The Most Charming Kitten in the World
Please hold her until she dies....
Late one Saturday evening a neighbor knocked on my door. He handed a patheticly thin white kitten and brokenly asked me to hold her until she died. The rest of the litter had died over the last ten hours, and he couldn't bear to watch the last one leave the world.
Having considerably more experience with baby animals, and the fact this one looked pretty bright eyed for being so sick, I turned her over and tickled her tummy. Fleas ran every where. There were almost more fleas than kitten. To make a long story short, he had a lousy vet who told him nothing could be done about fleas on a nursing mother and kittens. Mamma became anemic and couldn't feed her babies, so she lost all interest in them. Fleas literally sucked the tiny things dry. Except for this one. A few warm baths in Dawn dish washing soap killed the fleas. She gets special hand made formula, after a nasty bout with KMR that left her worse than before.
Oddly, this was the kitten I picked out when they were born. Not that I need a cat, I have 4 love bugs of my own. But I knew of a young girl who's cat had died of old age, and I thought this might be just the one. And now here it was, staring at me with unfocused blue eyes. Her daddy is a siamese mix I've been trying to get to trust me so I can find him a good home, and she will probably look just like him, except for longer fur...and the fact she may be a natural LaPerm. Her tummy fur and whiskers are wavy. But more important, she has the personality.
I've been wanting to train service cats for some time. All my cats are therapy animals, but I wanted one that could go with me. While I still don't plan to keep this darling, having too many cats as it is, I do plan on raising her to be a service cat.
Her coming into my life has helped me immensely. I've made friends and started a campaign to get the strays around here neutered. I already do volunteer work with Friends of Felines, and the Feral Cat Coalition is going to help me catch the homeless and adopted cats taken care of. I'm also working on educating people that "having a litter to show your children" and "I'll just breed them once and keep one of the kittens" is not a healthy mindset. None of the local animal rescue can take cats at this time. Not even if you are one of their volunteers. If you want a kitten, go to your local shelter or check the ads.
The kids by the way, liked the kittens but weren't all the impressed by their birth. They liked them much better when they were old enough to be active and played with. Having two litters at the same time...the mama kitty and HER mama had them within a week of each other, convinced the previous owner that whatever it took, the girls had to be neutered.
So this is the beginning of my little fluff ball of purr. Stay tuned. She's very photogenic, everyone whips out their camera and takes a pic. Some of them are nice enough to share!
The first day
After an exhausting night chasing down formula makings and feeding her every two hours, we both needed a nap. Here she's especially tuckered out, she just had her first bath. I washed her in Dawn Dishwashing Detergent and let it sit on her for a few minutes before rinsing. Safer than most flea soaps. She's not crazy about baths, but I think that's more because she was having to sit still and not be cuddled. She's not at all afraid of the water, none of my cats are. They have their own kiddy wading pool for the heat in the summer.
The Dangers of Kitten Rescue
Of COURSE I'm not going to keep her! I already have too many cats for this place.
Well, there has of course been changes. Kittens change fast, and this time my life changed with this bit of fluff. The people I originally planned her for couldn't take her. As time went by, local residents took a look at her ahem, rear end, and proclaimed her as a male. Okaaaay, she was a very feminine cat, but sure, whatever. Kitten became Merlin, after another beloved fur friend who changed my life. So, marked as male, Baby went off to the vets. Kitten came home marked as female, although still showing signs of being male. Well, the little mutant is Merlynn for now, and which ever sex it was, it's sterile now. And back to being called "she".
True to LaPerm lore, her coat thinned at 6 weeks, although she wasn't weaned. One day she wanted nothing to do with dry food, the next she was staaaarrrving! For a few days we did both, a bottle morning and night and wet kitten food in between. I only have one bottle, and it wasn't enough, so I started giving her formula in a bowl. No thank you!!!!
Kittens typically poke their noses in, get a snoot full, sneeze and try until they get it right. Standing by her right to never do anything typical, she tried a few times, then gave me The Look and backed away. Sigh.
Next, she had a playdate. Her grandmother and mother live in the apartment across from mine. Her mother has no interest in her, but her grandmother, Sammy, seems to realize offspring no matter what generation it is. Since several kittens were in residence, and the kids wanted to babysit her, off she went. I'm not sure what it is about her, they all have kittens or cats of their own (all related to my baby and just slightly older) but when Merlynn comes out, all the children rush over to see her. The owner of her female ancestors is thrilled I'm keeping her and has agreed to kitten sit any time. Well, his boys actually made the deal, but he confirmed it, LOL.
