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From Feral to Sweet

This is a continuation of a post I started early in the week. Scroll down to Lion Taming to read it from the beginning.

On Wednesday I decided I needed to get the kittens to voluntarily touch me. I took a stick and rubbed in along a cardboard box. They started playing with it. I inched my finger farther and farther down the stick until they were comfortable. Then finally I just used my finger expecting to get nailed. Surprisingly, when they went for it, they were very gentle. I spent some time playing with the black one with my finger around the poles of a camping chair. Later when I was playing with them with a string I got a few pets in before they ran away. It was difficult to do anything they would enjoy because it was so short.

On Thursday Blackie talked to me when I came out to see them. It was barely audible. I was getting attached to them and thinking it was time to just catch them and send them off to their new life. Later in the day I went out and opened the big door. Blondie was off sleeping and Blackie was up but kind of sleepy. I got it to attack my finger and this time it was a little more comfortable and a little more aggressive but still didn’t actually break my skin. It also tried to bite me but in a playful way. I wiggled a nylon cable tie to bring it in close and reached down to try to pet it. I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

Suddenly it laid down and started purring. I was able to pet it in a way that would feel good. It got up and stood on my shoe, put its paw on my sock and looked me straight in the eyes. Then it started meowing. At that point, the blond one came running to me purring and talking too. I started petting it and the two of them were all over me. They started nibbling on my fingers and the skin between my thumb and finger and I realized they were looking for milk. It was if they suddenly realized I was their mom and they just hadn’t recognized me. It turned out, the blond one, who had been the most skittish all along, was in fact the most affectionate and even let me pick it up and set it in my lap. It was the most amazing transition. I went inside and asked my wife if she would like to pet them. They let her pet them too. In hindsight perhaps they would have warmed up to us earlier if I had figured out a way to produce a purring sound.

Petting a blond kitten

After a while they went back to chasing each other and wrestling. Occasionally they would tackle each other so hard you would think it had to hurt. I think my favorite move is when they both run at each other and then leap, colliding in mid air. We have a pot of chives out there. They were wrestling in it and the air was filled with the scent of chives. We joked their new family would wonder why they smelled like onions. At one point I realized the blond one was stalking a bumblebee and stepped in to stop it before it pounced. The other day my wife said she barely missed getting a picture of a hawk that swooped low over the garage when they were out. It’s a dangerous world. Sometimes you don’t even see it coming. Even though there is only about two inches clearance under the gate Blackie decided to try to go under. It managed to get its head under before I grabbed its body and coaxed it back out.

petting a black kitten

I’ve been feeling guilty about spending so much time with the kittens and have been playing with my own cats more. Amy is somewhat laid back about it but Kelly is amazing. I usually have a string on a fishing rod but since that is kept in the garage, the kittens have been playing with it. Yesterday I was just using a string and Kelly was on it so powerfully I stepped back a bit in case she accidentally hit me. She gets on top of our screened-in patio by climbing the vertical screen hand over hand using her claws. It’s like watching a person in their late nineties gracefully scale a skyscraper. It would be great to age that way. Sleep a little more but have moments where you act like a teenager. It’s depressing when we go to the vet. They have a chart on the wall on how old your cat is in human years. They are 17 and the chart only goes to 15. They seem healthy though and have a pretty good life.

Kittens playing near chives

Today it only took about five minutes for the kittens to warm up to me. Before they started playing with each other, they spent a good amount of time getting petted and purring. The blond one, who had been so shy, was almost demanding attention at times and sat in my lap again. We plan to hand them over to their new family this evening. It’s time they went to the vet and got checked out. Besides now they are pet-able we are getting even more attached to them.

kittens and flowers

At this point we think the blond one is a boy and the black one is a girl. I hope the transition is not too traumatic for them having lost their original family only a week ago. It was an interesting experience. I would never have guessed they would go from wild to tame in only a week. I doubt we have prepared them for two 7 year old kids but I’m glad we saved them from death or a very rough life in the wild. I’m going to miss seeing their little faces when I open the garage.

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