Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kitten Journey, Final Chapter

A week ago, we put up flyers to advertise our kittens around our community. As of today, all the kittens are gone except Fredo, but he will be picked up on Thursday.

Crema's new mom called us for her baby pictures, she's going to make a scrapbook. Crema obviously has them all wrapped around her little paw. Gina found a home yesterday, she has kids now. Sonny went home today with a lady with a chihuahua. Vito is with a young military couple, which really suits him great. If Vito was human, he'd be a marine.

And a retired couple fell in love with Fredo at first sight today. I met them in the driveway holding Fredo like a baby, which he loves by the way. He had his new blue collar on, looking really sharp. And when I handed him to them to cradle in him in their arms like I did, he let them. They told me he was it, no question. They had looked at dozens of cats and he was the one.

I even told him about biting--how he bit his mom, our dog and me from time to time. They knew that it was his alpha maleness kicking in, he was definately the biggest one of the litter. They loved animals, raised puppies and kittens, and knew all about alpha male behavior. It was fine. We showed his tail's bald spots. They thought it gave him character. They watched me kiss his face and told me they saw from his steady gaze that he was a stable, peaceful kitten. No flightiness or fear. They were amazed how he laid on his back and let them pet his stomach, which is unheard of in cats (I started to hold them on their backs on my lap when they were little and massage their necks--it put them into kitty trances). Since Fredo was the least friendly of the bunch and I spent extra time with him to help him out of his shyness, this was especially gratifying to hear. No one else appreciated his potential to be a fine cat.

I feel like...the "cat whisperer".

Dennis and I talked about keeping a kitten, but I can see that Carly needs to be in a one cat family. She constantly growls at Fredo, to remind him of his place. She is finally relaxing without having kittens around her. When I got her from Nikki, I was told she did like dogs but hated other cats. As great a mom she was, she hasn't changed in that regard.

After the damage that the cats have done--mostly Carly--to our old carpet, we need to replace it which will mean a lot of money. And declawing is in order. The carpet is old and stained anyway. I was hoping to wait a few more years until we saved enough to put wood floors in everywhere, but it's not to be. We can't afford two cats and a dog.

Anyway, here is a couple of pointers from Wikihow about petting shy cats. And I got a bit of information when I watched "Witness" where Harrison Ford learns from an Amish boy how to massage a kitten.


Find your cat. If they are not readily visible, they may be hiding. Remember, cats can fit into seemingly impossible spaces, so check everywhere, including small crevices.

Once you've located them, sit down on a nearby piece of furniture.

Call your cat's name. They will respond either by looking at you; turning an ear in your direction; pausing from current activity (such as cleaning themselves); or slowly getting up, stretching, and leaving the room.

If your cat leaves the room, pause, take a deep breath, and start over at step 1.

If they acknowledge you, begin to pat your knee and call them again in a pleasing, high-pitched voice.

The cat should now be looking at you. If it turns away, make strange noises, like bird chirps, to regain their attention.

Increase speed of knee patting and tension in voice. At this point, your cat will probably move a few feet farther away from you.

Stop patting your knee and stand up. Pretend that you are looking at the ceiling. Slowly make your way towards the cat. It will probably stand, stretch, and leave the room.

You have your cat right where you want it, believe it or not. Return to your piece of furniture. Sit down calmly. Open a book or magazine and begin reading silently. Dive into your reading material. Focus all your attention on it, ignoring the cat totally.

Out of nowhere, your cat will suddenly appear on top of said reading material.

Pet your new best friend.

If your cat leaves, act like you are glad to be doing something very important.

Your cat will be sure to get into the middle of whatever important activity you are doing, especially if you ignore it in the process.

Tips
Remember, no matter what it seems like, you're in control. You're the human. You're the one buying the food. The cat knows this, but also seems to know when you want to pet it. Cats are not like dogs; if you ignore your cat it will eventually come to you for attention to show its appreciation for you understanding its need for "space".

Wait until the cat is fully awake until you try this, If the cat is tired it may be inclined to happily ignore you and take a nap.

You can also try sitting on the floor, with your reading material spread on the floor before you.

Warnings
Cats have sharp claws. Sometimes they nibble or paw your hand and forearm playfully. Stay calm and firmly say "no." Your cat will probably stop and stare. Take this opportunity to remove your hand and pet her elsewhere so that you can continue the bonding process.

Like dogs, males may really enjoy belly massages, but females take it as uncomfortable tickling harassment.

Some cats can get over-stimulated and even bite without warning if you pet them too much. It is often safer to only pet the head, neck and under the chin if you are unsure.

Don't quickly move any of your body parts within the sense of your cat. He or she might think that whatever is moving is a toy and start attacking it.

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