Saturday, January 30, 2016

A TALE OF TWO KITTIES - PART 4 - Marvelous Max Comes Home To Stay

The story of our two cats


PART 4 - Marvelous Max the Miracle Cat Returns

 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.

This is mostly taken from memory.  Unlike with Spot, I kept no record of our interactions with Max. We didn't think of him as our cat so I didn't  feel a need to keep a record.  Now I wish there was a better record of dates and such, but there isn't.  How long it took to get him to trust me enough to pat his head and rub his ears - can't say exactly.  It was a few weeks into the feedings.  The improvements happened exponentially, one building on the other and each one a bit quicker than the last.  I ALWAYS offered my hand to him first, before any other moves.  He'd sniff then butt my hand or bend and rub his head against it.  Slow and easy.  Two steps forward, half a step back.  When I tried touching his back, near his tail, he'd freak out but each time he'd come back quicker.



Now, after weeks of patience and tender, loving handling, I had to trap him.  It was betrayal, but necessary.  That didn't make it any easier.

Before I met the cat lady, I went into the veterinarian's office and spoke with the receptionist about the neutering and vaccines he'd require.  She told me she would block out a time for Max and be sure they did everything he needed.  Since the organization would be taking ownership, the vet would be working with them but they were very kind in reassuring me about the care he'd have.
 I met the cat lady at the veterinarian's office where she gave me the trap and showed me how it functioned.The plan was for me to capture him late in the day and bring him inside for the night.  The trap needed to be covered to keep him calm, and I was to call the lady and tell her I successfully trapped him.  She would then arrange for the Vet to operate the next morning and let me know what time to deliver him to the veterinarian's office.

First, I put the trap near where Max was regularly fed with both ends of the trap open (as if it were a tunnel).  Spot walked right in and through to the other side and Max followed. This was going to be so easy and that made me feel even worse.
I then closed the back, put the food in place and then (with Spot in the house) set the trap. I stepped back and Max walked right in.  Bang!  He was terrified, trapped in a small space and hissing like crazy.  I covered the cage and brought him inside, placing a dish of food and one of water in the cage.  He started to cry, such a pitiful sound like his heart was broken, so I cried too.  I wasn't sure either of us would last until morning.  Spot paced around acting upset and he eventually went upstairs; me, too.

I called the cat lady as soon as he was in the trap and told her he was safely in the cage in the house and asked her what time to bring him to the vet.  They wanted him at 9:00 AM - OMG!  Hours and hours away.

Finally the time came to take him and, as I left him there, I could hear him crying.  The vet called later in the day to tell us he came through the surgery fine and the cat lady planned on picking him up the next day.  She would keep him for the duration of his medical work up and then place him in a home if he was judged a good cat for home living.  About two days later she called me to say he was not tamable, would never be a pet, and although she was led to believe he was friendly - he was not.  I sensed she was unhappy with me, and I even think she thought I'd lied when I told her how loving he was.

I told her he was very affectionate and I had pictures of him showing his sweet nature.  "Well", she said, "He certainly isn't showing me that, but I might be able to find a barn home for him.  Many of these cats just make their way back to where they came from, though, so he might show up at your door someday.  He needs booster shots in a couple weeks and I want to groom him.  He needs to be anesthetized for that, so I'll be keeping him until he's ready to go to a barn."

"He can come back to us," I said.  "I will cover all the expenses."  Visions of Max trying to get back home, across roads with traffic, trying to find food, and who knows what other dangers could befall him as he journeyed back to us.  NO.  He needs to be here.  I told her we'd make a good home for him, and he knows this place.  There's been too much trauma up to now with more to come.  She said, "Yes, he is traumatized and who knows if he'll ever return to being the cat you knew.  He could easily revert to being totally feral and distrusting."

I spent a few days researching and finally decided on an outdoor shelter for him.  When it arrived, I placed it between two big trees up against a boulder so the wind wouldn't hit it directly.  I used a half sheet of plywood and leaned it up on the rock and over the house, then I filled the house with nice straw and packed all the spaces around the house with straw to help keep out the wind.  My husband made a platform that sat about two inches off the ground so the house would stay dry in wet weather, and I put straw all around there, too.  

This is Spot in the Cat House; he loves it.  It appears the hay is moved around and settled so I think Max may be sleeping there at least some of the time.  Can't be sure, though
We couldn't know if he'd ever choose to go into this house but at least it was there - a good option for him when the weather turned nasty.


Then we waited.  And waited.  No word from the cat lady and it was a week before Thanksgiving - longer than originally thought.

How can I describe the anxiety?  Nothing seemed right without Max at the kitchen door every morning.  The world was all akimbo without Max and Spot running around playing leapfrog.  It was lonely without him, and images of Max in a cage for all this time were terrible.  He was accustomed to being free, unfettered, and now he was held in a cage.  I could hardly stand it, but the way she talked I expected Max home before Thanksgiving.  

