Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Girl with Attitude

Okay, this is not the sort of edgy in-your-face stuff that I sometimes strive for in this blog, but hey -- kitten pictures!

After the sad and premature loss of our #2 cat Banzai a few months ago, it's become increasingly obvious that we had to get a companion, or companions for our remaining cat Oz. He's bored, needy, and increasingly neurotic. The willful personality that had made him so amusing when teamed with Banzai was becoming intrusive and annoying.

Don't get me wrong, he's a wonderful cat, and no way we'd trade him for anything, but he needed company. A possible solution arrived when a pregnant stray cat showed up at the nearby home of our friends Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Better yet, the stray showed characteristics marking her as likely being from the same family of strays that had produced Oz and several other wonderful cats previously adopted by Dean, Kris, and other friends.

The mother cat was feral, however, so catching her to have the babies in captivity proved to be out of the question. She threw herself at the bars on the carrier, and probably would have lost the kittens if they hadn't released her. So the hope was to wait until she had the kittens and they were old enough to wean, then catch her (for a trip to the vet to be fixed), and go track down the kittens for rescue and adoption.

We were willing to take a pair, and our friend Dan Duval was also willing to take a pair as companions for his lone cat. If there were more, we hoped to find homes for them as well.

As for how all this went, better to get the story from the source, as I wasn't one of the ones crawling under a house searching for hidden kittens. Serve it to say, there were only two surviving kittens, both girls. Dan got the quiet one. We got the feisty one.

We've named her "Sydney," after the lead character Sydney Bristow from "Alias" (Chris just having finished her second ALIAS novel, a character near and dear to us) because she was a girl who had attitude and could kick butt. You see, Sydney's default reaction to anything so far is to hiss, with option (but frequent) spitting. Swatting with the claws is also good.

Actually, despite her ongoing attitude thing, she's actually a very friendly little kitten, and has spent most of the afternoon and evening perched on one or the other of us sleeping, eating, and playing.

Since there were only two kittens to feed, both were rather large for their age. Sydney is the smaller of the two, but she's still large, and I suspect will be growing rapidly. They've very healthy, except that Sydney has a slight eye inflammation that should clear up with some salve the vet gave us.

Since the little girls weren't weaned, we're having to slip her over to solid food. Discovered very quickly that she loves beef baby food, as you can see from the photo. She ate probably two-thirds of the jar over a couple of hours. Hope to get her over to Science Diet kitten kibble in the next week.

The big hurdles now are getting her box-trained, and getting her and Oz to stop hissing and growling at each other. But the good news is that, despite being very jealous, Oz isn't being aggressive, and she isn't afraid of him (despite the fact that he weighs about ten times what she does). He hisses, and she just stares him down and hisses back. It will be interesting for the next couple weeks.

As for the box training, she's spending her nights and unsupervised times in a large kennel cage with a starter litter box. Hopefully we'll avoid any accidents until she figures it all out.

Yeah, that's what you came here to read about: litter boxes!

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