Sunday, January 10, 2016

A TALE OF TWO KITTIES - PART 1 - Baby Spot

The story of our two cats

 

 

 

PART 1 - BABY SPOT

 

 

 

 We have two cats now - Spot, our first feral kitten, and Max, our feral cat who adopted us.  This is their stories told in a few parts.  I'm wordy:>)

This is mostly taken from journal entries.  I'll try to keep the pictures in some semblance of proper chronological order.  I decided to write this because all the angst, all the worry, all the doubt we experienced may be helpful to someone.  A feral cat or kitten is a lot of work!  They are worth every moment of it, and You'll get to know this marvelous kitten we adopted, and the beautiful cat who adopted us.  It's quite a journey.

June 20, 2014:    Saturday afternoon - We brought home a little, gray kitten this evening and he’s hiding behind the breakfront. Sometimes he mews for his siblings and Mom and I feel like crying for him. We’ll be really good parents, though, once he recovers. It’s so sad to have to grow up and leave home!  
The people who had him have so many cats, mostly outside, and this one is more than half wild.
The owner said the kitten was socialized, that he purred when petted and wasn’t afraid of people.  I believe that the kitten wasn’t afraid of HIM, but the little guy was terrified of everyone else.  Since I could only have him if he was a male, I said I knew how to “sex” cats and could tell – the owner couldn’t.   They lured him (with baby food) in close enough for me to pick him and turn him over.  That was a bad move on my part (although I did get to see he was a male) because he yowled, scratched, and tried to bite me.  Of course he did!  I knew at that moment  he’d never been picked up, never mind picked up and turned over.  Poor baby.  Then, as I stood there with blood dripping from a multitude of mean-looking scratches, the guy said about the 6 kittens that had scattered to the winds, "I feed them and I've petted their heads but never picked them up.”
GREAT!  I've never had a cat that didn't love us right away - leery of a new house, yes, but not us.  We came home and let him out of the cat carrier in the dining room and all he did was hide and cry and hiss and growl.  That was Saturday night.  He cried all night long; it was heartbreaking to hear.  He missed his cat family and didn’t like his humans at all!
This poor kitten is just inconsolable and terrified.  He either is under the breakfront crying, or wedged in a corner behind a bunch of stuff, hissing and crying.  I don’t know what to do and I’m so sad.
 June 21, 2014:    Sunday morning – My husband decided to catch him and pet him so he'd know we were okay – BIG mistake.  My husband found him huddled in a dark corner under some boxes and picked him up.  The poor little guy screamed and scratched and leapt out of his hands onto the dining room table and I acted quickly and caught him.  He immediately sunk his teeth down to my thumb bone but I held on; letting him go meant he’s be even worse when we tried again.  My husband, it turns out, had put gloves on but I didn't know that.  He's okay and so am I, if slightly the worse for wear.  My husband carried him over to the sofa and petted him (with the gloves on) while our little guy fought to get away.  We let him go, of course and he ran under furniture. 
By Sunday afternoon I decided to go buy a big kitty playpen.  There was only one place around that had one big enough to suit me at a cost of $180.00.  On line they are half that but I needed it NOW!
 We lured him in with food and closed the door - oh, boy!  He did not like the cage!  He prowled and howled and climbed – BOY!  HE CAN CLIMB! – and this kept up all night into Monday.  Any attempt to pat him or even get my hand close brought on hisses, spits, and whacks.  We knew he was absolutely terrified and had not learned that people were good.  He was so heartbroken it made me cry and my husband, after 2 nights without sleep was feeling physically terrible and mentally drained. 
Sunday night was nothing but plaintive wailing and jumping around the cage trying to escape,
June 22, 2014:   Monday -  I worked on the computer next to him in the cage, talked to him, stuck my fingers in and let him hiss and then smell them.  He still was afraid and missing his mommy, aunt, siblings, and cousins.
The cage is right next to where I work on the computer and I can talk to him.  I even try to purr and that seems to puzzle him.  There’s a blanket over half of the top and down the sides to let him feel like he’s protected.
Since Saturday afternoon we've been working with our feral kitten - he literally has been screaming for three days, and he’s climbing the walls of his playpen all the way up to the top.   My husband, with his health issues is getting no sleep.  Yesterday I decided I had no choice but to return him.
Monday night I called the guy we got him from and left a message that we were going to bring him back and needed to make arrangements.  This man is an auctioneer and the cats are basically in his storage area and outside to keep down mice.  When his wife called back she said I should adopt his brother and the two be better, happier, together - I said NO, he is wild and a brother won’t be any better.  Both kittens will be scared and hide, and if they have one another, they won’t ever learn to trust and depend on us.  Then she told me their landlord had blocked the way the mommy cats got into the storage area and they were going to take all their cats to the SPCA.  I know the SPCA does good work but we really didn't want to do that, but I told her to call me tomorrow to arrange to get together.  I just couldn't put my husband through any more.  I was so worried because he couldn’t sleep with all the crying and jumping.  He told me that I could either keep him and keep trying or return him, it was my decision.  I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to think I must give up on this little guy, but it was necessary. 
June 23, 2014:  - Surprisingly, as I write this. I am guardedly optimistic. Last night the cat carried on uncontrollably all night and my husband was up, sitting on the sofa, when I came down at 4 PM – big dark circles under his eyes and a yowling cat. I sat next to the cage, talked to him, then put a finger in and touched his ear. He hissed but didn’t move away. In 10 minutes I was petting him and he was purring.  My husband even petted him a little. I spent about half an hour patting him then my husband said to let him out of the cage. I opened one of the doors and he came out and immediately began exploring. He played, attacking the blanket and fussed a bit and looked around, behind and under stuff – all the dark corners. 
Right now he’s under something and quiet so he must be sleeping. We’ll see if he eventually comes to us when he’s loose. In the cage I did put my hand under his belly and lifted him off the floor without suffering bites and scratches – didn’t try to do more than that, though. Rushing things doesn’t work well.
I began by petting him while he was enclosed, then progressed to petting with the door open so he could leave whenever he wanted, then he even let me pet him outside the cage, but only quickly.  He's been taking long naps after vigorous periods of play/eat/potty, and I even went to look for him after a while to be sure he hadn't somehow gotten into the basement or stuck or something awful. Of course he was fine.
I spent most of the day laying on the floor and "just being there" except for feeding time when I reached in to pat him.  I keep the food in the playpen, along with the litter box (but far apart - it is a BIG pen) and he is fine going into it for toilet and food,  He really loves to be petted and purrs his heart out, doesn't even growl when he’s eating and I'm fussing with him.  He's been playing with a feather toy my husband made, leaping and bouncing all over the place and letting us hear what he thinks about everything.
When he was last awake he even came over to me and bumped my hand then ran away after one stroke - HUGE strides.  He's very smart, maybe the smartest cat in the world - LOL.
We are relieved.  So this is what quiet is like!
 I made this note Tuesday morning -  Gray kitten is sleeping under the china closet - Dad hasn't slept for 3 nights - kitten actually purrs when he's captive in the playpen and we pet him.  Outside the pen, he is unsure and will play but avoids us.  I coaxed him back into the pen this morning and petted him then let him out again.   I guess that will be the plan - pen for food and some petting, then out of pen so he can get accustomed to the house.