The Monday before Thanksgiving I called the Cat Lady and asked when we might be getting him back.  She explained that they'd been so busy that things were backed up.  He still needed some shots and grooming so it would be after Thanksgiving.  It would be at least a couple more weeks. More waiting and fretting.

Around December 8th I called her again to check and she said all that remained to be done was grooming.  She'd bring him to us in a couple days and she had a kitty playpen for us to keep him in.  It was a joyous moment!  

I asked how long we'd need to keep him in the pen before we let him outside, and she said, "He can't go outside!  He's been compromised by being kept inside."  I asked her if she'd been keeping him in the house, and she said, "No, in the barn."  Since I don't anyone who heats their barn (but there may be some people somewhere who do), I figured his fur was still thick and would be okay.  I needed to see him to do my own evaluation.



 The day finally arrived when our Max was coming home.  The cat lady showed up with him in a carrier, cowering and unhappy, and a kitty playpen.  I know she had to do some fancy things to get me a playpen, and she thought he'd be in it until April  This was December.  She put it together without much help from me, released Max into the pen, and told me not to let him out.  "You don't want a feral cat running around the house!"  she warned.  "I will be shocked if you can tame him at all," she said.

I set up the litter box, the food and the water, and he went and hid in the litter box.  She gave me the formal adoption paperwork (Officially he was her's once I turned him over, so now I was the adopted Mom) which, luckily, did not say I had to keep him strictly as an inside cat.  I also noticed he now had a micro chip and his left ear was cut off at the top.  This is a way vets mark the cats that are neutered and cared for but homeless. It helps later to ID them if they are found.

The cat lady left, probably mentally washing her hands of both the cat and me.  In fairness, she felt she was misled as to Max's potential as a house cat and her time was so short and needed elsewhere, in her opinion.  Still, she got him all fixed up and healthy and got him back here to us with a big kitty playpen.  She did good!  Her help is greatly appreciated.

Now, with her gone, I turned my attention to Max who was cowering in the litter pan and looking terrified.  No wonder!  How many strangers had handled him?  How many cages was he in and how small?  Did he even remember me?

I sat down next to the cage and began talking to him just like the old days when he was free.  "You're my beautiful boy.  Now you're home.  Purrrr, purrrr,"  I said over and over.

He relaxed a bit and I tried to scratch his ears through the bars - HISSS!!! and he ran to the other side. 

I stayed right there, on the floor, for a couple hours having a nice conversation and I kept trying to pet him.  Little by little I got close and then, about 9:00 PM that evening I WAS petting him :>) Still, he looked absolutely miserable.


I asked my husband to take those two pictures so I could tell the cat lady and show her the pictures.  I wanted her to know he was letting me pet him.  

We went to bed and Max began to cry.   He missed having us around and even Spot deserted him.  Spot sleeps most of the night on our bed.

You can see how pitiful Max is in the cage.  When we came downstairs in the morning both my husband and I knew we had to let him go free.  It was taking a chance that he'd decide to move on and we'd never see him again.  He might also stay around but never come near.   Whatever the result, he'd be happier free and in the world of caves, boulders, and woods that he knew so well.

We rolled the playpen to the kitchen door (remember, that opens out to the hydrangeas) and I lifted the door.  It took only a few seconds, a couple puzzled looks and he was off and running.  I watched him for a couple hours as he wandered around the property, rubbing his chin on twigs, marking his territory, and reacquainting himself with the lay of the land.  Would he come back to the bird yard for food?

I tried calling to him or approaching him when he settled on a log or rock nearby, but he would ignore me or get up and move if I got too close. At least he wasn't gone, just aloof.

Late afternoon came and it was feeding time.  I got the dishes ready and made sure the door banged and the dishes rattled.  Sure enough, Max came cautiously into the yard.  He came to the bowls and I actually got a moment to pet him on top of his head then he retreated.   At that point it was best to let him alone to eat and do whatever it was he wanted to do.  There was hope and I'd settle for that.

The next day I caught a couple glimpses of him, left food out, and the food disappeared.  I wasn't positive Max was the one that ate it - we have wild critters all around.  The day after that I didn't see him at all and my heart sank.  I didn't know if he was still around and just hiding or if he moved on.  

Spot would go to the kitchen door and stand up to look outside.  He was looking for Max.  

Then, without any warning, Max was outside the door at break of day crying for his meal.  I rushed around getting it ready, heart in my throat, and walked outside to the rock.  Max was right there beside me, meowing and purring.  I reached down to pet him, he gave a little shrug, then butted his head against my hand.  When he was done eating, he jumped up on the table to clean himself and let the meal settle.

The world suddenly seemed to be on it's proper axis once again.  It's true - when you're happy the sun shines brighter.

