Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Adventures of the Shoebox Kittens

Sneakers and Penny Loafer, the Shoebox Kittens, were enjoying the summer outside with their family. They were oblivious to the dangers surrounding them: traffic, predators, parasitic flies, heat, eventually impending winter, and all sorts of other hardships. Their Momma Juno was not so carefree. It’s hard work caring for 5 oblivious, wandering children in the city. Juno was a young house cat who somehow ended up a stray, unprepared for living on the streets or for motherhood.
Some neighbors noticed the little family and decided to bring them in to safety. Since mom was skittish and had raised her kittens to be wary too, they would all have to be live trapped. And one by one, they were. It took bowls of food, a wildlife camera to pin-point feeding schedules, and lots of waiting around by the dedicated rescuers.


Coming inside didn’t feel like being rescued to the kittens. They weren’t used to people up close or to houses with walls and stuff. It was scary to end up in a cage in someone’s living room. Mom went off to the vet to be spayed. And the kittens split up into groups to be socialized (in other words, to be forced to get used to people).
Before arriving in their foster home, Sneakers and Penny Loafer made a quick stop at the vet themselves. Penny Loafer, a little two-pound kitten, had an open sore 2 inches wide that was infected, and she smelled rotten. Turns out, her neck had been inhabited by some cuterebra fly larvae. If you’re wondering if that’s as gross as it sounds: yes actually it is. The worm was removed, and Penny was sent home on antibiotics, which she took like a champ.
In fact, Penny Loafer eats pretty much anything like a champ. Food seems to be her favorite thing about living inside. Within the week, little Penny Loafer had gained almost a pound. Her little sister is careful to stay out of the way so big sister doesn’t sit on her. 
The kittens were placed in a kennel to be socialized. This way, they are forced to be near people and to be handled. Otherwise, the kinds of things they might have become acquainted with would have been the inaccessible space behind the furnace, the inner workings of the sofa sleeper, and the dust bunnies under the bed.

Learning to be loved

At first, human hands looked very scary to Sneakers and Penny Loafer.  Between all the trapping, grabbing, vetting, and medicating, they had never really seen hands used for anything good. But they quickly learned that when a person strokes you, it feels a lot like it did when Momma Juno would groom you. And soon the kittens were purring up a storm at the first sign that a pet was coming.

Inter-species friendship is all about establishing trust. Food is one of the best ways for a person to earn a cat’s trust. Sneakers and Penny Loafer were served three meals a day of delicious wet food (plus treats!) by their foster family. The girls soon caught on to the routine and soon were running towards people instead of away. People coming meant good things were coming.

The next way the kittens learned to let down their guard was through play. An orange pipe cleaner or a satin ribbon tied to a stick proved too much to resist. Penny Loafer was the first to succumb to the urge to pounce. And soon Sneakers and Penny Loafer were pouncing on all sorts of toys.

The shoebox

Once Sneakers and Penny Loafer had mastered some of the typical housecat behaviors like playing, purring for pets, and going bananas at mealtime, it was time to be introduced to other aspects of the housecat lifestyle. Problem was the kittens were very reluctant to be held. (And their foster mom has the tooth and claw marks to prove it.) So the kittens were introduced first to a shoe box, which they took a liking to right away. What cat doesn’t love a box?

As long as the kittens were in their box, they felt secure. Their foster mom took them for rides around the house in their box several times a day. They saw the house, saw the resident cats doing normal cat things, and even met the dog this way. 
Now new surroundings don’t seem so scary. Penny Loafer even took the box to the vet for her follow-up visit (she’s healing well). The more comfortable they get, the more the kittens start to think outside the box. Sneakers especially now has the urge to explore. (And by the way, Momma Juno—and not the kittens— is the cardboard chewer.)


Next adventure

The Shoebox Kittens are almost ready to put all their lessons together and move to the next level—at your house. They will do great with a patient family. Set them up in a smaller room at first, feed them according to the routine, and bring their box along.  

If you want to be part of the next great adventure of Sneakers and Penny Loafer, contact Molly for more information about adopting them: call 651-295-3758 or email

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