Sola, Raya, and Golden arrived during a heat wave, so they all received sunny names. The kittens were found huddled in a shed together after their mother had been killed by a car. We don’t know if they witnessed the death, but given how terrified and traumatized they seemed, I think they probably did.
These healthy, bright, beautiful little girls were doubly disadvantaged – they were very timid with new people and they’re black cats, which are the least likely to be adopted. Every kitten season, people snap up the kittens of every other colour and sign up for waiting lists for the tabbies while the black kittens are overlooked, despite the fact that black cats tend to be the cleanest and most intelligent. They also seem to be the most healthy, on average, and tend to be long-lived.
Black cats are rarely doglike cats (the sort of cats that don’t mind being roughly handled by toddlers and greet unknown people with carefree enthusiasm), so they often don’t show well. Adopters have to take them on faith, counting on the fact that once they establish a bond, they’ll be rewarded with a cat that is loyal, affectionate, and caring.
Black cats often have particularly interesting personalities, but people don’t get to see that right away because black cats don’t usually come out of their shells during first encounters (though I’ve found that black and white cats are often more extroverted than completely black cats). Also, black cats often don’t get a first meeting, because many people won’t even consider adopting them.
All of the sunshine kittens were very athletic, managing jumps of over four feet, complete with back flips, when they were still tiny, and climbing the stone wall around the fireplace up to the ceiling (this is another advantage I’ve found with black cats – if you want a really entertaining, physically impressive cat, they tend to be the best athletes, particularly if you get them to start doing jumps with a wand toy at an early age).
The sunshine kittens also figured out how to open sliding doors to closets early on, so we would often find them nesting deep within the spare bedding. We let them do this initially, but eventually used pieces of wood to block off the doors because having access to such out-of-the-way hiding spaces was slowing their socialization (we originally blocked the sliding doors with a couple of 10-pound dumbbells, but these tiny kittens were able to move 20 pounds, which was at least five times their bodyweight, to get the doors open).
Sola was the boldest of the three kittens, and the quickest to come around in terms of socialization. She decided to trust us right away, and she led the way for her shyer sisters. Because Sola was so much more confident, so we decided that she could go on her own as a companion for another cat, whereas her more timid sisters should be adopted together to reduce the trauma of the transition.
Sola was adopted not too long after we got her, though she stayed with us much longer than a single kitten of any other colour would have. She had bonded easily with our resident cats, and did the same with her new feline companion.
Raya and Golden stayed with us for longer than any pair of kittens ever had. We went for ages without a single call for a viewing, but this was actually a good thing in their case, as it gave us more time to build their confidence and help them overcome their phobia of people. They were never violent, even when frightened, but they were inclined to hiss and hide when anyone they didn’t know tried to get close.
Raya was a champion hider. One time she curled up tightly in the soil of a plant on top of a bookshelf and stayed completely still for hours so that nobody could find her. I actually contemplated putting a tracking device on her, she was so good at disappearing. Golden was also good at finding clever hiding spots (I once discovered her hanging like a bat inside a jacket in the closet), but she was rarely able to stay quiet when I called for her (she would start scuffling around at the prospect of discovery), or she’d leave her tail dangling, so she was easier to find.
The kittens were very affectionate with us. Golden loved to hop on my lap while I worked, purring like crazy, or lie on a chair next to me and hold my hand, kissing my fingers. Raya loved to be picked up. Whenever she was lifted, she wrapped her arms around my neck and purred. She would have happily travelled around all day being held like a baby or sitting on my shoulder like a pirate’s parrot.
When the first potential adopters came for a viewing, the kittens behaved appalling. It was nearly impossible to find them, and when I dragged them out to meet the couple, they were frantic to get away and launched themselves off the poor visitors who were trying to cuddle them. It was the worst viewing we’d ever had. People nearly always adopt kittens after seeing them at our place (the only ones who didn’t had just lost pets and didn’t feel that they were ready to take in a new cat). Unsurprisingly, the first prospective adopters chose other VOKRA kittens they had viewed earlier that day rather than Raya and Golden.
After that first disastrous visit, there were no calls from potential adopters for ages, and we began to worry that we’d have the girls until they were adults, in which case their profiles would move over to the adult cat adoption gallery and their prospects would be even dimmer. They were already six months old, though very tiny, with the slender, leggy builds of Siamese cats.
We had some time after the first viewing to work more intensively on the kittens’ socialization, and we recruited friends to come over and hold them as much as possible to get them over their stranger phobia. As a result, the second viewing went far better. The kittens behaved reasonably well and allowed themselves to be held, albeit grudgingly, and the couple decided to adopt them.
We received pictures of the girls recently, photos of Raya (now renamed Thea) sitting on her new adopter’s shoulder and the two kittens snuggled up in the bathroom sink together. I was worried about how they’d cope with the transition, but apparently they’ve been doing very well and bonding nicely with their new owners.
For more foster kitten stories and photos, see the main Foster Kitten Photo Diary page.