Cindy Comes Out in the Evening

Cindy, my shy foster cat and the inspiration for this blog’s name, has been spending more time out like a non-shy cat and I love it. I mean, she still has her ruffled fur like she’s thinking about this and not sure if she likes it, but she makes it out into the living room and its accoutrements.

Last night I don’t know why I was so beat, but I treated myself to a browse of Instagram for as long as I wanted. This was on my bed-setup in the living room: a long story for another time. I was scrolling, scrolling, and I saw Cindy come out of her carrier-cave and walk about a bit. I petted her but had not a lot of energy for play. She ended up sitting in what I call the “turkey position” on the rug:

cindy ruffled fur sitting

cindy sitting living room resized

Tonight, she came out and played like crazy for a random three minutes. My young kitty Pearl, just a little older than Cindy, made it difficult when she pounced on her because seeing Cindy attacking the Cat Charmer was so exciting. (It’s pretty harmless, they’re almost friends, but Pearl still has a distinct advantage because she has no fear.)

All the cats calmed down then. I got some petting in and Cindy ended up on top of the latest carrier setup:

cindy on carrier

This is a cheap carrier from Broken Tail Rescue, my Massachusetts rescue and one I worked with for about a year and a half (Cindy is the remaining attachment). I put a big, folded, white towel in it and I thought it would be too cushy for Cindy. She’s indicated before that extra-cushy things feel odd to her and she doesn’t trust them. It is also covered with a thin white towel. She likes it! I think she likes the covering and privacy, so she has gotten used to the inner cushiness, which is great.

Seeing Cindy on TOP of the carrier dozing off, instead of INSIDE it as a carrier-cave was very sweet and warmed my heart.

Don’t get me wrong, she still hides most of the time and most of her day, and I still have to get up at 4am and say “no” to Wave who has decided this is the time to investigate her latest carrier-cave. But these last two days there has been this little ray of sunshine. This is good because she’s moving to a new foster home about 4.5 hours away on Saturday. She will need all the non-shy-cat behavior training she can get in order to adapt more quickly rather than slowly.

Human Nature (meaning me) and Cat Feeding

Cindy eating

Cindy. She only ate a little of this.

My cats have only been eating a diet including dry food for a couple months or so. At this point, they seem no longer hungry. To me, they are not “normal” cats–for example, hungry for chicken. I cooked them a chicken and gave drumstick meat in broth to them this evening. Not a lot of the meat was eaten. They liked the broth.

I guess I need to cut out the dry food again because it is affecting my ability to sneak them pill quarters with treats. They had a round of upper respiratory infection and I have bottles of famiciclovir to combat it. The pill is very bitter. Usually, I can disguise it in food. But when they are feeling so fancy eating corn or wheat product with “animal digest” sprayed on it, they get picky. I can glue the dry food pieces to a pill pocket. Plain pill pockets aren’t enough. Then they pick them off.

My investigations into food started with my cat Chomsky getting fat. Chomsky, now deceased as of 2014, had dry food down all day and ate Nine Lives canned food and the like, often from the convenience store. I hated buying cat food after a night out but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re in your twenties–ahem!–thirties. Then Chomsky kept on needing to have dental cleanings. This was annoying and expensive. So I got the dental food that was in those really big pieces, and this dry food was free fed. He got so fat he had “cystic fat” which I felt as bumps beneath the layer of his skin. He had also had some urinary blockages, a couple of an emergency nature.

I only did some internet research into diet for felines when I had had Chomsky for approximately twelve years! I came upon the website Catinfo.org which explained animal digest–basically sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor that are pressed to make juice and then this is sprayed on dry food so it smells like the meatiest meat thing to cats–and many other things. The author said “any wet food is better than dry food” which led to a vet visit involving bloat and my second cat, Fletcher–lesson learned and I don’t recommend the Friskies canned with gravy–but overall the cat as obligate carnivore needing protein and hydration made sense.

The trainer Karen Pryor recommends schedule-feeding, and in her book Click! is adamant about keeping every area scrupulously clean and free of leftover cat food or coated plates–this excites the digestive system all day. She recommends keeping food around for only half an hour and feeding twice a day–and that leaves room for clicker training with an item of your choice. I’ve admired this approach for ages.

