It began in the fall of '17 when this gorgeous tortoiseshell showed up out of nowhere. I saw her through the window and watched as she picked her way through the sagebrush and cactus and headed out of the yard toward the two-lane and the desert beyond. She was beautiful, a classic tortoiseshell, and didn't look mangy and undernourished like most of the stray cats you see around town. And there aren't that many; it's a hard life, being an outdoor cat in the desert. This pretty little cat didn't look like the typical local.
I meowed at her through the glass. She heard it, stopped and turned, saw me in the window, and meowed back! I couldn't hear her but I saw her mouth as she did it. Then she turned back and kept walking toward the road. After a few steps she stopped again, turned and looked, and meowed again, then turned back and kept walking. She repeated that scene a third time then disappeared down the hill out of view.
At the end of December I saw her again, in the front yard this time, sitting way off by the far fence. I called her through the screen door and she came right up on the porch with very little encouragement at all. I got the feeling she wanted to be friends. Our two cats were there with me throughout this whole encounter, watching through the screen door, and they didn't like it much but I promised them solemnly that the interloper was not coming into the house, then or ever, so they got over it.
We saw her a few times in late February and early March, and she was always really friendly.. running over when she saw us, meowing and rubbing against our legs, desperately wanting pets and purring loudly when she got them, or even when she didn't get them. It was as if she was thrilled to see us. She seemed completely accustomed to being around people, accustomed to being loved and well-treated, and I was curious to know what her story was.
I had the strong impression she was homeless and wanted us to take her in. She wasn't just coming by for a friendly visit. I kept trying to think it through: if she belonged to someone in town, why were they letting her roam around outdoors being so much coyote bait? And if she already had a good home, why was she lobbying so hard for a new one? Otoh, if she had a home but it wasn't a good home, why wouldn't she be at least a little bit wary of people? It didn't add up.. this kitty had clearly never been mistreated by humans and expected them to be friendly and kind.
Another explanation might be something that happens probably all too often. A major state highway runs through our town, and while most of the traffic we get is just passing through it's common for people to stop here and gas up, or hit the restroom, or grab a snack. People's pets sometimes jump out of the vehicle and run off to go exploring or whatever, and the people can't find them, or may not even notice they're missing. Eventually, as horrible as it is, the people have to leave and go on without their pet. I wondered if Pretty Cat - as I thought of her because she was - might have been in a situation like that and gotten left behind by her family. If that's the case, I know they must have been heartbroken to have lost this sweet, friendly kitty.
Ahh, so many questions.. if only cats could speak English.
We would happily have adopted her but we have two cats, which in the opinion of both of them is already one too many, so there's no way we can add another one to the mix. But in the middle of March I saw her coming from under the side porch, where she was obviously hanging out, and decided to feed her. What the hey.. I was getting attached to her in some distant way, and I didn't like to think of her having to hunt and scrounge for food. That's a hard, dangerous life and not the kind of life she was raised to have. I would put a little dry food out on the porch every day and hope she'd be the one who got it and not chipmunks, et al. She obviously wanted to live here so much, and since our cats wouldn't tolerate her inside, she could be our outdoor cat.
A couple days later I was petting her and telling her she was a pretty cat and decided that would be her name - Pretty Cat. As I said it, I thought of Tweety Bird calling Sylvester a Puddy Tat. In fact, Puddy Tat sounds more like 'pretty cat' than 'pussy cat', which was what I always thought Tweety was saying. Anyhow, Pretty Cat became Puddy Tat on the spot. Puddy Tat the Outdoor Cat.
At the end of March I picked her up to hug and pet her, and when I did that I could feel her belly, and omg, she had nursing tits. She was a mama! Oh no!!
Hmm, maybe that explained why she ate twice as much as our two cats combined, but in any case, Houston, we had a problem. Kittens! Where were they? And what on earth would they do to survive once she stopped feeding them? And I needed to have her spayed, for sure, so she wouldn't repeat the process, but I couldn't just whisk her away now.. she had responsibilities....
Two days later I learned that Puddy was living under the house. I went to a place where I'd seen her crawl under and called her, and she came out. So the question was.. were her kittens under there too? Presumably.
