Our next batch of foster kittens after the little savages was an easy, friendly trio: Aspen, Merlin, and Sage. These guys were a happy, laid back, well-behaved bunch, though Aspen did shout the house down on his first night in the kitten cage before we gave them a full run of the office.
Shortly after his arrival, Merlin managed to fall off something (we’re unsure what, as we didn’t see the accident) and hurt his leg, resulting in a minor limp. This is quite common in kittens, and usually not serious, though it’s always worth getting the injury checked out just in case.
Merlin had proven himself 100% trustworthy when being carried, so I didn’t need to stuff him into a carrier. I zipped him into my hoodie with just his head out for the view where he snuggled in quite happily and we drove him down to the nearby Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA) headquarters to see if he needed veterinary attention.
The injury turned out to be minor, though we had to keep him in a separate cage for a day and a half to ensure that his siblings didn’t jump all over him and make things worse. He recovered quickly and was soon back to his playful self.
Our resident adult cats took an interest in all of the kittens, but were particularly fond of Sage.
Merlin and Aspen were adopted by the family who had worked for months trying to tame the little savages with no success (the savages were the most resistant feral kittens I’d ever encountered). The adopters were fraternal twins and the two kittens gravitated to them as soon as they arrived. Merlin strode over and jumped up on the sofa to sit next to the girl as though he’d been her cat forever and Aspen made a beeline for her twin brother.
Sage was adopted by a nice family as a companion for their resident cat. It seemed as though it would be the perfect adoption because Sage loved older cats and our resident adult cats loved him, so he was obviously well-suited to the young companion role. Unfortunately, the new adopters’ resident cat didn’t feel the same way.
There is often some friction when two cats are first introduced. As long as the introductions are handled properly (see How to Introduce a New Cat to a Resident Cat for tips on how to do this), resident cats will usually accept new kittens, and in many cases the two will even bond strongly and become the best of friends. However, occasionally the resident cat will not accept the newcomer.
The new adopters tried to make things work but the situation was awful. Their cat became horribly distressed and began using their entire home as a bathroom in protest. They called us about a week after the adoption and asked if we could take Sage back, which was the right thing to do in that case (I’ve heard stories of people who adopt a kitten and then jettison the adult cat if the two don’t get along, which is appalling–people who do this should not be allowed to own any pet, ever).
Our elderly cat, who was just short of her twenty-second birthday, had died in the interim and our two remaining cats were depressed about the loss of their beloved matriarch. When Sage came back to us, they cheered up and took to treating him as though he were their baby, as they had before. Given the loss they had just suffered, we couldn’t take Sage away from them, so we essentially adopted a pet cat for our existing cats.
Smokey and Freya love Sage, and they’ve kept him in a permanent state of kittenhood by caring for him as though he’s still a kitten. They wash him and hug him, and he runs to them with an upright tail like a young kitten to its mother or another nurturing adult.
Sage has been maturing into a more adult role with subsequent batches of foster kittens. When he was younger, we had to keep an eye on him because although he was usually good, he would occasionally get overexcited and tackle the newcomers too roughly. He never hurt any of them, but he scared them with his size. Now he spends more time washing them than roughhousing, and he’s usually restrained in his play.
Sage has grown up to be a happy, laid back guy, the sort of cat you can pick up whenever you want to and dress in a Halloween costume. There is little he won’t tolerate, and he loves people and other cats.
Sage’s only significant flaw is that he has an eating disorder–he’ll eat anything and everything, including my gym mats, which I’ve had to hide away in a cupboard to keep them out of his reach. He’s well fed and doesn’t suffer from a nutritional deficiency, so pica isn’t the culprit. He just loves to eat things, and loves the taste of practically everything except healthy cat food (with his love of food and lack of pride, I think I may be able to train him to do tricks–I suspect he’d be quite happy to literally jump through hoops for kibbles).
We have to place weights in front of our cupboard doors to keep Sage from breaking in and turning himself into a beach ball (he once got into a cupboard and ate an entire bag of kibble overnight). Bread and muffins can no longer be left out on the counter, and plates must be watched carefully during parties. Friends have turned him into an even greater menace by feeding him bits of salmon and steak. Sage is good looking and charming, so people want to give him things, and he really knows how to work a room.
Keeping Sage’s weight down will likely be a lifelong struggle. We exercise him by running him up and down the hallway with the laser pointer and taking him for walks up to the roof deck on a leash. He eats primarily wet food, with a small amount of kibble given as dessert (kibble tends to fatten cats up much faster than wet food, so we give it sparingly). So far these efforts have kept his weight in check, though I suspect that by the time he’s middle aged, we may need to up his exercise and reduce his carbohydrate intake.
Contrary to popular belief, low-fat diets are not a good way for cats to lose weight; they work well for people because we’re omnivores, but cats are obligate carnivores and they suffer from problems on fat-reduced diets. Their bodies are designed to subsist on protein and fat, and they are not able to digest and use carbohydrates properly, which is why carbohydrate-rich kibble diets often cause obesity and other health problems in cats. For more information on these topics, see:
- High-Carbohydrate Diets Are Bad for Cats
- Why Cats Need High-Protein Food
- How to Help Fat Cats Lose Weight
- The Cat Food and Nutrition Page
For more foster kitten profiles, see the main Foster Kitten Photo Diary page. Visit the main Cats page for information about cat psychology, behavior, communication, training, feeding, and pregnant cat and kitten care.