After three weeks with us, our little Sassy-Pants went back in to the shelter for spay and the search for her forever home this week. Sassy started as an extremely timid kitten who had little to no experience with humans before she was rescued. She hissed if you approached her, but in a scared way rather than an aggressive way. For the first two days with us, she mostly hid, hardly eating anything or coming out to where we could interact with her except at night when Jason was asleep.
At this age (about 8 weeks), kittens are still in a window of socialization where they tend to come around pretty quickly. J and I have socialized quite a number of once-feral kittens, including our three most recent permanent residents rescued from that hoarding situation two years ago. The trick is to give the kitten space, meet them on their terms, but also not let them stay hidden forever. After Sassy’s two days of hiding, we put her in a playpen with some safe, less-hidden spaces. This allowed us to interact with her after she’d had a few days to get a little more accustomed to our scents and sounds. I fed her squeezy treats and pet her while she ate. Jason would pick her up and hold her close to his chest. It didn’t take long before she was purring each time we pet her and playing with the toys we provided. She no longer needed the playpen as a safe space, and transitioned out to the room at large without hiding.
There were so many things that Sassafras had no experience with. She didn’t know how to communicate with us, and her early attempts at meowing came out silent, with a little squeak near the end. Sudden movements or loud noises often sent her scurrying under furniture, and she remained skittish and timid. She hated being picked up, terrified of falling or being dropped. It took her over a week to figure out how to jump up to the bed, or drink from the water bowl. Everything was completely new to her.
The good thing is that every experience Sassy had with humans was positive. She came to love us – especially Jason – and she got to meet a handful of other people while she lived with us. We worried that she would hide from new people, but her interactions with us taught her to feel safer than she originally did, and after an initial run-and-hide because the door opened, she would come out to investigate immediately. As she grew less shy, her personality started to shine, and we learned that our little Sassy-Pants was a bit of a Bossy-Pants too. She got to meet a few of our cats after her two week quarantine period, and really connected with Angus. However, she quickly decided that despite their massive size difference, she was the one in charge. She’s going to be the reigning queen in whatever household she goes to!
On Tuesday, I brought her back in to the shelter and said my goodbyes. I got some really good photos of her in the days before, some gorgeous portraits as well as some that show off her absolutely ridiculous spunky personality. Sassy was our ninth foster of 2023 and our last for a few weeks as we have our upcoming vacation. However, kitten season has ramped up like crazy in our area and there are soooo many kittens who need foster homes. We’ll definitely be back to fostering again in June.