 
Keeping eyes, fingers, toes, all crossed for a relatively quiet night tonight!  I’ve already spent most of the day on the floor at kitten level and I think I’ll spend the night there, too.

I know this little guy has no shots and has never seen a vet.  He's somewhere around 8 weeks old but nothing is certain.  We love him and decided to keep him. but now comes the agonizing experience of the trip to the vet.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it!
My husband was home Wednesday, babysitting, and when I walked in the door Spot jumped off the sofa and hid.  He’d been sitting peacefully near my husband. YAY!  Our plan was for me to reassure him and make him feel at ease, then my husband would step in and ingratiate himself.  Looks like it may be the other way around:>)  
This tiny little hellion won our hearts and he's amazing:>)  I sincerely hope he's relatively quiet tonight so we get some sleep, but my husband is the one who said to me, "He's going to be fine."  I called the auction guy and told him we were keeping the kitty and he was surprised but happy.  He told me that someone took the 2 calico females today - that leaves 3 kittens and 2 Moms and there is a Dad, at least one, some where.
We loved the musical "Cats" and have loved the book "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (T S Eliot) for many, many years.  Only the kitten knows his Jellical name, but we named him “SPOT”.
Forget the fancy names – the kitten is “SPOT”! My husband decided and since he is so important in this mix, I’m for it:>) He said it’s like, "See Carol, See Al, See Spot. See Spot run. See Spot jump. See Spot climb Mt. Everest ( a large lounge chair). See Spot chase Yeti (or other invisible phantoms). LOL
Our son is still a little concerned about the bite Spot gave me, but the swelling is almost gone and it is merely tender, not hurting.  What's a thumb anyway when matched with a kitten? 
I'm running off to bed, quickly - both the men of the house are sleeping already - worn out, no doubt and since much of the stress is gone, may they sleep soundly!
Spot is asleep under the china closet and that probably bodes ill for the night, howling and being awake, etc. We had our other cat more or less trained to sleep at night when we did. This is going to take some doing.
June 24, 2014:  - Good Morning :>) We think Spot is a good name, or maybe just, plain demon cat would be better – LOL. He’s still talking a lot but not screaming for his cat family. I can pet him and he loves it and purrs like an engine. We figure my husband (who is bigger and a scarier presence) can work on petting our baby once I’ve got him coming over to me for pats anywhere I am and at a ny time. Today will be day 4 since he only came home Saturday around 5:30 PM. He’s full of bounce and curiosity, then he crashes for about an hour and a half. He’s hysterical to watch!

