Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Raising Feral Kittens

Do you remember those cute kittens I brought home to foster in the summer?  One was adopted out and I kept the two girls.  I love cats but it's sure been a wild ride with these two!

Michaela has lovely, silky fur. ~

Clara Jane is a champion purrer, full of fun and wants to do whatever I'm doing. ~

They are adorable and they are very, very wild!  Their mother was a true feral cat.  If you consider adopting the offspring of a feral mother, make sure you know the difference between feral and stray cats.  Stray cats have had significant contact with humans and, even if they are skittish and frightened, can be re tamed and become great house pets.  Feral cats and their offspring have lived without human contact and are not comfortable interacting with people. 

I already had Maeve, offspring of a city feral and knew it would be tough to get these girls behaving in a civilised manner.  ~

I hope you are paying close attention to these pics because there will be a test at the end and you'll have to be able to tell these black cats apart.  Just kidding!  I can't tell them apart most of the time and never know which name to yell when they are into something they shouldn't be.

When I took the girls in to be spayed, I was talking to the vet about how different city ferals are to barn ferals.  I never have had problems taking in barn kittens no matter how wild the mother was.  He joked that barn cats are so inbred they aren't all that bright and that may be why the city cats are more difficult.

All three city girls are certainly clever.  Maeve mimics whatever she sees me do. She can pop down the toaster, wipes her paw over the dishes in the dishwater and works very hard at turning on taps.  Thank heavens she hasn't quite mastered that one yet!  She made my life hell for the first year.  There was nothing she didn't get into and lose or break.

With the new girls, for every sweet moment like this, ~

There's the roughhousing moment that sends the Internet receiver crashing to the floor.  Yes, a Rogers hub can be dropped repeatedly and still work! ~

It seems Clara Jane and Michaela were born hungry and they can't seem to get enough to eat.  They'll steal from each other, the other cats and any human food they can possibly get into!  They'll take it off your plate if you don't keep your eye on them.  For the first few months I had to lock them in another room just to eat a meal in peace!

They've broken more glass and china than you could imagine.  That favourite jam jar I showed you in the spring is just a distant memory. ~

They didn't seem to think the buttons should be on my burlap lamp shade.  No problem!  Just throw yourselves at it until you have the whole thing in tatters girls. ~

Clara Jane is a devotee of Buddha, it appears, and keeps those Tibetan bells ringing non stop. ~

Any marks on wall paint must be removed, in their minds.  I have no idea why they were pulling the drywall off where that arrow is pointing. ~

In the bathroom I assume they were trying to unearth that drywall screw. ~

I don't want you to think that I haven't made any progress with them.  They've learned, NO, QUIT IT, YOU'RE GONNA GET IT and LEAVE IT.  They've also learned to run like hell when they see me coming and not go back at whatever it is until I leave the room again. sigh

All three tried, but it was Clara Jane that managed to claw a big enough hole in that screen to squeeze out and chase the chickens around the yard. I'm sure she holds that as 'the most fun ever' in her mind! ~

Cat toys are a big help.  Nothing beats bringing a 12' ladder in the house for good times! ~

While I'm painting the family room white, they are wearing quite a bit of paint.  It's on their tails, paws and noses. They don't mind as long as they get to join in the fun.

I will try very hard to forgive them for knocking a solid lead, 100 yr. old cow statue, that I paid an absolute fortune for because it had it's original paint, into the can of white paint. ~

I'll forgive them because they trust me and curl up on my lap to sleep.  I'll forgive them because they come tearing to the door to greet me when I come home. I'll forgive them because the vet cautioned me that Michaela isn't very healthy and maybe I shouldn't put money into spaying her.  He knows all my pets are rescues and I have to keep veterinary costs down as much as possible, or I can't take them in. I couldn't adopt her out when I knew her adult teeth had never come in at the back and she may have feline herpes. So we've worked away at it and she gets healthier every day.

If you haven't had a lot of experience with cats, don't have at least a couple of hours a day to work with them or are terribly attached to your crockery and walls, think twice before you take in a feral kitten, especially if it wasn't captured in the first 6 - 12 weeks of life.  All of mine were about twelve weeks old when I got them and that is pushing it, in my opinion.  A better option for you may be an SPCA kitten from a socialised mother.  There are endless numbers of those waiting for a loving home.

It's worth all of this trouble to me when I think of the life they would have had on the streets and see moments like this. ~

If only Clara Jane would learn to sit like a lady! ~

I'll keep working on that one!