Merlynn made a beeline for their kitten chow. Her brand new teeth made short work of their kibble, and alerted me to the fact that spoon feeding her canned cat food mixed with formula was probably unnecessary. Then, she dunked her face in the water bowl, like she'd never seen one before. She came up sneezing. WELL! She wasn't about to let that other cat's water bowl do that to her, so she did it again. And again. By now my neighbor is leaning on the counter, tears leaking from his eyes and holding his ribs. Because she does it AGAIN! And AGAIN! Sneezing each time and once losing her temper and swatting it. I'm just shaking my head, my neighbor has collapsed wheezing into a chair where he can watch her. Finally, her part siblings...they share the same grandmother and some share the same father, wander over. WHAT???? WHAT ARE THESE ALIEN CREATURES???? They aren't too sure about her either, she's much smaller and less timid than they are. She forgoes cat protocol by walking straight up to them and trying to bump noses. Being properly brought up by their mothers and not some silly human, they scatter. Since they are littermates, Merlynn is left alone, well, except for my still gasping neighbor and his two little boys. I return home to my other cats, who at this point have yet to meet the new kid. Oddly, I miss her for the few hours she is there. When I return, the other kittens are chasing each other, but my baby is nowhere to be found. She's still so tiny that she could hide in a good sized coffee mug. Eventually she wakes up to my calling and crawls out from under the bedcovers where she was catching up on her sleep. She thundered down the stairs and into my waiting hug. She had learned how to play with cats. She had munched dry kibble and could now drink and only sneeze occasionally. It was a successful day.
At 6 weeks, she weighed less than two pounds. And yet she manages to make thunder on the stairs like a full sized cat. Half the time she falls down the last six steps, only to charge back up them to hurry me along. As much as I hate stairs, I'm going to build some in my eventual cat room. My fur kids just love zipping up and down them...so long as I don't have to climb them, I'm good with it!
Service Kitten Training or How My Kitten Has a Fan Club
last time I tried to post some updated photos, it didn't work and I gave up and didn't get back to it, although I think I have a draft somewhere I should find and post.
In the meantime, there have been changes. First of all, it turned out that having three mischievous cats with names starting with M was confusing. I'd try to correct Merlynn and I'd say Morphy...probably out of habit as he is the one usually causing havoc. One day recently for some odd reason I called her Winnie. It was so out of the blue I decided I'd better investigate the idea. Willa sounded good, but it seemed something was missing. I tried a few names out on her to see which one she liked...cats like T and K sounds and dislike hissing sounds in general. True to form, my cats don't seem to care, and Moosie hisses like a leaky tea kettle, it's just how servals communicate. I finally settled on Willetta, with Willa for short. I do seem to be using the whole name though. She's four months now, I've given up the pretense I'm not going to keep her and my manager even inspected the cat room during the annual inspection, so no one noticed I'm one cat over my stated amount. Not only is she a cat person, she is very pleased I fixed the stray cat problem....or rather the Feral Cat Coalition did, with me doing the ground work. To date we have neutered 17 cats, all went to homes. Sadly, I did not manage to catch Willa's father. I already have a home for him, his daughter is so charming another rescuer said she would love to take him. Willa looks more and more like him all the time, even to the slightly crossed eye.
At almost 5 months, she has finally caught up in size with her half siblings. She's a bit on the small size but her fur came back in fine, super thick and fluffy. If I wet comb her and don't brush her out she has the LaPerm waves. I have a nice blue mesh harness for her and she walks quite well on the leash. I usually go a few apartments down to my friend's house, and she always stops there and has to be urged to move on. She's been a therapy cat for my friend since she was four weeks old and considers it her second home. Sas now has a therapy dog, which fascinates Willa. The pup, a lhasa apso rescue named Barney is a little leery of her, knowing cats can scratch. I'm not sure Willa knows that yet, since she has no idea she is a cat. Anyway, she is interested in Barney, but they haven't learned to play yet. They will, he's already buddies with his neighbor, a large black cat the same size as he is. Barney also has a fan club. The very first night he spent in his first home, he woke Sas up when she went into sleep apnea. By the next morning they were totally bonded. He may not have been appreciated for the first two years of his life, but he will be adored for the rest of it. Don'tcha just LOVE happy beginnings?
Due to Willa, I am now able to walk much farther. Not every day of course, but I'm certainly much stronger. Willa and my work getting the cats rounded up has introduced me to a great many cat lovers here, so if my back or hip goes out I'm never far from help. Quite a change in 5 months!
We had a big day today. It started with a food delivery. Before the man could get out the doot, Willa twined herself around him. For the next ten minutes he tried to leave, but she worked her charms on him and he just couldn't put her down. I had to run a few errands so Willa went into her harness. She's beginning to know that when her harness goes on and the leash comes out, it means she gets to go out and that usually means a great deal of attention and getting to go for longer walks. Today it meant a car ride. She sees this as a positive sign, she loves to go to stores. Even though she is so small still she doesn't have a Service Animal in Training patch, no one ever cares. It's a small town, people already know I'm disabled because I need help in lifting anything over ten pounds and have to ask for help. Willa helps by acting like a service cat, she sits in the cart basket like an old hand, although today was only her second time.