In early April I saw the kittens. Apparently they were living under the house and looked to be several weeks old, probably old enough to be weaned. They - at least 2, maybe 3 - were with her at the bottom of the porch steps. When I peeked out the door window all I could see were tiny tails waving around and part of Puddy's belly as she lay on her back for nursing. When I opened the door, though, the kittens scattered. One ran under the porch, so I was able to get a pic, and the other two headed for the hole at the corner of the house that leads underneath and serves as their front door. After getting a pic of the one under the porch I went back into the house so Puddy could corral and comfort her stray, which she did in short order, and within minutes all three kittens were back on the porch getting their first taste of Kitten Chow.
In the late afternoon the kittens came out again. There were 3 of them: two black and one looking like a long-haired Siamese.. beige with brown ears, nose, feet, and tail, and bright blue eyes. Hmm, there's an enormous black cat that's been spotted around town lately.. I wondered if he was Papa. If so, two of his offspring looked just like him. The third, a miracle of throwback genetics, looked like some long forgotten but drop-dead gorgeous ancestor. A truly fine looking family of cats if ever I saw one. But NOW what?
The next day I worked on the whole porch area to make it easy and fun for kittens. We had an old, ratty kitty gym that had been sitting right around the corner, destined for the dump, so that got recommissioned. I made their hole a little bigger. Ultimately, though, I wanted a way to corral them in that area and stop them from going under the house where we couldn't get at them. They absolutely had to have vet attention.. spaying, neutering, shots, getting rid of any vermin they might be infested with after living under the house, etc. Even if they were destined to become outdoor cats, at least they would start out healthy and wouldn't make more cats. We had a spare room in the house where they could all live temporarily before going to the vet and even afterward, if necessary. So the big project - about which we felt a sense of urgency, btw, since time marched on and the kittens seemed to double in size every two or three days - would be catching them. Herding kittens.
Meantime, though, they had a place to hang out that wasn't all dirt and darkness, a place that had Mom, food, water, and sunshine.. a relatively quiet, stress-free world in which to play and learn to trust us humans. So that we could betray that trust later by grabbing them, putting them in a cage, trucking them more than a hundred miles to a smelly vet's office where they'd be poked, prodded, and worse...
Their peaceful little universe got rattled that very afternoon, though. They were all up on the porch when all of a sudden a UPS van came lumbering up the driveway to make a delivery and stopped about 6 feet from their hole. They freaked. The two black kittens headed for the hole and made it, but Puffy the Siamese Sheep Cat bolted in the opposite direction, toward the back of the house. Puddy was on him in a flash and had him by the scruff of the neck but then kept going, heading around the corner out of sight.
Nobody saw what happened, but by the time I got back there Puddy was under the deck - she obviously knew about the hole made by bunnies in an earlier era - and poor little Puffy was slinking along the side of the deck, seeing his mama under there, hearing her speak to him, and touching paws with her through the space between slats, but never being able to figure out how to get to her. The more he crawled along, the further away from her he got. Finally he came to a corner and just stopped there in a tiny huddled frightened ball.
I made the decision then to pick him up and at least take him back to his hole. I picked him up by the scruff, and he just went limp. When I got to the side porch where his hole is, I sat on the steps first and held him in my lap and petted him. He didn't seem to mind at all and wasn't struggling or wanting to escape. Puddy saw the rescue and came right out and went along with me as I carried her kitten back to his neighborhood and sat with him in my lap. She purred loudly and rubbed against us both and spoke to her kitten in that 'mom's voice' she has that's a cross between a purr and a meow, and he calmed right down. After a bit I took him over to his hole, and in he scurried, probably never so glad in his life to see dirt and darkness.
After their close encounter with UPS the kittens had lost some of their innocence. Anything and everything frightened them, and they headed for the hole at the drop of a feather.. I could watch them from my door window and checked on them dozens of times a day. It was my new Thing that I did. I'd spend the time between checking on them obsessing about them, worrying about them, trying to figure out a strategy for catching them. Time was working against me because every day that went by with the kittens still living 'in the wild' would make it that much harder for them to get accustomed to people once they did get captured.
