Our newest family member came to us via an incident on what would prove to be the winter’s coldest night (22 degrees F) – for it was on the morn following that frigid night that we discovered a tiny white kitten had apparently taken up abode under our deck side wood-stack – but for the next several days, our only clue was a tiny mewing sound that was heard now and then emanating from under the wood-stack.
In the midst of a good deal of profound worry that the kitten might well die before we could entice it into the house and safety, we hatched out a plan to do just that – we placed two bowls, one with milk and the other with cat food, quite near the wood-stack, but still within sight through our living room French door. It didn’t take too long before the presence of the food overcame the natural fear that was keeping the kitten out in those frigid elements.
Over the next ten days, we gradually moved the food bowls closer and closer to the door – and eventually we were able to open the door – not too wide, lest we allow all our internal warmth to escape into the cold outdoors. Before long, those bowls were 2 feet inside the room, and we were ready to spring our trap!
On that fateful day, we had positioned the bowls a full three feet inside the living room, and I sat in a chair immediately next to the open door – the kitten cautiously entered and slowly made its way to the bowls – as soon as its attention was totally on the food, I quickly pushed the door closed.
The kitten freaked!
It immediately bolted to safety under the nearby loveseat, which is perhaps 3” off the floor – and for the next day, we saw no sign of the kitten, and no sounds either. But we knew we could wait it out, and that the kitten was much better off inside that in its previous environment – sure enough, the following day, the kitten would make a brief appearance to quickly grab some food, and then just as quickly disappear again. In an act of prudence, I added a small plastic tub with cat litter right next to the food bowls, and almost immediately it showed evidence of being used. Success is a good feeling!
Over the next 2 months, we made sure we never gave the kitten a chance to get back outside – it eventually found many unique hiding spots -behind the many audio/video components, under various furniture and beds, and some I’m sure we were not even aware of. And slowly, the kitten allowed more and more human touching, and it became more social – Henry (the doxie) played a significant role in the kitten’s socialization. Of course, Henry immediately took a great interest in the kitten, which I’m sure initially kept the kitten even more cautious – but before long, the two were nose to nose, and playing games of ‘cat and dog tag’. We watched these encounters with trepidation.
At first I was just a little suspicious that perhaps Henry would suddenly grab the kitten by the neck, and with a quick shake, dispatch it to cat heaven. But my fears were off-base, and soon it was more than evident that there was trust on both sides – in fact, time would prove that Henry was the member at greatest risk in this relationship, as the many wounds on his underbelly would suggest – but detente is building.
Eventually, the kitten grew more comfortable with us, even to the point of climbing up and sitting on our laps – and it was only then that we learned that the kitten was a female. However, picking her up and carrying her would remain one of her reluctances, even now, but we’re working on it.
We named the kitten, Minette, which in my linguistic ignorance, is French for a female kitten – however, such formality is not my style, as I am much more likely to address our animals with such endearments as, ‘Dog’, or ‘Kitten’ – however, this kitten is not so kittenish any longer – its legs are getting so long, it looks like it may have some greyhound heritage. And I swear, when I first saw it, it was pure white, with a typical Siamese look with the black face, ears, tail and feet – but magically, over the past month or so, the white body is morphing into something quite different – I’m not quite sure what, I’ll let you know later – but there is evidence that the process is not done yet!
The only tragedy in all this is that Muffy, our only other cat family member, and also a past feral rescue, has taken exception to Minette’s addition to our clan. After 2 months of obvious unfriendly encounters of cat hissing and growls (only on Muffy’s part, never the kitten), Muffy has chosen to exit our home, and to take up residence in our garden shed. For more than a week, we saw no sight of her, until one day she appeared at our French door once more – we’ve decided to feed her at the door each day, as that way we can at least know how she is. But she will not re-enter the house – I would guess in protest over our allowing Minette to come live with us.
Who says that soap operas are solely a people thing?