A feral kitten pushed everyone away but decided to trust for the first time after two weeks indoors.
Emilie Rackovan, an animal rescuer based in Milwaukee, was contacted about two feral kittens that had been living in someone's backyard. They were elusive, wary of people, and in need of help.
When Emilie arrived, she set out a few humane traps and was able to bring the first kitten to safety without trouble, but his brother who was smaller, was trickier to get.
His lighter weight didn't trigger the trap door to shut, so Emilie fashioned a drop trap with a dog leash.
Bert and Ernie@emiliexfosters
After a long, exhausting day, both kittens were securely inside a carrier. They'd had no human contact until this point. Their eyes, dilated with fear, were the size of saucers, and their hearts were beating out of their chests.
"They may not know it yet, but they just got a ticket to the good life," Emilie shared with Love Meow.
The two feline brothers, Bert and Ernie, arrived in their foster home with a weight of uncertainty on their shoulders.
Terrified, they retreated to the corners of the nursery pen, their eyes darting back and forth as they searched for a way to escape. Emilie offered them some treats only to be swiped at, with fully extended claws.
Bert was so scared that he climbed up the pen@emiliexfosters
Bert was especially frightened, hissing and spitting with his claws unsheathed, back arched, hindquarters pressing against the pen.
Emilie left the cat treat that Bert had yanked in with a ferocious bite, and gave him more time to decompress.
Bert wouldn't let anyone near him@emiliexfosters
While Ernie started to come around, showing more interest in human touch, Bert continued to be a force of defiance, refusing to relent.
Knowing that Ernie was making progress, Emilie decided to give Bert some one-on-one socialization.
Bert and Ernie at mealtime@emiliexfosters
Bert crouched at the sight of humans and lurched at them to strike even during mealtime.
After a few days of intense socializing, Emilie began to notice a shift in his demeanor. "He started to calm down and eat treats out of my hand," Emilie shared with Love Meow.
Two weeks into his foster journey, Bert felt brave enough to take a treat from his foster mom and stretch trustfully in front of her.
He finally softened under the touch of human hands. His walls came toppling down and the fear in his eyes melted away.
Bert took a treat from Emilie and allowed pets for the first time@emiliexfosters
"I learned that he loves to play and that's the quickest way to his heart."
Emilie threw a ball toward him, and Bert mirrored the action by kicking it back. He chased and pounced on a birdie (wand toy) with incredible precision. His personality truly blossomed with every toy he unearthed.
A few days after he discovered the joy of play, he began to seek affection. He tilted his head as he considered approaching Emilie for pets. Then he slumped against her hand, melting away like butter in the sun.
Bert is no longer shy about asking for belly rubs and head scritches. He'll roll on his side, nuzzling his head against his people.
He let his guard down completely@emiliexfosters
"The process of socializing Bert has been exhausting, frustrating and disheartening at times. But gaining his trust was worth every hiss, swat and scratch, a million times over."
Bert and Ernie are thriving in foster care and loving the company of their people and other cats.
Bert became a sweet snuggle-bug@emiliexfosters
Ernie has become Emilie's little shadow, and Bert has decided to follow Lua, the resident cat, honing his feline skills with the help of a former foster.
"He's learning so much from my cats, including being less afraid."
Ernie and Bert@emiliexfosters
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