Omg, what if they never got captured! No no no, I couldn't think that.
In early April a friend recommended an animal shelter, which was wonderful. I had been online looking at shelters down in the city, and there were plenty, but their websites' main goal wasn't to get new animals; it was to get the ones they already had adopted, so they weren't much help. I realized I'd become attached to 'our' cats and didn't want to just dump them at the first animal shelter that said they'd take them. I wanted to know what happened to them after that. So it was great to get a recommendation from someone about a place, and two days later we went there to check it out.
Oy. The shelter was a rambling, run-down place... [unpleasant shelter story deleted]. So that animal shelter was a bust.
That night I woke up at 3am and couldn't go back to sleep.. thinking about the cats.. worrying, worrying, worrying. After about an hour of that I reached a decision: I'd bring them into the house and teach the kittens how to be civilized.. how to use a litter box and get used to being around people. Then I'd take them to a good vet to be spayed, neutered, and cleaned up, and then I'd figure out how to get them all adopted, including Puddy. Puddy's a house cat, and it would be wrong to keep her here as an outdoor cat, and besides, she's young and we're old, and when we go away from here for good, what would become of her then? No, she has to get adopted out now to a good home.
First I had to think ahead and know before I started exactly what I'd do with the kittens once I caught them. The spare room would be fine, and we could keep the door closed so that our two cats wouldn't totally lose their minds. That meant turning the spare room into a cat room, which took hours because gazillions of hardback books and a bunch of other stuff had to be moved from the room or put out of reach. I left the futon in there as a couch but covered it with an old blanket. I fixed up a place for food and water and a place for a litter box. I was hoping that what I'd always heard about cats would be true - that they just naturally preferred to use a litter box and wouldn't have to be trained to it. I felt badly for having broken my promise to our two cats about the interloper being allowed in the house, but the kittens had changed everything, and I counted on our cats to understand and forgive.
Second part of the plan was to build barriers around their little world so they couldn't do what Puffy had done and bolt in a very wrong direction if something startled them. And I didn't want them running under the porch, either, because then I'd still have to catch them. So I devised this makeshift wall out of various stuff around the house: an unfinished door that had been used as a desk top; [A door with a 2-drawer file cabinet on either end to hold it made an excellent office setup back when people needed file cabinets and desks.] Unused shelving from DIY cabinets; 2x4s, 1x10s, and various other pieces of wood lying around. Out here you never throw anything away if you think you, or anyone else, might possibly use it someday. So I enclosed and secured the space that included the area in front of their hole, the porch steps, and most of the porch, including the back door and its window.. my observation blind.
Okay, so by that afternoon I'd made the spare room cat-safe and cat-friendly and had put Puddy in there. She seemed curious and a bit confused but not freaked out. She was concerned about her babies, though, I could just tell, and didn't like being separated from them. After a while I looked out and Puffy was up on the porch eating, and one of the Blackies was playing on the steps. I snuck around from the front and stood around the corner by their hole. When they saw me I let Blackie run into the hole but blocked it so Puffy couldn't get in. Then I picked up Puffy and he went ballistic, hissing, spitting, clawing, scratching and shrieking like I'd never heard a cat shriek before. Puddy, locked in the cat room, must have been beside herself hearing it and not being able to go to the rescue. I got kinda scratched up but managed to hold onto Puffy and got him into a cat carrier and into the spare room with Puddy. That calmed him down considerably, but he was still NOT a happy kitten, as you can probably tell from the photo.
After an hour or so I let Puddy go back outside to check on her other babies, which she had really been wanting to do, and she soon disappeared, presumably under the house with the two Blackies.
The next morning Ryan and I hatched a plan to catch the other two kittens, but it didn't work, so we abandoned it, and he went back to his office. Then right after he left I caught one! I got him using the same method I'd used to catch Puffy and almost caught the third one, but I wasn't quick enough blocking the hole and the little devil got under the house - that little cat was lightning fast - and stayed under there for the rest of the day.
