I was sitting on the sofa, eating bread and cheese, when Tic Tac appeared. She took one look, launched herself onto my lap, and hooked a tiny paw firmly on around the rim of the plate, determined to share my lunch.
Target watched from a safe distance, his whiskers swept close and ears half flattened. It was a withering look, the cat version of an eye-roll, and I felt the sting of his silent criticism. You see, Target may be a boy cat but when it comes to raising kittens, he’s pawsome at setting boundaries.
When Tic Tac bounces over and sticks her face in his food, our boy is a picture of generosity. Not only does he step aside, but he will lick her ears affectionately too. He doesn’t mind sharing.
But Target does not like having his tail pulled or his back legs bitten. So when the kitten first pounced out from behind the door or sofa, her happy nips were greeted with growls. When she persisted, she had her ears boxed.
It only took a day or two for Tic Tac to learn she may hug the big cat around the neck, and rob him blind if she fancies, but that taking other liberties is a no-no. When Target walks in, Tic Tac pretends to pounce – and stops short.
While Target insists on respect and offers indulgence, Swooner is the fun big brother. As soon as he strolls in, Tic Tac is working up her best ambush. She hunkers down behind a shoe, corner or rug wrinkle, rear end wriggling as she completes her calculations – and then she leaps into action.
As the mini fluff attacks, Swooner raises one massive paw, rolls her around as if she’s a whirligig and nips her in the neck while adding impressive leonine growl sound effects. He then let’s her win, allowing her to escape from him and nip his paws and tail.
Tic Tac just adores the big cat. Together, they play race and chase on the stairs, battle each other over the cardboard box fort and have ping-pong ball bouncing competitions. They also wrestle on the sofa, nipping and chewing as they squeak and growl.
Tic Tac is still tiny, not quite a kilo in weight, so her fiercest bites and scratches don’t make a dent. But when she’s over-excited, Swooner dips his chin and donks her on the head.
If she doesn’t get it, he pins her under a mighty paw. Usually, he gives her a couple of licks too, just to point out he’s still her pal. Also, he lets her eat his food, smiling as she swipes tuna right under his nose.
With such treatment, it’s no surprise that Tic Tac adores the big cats. She follows Target everywhere and the other night she fell asleep snuggling Swooner’s tail. They like her as well. Target does sometimes get a bit fed up but Swooner is lapping up the hero worship.
Sadly, the bipeds aren’t meeting the same high standards. We both play and we give her regular meals but neither of us thinks a begging cat is a good thing. At least, that’s the theory.
Tom was smitten from the start and Tic Tac has woven her Machiavellian magic, ensnaring him completely. The second he has food in his hand, she mews and he folds faster than Superman on wash day.
When I pointed out that she’s a shameless beggar, he came up with an amazing solution: He gives her a plate of her own. That way, he informs me, she won’t make a mess when she has her share.
Clearly my other half is a lost cause. So, when Tic Tac hooked her paw over the rim of my meal and I caught Target’s sardonic gaze, I was determined to do better and hold the line.
Mother cats discipline their kittens by huffing at them. If they push it, the mums hiss. Some tough nuts will growl. I took this as a template for action.
Hanging on to my bread and cheese, I puffed into Tic Tac’s face. She looks like an angel but at that point I understood she was tough as steel. She flattened her ears and put out her claws, clamping herself to my plate.
Upping the ante, I hissed. Tic Tac’s sky-blue gaze turned steely. She hung on with grim determination.
Faced with a pint-sized adamant fluff, I wanted to laugh and give in. But I couldn’t, not with Target watching.
So, I held onto my lunch and growled. Face off, right? But Tic Tac has street experience. Ears back, tiny teeth gritted, she retracted her claws and swiftly hauled herself up on my plate.
Yes, suddenly I’m holding a dish full of kitten. Triumphant kitten. With wide blue eyes and a quivering mast-like tail that signalled she considered it her victory.
What can you do? It was so funny that I couldn’t stop laughing.
I plucked her off my food, handed over a bit of cheese and avoided Target’s knowing look and sarcastic ears.
Tom just giggled when I told him. Also, as I’m writing this, he is sharing a chicken liver pâte sandwich with her.
Tic Tac is eating her share out of a spoon, just as they serve amuse-bouche in the fancy restaurants.
It is indulgent and we probably should be harder on her but we won’t be. Tic Tac had a rough start, so she’s obsessed by food. Swooner was the same when he first moved in. We got him over it by letting him know there’s
always plenty. I’m sure the same gentleness will work for Tic Tac.
As for Target laughing at me, I’ll just laugh with him.
Tiny baby kittens who are eight weeks old or less should be with their mums. They need very careful care, and if you have one, go and talk to your vet.
For kittens aged two to three months old, feed them four or five small meals a day. They have tiny tummies but they’re very active and growing fast, so they need lots of energy. Also, don’t forget the permanent supply of fresh water. Kittens need to stay hydrated.
For kittens aged three to six months, feed them three to four small meals a day. If you are out at work, this is where you teach your pet to use a biscuit dispenser during the day.
For cats over six months old, there are different recommendations. Some people feed twice a day, and some three.
While Tic Tac is running wild, our adult cats have let us know they like breakfast and dinner. Sometimes they want a second serving, some days are more active than others, but most days they’re fine with two meals. Of course, they have biscuits in the bowl for when they want to snack.
It’s important to remember that happy cats who have outside time for walks and plenty of things to entertain them aren’t usually greedy. Unlike dogs, cats eat when they’re hungry and then they stop.
They don’t eat till they’re sick.
So setting boundaries often isn’t an issue with cats.
But if your pet has an evening curfew, it’s practical to synchronise it with supper time. We have dinner at 8pm or 8.30pm, and then it’s doors closed till the morning.
Having that meal timed, saves us running around after our pets in the dark.
So, consider the guidelines but work out what suits your cat best and go with that.