guest blogger: Marianne Moore, with Phaedra Hardman
Pretty Nova arrived at the Sanctuary in May of 2017, along with her three young kittens, Orion, Vega and Pluto. The little family came from a shelter in Nanaimo, where all four had tested positive for feline leukemia (FLV). The shelter there didn’t have the resources to keep FLV cats but fortunately RAPS was able to accept them. Nova and her babies were made comfortable in the “staff office” area of the Single-wide trailer, quarantined from the healthy cats in the rest of the trailer. Having kittens at the Sanctuary is a novelty for staff and volunteers so they were a great attraction, although only a few staff members were able to interact with them. Everyone else could only watch them in delight through the glass door.
And what a delight they were! As soon as they were old enough to explore outside their cage, the youngsters took over the office! As kittens tend to do, they raced around the room, tipping over food and water dishes, pulling bedding off shelves, and trying their best to destroy the staff’s computer equipment. They engaged in mock battles with each other, chased balls and flung soft toys into the air. Keeping their area tidy for more than an hour or two was a challenge! Fortunately, being kittens, they slept a lot, too, always curled up with their protective mother.
Although staff were able to handle and cuddle the growing kittens, mom Nova was a different matter entirely. When her babies were near her, no one dared get close to them without getting a loud hiss and spit from her. Even when the kittens were happily romping on the floor on their own, she would hiss and run away from anyone trying to make a friendly overture towards her. Eventually, her kittens grew to be as big as Nova but she still felt the need to protect them and to kept herself aloof from people.
Fortunately, when the kittens were fully grown, they and Nova were re-tested and all tested negative for FLV. Sadly, little Pluto died during neutering surgery but Orion and Vega found a forever home together. Now an empty-nester, Nova was moved out of the office and into a cage in the Single-wide. Everyone hoped that she would follow the behaviour of some previous mother cats in our care who, once separated from their babies, no longer felt the need to be aggressively protective of them and that’s exactly what happened! Much to our delight, Nova almost immediately accepted gentle petting and head rubs, even demanding them. She nipped one of the Kitty Comforters who briefly dared to stop paying exclusive attention to her!
While she’s still a bit wary of quick movements and loud noises and makes herself scarce during busy visiting hours, Nova has gone from not trusting us and slashing offered fingers to accepting those fingers and rubbing all over us to make herself look just as cute as possible. She’s now a sweet and gentle little lady who’s almost as playful as her kittens were. A laser light will send her into a frenzy of chasing and pouncing! It was obviously just her “mother hormones” that made her seem not so nice in the past.
As soon as she was released from the cage, Nova began exploring the trailer and making friends with some of the other cats. Phaedra reports seeing her sharing a bed with Mary and also says that Nova has joined the gang of early-morning greeters in the Single-wide trailer. Although she’s usually on the outskirts of the group along with little Kirstie, Nova eventually makes it to the front of the line for pets. Just the other day, she greeted me from Little Mama’s usual spot on the shelf above the dryer so she may soon become part of the famous “Dryer Gang”. Whatever the future holds for her, Nova’s already become a star!