Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Hissmas!

I've mentioned a few times here on my blog about my adventures in becoming a wild cat tamer.

It all started back in July or August when I discovered two kittens living in my backyard. One of the kittens looked sickly and then disappeared, which fueled my resolve to try and humanely trap the other one. I named him Sir Hiss because he would meow at me to get me to feed him and then hiss when I got close and placed the food near him. What a silly little kitten!

I already own two cats and wasn't really looking for more, so I was O.K. with the idea of trap-neuter-release. I definitely want to do this with his mother, a black and white short-haired cat who also frequents my backyard. another cat that I think is his father, a short-haired black cat with a small tuft of white fur on his chest, comes to visit our yard too. I do not know if these cats were pets left behind by a human or always feral in our neighborhood, but I do know that I want to stop them from having more kittens.

However since Sir Hiss was a kitten, Robert and I wanted to give the little guy a chance at the indoor life if he wanted it. So in mid-November we finally saved up enough money to purchase a humane trap and within 24 hours we caught our kitten. Before Thanksgiving we took Sir Hiss to the vet to test him for FeLV and FIV: he was negative for both. Last week on Wednesday we took Sir Hiss to Shelter Vet to get neutered on their special spay/neuter discount day.

All along I have been trying to convince this little guy that I am O.K. Once we moved him into the house from the bonus room behind the garage, I took my other male cat, Ra, over to Sir Hiss' crate. I petted and held Ra in front of Sir Hiss and explained to him that if he wanted to live in the house, he would have to let me do he same with him. I spent time with Sir Hiss every evening, cleaning his litter pan, changing his food and water, giving him treats and playing with him using a cat dancer. He would let me "pet" him with the cat dancer, but always shied away from my hand.

Sir Hiss does not like the Elizabethan collar (ecollar) he needs to wear to prevent him from disturbing his stitches from his neuter surgery. He also hasn't figured out how to really eat or drink with the collar on. So I decided to employ a tried and true technique I've used with my other cats when they don't feel well and are not eating--chicken baby food. At first, I had to smear the baby food on his mouth to get him to eat it. In about a day he learned to eat from a spoon. I also started letting my finger touch him on the head when I "petted" him with the cat dancer after his meal.

Then something wonderful happened.

After four days of baby food, Sir Hiss decided he wanted me to pet him. He wanted me to stroke the top of his head. I complied with a brief head rub. In that one day, he requested three brief sessions of hands-on interaction, what my sister Cyndie would call a "lovefest." That also happened to be the day I ran out of baby food and wasn't able to make it to the store to get more. So I decided to offer him some of my leftover Crock Pot Rosemary Garlic Chicken. The chicken didn't lend itself to being spoon fed, so I took a chance and fed it to him by hand.

I sat amazed as this little kitten ate right out of my hand and licked my fingers to be sure to get every morsel.

Over the past three day I have just marveled at this little creature who came into my backyard and my life, demanding to be fed with his persistent meows. His fur is so soft and his purr so loud. It is like he has discovered how great it is to be petted and simply can't get enough of it. Now I can stroke the top of his head, scratch his cheek, rub under his chin and run my hands down his body.

We are both taking a leap of faith and trusting the other to do no harm.

I told him today, "We've come a long way. Did you think you'd be here in my home when you first saw me?"

I can't wait until the day that he crawls purring into my lap and lets me plant a big kiss on his soft furry little head. Until then, I will continue to follow his lead and provide him with a lovefest whenever he requests it. I also will help Robert get in on the love as well. Sir Hiss' trust in me is a wondrous Christmas gift and I know it is going to be a Merry Hissmas.

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