Puddy had been around for all of this but then had left after the last failed attempt. In fact, it had been the sight (and possibly sound) of her that had made the kittens come out of the hole in the first place, so she'd been a necessary part of the trap so far. But I thought if that last kitten got hungry enough, he'd come out on his own just for some grub.
I put little Blackie in the cat room with Puffy, who was nowhere in sight. He immediately ran into a small space where two bookcases come together at a corner. That was fine.. he couldn't get behind the bookcases, so I just left him there.
A few minutes later I checked on him, and he had moved across the room to another corner under the sewing machine. He had jammed himself against the wall as if he'd been trying to break it down or get behind it, standing on his hind legs looking for all the world like a teeny, tiny black bear, spitting at me repeatedly and furiously.. he was just crazy scared. I talked to him softly and purred at him, and he started to calm down and quit spitting. Then I petted him and rubbed his little head behind his ears, and I could tell he didn't mind so much, but he was conflicted about it. On the one hand he hated me and wanted me gone, and otoh he liked the pets. Eventually, I picked him up by the scruff and put him in my lap and petted him. He didn't struggle or try to run.. just accepted it. After 2-3 minutes I gently put him back in his corner under the sewing machine, purring softly at him the whole time, and left the room.
After about an hour I checked on them.. Blackie and Puffy had found each other and the two of them were curled up together under the futon looking absolutely adorable. I left them alone to enjoy being close to each other again.
Meanwhile, on the outside, I didn't see Puddy or the 3rd kitten for the rest of the day.
The following day I was in the city doing a few errands and got a call from Ry that he'd found cat traps online, the humane kind where you put food in a wire cage and when kitty goes in to get it the door closes and you've caught your cat. Simple, sweet, harmless. They had them at Home Depot, said the internet, so there I went. Walked in and asked where I might find a cat trap. Omg, you would have thought I'd asked where I could find the sawed-off shotguns. The lady looked kinda of shocked and got kind of huffy and said they did NOT sell traps, and furthermore she had no idea who did. Well alrighty then.
I tried a different Home Depot, and dealt with one person who had that same weird attitude [Just as an aside, wtf is the attitude all about, I wonder?] and two others who were nice, one of whom was actually helpful. He suggested I try a tack and feed store. Brilliant! Indeed, I scored big at the tack and feed, which not only had the traps they had two sizes to choose from and a super nice salesman who showed me how to set it up. I felt an immense sense of relief driving home. My problem had been solved. That little kitten would walk right into that trap and next thing he knew he'd be in the cat room with his family.
The next day after lunch I looked out and saw Kitten #3 hanging around outside of his hole. Good; I hadn't seen him in quite a while, and the sighting confirmed that he was alive and well. And confirmed that he would come out of the hole on his own without Puddy being there.
I deployed the trap and waited.. but no joy.
The kitten came out of the hole, sniffed the trap and walked around a bit, then went back into the hole.. and repeated that over and over. The trap was about a foot away from the hole, and I baited it with freshly opened canned cat food, but he never seemed interested or even curious. Wha? So I replaced the bait with Kitten Chow, which I knew he liked because I'd seen him eating it. Still no action at the trap. ::sigh:: And the poor little thing seemed to be frightened of every sound out there.. a quiet car would drive by slowly on the street hundreds of feet away, and little #3 would hear it and scurry into his hole.
I kept checking on the trap, which I could easily see through the door window. Way later, after supper, when it was getting dark, I looked out and the trap door was shut, but alas.. no occupant. So I brought the trap inside and put Puddy outside. Poor little #3 was probably never so happy to see his mama.
But I wasn't lighthearted anymore. I was much less confident that the kitten would just walk into the trap. In fact, the more I'd looked at the trap, and the more I'd thought about it, the less confident I'd become. The trap, while plenty big enough for the kitten to walk into, wasn't long enough so that he'd be completely inside the cage before the door dropped shut. So it seemed conceivable to me that #3 could have gone into the trap but, being only half in and half out when the door fell, had backed out quickly enough to avoid getting caught. I should've bought the larger size trap.
