Hissy and Fitz

Whoever thought of naming my ferals Hissy and Fitz is a genius. That is what I’m going with. To tell you the truth, fostering ferals is sort of a thankless task. I mean, till they like me, if they ever do.

I spent the whole day in the kitten room yesterday, with my laptop, being my usual misunderstood self, trying to do eight hours’ of work in the allotted four I was given, then feeling panicked I wouldn’t be able to carefully proofread every word of a huge document

REALLY FAST.

AND DON’T SCREW UP.

They’re just horrified, and no matter how many hours I sit quietly near then, they jump back and hiss at me. It’s awful.

This morning I got up

let the dog out

fed Milhous and Lily

gave everyone new water

fed Iris her sick-cat food

let Edsel in

gave him one pill

cut another pill and gave it to him

cut a third pill and gave it to him

fed him

then went to the kitten room, where I gingerly took out their little towels and rugs, shook them out outside, put new clean towels in

changed their litter

changed their water

fed them

and then when I went to zip up their little tent, they reared back and hissed at me.

And that is when I said, “You know what? Go to hell, you thankless kittens. Geez.”

Still, I plan to sit in there all day today so they get used to me. It’s nice to leave the room and be with animals who actually like me.

I hope I don’t screw them up for life and they’ll never be adoptable.

This is hard.

64 thoughts on “Hissy and Fitz

  1. My husband bribes the hissy kittens we foster with wet cat food on a plastic spoon. Then after they are okay eating from the spoon, he starts to pet them a little bit–we had one kitten living in the wall because he was so scared (and because we left a damn hole in the wall of the kitten room) and he left here the lovey-est boy. I pet them even as the growl at me, but I have no boundaries where kittens are concerned.

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  2. June,
    You are a gem.
    Folks need to remember that this ain’t your first kitty rodeo.
    You amaze me. Thank you for all you do for animals.

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    1. I can see June in the rodeo ring with her little kitty lasso trying to wrangle Hissy and Fitz. The one with the least scratches wins.

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  3. >do eight hours’ of work in the allotted four

    No wonder you have migraines….

    No helpful hints or advice on the pissy hissers but glad they’re with you, they have the best start. Do you know any of their back story or do I just not want to ask?

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  4. Is it the zip on the enclosure that scares them? After 10 years, our rescue dog is completely in love with us (as we are with her) but certain sounds (a squeak of a chair, or a chirp of a fire alarm or similar high-pitch sounds) make her tremble and act like we beat her on the daily. It takes a lot of love to calm her down after A Sound(tm) happens. I love that you take such good care of your little fosters. They just don’t know how good they have it being with you.

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  5. I don’t know if hearing stories of other ferals will make u feel better but…
    We have 2 former feral cats. We adopted the first & she was our also first cat (as adult people). I’m not sure why the group let us take her but it was the perfect match – we’re all introverts & life is quiet at this house. But I remember being grilled by the director. They must have known it would be a hard task.

    Kitty was already 5 or 6 months, had always lived outside but the feral group thought she might be tamed. For first 2 weeks she hid under the guest bed. I’d lay on the floor and read or softly talk to her while pretending I was ignoring her. She big eyed me from beneath the box spring. Trust was tentative & slow. The gateway was watching me floss & brush teeth. She snuck into the bathroom. I ignored her. I flossed. She was besotted…. with flossing. Me napping was also enticing.

    We must be at our least threatening when flossing or napping.

    After about a month we were inseparable. Now it has been years. Over time she gains new cat skills. This year she decided to become a lap cat. But she is a one person cat. She will rub against my husband’s legs but she moves away if he tries to pet her. But to me, she is perfect companion. She checks in on me. She brings me presents (her cat toys) to share. She knows I’m about to migraine before I migraine (and is brilliant at conveying this). She wakes me from nightmares & likes to sleep with her head on my shoulder. She has ten million little special traits.

    Our other feral we adopted as a tiny kitten, so small she’d not been spayed. She was from the same colony as our first feral & our older kitty mothered her. So 2nd feral was much easier. She modeled on the trusting behavior of our other cat. And feral 2 is a sweet, goofy chatty cathy who (years later) is willing to be anyone’s friend. We love her to bits too.

    I am grateful they were both rescued. I say rescued on purpose because I know where they were from & it would’ve been a short life full of hazards. So thank you for trying with your kittens. It will be slow but if it works you may be the first chapter in someone’s happily ever after. You are doing good in this hard world.

