Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Socializing Skittles

Merry Christmas to the Cat Crew!

Skittles has made me very happy over the past month.  She continues to occasionally sleep with me and even allows me to pet her sometimes when I wake up.  I have to remain very still and slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y roll over, then carefully inch out my hand to gently pet her. She is always at the foot of the bed, which involves very slow contortions on my part to be able to reach her. If I sit up or lift my head up off the bed too far, it’s all over and she bolts.

Some days she bolts before I can make contact. Some days, I’m able to make contact and to pet her maybe two or three times… and then she bolts. And some days, I’m able to really spend time petting her.  Until she bolts of course. Always, always, invariably, I do something that causes her to flee. It’s just a question of how long I can hold out before my innate human nature gets the best of me.

Next week, I’ll be getting ready to go out of town for a week. I worry that my lack of presence here will set Skittles’ back in terms of her socialization. I hope not, but it’s hard to predict how animals will react. I can only hope that she will be so happy to see me return, she will actually become a lap kitty out of sheer joy.  It could happen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Integrating Skittles

Skittles has been with us four months now.  I’m attempting to integrate the entire household, which means that Skittles, Pebbles, Mama Dru, Jake and Boo are all being put to the test. Can they possibly get along with each other?

Skittles is absolutely the most easygoing of them all when it comes to getting along with other cats.  She will play with Boo, play by herself, curl up with Mama or Pebbles and generally get along with any of them.  Mama is the exact opposite and as a result, often has to be locked up in the back bedroom because of aggressive behavior toward Boo or Jake.

Skittles still does not trust me and hisses when I move too fast or get too close or startle her. However, we have made some definite progress. Every once in a while, I’ll wake up in the morning and realize that Mama Dru, Pebbles and Skittles are all on the bed with me. Skittles will usually be at the foot of the bed and not touching me at all, but she’s in close proximity and it’s a huge step forward.  Of course, she immediately jumps down the second she realizes that I’ve awakened.

I still have not had the opportunity to pet her.  I miss it and often wish that I had kept her locked up for longer.  It’s hard to know the best choice in these situations. Would she have been better off if I’d followed the recommendation and simply left her released after trapping and spaying her?  I absolutely don’t think so, but some people might consider that I’ve been cruel to keep her inside when she spent her entire first year living outside and most of that year, on her own. Would we be further along if I’d kept her locked up in the back bedroom all of this time?  Forcing her to interact with me twice a day until all those breakthroughs I’m still waiting for happened?  Maybe. But she was alone most of the day and in a small bedroom besides. It seemed endlessly cruel.

I cannot help but second guess all of my decisions because that’s the kind of person I am. In the end, I console myself with the knowledge that, right or wrong, Skittles’ life has definitely been changed for the better - she’s safer at the very least - due in part to the choices that I have made.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Casa de Cats

So apparently my house is breeding ground zero for KCK because once again, I have found myself trying to trap the most adorable little kitten EVER.  I realize I say that about every kitten I’ve rescued so far, but truly, they’re all just so CUTE!

This kitten is tiny, with no evidence of any mommy or siblings around. I’m amazed he’s survived. He’s been hanging out under my porch and the porch next door and last night, he was actually hanging out at the top of my stairs, meowing at my kitties on the porch.  It was sooo cute.  He was begging to be let in.  So… I camped out in front of the door with some food. Cracked the door a bit and waited for him to come in. As soon as he was inside, I closed the door, and …

Exploding Terrified Kitten.

Of course, I expected this and therefore had my hoodie ready and waiting. I gently covered him up and scooped him into my arms, petting, petting, petting and Terrified Kitten became Adorable Purring Machine.  SO. DARN. CUTE.

Now I just have to somehow convince T.A.R.A. that one more kitten is not too many.  Because really, in my household of five cats and one rabbit, one more kitten is DEFINITELY too many. But he’s so darn cute.  I wanna keep him, and who can blame me? Check out his utter cuteness:


Mama Dru, let me in!


