Thursday, April 5, 2007

Surprise By Name, Surprise By Nature part 2

After Surprise had sprung her surprise on me by showing up with 3 kittens, she and her 3 boys came to live with me in my home. There is a room that is especially designed for cats and I put her there with her boys.

The room is about 10 square meters, so not all that big, but with all the mod cons any sophisticated cat can desire. The kittens and their mum stayed in this room for 3 weeks until I was sure that all the fleas, worms and ear mites had gone and that no one was harbouring any illnesses. I have other cats, so I had to be careful, I didn't want anyone to get ill, neither Surprise and her babies nor my other kitties.

For Surprise it was a rather radical change from being a full time outdoor cat into being a full time indoor one living in just one small room for 3 weeks. So I would let her out into the back garden every day to stretch her legs a bit and she never left the garden and always wanted to get back to her kittens quite soon. And you can see here why.
Totally irresistible, aren't they?

After Surprise and her kittens had been checked by the vet, vaccinated and tested for feline aids and leukemia, I allowed them to play in the conservatory, albeit with the doors closed so that they couldn't get into contact with my other cats. I didn't want any fights! And the main reason why the doors were kept firmly closed, is Maine Coon Dolly who couldn't stand Surprise being inside her (Dolly's) house. Dolly had no problems accepting the kittens but Surprise? No way! Here's August on one side of the door in the conservatory and Dolly on the other side in the living room

It soon became clear that Kadootje wanted to be with her mum and her (half?) brothers so I let her. Here you see Kadootje and little Teuntje inside in the conservatory and mama Surprise outside in the back garden.

After the kittens had gone, with deep regret, I let Surprise live the life of an outdoor cat once again. Dolly didn't give me any choice, so that was that. Surprise always stayed very close to my home and garden. Every night she would sleep on the porch in the basket I had bought for her
and towards the end of summer I would often find her fast asleep on the warm earth underneath the tomatoes in the Victorian greenhouse.
Summer went and autumn came but the weather stayed clement and Surprise enjoyed herself as a pampered outdoor cat. Here she is imitating an humongous strawberry in my strawberry patch in the kitchen garden.

Of course my garden supervisors Vita and Dolly love the outdoors too and are allowed to play in the garden as long as I am there to keep a watchful eye on them.

As Surprise was often in the back garden, Vita and Dolly regularly met her there. Vita had no problems accepting that Surprise was in her (Vita's) garden, but Dolly? Well, at first she chased Surprise away when she saw her, but slowly but surely, she tolerated Surprise more and more, as long as she kept her distance.

Here you see them both in the kitchen garden but this picture depicts something far less peaceful than you might think at first glance. This is psychological cat war at its worst. Dolly has Surprised pinned down, at checkmate if you will, and as soon as Surprise moves, Dolly will pounce on her. To diffuse the situation, I distracted Dolly so that Surprise could make her escape.
But as the months passed, Dolly became more and more used to the fact that Surprise was usually to be found somewhere in the garden. And then it got cold and Surprise started dropping very large hints about wanting to come inside and I decided to give it a try. At first, Surprise stayed, of her own free will, in the conservatory while all my other cats were mostly to be found in the living room where it's warmer during the winter months. The door between the conservatory and the living room was open but Surprise just choose to be in the conservatory.

Then, after a week or two, Surprise slowly and carefully moved into the living room, keeping a respectful distance towards all my other cats, except to her daughter Kadootje, whose company she sought.

And then in about two months' time, slowly but surely, Surprise, wise cat that she is, charmed her way into becoming a well loved member of my cat family. How well loved, you can see here. Don't they just look adorable together, Surprise and Merlin?
I was very surprised to see that within such a short period and without any problems, she was readily accepted by my other cats into their family group, even by Dolly. Usually it's very difficult to introduce an adult cat into an adult cat family, the failure rate is quite high. Kittens are no problem, but adult cats are not that easy, as a rule.

And so, singlepawedly, Surprise accomplished the nearly impossible by becoming a well loved member of my cat family and changing from a full time outdoor cat into a full time indoor one, without any problems whatsoever. She really lives up to her name.


Cat behind a curtain
Nobody can see
I peek out
I jump out
Don't you be frightened
You can be certain
It's only me.
Paul Gallico


Marl1 said...

Die poesjes hadden duidelijk een goede neus voor welke tuin ze toevallig moeten binnenwandelen.....
Die foto van Surprise en Merlin: geweldig!

Kylee said...

This is the very best of your cat stories! And you know I can relate, with being just 2½ weeks into our assimilation of Abby into our cat family. We, too, have a snooty Maine Coon to deal with, in Simon. Simon gives chase, and Abby runs for cover. It will be some time before we find those two sleeping together, I think!

Naturegirl said...

Ahhh.. I loved reading this post and viewing all the kitty images! I too have 3 felines! I would be quite comfortable in your home...a bit of cat hair makes a great accessory!Cats are collectables I say...looks like you do too! I came by to wish you a Happy Easter! We got a blanket of {{snow}}} and it is freezing -2C...wahhhh..:(NG
I mean purzzzzzzzzzzz.

Birgit said...

Das ist die aller zauberhafteste Katzengeschichte, die ich je gehört habe, Yolanda. Sie haben es sooo gut bei Dir und Du bist sooo lieb zu Ihnen. Sie sind allesamt einfach zuckersüß! Ich wünsche Dir und diesen bezaubenden Pelznasen ganz schöne Ostertage, damit Ihr Euch gemeinsam viel Zeit für einander nehmen könnt.Liebe Grüße, Birgit

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all, welcome to Bliss once again and thanks for all your kind comments.

