Friday, April 20, 2018

How we ended up adopting three kittens

At the beginning of March, we said goodbye to our 18-year-old cat, Eleni. She had been unwell for a long time, and so we had known the end was coming and had thought about our next cats. We decided it would be best to adopt a pair of bonded siblings. Two cats can keep each other company when alone, which is important for indoor-only cats, but we wanted to ensure that they would enjoy each other's company. I also knew from watching kitten cams that cats who have been in foster care are better socialized than many rescue cats who have only lived in shelters.

In the past, all our cats have been rescues who came to us. Percy was a pet abandoned by his owners when they moved. Eleni and Pandora were both kittens we found in our garden (not at the same time). So we knew that when the time was right, a cat or cats would appear.

A few days after Eleni's death, my sister's friend Jennie posted on Facebook that she had a feral mother cat and four kittens in her garden, and was looking for adopters for the kittens once they were old enough. We had already arranged to go on holiday, and the time we were going to come home would be about the right time for these kittens to be adopted, so we said we would take two of them. We followed the family's story. The mother cat started neglecting the kittens, so Jennie took them into foster care, kept them warm, and started bottle feeding them. Sadly, two of them didn't make it, but the other two kittens survived and developed well. While it was sad that they were no longer in their mother's care, having the kittens fostered by a human really helped in socializing them and reducing the feral instincts they would have learned from their mother.
Artemis and Cassandra, adoption day

When we returned from our trip, we adopted the two sisters, Artemis (tortoiseshell) and Cassandra (tabby-calico), probably aged 6-7 weeks. The kittens were friendly with us and quickly adapted to their new home. They went to the vet and received the typical deworming treatment and flea drops, and we gradually transitioned them from eating canned kitten food to dry kitten food, which is often considered more nutritious and is easier to manage as it doesn't spoil as rapidly as canned food.

A week after we adopted them and were happy at the way they were settling, I went out in the afternoon to buy a new cat tower. I heard a kitten meowing, and saw a young girl looking at a kitten that was under a parked car, and she was talking on the phone. When I got home, she was with her father and they were giving the kitten food and water outside our building. I saw that the kitten looked like Eleni, and felt a twinge of sadness, but I assumed the girl and her father were adopting the kitten, so I went home.

In the evening, when Ivor returned from work, I sent him a message saying that the cat tower was in the car and we would need to carry it up the stairs together. A few minutes later, he called me and asked me to come downstairs. I already knew that this wasn't about the cat tower, and I had a premonition about what was going to happen. This was the way our cat Pandora had adopted us. Ivor had found her in the garden and called me to come down, and that was how we took her in. I went out and found Ivor with the kitten. I was sad that she hadn't been adopted earlier, but also thrilled that we would have another Eleni-lookalike. I called her over, checked to see that she was female, and we chose her name, Penelope. She was about the same age and size as Artemis and Cassandra, and they had only been with us for a week, so we felt confident that they could all get along together.

As we were taking her up the stairs, one of our neighbours came out and saw her. He said he'd found her in the morning inside his car, and hadn't been sure how she had got in there. He seemed happy that we were adopting her. Later, when we carried the cat tower up the stairs, another couple of neighbours saw us and asked what we were doing, and they told us about the kitten who had been around in the garden all day, and were very happy when we said we had adopted her, saying we'd done a mitzvah.

The next day I took Penelope to the vet, and while there was some initial surprise that we had taken in a third kitten so soon after the other two, when they saw that she looked like Eleni, they all understood. In the days that followed, the kittens got to know each other, and after some hissing at first, they seem to have accepted each other quite easily. Artemis and Cassandra are still closely bonded, and Penelope is a bit older and larger, and enjoys pouncing on them playfully. Sometimes their play-fighting seems a little rough and I separate them, but they can also sleep together in a pile. They will all get their first vaccinations this week.
Cassandra, Penelope, Artemis

The way Penelope arrived was one of those coincidences that feel like fate. However much I like to see myself rational, I have to admit it felt like it was meant to be. We haven't encountered a friendly kitten outside since we adopted Pandora 16 years ago, and she arrived at just the right time, was just the right age, the right sex, and looked so much like our beloved Eleni. All these factors made it inevitable that we would want to take her.

We never intended to have three cats. My reluctance was partly because of my experience having to evacuate the building during the forest fire. I carried Eleni in a carrier for 4 km, and at the time I was aware that it would have been difficult to carry two cats in two carriers, and now I wonder what I would do in such circumstances with three cats. At the moment, the three kittens could fit into one carrier, but they will soon all be adults. Three cats also cost more to feed, and the litter box needs scooping more often. But we take our responsibilities seriously and we know we are capable of providing them with a good, loving home for the rest of their lives.

We are grateful to Jennie for rescuing and fostering Artemis and Cassandra, and that fate or coincidence brought Penelope to us.

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