Kitty & Cocoa 15 - Rise of the Machines

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

This is the ongoing saga of Kitty & Cocoa, two former strays and now pets. I must say back when I started Thread 1 in this series, I never would have guessed I would see anything close to a 15th thread. My intent back then was to discuss the events surrounding their coming in from the wild and trying to learn to trust and make their way in this new world. I hadn't dreamed think of this as anything ongoing, but thanks to those of you who kept asking now and then for news on how they were doing, here we are. Thank you. Now on with the story (as new things develop that is).

Prior thread: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1176761/

Below is an older pic of Cocoa, but it shows him with that characteristic, self-satisfied air about him.

This message was edited Oct 23, 2011 11:30 AM

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Since the last thread had become so hard to open, some may have missed this last bit of info. Yesterday I got a small bag of Taste of the Wild. Both cats gave their approval. Thanks for the suggestion.

Cocoa has always been shiny as shown in the cover photo, but now after some 6-8 months of eating high end cat food, that boy is so glossy he even shines in the dark. I'm not even kidding. When I pet him now, I'm reminded of those magazine adds depicting an Asian woman, her long, shiny black hair chosen to show how shiny your hair will supposedly look after using the advertised product. If you have seen one of those adds in magazine or on TV, you've basically seen Cocoa's coat. It's quite unexpectedly luxurious now. His coat more than any of the others really shows the difference good nutrition makes. I tend to think of black cats as rather ordinary in appearance, but his coat really makes him look anything but. He looks like a mink or sable coat now. At one time I worried that people might think him a stray, but no one would ever look at him now and think that. He looks like a very well cared for and much loved pet now.

I'll try to get an updated pic soon. Not sure though if the camera will capture everything - or if the photographer will.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

We think TOTW is probably their favorite food, but we feed moist canned to make sure they get enough water and use the TOTW as treats!!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

meezers,

That sounds like a great plan. I should think that most cats would love that. Most cats (and dogs) seem to prefer canned, but not Cocoa. Canned food seems more like real meat, while dry food seems more like a meat flavored cracker, to me, at least. But Cocoa won't eat canned food. He won't eat meat either, for that matter, not chicken, not pork, not beef. The only real meat he will eat is canned tuna. He loves canned tuna but that's it. No canned food for him.

I think he would starve 1st - or go back to eating song birds, and we don't want that. He's the 1st cat I've seen who insists on dry food. He will nibble at the occasional teaspoon of canned food, and he loves to lick the juice or 'gravy' off the stuff, but he just won't eat the stuff no matter what brand I try, and I've pretty much tried them. I usually give him a teaspoonful when I feed Kitty her canned food, that's her treat. I hate even giving Cocoa that much because he always licks it dry, leaving a pile of dry chicken pieces behind. Even Kitty won't eat it then, not after he has licked it dry like that. I only give him that little bit so he won't feel denied when I feed Kitty. (Sometimes when Cocoa moves his dish too close to the side of the chair, Widget will go in there and knock it off on the floor so he can eat those bits of dry chicken Cocoa leaves behind, so it's not a total waste. Kitty even eats them when she gets hungry enough.)

Right now, with one cat who only eats dry and another who feels deprived w/o a daily meal of canned food, I buy both. I provide dry at all times, so they never have to go hungry, and give Kitty one tiny can of food daily in addition. Sometimes I also give her a few bites of meat from my dinner or a little saucer of milk when she asks. (Milk doesn't upset her stomach.) Both cats are maintaining a good weight. If either of them starts to show signs of overeating, I'll change from unlimited dry to a rationed amount.

