Casper and Cadence (Cady) were our first foster kittens of 2016. Winter is usually the slow season for kittens, but this year, the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) took care of plenty of homeless pregnant moms over the cold season and there were lots of kittens that needed fostering.
Casper and Cady were described as semi-ferals, but they came around quickly in terms of socialization. They were a little older than most of the kittens we’ve had (12 weeks), and they weren’t actually orphaned – they got to stay with their mom until they were old enough to be weaned without negative physical and psychological effects, so we didn’t have to deal with all the neuroses and stomach issues (most often severe diarrhea) that occur when kittens lose their moms too early and don’t get to nurse for long enough (see How Old Should Kittens Be When They’re Adopted Out? for more information on this).
Casper was a confident little guy, with tufted, slightly curving ears, which gave him an alert expression. He was predominantly black, but had some attractive tuxedo-style markings, and a few of his back toes looked as though they’d been dipped in white paint. Casper was able to leap nearly five feet in the air at 12 weeks – the equivalent would be me jumping about four stories.
Cady was one of the shyest and least confident little cats I’ve ever seen. Solid black and pretty, with an unusually soft plush coat, she was as energetic and athletic as her brother, but lacked his confidence. I had to be very careful to use the gentlest tone possible with Cady. Their behaviours were very good overall, but they would occasionally jump on the table or walk across my keyboard, so those behaviours had to be discouraged. When Casper did something we wanted to discourage, he’d have to be removed half a dozen times, whereas for Cady, hearing “no” one time was devastating. Whether working with animals or kids, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for addressing behavioural issues. Cady would learn from being gently removed from something once, whereas Casper needed told be told “no” on multiple occasions before he gave in and accepted that he wasn’t allowed to do something.
Cady and Casper were among the most energetic little cats we’ve ever fostered. Black cats tend to be the most athletic, and the kittens’ physical energy and abilities were a constant source of entertainment. They had plenty of great playfighting moves, and could put on a really good show when they got going. But despite their feistiness when playing with one another, they were gentle kittens. Even before they were socialized, they never took a swipe or tried to bite.
It usually takes quite some time to find homes for black cats. People snap up the tabbies, the Siamese cats, and the grays, and if you have a white kitten up for grabs, it will be gone in a flash, but black cats, even the young ones, tend to sit on the shelf for a long time due to lingering prejudices (the idiotic notion that black cats are evil or unlucky) and the fact that black cats don’t photograph as well. Also, black cats, while usually the most intelligent, the cleanest, and the best-behaved, also tend to be shyer when meeting new people. Tabby kittens are often more doglike, toddling up to new people and charming them, while the black kittens hang back and are slower to trust (though very loving, affectionate, and loyal once they’ve bonded).
Although finding homes for Casper and Cady would have been a challenge during the warmer kitten season when VOKRA has an abundance of kittens available, in the winter, there were plenty of people who wanted kittens and not too many kittens to go around. The siblings were quickly adopted by a friend of ours, so we’ll be able to stay in touch with them as they grow up.