Friday 24 April 2009

Kitten Diary #4

Journey and arrival

Travelling with kittens was never going to be fun but we managed it together pretty well. To give them a bit more space in the car we bought a larger cage than their travelling basket. This still had disadvantages as it rattled and had no hiding places.

Each cat reacted differently to the challenge. Raven, as befits a fluffy Princess, cried and complained a lot leaning right through the bars to grab me with her paws, panting and looking ill. At least some of this was play acting because if I gave in and rescued her from her purgatory she sat quite contently on my seat back (or better still, P's seat back, tricky while he was driving) so it was clearly more distress at being caged than the travelling itself.

Rook, the phlegmatic settled down quite quickly, lying down and looking forward through the windscreen while keeping fairly quiet except when Raven trampled him, which was quite often. Crow, who is the worry guts of the family, decided it was all too much, disappeared under the blanket and declined to show his face again until we arrived, not even venturing out when we opened the cage to let them stretch their legs inside the car on the train or at toilet stops. We had a tray ready but nobody used it and we offered water but none of them were interested.

Not a great experience but reasonably tolerable and hopefully, they'll be better able to cope next time.

Once they arrived they settled in easily. Presumably the place smells so strongly of us that it seemed like home even though they'd never been here before. They quickly explored and found the bed and the best windowsills to watch the birds from.

There are many old wives' tales about rehoming cats to do with the number of weeks needed to keep them indoors so that they forget their old homes and don't try and get back there. The kittens were desperate to explore outside and since it's relatively safe here, no roads or other animals about, I decided to take advantage of their bonding to me as mother cat. They rarely stray out of earshot of me and in these strange surrounding keep me in view as much as possible.

We went on a trek the second day. I took them all around the farm, on a circuit that the old cat felt was an appropriate area, looking in most of the buildings, examining the vegetable patches and taking in the walk around the far side of the hay barn so that they could learn the land as quickly as possible. We went slowly so that they could investigate everything that caught their eye safely and at the end of the trek they were exhausted but their curiosity was mostly satisfied. We have been able to let them out and they're happy to stay nearby.

However there is a problem. We deliberately didn't take them into the old house where the swallows are nesting. Unfortunately, they are cats and spotted the birds doing their thing. It's become irresistible. Although they can't actually get to the nests which are high on the rafters, they can climb in and out the room easily, looking sinuous and sinister which has been driving the birds wild. We think the swallows may give up and go away entirely which would be devastating if predictable. We love watching their acrobatics and will miss them a lot.

Apart from that the only other danger has been some self inflicted scares caused by climbing trees that are too big for them. Crow went straight up the side of the big pear tree and high into the branches in almost a single bound. He enjoyed it immensely until the time came to come down. The trunk is so vertical that he couldn't understand how to make a descent. Eventually, with much crying, he climbed out to the end of a downward pointing branch and dropped 20 feet to the ground. Luckily no bones were broken.

You'd have thought this would have been enough for him but the next day, after a couple of test runs up a much smaller and more suitable apple tree, he went back up the pear tree again in full sight of his siblings. Naturally they had to follow him up, so we had three kittens in the tree.

kittens in a tree

With the benefit of his previous practise Crow managed his downward journey down the trunk quite well this time but the other two had no idea about how to manage. We got a ladder but that was no help, they wouldn't come close enough to grab. Rook is quite a cissy and didn't fancy the big drop method developed by Crow the day before. We went to get the bigger ladder but as I went I called 'kitten breakfast' which is the signal for their daily treat of pouch food and the best way of getting them in in a hurry when I need them.

Raven was down the tree in a flash, she's so light she can almost hang upside down by her claws so all she really needed was a little encouragement. Once she was down, Rook was determined to join her before all the food went. He cried and meowed and jumped backwards and forwards in a terrifying manner for a few moments but then he made the decision and scrabbled back down the trunk. The poor thing was quite shocked by his experience but managed a hearty breakfast.

raven being a gopher
Gopher or meerkat - you decide!

1 comment:

Pamela said...

Oh, you are fortunate. I guess their age has much to do with it, but my two still haven't got over the experience of traveling from the Canary Islands last June and still cower away from the idea of going out. Of course, that could also be to do with the weather.