It never ceases to amaze me how Cocoa will only eat dry food and won't even eat chicken, lean pork, or steak or hamburger - just dry cat food or canned tuna. He catches birds and rats/mice outside and eats them, so you would think he would eat chicken, since that's just a large bird, but he won't touch he stuff. I don't know if it's because it's cooked or maybe it's the antibiotics and other things the chickens are fed, but he won't so much as lick a choice piece of chicken breast. Weird cat. I'm happy that he prefers dry food though, because it's much easier for me to deal with.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Cocoa is really starting to trust me even more now. A year ago if something frightened him, he would run away. He wouldn't listen if I tried to tell him, "it's ok", but now he does. It's a big leap for him. Now if an airplane flies low over the bedroom when he's lying there beside me, he'll look up at me with terrified eyes the size of giant dinner plates, his body poised to leap up and run any second. Then I'll pet him and say, "it's ok" and his eyes will shrink back to normal size right before me and he'll put his head back down to rest and enjoy being petted. He never used to do that. He would fly off the bed and be gone in an instant before saying, "it might be ok for YOU lady, but I'm out of here."

The other morning I was running about from room to room getting ready for work. As I returned to the bedroom with Cocoa leading the way (he HAS to be 1st), my alarm was blaring loudly from the other side of the room (I had accidentally hit snooze instead of turning it off earlier). The unusual (to him) sound set off Cocoa's internal alarm causing him to balk standing in that traditional Halloween cat pose, ready to flee. Behind him and trying to get to the clock to turn it off, I said, "it's ok" not really expecting it to work in this case. Amazingly, his body softened and he continued moving ahead, walking in the direction of the scary sound. As we approached the alarm the sound grew louder and at time Cocoa would look afraid again. I would reiterated the "it's ok" and he would respond instantly as witnessed by changes in his body and in his willingness to move forward again. He actually made it all the way to the bed and jumped up on it while I was turning the alarm off (for good this time). I was very proud of him. He has come a very long way from that little terrified kitten who could barely stand to come into the foyer for a few minutes - and he's learning to trust me when I tell him "it's ok".

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I know I don't talk about Kitty very much lately. You may be tempted to think I don't love her anymore, but that's not the case. She just still won't have much to do with me, and thus I don't often have Kitty stories to tell. She seems for now stuck at her present level of distrust. I can only bide my time patiently hoping that she will eventually make progress again.

I still buy her favorite canned food just for her, and lately I've had to sit with her while she eats or take Cocoa with me to be sure she gets to eat her food undisturbed. I still give her a few bites from my chicken sandwich or my hamburger when I have one. It's not a small sacrifice, since I have to give Widget a bite, too, to be fair, and between the two of them they make a noticeable dent in my much coveted meal, but I'm a sucker for her when she begs, and she knows that. I still stop from time to time even when I'm busy and tired and my knees or back hurt to give her a saucer of milk when I'm in the kitchen - she comes over to ask. I still do everything I can to make friends with her, but for now we remain stuck. All I can do is wait. This has become a way of life for us now. Me taking care of Kitty's every need all the while knowing I am only permitted to pet her when she's sitting at her dish and I'm holding a can of her favorite food. Hanging in there.

We are doing better now with canned food. I've learned to steer clear of anything salmon and to avoid chopped versions of chicken and turkey. Recently, I bought a box of Medleys that were a huge hit, the Tuscany series, which feature chopped chicken of fish with 'garden greens' and lots of thick gravy. Once we started on the box of Medleys she was coming in each morning all looking noticeably excited about breakfast and was licking her dish clean. There are also Medleys she hates. She hates the souffle varieties, the ones that look like an omelet and come out of the can a pale yellowish egg color with souffle or omelet texture. She won't touch those. The whole can ends up in Widget's dish, so I know better than to buy those now. For a while here meal time with her had become a battle of wills, but I've learned what not to buy, and now we are back on track with her eating most of her food completely in one setting which I prefer since it means less work for me on a busy morning.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I think Kitty stayed inside today. I say 'think' because that little lady is highly skilled at slipping in and out of the house unnoticed, just sneaking right past me when I'm coming/going, letting Widget in, etc. I'm rarely sure which side of the door she is really on until I actually see her. Sometimes I would swear she was outside, and then all of a sudden she would pop up at the foot of the bed as if from out of nowhere, leaving me to scratch my head in wonder as to how she managed that magic trick. Other times I just know she is inside napping when I go to the door to let Widget in or out and do a double take when I see her sitting on the patio. It's almost like she is two cats, that or Sabrina the feline witch.