Each day that passed brought a little more progress, and soon Max was enjoying the chest rubs and back massages.  He began to come to the door, asking for attention.  He was even more friendly than before he left.

He used to be scared of my husband but now he became a watcher, an observer of my husband as he did outside work.  He curled up in the big rocks, looking for all the life of him, like a sleeping red fox but, on closer inspection, Max was watching every move.


 Max is now a huge part of our lives.  I still need to work with him and get him to where I can pick him up.  I've been able to pick up his front body and immediately put it down; once I picked up his whole body (about half an inch) and moved him over a few inches.  This is something he doesn't care for, losing touch with terra firma is a new and scary experience so it will take time.  Everything with Max takes time, and every minute is worth it.

It was time to dose him with Frontline  - the unusually warm weather means there are many Ticks still around, and fleas, too, I bet. I got that done without any problems at all.  What a good boy!  He thought I was petting him:>)

He has some "meat on his bones" (as my Mother would say) now that his meals are healthy and regular, and he has a special bowl with Tony The Tiger on it (a cereal bowl giveaway), and my husband made Max a special box stuffed with newspaper and with a cutout to fit his bowl.  This helps keep the wet food from freezing, but I still need to go out now and then and bring it in for a shot in the microwave on these truly cold days.


Max does NOT want to come inside; perhaps in the Spring, when we can leave the door open for him to come and go as he pleases he will try out the house to see if it suits him.  For now I'm happy to have him, this powder puff of a kitty, as an outside buddy.  He will, eventually, come up to my husband and ask for affection, and he will, eventually, let me pick him up and hold him.  Until then, we love him as he is.




The following four pictures were taken January 30, 2015 (a year ago) and, believe it or not, the snow got worse after that and had been worse before.  Wildlife suffered terribly - it was a very tough time finding food; wild turkeys and whitetail deer came daily to the bird table - Max's table - to grab a snack.  You can see the hydrangeas on the right.  The kitchen window and door are about 15 feet away, but the animals were undeterred; hunger is an undeniably strong force that can erase normal caution.

We have no idea how Max survived through two terrible winters with no help, but he did.  We didn't see him for days at a time, but back then we didn't really miss him when he wasn't around.  He was, after all, our neighbor's cat - NOT :>)







Sunday, January 24, 2016

A TALE OF TWO KITTIES - PART 3 - Marvelous Max the Miracle Cat Arrives

The story of our two cats


PART 3 - Marvelous Max the Miracle Cat


 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.

This is mostly taken from memory.  It began with a case of mistaken identity and progressed from there.  We have no idea what befall this beautiful cat before he appeared in our yard about three years ago, but we think he must have been dropped off, as a kitten, on the road near our woods.  Sadly, this used to be very common, but in recent years we haven't seen many "drop-offs".  This is shameful behavior on anyone's part.

Whatever happened to Max before he chose us as his people will remain a mystery.  For us, the story begins about three years ago when we noticed a gorgeous, big, fuzzy pillow of a cat hanging around the periphery of our yard.  He was orange and white with long hair and golden eyes - a beauty of a cat but obviously male and an intact male at that.  His manner was furtive, and he was stalking our songbirds that I feed.  He also kept spraying to claim territory.

Spot wasn't even a twinkle in his daddy's eye at this time so we were only frustrated at his obvious desire to grab a bird or two.  First we tried shooing him whenever we saw him - a bit of waving of arms and semi-chasing caused him to back off to a safe distance in the woods where he'd sit on a rock and watch us.

I began to read up on how to discourage cats from coming around.  We figured he belonged to our neighbor who has lots of animals, including barn cats, so I decided to check and I asked her one day if she was missing a long-haired orange and white guy.  "No," she said, "Max may not always be right here where we can see him, but he's around regularly."

Our driveway is the boundary line between the two properties, so for Max to come over to our house was a very short walk through the woods.  Most cats have a large enough territory that Max could easily figure our yard was merely an extension of his yard.

So, since this was our neighbor's cat, we didn't want to do anything with him, but we also didn't want to make friends.  It became a matter of discovering something that would keep him away without harming him.  I tried spreading coffee grounds in the area where we feed the birds - he lay down and slept on them.

I tried cayenne pepper on the ground - he seemed to know just where to walk to avoid it.  By the way, even squirrels seem to ignore the cayenne pepper when I put it in with the bird seed.  That seems to be a non-starter for keeping anything away.

We were still doing the shooing and waving of arms which only made him back up until we disappeared into the house.  I decided to buy one of those motion sensor spray things to try to make him dislike our feeding area.  My husband took great care setting it up in the right place to cover the bird yard with a spray of water, and he also installed a double connection at the faucet so we could leave the water on all the time.  After the first couple times he got wet, Max learned to come in from behind and avoid the electric eye. He'd jump up on the picnic table used for feeding seed and bask in the sunshine, dashing off into the woods when we came in view.  He even ran if he saw us in the kitchen window.  That window looks directly out on the hydrangeas and the bird feeders.

