Zipper and her brother were found at a camp site and taken to the RSPCA. I think what happened is someone’s cat had a litter and they were too embarrassed to take them to the RSPCA themselves so when the kittens were old enough they took them into bushland and let them go.
Don’t do that, kids. Cats are stone cold killers and feral cats are terrible for the environment. (Also, desex your cat. The world has enough kittens—which means a LOT, coming from me.)
These two are most assuredly not feral cats. Zipper is clearly familiar with house environments, and is remarkably well-behaved for her age.
When our previous cat, Ana, died, I knew we’d get a new kitten soon. If Australia went to war and my entire family ended up in a refugee camp, I would find a cat and make it part of our shack/tent/whatever. That’s just life.
Chris isn’t a cat person. Whenever I mentioned a cat and checked in on his opinion about getting a new fur baby he described himself as “resigned”. But of course he’s the one most likely to spoil a cat, too.
I was being Mature and Responsible. I didn’t get a new kitten immediately, which is already impressive, to my mind. I wrote a list of things we were looking for in a cat, and what we’d need to prepare for a kitten (litter & scoop & tray, food, fishing-pole toys so the kids could play with it safely, a scratching post, etc). Bit by bit I acquired everything on the list, including a collar with a tag engraved with my phone number (in case she gets lost and the person who finds her doesn’t know about microchips), and made sure that the small bits of garden in our back yard are suitable for cat toileting (Zipper will stay inside for weeks/months but we had a good thing going with Ana—she always took care of her business outside, and we didn’t have to do a thing).
Definitely not a long-haired cat this time. Definitely not a “difficult” personality, because of my kids. Definitely not a pink nose (it leads to cancer if the owner doesn’t take precautions… which I did for Ana for a while, and always knew I should have done better). Definitely not a vocal cat. Ideally female. Ideally black. Ideally beautiful. Definitely a very young kitten—kittens over 6 months are all very well, but they’re already gangly teenagers, and (for better or worse) beginning to be set in their ways. Plus the wobbly kitten walk only lasts such a short time, and it’ll be 10-20 years before I get another cat.
Okay, she has a pink nose. Maybe I’ll be a better parent this time.
Okay, she meows a lot. Like, a LOT. The RSPCA didn’t mention her being vocal, but I sat and watched her (and two other cats) for an hour, and during that time she meowed hello at me. So I had my suspicions.
She DID just get desexed (the day before yesterday—her whole belly is shaved as you can see below), which would certainly make me complain*. And she is deeply offended by closed doors (so far we’re restricting her movements to make sure she’s fully in the litter-using habit before she’s unsupervised in the kids’ rooms—plus, we’re observing her particular brand of destruction and cat-proofing accordingly).
In terms of destruction, she’s pretty mild. It’s clear that it’ll take some doing to get her to exclusively use her scratching post (I bought a flat door-hanger style scratching thing today so she has a horizontal scratcher as well as the vertical ones). So far, she hasn’t climbed much at all—just the back of couches and armchairs, which is fine. She’s been on the dining table a few times, and the training procedure for that & appropriate scratching places has well and truly begun. She’s already pretty good though.
Both kids have been very slightly scratched. That’s fine: they were warned; they have fishing-pole toys that can be used without danger; they have been thoroughly trained on cat body language; and Zipper isn’t big enough to truly hurt anyone yet. She’s also gently bitten me a few times, which was actually perfect because I’ll be doing most of the direct behavioural training (so when she’s clearly in a playful mood I’ll deliberately put my own hands/feet/face in the danger zone and then tell her off when she inevitably bites or scratches me—this leads to an extremely trustworthy older cat, who will resist even the most egregious temptation).
So far we know a few things about her: She’s clever enough that she knew her own (previous) name when I met her (that’ll make training either easy or hard, depending on her curiosity level); she’s all about the quality time (probably partly because she was so recently desexed), not much of a climber (which if it sticks will very much help in protecting our stuff) but a bit of a furniture/carpet scratcher.
She hasn’t chewed a single electrical cord, so that’s good!
Since I began writing this entry (on Tuesday, aka K-Day), her meowing has reduced significantly. That bodes well! She still sometimes meows when people leave the room—which is a bad habit, but shows how much she loves having company. On her first night, she slept on my pillow. It was clear that she would have liked to drape elegantly across my face and/or inside my ear, but in the end she settled down in a relatively sane manner (I could breathe, which is a priority for me).
TJ is so in tune with her that he came into my room to tell me “Zipper doesn’t like her collar” (absolutely true, although she’s getting used to it now). Louisette is in love, and since my parents’ extremely large puppy knocked her over she’s switched her allegiance from dogs to cats. There are already pics of her and Zipper on her classroom wall.
I imagine Zipper is already in the running to be their perfect listener for all their future emotional crises for the next 10-20 years. She’ll do a fabulous job. And she loves them too—yes, already. If there’s a loud noise or something else distressing, she’ll go to any one of us for comfort.
Naturally I’m well and truly obsessed. Zipper is just lovely, and life is good. My blood sugar is down, and when Chris was sick for two days this week I did All The Things and coped pretty darn well.
So if anyone asks, she’s my therapy cat. Which is of course perfectly true.
*Huh. Technically I’m getting desexed myself sometime in the next year or so (as treatment for adenomyosis & suspected endometriosis)… for free, and it’s a much smaller op than I had last year. I can’t wait to have another great leap forward in my health!