On the other hand, I think if she really had magic powers she would have clobbered Cocoa by now. The tables really have turned now, a complete 180. If Cocoa were just standing up for himself it would be great, but he has gone all the way from victim (back when Kitty used to try to chase him off) to persecutor in chief, now chasing and harassing Kitty, taking her food even though he has his own, and generally making her feel unwelcome in her own home. I guess you could say she had it coming given the way she used to terrorize him when he was younger, but I really was hoping they could just setle down and learn to live togethr in harmony. Maybe that's the next step?

This morning I overslept, blew right past the alarm & slept an hour with it blaring in my ears before I even realized there was a world out there beyond my dreams. When I did wake up I was rushing to and fro trying to salvage the situation as best I could and get to work before I was too noticeably late. Cocoa is learning now to be a little more patient when I am too busy to drop everything and give him instant attention. He still expects his share of my undivided attention, but whereas before he expected it immediately upon his arrival, now he is learning to wait when he sees that I am busy and ignoring him. He has learned to go do something else and come back a little later, but this morning it seemed no matter how many trips he made to the MBR, I was always rushing to and fro and unwilling to just sit and hug him.

I must give him credit though. He was especially patient this morning, but sadly it ended with him following me outside as I ran for the car all discombobulated, laptop/case, large purse, lunch, and a heavy jacket hanging from one shoulder/arm like some kind of 21st century bag lady. As I pulled out of the drive, I saw him sitting on the side walk looking at me in total confusion, wondering where he had gone wrong and why I had run off in such haste w/o even a good morning hug.

I stopped for a moment in the street beside where he sat. No other cars around, I put the window down and spoke to him. I had been in such a frenzied state waking up late and scrambling to get to work that I hadn't even really stopped to notice him (fully) until that moment. Before that moment, I hadn't even realized that in all that rushing to and fro trying to get everything done and get out of the door I had failed to take 2min to just stop and pet him and give him a hug, something I try always to do. I felt bad for him but knew I still needed to get to work, so I left. I'll just have to give him a really big hug when I get back. Poor boy. Best he should learn now, I guess, that sometimes 'it just be's that way'.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

He'll forgive you....I think they sense when things have gone awry. And I do believe that they will achieve detente at some point, he 's just letting her know he's not the patsy anymore~

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Much as meezers predicted, Kitty & Cocoa do seem to be getting along much better now. One minute they will be chasing each other and arguing, the next they are standing shoulder to shoulder at the door waiting to be let out, no sign of anger. I'm ignoring their little skirmishes. Their have been no signs of bloodshed and everybody gets to come in and eat, so it can't be too bad.

I've found The Bomb of cat toys, btw. It's a catnip ball. For those who haven't seen one, it's a hard ball about the size of the usual toy balls made for cats except this one is, I think, made of compressed catnip. Not sure about that last part. When the box arrived (in the mail), even though the ball was incased in plastic inside the box, Cocoa, who came in with me as I came home from work, stopping to pick the box up from the store step on my way in, went all spastic from the moment I sat down on the foyer rug and began opening the box. It was all that I could do to try to peel his face off the box long enough to get it open. The box was rather large and contained a number of other items including books. Cocoa face was in the box rumaging about as soon as I had opened the top enough to make room fo room for him to get his head in. At the time I didn't understand why he was being so difficult. I literally could not peel his face out of the box.

I finally found the ball, ripped the packing off of it and let go just in time for him to sweep it up and take it away from me. In an instant he and the ball were in a heap on the floor and he was completely and entirely engrossed in playing with it, unlike anything I had ever seen before. About that time, Kitty showed up. She had spent the day inside, and while she would normally either continue hiding or ask to go outside, she marched straight over to where Cocoa was all immersed in play. She asked to see this thing, the odor of which had apparently drawn her from her bed on the other side of the room. This began a slapping and hissing match, both cats wanting this new toy and neither willing to play with anything else - or share. Cocoa refused to relinquish the item. I tried to interest Kitty in one of 2 other toys I had purchased, but nothing compared with the ball.

I left them to argue over it. When I retured later to put the ball away, it was no where to be found. I looked high and low and in every crevice but no ball. It remains to be seen how popular the ball will be in a day or two or even a week - not to mention if I will ever find it again - but it definitely got the biggest round of applause of any item that has come through my front door to date. Well, a can of real tuna might be equivalent. Not sure.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

>>btw. It's a catnip ball.