This went on for more than a year.

Then Spot came along.

We planned on having Spot as an inside cat, so Max wasn't an issue.  Spot wouldn't cross paths with him so there was no concern about diseases, fighting over territory, and things like that.  Our neighbor's cat obviously was here to stay, so we gave up on the water sprayer, the coffee grounds, the cayenne pepper.  As long as he kept a respectful distance when we were watching, we had a truce.  I even began to watch for him laying out on a sunny rock enjoying the warmth; he was such a lovely cat.

There was a period of about three days when we didn't see him at all and I began to worry about him.  I emailed the neighbor and asked if she'd seen Max and she wrote back, "Yes.  He was here this morning in the barn".  I was relieved to hear he was okay.  That surprised me because I didn't think I had developed fond feelings for him until that moment.  The next day he was back on his rock in the woods.

I looked for him every time I was near the window, and I missed him when he wasn't nearby by.  We stopped shooing him away, and I began to notice he wasn't really fat and sassy; he was quite thin under all that fur.  He had big bones, too, which fooled you into thinking he was bigger than he actually was.  I worried about that but we have a hard and fast rule, "Thou shalt not feed thy neighbor's cat!".  Feeding a cat just about assures it will set up housekeeping in your yard.  We didn't want to lure the cat away from his family.

Meantime, Spot was growing up and he showed himself to be an active, curious, intelligent cat desirous of a lot of activity.  We spent hours playing with him.  I spent a fortune on toys.  My husband installed shelves under a number of windows so he could sit and look outside, and he loved sitting in the bay window in the kitchen and watching the birds (and Max).  As the winter changed to spring and Spot approached his first birthday, we knew we needed to let him outside.  This was a cat that was not happy within the confines of the house.  Now it was time to worry about Max and how to manage this possible disaster when the two cats met.  Spot was neutered; Max was not.  Spot was vaccinated, clean of parasites, self-assured, bossy, and agile.  Max was a survivor, an "outside cat", an unfixed male who was king of his territory and that territory included our yard.  We called him Max Of The Hydrangeas since he liked hanging out under them.

There was no doubt going to be some sort of confrontation, but Spot was entitled to his own yard.  If I had to go to the neighbor and ask her to get her cat fixed, I would do that.  Funny, though, because they are responsible pet owners and, to the best of my knowledge, her cats were all either spayed or neutered.  Somehow Max must have slipped through the cracks.

The first day Spot went outside, he stayed close to us, stuck like glue, for about a second.  Before we could turn around he was in the apple tree, climbing ever higher and looking down on us like we were ants.  He came back down to where he was almost within reach, then kind of spread out on a branch batting us, then raced back up to the tippy top where the branches are thin and bendy.  That was a worry, of course, as a fall could hurt him.  We walked a little way away and down he came, dashed over to us, grabbed my leg and ran away to investigate whatever came into sight.  He prowled through the wildflower garden, climbed the boulders, examined the vehicles.  He ran, he jumped, he stalked grasshoppers.  He was a happy cat.

Max was absent during all this and we didn't see him anywhere.

For a couple days we continued to let Spot out under our watchful eye, always using the front door, not the kitchen door which opens out into the bird yard and the hydrangeas.  Max came around often and sat under the flowers to watch, but he didn't interact and he didn't seem at all assertive or aggressive toward Spot.  Quite the contrary, he seemed subservient.

We also noticed that Spot, curious as always, sat in the bay window watching Max.  He and Max exchanged glances, and then Max jumped on the panic table and rolled over onto his back while Spot watched from his window seat.

I can't even remember the exact moment they met in person, but it was when my husband and I weren't watching.  Next thing we saw was Max rubbing under Spot's chin and Spot acting like he was tolerating this behavior.  Max was besotted with Spot - followed him around, even rubbed his belly (see the photo at the top of the age).  Spot continued to behave like a monarch who was granting privileges to a minion.  Now and then Max to a bat on the head from Max, but Max only backed of for a minute or two or rolled over on his back, purring.

Every day Max was outside the kitchen door at dawn, waiting for his buddy to be let outside.  Spot would look out the window then go to the door, then go back to the window until we set him free to romp and play.  One day Spot ran up the apple tree and Max followed, crouching, waiting to pounce when Spot came by on his way down.  Spot, ever the adventurer, went too far out on a dead limb and down he came, limb and all.  Max was confused, couldn't figure out how Spot got on the ground somehow avoiding his ambush.  He was more surprised than Spot who dashed back up to the tree to Max.


The worry about Max fighting with Spot was off the table.  Much more to the point was Spot smacking Max, on occasion, which seemed to be his way of saying, "This is my kingdom and I'm letting you be here because I'm king!"

