It's hard to stay one step ahead – Got the Jimmy Legs

It's hard to stay one step ahead

We've hit the one-week mark with the kittens, but it feels like it's been months already. For a week, they've come along very well, but they mostly aren't ready for prime-time yet. We decided to separate two of the kittens from the group, as their aggressive antics were having a negative effect on the progress of the other kittens. There was an unmistakable cone of ignorance developing that we had to nip in the bud. Thanks to a friend with some crates to spare, we have them sequestered so we can work on them individually. Here's how they're faring:

1. Littlest kitten: She was already basically tame and she continues to be at the head of the class, showing enthusiasm when we enter the room and being tame enough to be let out to roam around during feeding/play times. She loves to climb her cage and chase the string-on-a-stick toy. She still hisses occasionally but can be held and petted. She could be adopted out immediately.

2. Tuxedo: We think she is female and she too can be held, as long as food is offered. She is over most of her fear yet still hisses frequently and still tries to knock food out of your hand, which is really annoying. If she continues down this path, she should be mostly tame soon.

3. Gray tabby: Also presumed female, she has recently become aggressive, growling more and getting greedy with food. But she is also getting tamer, allowing us to pet her while eating and even allowing brief moments of holding. Still, she is quick to hiss and growl and run away. But this is a marked improvement over her initial behavior (hiding even when food is offered).

4. Biggest kitten: He seems like a boy to us, he has been separated from the girls because he was very hissy and bossy. Alone, he is still stand-offish but is making slow but steady progress. He lets us pet him when he is eating (although it can be slow going each time we approach). The rest of the time he hisses constantly and hides in his box. But he is bright and showing signs of getting tamer.

5. Orange kitten: He quickly became the worst of the group, freaking out when we were around, growling and spitting and striking at the cage wall when we were near. He has been placed in his own cage and continues to be a terror. We assume this is because he is actually the most scared of them all. Last time, however, when presented with Gerber baby food, he calmed down and actually purred while eating! During this time he could be petted with abandon, and we were even able to lure him out of his cage to sit on my lap! This behavior ends abruptly when the baby food runs out. When not being sweet, he continues most of his bad behavior and also whines in his cage loudly. Although a little disturbing this seems to me a good sign he can be turned to the Tame Side in time.

Of course all this work overshadows the fact that there is still a yard full of cats across the street who will produce more kittens soon if we don't put a stop to it. I have calls into both the ASPCA and the Toby Project, who both maintain mobile clinics for TNR work. However, both are overbooked and riddled with logistical issues, so I have no idea if they will ever come through. I am now toying with the idea of booking a mass appointment with the ASPCA's Bergh clinic, trapping the cats and renting a uhaul to haul them all up there one day. It would suck to have to do all this extra work, but I am not super optimistic about our chances of getting a spay van without many inside-track connections to these groups. And sometimes if you want it done right you have to do it yourself.


  1. Sarah
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    what seriously amazing work you do! please please please keep it up! if i weren't in such a teeny tiny apartment i would love to be able to make a difference the way you are, bringing these kittens in and socializing them AND helping to make sure there are hopefully no new stray kittens in the future. it is just wonderful-thank you for doing it!

  2. styro
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Good news on the purrs. Baby food is expensive but it is kitten crack. You are the kitten whisperer! Harder-feral kittens take a while, but you know, worst case is that they get somewhat familiar with humans if they have to be TNR'ed. I always figure that's better than nothing.

    And Sarah, anybody who TNR's will usually accept donations of cat food, meat baby food, or your time! 🙂 Small apartment or no, I've never turned down someone who wanted to help me haul crates to the TNR clinic!

  3. sheena
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    oh my goodness!!!
    *must not adopt another cat, must not adopt another cat, must not!!!*

    keep us update on the socialization!

  4. Posted August 31, 2010 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    I lived in the sierras on 20 acres and we had a problem with cats being dumped there,especially females about to give birth.The only thing we could do is feed them socialize the babies and get them to an adoption site.I now have a very large male cat who spent over 6 months in a cage at pet-smart.He has HIV and was taken from the home by the SPCA.He did not want humans around him..Cats are smart and very visual.They also need love and touching just like we do.We made life very calm for him and never forced him into our laps.He would watch us with the other two cats feeding and petting and baby talking them.Cats love sweet whiny voices.He watches and over the next few years he would get closer and even talk to use when he wanted something.he is now eleven and happy to be in my lap as long as we don't touch his hind quarters.He lets most everyone pet him and stays in the room with us.It would help if you had an example cat.

  5. Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    great story! the kittens are coming along well except for the tuxedo cat, but we are trying to model 'good cat' behavior with the ones that are tamer. keep your fingers crossed!

  6. Posted October 10, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Ok so maybe a model is not the only way.My daughter adopted two cats skit so and little bit.Both where very unfriendly and after a while skit so started spraying everything in sight while little bit would run and hide and hiss.Once you caught her she would purr a little.They had to take skit so back and after one day little bit was all over her and her boy friend.Maybe its because cats are pack animals and need to be a part of something.Let the orange kitty out he does not want to be there.