OH yes.... Charlie got one for his second birthday.

I have a pic of him somewhere, where he looks totally stoned, passed out in the chair, after playing with it... I'll have to find it... though i do know it's posted in his thread.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

ROTFL, Terese,

I look forward to seeing that! That ball is a total hit at my house - and my two, being indoor/outdoor cats usually turn their noses up at anything I bring home, especially if it's not 'powered' by some outside force (like the human's hand - or itself as in live birds). I just double checked. It is described as fully organic and completely edible, a combination of catnip and food grade binder.

I haven't been able to find it since I left the two cats arguing over it last night, and I looked several times. I was beginning to think they had hid it. Now I'm wondering if they ATE it.

One Amazon review called it "Kitty Crack" and advised buying one for each cat to avoid fights. If only I had read that 1st.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

That is too funny. I'd hate to see my four fight over one. Sara wouldn't have a chance having no front claws. (I know, I know. but she is happy and healthy and very loving, never showing any sigh of discomfort in her front paws. The Main thing that stresses her is 1 huge cream colored dogwood deKatt and his litl sidekick, Chester.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

he's passed out in the recliner, ass half up the side, ball still clutched in the paws.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Awwwh, what a 'purdy' kitty cat. And, yes, he does looked bombed. lol.

Cat's are so lucky to have such a harmless substance which makes them so happy - but then again, cats don't have jobs, so they can afford to lie around and sleep it off. Otherwise, there probably would be ill clad, scary looking cats hanging out on street corners with little packets of cat nip for sale. And 10 step programs for felines. And all manner of talk in the feline community at large about the evils of cat nip and all the lost productivity as a result.

Every time I see a pic of Charlie (or Lucky), all over again I WANT a flashy, black & white cat. (sticking out my lower lip in protest)

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

I did have enough foresight to buy two of them, on the recommendation of another "cat lady" but I was sadly disappointed, they totally ignored. They will go apes*** over loose catnip and have arguments over who gets to roll on it and drool but the balls were not a thrill. I don't know where they are now, I need to check the toybox or maybe they threw them down the basement steps. Tao might be interested.

Beware if you have hardwood floors. Those things make a lot of noise in the middle of the night.

This morning I woke up with Tao chasing quilt gophers, leaping here and there on the bed. Then I discovered he had raided my dressing table and brought a rat tail comb into bed, so I could roll over on it and stab myself to death.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

LOL, meezers,

Ahh, the joy of pets. The things Widget has done 'to' & 'in' my bed are not for the faint of heart. W/in the 1st week after I picked him up at the airport, he pee'd on my [then new] ultra high loft, mega high thread count, absolutely dreamy, down duvet. I was horrified! He hasn't done anythng like that since. But I routinely wake up with some dog toy/bone/etc poking me somewhere. These days, I just pull it out from under me, toss it to one side, and go back to sleep.

When the slapping and hissing 1st started (over the catnip ball), I wondered why I hadn't had the presence of mind to get 2 of them. Then I remembered that 99x out of 100, my cats turn their noses up at every new toy I bring home. Who knew this one would be different? I have that stupid cat scratch thing (adv on TV, you know those are the worse, but I couldn't resist), one of those well built wooden boxes with holes in it for small balls and toys the cats are supposed to try to reach, a wireless, remote controlled mouse, laser pointers, and countless other toys that neither cat will have anything at all to do with. Oh, they both LOVED the 99 cent feather thingy from one side of the $20, totally ignored and unused scratch pad. They played with that feather until they destroyed it. To think I could have bought 20 some feathers and forgot the scratch pad (which they hated and which now takes up space in my house along with the wooden box with holes, the remote controlled..., all stuff they hate and which I cannot bring myself to toss. )

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

When in doubt about what to amuse them with, open a large brown paper bag and leave it in the middle of the room. Or a box. Both cheap and provide hours of entertainment.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

meezers,

I've heard several people on here rave about the feline play value of boxes and bags. Since I have an endless supply of both, I figured I was in business to keep my feline friends entertained. In reality, I've found that there are certain distinctions between cats who were born into and have spent their lives within the relative safety of the human abode and who likewise have mostly only known humans as kind and gentle hands that feed, pet, and play with them vs those wild and semi-wild cats like mine who, having spent time outdoors and often even known a truly wild existance caring for themselves and who are inclined to look with skepticism at humans and at everything in their environment. The latter, those semi-feral types such as mine who still view our world with trepidation are actually inclined to be afraid of such items as boxes and bags.