Now I’m trying to schedule-feed and my human nature says “well, I’m too tired to pick the food up that they didn’t eat after half an hour, I’ll let it go for an hour.”

“Oops, it’s nine-thirty and I haven’t picked it up yet..”

“They’re looking at me and meowing for dry food, let me pick up this wet food and set down some dry.” (I set down using a 1/3 cup scoop for each cat, but they move around.)

My human nature also says, “Wave is meowing at 4am. I just need to get him to shut up. Let me give him some food” and

“I’m in too much of a rush to clear and clean the plates in the morning.”

So much for human nature! I think this is one of those times where “I’m trying” means “I’m mentally stressing about this issue while doing everything just the same”! Tune in for updates on 1) schedule feeding and 2) wet food feeding. If I get crazy one day we may go back to raw food, which I used with new adoptees in 2015.

 

Kitty-Kitter Needs Affection

Kitty-Kitter wouldn’t let me look at my Criminal Law “law keys” as I study again for the bar exam. It’s far from now and I’m just flipping through, no panic yet. But I was trying to do it as I sat on the bed and stroked her (drooling happily) face. I was flipping little pieces of cardboard with my left hand and staring down to the left while I petted with my right. She insisted on walking in front of me. Then she walked so I couldn’t see the keys. Then she stepped on them.

Girl, you know what’s up! You want petting with two hands and my focus on you!

I do apologize for the cat food crumbs you may see.

Here she is with her tongue a little out:

Kitty-Kitter 5 law keys

Here she is on top of the law keys:

Kitty-Kitter 6 law keys

By the way, I was not reading A Civil Action–book, upper right. I’ve had that book for years. I had been carrying the book around last night. Kitty-Kitter and Wave were expressing that they wanted me to open up the bedroom door, so I did, but held onto the book to drop it and startle the cats away from each other if they looked like they were going to get into a confrontation. I walked around following cats when I really wanted to lie down. Nonetheless, it all ended well and Kitty-Kitter went back to her bedroom more satisfied to be in there.

How I got Wave, and his Meeping and Meowing

Wave and Iris

Wave’s on the left; Iris on the right. He looks so innocent.

I love my cat Wave like I love some family members. Deep down. That means that on the surface, things can be pretty irritating sometimes.

Wave, like all my cats, is a foster fail. Back in 2015, my good friend from PALS Animal Life Savers http://www.palscats.org/ was not only the volunteer coordinator, but very subtly had christened me to foster cats. She had me over to hang out with her shy foster kittens and cuddle them. She gave me the books of my favorite behaviorist to this day, Pam Johnson-Bennett. She told me various things. At that time we were very into separating shy kittens so that the kitten sees the human as where it gets its emotional needs from, and bonds. At this point I think we took this too far.

She gave me a calico older kitten named Penny, and I cuddled her and she got friendly right away. She went to the PetSmart adoption center and was adopted out quickly. Then my friend passed Seven, whom I named Dakota Paws, to me. He wasn’t quite ready by the time he went to the adoption center. He got adopted but the last we heard he was afraid of the dog, even though we were told the dog was old and did not do much of anything. The adopter kept him in the basement which was ALLEGEDLY furnished…we called for updates but never heard anything after one surprise call during which we learned this information. We sent his one-year anniversary card. I will regret that adoption forever.

Next was Wave. I often think that Wave and Seven would have been a great pair to raise. Wave had the coloration of Seven aka Dakota Paws, a black and white tuxedo. He was longer and skinnier. He was VERY shy.

When I first got Wave, I lived with my boyfriend, and Wave never got to know him. He would hide every time he heard Clay climbing the stairs to the bedroom. The petting sessions at first weren’t petting sessions because I generally don’t socialize in crates and I couldn’t get over to him or get him over to me. He wasn’t food-motivated, and he stayed skinny. The worst luck was when I attempted to socialize with Gerber chicken baby food and it must have been out of date. He vomited all night and I had to take him to the vet in the morning. I was just a temp who didn’t get paid if she didn’t work, and had to commute an hour and a half besides that. I remember sitting the in chair at the vet’s office with no sleep, staring and stressing. I picked him up hydrated at the end of the day, though, and he wasn’t the only one who felt much better.

