Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Few Wonderful Updates for National Feral Cat Day 2012

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!


  1. They look so happy!!!!! Blue's head is much bigger.

  2. Hehe, I think Ella still looks pretty skeptical there but she's definitely relaxing more now and when I saw the sisters they both seemed to be having a lot of fun bounding up and down the hall of their new house. And Blue's head is normal-sized; I think it just looks bigger due to the camera angle. Cat heads are weird like that...I've got one where I'm holding Cora and she looks damn near bobcat-sized because of some depth-of-field funkiness going on.

  3. Great news. Kept checking back to see if they were adopted. Considering how bonded they are to each other it makes sense they're sisters.

  4. darchole: Yeah, this is about the best news I've had fit to print this year (as far as cats are concerned). Really happy to have been able to write this update. :D And the sisters have absolutely been super closely bonded basically since birth...after their two other siblings died, they pretty much clung to each other the whole time until they both started crawling and getting more active (and even then, they'd always come back to snuggle together when they got tired!).

  5. I am the adopted human to the two beautiful and happy kittens. They are doing well. Both Blue and Ella found several sleeping spots around the house now, and between activities (eating, playing, running, pouncing, etc.), I often find them cuddled together in a sunny spot. Super cute. They seem to be always hungry, and I am sure they must have grown since they moved here. They are to visit the vet again next Tuesday, and I am looking forward to finding out about the growths. Thanks Anne, and the family, for loving and taking such a good care of them for the first very important weeks/months of their lives. I will keep you posted!

  6. Hi Aki!! So glad you found this post and were able to comment...I was going to send you a link but it's been so hectic lately. Wonderful to hear that the girls are still doing well and having fun playing and pouncing. Are they keeping you awake bounding across the wood floors yet? :) When my guys were little they would usually get a sudden burst of energy around 10 PM and just keep going until what seemed like 2 or 3 AM! They still do that now some nights, but I've gotten used to it and generally sleep through it.

    Oh and being always hungry is a good thing at their age, since kittens grow so much in the first year. They definitely looked like they'd grown since their adoption when I visited! I bet they're easily 5 pounds each now but it will be good to find out from the vet, for sure, as I know they're scheduled to be spayed very soon (and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about recovery/after-care...I remember when Coraline was spayed I had a heck of a time trying to get her to settle down after the anaesthesia was out of her system. I put her in the computer room overnight by herself so she wouldn't wrestle with her brothers, and by morning she'd managed to get to the top of a tall bookshelf and knock a bunch of stuff to the floor!)

    Anyway, thank YOU again for keeping me posted and for stepping up to provide a great home for Ella and Blue...they're great little cats, and Matt and I and his parents are so glad they went to live with people who would be sure to love and appreciate them as much as we did.


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