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May 30, 2000 Tuesday

There is a gap in this journal as these last four days I have been involved in trapping Mom's feral colony of 20 plus cats. Maya is eating only dry food now, so she has pretty much only been looked at a few times in the last several days. I do go up right at bedtime and read a few pages and rub her and love on her. Was spending time with Maya last night in her closet. Reading to her aloud, and scratching her tummy and rubbing her head, I was more engrossed in the book than in her. I let my hand rest lightly on her stomach without doing any scratching, tickling or petting. All of a sudden- she thrust her head forward, nailed the soft flesh of my palm and scratched my wrist. Thankfully, she let go of me and scrambled into her box towards relative safety. It hurt like the dickens, but rather than concentrate on my pain, I noticed that Maya was going through a pain of her own making. She was crouched in a tiny defensive huddle at the back of her box. She was reacting as if she knew she had done wrong, and was waiting to be hit or punished. All I could do was wonder what she had seen in the past to prompt this behavior. I did hiss at her, and tell her that this was "totally unacceptable!" I then just backed off from her, and sat there in the closet with my shirt wrapped around my hand. I did not want to leave it as it stood, where she was triumphant in ridding herself of this evil human. Instead, I sat there and waited until I saw her body relax and she realized that she was not going to get thumped. I knew that putting my hand into her box would be a foolish gesture, besides, I smelled of blood, so I sat there- throbbing with pain until she worked up the courage to come out of her hole. She walked up and she just stared at me. Like she was sizing me up, or realizing finally that no one under this roof would hurt her. I, on the other hand, watched her closely and realized that though she is making steps of progress- she is still conditioned to react to things in her environment as someone who has been threatened before. No matter how many times she allows me to pet her, or rubs against me, there will still be that shield up, that force within her called survival and if she does not like what is on her plate, then she will do whatever needs to be done to protect herself. It also humbled me, because here I was patting myself on the back saying to myself- "Great job MA!" And then, comes the painful lesson, the humbling and the realization that even though I am bigger than her, she can bring me to my knees in one brief second. We are friends again, but it is an uneasy alliance. I now keep my vigil and watch her for signs that she feels threatened, so that I can prevent another painful episode for the both of us should it occur, and I bet it does. Maybe I should just write Dean Kootnz a letter and tell him it's all HIS fault! LOL If he didn't write such intense books- I never would of taken my attention away from her!

June 2, 2000- Friday

Was an interesting day today. Captured another kitty from the colony this one so tiny, still needs to be bottle-fed. Tonight, while I was wearing a special pouch for the baby to be in, the baby- Spider started squeaking. About 5 minutes later, every time Spider squeaked, I heard an answering meow. Maya was sitting at her door, and listening. I quickly shooed all the Tag Team out of the area, then opened up Maya's door. She went right into the kitchen and drank from the water bowl- though she has plenty of water upstairs. I was standing at the sink doing dishes; Spider was snuggled up against me. Then with Maya still prowling, I went to put in some computer time. Spider had finally fallen asleep, so I was just sitting at the monitor trying to catch up on email- when lo and behold! Maya jumped on my lap! I was so stunned; all I could do was sit there. I had just logged into Ben's Public Chat Room, and announced to the chatters this wonderful event! Maya only stayed on my lap for about 5 minutes, which was enough to wake up Spider and so I had what I thought was a brainstorm. I took Maya and Spider upstairs to her closet. I sat with the both of them for about an hour, until both were asleep and curled up next to each other!!! I blocked the closet door so Spider couldn't wander if she tried, but left enough room for Maya to get out if she felt trapped. I listened on the landing, and heard nothing but blessed silence, breathed a sigh of relief, and finished with the dishes.

Right before going to bed, I decided to check on them, and I found Maya was out of her closet and Spider was wandering around the floor of the closet mewling for his new friend.sigh..so much for a brainstorm! I guess Maya will tolerate anything as long as I am around. LOL

So now, Spider is back downstairs, snuggled up on a pet heating pad, and I hope he stays asleep, however since he needs to be watched, I am camped out on the floor in front of his cage. I will know the minute he wakes up.