Wave was only sort of into playing, too. There was nothing he especially loved. Eventually, he did start coming within reach when I was sitting on the bed so I could pet him.

Then I got Tidbit, who was feral! But that’s another story.

The only thing Wave really liked to do was run around at 4am, either by himself, or chasing our adopted cats. He would incorporate a good hearty scratching at the litter box in the bedroom, so intense that litter would be on the floor in the morning, into his wee hours routine. And when he would run, he would meep. “Mmmmmmeeeeeep!” over and over. Stress city for me. Clay sleeps through anything.

I was hired permanently at the temp job, I moved closer, and there was some pushing to get Wave into the adoption center. Maybe I should have known better, but I didn’t like this. I moved with Wave, and by then it had been six months. I was not the amazing socializing machine I had thought I was! I adopted him because I thought at six months, you have to either fish or cut bait, as the expression goes. (There’s another one, “shit or get off the pot,” which I definitely thought to myself but have to put at least in parenthesis for crudeness.) Also, I didn’t want what happened to Dakota Paws to happen to him. I didn’t yet have the experience of having so many cats already that the foster cat stays a foster cat no matter how long that cat takes.

When I began to foster, Wave would meep at the door of the foster’s room most of the night. He was aggravated, egged on, by these cats’ existence. Usually it ended up being a female in the room, and each female wanted to be in her own space, and it was not good. One time he leaped a four-foot high cat door and all of a sudden I heard squalling. He has a small notch in his ear from Roxie the tortoiseshell.

He would also just generally walk around and meep. At night. And in the wee hours. And now he does it for Kitty-Kitter. Meeping, scratching at the door…then I open up the door and he’s deathly afraid of her! What a silly cat.

I’ve gotten to be an expert at quickly dividing a can of food at 4am mostly to shut Wave up. But I don’t like it. Giving cats food to shut them up is like plunking a kid in front of the TV for the same reason: most of us have done it, but you do it too much and it’s not healthy for them. I don’t have a solution right now, but I’m too concerned for his welfare to surrender him to…any rescue or shelter at all. See, I love him. Just deep down in my sleep-deprived soul.

 

 

Cindy Continues Progress…and a Funny Video

Playtime! I’ve been away for a weekend but Cindy seems emboldened even more just as long as Wave isn’t too close. My neighbor, Kitty-Kitter’s former caretaker, was my cat sitter and she did a wonderful job. I can always tell by the cats’ attitudes when I return.

Here is a video featuring Pearl, my small black one-year-old female, Noodle, the bigger black-and-white girl who is only seen once, and Cindy, in gorgeous gray. You can see Cindy isn’t as involved as Pearl, but is stretching and is interested. Play is so important for cats to stretch their mental and physical muscles. I gotta say I don’t always feel like doing it but often they enjoy interrupting any home yoga sessions. I give in and it turns into playing with the cats.

Away from Home

I’m down in Massachusetts for two–count ’em, two!–whole days with my boyfriend and of course, his cats.

Back at home in Maine, Cindy the shy cat is in the general population of 5 in the kitchen-living room combo, and Kitty-Kitter the former stray is in the bedroom-bathroom combo. My sitter is the wonderful lady who was the caretaker for Kitty-Kitter for over a year while she was outdoors. Still, I’m afraid for Cindy at 4am when big Wave gets antsy and wants to chase her and might get his claws into her. But I put her in the playpen with all her stuff and she complained–made it quite clear that she wanted out. I worry and I will worry but unlike previously when I actually lived in the same state as my dear significant other, I insist on sleeping over every now and then here, and traveling.

I can’t get over this shot of him with feline friends Loki and Chaplin:

20181102_2148341

Kitty-Kitter’s Changes

Kitty-Kitter 4

Above: Kitty-Kitter tongue blep.

When Kitty-Kitter first came out of her bedroom–which used to be my bedroom, by the way–she was nonchalant toward the other cats. it was almost as if they didn’t exist. She didn’t NOT like them, but she didn’t want to hang out with them either. She didn’t even want to sniff them. Well, now, five cats too many later, with a number of explorations by those cats in “her” bedroom, she launches herself at them.

I’m able to stop it and to intervene with pillows, or at least everyone involved gets the idea right away and parts ways once I react in a shocked manner by moving quickly. So there hasn’t been any real damage.

