Stray cat learns how to use a cat door from her kittens

Life for a stray cat is a lot different than that of a house-dwelling feline. A cat who lives outside might fare a smidge better on the name-that-plant type trivia questions, but they’ll be a mile behind when it comes to the goings on of home settings. Case in point, Tonya the cat.

Stray cat with kittens rescued

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Tonya's kittens

Tonya was found as a stray with her three kittens Marana, Fredonia, and Sedona. She can’t be a year old yet, so it’s a safe guess she’s lived most her life — if not her entire life — outdoors. That much was obvious when she showed up at Best Friends. The indoor conditions truly seemed to puzzle her. One of the most baffling devices of all, as it turns out, was the cat door that let her outside.

Mysterious cat door leading outside

Cats at Best Friends are given the option of indoor/outdoor access (with protective fencing in the outdoor portion) to allow greater variety and choice throughout the day. The concept works terrifically, so long as the cats know how to use the doors! For Tonya, that seemed too crazy a notion. She wouldn’t use the cat door for any reason. No amount of coaxing from her caregivers could make her budge. Then along came the best teacher she could hope to find: the rising generation.

Mother cat learning from her kittens

For anybody who’s ever watched a twelve-year-old teach a computer how to sit up and bark at the moon, it’s no secret that youth are certainly adaptable at learning new technology. Tonya’s kittens were no exception.

One of her kittens glanced at the cat door, gritted his teeth and charged through the other side. "Well that was easy. …" The kitten then came back inside through the door and his mom, surprised to learn he hadn’t been sucked into a parallel dimension, stared in wonder. He stared right back. "Mom, this isn’t as hard as it looks. Come on!"

Tonya watched her brave kitten demonstrate a few times before she, too, took the plunge. These days she goes in and out like a pro. Thank goodness there are still a few brave souls in the world to blaze the trail!

Adoptable cat and kittens

Now that Tonya is so well-versed in the joys of indoor living, in fact, she hopes to find a new home all her own. (Her kittens will also be up for adoption when they’re old enough.) And the timing couldn’t be better. Best Friends is launching our June Adopt some Cattitude! campaign to help find homes for the sanctuary cats and kittens. Now is as good a time as any to help her wish come true. For her part, Tonya promises to conquer any cat door you can throw at her.

Adopt a cat or kitten.

Photos by Sarah Ause