So now, I will say goodnight- bucking one ton of hay, and administering to the needs of these kittens has tuckered me out.

June 3, 2000 Saturday

I now have 2 other tiny baby kitties to bottle-feed. These two are the cutest and the most feral of all I have trapped so far. They are not sucking off the bottle, they are trying to eat the nipple! If Mom were around, she would be awful sore right now. =) I am pureeing kitten food (wet) with their formula, and that seems to do the trick, though I don't know how much goes in them, or on them! LOL Because my day was so full, Maya again got put on the back burner. Tonight at 9:00 I opened up her door, and she was out and about the house for about an hour. She is intrigued with all the kitten noises coming from our living room (where the cages are.) I put these two new babies out on the floor next to her, and I swear I am going to name one Kubota and the other John Deere because they bulldozed their way to Maya side and plowed right into her! LOL She bolted for the stairs, and stayed on the bottom step until I put the two monsters away.

Finally, after feeding time, I was able to spend time with Maya, but it so hot upstairs even with the fans going, that we spent it sitting on the stairs. I gave her all the attention.

.*****.(just had an interesting interruption) I was sitting here at the computer working on this, when I heard a series of rapid meows. I thought it was the new kids, but it turned out to be Maya! It is 12:49 a.m. and she was sitting behind her door asking to be let out. The Tag Team

have all crashed out on the porch- as it is 75 degrees right now. So I blocked the doggy door and put Kenai in the bedroom and shut that door. Now Maya is sitting at my feet looking up at me like..well? Who knows what she wants, but now she is laying at my feet and I can hear her purring over the noise of the dishwasher. For those of you reading this journal - Kenai is our 3 year old female German Shepherd. She is wonderful with all the kitties

You can see her here with our Bartee. Kenai is mothering all the kittens coming in- and it is so funny to see them spit and hiss at her and then over time, realize that she really loves cats! Her and Maya are still getting to know each other, and Maya has not yet learned that Kenai will never harm her. So for now at least, Kenai goes in the bedroom when Maya is on the prowl. Tomorrow, Mike and I are going to rig a breezeway in Maya's room- so she has air flow through there. I did notice tonight, that even after I left Maya in her room, she came down and laid by the door just waiting for a glimpse of me. What a turn-around- she used to run from me, hiss at me, scratch and bite, and now she lays calmly at the foot of the stairs just hoping I will pass by. She is an incredible cat!

June 4, 2000 Monday

During feeding time, Maya is becoming a regular onlooker. At the frantic cries from the babies peal out throughout the house, Maya will descend the stairs and sit waiting at the door. If I can't get them fed fast enough to suit her- Maya's cries will also ring forth adding to the melee. It was pretty noisy last night, so I let Maya out of her enclosure during feeding hour.

At first she played it safe, just sitting on the last step and peering out- But when Kubota the biggest male of the kittens started his caterwaling, well, Maya could not stand this. She came into the front room and laid down- and of course Kubota and Bolan had to run over to see her and then plow into her side with a big "UFF!" When they broadsided her- Maya jumped and flew out of the room, but was back later to check and make sure that I was doing the right thing.

While we were installing her breezeway, Mike was able to walk slowly up to her and pet her once. He told me later, he didn't like "the look in her eyes!" LOL Her whole posture changed when he approached, as this would be only the second encounter they have had. Her ears flattened, but there was no growling or flipping of the tail.

She was scared of the breezeway- it is nothing fancy. Just a piece of plywood over the top half of the doorway, and a heavy screen (chicken wire) framed, but it is stout, and she could not escape this way now, if she tried- unless she used an electric screwdriver.

She would not go near the room until about three hours later. Then, with some gentle coaxing from me, she finally went back into her room. By this time it was early evening, and there was a nice breeze coming over the mountains. She lay down on the towel I had spread out for her and looked outside.

From her vantage point now, she can see all that goes on in the back of the property. Racer and Trav were grazing below, and she looked very puzzled at these two large horses. She raised slowly up, her rear haunches stiffening, and she rocked forward to be nose-to-nose with the screen. I had to laugh, because if she had done this on the bottom floor, I am sure that Racer and Trav would of come over to sniff her nose.

