Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bonding or Acclimating?

The boys are definitely getting used to us, used to the apartment, and used to their feeding schedule. Each day, they get more comfortable and more curious in exploring their surroundings and with our presence in their environment.

They used to run every time we took a step in their direction. Now they'll come play on the bottom of our desk chairs while we're typing on the computer (we have to be careful not to roll back in our chairs without looking to see if a cat is under them). They used to avoid us when they could, but now they will walk over us if they are going somewhere or chasing each other (which they do a lot).

That said, they also seem less affectionate or needy of us than they did in their first day or two. The first night we had them, each of us picked up a cat and petted him until he feel asleep on our laps. Now, they seem more rambunctious and less amenable to sitting on our laps or being carried around. They don't fight and claw, but given the choice, they'd rather sit on the furniture than on a lap or nuzzled up against a human arm.

Don't get me wrong. They'll let you pet them and they will seem to enjoy it too. But they seem more interested in having their own space than being in ours. Does this mean they're not really bonding with us by acclimating to the environment of the apartment? Is there something we could be doing to make them feel more attached to us or should we just be happy that they're so independent?

I read Franny's article on "How to Gentle a Kitten," and an another cats article on the "Scoop and Snuggle" method, and Liz and I are trying these techniques. We'll see where they get us.

BTW, sometimes Beowulf will come over, look up at me or at Liz at meow. We operate on the assumption he wants to be picked up so we pick him up, but we go to pick him up and he's not as keen on it as we'd thought, though if you pet him behind the ears, he'll calm down and purr. What does this all mean? Does he want to be picked up or not? Does he like us or not?


Anonymous said...

They like you and they are starting to feel at home. Kittens are just too busy for all that picking up and affection stuff--so much to do and see and chase and investigate! As they get older they will calm down and become more affectionate. Just keep doing what you are doing. You are helping to shape their personalities to be loving and affectionate.

I think Beowulf is just coming over to talk to you and say hi. Eye contact and talking to you is a really good sign.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Peggy. For a somewhat clumsy analogy, picture yourself at five years old in a new kindergarten class. You're first going to check out all the new and different toys, savor the smells of chalk, finger paint, and glue. Next, you'll start to meet the other kids, chase around like little fools, and maybe pick a "best buddy." Although the teacher will seem nice (after all she's the one supplying all this good stuff, including graham crackers and milk), you'll probably pay attention to her at first only when she's talking (or giving you those treats). But after awhile, you'll start noticing that Miss Truitt is nice, and you'll like the sound of her voice when she's reading to you. Her nice, soapy smell will become one of your favorite scents. You might start going to her desk to show her a new drawing, or just to say "hi." Eventually you may be very pleased to find yourself one of "teacher's pets."

Does this make any sense?


mj said...

Kittens are way too busy for the mushy stuff - have to wait until they're older for that. But one thing I have found that seems to reassure skittish cats is that when I approach them, or hold them I narrow my eyes - if you watch cats you'll see that wide round eyes are in alert mode - when everyone is relaxed the eyes narrow. When I have to approach a cat that doesn't know me, or even when I'm having quality time with my own I often speak low and deep (closest I can come to purring) and look at them through narrow eyes. It seems to help. Just a thought.

Annette said...

They are bonding, for sure. They are just way too busy right now to sit still long enough for more than pat here or there, but what you are able to do is sinking in with them. It is important to keep being affectionate to them and touching them as much as you can, on their terms if necessary. Don't be afraid though to occasionally force a "quick" kiss or pet or two from time to time, with the emphasis on quick, just in passing. They will eventually settle down for longer pets and lapsits that are more satisfying to you.