October 16 is National Feral Cat Day...what better occasion on which to post a few pieces of wonderful news here?
First, I'll get right to the most super-excellent news of all: Bella's kittens have been ADOPTED! Not only that, but they were adopted together! Aki, their new human, sent me a lovely email a few weeks back inquiring about them. She had obviously read the kittens' bios, which I took to be a very good sign, as I only wanted the kittens being adopted by someone who had an interest in them as individuals. Needless to say, I sent a response, a few more messages were exchanged, and by that evening we'd set up a meeting for the following day at Matt's parents' house.
I had no idea what to expect, as this was the first time I'd ever been so directly involved in an "adoption interview" of any kind, but I could not have been happier with how things went. Aki and her grown-up son came over and spent about an hour getting acquainted with the kittens while discussing cat-matters with me and Matt and his parents. She explained that she had lost her two senior cats over the past few years and had just recently gotten to where she was ready to re-establish a feline presence in the home. She had no other animals, no small children, plenty of space, and generally just seemed to have everything nicely lined up to accommodate taking on a pair of kittens. Things were looking very promising!
Moreover, in watching her and her son interact with the little cats it became quickly evident that there was a tremendous amount of respect there...both for cats in general and these two in particular. E.g., I had been a bit concerned that potential adopters would be charmed by Bruce's gregarious, easygoing nature but would find Ella's independent-mindedness difficult to understand or deal with.
(Ella is not feral, mind you -- the siblings basically had identical early socialization experiences and lived indoors together starting at two days old -- but from the start Ella was less inclined to cuddle at random and more inclined to insist on her own way when it came to pretty much everything.
This is, of course, a perfectly normal feline personality variant, and it's the sort of thing that (in my experience) does not in any way preclude such a kitten growing up into an incredibly affectionate (but still strong-willed) adult cat. My ex-feral girl Coraline is very, very much like this and I wouldn't trade her for anything. But still...I was pleasantly surprised when Aki and son both in so many words commented (regarding Ella): "well, she's a CAT!" Because she is. And they understood as well that it would be a wonderful thing for the siblings to grow up together.By the end of that first meeting everyone present was in agreement that there was no need to look any further: Bella's kittens had found their humans.)
[OH, and it probably bears mention at this point that the siblings' first vet trip yielded the news that rather than brother and sister..."Bruce" and Ella are in fact sister and sister.
"Bruce" has been re-named Blue (which makes sense, given it sounds enough like Bruce such that she likely still recognizes it), and while I told Aki she was of course welcome to choose whatever names seemed best, it looks as if Ella will remain Ella. Which also makes sense, and which I still keep finding myself mentally appending "Enchanted" to...this is one kitten who definitely has a mind of her own, after all.]
Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long...logistics were discussed, important matters like spay/neuter were worked out, and the kittens went home with their new humans within short order. Aki has been sending me pictures (like the one below) and updates, and as they actually live fairly close by, I've even been to visit them once.
As for how they're doing, overall, all signs point to "great"! Blue took the move totally in stride and settled in almost immediately. Ella, meanwhile, being more of the "look before leaping" persuasion (versus her sister's "jump in headfirst!" approach to life) spent a few days peering out suspiciously from underneath a towel shelf and only really playing/eating when the humans were asleep. Aki was a bit concerned by the contrast between Ella's and Blue's reactions to moving, so she and I exchanged some emails brainstorming ideas on how to help Ella feel more comfortable and confident. Then, when I visited I demonstrated some of Ella's favorite types of interactive play (many of which involved vigorous feather-catching, like this...
...and like this!)
She apparently stayed out of hiding the rest of the day after I left, and when I did see her, she definitely seemed to be right on the edge of "I am SUSPICIOUS of this situation!" and "oh hey this is super fun and awesome here!" Anyhow, though, whether due to these efforts or the simple passage of time, Ella seems to be getting bolder by the day, and we are all sure she'll do fine.
Now, on to the next bit of news. It seemed very quiet in Matt's parents' house right when Ella and Blue went home with their new humans...but that lasted all of about a day, as the following week entailed 2 nights of trapping. In the end we successfully managed to get 3 more colony cats spayed/neutered, hooray!
Two of them were "teenage" kittens just about large enough to be fixed (meaning they were fairly naive and easy to trap), but one of them was this enormous beautiful grey tabby tom who looked a fair bit like Ella about the eyes. All three trap-ees had uncomplicated surgeries and bounced back quickly after returning home to the colony grounds. The little black boy kitten we had neutered on Tuesday morning even managed to re-trap himself on Wednesday night (which was hilarious in that he seemed totally unfazed by this -- he didn't fight to get out, he just sat there and calmly finished all the tuna I'd baited the trap with!).
We've still got a few "stragglers" out there in need of TNR-ing, and I'm guessing it's going to be tricky to get them (as they're mainly the older, much warier colony members) but as with many things, persistence is key. Matt's dad already has the next round of appointments set up at the Humane Society in November...here's hoping we manage to make use of all of them.
...and after all that, I am not sure how to gracefully conclude this post, other than to encourage any readers who haven't already to visit the link above to Alley Cat Allies' page describing National Feral Cat Day. Thanks for reading! Mew!