So, Puddy and kitten #3 again spent the night under the house with Blackie and Puffy in the cat room. And again I didn't sleep well for worrying about the 3rd kitten. What if he couldn't be caught and went feral? I had nightmarish visions of things getting so out of hand that I'd be crawling around under the house myself in the darkness, trying to dodge cobwebs and creepy crawlies, looking for a tiny black kitten that blended in perfectly with his surroundings and would be way too fast, in any case, to let itself get caught. Ahhh.. tossing.. turning.. worrying.
I finally came up with a new plan. The kitten was smart and knew I was after him and he was so skittish now that I couldn't sneak up on him anymore. I would put his food bowl up on the porch behind the railing where he wouldn't have a line of sight to his hole. I'd let him go up on the porch for a few days without trying to catch him so as to ::cough:: gain his trust. And then one day while he was up there eating, not suspecting anything, I'd sneak around the corner by his hole and drop a rock in front of it. Then when he spotted me and raced over to his hole, not realizing it was blocked, BOOM! Got him! That was my plan.
Just at this time, for some unknown reason, I was moved to post the story of Puddy and her babies on facebook, and wow, did that pay off! A local FB friend said she had cat traps, any size I needed, and that her husband was coming into town in a couple of days and would bring them and set them up and everything. Fantastic! It was a huge relief because I still felt a big enough trap would work. It gave me real hope, at least, for the first time in a while.
The weather was foul the next day - windy, cold, and rainy, and kitten #3 didn't come out all day, at least not that I saw, so I supposed that meant he didn't eat. Puddy was waiting at the door in the morning, so I brought her in and put her with her other two babies for the day. I went in several times and hung out with them.. played bead-on-a-string with them all. The kittens were still extremely wary of me, but they came closer and closer each time I hung out with them. One of these days they'd be sitting in my lap getting pets. They always watched Puddy closely when I was around and saw her being really friendly to me and liking the pets, so I figured the kittens were learning to be the same way even if they didn't act like it yet.
After supper I put Puddy outside so she could spend the night with with #3. And according to my new plan, I'd put the food up on the porch so that he'd get used to going up there for it. As soon as Puddy got out she went straight to the kittens' hole and sat outside it making her 'mom' sounds. Within seconds #3 was out of his hole and running to her; he'd obviously been waiting there for her again.
I was watching this from my observation blind, the door window, and suddenly I had an idea. I opened the door about a foot or so but still stood behind it where I couldn't been seen. Puddy saw the open door and started to come in and #3 started following her! Omg, I thought, what if, after all the sturm und drang and stress and carrying on, what if that kitten just walked into the house on his own! Might such a thing possibly happen?
I called Puddy softly and she came up the porch steps with little #3 right behind her. She'd pause and look around at him and he'd back off. Then I'd call her again and she'd start back toward the door, and her baby would follow. Eventually, she was all the way inside the house and #3 was half in and half out, but that was as far as he would go. He never came far enough inside for me to close the door on him and trap him in there. Arrgh, so frustrating! Finally, he'd had enough of exploring and left the doorway, left the porch, left the whole area, and went back into his hole. OK, well, I'd known it was too good to be true.
The following afternoon my friend came over bringing two large traps, which he set up and baited with canned cat food. Each trap had a little dish of food and a little dish of water, and the traps were placed right outside the hole, like only 6 or 8 inches away. I was enormously confident. It seemed like a done deal, practically; how could any kitten NOT go in one of those traps and eat that food? I watched from the blind. It wasn't long, maybe half an hour, before #3 was out of his hole. I could see him moving all around right in front of the trap doors. Surely, any second, he'd go in and the door would drop, and I could finally relax. He would be freaked out poor little mind, but I could relax.
But no. It wasn't meant to be. Kitten #3 played around for a while and then disappeared into his hole and never came back out, that I saw, for the rest of the afternoon. I thought that for some unfathomable reason maybe he wasn't attracted by the canned cat food, so again I replaced it with the dry food he'd already been eating, but it made no difference. The trap doors never fell.
