The Cat Playpen

I got my cat playpen today. Or dog playpen–pet playpen. This is one item in a string of items I’ve ordered to male multi-cat life more bearable here. The favored solution, owning my own house, is going to take a little more money and work.

I plan to use this for Cindy, but I don’t want to force her into it. She’s the most shy, so she didn’t go into it first–the most friendly did, in order of friendliness. Friendly is almost completely sinonymous with fearless.

Then I was disappointed that Cindy wasn’t in it already. Thus, I was the victim of a logical fallacy. I wanted her in one place at one time but wanted the cat to agree with me!

I put a carrier with the door open right in the middle of the playpen. Carriers are Cindy’s refuges and if she got an attack on the side wall of the playpen, she could retreat into the carrier. Well, Pearl went in and checked it out, then Noodle went in, and thinking it was the center of the universe and of course meant for her, settled down on the towel I had inside of the carrier and stayed there for quite some time.

Sorry for the clutter. Here’s Noodle in the carrier, barely visible:

Next, Iris, who can be pretty shy, entered the Center of The Universe and relaxed in there.

Wave, true to type, has not yet ventured into the playpen or the carrier.

Cindy just recently stepped in–I put a bowl with food in there. I still was reluctant to close the zipper on the door and scare her, so she came back out. So curious if she will want to go in overnight!

Kitty-Kitter update: she likes to play and wants to come out of the bathroom. She gets a vet visit tomorrow.

Cindy Update and Kitty-Kitter Update

Cindy has left the bedroom. I’ve never seen a cat hate one room so much! Saturday night I had my boyfriend, Clay, over, and some other people. At the end of the night, we retired to the bedroom after consuming a bunch of wine. Clay was a (fairly) new person for Cindy, so she stayed under the lowest dish of the cat tower while we talked and watched videos. As soon as he fell asleep, she was at the door meowing.

What do you want, Cindy? Do you want to go out there because you forgot that Wave is your nemesis and he’s out there? Or because you used to like to hang out in and on your carrier under the table at the side of the kitchen and watch me wash dishes?

If I played with her, she was okay. But then she’d start up again. I let her out Sunday, then repeated the process today when I went to work. She wanted to come right back out this evening. She went to the tallest cat tower, next to one of my skinny windows in the living room. She situated herself on the second tray. That seemed like a very good sign but then she went into the living room carrier aka hiding spot.

Here’s what happens with Cindy: playing, then afraid. The other cat is Iris.

Cindy’s small play session

Kitty-Kitter is here! She is in the bathroom. She did not like coming over from my neighbor’s porch to my house, but after an original meow festival in the bathroom with me she went right on my lap and it became a lovefest. The housecall vet is coming to check her out and give her the SNAP test (Felv/FIV/heartworm) on Thursday.

My neighbor met me halfway after I realized I still needed to get her bed from under my neighbor’s front porch. I specifically gave her that bed so she could get her smell in it and then it could come with her and she would have something familiar. Now she is in the bed most of the time. She is calm and quiet unless I do something near the bathroom door. Then she meows for affection time. I love her but I also have a potential home for her.

Here is a video and photo of her hanging out in the bathroom. The pink sweatshirt on the floor is what I put on my lap when I sit down and pet her on my lap.

Kitty-Kitter in her new bathroom digs

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (or vice versa)

Cindy lets me pet her fairly easily now! It’s amazing! At the same time, Wave is trying to dominate her and rushed to attack her once per day for the last two days.

I’ve been playing every night with Cindy, and the attempts to pet during play are paying off. Her muscle memory seems to expect it now. She doesn’t like it when she sees my hand–she will give it the “hairy eyeball”–a big rolled eye watching it because she is SO SUSPICIOUS. Yet, the hand that pets, she almost invites. She trots by me and sometimes even if she’s chasing a toy, she stops, hesitates in front of me. It’s so cute. When I do reach out softly and sneak my hand up to pet her back, she arches her back and she lets me follow through by surrounding her tail with my hand and petting till the end. If I put my hand too close to her neck, she twists her neck, flipping her head back and forth. I guess my fingers feel weird on her shoulders? I can pet her repeatedly.

Other times during our play-pet sessions, I do one or two back pets then move my fingers up to her cheek and scritch the extra-thick cheek fur and the side of her neck. She loves this and she leans into it so much that if I’m not careful she will plop down on the ground, my hand will shift, she will notice it’s a hand, and flip back up onto all four feet ungracefully and bolt. She only bolts a little distance now, but nonetheless I don’t want this to happen. I can also massage the scruff of her neck and this makes her purr.

