered advice on raising kittens and cats and on neutering feral ones; told stories of their own cats; and just plain cooed and awed over the sleepy kitten.

One of the barristas kept coming back for "just one more peek." When she overheard me telling another customer that I would be looking for a home for the kitten as soon as he was old enough, she asked if she could have him. So kitten will be going to his new home with Mama Desiree as soon as he's weaned. He's a very lucky kitty!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kitten Project: Day 4 - Things I've learned


Everyone loves baby kittens. Even people who initially say that they hate cats will "ooh" and "aah" and want to hold him once they take a look at the utter cuteness of the baby kitten. 

A vast majority of the people will want to pick up, cuddle, and feed the baby kitten. The exceptions are those people who truly hate cats. They'll coo over this kitten, but draw the line at getting any closer. Note that people who hate cats because they're allergic are usually willing to risk an attack because they're so overcome by the cuteness. About two-thirds of the people who want to hold and feed the kitten indicate that they would be willing to take the kitten home with them if I get tired of caring for him.

After one session of trying to bottle feed this tiny kitten, it becomes obvious that the adorable bundle of fur is really a claw-filled, shrill meowing monster. He does not like the bottle, and will not willingly settle for such an inferior substitute for his own momma. Don't let the picture fool you. Feeding the kitten is exhausting, frustrating work. As much as I hate to admit it, being a liberal-minded family-centered child-loving woman, there are times I have full sympathy for the mother who abandoned this stubborn scratching kitty.

The good thing is that the kitten is still going to sleep after almost every meal. Which means I get almost two hours to work. If I'm lucky. If I'm rushing on a deadline, he's up and wanting to play!

At least I did get a little bit of knitting done this afternoon. It's the first I've picked up my needles since Monday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Kitten Project: Day 3

A few days ago I took on a new project. I'm fostering an abandoned kitten.

One of the feral cats in my neighborhood was pregnant, a real pretty Siamese mix, and we've been watching her to see where she was going to have her babies. Two weeks ago, May 6th, I came home to suspicious noises under my trailer. I'm still convinced that that was the big day.

There were cat noises, and soft mews for a few days, and then silence. By the end of that week, my neighbor reported the kittens were on her porch--or as she put it, she won the kitten lottery! My guess is that the mother cat moved the kittens because of the strange animal that visits my yard at night. I'm not sure what it is -- in the past I've seen racoons but this is more the size of a dog with the look of a cat, so perhaps either the bobcat or cougar that have been reported in the area. (I only see it's shadowy figure in the dark, because it runs away before I can get the back lights plugged in, which is why I'm not sure.)

Anyway, the kittens stayed on the neighbors porch for about a week, then momma cat moved them under the porch. Moved two of them, that is, leaving kitten #3 alone on the porch. We watched, and listened to kitten #3 cry, for two days before we gave up on momma rescuing it. In the heat, we were afraid we had left it almost too late. Once rescued, and a test to see if the mother cat would take it back, we (my neighbor and I) became foster parents.

I have custody because even though I work, it's still easier for me to take in the baby kitten. My neighbor has two small children of her own, four cats (I only have one), a husband who is allergic to cats (which is why he's always trying to give the four cats to me along with the cup of milk I've come over to borrow), and a doctorate study to finish submitting and final exams to grade -- so I won custody of the kitten. I tried to talk her into giving me the children and then she could keep the kitten, but that just didn't work out.

The first day was overwhelming. I packed up the kitten in a box and kept it at work with me. We had a little difficulty getting the kitten to drink his kitten formula from a bottle, but eventually hunger and ingenuity won out. The kitten managed to eat, and then sleep for long enough periods that I could get my work done with minimal interruptions. If there were night feedings, I missed them. (I should feel guilty about that, but the kitten survived and my cat didn't take action against the kitten or me so since it worked out I feel no real guilt.)

The second day was fun. The kitten and I figured out the bottle situation, so life was suddenly good again. Our schedule was eat, cuddle on demand, and sleep when I had work to do. I had to skip Knit Night because I didn't think a kitten (even a tiny adorable one in a box) would be welcome at Starbucks, and at home my cat was very demanding of her share of cuddle time, so I didn't manage to do any knitting or spinning for the second day in a row. But the kitten was fun, my cat was even more adorable than usual, so it was a great day.

Then there is today. Yeah. The honeymoon is over. I heard the kitten during the night and there would have been guilt if I ignored it. As a result, I overslept. And of course today is a communion morning, which means I needed to be in much earlier than normal. The only way I could manage was to skip my shower, ignore my makeup (or rather, lack thereof), and go to work looking like the frazzled new mom that I apparently am. 

The kitten must be getting enough to eat, because he's starting to be more active. There was much less time spent napping, and a lot more spent meowing in a loud, high-pitched voice that can literally be heard from one end of the church to the other. I know because first I tried hiding his box (with him in it) behind the altar and then I tried putting it way out in the fellowship hall in order to have a few minutes of quiet time to work. My boss was not happy. (He did refrain from complaining once I mentioned that I could call and ask his children to "kitten-sit.")

The only thing that seems to help the kitten settle down, other than a warm bottle, is for me to sing "Senor Don Gato." It was the only song about a cat that I knew all the words. I feel somewhat ridiculous singing lullabies to a kitten, but my theory is that it translates to purring in the kitten's hearing. Ever since I started singing, the kitten has begun to purr himself.

Once he's fed and quiet and purring, it's hard not to love this adorable face!