Friday, August 24, 2012

Emmylou and Natalia Start to Explore the Apartment



(Above, TTouching Emmylou outside the cage)
Emmylou and Natalia are two sweet kitties who I adopted from BARC Shelter (where I volunteer). They came into the shelter as ferals in December. They are getting more confident every day, but I am acclimating them to my apartment very gradually. I am using a kitty condo, which is a large multi-level cage on wheels. Lately I have started to let the girls out of the cage for play and socialization - at first for just about an hour, and now for longer periods, and sometimes a couple of periods during the day. I am keeping the door to the bedroom closed, but the door is a large screen door so they are able to see what it going on in other parts of the apartment.
They were both excited and scared to be out at first, but the excitement is increasing and the scaredness is decreasing as they get used to being out of the cage. 
It is a joy to see them tear back and forth in the apartment and leap and jump without restriction.  I have set up a little playground for them in the bedroom, with scratching post and pads, toys, a long kitty tunnel, etc.  They especially love playing in the tunnel, which has a crinkly sound to it (which scared them at first but now they are used to it) and a hole on the side in the middle of it so they can play with each other while in the tunnel.
These two love each other and it is very sweet to see them tumble and play with each other.
Below you see them on the stairs which go up to our platform bed.  They have only ventured up to the bed briefly, but I'm sure that will be explored more as they are out more.
After they wear each other out playing, they will stretch out on the floor, in the tunnel or in a little space under the staircase.  When they do this, I will feed them some baby food off my finger, petting and TTouching them as they lick it off.  At times they are comfortable with me TTouching them without the food, but other times they will initially move away.  The more they get used to being out of the cage, the more they are getting used to being touched outside the cage as well.  The good thing is that when they are feeling like they want to run for cover, they simply go back into the cage instead of burrowing into some tiny place in the apartment. 

Emmylou is pictured below, stretching out near the chest of drawers, a little bit wondering what is going on, but curious too!
Natalia is caught in midair below as she plays.  In the background you can see the bottom of the kitty condo.

Below, I am TTouching Natalia, who is partially underneath a wavy scratching toy, which they use as a tunnel.  When she is out of the cage, often she is more comfortable being touched if she is partly in a more closed space, like this.
A few times I have brought them into the living room/kitchen within the condo, so they can start to get a feel for that space too, which is larger and has a lot more nooks, crannies and general busy feeling to it.  Once they are very comfortable with being out in the bedroom, I will start letting them out into this space as well, but that is a ways down the road. 
It is interesting, most often after they are back in the cage for a while again, they are very affectionate and comfortable with me and in general.  The slow, gradual approach seems to agree with them.  It is an interesting balance.  Each day I am trying to challenge them in new ways, but also want to reinforce their feeling of well-being and safety, which are of such ultimate importance.  They are teaching me so much every day!


  1. Thanks for sharing your (and the girls') experiences. I am interested to know more about the kitty condo and how the cats return to it after an exploring session. If you need them to return to it, how do you coax them back inside?

  2. I do not force them to get back into the condo, as that would be counterproductive and stressful for them. I use food to lure them back into the condo - you can use treats or a little dry food or wet food, whatever they particularly like. Liv-a-Littles and Greenies (especially Liv-a-Littles) are treats which are liked by a lot of cats. It can be advantageous to do the exploring session so it will end around mealtime so they are hungry and more motivated to get back into the condo. Toys could also lure some cats back in, but probably food is more universally what will work best.