My husband says he’s fine in spite of the stressful, sleepless nights he caused.  That was even more of a concern than the kitten because when my husband isn’t able to get some sleep (never a great night but at least 4 -5 hours uninterrupted) he suffers greatly.  Last night was mostly quiet except for when the little guy was vocalizing to invisible beasties he was chasing or a few lonely cries, “Where are you, my beloved humans?”.
I just paused for a kitty patting break. He came over to me here, on the computer, and butted me. He LOVES attention:>) He also likes flipping over and showing his belly for tickling. He’ll wrap my hand but doesn’t use claws – very good boy!
Smiles galore in our house! He even jumps up on the sofa to check us out and he let my husband pat him. I think he’s very smart (the cat, that is) :>)

 
Spot is also a climber – oh, goodie, a talker who climbs. The good thing is he sleeps pretty much between periods of frenetic activity and long dissertations on the state of being a kitten.  My husband got a decent amount of sleep last night.
Last night we had a loud and crashing thunderstorm that scared the dickens out of Spot. He went behind the sofa and didn’t come out until food was served at 8 AM. All was back to normal after he got a full belly; he was tearing around, checking out everything and voicing his opinion. He got some petting but was far more interested in exploring.  Right now things are silent so he’s found a place to nap for an hour or so. You know how kittens jump and pounce and then bounce along sideways – it’s such fun watching him play the Halloween cat!
I told my husband he should have named Spot “Edmund” (for Sir Edmund Hillary). He’s too small to be allowed upstairs where there are even more tiny, dark spaces and possibly bad things for him to get into, so we’ve closed off the upstairs for now. Downstairs still has loads of unexplored territory:>) He saw himself in the glass doors of the wood stove and, oh boy, he was big, bad, kitty – he puffed up hissed, spit, batted, then got the idea that the other cat may be behind the stove. He went around the stove, came back, tried again, then checked out around the stove once more. The next time he came back he ignored the reflection – hmmm. 
 

He also watches not just a toy on a string but looks up the string to see what is making it move. More hmmm. This guy is smart:>)
Spot seems to be his permanent name although we considered "Squirrel" and liked that.  He climbs and jumps just like a squirrel and I am now forced to clean way up high and he's only a tiny little thing albeit a tiny little thing on springs.  We have a couple open, wooden support beams that he's already climbed halfway up to the ceiling.
I stopped at the vet's yesterday and got him set up in their system.  I did tell them I'm not bringing him in for a couple weeks - the trauma of a vet visit may well set him back.  He needs his shots and to be neutered.  I did ask if neutering was an outpatient operation and it is - whew.  We'll keep the kitty playpen up until he's over that experience just in case we need to reassure him and do some re-acclimating.  His food and litter box are in it so he goes in and out all the time.
Saturday, one week later after we first brought him home: - He is sitting on the sofa watching my husband put line on a fishing reel with an electric drill being used to turn the spool of line.  Noises  (except thunder, apparently) are more a matter of curiosity than fright.  He wants us to pay attention to him almost all the time and fusses if we don't.  He comes up and butts us for pats and chirps like a bird - LOL.  He drags throw rugs around and climbs the wooden beams (hasn't reached the ceiling yet but he will).  Obviously part leopard, part mountain lion, and part spoiled child.  He "talks" a lot, too.
My husband began making Spot crumpled up newspaper balls to chase.  He goes bonkers over them, batting them all over the place until they get stuck somewhere.  It didn’t take but a couple minutes for him to figure out he could carry them around in his mouth and put them down in open spaces for more play.  He even ran around the Mt, Everest chair carrying it.  He loves his crumpled newspaper balls and runs through the house like a madman (mad cat) growling like a tiger.  Too funny.
One more note – when he was “new”, he’d eat well but growled the whole time he was eating.  He didn’t realize that his food is anything but appealing to us – no chance we’ll steal it!  Now we can pat him, scratch his chin, even rub his ears while he eats and he doesn’t growl.  
The kids came over today to go through some boxes of "stuff" we are taking to the thrift store.  We ask them do this so they can claim anything they like before it’s gone.  I expected Spot to take off for parts unknown and hide in terror while these big strangers were tramping around the house.  Well, no such thing! he was right there to greet them, play with them, talk to them and amuse them.  He was not afraid as we opened boxes, took paper wrappings off things and put them back on, repacked boxes, moved stuff around, all that activity and he LOVED it.  When we took boxes out to pack my car and their car, Spot was all too close to the door.  We were careful, but he would sit right at the door waiting for us, talking the whole while.  We had to sneak in the kitchen door so he didn't get out.  He was asleep when they left, so when Spot woke up he looked all around, calling - "Where are my friends?".

