When I got to B.’s house last night, the kittens – far from playing under a tree as she had said they were – were discovered in hiding under the shed. I scooped one out, and the other three promptly scooted back out of reach. Efforts to entice them out with scraps of chicken and to flush them out from the other side with a broom were a total failure, so we retreated inside to see if they’d venture out when we weren’t around. I popped the first one, a little black-and-white male, into the box I’d brought, where he huddled against the blanket-covered hot water bottle and trembled piteously.
After twenty minutes or so, the kittens re-appeared at the edge of the shed. We waited a little while, wanting them to move out further, since the gap where they were was in a very awkward spot which I couldn’t reach without climbing into the flower-bed, trying not to do too much damage to B.’s plants, and ducking under a shrub with nasty poky branches which deposited a quite unnecessary quantity of leaves and twigs down my back. They weren’t moving, though, so I had to make a grab for them from there. There was a big black one furthest out, and two smaller white-and-black ones a little behind it. One of the white ones was beautiful even by kitten standards, with a petite little face and enormous blue eyes, and I went for her first; but the big black one hissed and spat so ferociously that I knew I’d never get my hand past him, so I grabbed him instead. All three were wriggling backwards by now, so I had to grip him around the body and pull him out from under the shed as gently as I could, with him hissing and digging his claws into the ground the whole way. As soon as he was clear I got him by the scruff of the neck, and not a moment too soon – the second he had room, he twisted around to attack, teeth and claws bared and hissing like a little cobra. I dropped him into the box with the first one, where he set his back to the wall and spat viciously every time I so much as looked at him, and back inside we went to see if the others would re-emerge.
Over half an hour later, it was clear that we had our lot. The remaining two kittens had crept back to the edge of the shed, but were staying well under it, just peeping out, and vanishing like a flash if they saw us moving towards them. We admitted defeat for the moment, and I took my two little captives home.
The drive terrified them, and when I put them into the big box I’d prepared for them at home, they cowered in a corner, trembling and mewling plaintively. I mixed up some kitten formula, and tried giving it to them in a little dish. One of them (the little spitfire, who’d calmed down a bit now) wouldn’t have anything to do with it even after I smeared some on his nose and mouth for him to lick off; but the other, once I’d demonstrated what it was by pushing his nose into it, fell to with great enthusiasm, if not great skill – he kept getting it up his nose and having little sneezing fits, which seemed to surprise him greatly!
They seemed to be a good bit older than I had expected, but I decided to try them with the nursing bottle anyway, especially the one who wouldn’t even try to lap the milk; but neither of them would take it. After several attempts I was getting frustrated and worried that I couldn’t get them to eat, and eventually decided to try them with a little solid food. To my delight, both of them devoured it hungrily. Mama cat obviously had time to wean them before she left. They only ate about half a portion between them, and the instructions are one packet per kitten per meal, but it’s a lot better than nothing.
Once they’d eaten their fill, I took them out of the box to clean them (far more of the food ended up on their paws and faces than in their mouths) and pet them for a while, to get them used to being handled. They both seemed to take to it very quickly – to my surprise, the little spitfire turned out to be the friendlier of the two and would even scrabble at the side of the box and cry to be picked up again when I put him down. Eventually they settled down and started to nod off, and I left them for the night.
This morning, the little black one hissed at me again at first, but I spoke gently to him and after a few minutes he let me stroke him. After I’d fed them – again they managed about a half portion between them – he was much happier and let me pick him up and pet him. I guess he’s not a morning person, just like me :o) The black-and-white one is a lot more placid and doesn’t cry as much, and seems to be quite happy to curl up on the hot water bottle and groom himself and snooze. I haven’t seen the black one groom himself yet – don’t know if this is a sign of anything, but I’ll be taking them both to the vet at the weekend to get them checked out.
I’ll be going back to B.’s house tomorrow, armed this time with kitten food, gloves and a torch, to try and get the other two. I really hope I can; I’m pretty sure both of mine are boys, and I’d love to have a girl. Plus, B. said if they’re still there at the weekend and she can get her husband to catch them, she’s going to bring them down to her sister in the country when she visits this weekend, because and I quote “she has small children and I’m sure they’d love a kitten to play with”. Aaargh! I don’t know how young she means by “small”, but any child under about six or seven is far too young to have a kitten. Now I have to rescue them from B.’s good intentions as well as from orphan-dom!