Life Lessons,  The Zoo

Kittens, Kittens Everywhere!

Aqui and a fluffball

The kitten thing got out of hand really quick. I love kittens but one unfortunate thing happened: Aqui, their mother who used to be an outside cat, did not do a very good job of teaching them how to use the litter box. I’m kind of surprised because she learned how to use it herself and they watched her. Maybe it’s my fault somehow. I don’t know…I put a small litter box in the shower where the kittens were living but they didn’t get it. Even if I put them in the box so they could smell all those gross cat smells they still didn’t use it. They used the shower floor instead and then the carpet next to the shower, and then under my bed.

At first it was cute.

Awww… look at that little tiny kitten poop on the carpet. It’s mini poop!

Then it was NOT so cute.

3am: What is that smell? Ugh! Did a little fuzzy kitten butt just take a turn under my bed right where I lay my head to sleep?!!! Please say it’s just a bad smell wafting over from the cat box in the bathroom. Please, please, please…Ninja Bunnies!

this blind pull looks interesting

So I cleaned up the carpet with Febreeze and vinegar and put the little fuzzy kitten butts in the cat box with some smelly poop to “teach” them but it didn’t really work. They climbed right out of the box and went next to it. Rinse, repeat.

another day, another bottle of febreeze

After several days of this, I finally had enough. And my mom, aka my landlady, had scheduled our carpet to be cleaned. That was purely a coincidence but it did put my kitten issue front and center. Did I want them to ruin the freshly cleaned carpet? NO.

Is it Friday yet?

The kittens needed to go. They’ve been eating solid food for weeks now and they run all over the place wreaking havoc in the middle of the night. I think they are old enough to find loving homes elsewhere.

I put the kittens in a box and took them to Bug’s kindergarten. Surely, I’ll find a home for them there, I thought. Who can resist a kindergartener begging for kitten? Right?

That was hilarious. All the kids wanted to hold them and the kittens did not want to stay in the box. It was a regular three-ring kitten-circus escape act. Thankfully, kindergarten pick-up is not as crazy as regular school letting out so the kittens were not mauled by mobs of kids or anything. But there was a line of fourth graders sticking their hands through the fence begging me to let them pet one. I gave out about 500 business cards and they all promised me that their moms would call me so they could have one.

here kitty kitty

So far it’s been a day and nobody has called me. No one at her school could take one either. Apparently kindergarten parents are smarter than they look. They all had big dogs who eat kittens or too many cats already or someone in their house who was allergic. A lot of people wanted them though.

One lady did come by later and she took “Right Cheek,” one of the twins. There were two kittens who had identical markings except in mirror. We called them Right Cheek and Left Cheek because that’s how you could tell them apart. I really liked the twins. They seemed to be the most mellow.

My mom has the kittens (and their mom) for the weekend (since we go out of town to visit Toby) but this coming Monday I’ll be back on Mission: Find the Kittens a Home. Anybody want one? They’re super cute. Maybe you’ll have better luck with the cat box training than I did. Anybody have any special tips?

Fiesta thinks the ground might be happening. girl and her cat

We are going to keep one. Fiesta, the all gray short-haired one. We were going to keep Shylie (the one with the white markings on its nose) but Fiesta won our hearts over. She seemed to attach herself to Bug and they are smitten with each other. Or at least Bug is smitten with Fiesta.

basket cat

I just hope Fiesta learns how to use the cat box. I don’t know what I’m going to do if she doesn’t.


  • BB from Dot

    Isn’t there a shelter near you? Or near your Mom? As someone who’s been involved with cat rescue for years I know that this is a better solution than offering them to random strangers.

    SAJ says: Really? That has been a concern of mine, actually. I wish I could make sure they were going to loving homes where they would get shots and spayed and/or neutered. Of course I might end up doing all that myself but it’s expensive! So far I asked the one lady a thousand questions and she seemed like a real genuine cat-lover. I will look into the local shelter too. I don’t want them to be put down but maybe they have better resources for finding good homes. We’re going there soon anyway because they have a harvest festival where they give out free spaying and neutering vouchers.

