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The kitten project, part 2

October 29, 2013

As National Cat Day comes to a close, I want to update you on our kitten project. Also, this is a rare opportunity to point out that occasionally we actually do complete something.

We captured Ditto a few weeks after Dot and Dash. Spaying, neutering, and vaccinating three kittens wasn’t cheap. The next time we do this, we’ll seek out a budget spay/neuter clinic. We could have saved more money by skipping the vaccines and boosters, but we wanted to give these little ones the best possible start in life. As outdoor cats, they will face challenging times ahead, even if they have a 24-hour buffet bar.

From left: Dash, Dot, and Ditto.

Three tabby kittens

As much as I hated to think of them going back to being porch cats, these kitties were not destined to become indoor pets. They stayed with us for seven weeks, and during that time, despite interacting with us daily (and enjoying first-class hospitality, I might add) none of them showed the slightest desire to be our buds. They allowed me to touch them only when my finger was coated with Fancy Feast. When I bent my face down close to the cage, Dash stretched upwards to put his sweet little face up to mine … and spat at me. I got his unambiguous message.

One night we decided we’d let them explore the living room, knowing that we could lure them back into their cage with food. We closed off the other rooms and let them out. They promptly disappeared under the furniture like hamsters. Dot and Dash refused to return to the cage until the next day. Three days later, we forcibly prodded Ditto out from the lining of our box spring and threw a blanket over her. So ended the run-of-the-house experiment.

We could have let Dot and Dash go a few weeks ago, but once we caught Ditto, we wanted to make sure they bonded as a family again. I don’t know if that was important to the kittens, but it felt important to us. Then, with Ditto’s spay stitches removed, it was time to set them free.

Kittens' gage is open

The hadn’t seen the outdoors since the beginning of September. Summer had turned decidedly fall, and they shivered—with cold, or anxiety? Dot made her break first.

Dot leaves the cage

Ditto ran to catch up with her sister.

Ditto leaves the cage

Dash thought about it for a bit … then he was gone, slipping between the porch rails.

Dash leaves the cage

They beat a trail back to their former lair under the house next door. We hope they will move into the cozy kitty chalet that Eric built. If they don’t, surely someone else will.

A-frame cat shelter

I was going to write this post the same day we let them go, but I was so sad, I couldn’t do it. I feel better now that we routinely see the trio cavorting on our porch and sleeping on the swing. They seem happy, although they’re as skittish as ever. The mere appearance of our faces in the window sends them skedaddling for cover.

Duke was upset the day after the kittens were gone. He hung his head and led me to the spot where their cage used to stand in the dining room. I assured him I knew the kittens were gone, and that it was okay. We miss their antics (especially the wrestling matches accompanied by growls and squeals), their rapt expressions as we talked to them, and the thuds during the night as they tossed toys around.

Dash, Dot, and Ditto … be careful out there. Holler if you need anything.

Dash, Dot, and Ditto

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10 Comments
  1. You did the best you could. At least you know they have vaccinations and aren’t going to be reproducing.

  2. D’Arcy,
    You and your husband are kind and your story is heartwarming. I love animals and nature and you’ve made my day with your story…knowing there are wonderful, caring people who would go through the steps of ensuring that these little wild creatures will at least get a healthy start to their adventure. I would have been sad too, but at least, if they continue to live under the porch of your neighbor, you’ll get to see them once in a while.
    xo,
    Karen

    • Thanks, Karen! They are coming up on our porch daily to eat, and Eric said they were all wrestling today! I think they will be regular customers and we’ll get to watch them grow up. 🙂

  3. Oh this brought tears to my eyes, Darcy. I just love our babies, so I know you fell in love with these little sweeties. I’m sure you really wanted them to take to you and curl up on your lap. That’s what I always want, anyway. They’re sweet little faces are too much!

    You just have to feel good about the fact that you did the right thing by making sure they were healthy and ready for whatever they may face. I have a feeling they won’t go far and maybe as they get older they’ll mellow and decide they really would like that nap in your lap. 🙂 You’re a good lady. AND THAT KITTY CHALET ROCKS! Cutest little house ever!

    • They have not gone far at all–they are here every day! Our tux cat, Fred, checked out the kitty chalet and decided to mark it. Thank goodness his aim was bad and he completely missed! Little shit … 🙂

  4. Hello! My name is Angela, I live in Spain in a beautiful house on a mountainside, overlooking the mediterranean sea. Besides 6 dogs forming part of our family, I have ferals too, coming since years for their daily diner and we got them neutered with the help of just such a humane trap you tried to use – and so they spend a week of their live at the Clinic and then were released into our gardens once more where they went on living their cat live just as nothing has happened 🙂 twice a year we smuggle an antiparasite pill into their wet food and on the lower terrace are some snuggly cat caves at their disposal if they feel like sleeping in a warm place when the nightly winds blow down the mountain. Its one grey tiger, one Tuxedo and a golden tiger. I love your blog! If you want to know more about me look for me in facebook under Angela M. de Grillet

    • Hi Angela! Thanks for stopping by my blog! It’s nice to meet another Kind “cat person.” We get a lot of joy out of helping our kitty friends, and they really seem to appreciate it. I hope our kittens will continue to become tamer over the summer. They stop by the back door almost every night and ask for treats!

  5. What kind of saw does Eric use to make the doorway for the Kitty chalet? A jigsaw? I’m so “saw dumb” and I would love to someday make stuff like the chalet with the cool cutout cat head door!

    • Eric used a jigsaw. We have two of these kitty chalets now, and both get used daily. We bought a similar design online (made of denier nylon), but it hasn’t been used as much as the wooden ones. The three kittens, now two years old, hang out on the porch or the back stoop daily.

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