Am I cute or what??

Updated 10/18/12: This cute boy is officially named Pumpkin Latte and T.A.R.A. has agreed to find him a forever home.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Cat Rescue Story

My students have been asking me for several weeks to tell them the entire story, from start to finish, of the cats I’ve rescued over the past year.  I keep putting them off, mostly because … who has the time with all the standards to meet?

As my days in the classroom are coming to a close though (I've accepted a teacher leadership position at my district's central office), I decided to go ahead and create the story they’ve been asking for.

This video was created for my fabulous students using iMovie.  The collages were created using the app PicCollage.

And so… without further ado…

If the video doesn't work here, click the link to watch it on YouTube:  A Cat Rescue Story.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Skittles' Newest Hiding Spot

Skittles has been with us for two and a half months now. She still does not trust me, though some progress has been made.  She’s been reunited with her mother and her sister, which is wonderful to see. I wasn't certain they would remember each other, but Pebbles and Skittles bonded almost immediately.  Sometimes I come home and they're curled up together, sleeping, as if they had never been apart.

It's rare that I get to witness these moments, though. Skittles has a truly heightened sense of awareness, even when sound asleep. The slightest change in the household will bring her to full alertness, and if she even gets the tiniest inkling that I am near, she will immediately bolt. As a result, I have very few pictures of Skittles, and those I do have, are not of the best quality, because she's usually on the move.

Skittles has found her safe spot. It's under my enormous bed.  She's found that she's small enough to squeeze under the platform base and has discovered the “cave” at the very back of the bed.  There's a large space behind the bed, beneath the headboard where she can hide and not be bothered. There's a window behind the bed and the sunlight from that window lights up the cave during the daytime and makes for a perfect kitty spot.  Of course, it’s also an anti-human spot. Accessing that particular spot involves removing the mattress and three giant boards from the platform bed, then lying flat on the ground in a tiny space to squeeze beneath the headboard to try to reach her.  Not that I’ve done any of this because that would just freak her out. I’m just saying… in a pinch, I’d be hard-pressed to get to her.

Ever since releasing her from the back bedroom, I’ve been wondering if I made a mistake.  At least while she was in the back bedroom, I was able to pet her on a daily basis. Now that she has a spot where she can truly become inaccessible to me, I have no hope of forcing any interactions with her, and have to instead rely upon her eventual desire to come to me. I wonder if this will ever happen.  I miss our bonding time and it breaks my heart to think that she probably doesn't feel the same at all.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Skittles has been a part of my household for one month now.  She is mostly hanging out in my back bedroom.  I keep the lights low and try to spend time in the room every morning and every evening.

She's come out from beneath the dresser, which is a huge improvement. She now hides in the cat tree, which makes her accessible to me in a way she wasn't while under the dresser.

She gives me a  tiny hiss as I approach the tree.  I kneel down slowly and gently reach in and pet her. She hisses a couple times, but never scratches and never bites.  A few seconds of petting and she starts to purr. She loves the attention, but still does not quite trust that I will not hurt her. 

Of course not.

I'm the one who trapped her mother and sister nine months ago. I'm the one who failed to trap her, who left her outside to fend for herself. I'm the one who seven months later trapped her three kittens and then trapped her.  I'm the one who carted her kittens away and never brought them back. I'm the one who had her spayed.  I'm the one who's keeping her trapped in this darkened room and I'm the one who insists on petting her, every single morning and every single night. I'm also the one who brings her food and who makes her purr, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm the one who stole away her mother and her sister and later her three babies.  I'm the one who represents everything she's ever lost.

How much of this information is pure instinct and how much of it is true understanding? How much of this does she truly know or remember? Will she ever trust me enough to not hiss when I approach? Will she ever trust me enough to sit on my lap?  I am uncertain. Every day is one big question. How do I show her that she is safe?  How do I make her happy? How do I transform her life into one of safety and love?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Trap-Neuter-Release- ... Adopt?

