Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mayor Breakthrough! A Proud Mother Applauds!

The Warriors series by Erin Hunter is a major tour de force in the world of children's literature. The 'Warriors' are cats and the series describes the life of cats who belong to various clans. The perspective is strictly feline. Humans are called 'Twolegs' and cats that do not belong to any of the Clans are referred to as 'rogues'. The euphemism employed for cats who perform the normal function of elimination is called 'making dirt. Well, this morning, two of my kittens 'made dirt' for the first time in the litter box! Oh happy day! Perhaps I no longer will be treated to the discovery of little hidden 'treasures' in their bedding. Actually, I do not expect instant compliance with the regulations of civilisation by all four kittens, but I was thrilled by the quick comprehension of the two I monitored.

Beauty had nothing whatsoever to do with THIS. My morning ritual with the Cats has changed radically now that all four escape from their playpen immediately when I arrive. They are willing to eat and drink ANYTHING, and are as happy to sample the water bowl and food bowl of their parents as they are to drink or eat from their own dishes, even though the 'adult' feeding station is too high for them to reach. They simply find a way to climb and then eat while their little back legs dangle! It is such an amusing sight.

In any case, after the usual pandemonium of kittens tracking food and Catmilk all over the floor, combining early warrior training with their breakfast, I returned all four to the playpen/bed, hoping they would settle with their mother. I suppose I should not have been surprised when two of the kittens instantly ran to the eastern boundary of the bed, designated by them as their 'dirt place'. Seeing this, I promptly deposited one in the smallest litter box, where I had placed some of their little 'treasures' previously in order to show them its function.

The little kitten promptly 'made dirt' in the box without any preliminaries. His sibling was scratching in the eastern border of the bed, so I transferred her to the litter box. She had a completely different ritual. Like an adult cat, she scratched and created a deep hole in the litter before she 'made dirt'. No parent could have been prouder (and more relieved!). Now it remains to teach the other two.

It is amazing how kittens from the same litter can be so different even from birth. Two girls who met them immediately named the two most adventurous kittens Leonardo and Dora, but as I did not name them, those names are not official. The reason for the name of 'Dora' was 'Dora the Explorer'. I probably will affix an 'A' to it to make the name a bit more elegant and she will be Adora, although I daresay Dora will stick as a nickname. 'Leo' seems apt for the largest cat, although I had intended to give him the name of Attila, as he fits it far better than his father, Ashleigh Attila.

In any case, it was this pair who first mastered the art of eating solid food, of drinking from a bowl and now, of 'making dirt' in a litter box. In fact, they were the first to make dirt without help from their mother. My personal favourite, as usual, is the 'runt' of the litter, the flame-coloured male who is slightly smaller and more docile than his littermates. He is not too far behind the others, however, as he now can escape from the playpen, and I found him hanging from the adult feeding station yesterday.

All in all, a morning feeding ritual that once took half an hour at most now can occupy almost two hours. There is the Greeting ritual, where I must have each of the parents in turn on my lap, followed by each of the Kittens. Then there is the Setting of the Tables, where I must use ingenuity and every dish I can find to dispense wet food, adult dry food, kitten dry food (thanks, Mars!), Catmilk and Water in various locations, so that the more aggressive diners cannot monopolise the food or Milk. I have to supervise this now, as Kittens tend to romp OVER the plates, tracking milk and food everywhere...

Once the breakfast is somewhat concluded, I have to tidy up both kittens and floor before rounding them all up and depositing them again in the playpen/bed. This morning, the litter box ritual was added. I now will have to spend more time waiting for the Kittens to decide they wish to make dirt, so that I can make certain they go to the litter box instead of the eastern border of the bedding!

Sadly, I did not have my camera when I saw two of the Kittens hanging perilously from the adult feeding station this morning, sampling their parent's dry food, but I did manage to take a photograph of Beauty with her little son as he sampled the same food, eschewing the kitten dish and kitten food in favour of his parents' fare.

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