Introducing the two newest members of our family: Isis and Cleo (short for Cleopatra)! Cleo is the one who's all gray; Isis has the white paws and belly.
They're named after two figures in ancient Egyptian history: Isis the the mother of all pharoahs, and Cleopatra the last pharoah. The best estimate we have for Cleo's and Isis's age is around 6 weeks. They're littermates, two little sisters.
Isis and Cleo were adopted from the shelter run by S.P.A.R.E. (the Society of Protecting Animal Rights in Egypt). They, along with their sister, brother, and mother, were dropped off at the shelter by a man who paid for one night's boarding, left a false name, address, and phone number, and disappeared. This is a common way in which pets are abandoned at the shelter when their owners no longer want them. They were fortunate to have been taken to a shelter; there are countless feral cats all over Cairo, and many more cats are simply put on the street than are taken to shelters. The cats at the shelter are fed, sterilized, vaccinated, and adopted out whenever possible, often to families in the United States or Europe. They have much longer and healthier lives than do the feral cats.
Cleo and Isis did not have a good day yesterday. We picked them up from the shelter with their brand new carrying case, complete with two toys and a travel water bowl. We put a little water in the bowl, enough that they could drink it but not enough that it would slosh out, even on Cairo's bumpy streets. But although the water would have survived the bumps just fine, it did not survive getting in the cab.
The driver "helped" Jeff put the carrier in the backseat a little too exuberantly. The travel bowl of water landed on Isis's head. Isis was a wet and miserable kitty for the 20-minute ride back to Maadi. She mewled pitifully, sticking her paws and nose out of the carrier, begging to be let out and dried off.
I thought Cleo was handling the ride better. She was sitting calmly in the carrier, braced against the swerves, jostles, and bumps. She looked a little tense, scared even, but that was to be expected, so she was doing well enough, I thought. Then I realized why she was sitting so quietly -- she was motion sick. The new little mouse toy ended up in the trash when we got home, along with the soft bathmat we had put in the bottom of the carrier.
Things improved once we got them home. We put them in the storage room off the hall; we had prepared it for them beforehand with a litter box, food and water bowls, a scratching post, a few toys, and a cardboard box with a door cut into it. The kittens came out of the carrier quickly at first, then went back inside just as quickly, even though it was wet in there. This strange new place was not their cage back at the shelter, and they weren't certain that they liked it.
Eventually they both came back out. They found the cardboard box and decided it was a good place for a nap; at least Cleo did. While Cleo slept, Isis sat there awake and staring.
After naptime, they showed their personalities quickly. Cleo is adventurous; she started exploring and playing with the toys quickly. Isis was much more timid. She eventually explored and played some, but even today, she prefers playing with Cleo over playing with the toys. But for a while, they were both actively exploring and playing.
They were doing so well that we let them out of the storage room for a while. Cleo was great with this; she wanted to explore the whole apartment. Isis saw her reflection in the entryway mirror, then hid under the chest in the entry. We eventually pulled her out and put both of them back in the storage room. Even though Cleo is ready to come out, Isis isn't, and Isis also isn't ready to be in the storage room alone unless she's asleep, so Cleo will have to wait.
A little neighbor girl has been excited about the kittens, so she came over to see them last night. She was fine; she was soft-spoken and gentle, understanding that the kittens were scared. Unfortunately, the friend who came with her was not quite so fine. Think squeals and attempts to pet a cat who's frantically clawing her way up my shoulder to get away. Our neighbors reined her in before she went too far, but the kittens definitely were afraid of her. Luckily, Isis missed most of this. She had disappeared sleepily into the box just before the girls got here, so I opened the top of the box to let them see her but didn't take her out. Cleo got to go explore the living room a little bit, with the girls in tow. It was during this time that Cleo started to decide that Jeff and I aren't so bad, and we're pretty good places to go for protection.
After the girls and their chaperons left, Cleo joined Isis in sleep. They slept until around 3:30 this morning, when Jeff and I awoke to mewling. I told him to go back to sleep since he had to go to work today, and I went in there with them. At first, they just wanted me in there periodically. I'd go in, say hi, then go out to the couch and lie down. They'd let me sleep for 15 or 20 minutes while they played before mewling again, when I'd go back.
Then Isis got sleepy again. Apparently Isis has decided that I'm okay; in fact, I'm her substitute mommy (which is what we had hoped for). Apparently Isis also is a lap kitty. This means that when she gets sleepy, she wants to be in my lap. (Cleo also will get on my lap, but only if she's trying to use me as a ladder to get over the table we turned sideways to block the door.) I want to encourage her in this, but I don't want to sit on the floor in the storage room holding her all day while she sleeps. So I tried to bring her with me back out to the couch. Nope. As soon as I got one step from the storage room door, she was mewling loudly, claws out and gripping my arm through my sleeve, straining back toward her "safe room." So I took her back into the storage room and held her for a while. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore; I laid down on the floor and used their blanket as a pillow. At that point, Isis couldn't sit in my lap, and beside me wasn't working for her, so she went back into the box to sleep. So I went back to the couch.
Then Cleo decided that it was time for my training to begin. She'd mewl; I'd come back; she'd stop mewling and look at me until I told her that it was okay, I was here. She didn't want to be held, petted, or touched; her food and water were fine, and her litter box was clean. She proceeded to ignore me. I'd go away. Five to 10 minutes later, the process would repeat. Eventually Cleo went to sleep too, so I was able to check email and get a shower. Then they woke up, and the whole process, including my training, repeated again for a couple of hours. Now they're asleep again.
So I'd say the kittens are adjusting. We're establishing the rules. They call me; I come running. They pounce on my toes; they get sprayed with the water bottle. I think these are rules we can live with.