Kitty-Kitter 2

I talked to the director of community outreach at the Humane Society here, and she picked up through my description that Kitty-Kitter is shy at first, then loves her human once she gets to know him or her, and Kitty-Kitter needs to be the queen of the household and/or does not like other cats. I have not called to surrender her because they’re not allowed to connect foster people/surrenderers with adopters. I’d prefer to have an update.

Here, she’s sitting on my lap. Yes, shoes on table and gloves on chair…but cat on lap!

Kitty-Kitter 3

It’s kind of funny. Wave is so afraid of her. He’s big and long and when he actually catches a glimpse of her now he slinks slowly away with his belly low to the ground and his back ruffled. He’s Cindy’s nemesis, and Kitty-Kitter is his nemesis.

Kitty-Kitter 1

Sigh!

Why do Cindy and Wave, her nemesis, have the ability to eat next to each other, but then it’s cat attack central all night long?

Wave and Cindy

Left: Cindy. Right: Wave. To explain a couple things in this picture…yes, there is a tissue on their cat mat. Apologies. Thankfully they are eating food instead of playing with the tissue and eating that instead, which I have seen start to happen in the past. I swear I’m cleaning it up right now! This is mat #2, which is in the living room. I have some files and computer equipment near it. The toothbrush head showing to the left is another failed Shy Cindy experiment….toothbrush taped to a back scratcher to pet her. This was from way back when she wouldn’t allow herself to be touched. Now it just sort of drifts around the living room floor and I can pet her on my own. Progress, in a way! I should probably dismantle it.

Broken Tail Rescue has asked another foster person today if she can take Cindy. I will be heading to Massachusetts on Friday and could take her. I haven’t heard, but will wait and see.

Cindy’s Progress

Cindy has been very sweet since being taken out of the playpen. She allowed a big cheek scratching again tonight–me reaching from behind and to the side of her and rubbing that extra-thick fur on her cheeks and massaging some of that scruff skin. With both hands! This got purrs.

She was out tonight a few more times than usual and a good portion of that, Wave was sleeping in the cat tower so she could act all squirmy and play a little and he didn’t pounce.

Kitty-Kitter yowls at all the other cats lately, so she is in the bedroom. It is either one thing or another lately.

Playpen Fail! – Again

Cindy was so alone in that playpen. Some playpen! She wasn’t even playing. I mean, luckily she was not getting chased and beat up by my resident cats, but she was being examined from the outside in an annoying way, and she just stayed in that good ol’ carrier.

I didn’t know how to reach in and pet her. I’m too big to go fold myself in there and try to play with her. So I took her out, in her carrier. The thinking is, I can put her back in if I like. But I think tonight I will sleep next to her carrier as usual, in the living room.

Taking her out was rewarding. She came out of her carrier after a little while and she played and did some washing and looked comfortable. Even though I wasn’t able to pet her yesterday due to the playpen issue–cats like her are afraid of hands coming in to them and I didn’t want to do that–she remembered pets today and I got in tons! I got to scratch her cheek fur and use both hands, and at one point I had one hand on her belly and the other on her back. Belly touching is the preliminary to picking up!

She also played a whole bunch. I keep trying to get a video of this, but all I got was washing: Cindy Washing Intensely

(Note, there are speaker wires next to her, but the speakers are entirely unplugged. The green thing is a cat tunnel.)

Of course, I don’t want to be too positive. I am pretty angry at every other cat in the apartment. Even Kitty-Kitter, the stray I took in from down the road, ran at her and even when she was already in her carrier, swatted her. What is it about this small, shy cat that makes everyone want to bully her?

She came with her brother. Because she was with one partner cat for her entire early life, is that why other cats reject her? Or, as I have been thinking, does she just throw off fearful pheromones? I found the Pet Remedy to in the short run, not be incredibly helpful, and now I’ve misplaced it. Yes, perhaps I am not even organized enough to be a cat parent!

Tonight I had a vision of how friendly I could get Cindy to be. I could even get her used to being moved in her carrier, if I just move it into the playpen and back. But there are so many obstacles–five of them exact. Do the math. Five cats. Two rooms: four if you count kitchen and bath, but only one door between them.

Aside: what should I call the playpen now? The corral?