Every now and then I'd run into our neighbor and we'd talk about MAX.  I would tell her how he was getting more accepting of me but wouldn't come close enough to let me touch him.  She thought that strange because he LOVED being held and even hugged her neck and purred.  I said he was comfortable with me, but had a "personal space" he didn't want violated.  That was fine; I didn't want to entice him to think he was our cat - he had a loving home.

The two cats were so cute together (when Spot wasn't acting like he was the imperial ruler,    Ming The Merciless) and one day in August I took a few pictures and shared them with our neighbor.  Not five minutes later I got a reply, "OMG!  THAT ISN'T MAX!!!!"

I asked, "Are you sure?  He's been around for over two years!"

"Absolutely positively sure," she wrote back, "Our Max has only half a white face."

A couple days later she emailed and asked if Max was around - she'd like to come see this mystery cat.  He was here so she came up and re-confirmed that this was not her Max.  She brought a can of wet food for me to feed him, but by now I'd bought a ton of both wet and dry food so both cats could eat their fill.  As soon as she said this wasn't her Max, I began feeding him.

If this coming winter was to be anywhere as fierce, cold, and snowy as l last winter, this poor kitty would need some fat on his bones!  He was delighted with the food and let me come closer with each passing day.  When I was bringing out the food bowl, he purred so loudly I could hear him many feet away.  Very gradually I held my hand closer and closer to him as he ate, being sure to keep my hand in his line of vision - no surprises to scare him.  The first time I touched him he ran about five feet away, sat down, and wouldn't come back until I backed away from the food.

 Spot was often around and he came up to eat a bite or two of Max's food.  This was to remind Max who was boss, I think, because a mouthful or two was enough, then Spot, tail up in the air, would wander off.

The next day I touched Max again and this time he jumped but returned to eat when I told him, "You're such a beautiful boy!  It's okay.".  I always talked to him, "You're a beautiful boy.  What a pretty kitty!", and I'd purr, or at least try, and he liked that a lot. In a few weeks he was standing up at the kitchen door, looking in, meowing and letting me know he wanted his food.  He let me pat him on the head and scratch his ears, but touching anywhere else unsettled him.  It was a slow and gentle process, but he was learning to trust me.

Our concerns about fighting between the "boys" turned to concerns about Max's health, and what that could mean for Spot as well as Max.  As Max was now proven to be a cat cat with no home and "wild", we worried about the usual cat diseases and parasites.  He was full of dog ticks and deer ticks but wasn't willing to let me pat him enough to get Frontline on him.  I felt the ticks whenever I rubbed his ears or chin and I could see them through all that fur.  They were numerous and nasty and he needed to be treated.  No doubt he also had ear mites and worms.  I didn't think we could ever get him to go into a trap because he was exceedingly wary, and I couldn't get him to let me put the tik stuff on the nape of his neck.

My husband and I talked about what we could do and what would be the best thing for Max.  It broke my heart, but I finally agreed that we had to somehow trap him and give him to a cat rescue organization that could place him in a loving home.  We knew he sprayed to mark his territory.  We had no idea if he would use a litter box if he were house-bound.  I had some idea that the cat organization would "socialize" him to be friendly to all and behave like a proper house cat.  He was so affectionate and ready for love.

I can't describe how hard it was to decide to let him go.  By this time he was standing up like a meerkat to reach my hand for petting, and when I went outside with his meals he nearly tripped me in his excitement.  I usually put the bowls on the big rock.  When weather was awful, like rain and wind, he'd follow me while I put the food under the table, walking right beside me and purring loudly.  He'd butt my hand to ask for ear rubs.

Trapping him meant I would take advantage of his trust, totally destroy it, and send him off with strange people.  I don't think he ever knew confinement and now he'd be trapped in a small cage.  It didn't make me feel good; it mad me feel sad!

Our end goal was for Max to have a great home with people who loved him, played with him, and fed him.  People who interacted with him 24/7.

He needed to be neutered, de-parasitized, vaccinated against any and all diseases so he had a chance at a healthy life.  I called around and went on line and finally found someone who would work with me, albeit reluctantly.  She told me there were so many cats "out there" just like Max that their organization's resources, both financial and human, were severely strained.  They are a "No Kill" organization so that means if he didn't get a home they would be caring for him for many years.  It was a long-term commitment on their part and they weren't at all sure Max qualified for a home.  He'd have to be evaluated.

Rescue organizations are doing their best but the incoming tide of homeless cats is more like a tsunami.  Let me add that this also applies to those hero-folks who rescue dogs and other animals.  We humans are not very honorable at times, and oftentimes we don't think it through when planning on getting a pet for the family.