The sun set and I turned on the porch light. I could barely see the trap doors at all, but I still went and looked out every 10-15 minutes - it was what I did now - and stared at them until my eyes adjusted and I could make out the doors and see that they were still open. I was anxious, sad, and just a little guilt-ridden because if the kitten wouldn't go into the trap while I was still awake, he was going to have to spend the night all alone.. without his mother and without any food. I kept going to look at the trap doors. They kept being the same. Ry went to bed. I played online Boggle and checked cat traps.
A little before 10pm while playing Boggle I realized I wouldn't be able to do it. I suppose it was just me projecting my human emotions onto an animal and thinking it felt like I'd feel in its place, but I hated the thought of that tiny, mostly helpless little kitten being so suddenly so alone. I needed to put Puddy out so that he'd have his mama. And I needed to put food out for them both. I'd figure out a new plan tomorrow, but for now this cold, lonesome, tough love wasn't the answer. I checked the trap doors one more time: still open.
So I closed the traps and moved them away and put Puddy out again to spend the night with her baby in the dirt and darkness. It was deja vu all over again when she went right to the hole and little #3 came right out to meet her like he'd been sitting there waiting for her. She talked to him in momspeak and started to come back to the house. I opened the door again, just like the night before, and everything went exactly as it had previously, with me softly calling Puddy and her really wanting to come and wanting #3 to come with her, and the kitten really wanting to come but also being afraid, conflicted..
I honestly never saw anything like it. The kitten was too big for her to pick him up anymore, so she was communicating with him vocally and with her body language, and there was no doubt about her message: "Come!" And #3 would come and run back, come and run back.
Finally, during one of the spells when he had run back to the hole, I went out and got the food bowl from the porch and brought it inside, several feet inside the door, far enough inside so that if he were eating from it, I could shut the door behind him before he could dash out. It didn't take long after that, maybe five minutes. I called her, she called him; she came up the steps, he came up the steps; she came inside to where the food bowl was, called him, and he came in. BOOM! Door slam. Kitten caught. That 'simple'.
Little #3 immediately ran into a nearby corner. He didn't like what was happening, but he wasn't losing his mind about it like the other two had done. He was downright mellow by comparison. I was able to pet him and purr at him and talk softly to him and soon get him by the scruff and take him to the cat room. I put him down at the food bowl, then put Puddy in there, then went to bed and slept like a log for the first time in days!
Kitten update. When last I left you it was five weeks ago, and the kittens were all finally captured and inside the house in the 'cat room', which I had fixed up to be cat friendly/kitten proof. In the intervening weeks Puddy, the mother cat, has been spayed, and the kittens have been to the vet for their first checkup and shots. The two black identical twins, Angel and Nikki, are females, and Blondie is male. All three have appointments to be spayed/neutered this coming Wednesday.
This has been Some Experience, let me tell you, and it's only now that I'm retired that I've had the time it takes to care for a cat and her kittens on this level. Previously, I actually had a life, a job, a child to raise, and there was no time to devote to a family of cats, especially strays. Back then, if kittens happened, we just wanted to get rid of them as soon as they were old enough to go. We'd put an ad in the paper, "Free Kittens," and people called up and came and got them. Whether they had a decent life after that we never knew; getting rid of them was the important thing. They were never 'fixed' or had even been to the vet. The ad would say, "Free Kitten Kit," which was a carboard box, some kitty litter to pour into it, and a bag of kitten chow.. literally giving people free supplies if only they'd take the kittens.
Obviously I feel 180 degrees differently about it today. I personally want to know that these kittens are healthy and will never make more cats. And I want good homes for them. Like really, REALLY good homes. I want people to prove to me somehow - how? who knows - that they will bond with these animals and take good care of them, and love and respect them, and never hit them, or drop them, or make outdoor cats out of them, or have their claws removed, or..., or..., [you get the idea]. And there's no way people can ever prove any of that to me. So it's hard, and it's going to get harder because I am attached to them. There's no doubt about it, though.. they have to go.
