Stripe

Little Miss I-Hate-Change

Stripe

Whoever says that cats don’t have personalities, preferences, and pet peeves has never lived with a cat. Or pet sat one.

I pet sit for a lovely little kitty many days each week. For my client’s and the kitty’s sake I will not give out her name…she’ll just  be Little Miss I-Hate-Change (LMIHC) today, and I’ll use photos of one of my own cats who is equally resistant to changes of any sort.

The routine with LMIHC is the same every visit. I enter and I am instructed to get a move on and prepare the meal. The meal is served (promptly) in one room, half eaten, and then LMIHC moves to a different room and waits for me to pick up the dish, bring it to her, and sit and wait until she is finished. She must then walk around to my right side, even if she is already on my right side, before climbing onto my lap for ten minutes of petting. If you’re thinking that she has me well trained, you would be correct.

She has lots of other “rules” about litter box placement, water bowl placement, how far the door to the sun porch should be opened. You name it, LMIHC has a rule for it. And woe to you if you mess things up. Closing the sun porch door at the end of fall before it freezes in winter is a month-long process at least, adjusting the door an inch at a time so LMIHC doesn’t completely stress out.

Lily

 

We have been doing her very particular meal routine for quite a long time, so imagine my surprise this week when LMIHC ate her meal – in two locations – as usual, walked around to my right side, took one sniff and ran away from me. She actually ran upstairs and under a bed, something she does with strangers. Huh??

Well, this funny little feline has so many quirks that I didn’t think too much of it. I just let her be, said good night. Thunder storms were approaching and I thought maybe the change in barometric pressure was affecting her.  But I came back the next morning, a bright and sunny one, only to have the whole thing repeated. LMIHC and I are BFFs…we’ve been BFFs for quite a while. She’s very timid and it took me a long time to win her over, but we’ve been solid ever since. I had absolutely no idea what was bothering her.

As I contemplated what was going on, I took a wild stab at the cause. I changed out of my summer khakis, which I started wearing often this week, and put my usual jeans on before visiting. Bingo! We were BFFs again. I don’t know if she has an aversion to khakis, or just thinks I look better in jeans, or that I smell different wearing khakis. Maybe she doesn’t like curling up on a khaki lap, but a jeans one is okay. No clue.

All I know is that I’m going to be wearing jeans when I visit if I want LMIHC to spend time with me, and I do. Quirks and all, she’s like family to me. I guess I’d better read her rule book over again, just to make sure I don’t mess up on any future visits.

Stripe

 

Big boy

TNR Week

“We never make it through one of these weeks without a sick cat!” That, from one of my pals in the ongoing effort to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) the cats in our area. Many TNR programs just trap and neuter the cats and send them back to their locations, but we provide medical care for cats that need it, so a sick cat means that TNR week isn’t just a week anymore. I’m pretty sure we’ve never actually had a TNR week that was a week. In fact, our monthly TNR week sometimes spreads perilously close to the next month’s TNR week.

Those of you who have followed me for awhile know the stories of Annie and Blackie, two very sick cats. Annie now lives with me, and Blackie has her forever home in a sanctuary for ferals with disabilities.  Several members of our merry volunteer band have raised litter after litter of feral kittens who were young and impressionable enough to be socialized and adopted into homes. We are very grateful to a couple local rescue groups who work with us to take these kittens and help them find a furever place.

But it is always something…or someone. This week it is a good sized boy (we think) who is fairly friendly for an outdoor cat. He came in with a clear upper respiratory inflection, and our vet has put him on a week of antibiotics before she will even consider him for surgery.

Big boy cat

 

Because he is pretty large, and will be with us for more than a week, and is reasonably friendly, we moved him to a dog crate so he can stretch out a bit. The traps are okay for a few days, but beyond that it seems a bit like torture. We’re also watching this guy closely because he eats everything he is given (and wants more), drinks way more than cats usually drink, and is a bit thin for his size. We don’t know if he is just warm (temps and humidity are high) or if he might be a diabetic. As an outdoor cat, there won’t be much we can do about diabetes, but at least for now, he can have all the food and water he wants, along with his antibiotics, and we’ll see how it goes.

