Under-socialized kittens can be the most rewarding type to foster. When these kittens come to me, they tend to hide and they refuse to look at me. By the end of their stay here, most of them warm up to me, and many even act is if they never had any fear of people to begin with. It’s usually the first purr that tells me we’ve had a breakthrough.
That said, I’ve come to the decision that Sprout is an unusual case. She acted like the typical frightened kitten on her first day, and for a few weeks to come. After awhile she would leap the baby gate and play like a happy kitten in the living room with Patch or Serra. When it came time to put her away, however, Sprout would run and hide under the sofa. I figured she was going to be one who never quite came around.
On Monday, Sprout was really sick. I wanted to return her to the shelter with Patch (whom I did return yesterday, with a heavy heart), but if she has a cold she’ll be stuck in the shelter system for awhile. It’s better to keep her here where she can get the one-on-one socializing. She escaped from the kitten room when Michael was feeding the kittens in the morning, and was adamant that he did not recapture her, so we let her be. She’s big enough to take care of herself.
I finally found Sprout later that day lying in one of the cat beds on my desk. When I came in, she ran away and tried to climb the cat tree, but Buttercup was inside and hissed and growled at little Sprout. I rescued the frightened kitten from her awkward position stuck to the cat tree, and put her in my lap. It was then that an amazing thing happened – Sprouty started to purr!
For the next half hour, Sprout sat in my lap and rubbed against my chest and face. She relished the petting and neck massages. I thought for sure that my little scaredy-cat had come over to my side and given up her feral ways.
The next day, I let Sprout back into the living room. She didn’t run under the sofa when I walked by, but she would not let me touch her. It was if Monday had never happened.
On Wednesday, I let the kittens out for a little playtime before I sent Patch to live in a cage for a few days. I felt bad returning him alone, but he is so big and he kept accidentally hurting Lady when he played with her. Patch is healthy and huge. Most of all, he is ready to find his forever home. He’s such a nice kid that I think it won’t take long.
I put the 3 smallest kittens back into the kitten room before I left the house, and I placed Patch in the carrier. I tried to capture Sprouty-Sprout, but she took off for my bedroom and hid under the bed. Since I was only going to be out for an hour or so, I left her there. She knows where the adult cats’ litter box is, and she knows where to find water. Plus, she’s semi-feral and my cats have difficulty hunting flies. I think Sprout has the edge, here.
Sprout was in the cat bed in the office again when I came home from the shelter. I sat down and ignored her, thinking I would just try to get her used to my presence. I was surprised when Sprout climbed down into my lap, purring like a maniac. I was wearing a new wool sweater, which I think put her over the edge. Sprout kneaded my arm and my stomach, suckling on the wool. This is a behavior to watch (wool sucking kittens can end up with intestinal obstructions from ingesting wool), but she was so happy that I let her go at it for awhile. She didn’t eat through the sweater, she just left a huge wet spot on my sleeve.
I had to leave the office, and Sprout let me carry her with me. She sat on my lap while I was on the sofa. I let her roam for awhile and only put her back after the knit-night crew arrived. She was really sleepy then, and had little resistance.
This morning, I let Sprout out again. I have to leave in a short bit to pick up a load of cat food for Toni. Will Sprout let me catch her today? No. Apparently, what happens in the office, stays in the office.