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    1. Just read the other commments and yeaaaah, June’s instinct to not touch the terrified one is Very Wise. Miss June this comment isn’t for you but is for anyone debating if they should pet scared hissy kittens. So Miss June u can prob ignore.

      My experience is with our 2 ferals & with horses rescued from abusive situations. In all cases the goal is to build trust. So first rule, don’t eff up their trust. Go slow. If you see signs of anxiety, fear, etc reassess what you’re doing. Def do not force anything. Blah blah blah. Building trust with a scared animal is like the opposite of Modern Life: You cannot skip commercials. There’s no entertaining montage to ff ahead of the boring hard, slow work. You can’t quickly fix the problem with a trip to the plastic surgeon.

      It is the opposite of now. Or maybe it is now… sitting quietly in quarantine, waiting, being selfless, thinking about others. It is hard and there’s no short cut* (*well, maybe floss and take naps 🙂

      I know June already knows all this, so Miss June this is for other folks, not you. Hope I don’t sound like a total prat. It’s just that terrified animals don’t adapt as fast as us, you know?

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      1. As I’m reading this, the calico, Hissy, is walking past me tentatively. She started and stopped 97hundred times. I’m over here pretending I can’t see her. Fitz is behind the desk wishing a boulder would fall on me.

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      2. Ohmygod now Fitz has run out, run back. Run out, run back. I set food out, see, and I know he wants to eat it. He’s had a rough morning spitting at me.

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        1. He put his left foot in, he put his left foot out; He put his left foot in, and he shook it all about. He did the Hissy-Fitzy and turned himself around, that’s what it’s all about.

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  6. Ahh you will do this June! You are good at it – be patient. I know – patience is a virtue… ha ha… lol…. swear at them if you must – but they will get there!

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  7. That has gotta be so difficult, trying your best for these little mites only to have them reject your overtures of friendship. I’m guessing that you’re doing whatever you can, so I’m not going to make any suggestions, but I think it’s awesome that you’re willing to try all that for those ungrateful (and yet adorable!) little wretches.

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  8. Here is the story of Harry:
    I adopted Harry from the city on Feb. 29. They said he was a year old and had suffered an upper respiratory infection. Said he weighed 9 lbs.
    Harry lived under the dresser in my office for two months. NEVER came out when people were around. NEVER meowed.
    Husband declared he’d had enough and we must move obviously-not-a-year-old to the bathroom and start forcing it to socialize.
    Harry was moved to the bathroom. He emitted a tiny, tiny horrified squeak and said nothing more.
    I continued to sit by the cupboard he hid in and talked to him. He started to poke his emaciated head out, but was silent.
    Finally, after two weeks, Harry let me brush him.
    Now, two months later, Harry is fat, chatty as hell, and a terror. He is just now getting over the need to be on my husband’s lap in order to sleep. He loves for me to pick him up and cuddle him. He is happiest when we all go to bed and sleeps with us through the night.
    Harry has yet to see the vet. I’m terrified to see what happens.

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  9. Yikes. Between work and Hissy and Fitz, I am feeling overwhelmed for you. I have a home full of teenagers and while I am not a pet owner due to allergies, I am appreciating the similarities people are making. Good luck!

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  10. We just fostered 2 kittens for 3 weeks. We started with one and got him tame in a week. The second one came after a week because my teen got the first one tame so quickly. The second was harder and he hissed a lot. She tamed them by taking one at a time out. They got adopted this week! Together !

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  11. My sister had the greatest feral kitty. This was back in the day where they would try to rehab adult ferals instead of just neuter and tag and release them back. He was younger, maybe that affected the shelters ok to adopt decision. She adopted him, only heard him eat in the dark for 2 years, and had to trap him for annual vet visits. About 3 years in she could be near him and sometimes brush him if he was eating, but nothing more. As each year progressed he would be around more and more. By the time she had married and had children he was almost completely friendly. Around the time her kids were in the very noisy screetchy age he was completely deaf and became love obsessed with her children. He was my nephews very best kitty and at age 8 he still keeps the cats picture out and sometimes carries it. I have no idea if this was normal for a feral but it was all very sweet. I would never of had that patience to adopt a feral. I might be needy.

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  12. Caroline’s story of her ripped up hand is scary. June, do you have any protective gloves for future feral contact? I think you are doing the right thing just letting them get used to your presence.

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    1. Why is no one listening to me?

      June: You can’t touch them. Everyone: Just touch them June. Use a pillowcase June. Hey, June, when you’re touching them, do you … ?

      The kittens are MC Hammer. Can’t touch this.