Big boy cat

When he first arrived he was pretty lethargic and his breathing sounded more like a frog croaking than a cat breathing. A few days of antibiotics and he is sounding better and looking more lively. This may be one of the more gratifying parts of what we do – being able to help a cat who needs a little more than the others. That, and the gratitude of the colony caretakers who know we are giving our best for their kitties.

Depending on how he does he may or may not be celebrating July 4th with us, but he has a place with us for as long as he needs it. He’s quickly becoming a favorite of everyone.  I’m pretty sure we’ll be sorry to see him go home when it is time, but the person who feeds him will be happy to have him home. And that is, after all, what we do most of the time, trap…neuter…and RETURN!  There isn’t one member of our volunteer group that doesn’t have enough cats at home already.

 

Big boy

 

 

Hiro

Bad Boy Hiro

Hiro

 

He looks so sweet and innocent, doesn’t he?

 

Hiro

Don’t be fooled.

Hiro is our bad boy cat. Don’t get me wrong. We love this guy and we have spent more time and money trying to keep him happy that we can count. But this one is a challenge, even to those of us who think we know a little something about cats and cat behavior.

Hiro wants to be outside. That’s all he wants. He enjoys being inside for a few hours a day, for a meal and a nap, and then he’s ready to go back out. If he can’t go out, his bag of tricks includes howling, peeing on the floor right in front of us, and beating on any other cat who is foolish enough to be in the vicinity.

And though I’m definitely a fan of keeping cats indoors, I don’t mind letting Hiro out. Or I wouldn’t if he would stop spraying in the neighbor’s shed. The neighbors find that pretty objectionable. Can’t imagine why.

Short of calling Jackson Galaxy in, we’ve tried everything. Play therapy. Meds. Walking him on a leash. Giving him his own kitty gazebo.

Hiros house

None of it has worked. This guy, as a friend of mine says, is too smart for his own good. He actually unzipped the kitty gazebo and walked out – I watched him do it. He just put this big ole paw under the zipper, lifted it up, and exited as if it was nothing.

Hiro

(I’m pretty smart, huh??!)

So, we’re coming at this a new way. We’re letting him out. I got some of the sonic cat deterrents that make a noise, only audible to cats, and they hate it, and I’ve planted them around the neighbor’s shed. I’ve tried carrying him over there and the minute we get within range he’s out of my arms and running fast, so there’s hope.

And we are hoping it really does work, and he doesn’t find some way of outsmarting the system. Because the only other solution will be to find him a barn situation where he can be outside and happy. It would absolutely break my heart to give him away, but I would do it if it was the only way to make him happy. I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to that, however.

I would really miss the guy. He’s a wonderful snuggler, loves the dogs (though they are less enamored of Hiro’s constant efforts to get the dogs to pet him) and he’s a beautiful cat. Sweet and healthy and  a great guy when he’s not completely frustrated. He can’t help it if his middle name is Trouble with a capital T. Fingers crossed that this works.

Hiro

I Have a Little Shadow…: Annie Update

Annie and Thomas

It’s been awhile since I updated everyone on Annie. She’s doing very well. As you can see in the picture, she’s getting to be a pretty normal-sized cat, which is amazing given all of her health concerns–the four pound skin and bones cat, literally– when I captured her in her feral colony last November, days away from dying.

I used to be one of her BFFs, but I’m afraid I’ve slid way down the totem pole now that she has the run of the place. Thomas is her BFF now. She is, in fact, Thomas’s shadow. Where ever he goes, you will usually find her.  I’m useful for opening cans of cat food for her, but not much else.

Friends who have taken in feral cats (not babies, who can be fully socialized) tell me that this isn’t unusual behavior. Taking in a feral past the early days of socializing poses challenges, and for most (not all) of them, you’re likely to have a cat that is somewhat aloof. Annie, who used to eat on my lap, now runs from me most of the time. So we’re working on that. I need to be able to lay hands on her if I need to check something, clip nails, take her to the vet, etc. And we’re making progress. She is now required to let me pet her if she wants her food, and I am carefully approaching her when she is on a cat tree or other spot for a little pet.

When Annie was limited to the cat room for all those months of meds and healing, I was the only real game in town, and the source of good food, and is was easy for her to claim me as a BFF. She’s got so much else available to her now with the rest of the gang, and especially Thomas. So I guess we’re unlikely to be BFFs ever again, but hopefully we’ll continue to be pals. She’s healthy and happy, and has friends within the household, and that is as it should be.