adopting kittens – one family’s experience

This weekend I’m having a rest from blogging and am delighted to introduce our guest blogger – Simon & Minnie’s mum.  For our less avid readers, a little background:  Last Spring we took in two heavily pregnant semi feral / farm cats who were closely bonded to each other – Tabbytha & Mowse.  They gave birth within a week of each other and brought up their 7 kittens as one big family group.  A few weeks later a 5 (ish) week old Simon was found alone in a garden.  Long story short, Tabbytha & Mowse adopted him as part of their big family.

Now over to Minnie & Simon’s mum: 

It’s been a year since Minnie and Simon came to their forever home here and so much has happened. We first approached 8 lives in July last year asking advice about adopting. We’d finished building work on our house and were keen to share it with a couple of cats. However I had visited bigger rescues in the past and was dreading walking down corridors of doors with felines begging us to pick them. We were also trying for a family and I wasn’t sure how that was going to work with adopting cats.

mowse & tabbytha: minnie’s mum and aunty and simon’s adoptive feline parents

From my first tentative email explaining our situation I received a lovely message explaining that kittens adopted now would have time to settle before any baby arrived and linking me to more information about introducing babies to cats. There were also links to the up for adoption pages for the current litters of kittens.

simon adopted by minnie’s family

By the next Saturday we were having our home visit! Despite our nerves beforehand this was a positive experience where we felt able to ask advice on kittens and had a chance to talk about the previous felines in our lives before arranging a time to come and meet the kittens and see who we clicked with.

a very young minnie with her family

Driving to the house we weren’t sure what to expect but sure enough it was the one with a cat at the window and another on the step. We were ushered into the ‘airlock’ of the hall and heard the patter of small paws behind the door to the stairs and then we were on the landing surrounded by a positive sea of kittens. I’d never even seen that many kittens together before never mind had them scampering around me. The two mother cats were more cautious; Mowse stayed safely in her box but Tabs had a look at us from a shelf as the kittens decided whether to approach.

minnie

We were given tips on how to tell the different black and white kittens apart, I know the black fur round the noses was often important but I never entirely got the hang of it. However when it came to the two black kittens we were told ‘stroke him, if he purrs its Simon! Simon certainly knew how to make a good first impression carefully pulling his claws playing with my husband and purring his huge purr.

We were introduced to the important art of ‘waving a feather’ which is even more exciting when there are at least six kittens hunting it and the string on the other end of the rod at any one time. Eventually a small black and white lady got tired of the ruckus and hid behind me for a break. Knowing her now I suspect Minnie needed to check we could wave a feather properly before considering coming to live with us. It is her very favourite thing in the world.

So that was it, I was set on Minnie and my husband on Simon and since we had been the first to pick the pairings got rearranged to place them together. It was hard to leave them but it had been agreed that they would come home when we were back from our holiday so they had plenty of time to settle. We visited another couple of times getting to know them better and playing with the whole rabble of kittens and in between we had messages about how they were getting on.

rabble of kittens

By the time they were due to arrive we had had our best shot at kitten proofing the house, bought a number of toys, a water fountain, a scratching post and a cat tree and tried them all out and my husband had built a castle out of two big cardboard boxes. This got well used through into this summer with a few modifications!

The day Simon and Minnie were coming was also the day when I could do a pregnancy test. We got up early planning to get it done so we’d know I wasn’t pregnant this month and could put it aside and focus on the cats. Sure enough there I was staring at a test strip going ‘er that isn’t actually negative…’ It was an exciting day all round!

Minnie and Simon arrived snuggled up together in the carrier having spent the journey looking around. Minnie began her explorations by climbing the scratching post and batting the cat nip ball my husband had balanced off the top. She also had some fun chasing feather although we soon used our voucher to get her favourite kind of feather and rod. Simon also had a look round and a sit on the lap of the person who looked after him when he was tiny and then tried getting back in the carrier. When it was explained that he couldn’t come back further exploration prooved that he could hide in the sofa. For several weeks after when people asked how the cats were I’d reply that the sofa was purring.

When they arrived Simon would respond to his name (or Mimon or Mimey his honoury M names to fit in with the rest of the litter) while Minnie would respond to the tinkling of bells that meant we were waving a feather. Feeling something like a snake charmer I would come into the apparently empty living room, kneel on the rug and begin swinging the feather until rustling began in the sofa. Then I’d call and Minnie would emerge and pounce followed by Simon. After an energetic game they would be ready for something to eat.

feather then food

To my delight after a few days they also took to snuggling on my lap. Simon prefferred to be up at chest level as he had while watching candy crush as a tiny kitten while Minnie liked to squeeze between my legs especially if I was wearing a long skirt for her to sit on. They still like to snuggle like this though they are much bigger now.