My ambitious goal is to be able to pick her up and to have her comfortable with other people. It may be ambitious for her, but this is simply the way that cats that relate well to humans are, so it is necessary, I think. I have two cats at home I took to socialize and never socialized completely. Those are the besties–and the bullies–Iris and Wave. Right now I’m frustrated with both of them. It’s been illustrated to me how full socialization is so important.

I had not seen Wave attack Cindy for days. I was relieved. I could stop posting about this terrible thing on the blog and I could safely keep Cindy until she was comfortable with people. No such luck, it turns out. The night before last, Cindy was out in the kitchen, staring at something: maybe the strap hanging off of my backpack? She was mesmerized by whatever it was and clearly thinking whether to attack or run. It is this kind of intense instinctual behavior that sets Wave off. It also sets him off when she is playing like a nut. I noticed Wave was staring hard in her direction–the precursor of an attack. I tried waving a toy back and forth in front of his face to break his line of vision. No luck. Then I acted as if I didn’t care about either of them and was just going to do my thing. This seemed to work. Wave’s eyes did not seem so bright or focused.

I was wrong. I heard a quick thump and a few scuffling sounds, but I knew what it was. They hadn’t even gotten to their screeching yet. I hustled around the table and there again was that tableau with Wave basically surrounding Cindy and holding on to her, with an added twist–he was biting her neck. This is a dominance behavior. Ouch!!! Only then, a couple screeches started to come from one or the other of them. Always good for the neighbors.

I yelled, “Hey, hey! No! No!” and poked Wave with my foot. I’m sure the whole building heard that too. He ran off.┬áHe is a neutered male but I always wonder if the vet missed something because of Wave’s behavior. Not only does he keep wanting to dominate this tiny female, but he has been meowing at night all week. Big, long meows.

Last night I didn’t expect the attack at all. But again, we were all in the kitchen. Again, I heard a few scuffling sounds I did not like, and with my suspicions I looked around the table immediately. The two were right in front of her carrier with him not embedding hisclaws in her too hard, only holding on to her shoulders with his front claws, but very definitely biting her neck. I could see the skin pulled up. “NO!” I yelled–and Wave stopped and ran away! Can you believe it? He knows the word No! now.

It’s great that he knows the word No and listened to me, but I need him to KNOW not to start. Wave seems full of angst these days. The cherry on top is that after a night of meows, Iris, his best friend, imitated him and started meowing this morning.

One step forward, two steps back. Or is the progress with Cindy two steps forward?

These pictures were taken when I came home work one day. She was out and having a relaxed moment on a chair, just enjoying the sun like any other cat–almost as if you could walk right up to her and pet her!

 

The Cowardly Bullies

I feel sad. Cindy comes out, explores, looks around timidly, perhaps plays for a minute or two, and I get so excited to see her exploring. Then, Wave or Iris walks into the room and Cindy freezes. Sometimes I see that look on Wave’s or Iris’s face where they are just locked on to Cindy and about to attack. Sometimes I can prevent it, sometimes not.

Iris is my big fluffy white cat with a gray tabby back, top head, and tail. One reason I kept her after her foster period is that she became immediate best friends with Wave. I would find them crammed in the dish of the cat tower sleeping cuddled together. No explanation, no reason, just instant besties. I hashtag them #besties on Instagram whenever I “catch” them sleeping together now–usually when they do it now I am at work so it’s fun to play a game where I get a surprise by finding them in what may be an allegedly compromising position! (Anyone who wants to follow my catstagram, it’s @ fourkittysmom.)

However, because Iris is Wave’s best friend, and Wave–long black and white male–runs after poor little gray Cindy and starts a fight, Iris started doing it. I noticed last week. I’m still flabbergasted–could they be any more like humans? Is this for real? Wave and Iris were both terrified of humans when I first got them, and I socialized them as I have been trying to with Cindy. I hope I do a better job with Cindy because Wave and Iris are acting like cowardly bullies.

Right now Broken Tail Rescue in Massachusetts, the group I used to always work with and that I got Cindy from, is very busy with summer fosters and I don’t think Cindy could get a better place. She likes to be with the other cats (to a certain extent–as in, she likes to be able to see them) and will meow if I give her her own room. So for now I let them all share rooms, keep an eye on them and scold/say no/stop chases at night, and Cindy enjoys the window seat and cat trees when the others sleep during the day. She sleeps as well, more peacefully during the day, although she may sleep fitfully while hiding at night.

I will tell Broken Tail Cindy may need to go somewhere else as soon as I finish posting this. It’s too sad. I wrote this post because night is coming on, Cindy was coming out, and Iris chased her. Although I stopped it and Iris never made it all the way to her target, the ruckus scared everyone and now Cindy is hiding under the bureau. Jackson Galaxy would say she is “caving” rather than “dwelling” and being her catself. I actually miss her presence. I am sad.

Photos: 1. Iris & Wave, 2. Iris & Wave, 3. Cindy