I know I'm acting like a besotted Mom, but here are some baby pictures of Spot on top of his Kitty Playpen.  He climbs the side like a ladder to get on top (the top is open just like the sides) or jumps onto a chair, the table, and then up onto the pen.  

Forgive the enjoyment I get out of sharing these pictures - he is such a great kitten!  Once he left the “dark side” he became the kitty everyone wants.






 





July 2, 2014:   Spot is, at this very moment, sleeping between me and Al on the sofa.  He either is high gear, hungry, 
or sleeping with a few minutes here and there for petting.  We have the upstairs blocked off and Al is in the process of making a "gate" for the base of the stairs.  Meantime there is a piece of foam insulation pushed into the stairway and we climb over it to go up and down.  The gate will swing on hinges and be secured with a hook and eye.  When he's bigger and less likely to get in serious trouble he'll be allowed upstairs.  He knows how to ask for food, ask for attention, and get underfoot.

July 4, 2014: - An update on Spot - he tears through the downstairs growling at imaginary foes, climbs anything and everything, and dances around and under our feet when we feed him wet food - he gets so excited and makes little purring mews then leaps into the kitty playpen waiting for us to put the dish down.

Just this morning he showed us exactly how daring he is – he climbed up the side of the Kitty Playpen, which is about four feet high, and began playing on the top.  The cage, even the top, is all open.  Each space is about 1-1.2 inches by 6 inches and he climbs up using the sides like a ladder.  He manages to get down, too, and who would have thought a cat would like laying on an open surface with legs hanging down into the cage.  He slept like that for 15 minutes or so before asking me to pet him.  The cage is next to the table where I have the laptop.  Never a dull moment.

Yesterday my husband finished the gate he made to block off the stairs – so far Spot has not managed to scale that obstacle but not for lack of trying!

He was unperturbed during our last two (relatively small) thunderstorms.  Noises, even BIG noises, don’t bother him in the slightest and, as a matter of fact, they attract him.  He immediately goes to investigate.

He’s sleeping between us on the sofa right now – bad news as that means his battery is recharging! I can hear the recharger working – purring along.

Spot is all over the computer and table - eating paper, pens, and electrical cords - have to train him not to do that!  Bad Spot!  Yesterday he was helping me to write checks - LOL. His favorite toys are still newspaper balls, a piece of rope, a paper bag, a box, and any rug he can mash up and half drag.  For a little guy he certainly has a lot of energy; if only we could bottle it and use it ourselves!

Al was crumpling paper for yet another ball and Spot jumped and tried to grab it from his hand.  When he threw it, Spot caught it in mid-air.  Could he be a dog in cat's clothing?  Talk, talk, talk - jump, jump, jump

July 8, 2014:  I am watching Spot destroy the house.  When he first wakes up from a nap I can cuddle him on my chest and pat him and scratch his ears and chin.  He'll purr and touch noses.  Then he wakes up from this semi-lucid state of “after sleep”, and doesn't stop his rampaging until it's time to eat or sleep again.  He stole a strip of paper from my husband and ran off with it, then he carried it back and forth across the living room, growling all the way.  Nuts - that is what he is!

July 15, 2014:  We cannot ask for more from this little guy!  It was visit-the-veterinarian day and we dreaded getting him into the carrier and making the twenty minute ride to the vet.  We were also worried about traumatizing him.

I picked him up off the top of his playpen and put him in the carrier - no freak-outs.  My husband carried him to the car and I put him on my lap for the ride and no freak-outs.  He did mew a couple times but I stuck my fingers in the bars and scratched his ears.  That quieted him.

We got to the vet and we carried him in and put the carrier on the floor with the front facing the wall.  Cats came in; dogs came in; people came in - no freak-outs.
We went in the exam room with 2 vets and a vet in training.  They took him from the carrier, placed him on the table, felt him, squished his tummy, listened to his heart, gave him his first baby shots, took blood, forced a syringe full of worm medicine down his throat (between clenched teeth) - no freak-outs.

They checked his ears, checked his testicles (in preparation for the 6 month removal of same), and even kind of held him up by the tail - no freak-outs!

My husband took him to the car while I paid, and when I got into the car I put the carrier on my lap so he could see his “Daddy”.  He tried pulling at the door and fussed, so I put my fingers in, scratched his ears, and he laid down with his head at my fingers and rode home with - no freak outs.-  We brought him inside, set the carrier on the sofa, opened the door, and he sauntered out, fussed for food, played a little, examined the carrier (back on the floor in it's old place with the door open), went in, sat down, then went up on the sofa next to my husband where he is now stretched out and half asleep.

WOW!  No freak-outs at all!!!!

Boosters due in 3 weeks so we'll have another test then.  Meantime we are sooooo grateful:>)

 


 

  

TO BE CONTINUED . . .