I admit to doing as much arm-twisting as I could to get him into their system and on a path for a new home - a real home.  I told her I'd pay for everything he needed and all his care.  I also kind of called in a marker by telling her I once worked with a lady who was active in their organization and that I'd done a lot to support them through the years.  It worked; they agreed; and I knew they weren't happy about it.  Who could blame them with so many needy cats without homes and here I am saying this cat needs to go to them.   I told them I knew their organization and trusted them.  I told them how sweet Max was, how beautiful, and how much he loved petting.  I told them how he followed me, asked at the door for food and attention, and I told them he had to find a good home!  He deserved it!

They gave me a trap, showed me how to use it, and I came home so unhappy, so conflicted, that I almost didn't go through with the process.  It was one of the most emotionally painful things I've ever done, to trap him, but at the very least he needed neutering and the attention of a veterinarian.  If he was to have a chance at a longer, happy life, I had to do this.  I had to give him up.

What happened then will be in Part 4


















Sunday, January 17, 2016


The story of our two cats





 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.

In case you forget, it was HE, Spot, who was the monster and wanted to trade us in for more suitable, feline companionship!  Once he decided we might be worth a bit of work, he made us his, and now everything is serene - well - kind of serene if you can overlook the fact that most of the time he's dashing through the downstairs talking to us (or perhaps himself) and growling at invisible foes.  Al made him a number of toys that he adores, but climbing and jumping and running full tilt are his favorite activities.  

He also loves attacking the fierce and deadly throw rugs that threaten us.

I could bore you for all time talking about him - he has us well trained to praise and pat.  Here is a short update :>)  He is kept to the downstairs for now.  My husband made a plywood barrier that swings on hinges and has a doorsweep at the bottom and closes with a hook and eye (This is probably best called a gate?).  It's at the bottom of the stairs and at least 3 feet high to prevent him from leaping up and over.  That won't last forever, may not even last for a couple weeks at the rate he's growing.  One could say he's growing by leaps and bounds!  

He sleeps with my husband at night, lets us pick him up and hold him for short bursts. I’m working on longer times being held, and getting him comfortable with being carried around.

He greets me in the morning by attacking the vulnerable ankle area while screaming for food.  He loves to have people around, enjoys being petted until the play virus kicks in.  He does go into the pen to climb, play, sit, watch me on the computer, do his business, and eat (Litter on ground floor, food on second floor).  I kept the pen up until the vet trip in case he was severely traumatized and reverted to feral.  That didn't happen so now I've begun moving him out of it.  Yesterday I took his empty play box; today I took his towel; tomorrow I'll start moving the litter box, then the food will be the last to relocate.  Baby steps - everything is slow and easy, no stress.  He accepts change well, it seems, but I'm in no rush and see no reason to rush him.

July 19, 2014:  I deconstructed his cage, washed his blanket that lies on the floor, and the past couple days we’ve been feeding him outside the cage and we moved his litter box to the end of the kitchen. He loved his playpen and would go into it to sleep. Removing the pen is probably more upsetting to him than the vet visit! He was up on the table, sitting on the keyboard and demanding attention. Now he’s napping on his blanket on the floor next to the table.

July 20, 2014:   We spent yesterday reclaiming the dining area.  As we deconstructed Spot's playpen, he was curious and somewhat uneasy.  It was his place to be when he chose to relax and be alone.  My husband and I, however, are ever so pleased to have all that space back. It was a BIG pen!  He's a smart kitten and appears to be okay with the change as of today.   Actually, he was okay last night and didn't keep going over to check the empty place.  My husband put up a shelf under a window and he's visited it but hasn't really slept there yet.  

I bring him a grasshopper or two each day as a food game, and he gets all caught up in the chase - no flying grasshoppers, however, or he'd be knocking everything up, down, and sideways.:>) He got triples today:>)

He’ll be an indoor cat until he’s at least a year old, then he’ll be allowed outside, but only during daylight hours.   

July 24, 2014:  Spot purrs "hi" - he's laying on the left side of the laptop - feet are touching my left hand every so softly - and he's purring his little heart out.  Scratching his chin makes him close his eyes - LOL.  About 3 minutes ago he was dragging a hand towel around, growling and pouncing then dragging it again like a leopard drags prey.


July 27, 2014:    Spot is growing in leaps and bounds, literally, and it would be perfectly correct to add in growls, meows, chowing down, purrs, and some tender, cuddling moments - not many, though, as he is a perpetual motion machine.  He also gets bored if we don't have lots of stuff for him to explore, attack, drag around, chase, etc.  Pens are fair game as is Kleenex - does not bode well for when he gets access to the upstairs, the bathroom, and TP (not to mention toothbrushes, etc.). He managed to actually make it up onto the kitchen counter the other day but hasn't tried again.  Scolding kind of just rolls of his kitten back.  Now he pretends he's a pogo stick and jumps up and down beside us or in front of us when either my husband or I are working in the kitchen.