So I've known it for a while now, but I'm really bad at following through on that whole Release part of Trap-Neuter-Release. Or maybe it's just that I'm bad at leaving them released. Either way, I'm just not cut out for the TNR life, I don't think.

I got home from my trip and was super thrilled to discover that Skittles had not disappeared. She was there almost immediately after I pulled into the driveway, greeting me with a meow and happily appearing anytime I came outside for any reason.

She would circle around me, closer and closer, never quite getting close enough to touch, but rubbing against the furniture, the feeders, the house, circling ever closer than away again, in a pattern that fairly begged me to pick her up and pet her. Of course I never did because any aggressive move toward her sent her bolting away. Instead I just talked to her and hung out on the back porch with her and one day when she followed me to the back door and meowed at me as I went inside, I held the door open for her and said to her, "Well, come on, then. Come on in."

And she followed me inside.

Of course the second the door closed behind her, she panicked and tried to climb it. I grabbed a hoodie from the hook behind the door and scooped her up with it. The minute my hands touched her through the hoodie, she froze. I carefully wrapped her up in the hoodie and cuddled her close to my body, which is when the most amazing thing happened.

She began to purr.

Now I know that some cats will purr not just when happy, but in times of stress or pain as well. But it didn't feel like a stressed out or pained purr. It felt like the real deal. Like something she'd wanted her entire life had just come to pass. Someone was holding her.

Maybe I'm delusional, but that purr sealed both our fates.

I ventured a hand beneath the hoodie and stroked her fur – so soft! – and cuddling her close, carried her to a back bedroom, where I set her up with a litter box, food and water. I've had her several days now and spend as much time in that room as I possibly can, getting her used to me. So far, I haven't tried to touch her again because she mostly hides from me and I want to build a level of trust with her. Trust that I won't overstep the boundaries she's established for our relationship. Most of the time she huddles under the dresser, watching me with a wary eye while listening to my voice. She doesn't usually venture out from under the dresser until I leave, but that's okay because I have all the time in the world to coax her into mine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trapping Skittles

I have no idea how I managed it, but this time I did it. I not only trapped Skittles, the very wily, skittish kitten I failed to trap a year ago, but I trapped her three babies as well.

T.A.R.A. agreed to take the kittens (thank goodness) if I managed to trap their mom and have her tested to ensure she's healthy (and by association, her kittens hopefully). I managed all of this, took Skittles to the Humane Society and had her spayed, tested and vaccinated. With paperwork in hand, I delivered the three kittens to T.A.R.A.

There was no question of T.A.R.A. taking Skittles. She'd been on her own for a year, a truly feral cat, and their advice was to release her. Given that I'm about to embark on a two week traveling venture away, I kept Skittles in my house long enough for her to recover from the spay surgery and then followed through and released her. I feel horribly guilty about it though. I've given her mom and her sister a home. They're now happy and healthy members of my household, yet I ejected Skittles back into the urban wilds of my back alley.

I worry I'll never see her again, that she'll disappear like she did a year ago and that will be the end of my journey with her. At least this time I know if she does show up again, she won't have kittens surrounding her, potentially shortening her lifespan. It's the only comfort I'm able to find.

Wishing her safety, comfort and a happy life of freedom.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

The kitten who disappeared back in December… you remember the one.  Pebbles’ brother whom I never managed to trap?  Well…..he’s back.  Only he’s a she and has three adorable little kittens with her.

And so it begins again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Animal Rescue Alliance

I love volunteering for The Animal Rescue Alliance (T.A.R.A.) and I love teaching.  I’ve been working with my students on creating digital stories using iMovie and I created two videos to share with them, as examples of what could be created using iMovie.  Both videos star some fabulous T.A.R.A. alumni.  You can watch the videos here or click on their titles to watch them on YouTube.