Maya growled once, low and menacing, and at this point, Racer noticed our neighbor coming out of his house. He and Trav trotted off to say good morning to Dean, and see if the kindly old farmer had a few carrots or other treats. Maya, looked quite satisfied with her self that she was able to drive off these two monsters in one growl! LOL She settled right down. I began giving her the daily rubbings she loves so much, and she laid down on the floor so I could tickle her belly. She rolled over and over, and side to side as if she was chasing an illusive itch only she could feel. I told her I was sorry that I couldn't stay- but got little sleep the night before because of feedings. As I went downstairs, I could hear her on the steps right behind me! She settled down to sleep on the landing, and that is where she spent the night.

June 8, 2000- Thursday

I found out that she is a sensitive soul. With all this other nonsense going on, little time has been spent with her in the last 3 days. I would go up and say hi, dump her some food, clean her box and leave.

Went up this afternoon, and she wasn't in her accustomed place. She now claims the arm of the couch as her domain, and rarely goes into the closet anymore. I looked everywhere I could think of, without expending much energy, but she wasn't around. So I start really searching in earnest, and I finally found her inside on the cupboards, and yes, she can get in and out easily. So I opened the door to scratch her head, and she slides past my fingers and runs into the other room.

Following, I walked in the room, and she is nowhere in sight! I finally found her behind the couch, and when I moved the couch, she again ran past me and down the stairs. This time I followed her closely, and sat on the last step while she was on the landing. She *allowed* me to pet her- LOL But I could tell she was really miffed at being ignored. She must of thought I had abandoned her. She finally squeezed past me and went back upstairs, so once more a game of follow-the-leader and hide-n-seek ensued.

When I found her again after several attempts, I looked at her and was just sorry she was so upset. I reached over, and carefully scooped her up in my arms. She did not struggle, bite, fight, or anything, just lay there in my arms. I gave her the gentlest and biggest cuddle I could, then I sat her down. As I turned to go- she ran through my legs, turned around, and started rubbing against my legs! So I reached down and scooped her up again and hugged her a little harder this time. Her beautiful head turned up to me, and she rubbed my cheek.

Now I know, that no matter how busy my life gets, I must spend time with this kitty everyday. Things just got so crazy for awhile there- I forgot about the important things in life. =)

June 9, 2000 Friday

Today, I made it a point to spend time with Maya. We finished about two chapters in the book and all the time I was reading it, she laid on my legs and purred. I kept stroking her back and she would be a real cuddlebug and try to raise her hind end in the typical Elevator Butt Manuever. She dearly loves to be scratched on the ears, and she was really getting into all the attention.

About an hour with her and Mike came upstairs to fetch some more books from the library. He walked into the room when he saw the light on, and stuck his head in the closet door to say "Hello." Maya did not even flinch, she just casually stuck her head up to see who dared interrupt this very bonding moment! G Mike went to pet her, and though she stiffened up, she did not run or bite. It was a major hurdle to cross for both of them!

June 10, 2000 Saturday

Today, I decided I better rearrange Maya's room. The sun was streaming into the open (but screened in) doorway, and it was stifling hot when I went up there this morning to tell her Hello.

She dislikes changes, and I knew that, but I also knew that in order for her to be more comfortable, the furniture needed to be shifted around a bit. When I moved the couch, she bolted out the door and laid on the third from the last step of the stairs. I finished blocking off some of the sun rays, and I went downstairs. As I slowly made my way past her, she slid by me and bolted for the upstairs. Lately, when she would do this, she would always pause for me to at least bend down and tickle her chin. Not today though- Ms. Tempermental does not like change! G

June 11, 2000 Sunday

Was sitting at the computer this morning doing email when I felt a cat brush against my legs. I felt the soft fur, and thought it was Bartee, so I reached down to pick him up, and it was Maya! She purred and stretched out her back to help me ease her up and I put her in my lap. I just looked so surprised. I know she was probably thinking- "What's the Big Deal?" LOL But it was a very big deal. She stayed on my lap for quite awhile, and when she finally jumped down, she just laid down by my feet and curled up! It was awesome!