July 31, 2014:    Our Spot, our baby, is terribly ill.  He had a dreadful fever and was lethargic.  Although he was eating and doing his business, he was sleeping the rest of the time.  He'd cuddle on my arm under my chin and sleep (purring), but he felt to hot to me.  We took him to the vet and there he stayed for two days with IV and broad-spectrum antibiotics.  We had the choice of bringing him home after the initial treatment of the vet putting a lot of fluid under his skin, and then we’d need to take his temp every hour, and then be going back to the vet the next morning.  We chose to leave him there for them to monitor.  We just want our spunky little hell kitten back!

August 1, 2014:  I just got off the phone with the techie at the vet's and she said his temperature is down to normal and he ate his food overnight.  They need a urine sample by he hasn't obliged them yet.  The house is so empty without his leaping, growling, purring.  He may have recovered on his own but we couldn't take the chance.  By now he's wriggled his exuberant little self into our hearts.  I won't say no amount of money is too much to spend, but we'll go to some excess.  There is no such thing as entertainment money in our budget and we aren't fancy spenders, so Spot becomes our entertainment budget:>)

The money we spend on our much-loved pets!  I was trying to think where we should draw the line on cost and didn't really settle on a firm price.  We'd probably go up to a thousand dollars and hope he didn't get sick for the rest of his life!  If that were amortized over 18 years it wouldn't be too bad????  At more than that I'd probably bring Spot home after initial treatment and do it our selves. The good thing is they gave us an option to do that if we brought him back in for follow up the next day.  We felt all the trips back and forth would be worse for him than letting him stay overnight under their constant care.  Sigh.  In the end it cost us $553.00 – well worth the price to get our kitty back healthy.

August 3, 2014:  Now he's back to the rambunctious kitten we love; all blood work came back negative for the really nasty things it could have been, so the cause of this fever is a mystery.  The vet said it is not unheard of to never know what causes these things, and we go back in another week for a checkup, more blood work, and his second round of shots (postponed because he was ill).


August 5, 2014:  Spot continues to "improve" if driving us crazy is defined that way.  Spot is not a quiet cat.  He talks, runs, climbs, leaps, and wails when we leave him alone downstairs.  He's growing, too, and yesterday he bridged the gate to the stairs not once but three times.  Both of his people were upstairs and he doesn't like being alone when we're in the house.  My husband immediately went to Home Depot and got a small piece of thin plywood to attach to the top. Now the gate is about five feet high instead of three, but that doesn't prevent him from leaping up against it to try to get upstairs.  He also tries to open it from the bottom.   There was a hook and eye to secure it and we originally could reach that from either side to open it.  The new height makes that impossible so my husband put a  hook and eye on each side and string on each hook that hangs over the top to the opposite side and has a washer to keep it there.  He (my husband) is amazing in his solutions. 

Before we deal with getting upstairs safe, we have to re-cement the front porch floor.  It has holes in it that make access to the stones underneath possible and Spot digs them up and carries them around,  We worry about that because he might swallow one.  Right now I have them covered with throw rugs (which he burrows under or drags away).  It's another run to Home Depot today.  Hey - if nothing else Spot is forcing us to make home repairs:>)  Thank you, Spot!

Until my husband can get his dangerous stuff organized and put away (carving tools, delicate antiques, fishing lure collection, etc) Spot has to stay downstairs.  These things laid around for years without a worry about anything being injured by them, so the organizing and putting away is a daunting task.

The excellent news is Spot now acts like his normal self, hell cat!   When he finally winds down he'll cuddle and purr and sleep; until then, it's play, play, play, then eat and repeat the process.

He fell in love with spider plants and kept trying to eat them.  My husband hung them up but, of course, Spot found his way into the baskets.

I'm attaching a very bad picture I took last night.  I've never taken a night shot, and never took an action shot, so I'll need to do some reading today and try again.  The first picture is adorable - Spot dancing - and I wish I'd been more experienced!

August 27, 2014:     Spot is sitting on his folding chair in front of the kitchen
door.  I open the "big" door so the screen door and all that viewing space is his to peer though.   The squirrels and birds, even the chipmunks, are great entertainment for him.  He sits, or stands on the chair with his front feet on the screen and watches.  The whole time he's purring - LOUDLY!  Sometimes I ask him if he wants to go see the birdies, then I pick him up and he begins purring even louder.  He loves to lie in my arms and look out the door.  I have no doubt he'd hunt if he got outside, but from inside he doesn't show any of the hunting behaviors - just watches intently.

He loves to curl up in my arms when I’m at the table working on the computer.  When he was tiny, I could type one-handed.  Now he’s bigger and it takes both arms to hold him while he sleeps and purrs – can’t type like that!  I can't type under normal conditions!

