Thursday, October 8, 2009

How Crazy Are We?

We've had our fabulous "feral" kitten for a whole week now, and she's settling in nicely, as are we. She's spending much less time in her crate and more time exploring and hiding in the apartment. She's figured out that it's nice to nap on armchairs, and attack lace curtains. We have so much in common.

At the moment, she's sneaking the other cats' kibble and not fooling anyone because she's purring loudly and crunching at the same time.

When we can catch her — and we do several times a day — she's purring putty in our hands, but she has yet to shake her idea that we're scary.... Run! It's only been a week, so I'm not that concerned. I wasn't even expecting her to being purring, playing, and enjoying life as much as she already is by now. She watches us pet, hold, and play with the other cats, so I think she'll learn to trust us soon. She's a joy to have around, anyway.

So life is good. But I can't wondering if life might be even better with a second kitten. It's great when a cat has a lifelong buddy, and our older ones aren't warming up that much to Wendy, so far. They're tolerant, but you know... kids these days....

It's hard for me to stay away from Petfinder because, now that I've met a few of the wonderful adult cats in area shelters, I keep checking to see if they've been adopted. And in the course of checking on them, I search for kittens, too.

At first it was "comparison shopping," to be sure we'd found the best kitten ever. And, of course, we did. But then, thinking about a friend for her, I found:


These Maine Coon–type 3-month-olds are probably siblings and were feral until a couple of weeks ago. The kitten in the middle has a badly clipped left ear — this means she was caught in the wild, spayed, feral-clipped, and released. (The clipping tells shelter folk that she's spayed.) Then she got herself trapped again, with the other two.

We went to visit them today, and were both charmed and ambivalent. At our vet's, the thinking is that a male kitten has the best chance of bonding with a female. This is the male:

He's adorable but rather shy and withdrawn, although I suspect he has great potential. But we need a braver, more sociable kitten to give Wendy confidence. So we were more attracted to the two females, who are a little more outgoing. I'm most drawn to this one, who is said to be the bravest of the three:

I think her clipped ear gives her character; my husband is having a hard time with it, but can't deny that she has a marvelous expression on her face. Her foster owner, who is a terrific person (all the foster-ers we've met have been warm, kind, generous, thoughtful, and wise), told us that she hadn't purred yet. But she eventually purred in my lap and looked up at me very sweetly. Her sister is more of a purr-box, and is also very appealing. But she's just not as irresistible as this one.

So we're in a quandary. Will two kittens upset the older cats more than one? Will a new kitten calm and befriend Wendy or will they avoid each other, or worse? And what are we doing getting another feral when we're supposed to be looking for Mr. Congeniality? Do we really want to be caring for four cats again? Three seemed like an ideal number. And we only have room for one big litter box....

And wasn't I the one who was quite recently insisting that I only wanted a purebred? So "I would know their parents and be assured I was getting a kitten with great personality genes"? Then I read that as many as 30% of breeds I like (Maine Coons, Ragdolls) are at risk for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is often undetectable in kittens but can cause sudden death in young cats. You have to test for it annually, with ultrasounds, hoping the disease hasn't presented itself. Ugh. So much for our getting a purebred kitten.

I wasn't seeking out feral kittens, but I kept finding them. There certainly are a lot of them, and they present a challenge I can't resist: winning their love and trust. I can't replace the amazingly affectionate and demanding lap cat we just lost, and I have much lower expectations for our kitten (along with hope). But hearing a feral kitten purring for the first time is an addictive experience, I've discovered.

We'll be up late tonight, watching the ball game and thinking about the options. As always, I'll keep you posted.

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