OAKLAND — A slow blink. A sniff of the finger. Maybe even perked ears.
These are the subtle signs cats give us to say they might be receptive to a human's company.
At Cat Town, where the focus is on special-needs cats, we don't take any of these signals lightly.
While many people know about Cat Town's vibrant adoption center where cats mingle with coffee-drinking guests, fewer have seen the extensive operation taking place next door. This is where shy, stressed and sick cats get specialized visits with staff and volunteers like me.
And this is where our youngest rescues, members of the Forgotten Kitten Project, reside until they find their people.
The Forgotten Kitten Project is an initiative to rescue shelter kittens that were not socialized during the crucial ages of development, around 2 to 12 weeks. At many shelters, these cats would be candidates for euthanasia because they would be considered "unadoptable." Cat Town rescues kittens like these, and specially trained volunteers and foster parents work with them in a free-roaming environment to help them blossom.
This year, for the first time, members of the public can see these kittens when they come to The Studios, the newly renovated adoption space. But before these kittens are ready for adoption, we have some work to do. There are strategic socialization sessions, vet appointments, stinky food that needs to be licked off our fingers by little kitty tongues, etc.
We are like new parents giddy with excitement each time we see a breakthrough, big or small.
"Sheila gave me a slow blink!."
"Aspen ate treats from my hand!"
"Jordan climbed into my lap!"
"Blossom accepted pets!"
These are the milestones we track and celebrate. These are the signs that our feline friends are becoming their true selves, shaking off the stress of the shelter and learning to trust humans.
The motto here: Love + Time = Magic.
In the coming weeks, I will be chronicling milestones both mini and major here on the kitten wire, where you can see the magic for yourselves. I'll introduce you to our 2017 class of rescue kittens as they are pulled from Oakland Animal Services and other rescue groups. I'll let you know the latest on their progress, when they become available for adoption and, importantly, when we need your support.
And, of course, I'll make sure you get the most squee-worthy pics and videos.
To visit all the adoptable cats at the main Cat Adoption Center and to tour The Studios, click the button below. And check back often for the latest on the Kitten Wire.
Kitten Project Manager