Starlight and Violet cuddling.
The Best Laid Plans Get Rearranged –
Still in her first week in her new home, Starlight and Violet were already getting acquainted. Starlight was still spending most of her time alone in a room upstairs that I had carefully set up for her safety and comfort.
But it’s autumn in New England, and the weather suddenly changed and the temperatures dropped. That very Friday morning I brought Starlight some breakfast and discovered that she was coughing a bit and that her room was too cold for such a young kitten, especially one who now seemed to have a bit of a cold. Having experienced so many changes, I wasn’t surprised that her immune system was feeling a bit challenged.
I have an indoor thermometer because my furnace is very old and the thermostat is not precise. I brought the thermometer upstairs and put it on the floor. It dropped to 60 degrees. Even with carpeting, this was too cold for Starlight.
“Family conference time,” I decided and announced to my adult feline companions.
So I sat down with Violet and Sakhara in the “cat room” downstairs. “Starlight is sick,” I announced, “and it’s too cold upstairs for her to stay there. We have to move her and this is the only room I can think of where she can be downstairs and confined. Unless you want her in my office?”
Two definite “no” responses to that idea.
“Are you two ready for full-time interaction with her?”
There were two definite “no” responses to this as well.
“Well,” I continued, “please give me some options of what to do. I want your input because you two are in charge of her integration, as we previously agreed.”
We discussed the situation thoroughly. Sakhara, who had had her own kittens before coming to live with me and Violet, was firm in her belief that a sick kitten needed to be warm. She didn’t think that Starlight was very sick, but she did understand and told Violet that warmth was necessary.
Violet was reluctant to give up her meditation cave, in which she was ensconced as we three talked. Neither of my adult feline friends were really ready for this shift to happen, but both finally agreed to make the change.
The meditation cave in the feline room backs up to a radiator for additional warmth in winter. This got moved into the living room, which had to be rearranged to make space for it. Violet ultimately approved the location. (Sigh of relief from Nedda).
Then the cat meditation room had to be kitten-proofed. Since this room also serves as my sewing room and pantry, I had to make sure that Starlight would not get into trouble once I brought her downstairs.
Finally, Starlight and all her things – bed, litter box, scratching post, toys, food, water – moved into the new room. One more big change for a kitten who had already been through so many changes. This room is smaller and not as interesting for a kitten – no bed to climb on – less room to play. But safety and health had to come first.
Once that was done, I stopped for breakfast. It was late in the morning. Good thing I get up by 5 a.m. to get my day started. I was very tired at that point, but felt we had made a good decision.
The next challenge was figuring out how Violet and Starlight were going to interact. Upstairs they had had two rooms and a hallway in whcih to get acquainted. Space is a necessary factor here. Violet insisted that we had to continue those interactions that very day.
The downstairs arrangement was not easily condusive to kitten training. The cat room is right next to the bathroom where the litter boxes are for Violet and Sakhara. That could not be cordoned off. Then right next door is my office, which would provide additional space for Violet and Starlight to get acquainted.
The only way to block off the rest of the downstairs, so Sakhara didn’t have to participate, was with the metal pen I had purchased for the eventual Starlight feeding station. This proved to be totally inadquate.
Starlight has large paws and long legs. She’s like a Thoroughbred race horse – FAST!!! She also has amazing balance – she can walk along the top of the metal barrier like a tight-rope expert in the circus. She has no fear, so will climb anything and jump anywhere and push through barriers. This is part of her gift to humanity – total love and no fear!!
So this “barrier” was just a jungle gym for Starlight, and not a barrier at all. After a day or so I just gave up trying to confine Starlight to a limited portion of the downstairs. There is a door on the cat room, and Starlight would be confined for the night and for short periods of time during the day to give Violet and Sakhara (and me) a break from her energy and enthusiasm. I also wanted Violet to tell me when SHE was ready to share her bed (the bed I share with her at night) with Starlight.
I left it up to my adult feline family members to make important decisions that affected all of our lives. I felt strongly that this would create a successful and fairly rapid integration. This turned out to be a wise decision on my part.
So at the end of about a week, Starlight had the run of the house during the day. Sakhara was hanging out upstairs during the day. She would growl and hiss and disappear, and this was something new I would have to address with Sakhara. (More about this later.)
I was having to supervise meals carefully, as Starlight wanted what her big “sisters” were eating and her diet was not the same as theirs yet. My gals eat raw food, and Starlight had been weaned onto canned food. Yet another change that I wanted to make, but slowly so as not to cause Starlight any digestive upset.
At night, I began a ritual of putting Starlight to bed. She didn’t want to be alone, and I didn’t really want her to be alone, but Violet and Sakhara HAD to be the ones who decided when Starlight would no longer be confined. I would get her all settled down with some additional food, massage her with her brush, and put her into her bed. I had to be very fast to get from her bed (next to the radiator) out the door without squishing the kitten, who, like lightening, would try to make an “escape.” In fact, she often DID get out, and then I had to go through the ritual yet again.
Keeping up with all this was exhausting, as you might imagine.
Violet was tired, too. She wasn’t as fit at age 13 as she had been, although her “games” with Starlight were fitting her up once again. I also had to make sure Sakhara got lots of attention from me, too.
Each evening, all 3 of us would collapse after Starlight went into her room “to bed.”
Each morning, we’d all start again to integrate Starlight.
The story continues in “A Reincarnation Adventure Part 12: Starlight Integration“