August 12, 2013

Expanding the Rodent Control Department

After losing so many baby chicks to a rat, Dan and I discussed the possibility of getting another cat. There are certainly enough rats, mice, shrews, moles, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, and squirrels to keep more than one cat busy. I looked at kittens on Craigslist, but never reached a decision. The other day, it occurred to me to look at one of our area animal shelters. No, they aren't free, but the adoption fee includes vaccinations plus spay or neuter. This not only makes acquiring a pet more affordable, but also gets them out of a cage and into a home. So, I went looking for a young adult cat and came home with...

They're about 6 or 7 weeks old, a little boy and a little girl. Of all the cats at the shelter, these were The Ones.

Little Girl Cat is friendly and purry; instant cuddle cat, just add lap.

She made herself at home in no time.

Little boy cat is timid and shy.

He was slow to coax out of the kitty carrier. If I try to pick him up he gives me a baby hiss and tries to run away, but doesn't growl, bite, or scratch once I've got him. The folks at the shelter said they were relieved that I took them both. They worried about Little Boy Cat being left behind because he's too scared to be friendly.

He's gradually getting adventuresome.

And Riley?

Not pleased. I put the kittens in the pantry and put up the baby gate to keep them in. This will give them some territory to get used to for now, plus, I hope, let Riley get used to the idea before being overrun with kittens.

Riley quickly hopped over the gate to investigate.

Riley smelled them before he saw them.

Of course Riley only hisses as them. The kittens are both quite fascinated with Riley, and will sit on their side of the baby gate watching him, while he lies on the kitchen floor and tosses hisses at them over his shoulder.

Little Boy Cat came out more the next day, but he still has his safety zone.

He loves to play and can easily be drawn out for that. He hasn't purred for me yet but likes having his chin scritched. I've noticed that if my hand is raised too high while I'm petting him, he flinches. I suspect something happened before he got to the shelter that has made him a little gun-shy; nothing that gentleness and love can't cure.

The baby gate barricade was breached after about 24 hours.

They have supervised access to other parts of the house.

Names? We'll have to live with them awhile to figure that out.


Michelle said...

Awwww! I hope Uncle Riley warms up soon. ;-)

Unknown said...

They are as adorable as can be!

Tombstone Livestock said...

That last picture is just too cute, looks like they have made themselves right at home.

Unknown said...

Too cute! Good for you adopting, that's how we've gotten all our pets. I bet little shy boy will bloom with lots of TLC...

Theresa said...

Very cute! And kudos for supporting your local shelter. I know ours are over run with kittens this time of year. And some kittens are just shy, and flinch at quick or unusual movements, same with puppies and is not necessarily a sign of abuse. In any event, these two have found themselves in high cotton with such a loving family. Now if only Riley warms up to them....

Leigh said...

Michelle, I'd definitely say we're making progress. Today is day three and he still hisses if they get too close, but consents to being in the same room. :)

Jaclyn, I agree!

TL, they really have made themselves at home, including Riley's food bowl and my lap, LOL

Nancy, we can see him coming out of his shell already. :)

Theresa, good point. Personality makes a big difference, doesn't it? Once I got to the shelter, I discovered that August was cat "clearance" month. Cats were $10 each and kittens $35 (usually $50 and $80). That made it possible for me to get the pair, which I'm so glad I did.

Hannah said...

Congrats on the kittens, I hope they turn out to be good hunters. My cat that is a good hunter liked to bat at everything that moved when she was a kitten. She has pretty blue eyes too.

Benita said...

Precious!!! I love that G shaped swirl on the boy's side - he has lovely markings.

DebbieB said...

Aw, adorable! It's great that you gave those two homeless unemployed people a place to live with built-in jobs! ;-)

Tina Good said...

We recently did the same thing. Our one cat is 17yrs old and just not able to get around like he used to, and we were having some rodent problems. He isn't happy about the new additions either, but he has stopped hissing and yowling finally. Although playful and cuddly, I wonder how to encourage them to become hunters.

Woolly Bits said...

I hope Riley will get used to them in time - they are so adorable! good thing that we have no shelter close to us or DS would bring them in by the dozen:) together with all the unloved dogs, donkeys etc... I hope they'll learn to do their job as well - so that you don't end up with birders instead of mousers!

Leigh said...

Hannah, thanks. I don't reckon there's any way to tell about hunting ability in kittens. At least cats have good instincts when it comes to going after anything that moves!

Benita, I agree, Little Boy Cat is a real looker. :)

Debbie, so far they're employed in keeping laps warm and eating our cat food. :)

Tina, it's hard not to feel badly for the established cat! This morning Riley hissed, but didn't grump and growl like the previous mornings. I'm taking that as a sign of progress!