In the meantime they are growing like little weeds and have more than doubled in size. Sometimes it seems like they double in size overnight. And I feel like I've taken on a job as a zookeeper, with six cats now instead of two. I rise early, clean out cat boxes, put out cat food in one room, kitten food, fresh water in another. Then I hang out and interact with them for an hour, so the kittens will get accustomed to humans, not be afraid of us, and worship us for the gods we are. I do this at least twice a day, morning and evening, so I've seen them grow and learn and change, and it's truly an amazing process to watch. If you've ever been a parent you know how fascinating it is to watch the myriad of ways, subtle and obvious, that kids grow and change; it's kind of like that but at lightning speed. Something different every day.
Cats just have a natural urge to climb, and these kittens are fascinated by everything that's up high and out of their reach. The whole cat room is like a game for kittens, with various levels of difficulty and challenges at each level that must be overcome before they can get to the next level. They want to get at everything they see, and they're always looking up, calculating how to get up on the futon, the chair, the desktop, the bookshelf, the bookshelf above that, and above that. And the curtains.. especially the curtains. The curtains are floor length, but by the second day I had pulled them up off the floor and had them resting on the window ledge.
By the third day they had figured out how to get up to the window ledge by employing one of their their main methods of dealing with their environment: jump and hang. That's where they gaze up at some desired destination above their heads, jump, and extend their claws, which are small but plenty sharp, and if the claws latch onto something, anything, they kind of just hang there while they figure out what to do next. It's hilarious. Much of the time they just drop back to the floor, but sometimes, like the spaghetti on the wall, they stick. They did this with the curtains in order to access the window ledge.. jump, grab, hang, and then scramble and climb the curtain until they finally make it to the ledge. Which, of course, caused the curtain to fall from the ledge and be floor-length again, making it a fast track to the ledge for the other two kittens. So by the evening of the third day the curtains were wrapped around the curtain rods safely out of the reach of any kittens who couldn't fly.
I happened to be in the room when Blondie finally made it to the window ledge without using curtains. He used the jump and hang method on the bare wall, jumping up and grabbing the ledge with his front paws then using his back legs and claws to scratch his way up the wall. It took a few tries but eventually he made it. He sat for a while, walked back and forth a bit, and then looked up, as if calculating the challenge of making it to the next level: the curtain rods.
Nikki, who often followed Blondie around doing what he did and learning from him, had been watching him on the window ledge and really wanted to be up there. She could jump high enough to grab the ledge but she couldn't get the rest of the way. Blondie jumped back down and repeated his climb to the ledge, showing Nikki how to do it and encouraging her, and after a few more tries Nikki made it to the ledge. Blondie was waiting for her and they had a beautiful, touching, human-like moment of nuzzling each other and being happy that they were both up there on that ledge together.
And then.. Nikki looked up to assess the immense challenge of getting to the curtain rods and didn't even try. No doubt they both realized that many difficult quests would have to be completed before they made it to that level.
[June 4th] Rejoice with me, dear friends; my kitten problem is solved! Their vet is going to take them and get them adopted! I cannot tell you how relieved I am. It's a huge weight off my mind to know I've done everything I could do to find them the best possible homes, and now I'll be able to move on easily with no regrets and look back on the experience without sadness. I've had this iron in the fire since the first time I took the kittens to see her, but I didn't really expect it to pan out. Then yesterday afternoon her office called to say they would definitely take them.
This vet is SO amazing. First of all, her office: big, bright, clean, and cats hanging out on the counter right where people were working.. I'd never seen that before, and of course I loved it. Then there was this big cage on one side of the room with a gorgeous black kitty in it who was up for adoption. It's a thing the vet does; she helps animals get adopted into good homes one case at a time. That kitty did get adopted, so that's where the kittens will go. I don't expect them to be in there for long, either.. I think they'll go like hotcakes.
I could have taken them in then but I kept them until Monday. They were so much fun.. I just wanted them around for a couple more days. They had stolen my heart, really, and it was going to be strange without them. When the time came for them to leave, Black Papa, thus named because we assume he is the father, showed up and just hung around.. as if he totally understood exactly what was happening - that his babies were being taken away forever. It was as if he was there to say goodbye. And to be with Puddy.. the parents watching the fledglings leave the nest.…