A new clowder of cats came to us from the Kootenays last year, and were introduced to the blog in November. This spring, the gate to Pen 8 was opened, and many of them emerged quite confidently. One or two shy ones prefer to remain in known territory, but the others have made themselves at home in the back courtyard, and are frequently found exploring towards the eastern side of the Sanctuary.
The majority of the cats have the characteristic sealpoint colouring of the Himalayan breed, though there are no doubt other strains in their genetics. Blond Percival Snugglebut is also known as Big Daddy, and was likely responsible for some of the kittens who have now been adopted. The two pregnant mamas who arrived were the two little lynx-point girls – very similar in appearance. SweetPea is the more confident of the two and her eyes are blue, while Curious’s eyes are more yellow.
What would RAPS do without volunteer fosterer Kati? So many cats and kittens have passed through her loving care, and many would probably not have survived without her expertise. Whether the mama is feral or tame, Kati gives them a safe place for birthing and assists with extra feeding when needed. She has probably shed much blood in the process; feral mamas can get pretty annoyed when babies need to be removed for weighing and checking. The kittens are always the priority for Kati; she is an important part of the socialization process before they go to the Adoption Centre.
SweetPea and her five kittens arrived first, at the beginning of July but all the family were small and dehydrated – SweetPea ended up going back to the RAPS hospital for emergency surgery, while Kati bottle-fed the babies until they were weaned, and could finally go to the Adoption Centre. Curious had her kittens in Kati’s care, and similarly, they struggled; only three of the five survived. Neither of our lynx-point girls was very keen about this fostering period, but of the two, SweetPea became the most reconciled to some degree of handling. Curious, Kati says, was “a horror show!”, being a very scared and feral girl. I assume that more of Kati’s blood was shed! When the kittens graduated to the Adoption Centre in September (SweetPea’s litter was the “I” litter, and Curious had the “J” litter) the two young mamas were brought to the Sanctuary and obviously derived much comfort from being around their friends again.
Fast forward to these late spring days, and both SweetPea and Curious are out and about, exploring, getting to know other cats, and finding that humans are, after all, not so bad as all that. Curious remains reticent – she’s not aggressive, but she’d rather not be touched just now, thank you very much. SweetPea, on the other hand, is obviously remembering Kati’s care, and allowing other people to get close to her; she allows herself to be petted, to enjoy some lap-time, and with staff member Lisa, some real cuddles.
The Kootenay cats are, like the Kamloops ones in Pen 6, a very cat-social bunch. For people who look at cats as being solitary and independent, watching the bonds among these clowders is heartwarming. Yes, we have a number of cats at the Sanctuary who don’t like other felines – and quite often that dislike is a reason for them being here. But for this little family, it’s unlikely that we would ever split them up, and if that were ever to happen, potential adoptees would need to be adopted with one of the other family members to give them comfort.
Blog by Brigid Coult