For hunting training, I have a stuffed mouse on a string tied to a stick. They get plenty of practice chasing it. I'm hoping that, with natural instincts, will do the trick.

Bettina, I'd love to find a donkey at the shelter! They did have a rabbit. I was going to ask if they ever got dogs who were used to farm animals, but got distracted with kitten paperwork. I may keep my eyes open and see if we can't get a good livestock dog eventually.

I admit Riley catches an occasional bird, but less so than rodents and rabbits, thankfully.

Quinn said...

How absolutely lovely in every way! I always encourage people to adopt kittens in "twos" so they have someone to play with every waking moment, allowing the other cats in the household some peace. I'm sure Riley will agree :)
Congratulations to all!!

Brenda said...

Well arent they beautiful? Desi and Lucy with colours in reverse! LOL. Right now the rats may be bigger and definitely tougher than them.
Kittens and pups do tend to add a layer of fun and warmth to a home. I brought in a 18month old female Kelpie (Australian cattle dog mix/mutt) who had been in two prior homes. Yes, the nervousness goes and the true personalities show soon with lots of love. As you say, you can tell when the creature has been "affected". Mine is very much afraid of men and runs up to my bed whenever I go down to my basement to do laundry etc. I cant imagine what she endured.
Enjoy, enjoy, and here's to the future lions of 5 Acres and a Dream/

Farmer Barb said...

They are going to really trip out when they see the other animals! Will they be barn cats?

I would love to scritch them under the chin, myself!

Renee Nefe said...

I don't think you could have gotten a better deal than the shelter gave you. Yay cat month! :D Our shelter does that too, but we're a dog family for now. I love both, but Darly is allergic to cats.

Your newbies look so cute! I really think you should take advantage of the boy's markings for his name. ;) That is a really distinctive mark there. I noticed that the girl has what appears to be a heart if she stands just right. ;)

Kathy said...

You have gladdened our hearts this morning, Leigh! Thank you for taking them both. With time, I'm sure the little guy will come out of his shell to you both.
And bless your heart for giving them a home!

And Europa, Shadow, Daisy and The Boyz, Mooch and L'il Rascal
In Airy Zona

Susan said...

I love kittens (of all ages...) I agree that your little boy will be purring up a storm soon. Love and gentleness will always win out. What an adorable pair! I am sure that Riley will adjust - it's just hard going from an 'only' to the 'oldest'!

Anonymous said...

Little Girl Cat is going to be just gorgeous--she's adorably cute now! And Little Boy Cat's "eyebrows" are just killing me. What a sweet fellow!!

I hope they both turn out to be wonderful hunters. Congrats on the new family additions!

Su Ba said...


When we adopted our last kitten group, a person pointed out that they were the age that their natural mama would be starting to teach them to hunt. <<>> Without their mama, I concluded that the responsibility lay with me. Rather than just hoping that they had raging hunting instincts, I hoped to awaken and hone those instincts. So I found an old fishing rod, tied a string to the end, then (now this may gross some people out) tied a fresh dead mouse to the string. The mouse came from a trap we kept baited in the shed. Whenever I trap/killed one, I'd use a rat instead. I used this set up, dragging the rodent around, to introduce hunting in the grass, around the shed and house foundation, that sort of thing. I can't say that this technique was responsible for it, but this group grew up to be our best ratters by far. Once they matured, we've never seen a rat near the house, unless it was dead. Rats are a given in my area since I live next to acres of macnut trees. But now our home is rat free!

...Su Ba

Willow said...

Big congrats on your new additions to your family. I am sure they will fit in purr-fectly :)

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Those look like good kitties, you can get them started hunting with grasshoppers, they like to hunt and eat them, we used to find just he hind legs laying around.

HeatherD76 said...

How cute are they? Love <3. I have one cat and have been after my hubby for another one. We need a girl to go with our boy.

* Crystal * said...

Too cute!Congrats on your new additions, nothing better than bringing home a shelter baby :)

Cassandra said...

Oh, they are gorgeous! I am sure the little fellow will warm up in no time. And it doesn't sound like Riley is *too* upset. He'll get used to sharing some space. :) Congrats!

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

Oh they are adorable. Great addition to the homestead. I'm sure Riley will eventually warm up to them.
My one cat is a master hunter (actually I wish he would hunt less!) but 2 of them are not interested in hunting that mutch. Well, they still do their job as lap-warmers. ;-)

Leslie Kimel said...