June 12, 2000- Monday

Today, she must have been having a bad hair day because she hissed and growled at me when I went up to say good morning. It surprised me that she was so hostile, so I started searching for the reasons behind her moodiness. Every time I went to pet her, she would draw her head back and hiss. It made me sad to see her in such a state, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. I finally went downstairs and found Kahuna sitting at the door and he was yowling softly. I stood there watching him after I latched the door, and I heard Maya answering him forlornly up the stairs. Until now, the kittens had not gone up the stairs without me in attendance.

I stood there and watched Kahuna as he cried, and Maya's cries were becoming closer and closer. Soon she was standing at the other side of the door, and the two were rubbing noses! Kahuna began trilling to her- and it was the oddest sound I have ever heard a cat make. Still observing, I decided that maybe the two of them would like to be alone, so I stepped up and opened up the door. Kahuna immediately when up to Maya and she rubbed all up and down his sleek body. Then the two of them vanished up the stairs! I guess they were into heavy petting..

About and hour later, I go back upstairs and I see Kahuna laying on one stair step and Maya laying right below him, truly subservient. I decided to just keep the outer door open all the time and wait and see what happened.

At dinner time when I called the kids in, Maya and Kahuna came casually down the stairs and stood in line waiting for their food. With the look of satisfaction on Kahuna's face, I thought maybe I should offer both of them cigarettes! LOL

June 13, 2000 Tuesday

Today, Maya and Kahuna were asleep together in her closet. I let them be, went downstairs and opened the outer door and then called to both of them. They both came running and I fed them some human tuna- just a little bit. As they were eating, Tumbowls came into the room and hissed at Maya, reached out and swiped a chunk of her tuna in his paw. Before I could intervene, Kahuna boxed Tumbowls ears soundly! Startled, Tums dropped the tuna and Maya delicately lowered her head and wolfed it down! Looks like Kahuna has spoken. The transition from now on should be painless.

June 14, 2000 Wednesday

Left the outer door open all night for the first time, and when Mike and I came into the front room this morning- Maya and Kahuna were snuggled together asleep on the couch! They looked so peaceful- I cursed myself for not having any film at the time!

Maya spent the entire day downstairs and only ran for the cover of the stairs once when I started the vacuum!

June 15, 2000 Thursday

Looks like Maya is now part of the family. She now moves freely from her upstairs domain to the rest of the house. She shows no interest in going outside either, and is content to either lay by Kahunal or curl up on the couch. I found out today, I will be getting another problem cat so this new Maya is a delight to see! Bailey will be here in a few days- and so she will be the next project for me. I also have been given the responsibility of raising 3 orphaned skunk babies for a few months and then they will be returned to the wild. They are the cutest things, but they do stink, and Maya does not like me with skunk odor on my clothes. She is downstairs now all of the time, and was playing with the three new kittens this afternoon. She is calm and serene and mischievous at times. She was a real challenge, and sometimes a trial, but now, I can safely say, she is part of the Tag Team! My matriarch Ripster will give Maya a hard time now and again, but even Tumbowls has stopped hissing at her. Now, the only time Maya runs for the safety upstairs, is when I run the vacuum cleaner!"

"Welcome to the family Maya! Your journey was only that of about a month, and the rest of your life you will be loved, protected and cared for. You are truly an astonishing cat!

June 21, 2000 Wednesday

Update: This last weekend, I received a problem cat from a gal in Portland. This cat was a real mess and a real challenge, and the only place I could put her, was opposite the room Maya stayed in. It upset Maya to no end, and she refused to go upstairs, and eventually she found the dog door and got outside! I was panicked and at first I searched all her hidey holes but she wasn't there. I looked for her all day, but not one sighting! Come 7:00 p.m. I do my kitty call and to my relief- here comes Maya at a dead-run! Now she is part of the team outside as well. Stryker, Cleopatra and Callie have met and accepted her. She knows how to come inside, but she prefers being outside chasing bugs and keeping me company when I feed the horses. She has made herself quite a bed of straw in the haybarn and we no longer have mice in there. She will have a home where she will be loved and cared for, all the food she needs to stay healthy and activity to keep her happy. Maya has truly found a place where she is accepted and loved.

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