Week 7 Fostering Independence
It's that time again loyal Cat Corner-ians
Time for your weekly family update! Week 7 has brought a lot of change to the kittens and for Momma Easter. The kittens are closing the gap on 2lbs and Momma Easter went to the another home.
Whenever you have kittens with a Mother Cat the Mom really takes the reigns in terms of rearing the kittens. Often humans don't need to intervene unless illness or injury comes to play. We get to play casual observers to nature; however, human need to get involved when health and potential futures are at stake.
Easter being a semi-feral cat let nature do what it did best for the first six weeks of the kitten's lives. She nursed them, cleaned them, encouraged them to try food, encouraged them to walk and rough house. Usually though at around 5-6 weeks Mommy Cats also trying to push their little kittens to be more independent in the wild leaving the kittens for a few hours to hunt. In the home typically not laying within nursing reach and going of somewhere high to let the kittens explore and really let them try new things. Easter was an odd case though because at around 5 weeks she no longer encouraged all the kittens to keep eating different foods, instead content to let them nurse and nurse. At six weeks she was teaching them to pee on walls and would often move the kittens into a corner and lay in front to "protect" them. This was very counter productive to having well mannered adoptable kittens. They were not exploring, they weren't building any confidence and relaying on Mom for way too much! They are past the toddler stage and need to start sticking up for themselves and learn especially with humans.
Since Easter was really hindering the kittens developing into proper "pet" kittens a hard choice had to be made. If the kittens continued to learn from Mom and not from a human they would learn like Mom, that people are scary and not to be trusted. The hope of myself and knowledge that young kittens can learn to be excellent pets knew that this learning would be very counterproductive.
Cat Corner knew once establishing Easter was a semi-feral cat she couldn't go into a home as a "pet" would. The decision was made that Easter would be available as a barn cat. That way she can do what she does best HUNT!!! She can be a pest control asset to any barn and live outdoors as she is used to. In order to facilitate the transition she is currently at barn cat training camp with another foster. This foster has a large home with safe indoor facilities leading to outdoor as well as some farm animals so Easter can get used to the sights, sounds and smells. Also, free mouse catcher while she learns! This meant that it was time for our little family to split up.
While the transition is needed it is not without its tears. Literally! Due to Easter's strong protective nature the kittens see her as the star of their world and in her absence there was lots lots of crying and yelping. The first night was rough! I had to take a heated Cat bed and put it in my own with the kittens in it to settle. They wouldn't sleep at all just yelp calling for her. Around 11 at night they finally slept, but my hand had to be in the bed so they could all snuggle together and with my hand for comfort. Around 2:30 am though the crying began again as someone woke up and their little pampered butt had to walk to the potty themselves not be carried by Momma Easter (they are sooo spoiled).
The second night was not without its charms, the kittens cried less and were more apt to explore. As long as they are allowed in my room. Unfortunately exploring my bed while I'm trying to sleep was not conducive for a restful night. The kittens settled a little earlier around 10 but at 3am the bed Olympics began, where every kitten was wrestling with my ponytail, my blankets, and each other. So it seems tears are off the menu, but rowdiness is in!
We will see what tonight holds...I hope for sleep for everyone, but I know that may be an unrealistic expectation.
I have noticed very dramatic changes very quickly in the kittens though. Their self confidence is through the roof in just two days without Mom! Exploring, climbing, running everywhere not just familiar areas. They also didn't need to be reminded to eat they pranced right up to the dish when wet food appeared without prompting. All of the kittens even seem more social trying to interact with my two boy cats and wanting to include them in their games. While my kitties are tired from all the babysitting it is really great for the kittens to see what pet cats are like. They are even mimicking behavior my boys demonstrate. Easter being semi-feral wouldn't purr and never really had an occasion too....the kittens have NEVER purred. I don't think they learned how and when they should. Russ the biggest kitten climbed up on the couch not 10 min ago saw my cat getting pet and purring, pushed his way in demanded pets and let a silly purr go and wide eyes shocked himself at the noise he made! I'm hoping in the coming days all the kittens will let me hear their purrs instead of the little squeaks for Momma.
"More pets for more purrs! Deal?" - Russ