November 5, 2014: Spot had his neutering operation and now meows in soprano (just kidding - he still runs and growls like a Tasmanian Devil - LOL).  We dropped him off Monday morning at 8:00 AM and picked him up at 7:00PM.  The vet said to not give him water or food for at least 2 hours or he might get ill, and to keep him quiet.  They obviously don't know this cat!

When we were ready to take him in the morning, my husband put the open carrier on the sofa and he jumped right into it.  When we brought him home he went walking all around, checking everything out, then cried for food.  He wasn't loopy or listless so I gave him a tablespoon of both water and food.  As soon as he was done he asked for more and I gave it to him.  Then more, so I put down his water dish and the dry food. He never overeats, and when he'd snacked a bit more he went and laid down in the middle of the living room floor.  He goes up to the bedroom when his people go to sleep and generally he'll sleep on his bedroom window shelf.  

He did go up before we did and after about 1/2 hour there was a horrible dashing, growling, squeaking, scrambling.  I woke my husband up (He was sleeping on the sofa.) and said, "Spot is chasing a flying squirrel - hurry up!".  We went upstairs with the butterfly net and heavy gloves, but the squirrel was too quick and Spot was right behind him.  They dashed all over, into the closet, behind boxes and bureaus, across the wall, into the bed springs - a marathon and steeple-chase in one.  We finally gave up trying to catch the little guy and left both cat and squirrel to their own devices.

My husband fell back asleep on the sofa and I stayed downstairs for a while, hoping against hope the squirrel would find his way outside.  Nope.  There were bursts of frenetic activity - squeaks, growls, scrambling and skittering intersperced with quiet.  Both were probably panting and taking deep breaths.  So much for keeping Spot quiet!

Eventually I went upstairs to bed, leaving Al asleep on the sofa.  I figured if squirrel and cat were going to dash all over the place, My husband could at least get some rest downstairs.  As I got into bed the squirrel dashed out from under a bureau and under the bed then into the closet.  Spot was only a few steps behind, but he can't fit into the tiny places the squirrel can.  There is a place where Spot can get under the tub in the bathroom from the bedroom.  About 3 AM I heard them under the tub and I just went back to sleep.

Tuesday morning dawned and Spot was sleeping on the bed.  My husband was still downstairs, so I got up, got dressed, and went down to make coffee.  Surprise!  When my husband woke up and went into the kitchen, he saw the squirrel was asleep in a corner on the kitchen counter all curled up with his tail wrapped around his face.  Al got the heavy gloves, picked it up, and threw it out the door; it glided to safety into the hydrangeas.  That is one lucky squirrel!

When we tell the vet that Spot is a perpetual motion machine and very verbal, I don't think they understand what that means.  At any rate, he suffered no ill effects from the operation, and has discovered that the vanity sink is a fun place to chase his tail.

Everything is potentially a toy.  I clean the litter box every day (sometimes twice) and Spot thinks this is a huge game.  He jumps in the box, grabs the scoop, digs like there’s gold in there somewhere, and flies out throwing litter everywhere.  I need to get one of those rugs that grabs all the pieces of litter off a cat’s feet.

My husband and I had our 50th wedding anniversary in December 2014, and his sister sent us a bouquet.  Spot thought it was his, of course.


The next picture is a composite

of some of his silly poses.

December 9, 2014:    Hi:>)  Spot here. I was just looking at my baby pictures and decided I needed a hat:>) My Mommy made one just for me.  My Mom said, "See how dangerous rainy days can be!"


Then I, Spot the Ruler of the House, decided to take a nap on MY chair.  Mom said, "Smile", so I stuck out my tongue at her.

That was a lot of work.  I need a nap.


Very truly yours,




 Spot is now 1-3/4 years old, a feisty teenager with attitude.  He is not afraid of noises or people, and he welcomes all guests.  He still marches right into the cat carrier when we take him for his vet visits, no hesitation at all on his part.  I have no doubt he'd love taking rides just for fun (if he was allowed to ride outside a carrier) because he loves exploring the car if I leave the door open.

He is long, lean, lanky and prowls his domain like a panther.  The leaping is part of his nature and he jumps from a standstill five feet high.  He’s affectionate but much more his own cat than the little kitten was.  This will probably change back once those teen years are done.  For now he “lets” us pat him or hug him or carry him around, but he’s happy to go his own way.  He sleeps on the bed every night.

When he had his first birthday, we let him outside.  Oh, what joy!  He LOVES it out there in his personal jungle but never wanders far and is always inside before dark.  Whenever there is rain or wind he wants to go out but is like a child in a snowstorm – pleading to go out then, in five minutes, yelling to come in.  So goes it – in, out, in, out, in, out, in.  Sheesh!





He is the best cat in the world!  That is, except for your cat, of course:>)


Next time you will meet Marvelous Max the Miracle Cat, a case of mistaken identity and a fantastic survival story.