Marleen: tja die foto van Merlijntje en Surprise is goud waard, zo lief!
Knap van Kadootje en Surprise dat ze wisten bij wie ze moesten aankloppen voor een warm mandje. Ik ben blij dat ze er zijn.

Kylee: I knew that you would relate to this because of Abby. One of the most important things you need in a situation like this is patience, let the cats sort it out. I know, easier said then done. I hope Abby will soon be a real member of your cat family!

Nature Girl: brrrrrr, it's still so cold where you live. Luckily you have 3 kitties to snuggle up with and be nice and warm.

Birgit: thank you for your very kind words. You are right, my cats are very, very sweet and I am very lucky to have them.

A wonderful easter to you and your family too and to your 2 sweet Pelznasen. I hope Bonnie will be better soon!

firefly said...

Oh, what a picture of Dolly and Surprise in the garden! You can tell by their ears what is happening.

It's even better that this turned out so happily! How very fortunate that Surprise was so diplomatic. And your patience was a big part of it too, I'm sure.

I wonder whether living as part of a family group has something to do with cats' ability to accept other kitties. Our fourth cat, Phoebe, was adopted at 4 months from a breeder who kept mothers and kittens all together in the same area, almost like a barn cat arrangement, and Phoebe is really the 'glue' here -- she relates very well and (mostly) respectfully to the three others. She alone can curl up to sleep with any one of the other three and be accepted.

Thanks for letting me know you posted Surprise's story. I look forward to hearing more about her and all your other kitties!

Gypsy Purple said...

Have a great and blessed

Kate said...

Yolanda, I had dropped by earlier today and had begun reading about Surprise. I decided to wait to finish the story till bedtime (I am so glad that I did). Now I have something wonderful to go to sleep with in my mind.

Surprise was very fortunate that you took her in and gave her and her kittens such good care. All of your cats (along with Surprise's kittens) are adorable ... Surprise is pretty special for having integrated into your family so easily. That is quite the feat!! I am sure that much credit goes to you and the welcoming and secure environment that you provide for all of your feline friends!

Petunia's Gardener said...

I'd love to know what they're really thinking during all of this. Our little black & white Nikko is so much smaller than the others and she gets a bit of teasing by them. Dolly sounds like Emily who was the last to join but sure she rules the world. Thanks for sharing the Surprise story.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Welcome to Bliss!

Firefly: living in a group has a lot to do with it. I used to breed pedigree cats (on a very small scale and as a hobby) so most of my cats are used to A) living in a group of cats B) having kittens around from time to time. This is an important reason why things went so smoothly from their side.

Surprise is an extremely clever cat and very diplomatic (she had to be as she had to survive in the streets for at least 2 years).

When there is enough food, cats form family groups in the wild too (farms etc.). There will be a matriarch with her daughters, grand-daugthers etc. The males will usually be either chased away once they are old enough or boldly go into the world on their own accord.

Gypsy Purple: thank you and the same to you too.

Kate: I hope you had a good night's sleep! ;-) It's always a good thing to go to sleep with something very positive and heartwarming on your mind. And I agree 100 %: all my cats are adorable! :-)

Petunia: oh to be able to know what our feline friends are thinking! What a blessing that would be, although perhaps at times a curse? ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's a very catty story, with a good ending. They are very pretty kittens indeed.Must have been a nice spectacle, to watch them.
Never a dull moment with those beasties!!

Kate said...

I just had to come back and sneak another peek at the cats ... makes me feel nostalgic for the days when Queen Hazel the neighbourhood.

And Paul Gallico's poem is cute ...

Anita said...

Ohhhh, I adore your cats!

BTW, how is your kitchen garden doing? Did you already sow your first vegetables? I'll continue tomorrow - if the weather stays warm!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi Kate and Anita,

Kate: the pictures are there to be enjoyed so feel free to come and have a look, whenever you want. And who knows, perhaps there will be a feline companion for you again, one fine day?

Anita: they are adorable! :-)

I've been working in my kitchen garden this week as the weather was lovely on most days. I've been taking lots of pics too and they will be on my blog next week. Yes I've sown my first vegetables, they have germinated and I've put some of them in the ground and hope to harvest the first of them in a few weeks time.

Libbys Blog said...

I think your patience paid off! That and the fact that surprise had very obviously decided she was your cat. I love cats, they are all have such different personalities, I have only 2 at the moment sadly 'Chimarini' who adopted us (much like surprise) had to be put to sleep last November due to cancer! I am tempted to get another, we will see!!!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi Libby,

I've read about your wonderful cat Chimarini on your blog and am sorry for your loss. Cats play an important role in our lives. Who knows, one day another little cat will decide to adopt you, you never know. Or perhaps the next time, you will do the adopting. ;-)

ladyluz said...

Such a lovely account of how your cat family expanded. I love 'em all.

Thalia said...

That is a beautiful story. I am really moved by your kindness towards the cats. You are willing to do so much for the poor stray cats who dont have a home. That is incredibly touching. Contrary to your benevolence, my friend and I have been unable to find anyone who would shelter an adorable kitten that doesn't have a home of its own and is in the constant danger of being killed anytime by stray dogs! I cant have it in my house as the stray dog menace is terrible, where I stay and the kitten wouldnt survive for a week!

Anyway, it's very sweet of you to have done so much for Surprise and her kittens and I am glad that Surprise found a generous, warm-hearted person like you!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi Ladyluz and Thalia,

Ladyluz: we both have given homes to unwanted kitties and are the richer for it, don't you think?

Thalia: thank you for your kind words. I hope you find a good home for this poor kitten. Stray dogs can be a big problem and not only for cats!

Do you know that it is possible to keep a cat indoors full time? They can live perfectly happy lives that way, as long as they have a nice person to take care of them and give them lots of cuddles.