After 10 years of focusing on our Airstream trailer and camping, we sold the trailer and turned our attention to renewing our 1952 wood shingle and stucco house in need of repair and repainting.
In preparation for the arrival of the painters, we had to move a utility shed and discovered a litter of three orange tabby kittens that looked 2 weeks old. I carefully placed them in a small basket and set it on our property line in hopes that the feral mother would relocate her kittens.
By early afternoon, the mom (seen below) picked up two of the kittens but left the third to fend for itself throughout the afternoon and a dark, chilly night followed by early morning sprinkles.
Periodically during the night, we could hear the kitten crying out. I thought that if the kitten survived the night, I would rescue and feed the kitten. By daybreak, the kitten was still alive, but we had no kitten food, so I melted Costco’s Super Premium Vanilla Ice Cream and fed the kitten with a syringe,* and the kitten survived and the bonding began.
Even as I was first feeding our baby, Larry was busy on the computer, gathering up essential kitten information, such as How to Safely Bottle Feed a Kitten,* much of it from the Kitten Lady,* who received the 2018 Advocacy Award at the 10th Annual Kitten Rescue Fur Ball.*
Feral cats have lived in our neighborhood for years, and we even provided food and shelter in our garage for one of them who adopted us and lived for about 18 years. (See my History Safari Express article, “San Diego on the feral side.” We have never had an indoor cat because Larry felt he was allergic to cats and we have always had dogs that lived with us. So by the end of our first day with the kitten, we had set up a sleeping and feeding area in our garage, and had obtained the basic supplies and info for bottle feeding a kitten.
We also bottle-fed our kitten outside during nice weather.
And bonding magically occurred.
We originally named our kitten Luna because we first thought the kitten was female and was most likely born 2 weeks earlier during the September full moon, and we are fans of the Harry Potter stories, which included a character named Luna Lovegood.
Meanwhile, the painters arrived to do prep work that included power washing the house exterior.
We didn’t want Luna to be spooked by the loud noises of the power washing, so we moved Luna inside and she stole our hearts and house and joined the family as an indoor cat!
Our corgi Tasha is normally feisty with other dogs, so we were pleasantly surprised when Tasha’s motherly instinct took over and they got along and playfully interacted.
We were also surprised to learn that baby kittens need assistance with toileting, which requires stimulation, and of course clean-up. The Kitten Lady’s video, “How to Help Baby Kittens Pee and Poop,”* was very helpful!
We were also surprised that our kitten is actually a male! When kittens are first born, it is sometimes hard to determine the sex because the reproductive parts are very small. Again, the Kitten Lady’s video, “Male or Female? How to Tell the Sex of a Kitten!“* helped. Our baby definitely has a prominent arching stream, so it’s a boy, and we changed his name to Moony, the nickname of Professor Remus Lupin, another character in the Harry Potter stories.
Our growing boy needed lots of play for development, so Larry used his Occupational Therapy skills in coming up with creative items and changes of our indoor elements, just as our house exterior painting was finishing up.
Larry also created an outdoor playpen on our picnic table on our back patio.
Seen below, 4-weeks old Moony vigorously sucks from the bottle and plays hard, as evidenced in Bill’s bruises and Band-Aid.
At 4 weeks, it was time to start the weaning process, from bottle-feeding to eating independently, as seen in the Kitten Lady’s “How to Wean Kittens.”*
Happiness came with independent toileting and choosing the best litter box system. After much research, we found that Susan Youngman’s Victorian Gardens Cattery videos helped us the most: “The Easiest, Most Inexpensive, Natural Litter Box System“* and “Taking The Mystery Out Of The Three Breeze Boxes and Bottom Litter Pans.”* We liked this system so much that we placed one setup by the patio door and the other in the den.
Moony was lucky that Larry used his creativity to make and perfect his condo (using our old parrot cage), where he can sleep, exercise and eat, away from Tasha. It sometimes is used to keep him and the house safe when we are shopping, or when he or we need a time-out!
Early on, we discovered the importance of kitten-proofing the house, because like most kittens, Moony loves to explore and discover every nook and cranny in his environment.
Moony is now 3 months old, has gotten his vaccinations, and we are now training him to wear a harness so that eventually, we can take him on walks in our backyard patio and garden. In the meantime, he also enjoys exploring and playing in the den with the portable scratching post made by Larry.
From sweet cuddler to bold explorer, hunter, entertainer, and player of kitchen soccer (as a proud papa, I show off our boy’s photos at work)…
He inspires us to cherish the moment because life is so fragile and brief and he is such a courageous survivor and thrives!
This is all I ask.* (Walk a little slower when you walk by me.)
*This is a link to a YouTube video.