Then There Were Nine!

Andy and I received the call earlier this month that we’d been waiting for. The Cat House had a cat family that needed a temporary home. In one afternoon, our household increased from three cats to nine!

We began with the following sage but basic advice. Provide a safe place and then allow the cat to explore it. When checking in on a cat, keep visits short. Play with the kittens, but mostly spend quiet time with them until they’ve adjusted.

Safe space: check. That one was easy, we put them in the guest room. But the other two, not so much. Kittens are just too darn cute!

When we released them from their crates, we couldn’t resist staying to watch. Not only did we stay, but we shot video and took photos. One of the black kittens and one of the gray kittens immediately scurried out of the crate. Minutes after they began to explore, we picked them up to cuddle and say hello. Meanwhile, Mama Cat had ducked under the bed to hide, and three of the other kittens were still snoozing in the crate. We respected their nap time for about five minutes. Then we gently lifted them out of the crate and welcomed them to their new temporary home.

Soon the chaos of caring for five kittens ensued! One kitten struggled to climb into a litter box. Another crawled onto a scratching ramp. A couple romped on the blankets I’d laid on the floor. The first kitten finally succeeded in using the litter box, which meant that all the other kittens suddenly had to use the bathroom too. The kittens’ exuberant clawing sprayed cat litter everywhere. Dust billowed. But the chaos wasn’t over. A grey kitten was poking at Andy’s camera. A black kitten was trying to haul himself onto the bed by clawing his way up the edge of the comforter.

At this point, due to not knowing what would be needed, our spare room was relatively barren. About the only source of sleeping quarters were the two crates and a human bed. While we had provided a scratching ramp, there were no other sources of enrichment. Andy suggested we should add more stuff, and the next day he bought a cat bed. As for me, I scrounged through our house that evening for stuff our cats could part with. I found more scratching items, blankets, and some catnip toys. All were an instant hit!

After Andy and I had gotten our fill of kittens, I served up food. That first night overwhelmed me. I’ve gotten used to our own cat trio circling me for food, but I wasn’t prepared for five kittens clambering over my feet as I shuffled across the floor. Nor was I ready for five kittens tripping over each other to reach the bowls of food. Watching all five of them push and shove in their eagerness to eat exhausted me.

But the chaos is worth it. Andy and I have enjoyed watching the kittens develop their distinctive personalities.

First up are Leo and Georgie. These two black kittens are among the boldest of the five. Unless Andy and I examine them, we can’t tell them apart. We’re lucky that one is a boy and one is a girl. But the one is never far from the other, and so we’ll just blame both for the havoc they cause.

They were the first to greet us at The Cat House, the first to explore our spare room, and the first to climb onto the guest bed. This means they were also the first to scare us by crawling between the headboard and the mattress. Oh, and the first to climb on top of the headboard. Whenever I write in my journal, both clamber all over me. They want my pencil, my eraser, my journal. Anything they can pick up with their paws. And if I dare to clean the floors with paper towels, both will try to help by jumping on me or grabbing at the towels.

Leo and Georgie aren’t completely identical, however. We’ve figured out that Leo is the escape artist. Most every day, he manages to dash out of the room at least once as we enter or leave. He always races down the hall and straight to the living room. Fortunately, our own cats have been too shocked by his sudden appearance to do anything but stare. And Leo thankfully lets us return him to the safety or our spare room without hassle. But he’s getting smarter. Now when he reaches the living room, he immediately begins to search for a hiding spot.

We’ll also credit them both for the love they give. One of them curled up beside me on the bed the morning after the cat family’s arrival and promptly fell asleep. They’ve recently both started sitting on my lap when I write in my journal. Both will let me hug them. My other favorite thing about Leo and Georgie is how they’ll sit up and wave their front paws in the air. It’s almost like they’re saying hello!

Next up are Kaydee and Chloe. Kaydee is a dilute tortie and Chloe is a blue tabby. Somedays I can tell them apart; other days I just call them the gray kittens.

Kaydee is kind of shy and quiet, while Chloe is easy-going and curious. Or at least that’s how they were described to us. I’m not so sure the description is completely accurate!

When Andy got down on the floor that first evening to take photos, Chloe was the one who bravely approached him and checked out his camera. She’s also the one who first tried out the cat scratcher.

And what’s her sister, Kaydee, doing? Sitting on top of a crate and batting at her siblings. She’s not so innocent!

When I’ve vacuumed the room, Chloe is the one who chews on our Dust Buster. She’s also the one who takes a ride on the cat blankets when rearrange them. Chloe will steal anything that I bring into the room. She’s also tried to sneak food from the closet.

Then there’s Kaydee. When I relax on the bed, she’s the one who kisses my hand. She’s also been known to wrestle my toes. Kaydee will lay on the bed instead of crowding my feet when I enter the room. She’ll also wait for her siblings to eat before going to a dish.

Whether or not Chloe’s and Kaydee’s personalities will change as they grow, what’s clear is how close they are as sisters. They play, sleep, and even pose together for photos. Sister love!

The fifth kitten is Stan. He’s a tiny kitten with a calm personality.

No matter what’s been happening, Stan will be asleep or hanging in the background waiting for his turn. When I take a nap, the others will crowd around me while he sits and licks his paws. If there’s a new toy on the go, he’ll let everyone else check it first.

That’s not to say Stan doesn’t have a mischievous side. He’s run around the room and tossed catnip toys in the air. When I introduced a trackball toy the other day, he batted the ball around the track. He’s been caught tugging his sisters’ tails.

There’s a charm to Stan. He’s never tried to pull down our curtains, knock down my notebooks, or grab my hair. When I scoop the litter boxes, he just watches me instead of jumping on me as if I were a toy. He likes to nestle against his mama. Stan’s so laid back and observant, he makes me wonder what’s he’s thinking.

Mama Cat and her five kittens have now been with us for two weeks. In a way, it feels much longer. It’s time-consuming to scoop up food, change water, and clean litter twice a day for that many cats. That much work can wipe one’s energy.

In another way, our time with them will be too short. I’d like to see Mama Cat become less shy. When she comes out from under the bed, she loves to have us pet her, but most of the time she stays under the bed while her babies play. I’d also like to see her babies become more comfortable with being groomed and trained. It’d be fun to watch them explore outside of the spare room and to snuggle with them at night. I hope that at least some of the people who adopt them will send updates and photos.

The cat family will be with us until the end of the month. In that time, we’re going to soak up every experience with them and give all the love we can. All too soon, our household of cats will decrease from nine to three. But we’ll have pleasure of knowing that each will find their forever home through The Cat House.

Want to help cats too? If you have the space, please consider fostering for The Cat House. Supplies are provided. If you don’t have the space, please donate to help The Cat House with its fostering program. Fostering helps saves lives!

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