  • monique

    i can help as far as litterbox issues! try using a different kind of litter – if you’re using regular clay try the scoopable stuff. if you’re using a scented kind try unscented. try the box in a different spot – if it’s an enclosed area try an open area. try a different type of box – cardboard soda can trays work really well when they’re smaller. at least that’s what i counsel people when i’m at work. (one of the bonuses of working at an animal shelter)

  • s

    as someone recently looking for a free kitten (but live nowhere near you – sorry!) I would list on craigslist, on petfinder, and also call some kitten rescues. If you do keep the mom and a kitten, look into reduced fee spaying – otherwise you’ll just have the problem once again!

    we just stopped and looked at some free kittens – only one was left, and they were all litter box trained! they were all in a big xpen thing (altho a few of them were climbing it) but the woman assured us that she has all her kittens litter box trained by the time they are ready to go (1-2 more weeks – they are 6 wks now) which I honestly was pretty impressed with because after not having a kitten for quite some time (our last kitty came to us at a year old), I was a little worried!

    good luck!

  • Amy

    I would go the shelter route too. Then you know they will be ‘fixed’ and vaccinated. And the staff will determine who will provide a good home. Kittens go fast, it is the older cats that I worry about.. And you did so good raising them as long as you did :)
    No idea on the litter training for kitties, I am owned by two mini doxies who refuse to let me put out area rugs, rotters!!

  • Danielle

    As a person who found my kitten on craigslist I would also recommend it. I had a difficult to litter train kitty and ended up using Kitten Attract cat litter. They sell it in Petsmart on the East coast. One nice thing is that there is a $1 coupon in each bag. Cats usually don’t like to smell poop–if there is some in her box, my cat will go next to it (she has me well trained, I scoop her box 2-3 times a day–I tell her she is lucky she is cute and furry). It doesn’t make any sense to me–if cats go somewhere in the house, they will continue to go there if you don’t clean every trace of the smell–but a smelly litterbox they will avoid like the plague. I clean her box with baking soda occasionally, too. It’s tricky because every cat is different. My cat won’t use a covered box, my sister’s will. Good luck with your kitty!

  • gingermog

    I remember growing up my mother used to rub our kittens nose in her business whenever she ‘went’ in inappropriate places. Sounds harsh but seemed to work .

  • Kiaya

    This post makes me so thankful for my own kitten, who I stumbled into at a friend’s house by the side of the road. They don’t have cats due to their VERY… excitable dog, I think, so when I saw this teeny tiny kitten outside their garage mewing, I knew that it was abandoned (and from all ways we can tell, it was. There are a lot of strays in our area and this isn’t the first kitten to find it’s way to my friend’s house. They’ve even seen a car drive by and throw a sack of them out the window one time. It’s horrible.)
    Anyway, brought him to the vet. Brought him home and made him my own. I was so worried that we’d have to teach him everything – but lo and behold he figured out second thing that the litterbox was for him. (first thing he did was have a very wet accident all over my sister-in-law in the car on the way home, because he’d eaten too fast/too much.) He’s been a handful and a joy since then and has always used his litterbox, strangely enough. Now if only he’d get along with the other cat in the house…

  • Aurora

    put one kitten at a time in the litter box (trying new litter is a good idea, too) and hold their front paws. Gently help them scratch with their paws in the litter to teach them the idea that this is where they bury their stuff (which cats try to do instinctively, unlike dogs). I taught all 3 of my cats to do with in one try; one was older and 2 were kittens. No need to rub noses in poop!

  • grandma sue

    rubbing noses is old fashioned and is not good for them it teaches them bad habits and is not good for their health

  • Erin

    As someone who works in rescue — PLEASE don’t give them away for free. You want someone who has really thought about it and can afford to take them to the vet, whereas giving them away free is inviting people to “impulse buy” and I’ll spare you the horror stories of where some of those animals end up. I know you mean well and need to get them out, but could you google cat rescues in your area and see if they can help? They will screen potential owners and as kittens they should go quick. And Grandma Sue is right, do not rub their nose in it.

  • Heather

    I adore kittens but they grow up to be CATS. I already have 2 and now a random mama cat has 2 kittens that live under our house. My husband tells me to leave them alone and not feed them so they will leave, but the thought of them being hungry makes me ill.

  • BB from Dot

    As Erin said, there are indeed reasons to avoid people who want free pets, one of which is that they can’t really afford them. If someone can’t afford the shelter fee for an animal that has already been spayed or neutered, tested for disease, and gotten necessary shots (rabies being key) they probably won’t bother or can’t afford to do those things on their own. This is as true for puppies as it is for kittens. And yes, anyone who’s been involved in animal rescue or shelter work can tell you horror stories.

    It’s wonderful that you are taking care of Aqui (unlike the neighbor who seemed to be ignoring her and her condition) and that you plan to get her and Fiesta spayed and vaccinated. Unfortunately not everyone is so conscientious.