First, we went to the bank. As soon as I walked in, one of the tellers lit up like a light. Willa looks every bit as soft as she is, and her charming little face stuns them, and her personality grabs them before they know what hit them. And for natural cat lovers, she affects them like a Dove bar to a chocolate addict. The teller cuddled her and showed her around the bank while I did my transaction and explained that yes, cats can be trained and she was an unusually well suited kitten for it. And yes, she was unusual, she was a rare mutant strain. I left with heartfelt offers to bring her with me every time.
Next we went to my little luxury for the day, a coffee kiosk. I originally had planned to give her to Jenny's daughter, they had just lost their beloved cat to old age. However, her dad was too upset to want a new cat, on top of which he is a K9 cop, and his beloved partner was dying from cancer.Then he got a new police dog pup to train, and he's shaping up to be an even more awesome drug dog than the first. Too many changes, and Dad had enough. But Jenny fell in love with the kitten, so I like to run her by every so often. I haven't caught her lately though, so she was amazed at Willetta's sudden growth. For her part, Jenny smells like milk and Willetta immediately threw heart and soul into making her feel adored. She sat in the car window ledge like she had done it every day, waved her paws in the air and would have happily jumped into the kiosk if I had let her. I asked for a tiny bit of whipped cream. Willa was so excited we both cracked up as she greedily gobbled it down and looked for more. I refused to share my pumpkin spice iced chai or give her any more whipped cream on the grounds it wasn't good for her. I did let her lick the whipped cream off the straw when I was done though. If it wasn't bad for her, I'd buy her a can of whipped cream and let her chow down!
Next we popped into the Dollar Store, where she is a regular. Much to my surprise, one of my neighbors was working there, so I didn't need to tell him she was a service cat, he's known her all her short life. I bought her a little rain poncho with a hood. She wasn't too thrilled, it fit awkwardly over her leash and harness. By the time I reached the check out fifteen minutes later she had adjusted to it. Once I snip a hole for the harness tab to go through, it won't be a problem. It rains most of the time here, so I figure she won't mind walks as much if she doesn't get wet and cold.
Next we stopped for a big bag of cat food at the feed store. She's well known in there, a worker there is the one who will adopt her father. Then I drove to the warehouse to pick up the bag, the warehouse man was a cat lover too, so we swapped cat stories until another customer came. On the way home I notice the antique shop was still open, so I dropped in to say hi and show off Willa. My friend had seen her only once before, when I swung by to tell her I had to break our swim session because I'd been handed a tiny kitten I and had to get some formula for her. Quite a change from the first twenty four hours I had her to four months later. Again, she worked her charm by proving she was perfectly relaxed and not about to go jumping around breaking china. I left with a pretty china saucer that matches the violets in the bathroom, where I keep her food dish. I'm even going to pretend I do that for her, she could care less what she eats out of and her classy water dish is a dishwashing tub I keep in the bath tub, because she still gets too eager and shoves her face in the water then sneezes it all over the place. I bought the saucer for the pure and simple reason she would look cute eating out of such a pretty thing.
Next, home,, where she was greeted by many small children begging to take her for walks. First I handed her to Sas, while I dispensed the red licorice my neighbor had tempted me to buy earlier. Willa sat in Sas's lap while I confirmed which kids were allowed candy. When I returned, Sas was laughing helplessly as Willa devoured her licorice whip! It was even funnier when one of the small children took it away because it might not be good for her little cat friend. Luckily it doesn't seem to affect Willa, who seems to have the cast iron stomach of a goat in spite of my best efforts to only feed her healthy cat stuff. Writing about it made me go get a licorice whip for myself, and I guess she really does like them, because she is being sooooo charming while sniffing my breath. I never give her treats when I am eating, my cats are trained not to touch food unless I hand it to them or put it in their dish. As easy as she was to teach to walk on a leash, convincing her I don't share my food is going to take a very firm hand and a hard heart. I refuse to look in her eyes, if I do she will work her spell on me and I'll be buying her her own supply of licorice and whipped cream. Sas knows the rules about feeding her, but Willa managed to make her forget. It's the eyes, I tells ya, never look 'em in the eyes!
After some time of walking with the kids she was tired, so I made the kids stop. Then they proceeded to passing her around in turns holding her. She was perfectly happy being handed around, hugged and kissed. I finally rescued her, and explained yet again that she had to go in because she is still a baby and needed a nap. Indeed she did, she's been happily purring beside me ever since.
I think I can count her as appropriately socialized (checks off list)