Kitten Saga

For those who have not been following the kitty saga over on Martine’s FB and Instagram, here’s a quick rundown:

July 2016. A neighbourhood stray cat, who we’d seen as a kitten the summer before, showed up with two wee kittens in tow. They were absolutely adorable, diluted calico (three color, but very muted), and very playful. But they were also feral, so they’d slip away if we tried to approach them.

August 2016. We’d been leaving a bit of food on the back deck, so the kittens and their mamma (who we’ve come to call “Kitty Mamma”) make daily appearances on the deck around sundown. We think they’re probably living under the deck.

September 2016. By now the kittens are used to us and will come right up to us but won’t quite let us pick them up. One of them has beige on half of her face and the other has beige on all of her face, so we call them “Half Face” and “Full Face.” Kitty Mamma stays slippery and elusive, but she doesn’t seem to mind us paying attention to the kittens. They’re showing interest in the inside of the house, and Half Face in particular seems to have an enormous crush on The Mini (our 12 year old black cat, who stays inside).

October 2016. Half Face and Full Face have actually been in the house a few times, but only for a few minutes. Half Face gets really nervous if we close the patio door behind her. By now we’re wondering what we’re going to do when winter hits. There’s no way we’re going to have three cats! We’re exploring ideas for insulated kitty shelters to leave outside. Oh, but the adorbs!

November 2016. OK, now we’re in trouble. The kittens have been coming inside to eat, through the basement door. (Not Kitty Mamma, just the kittens.) One cold night we let them stay there overnight, in the utility room. It gets worse; now we have proper names for them: Half Face is Phoebe and Full Face is Fiona. By the second week of November they had pretty much moved in and were no longer going outside. They remain pretty slippery though, and will only be picked up if you get them when they’re eating.

November 16, 2016. We decide to take them to the vet to get inspected. I had to work downtown that day, so Martine volunteered to handle the daunting job of rounding up two very slippery kittens and stuffing them into a cat carrier and taking them to the vet. Disaster strikes! In the parking lot of the vet clinic the cat carrier malfunctions resulting in Fiona getting her head stuck in the door. She’s squealing because she is being seriously strangled. Martine tries to open the latch enough to free her head but in the process gets bitten very hard by a panicking Fiona, and a panicking Phoebe bolts through the opening and across the parking lot. She’s gone, and there’s no way to find her. The clinic is almost two kilometres from home, so there’s no chance she’ll find her way back on her own.

Late November 2016. After getting Martine bandaged up, shot with a Tetanus vaccine, and interviewed by a government rabies specialist, we begin the process of trying to find Phoebe. Every day — twice a day — we go back to the vet clinic and explore the surrounding streets and yards with flashlights, rattling a food can, and squeaking her favourite toy. Nothing. We put fliers in every mailbox for six blocks around, and tape posters up on poles and bus shelters throughout the area. Nothing. We visited animal shelters and posted items on the various online cat rescue sites. Nothing. Well, we did (literally) get a call from a Nigerian scammer. (No, really.) This goes on for two weeks, with no sign of Phoebe. We’re crushed. As Martine said, at least when she was outside here she had her mother, her sister, a safe place to sleep, and food. Now she has nothing. (*Sob!*)

November 29, 2016. Phoebe has been gone for almost two weeks. Martine gets a call from a lady near the vet clinic saying there’s a small grey cat on her back deck right now. Martine races over there. Too late, she’s gone. Martine searches the area and only succeeds in spooking a raccoon. Later that night we both go back and search the yard and the surrounding streets, with no luck. We leave some food on the woman’s deck.

December 1, 2016. The vet clinic calls to say they’ve seen a small grey cat in their parking lot. They’re not sure it’s Phoebe but it might be. Martine races over there, but it’s too late. We’ve been back to the woman’s house and the neighbourhood several times, but it all seems so futile. We talk about setting a trap on the woman’s deck, but it’s cold these days and if Phoebe gets trapped at night and isn’t found until morning she could easily freeze to death.

December 2, 2016. It’s Friday, and we decide to try the trap. I figure we’ll try it for the weekend, and remove it if we don’t catch her by Monday. We go over there and set the trap on the woman’s deck at about 4:30, with an open pack of wet cat food as bait. By now we haven’t seen Phoebe in over two weeks, and we’re not 100% sure the woman’s or the vet’s sightings were even her. We go home and I start to get ready to make dinner. RRRRRING! It’s the woman. Something is caught in the trap. It’s only been one hour! We race back there thinking “How can it be Phoebe?” and “How can it not be Phoebe?” As we arrive I say to Martine, “this is when we find out if this lady is crazy. Maybe we’ll find a stuffed teddy bear in the trap.” We approach the back deck, and there she is. Phoebe is in the trap!

She’s now been home for a day, and the adjustment has been weird and contrary to all expectations. Phoebe is now affectionate and non-slippery (we can pick her up whenever we want), but her slippery sister Fiona is terrified of her. The Mini also doesn’t like her much, and growls at her. But this is Phoebe’s hour, and we’ve never seen her happier or more well-adjusted. I guess there’s a dominance order that needs to be established or something. Hopefully it will all sweeten up quick.
In the meantime, reference the October 2016 item above. Correction: we now have three cats.

(Photo by Martine Pagé.)
(Photo by Martine Pagé.)

[Originally published on Facebook, December 3, 2016.]

3 thoughts on “Kitten Saga

  1. That’s a nail biting story, I’m glad with a good (okay ‘three cats’ might be not so good) outcome. Also, I like you’re blogging again. Facebook is so ephemeral (and I’m one of the last people not on it), and when it shuts down (no websites are forever) all those stories will be lost.

  2. Three and a half cats if you include the kitty mama, who stays outside but who we feed pretty much every day. I’m in the process of getting her an insulated shelter for the winter.

    You’re right about FB. I hope to write any longer items here and link them in FB, but I won’t bother for quickie things. FB doesn’t even have to shut down to essentially lose your stuff there. Going back in your timeline is so slow and annoying that anything more than a few months old might as well be lost.

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