Day 9-11: the kitten comes out of hiding (sort of)

Day 9. I introduced Leo without the other cats. Leo’s the shyest with me but the most interested in this new kitten. He batted playfully at Jude and kept trying to get close enough to get a good smell. It doesn’t seem like Leo’s behavior is aggressive, just curious. I don’t want to force it or make things harder, but I wonder if leaving the kitten alone for so long is detrimental to the socialization process–it seemed that the others relaxed when had some comfort and play from their littermates.

Despite his best intentions, Leo just managed to irritate Jude, so I corralled him back out. Jude then disappeared into one of the bookshelves in the afternoon and I couldn’t see him anywhere. He was quiet all afternoon, probably sleeping. He’s much more nocturnal than the other kittens. I put a big bowl of dry food out before we left to visit friends in the evening. We got home close to midnight and while I couldn’t see him anywhere, he’d at least left his hiding spot long enough to eat the entire bowl.

Day 10.Monday, February 28. Tough love day.

I only put food out while I was in the room. Definitely tough. Jude hid behind the bookshelves all day. In the morning, he took over an hour to come out and eat and didn’t eat much. Later in the evening, I put out some especially tasty wet food that the other kittens love. Again, it took him an hour but he came out and ate a whole can so I put another half a can out, which he came back out to eat. On Thursday I have a cat appointment to get all four kittens neutered and am wondering if it will be at all possible to re-trap, since he is still in hiding.

Day 11. Tuesday. All sorts of wonderful developments today!

First, Jude didn’t so much as peep last night–not a single meow or caterwaul.

Second, Leo the Shy opened some new sides of his personality. Leo has been the most temperamental of my original kittens and never lets me pet him unless cornered, pick him up unless cornered, and plays with me from a distance. Today I needed to corral them quickly and Leo actually let me pick him up from the middle of the room without taking off in fear. Later in the evening he jumped up on my chair and cuddled next to me, purring. He has never once done this in three months.

This morning I went in to feed Jude and after 45 minutes he still wouldn’t come out for food. I thought I should try letting the kittens in again to get him motivated by anything but hiding. Sure enough, he came out from behind the bookshelf several times, once out of interest in the little plastic ornament that Leo was batting around the room. But he didn’t eat much.

I don’t like how little he is eating so I thought I’d try something different in the evening–perhaps feed them all together. I put a big bowl of dry food in the room and let the kittens in again. As soon as they started eating Jude was out and waiting for his turn, even pushing his nose into Sasha’s for room at the bowl.

During both visits, Leo was relentless with Jude, chasing him into every hiding corner and swatting at him. While Sasha and Snow wandered off out of boredom and tiring of Jude’s grumbles and hiding, Leo kept going. At first I couldn’t tell if he was trying to play or trying to be dominant (or both). For at least an hour it was all Jude could do to get away from this nagging little ginger tabby and Leo got clawed a couple of times. The persistence paid off, because eventually Jude gave up and launched into a full-throttled game of kitten ambush. Up and down and up and down the cat tower they went after each other, finishing off with a game of spinning tornadoes in the litterbox (Leo’s favorite activity, responsible for a wide spray of litter on the floor every day).

Perhaps his play instincts went into effect when I pulled out The Feather Toy. Take something that you can squiggle, squirm and whip through the air, add kittens and you get the crazies. (Have I mentioned “the crazies” before?) After several minutes of watching from his hiding spot, Jude decided to come out and see for himself. He watched from a safe distance a couple of feet away, but intently and very cat-keen on each flick of the feather.

As I write, Leo and Jude have completely worn each other out and Leo is sleeping next to me on the chair, with Jude sleeping in the cat tree right next to the chair!

So color me red, this cat is actually interested in something other than fear!