Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting Our First Kittens (Part II)

The first day we picked up our first 2 cats from the Bellevue animal shelter, we fell in love at first site. It was pretty heart wrenching to walk into the kennel and hear the cats immediately start meowing for us to pay attention to them. I wanted to take them all home! But we knew we wanted kittens, and there were 3 small kittens all curled up in a cage. Oscar had actually seen a picture of one on the shelter's website and decided that was the kitten for him. He really likes the look of a tuxedo cat. I'm much, much more into multicolored cats. When Oscar turned toward the cage, the kitten from the website actually stuck his paw through the bars to touch him. He immediately said "I pick this one." Meanwhile I'd come up to the cage and seen the kitten I thought was the most attractive - an adorable gray tabbie with a super sweet little face. I put my hand on the cage and she came up and sniffed it (the remaining black kitten stayed in the back of the cage curled up and not caring in the slightest that we were there). I told Oscar "I pick this one," and we named them Fry and Leela, a change from their given names of Fergie and Lola, and an homage to one of our favorite shows - Futurama.

The lady at the shelter let us get to know our new kittens for awhile while she finished up some paperwork for us. It turned out she got several phone calls while we were sitting in the room playing with them, so we certainly had an ample amount of time to know what kind of kittens would be coming into our home. Leela stayed in my arms for the most part, but she was extremely stiff and obviously not comfortable with the situation. Fry, on the other hand, was exactly what Oscar wanted. He was very, very playful. Oscar loves to play with dogs and was thrilled to be able to play with a kitten. Towards the end of our stay Leela began to struggle and I let her go, thinking she'd want to play with the string Fry was playing with. Wrong. She was completely uninterested. All she wanted to do was hide in the corner.

Once the paperwork was done, we took the kittens over to my sister's house before we took them home, and Leela pretty much hid the whole time while Fry played with my 2 year old niece Hana. That night we tried to get both of the kittens to sleep in our bedroom with their own little bed set up. But Leela was not having it. She found some corner in the other room and hid there for the whole night. Fry, though, could not get enough of us. He stayed between us vigorously purring and nuzzling us the whole night long. I really don't think he slept at all. While I lay down enjoying Fry's company I was beginning to regret picking Leela. Sure, she was beautiful. But what use was an attractive kitten that was going to be so incredibly timid?

The next day, however, everything changed. To this day almost 4 and 1/2 years later Fry has not slept on the bed with us again. Only on very rare occasion does he even get on the bed, and even then he merely walks across it, rarely sitting down and never sleeping. He still remained playful and cute, but only ever sat on my lap once and didn't sit on my lap again for 3 years. He was never very holdable, and even now gets very tense, completely locks his body, and struggles when you try to hold him. I was very disappointed since I love having holdable cats and cats who sit on my lap, but he was still a lot of fun and we still had plenty of good times with him. Unfortunately he grew up entirely too quickly. Within a week he doubled in size and began looking more like an adult cat than a kitten. At least he still had his cute kitten habits.

Leela, on the other hand, has become the bed queen. My shy little kitten began to realize that we meant her no harm and soon started showing her true colors. She was absolutely delightful.

She had the most adorable meow that made us want to give her anything to make her happy. And to top it off she had this deep, rumbling purr that sounded like a motorcycle was revving up inside her. You can hear it if you watch this video. And see how she presents her tummy for petting.

She doesn't love being held but she doesn't protest against it either (though there is a hold Oscar puts her in that she loves).

However, she loved to sit on our laps and she loved to snuggle up in our arms.

Though she'd shown zero interest in the string on our first day with her, she became the friskiest little kitten who could not be calmed down whenever she wanted to play. Watching her with the cat fishing pole was hilarious. She's a very good jumper and would launch herself several feet into the air and twist herself around trying to get to the toy. Fortunately she grew up slowly and stayed kitten cute for a long time. It happened so gradually I barely even noticed when she became an adult cat. She also quickly established herself as the dominant cat, which was something we never expected from our first day. She always picked the playful fights with Fry, in spite of being half his size for a large portion of their kittenhood, and even to this day she usually has the upper hand when they play together.

Of course, they've changed a bit since they were kittens. For the next 3 years we watched them grow and develop their own unique characteristics. Some of their differences may be due to the fact that Leela was feral but Fry never has been. I'm guessing he was brought into the shelter by a family whose cat had had kittens and they simply couldn't care for them all. Because of that Fry is much more interested in the outside world than Leela is. He couldn't get enough of the raccoon that kept coming to our porch when we were on a ground floor apartment. They'd mirror each other and just stare at each other for hours! We were also able to leash train Fry for awhile. He enjoyed it at first, but one day he figured out how to wriggle out of his harness, and I haven't risked taking him out since then. His leash wrapped around the body like this one below.

Leela, on the other hand, freaked out the first time we took her outside on the porch. She immediately started crawling up the screen door trying to get back inside.

Though Leela loves us, she's still pretty terrified of strangers, particularly children. But if you don't go after her when she runs away, and if you come over often enough, she'll start to warm up to you. She used to hide all the time when our home teachers would come over, but after a few months she started going up to them and rubbing against their legs. Once she knows you're not going to hurt her, she'll be your friend. However, if you go after her when she's hiding, she will hiss, and she never hisses otherwise. At least she won't attack back if a kid tries to grab her. She'll just run.

Fry, on the other hand, is not at all afraid of strangers (in all honesty I can't think of anything that Fry is terrified of and runs away from, even the vacuum). Sometimes he doesn't even notice or care that they're there. He'll often just stretch himself out on the table like it's nobody's business. Though he stopped sitting on laps, he would still walk back and forth across laps, and he'll do that to any stranger who's sitting down on our couch. He also raises his butt when you pet him so that he can feel more of the pet.

We did some funny things to our cats while they were small - like sticking them in our shoe containers. Luckily no permanent damage was done.

To know more details about all of my cats as individuals, proceed onto Fry (Part III)

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