The evenings are drawing in. Half an hour ago the kittens were rather peeved when I lured them in with biscuits and then shut the glass inner door, but I told them they had to come in from the garden because they were only little and it was getting dark. And now, at not even a quarter to nine, it is dark. The serious kitten is lying in the hall, staring meaningfully out into the night, but I don't think the other two actually want to be outside.
They have been going though another rite of passage towards being adult cats, learning how to use the new cat door. The old one broke so that you couldn't lock the flap to stop cats going out or coming in, so the Systems Administrator removed it to get them used to going through the hole. They were quite happy with that after the first go, though I don't think Our Ginger approved at suddenly having a hole opened up in his hall. Now the SA has fitted the new flap they have a choice between operating it or waiting until one of us happens to be passing by and opens the front door.
Cats are inherently suspicious of new things (except, for some reason, cardboard boxes. I never yet met a cat that wouldn't immediately adopt a new cardboard box, without worrying about leaving it in the corner for a couple of days to check it wasn't a trap and let the strange smell wear off). Our Ginger did not like the new cat flap, which was exactly the same as his old one apart from being a great deal cleaner and not broken. He sniffed it grudgingly and ostentatiously, before consenting to poke his imperial nose through it with a martyred air, followed by the rest of him.
The serious kitten looked intently at the new door, and almost immediately got the hang of it once I'd flapped it for him with my finger a couple of times. He is by far the most outdoors of the kittens, and already an effective hunter, and probably wanted to go out more than they did. And that is the way he does things. He weighs them up, and once he's decided he just does it, be it ten minutes to using the new cat door or several weeks before trusting either of us to sit on our laps.
Mr Fluffy and the energetic kitten were not happy about the new door. They did not like it when I flapped it, and did not want to push it for themselves, instead preferring to sit by it and wail pathetically until somebody came and gave them what they wanted, which was to be let in or out. Eventually they consented to go through the hole if I held the flap up for them, though I dropped it as soon as they were half way through so that they'd get used to the feeling of the plastic flap on their backs. They must have been learning how the new door worked by watching Our Ginger and the serious kitten, even if they didn't like it, and by Saturday the lure of being the other side of the flap became too strong and they managed to operate it for themselves, though their technique is not what I would call confident. There's rather a lot of nervous scrabbling, then once they've got their nose under the flap they scuttle through at double speed before something dreadful can happen.
Addendum We never did hear back from Colchester Cat Rescue. We can't have been deemed suitable to look after kittens. Maybe that was because of Our Ginger, but really, if this place isn't suitable for kittens I don't know where on earth is. A quarter of a mile up a farm road off a lane, no traffic except the postman and the mail order delivery drivers, and somebody is here practically all the time. The kittens have the run of a vast garden, several rooms of the house, the conservatory and the greenhouse. They have been registered with a vet and neutered and microchipped. They have a litter tray indoors (though I'm hoping that won't last for ever). Apart from not having their own iPads with a butterfly swiping game I can't see what else we could have done for them. My hairdresser who failed to get a kitten from Colchester Cat Rescue because she lived on a road and went out to work said she thought the only people they'd give cats to would have to be retired, live in the middle of field and stay at home all the time, but we practically do, and we still weren't offered one.