We always knew where to find a kitten. Our grandparent’s 1930’s farm was one of our favourite places as kids; with a meandering river behind it, the 'rockery' of petunias, and phlox out front, and in the farmhouse, a window-upon window, over-the-porch room that our family pronounced ball-cony, (I'm not sure why) where we, as visiting grandchildren, stayed.
Four things I learned from a farm full of kittens.
ONE. Give them their hidey nests
In the barn, newborn litters were hidden away, kept safe from other cats and we, the persistent children. Led through niches of stacked, sun-scented straw bales, in the corridor connecting the two heifer pens, they sometimes curiously peaked out, rewarding our patience.
Their love for dark nests and hideaways never leaves them. Every kitten and cat I've had, (numbering around 10 over the years), has often sought claustrophobically tight spaces in which to sleep.
Finn, probably like most animals, loves to rotate through different, favourite hidey-nests; sock drawers, backs of closets, clothes, and Kneadies™ smushed into soft piles.
TWO. Cat2Cat relationships can be very tricky
If dogs are hierarchal pack animals, then cats are, for the most part, hierarchal loners. Rarely, were cats found lazing in packs around the feeding bowl on the farm. In the post "We all Stayed Home and we all Got Animals..." that photo of the cardboard cat-condominium built by hopeful young cat-city planners? Would. Never. Happen.
Seemingly Positive Cat2Cat Scenarios:
1) ONE new adult cat with ONE of us as their best friend:
is often best if you can be home a lot of the time.
2) ONE cat under the age of one year added to a home with ANOTHER cat under the age of one year:
usually very successful because their kittenhood memories and acceptances of sibling companionships are still strong.
3) TWO young cats under the age of one year who may not even know each other:
Two kittens are never harder to take care of than one kitten and they have each other for company for extended periods of alone-time.
Seemingly Negative Cat2Cat Scenarios:
1) ONE new kitten added to a home with ONE established adult cat:
is tolerable at best, and often abusive for the kitten. Ask Finn, who played the role of the abused new kitten who was mercilessly hit by the older cat every time he walked into her area.
2) ONE new adult cat added to a home with ONE established adult cat:
will almost always deteriorate to a competition between the dominant and the less dominant cat. It can easily take a year for them to even tolerate each other. MKF (mixed kitty fighting) does not a home of Zen make.
Read the post 'Feral and Stray Cats Finale: How can we Help Them? to read about my impossible cat relationship predicament.
I want to know YOUR experiences with your cat numbers, especially your successes. What did you learn about established cats socializing with new cats? Email me!
Play the VIDEO BELOW showing you how to build a 'Double Trouble Cat Tunnel'; a way to encourage a fool's game of pretend 'hunting of fingers'.
THREE. Cats love to hunt (or at least pretend to)
Paper grocery bags are back in fashion; I watched our family's cats play in them which made me think of a finger risking idea of my own:
you can watch the video to see how to make your own ;Double Trouble Cat Tunnel'
FOUR: They like it natural...not clumpy
This is not only better for them, for us, it's fresher smelling (wood!) and cleaner than the nasty, sticky, tracking, clumping cat litter. It solves all the world's problems (well at least those involving acres of cat litter in its land fills)
Years ago, Finn started shaking his feet in an agitated way, picking at them whenever he stepped out of the chemicalized clumping kitty litter, prompting me to look for an alternative.
I found it!
Canadian 100% natural wood pellets make sense and is gaining in popularity; it is simply a bag of wood pellets, often used in horse pens. (RONA)
I'll describe the method here:
Find a large sifting litter pan system (Pet Value) It is sold with two lower receptacle-pans, one sifting pan, and a half lid that gets in the cat's way and will not be needed with this setup (I threw it out)
Fill it with a thick layer of 100% natural wood pellets.
Add a dust pan to your arsenal.
Use your existing litter-scoop to pick up cat-constitutions (and the inevitable, occasional wood pellets), as well as the pile of sawdust created by your cat's urine which disintegrates the compressed wood pellets.
Put this in your dust pan and deposit it all into your toilet.
Now for the strangely fun part: Go back to the pans. Hold the sifting pan and uppermost receptacle-pan slightly above the lowest receptacle-pan and shake them just slightly (like you're shaking a Jiffy-Pop bag) This allows the rest of the sawdust to drop down easily into the pan.
Set the sifter and clean pan off to the side.
Take the upper pan with the uriney, but weirdly dry sawdust, to the toilet and using a small wad of toilet paper clean the film of sawdust that might be remaining. That's as dirty as it ever gets.
You'll have no little bits of kitty litter all over your floor, and no chemical litter smell. Again: No chemicals.
The best aspect of 100% natural wood pellets is that you can flush the pellets, the sawdust, and your cat's daily constitutions down the toilet...'cause it's all organic. You'll have no more kitty litter garbage garbage.
The pads on cat's feet are porous things that, like skin, take up everything with which they come in contact; like floor cleaners, and the chemicals in kitty litter that clump and stick to them.
Sprays, perfumes, and candles can truly upset their natural systems even more than they do with ours. We are all delicate flowers.
Hit the LIKE button below if you'd like a video showing how to do use a system like this and I'll look into getting Finn an acting coach.
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Thank you for reading this post, and I hope you've found aspects helpful.