Shay

2014-12-10_1418216845Shay joined the Kitty Central family in December 2014 with her brother Tully.  Their mama was rescued from the streets by Nyree, who runs PurrHaven Cat Sanctuary from her home in Manila. The mama cat was pregnant and not in great health, and she gave birth prematurely to four kittens. One was stillborn, one died during the first night, and the remaining two were nursed by their mama but as she wasn’t well, they needed to be bottle fed. The vet recommended they be separated from the mama cat in case she passed anything onto them, so at the age of three weeks, they came to live with me.

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Shay squeaked all the way home in the car, bundled up with her brother in their pastel spotted blanky that I had given to Nyree a week earlier so that their mama’s smell would be on it. Tully was quiet and observant. This is how they were at three weeks, and this is how they stayed. As I had a houseguest for Christmas and the guest room (aka Foster’s room) was occupied, the babies took up residence in my ridiculously large walk-in wardrobe, adjacent to the master ensuite. They had a big cage with a box inside for a nest, and I had invested in a heating pad for them. And so the routine began again – three hourly feeds, except this time the behaviour of the babies was quite different from the Fosters.
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Each time I got the babies out for a feed, Shay was squeaking her objections – to what, I don’t know. Being hungry, being taken out of the nest, being away from her mother, not being an only child, being near a human, who can say? She refused the bottle and refused the syringe. She refused to be flipped onto her back to be de-pooped and de-peed.
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When a baby kitten is with it’s mama, the mama cat licks the kitten’s genitals to stimulate defecation, and then cleans it up. Babies who are raised away from their mamas need help with this, so the most common way is to gently lie the baby on it’s back, and massage the lower tummy and genital area with a warm damp cotton ball.

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Shay would have none of this! She refused to lie on her back, or lie still at all. She had too much to complain about! The first days were extremely frustrating until I realised that she had a process and lifewould be easier if I just bent to her will, instead of expecting her to bend to mine. When she was hungry, she needed to smell the milk bottle, then suckle and knead on her blanky for about ten minutes. When she was done, she would take the bottle or syringe with no problems. But any sooner than that and it was just a battle of wills. And de-pooping her required her to be right-way-up, not on her back, and just massage the genitals from that position, from the rear. It wasn’t as easy but it got the job done.

As soon as she was tottering around, she was biting her brother, nipping at the big cats heels and exploring widely. She was absolutely fearless, which made some of the big kitties (notably Kai) very unhappy. Kai was just plain afraid of her; she would wobble towards him and he would back away, eyes wild, then turn and run. If he wasn’t fast enough, she would swat his heels and bite his toes. She was about two inches tall! And she complained all the time. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW! Non-stop wowing while she was awake. And no cuddles, don’t even think about trying to cuddle her – she was way too busy.

Shay started out like this and she continued in this trend until she was over six months old. Her technique for dealing with the big kitties was to walk up to them and bite them. If I tried to stroke her, she swatted 2015-01-19_1421706983and bit my fingers. She is the only cat to climb the screen doors, the first to climb onto the air con unit from the Hi-Cat, the first to wiggle the door open and escape, well before the kitties were allowed outside. But as she got older (and maybe after she was spayed), I noticed she was always in the same room that I was in (most of the cats are, but Shay is always close). She would sometimes come and sleep next to my hip on the sofa. Lyn reported that when I was out, Shay followed her around the house, supervising closely. And the sweetest of all, was that she was and is to this day, attached to her brother like a conjoined twin. They play together, sleep together, play fight, chase each other around the house and the garden. Different personalities, but as close as close can be. I am so happy these two never were, and never will be separated.

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