Well this was not easy for me. I thought about not blogging about it, but I'm a full believer in sharing the good and the bad.. Fostering kittens is not all cuteness and huffing..
Meira is more then extremely over protective of her kittens. She can't relax and enjoy attention. I see she wants to because she asks for it and then again when I give it to her, but then she has to leave after a minute or two and check on them. She is on full alert more then is necessary, especially when I tell her I know what I'm doing and am there to help.
She has never gotten used to the fact that there are other cats in the house. She growls at the door (warning not threatening) when I come or go and she catches a glimpse of The Crew. I keep talking to her softly telling her she is safe, that they won't come in, that she need not worry about them, but she still does not trust that fully.
The other day when I cleaned and moved the box covering the litter area, Skippy missed me and sat in the window that looks into the kitten room. Well Meira was quite beside herself that she could see him. I talked softly to her told her that while he was there he couldn't and wouldn't get in, that I was there to make sure she and her kittens were safe. I could have made Skippy get down, but I thought it might be good for her to understand he wasn't a threat in a safe way. Well I was able to distract her nine times, but the tenth she took off running across the room, jumped up on the box, then jumped for the window. It was not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it was really quite humorous in a "no one got hurt" sort of way. Skippy ran away (not that Meira noticed because she was nursing her bopped nose while sitting in the litter box; there was no way to pull off a "I meant to do that" that cats are so darn good at) and I thought she learned something.
Often while going in and out of the cat area, Meira would
make a move toward the door. I don't walk in and out of that door causally
even though it may look it (after ten years of fostering, I know how to
get in and out of a door with out a kitten coming with me). My husband
would often get concerned that Meira was going to come with me and would
cry out in a very distracting way "WATCH OUT!" (which I have to say
does more harm then good, because now I have no idea what I'm watching
out for, am I about to step on a kitten, shut a kitten in the door, is
Meira charging me, what?? no, she just made a move towards the door,
really??? *rolls eyes*) so I told him to stop doing that.
Last night I was alone. Miriam is still a little unsure that humans are all that. Usually I take kittens out of their environment and show them around the house and show them The Crew while protecting them, then take them back to their safe zone. It helps build their confidence and helps cement that humans are protectors and givers of love and safety. So last night I took Miriam out for a walk around the house. She did beautifully. The Crew did beautifully showing off their magnificence and the house to her. (she did not leave my arms, The Crew never got to touch her) I told her about all the wonderful things about to come into her life, her new people, her new home, and sleeping in a bed with people..
When I got back to the kitten room.. that's when I was too cocky.. I had Miriam in one hand. I had moved the baby gate to the side for ease of getting in and out with her. One of her brothers (Squirrel for lack of really knowing which one, as it all went way too fast) tried to see what was on the other side of the gate. I shooed him away with my foot which left an opening for Meira to tell those "no good cats who come around near my kittens" what for. So I moved my foot and leg in front of her which allowed Squirrel a chance to "make a break for it". So I moved my foot back all while trying to enter the room so I could shut the door. If I were less cocky at this point, it would have been best to just shut the door and take a minute, but I was so sure I was OK that I forged ahead. What happened next I still haven't gotten over, and I don't think the kittens fully have either. The Crew? They got cookies they forgot all about it.
Moving my foot back to prevent Squirrel from leaving caused the opening Meira wanted. She bolted and my memory has her looking pretty much like a rocket. So now I have one cat escaped, one kitten about to escape and a kitten in my hand. I turned to get Meira, but realized Squirrel would be out and I'd never find him, so I yelled NO and started to shut the door, realized I still had Miriam in my hands and gently tossed her into the room and shut the door. I have no idea what happened while my back was turned but the caterwauling tore through me like nothing else ever had before. I have had cats get into fights before. Previous cats used to go outside and defend their territory, but something about being attacked while you are safe at home made it different. I was scared (cat teeth and claws are not something you want to tangle with unless you have protection. I had NO idea what I was going to do, what I was even going to find as I took that first step towards dealing with what just happened. (see, it went by even faster then you can read this)
By the time my second foot hit the floor I saw a gray cat slink around the corner (created by the stairs that go to the main floor of the house) and hunker down in front of the hutch. Meira looking so much like Jack I wasn't sure who it was. I could see Meira doing it but didn't understand why she would seeing as she was bent for leather, and I could see Jack seeking me out for comfort. Well Jack or Meira I had to do something and I kept walking towards it. By the time I had taken my third step my brain registered that I saw a shaved rear end and that it was Meira. I said a few thankful words and kept moving toward her. Now I knew I had to be careful.. Upset cats can have very bad reactions to being approached. I went as slowly as I quickly could and she just sat there. I talked softly to her, but she wouldn't look at me. So I reached down and scruffed her. Making sure it was her (yup, nipples exposed, it's Meira) and plopped her in the kitten room then ran to find my cats.
Very thankfully it seemed just to be a war of words. I wouldn't be shocked if one of The Crew gave her the "Paw of Doom" and smacked her for being such an unruly upstart. Treats were offered to gather them all up in one place. Only Skippy seemed horribly traumatized and didn't come and eat, but he sat upright under the kitchen table looking towards the stairs. I got him out and gave him a good going over and he was not physically injured. When my husband came home an hour later he still was very reluctant to venture forth and relax, but he and I got him to take some food and fortunately this morning all is well at Casa de Gato.
After making sure The Crew was OK, I went back down to check on Meira. Not quite knowing how she was going to react, I brought a large pillow to protect me if she should lash out. I called her a bad kitty in a not so nice tone (kind of stupid of me I know, she probably didn't make the connection to my calling her a bad cat five minutes after she escaped) and she made placating movements to show me she wasn't going to attack me. She was fine and she wanted out of the room again.. *rolls eyes* so I put a blanket up over the baby gate so she can't see out. The kittens however were not thrilled at my telling Meira she was a bad kitty not to mention all the screaming by both me and the cats earlier. They all hunkered down together under the couch. I went to go pat them and I got hissed at. Meira came over to make sure I wasn't harming her kittens.. so I decided the indirect approach would be better and I got out the fishing pole toy they love so much.
Petra 'forgave' me first and came out and was playing. Miriam came out second. Followed eventually by Squirrel sidling up to me and putting a paw on my leg and eventually climbing up and sitting on it. Moose was last. I eventually went under the couch and got him and gave him a hug and a kiss and cooed at him and tried to pat his belly, but he wasn't having any of it. So I said that was OK and put him back on the floor and he ran under the couch. Meira laid down in front of the door *more eye rolling* which is near the couch and Moose apparently walked around and behind me and ended up nursing. I patted him while he was nursing and he was OK with that to the point that he offered me belly..
I wrote to the shelter and said it is probably time for her to go back. I am sure once Meira gets away from her kittens and is spayed she won't react so badly to other cats. I hope not as she is a wonderful cat herself. She has started to blossom and play more with toys and I was just starting to appreciate her as a cat and not just a mother. I will do a nice write up for her and I wish her nothing but the best.