I thought it might be a good time to re-visit progress with the rescue kitten we took delivery of a few weeks ago – that the children named Kaspar. I’m not sure “kitten” is really an appropriate term – more “young cat” – he’s about a year old as far as we know.
Before we visited the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Kaspar had led a somewhat chequered life. He grew up wild as a kitten in somebody’s back garden, and they informed the RSPCA that an entire family of cats had made their garden home. Kaspar was one of the more timid kittens, that would hang back while the other cats took most of the available food. The RSPCA took all of the cats and kittens and began looking after them at one of their many rescue facilities.
For a long time, the rescue facility staff wondered if Kaspar might ever be re-homed. He had never been socialised with humans at all and tended to hide whenever anybody or anything came anywhere near. One of the girls that regularly cleaned and fed him started to discover another cat though – a cat that would run to greet her, tangle himself around her legs, and meow for attention. Only with her though. Perhaps there was hope after all then.
Apparently being a small black cat is a huge disadvantage if you’re looking for a new home. Kaspar spent eight months at the rescue facility – his photo posted on the website – and during that time nobody even enquired about meeting him. And then, of course, we turned up. I’ve always joked that given the option, we will always go for the saddest story or the most difficult challenge. Our history with adopting cats has been one of disaster survivors, or accidental litters of unwanted kittens. When we began looking, I fully expected to come home from work to face a three-legged cat with one eye and personality issues.
The first few weeks with Kaspar have been hard. He was scared of his own shadow – he still is – but each day has grown a little in confidence. He has slowly progressed from hiding under the dinner table to investigating the house. If you meet him during one of his secret investigations he invariably jumps out of his own skin, and bolts past you – in search of a known safe spot. If you sit quietly on an evening though, he will gradually summon the courage to find you, and curl around your legs – a stroke or two causes perhaps the loudest purring I’ve ever heard from such a small cat.
He really is small – compared to our other cat. If you’ve seen “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, you’ve seen Kaspar – a tiny black cat with enormous green eyes. His diminutive size is contrasted by George – our many storied giant ginger tom that seems to sleep all day and sleep all night. They are still very wary of each other but have come to some sort of understanding – passing like silent ships in the night when they meet around the house. We have heard them playing in the dead of night – chasing each other around the house, but they never let you see this happen – it’s always done in secret.
Kaspar is still using a litter tray and is really great about using it rather than leaving us anything to discover around the house, but we are slowly introducing him to the cat flap. He has watched George go through the cat flap many times and has recently begun headbutting it and pulling at it with his claws. This morning, we switched the chip detection off on the cat flap for the first time (it detects the cats, to avoid letting other neighbourhood cats into the house), and let both cats freely use it. After a little coaxing, Kaspar hopped through the open hole in the back door and went for a first proper exploration of the garden – accompanied by George, who obviously wondered what the hell was going on (“What? you mean I have to share the garden with him too!?”).
Watching them this morning was pretty funny – George went on his usual perimeter check of the garden – sniffing various bushes, and climbing through various bits of hedgerow, and Kaspar followed along behind. It almost seemed like he was being taken for a guided tour. After a few minutes, Kaspar got spooked by something, ran back to the house, and straight to the top of the stairs before looking back. Quite enough adventuring for one day, perhaps.
It was all going SO well. Until it wasn’t any more.
He re-appeared in the kitchen a few minutes later and approached the cat-flap again. I cracked it open, and he hopped straight through. By the time I got my shoes back on and grabbed my coat, there was no sign of him. There was however another neighbourhood cat sitting right in the middle of the garden, staring at our house, puffed up to look twice it’s usual size. Oh crap – what on earth had happened?
I spent the next half an hour wandering around the garden, looking for any sign of Kaspar, thinking we might have seen the last of him. There was literally no sign at all – not behind anything, not under anything – where the hell had he gone? And then – while peering through the back window of the house, wondering if he had already made his way back while I was elsewhere in the garden, he literally materialised out of nowhere and walked between my legs.
So anyway – that’s where we are right now. Kaspar is tentatively exploring the garden for the first time. He’s jumped through the cat-flap in both directions, while we have been there, but hasn’t done it on his own just yet. I’m guessing once he’s comfortable with it, we’ll turn the security back on, and he’ll have to get used to it whirring and clunking when he gets near it (it detects the cat, and unlocks itself). Until then though, it’s all a bit nervy at the moment. Lots of new smells, new sounds, new sights, and of course lots of neighbourhood cats, dogs, and whatever else to stay the hell away from.
One step at a time, but we’re getting there.