Thursday, August 07, 2008

Training cats and parental instincts

George and I are pretty strict parents I guess. A friend of mine has a new kitty that was alone and unwanted. They picked her up a week ago and that little kitty has the run of the whole house already. That little kitten hasn't been to the vet yet, and already has access to several rooms and a screened-in patio. I also heard that she likes to hide, and has scared her owners to death more than once. I'm sure this kitty will be fine, and will grow up to be a wonderful cat, but because we went through a shelter adoption agency, our process for making a home for our kittens is very different.

In comparison, our kitties came to us with a file full of vet records, paperwork and lots of baggage. They have all the shots needed for the first year, and were spayed and neutered and one was microchipped. (Little Safari still has that to look forward to.) We acquired cages, beds, toys, scratching posts, litter boxes, bags of food and lots of advice from the shelter foster mom. We have gained knowlege in the process of adopting and I have bought and read four books about raising kitties from Amazon. It is a crash course in kittydom.

George and I are working to train our kitties to mesh with our lifestyle. They have the kitchen to run and play in during the day, and at bedtime, they both scurry into their cage, and bunk down for the night. The cage doors are closed, and locked, and we know where they are. They aren't unhappy about that, and neither are we, and we are all in our beddies by 9:30 p.m. I haven't told these kitties that cats are nocturnal, and maybe they won't find out by themselves. One can hope.

Our plan is to acclimate the kitties and get Safari to be less scared of being picked up by leaving them in one room. We also wanted to make sure they wouldn't escape. We have an "air lock" to make sure; we don't open one door to the outside, until we have shut the other. This means we have to stand in a very tight space and suck it in, but it is worth the effort when we imagine what it would be like to see a kitty streak through to the outside.

The kittens are big in size but small in experience. Safari explores the top of the kitchen counter, and I fully expect her to find the kitchen window to the world one of these days. Simba is like the adolescent athlete. He jumps, climbs the cage and hangs from one leg and isn't much curious about the rest of the world. He is happy and well adjusted. Safari is wary and curious. She tiptoes across the counter in front of the sink as if she is traversing a rope bridge over the Amazon valley. She peers at each dish and is very stealthy. And she must think she is doing something wrong, because when we come in the door, she jumps for the floor. I have never seen her get up to the counter except once, when she jumped from a chair. Without the chair there, I don't know how she does it. Simba is the strong and fearless jumper, not Safari, but there she is, tiptoeing up to the KitchenAid mixer in wonderment of it all.

Someday soon I imagine it is time to open the door and let the kittens explore the house. But, it seems right now, that they have enough to learn in their own little kitchen-world and we are very happy to know where they are.

Have a great day.