Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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So, I’m fostering a cat and her five kittens. Poor Juno (I just named her, a teenaged mom) was abandoned by some former neighbors, who moved away about two months ago. I hadn’t known they didn’t take her with them when they moved out of the apartment building that’s two doors down from my home; I hadn’t seen her since they moved.

Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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But Otto found her  — and her five new kittens – in the ivy that grows on the fence between our house and the empty (foreclosed) house next door.  Oh, the economy. Otto’s favorite job is chasing stray (feral or wandering) cats out of our yard, and since the house next door was foreclosed, his duties have expanded to include periodic sweeps of that yard, too. 

Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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I didn’t think of this for fun; the vacuum created by the lack of a present homeowner led to nightly cat fights and cat sex scenes that had Otto waking us up several times a night – when the cat noises themselves didn’t wake us already. Otto loves the job, racing into the yard with his big bear-like roar, sending cats flying over fences at top speed. He comes back an inch taller every time.

Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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He doesn’t chase our cat, Shadow, an ancient, bony, whiny cat who stays in our house and yard. In fact, while he doesn’t seem to like her one bit – I never see him regard her with anything like affection — he tolerates her daily intrusions in his life.

Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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She sometimes sleeps in his crate on the back porch, she sometimes eats his food, she walks over when he’s napping on the deck and lies down right next to his tummy . . . In each case, he acts like she has cooties, and carefully extracts himself. But he never, never chases or snaps at her.

Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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Otto’s self-control with Shadow is one of the reasons I thought (correctly) that it would turn out just fine if I got some chickens, even though Otto came from the shelter three years ago with a chicken “murder” on his rap sheet. I brought home three hens, and five months later I still have three hens. He licks his lips a lot when they are close to him, but they can walk underneath him without harm, even if the tension does make him pant a little.

Otto’s Next Challenge: Kitten Camp

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So now his self-control abilities are being tested with kittens, and I’m happy to report that this dog is a prince. I have the teenaged mom and the five kittens in a big crate on the back porch of our new house/office (didn’t want to stress Shadow with all this) and Otto visits every day. I keep him away from the mom, who is not quite ready to accept the dog who so recently chased her. But when she takes a stroll around the yard, I let him visit the babies. He’s fascinated with the now-four-week-old kittens, and they are fascinated with him: his tail, his fur, his big nose. I just love this dog.

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