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May 16, 2000 Tuesday

Received the following email today from Jennifer after sending her the updates of Ms. Hiss. Here is the part of the story that was missing so far. The early days of Nikita. "Well, Mary Anne you have come so far with her! Let me tell you about her time with me. Nikita came to us in the later stages of pregnancy, The woman who turned her in said she had lived out side only, she was born to a feral cat in the neighborhood and Nikita decided that it was her house where she would live. She never came in the house, and shared her food with her brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. She did trust this woman and would even enjoy some time together, now she was moving and Nikita would have no one to care for her. That is when she came to us, she took Nikita and her sister to the vet for a leukemia test and a physical, Nikita did great for that but her sister did not and her owner decided that she was to be put to sleep. I think it is apparent that Nikita has never had a bad experience at the Vets, but being abandoned would hurt her deeply. From day one she didn't trust anyone, and like you I love these cases, I love to bring comfort to a cat who is in so much fear. We tried to find a foster home for Nikita but no one was willing to foster a feral cat. So in less than one week it was starting to become apparent that Nikita might give birth in the shelter. We never pushed her, we wanted her to fill comfortable in her new room and not stress her when she was so close to giving birth. So it was decided, I was going to take Nikita home, my bathroom was the right size and provided the security she would need to raise a family. I went home that night and prepared for the new arrival the next morning when I got to work she had already given birth there were four little ones but one was found dead and separated from the litter. I packed up the whole family that night and took everyone home. Nikita learned my voice very quickly, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom and always talked to her. She had beautiful kittens and when they were eating solids they were taken to be socialized without her around to teach them bad manners towards humans. After Nikita was comfortable in my little bathroom I decided to let her into the house (this was about 3 months after her arrival). I didn't have any other cats at the time so she moved between only two of the rooms, the bathroom and through the living room to the laundry room. I never pushed myself on Nikita mostly because I didn't have the time to teach her I meant her no harm, I figured she would trust me in her own time. Well, very shortly after this I rescued a British Shorthair from the pound "Maxium" Max for short. Max had URI when I got him so I kept him separate, also neither at the time where altered. Well, Nikita knew where Max was and Max new where Nikita was and with in one week Max had figured out how to open his door. The biggest problem with this was the room that Max was living in had open access to the attic. Well, you guessed it Max opened the door and Nikita being her social cat self went right in. When I got home I looked everywhere, then I saw the open door! I went in to see Nikita and Max just hanging out in the middle of the floor together, she looked so happy to have a friend but I wasn't ready for them to be buds yet. So I tried to get around her to get her out of the room but she had already done her exploring and knew how to get to the attic and off like a flash she went. I knew I couldn't get her out so I left the door open hoping I could catch her when she left the room, ya right. For the next month I tried to get her out of that room and figured out all I was doing was scaring her more so I gave up and tried to win her confidence back, It did work she quit running up to the attic when I came in the room and soon, as long as I didn't approach her, didn't even run. Right about that time I noticed how fat she was and realized Max was going to be a dad, He was neutered now but not before passing on his seed one more time. I prayed that Nikita would not give birth up in the attic because I knew I would never be able to get up there. Well, she didn't she gave birth one the floor in a favorite corner. So knowing she was a good Mom I moved her kittens back to the bathroom and she found them there in no time. She accepted my presence very well she let me reach in her "nest" which was under my sink with one of the doors propped open, and pick up the kittens with no fuss. All was going great until I noticed Nikita sneeze. She was getting sick and she wouldn't let me hold her let alone put a pill down her throat. So I tried hiding the pill in her favorite canned food (IAMS Kitten) It worked for only about a week then she started to get really sick and stopped eating. Her kittens where only four weeks and where barely eating canned food and not even looking at the dry, but we had no choice they had to be separated, Nikita couldn't feed herself let alone her kittens. The day before the scheduled breakup I noticed the two "twins" where getting sick we took them to the vet but they where gone within hours. About 3 days the most out going of the litter, my favorite, "Moab" (named because he seemed to be the strongest, like a mountain) was gone. The remaining two "Haiku" and "Fitzgerald" never even got so much as a sneeze. Nikita had gotten the calici-virus she recovered with in a couple weeks after the stress of her kittens was taken off her but her three beloved kittens were too young to fight such a battle. About one month after Nikita recovered from her illness, and before she was allowed out of the bathroom again I took her in to get her spayed. I wrapped my hands in leg wraps used on horses, grabbed her scratching, and biting into the carrier. She only weighed 6 lbs at that time. After that all was good, Nikita never left Max's side, they slept together and groomed each other. In the meantime I got a new cat, a Pixibob X named Sabo. He's a great cat and Nikita and Max made fast friends with him. It seemed whoever Nikita met she made friends. Well, Max died from cancer and Sabo from a freak accident which left Nikita alone. She was very upset and would cry at night looking for her companions. I did have another cat who never came in contact with the others because she hated other living things. She is a 10 year old declawed Manx. She came to me angry, already declawed and full of Manx attitude. "Camille" I quickly learned the way to Camille's heart and we got along great, as long as no other cats where around. Well, I felt awful for Nikita and so I let her meet Camille, there was never a hiss from either of them and they shared there lives until the day Nikita found her new home. Camille misses Nikita and demands more attention from me than ever but I know Nikita misses the company of other cats more. They give her confidence and show her that all is not so awful. Maybe when you know Nikita is eating good and semi comfortable you will allow one of your affectionate cats to help her with the rest of her transition into your home. Thank you so much for keeping me informed. I really sounds like all your pushiness with "MIS Hiss" has paid off. Please keep me updated. Thank You again, Jennifer "

*By the way, I don't think I am pushy. You can't in anyway push a feral to do anything they don't want to do!*

May 17, 2000 Wednesday

At feeding time, little Missy Hiss walked out of her box on her own steam- crawled up on my knee- I was sitting on the floor, she then demanded that I rub her cheek again because it felt sooo good- and ate everything I gave her- (sure wish she would eat on her own) and then she *stayed* out for the remainder of our visit!!! Walked all over my lap, and I didn't even try to restrain her. I did pick her up a few times, but put her right down so she can know that picking up does not always mean *capture* She has captured my heart- and I am on a search for the perfect name for this little Missy- =)

May 18, 2000 Thursday

Her name emerges from the shadows:

She pranced out of her box this morning after I settled down on the floor next to her. I offered her food- but she looked at me like- "hey wait a minute! Aren't you forgetting something?" What followed was a whole body rub, chin and belly scratch, the EBM and more cheek rubs. She then settled down right next to my leg, purring and kneading her claws in and out. It was bliss! Tomorrow, we will widen her territory so she can explore, but will still be on the whole second floor. The new barrier is made of chicken wire on a frame, so she can sniff noses with the others if she decides to go down to the last step that is. =) Her name is Maya, it suits her just fine. I did not like the Ms Hiss because of the s's and if my crew does something wrong, I will oftentimes hiss at them to let them know I am not pleased.

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