      Anyway when I CAN touch them I do plan to wear gloves. Actually, it’s only Fitz I can’t touch. The other one lets me but isn’t into it. Kind of like my marriage.

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  13. June, be sure to let us know when you have screwed up the lives of any animals in your care, especially the ones who had such a swell time being feral instead. Then we can all watch out for the flying pigs. Some of which you will also foster.

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            1. Didn’t Francis, like, literally try to kill you when you came over? Didn’t he poison your drink and get out his bow and arrow and then order an Acme bomb?

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  14. We have a feral cat that we feed every day. She jumps into our patio, has food and water, and sleeps in the shade during the day. We’ve been doing this for over a year. She won’t let us anywhere near her, though every now and then she bolts into the house. Air conditioning, I guess.

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  15. You are doing the work of angels, helping these little bitty meanies.

    This may be totally wrong, but what if you grabbed the panicked one by the scruff and put him in your lap, snugged up a little in a towel? Perhaps the longer he’s allowed to be wild, the longer he will be.

    This will either work or your lap will be shredded to bloody ribbons. I better send you more zucchini bread.

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      1. In my experience, people don’t realize how untouchable they are. When we bought this house, we got 9 feral cats in the bargain: one angry momma, a roaming Tom that we TNR, and their brood. One kitten was totally adoptable. Another, Betsy, was super scared, but getting along after months of being in our care. Someone wanted to take her home. We lectured. We hectored. We preached. They understood, oh yes, patience, we get it. Two days later they asked us to pick her up (thank God they called us) because she wouldn’t snuggle. WTH, people? Seventeen years later she’s a sweetheart, but it took years of being in our home with her sister and brother.

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  16. I have no suggestions for Hissy & Fitz; I’d be doing exactly what you’re doing – just being in the room until they get over me. Also, would take kittens over teenagers.

    Speaking of, my teenage daughter is kitten-watching for a friend. Friend and family are on vacation for a WEEK. Kitten usually has people and two golden retrievers around. Now dogs and people are gone. For a WEEK. I am appalled and feel sorry for that little smidge, who is all by his lonesome for a WEEK, minus the two times a day daughter is there.

    Am I insane? Would kitten be better coming to our house and being confined to a single room but have company or staying in a whole house by himself for A WHOLE WEEK?

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  17. Thank you for the genius accolades ! It is an honor to have provided you with those names. Feel free to send the winning trophy and prize money check to me at your earliest convenience.

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    1. Not bloody likely. I don’t think the bandaid winners of 5 years ago ever got that prize, let alone actual trophy and $$. What was the other prize that never went out? It was an inflatable something that made us all laugh. Inflatable toast?

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  18. When I brought my feral to the vet I almost lost a finger or hand transferring him from the carrier to the trap. I had to go to emergency room and spend hours and then follow up with a hand surgeon. It was all for naught though he couldn’t be saved. I cried like a baby. Years of him coming around and putting food when it was a billion degrees below zero, him refusing to come inside and then seeing him get sick and not wanting him to suffer a king dragged out illness. I have a little marker in my garden where he is buried and was loved and hope he knew it.

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  19. I love your quote up there from ole Abe.
    Give those babies time, it has only been a couple of days. Have you tried picking them up the way their mama would and gently place them/single kitten on your lap? I know you are the best foster mom ever. I seriously don’t know the answer to this question, but can you give catnip to kittens that young or is that like offering the Mary Jane to toddlers?
    Tee

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    1. Thank you Joon for doing this. I feel like my comment didn’t go thru, so I’ll try again. I take care of TNR ferals at work. Folks, you can’t not only pick them up – you can barely go near them to put food down. And this is after years. My two cats were feral- literally plucked one baby out of a tree- ( no mama) and it took years but they are now settled and I hope, happy. So I get it. You are doing perfect though- being there, but kinda ignoring them. Which IS a euphemism for many things. It’s a new challenge for me now to see how much trust you can gain. Also since feeding ferals for years, it’s like there is something about me and wild animals. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve rescued animals in the last few years. My latest was a bat which was the cutest thing ever and now I want all bat babies.

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        1. Dear June, Should I add bats to your list of animals you want on your animal farm? I don’t think they actually farm bats, but who knows. Would you like a fish pond as well? Not too much maintenance, but not much hands on ,petting , time either.

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  20. Parenthood is hard, especially when you give and give and all you get is some hissy fitz from two ungrateful little heathens….

    However, your persistence and hard work and fresh towel placement will pay off when you least expect it. The heathens would have been in dire straits if not for you. It will take time. welcome to the joys of parenthood.

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