Kitten cuddles

Minnie discovered she liked watching TV and took up residence in the toddler chair I’d made while Simon built a den in the cat castle and popped out of different entrances.

Minnie in toddler chair

Unfortunately my body responded to pregnancy by developing hyperemesis gravida. Both kittens tried to comfort me when I was sick often snuggling up with me on the bathroom floor in the early hours of the morning. Simon tried to pack himself in my suitcase the first time I was admitted to hospital with it. Unfortunately I was soon unable to be in the same half of the house as the litter tray without vomiting and poor Simon had to be shut out of the bedroom a few times after his farts set of waves of sickness. It was around then that he figured out how to knock on doors and we decided to get on with installing a cat flap.

In October Simon fell in the bath. He had been walking round the edge for a while reaching down to try and pat the water so it wasn’t a huge suprise. He overbalanced with a squawk bounced out off the bottom off the bath and proceeded to tear out of the bath room and shake himself all over the house. It was even less of a suprise a few days later when he repeated the performance! The next week it was Minnie’s turn altough she took it in her stride, jumping neatly out and sitting on a towel to wash the water off herself.

The two cats have very different personalities. Minnie is always the one to take the lead when new humans visit while Simon runs for cover. This was especially so when my one year old nephew came visiting. Simon retired to the attic and could only be coaxed down late at night. Minnie however was in the thick of the action including curling up round his feet during a tantrum moving her tail out of the way of his stamping when needed.

During his visit both kittens went to the vets for a check up. They were complete stars snuggling up together in the carrier and seeming totally unphased by their trip out in the car. They repeated this last month for their vaccine boosters much to my husbands surprise. The next day we found Simon asleep in the carrier and Minnie sitting hopefully by the car. As my husband said it feels too easy to be true but they actually do take it in their stride.

My husband has an office at the end of the garden and both cats enjoy joining him for parts of the work day. Simon likes to have dreamies thrown for him to chase and minnie loves the automatic lazer pointer while the underfloor heating with a carpet on top is a hit with both of them. Soon after they started going over there I had that sinking feeling that I hadn’t seen the kittens in a while just as we were leaving for the cinema. On our return they were still missing but since my husband had not worked that day it took a whie to find them. They had shot in when he went to collect a book. The next day he put a cat flap in that door too so now they visit when they want.

Simon then had a bit of a run of getting shut in places including overnight in the garage. I woke to find a very agitated Minnie and no Simon. As soon as my husband went outside he heard plaintive mewing and Simon ran out and had a wee in a flowerpot.

Early snuggles together

Our first trip away was hard. Despite knowing our friends were going in regularly I worried that something would happen. However we came back to find them snuggling up together although the chair was not as roomy as it once was!

cuddles on chair

Just before they moved in I had a message from the rescue saying that Simon had plans to be a panther as he was growing so fast. At a year old he had become a big cat and Minnie has grown too.

My bump was also growing and Simon loved snuggling up on it. He was fascinated when the baby started kicking and would purrmore as the kicking increased. We’ve wondered since if Simon’s cat senses let him learn more about the baby in there than we could. Our son certainly seemed to respond to Minnie’s ‘silent mews’ so we think they are just too high for our adult human ears.

To this day Simon runs and hides at the first sign of a visiting child yet somehow our baby is different. We brought him home from hospital expecting to have to coax him out from hiding but as soon as I sat on the sofa to feed our baby Simon tried to jump into my lap as he had through pregnancy. After some adjustments I ended up with a purring cat on my lap and a baby sitting on top.

arriving-home-from-hospital

It quickly became apparent that Simon wanted to sit with the baby whoever they were sitting on.

Simon goes with baby

Minnie is also very attentive and if the baby cries and we are not both there already she will herd us to him. They both spent a lot of time snuggled up around us as I was recovering.

recovery snuggles

Minnie finally learned to mew a month ago after getting shut in the cellar overnight. She followed up the next night by getting trapped in a cupboard with Simon sitting in solidarity outside. She made the best of it building a litter tray from some paper she found (including our marriage certificate and made a bed on the top shelf. Fotunately she seems none the worse though some of the damage to the paperwork was terminal.

She will still try any human food she can find just in case, Pepper covered smoked herring went down unexpectedly well as did fresh chilli pepper. Simon is more conservative in his food choices but is a big hunter of fies and moths. He’s even realised that triggering next door’s security light brings the moths to him. Minnie also catches insects but doesn’t often eat them and when she doesn’t get to hunt toys enough small birds and mamals have been hunted.

recent snuggles

I can’t imagine life without our two wonderul cats. They still snuggle up together and groom each other big as they are and there are rumers that Simon may soon be reading this blog!

Simon Reading

Thank you 8 lives for bringing them into our family.

Categories: cat, cat rescue, guest author, kittens, Sheffield | Leave a comment

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