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Introducing a Kitten

This is Kikaa. We named her Kikaa when we rescued her. Later we learned that her first home called her Calliope, Callie for short.

She’s been ours for eight years now. She’s fourteen years old, and beginning to show her age. As we’ve watched her slow down, we’ve been forced to face the fact that some day we won’t have her any more. Howard and I separately came to the conclusion that we wanted to add a young cat to our household before our beloved cat leaves. Kikaa was less likely to feel territorially threatened by a kitten or young cat. The question became one of timing and finding the right young cat. These were questions that my kids were eager to answer once they knew that a kitten was under consideration. I knew December was not a good month for adding a cat. Too much chaos happens in December, people are distracted and busy. Our house had an extra share of transition that needed to be managed. So I told the kids “we’ll talk about it in January when things have settled down.”

Of course my kids reminded me of this statement as soon as January hit. Fortunately they are all old enough to believe me and be patient when I pointed out there was still settling to do. January passed, no new kitty. I just didn’t have the brain to seek one out. Though I did put some thought into what sort of cat we would want. One thing was that I hoped for a cat who would be easier to photograph. Kikaa is more black than any other color. All of her detail vanishes unless she is well lit. But that was less important than having a cat young enough to be leash and harness trained. Kikaa is very distressed by trips in a vehicle, I’d want a younger cat to be taught that going places is fun and interesting, not scary. Also it would be nice if we could teach the cat to be friends with our back yard neighbor’s dog. The dog was raised with cats and is desperate to be friends with Kikaa, who is hostile to the notion. It would be nice if the dog could have a cat friend.

Then last Wednesday I saw the Facebook post on our church group. Someone was looking to re-home a nine month old kitten. The kitten had already received some service animal training, so she was flexible and friendly. I stared at the picture that came with the post. She was a tortoiseshell kitty named Callie. It seems the universe is determined to deliver torties named Callie to us. From the moment I mentioned the listing to Howard, things were set into motion. The kids fell in love with her picture. Callie arrived Saturday morning and charmed everyone.

Callie is about half the size of Kikaa. She is sweet, very friendly, and has been quite nervous ever since her prior people left her behind. We sequestered her into my basement office for the first 24 hours. It is a space where Kikaa doesn’t often go. The above photo was taken when we put her harness on for her first adventure into the rest of the house. I wanted to be able to have some control if she was frightened. She explored for a bit and then retreated into the darkest, safest corner of the room where she’s been staying. Which is good news, because it means she’s identified her safe territory.

Watching Callie, I can see how much of a baby she still is. She reacts on instinct constantly because she has very little experience to guide her. She hisses under the door at Kikaa, not because she is hostile, but because that is what instinct tells her to do. Kikaa watched the door for a while and then wandered off to do other things. We still need to let them meet without a door in between, but for now we’re just swapping brushes and belongings between the two so that they get used to each other’s scent. Integration has begun.

4 comments to Introducing a Kitten

  • Kacey

    It can certainly be gotten over, but frequently, older cats just don’t like kittens. Since Callie is partially grown, I wouldn’t expect it to last too long, but I wouldn’t be worried if Kikaa just doesn’t take to her at first.

  • Martin Bonner

    I agree with Kacey and would go further. Cats’ natural groupings are family based. They can learn to tolerate non-family, but it never really gets beyond that. (And they can be fooled that new-born kittens are family of course.)

  • S. A. Cox

    I remember hearing an article on the radio years ago about a woman who trained dogs to find lost pets– other dogs, and cats. Evidently if a dog is trained to find humans, you always need to reward it with a doggie treat once it has succeeded, so that it knows that it has done a good job and will want to do that again in the future. But there are some dogs that love cats so much that finding the cat is, in and of itself, a reward. 🙂

  • Peggy

    Hey Sandra!

    Is that a Kitty Holster? We love ours so much – would be cool to hear that a service cat used one!

    You might have your kids look up clicker training. It’s SUPER cool. 😀 (Your older cat will probably want to do it, too.)

    And sadly, agreed on older cats liking new cats of any age. Our cat who LOVED the three cats we had temporarily at our house (times varying from a week to 4 months) still doesn’t like the kitten we got when our oldest cat died. We’d thought the older cat would be overjoyed, but no. They get alone, but are not really friends. 🙁 Hopefully Kikaa decides friends is good, but if not, don’t be sad.

    New kitty – so fun! 🙂 I hope she makes you all happy. 🙂