Oh, how cute they are! And I'm so glad you took the shy little boy as well as the friendly little girl. It sounds like he's already becoming a sweet pet. What a great post!

Sue said...

What dolls! I want to add a cat or 2, but I've promised myself that the boomerang Son & his wife (& their 2 kitties) need to be gone first. It's the first time in over 30 years that I've only had one cat, and I miss having multiples.

One of the best hunters we ever had wasn't allowed outside until we moved to this property, when he was about 8 years old. He was fearless, and death on moles, gophers and mice. Not sure where he picked up the skills.

Sandy Livesay said...


Congratulations on your new kittens! I hope they earn their keep by getting rid of those trespassing critters.

Paula said...

Flo and Eddie. You know- from the Turtles. So Happy Together? You know...

Leigh said...

Quinn, thanks! I agree, twos is best, especially with an older cat in the house.

Brenda, thank you! This morning little boy cat let me pick him up without running away and without a hiss. Progress! I'd love to find a livestock dog at the shelter as well.

Barb, originally I thought I'd wait until we had a barn to get more cats, and raise them in the feed/milking room. Considering the rate we're going, the rats will have carried us all off if I wait that long, LOL

Renee, that's so sad and Darly loves cats too. I hadn't noticed the heart shape, but you're right!

Kathy, good to hear from you! So glad to see L'il Rascal's name in your sig too. We're already making progress, with both the little and the big boy. Riley only hissed once this morning. :)

Susan, only to oldest, well put. He's actually coming around more quickly than I ever thought. Of course kittens need to learn to respect their elders. :)

Notmolly, they both love to play and chase! So that's a good start!

Su Ba, hmm. Maybe Riley will oblige by fetching me a mouse or rat (dead of course). I'm guess that they learned to associate the chase with the smell of the rodent. Even the toy mice don't look like real mice!

Willow, thank you!

Sunnybrook, +1 for grasshopper catching!

Heather, here's hoping he says yes soon. :)

Crystal, thank!

Cassandra, we've made progress already. Of course, he is too busy to be a lap cat, but it warms my heart that he doesn't flinch and run away when I pet him now.

Cecilia, lap warming is important too, LOL

Leslie, I'm glad I took him too. If I'd gotten a young adult, I probably would have gotten only one since there weren't any pairs of older cats there. With the two kittens, Riley at least doesn't have to worry about being a target. :)

Sue, with livestock, there's definitely enough work for multiple cats. Hopefully these two have strong hunting instincts!

Sandy, thanks!

Paula, the Turtles! Gosh, I had completely forgotten about them, LOL.

Carolyn said...

Kitties!!! Oh, how I love kitties! Glad you took both of them in, you'll have a duo of rodent chasers now. Little guy's orange markings kind'a look like a cat in a childhood book I had called The Marble Cake Cat, with those swirls on him. Very pretty kitties! (kittieskittieskitties, oh how I love kitties)

Cat Eye Cottage said...

They are so cute! We just lost our outdoor cat, OP2, to what I believe was cancer. She was an excellent hunter. May OP2's hunting prowess be passed on to these two.

Unknown said...

Aw they are so cute! What a great idea too. I've lost over 100 plants due to squirrels this summer, perhaps I need to visit the pound for kitties as well....

Leigh said...

Carolyn, he's an unusual sort of tabby, isn't he? Wikipedia calls that the "classic" tabby, although it isn't what I think of in terms of common.

Candace, I'm so sorry! It is always heartbreaking to lose a good cat.

Jen, thanks! Yes, too many squirrels can be quite destructive and cats may help. Our squirrels are usually too quick for Riley, but he does keep them chased away.

Bill said...

Aww. Very cute.
I hope they turn out to be good mousers for you.
We don't have any barn cats now, after having had several for years. You're inspiring me to get one (or two). :)

Mama Pea said...

Bless you for taking the two of them! The little fur balls don't have any idea what a wonderful home and life they have fallen into. Riley will be showing them the ropes before you know it. As Susan said, it's hard going from "only cat" to older brother!

Thanks for all the great pictures. Keep 'em coming!

Practical Parsimony said...

They are adorable!

Leigh said...

Bill, one can never have too many barn cats! (That's assuming they all stay in the barn :)

Mama Pea, I'm so glad I got the two because they have a playmate and sleeping companion; things Riley would not like to volunteer for!

Linda, thanks!

Dawn said...

Excellent integration techniques. Well done! They are too adorable for words.

Tina T-P said...


The little girl looks a little like Catzee doesn't she?

I can see many laugh filled days ahead for you. Hope Riley warms up to them - it may just take a little time.

Head bumps and scritches all around!! XOX T.