I'm not sure why exactly. Maybe it was as a result of being stuffed into a bag or box that they 1st found themselves confused, alone, lost, and hungry on the street somewhere, or maybe they are just witty enough to realize that such an item looks like a possible ruse. Maybe it's the fact that neither box nor bag usually comes with multiple modes of escape, and having lived in the wild they realize the importance of never allowing themselves to be trapped, since trapped often equals food. I just recall that 1st time when I, excited to bestow upon her a new and covetted toy, presented Kitty with a box and a bag and saw the look of terror rise within her as her eyes grew wide like saucers, and she quickly fled the area. Even when left alone with such items, my bunch walk around them, way around. It's almost as though they view them as possible traps and are determined not to be insnared. It's kind of sad really, to realize the fear such cats embrace. It's quite the eye opener after having known only happy, safe, carefree cats raised from birth as pets and cared for by loving hearts, to now see the world through the eyes of less fortunate cats.

At any rate, my cats view everything as a possible trick or trap and thus will not play with bags or boxes at all. Maybe someday, but given the speed at which Kitty has moved so far in these past 2 years, I'm not optimistic. Cocoa maybe. Of the two of them he has had a better start and has a better chance at eventually aquiring the trust needed to feel safe inside of bags and boxes.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

After the ringing endorsement for the catnip ball, I dig ours out from under the monkey, and other assorted toys in the toy box, and rolled it across the floor for Tao He viewed it with some suspicion as it was noisy on the wood floor. Eventually he crept up to it and gave it a hearty sniff and decided it was worth a swat or two. Then he walked away and ignored it for a half hour or so. When he came back, he seemed to have formulated a plan for dealing with it so he gave it a mighty whack and sent it across the room,this initiated a search and destroy mission which eventually got Iris involved and they both played with it for a while. I don't know where it is now, but I'm sure I'll hear it clearly at 3 a.m. when they decide to play with it again.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

well, that's good they were playing. I also found ours today, under a table way in the corner of the LR. But I hear ya on how they have to roll it across the hard flooring in the middle of the night. Charlie used to play with balls in my big bath tub... thankfully he hasnt done that in ages... and I dont think Lucky ever did. there are about 5 various balls in the tub.

Loudonville , OH(Zone 5b)

Not all cats are genetically wired to get high on catnip. I have 6 cats. Five are purebreds and none of them pay any attention to catnip. My 6th cat is an "alley" cat and she goes ballistic over anything catnip. Interesting!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

meezers,

I just found out that there is actually more than one kind of cat nip ball, so it's possible that the one you tried may not be the same as the one I had. Of course, it is also quite possible that while my cats love it, yours don't, even if it is the same. People are the same way - not about cat nip balls, of course, but about other likes and dislikes. Everybody on the planet seems to love pizza except me. Same with cheese, especially that fake, plastic, cheese colored, orange goop, that combination of oil and dried milk made to look like cheese which every human appears to love (except me) and which has thus become so ubiquitous in our culture that almost everything is topped with it lately. (but, as usual, I digress.)

Anyhow, our cat nip ball was the PawBreaker variety. Comes in a tiny ziplock bag attached to a card/label.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

slvrwilo,

That is very true. Not every cat is lucky enough to get the catnip gene. I say "lucky" because how wonderful would it be to have a "magical" substance which made one that instantly happy and which caused one to act and feel like a youngster again temporarily but which had no ill effects - and was legal and sold in the grocery store. Right now, at this point in my life, these last few years, I could really use a catnip ball myself. I would like to feel 12 or 16 or even 25 again for a few minutes now and then with all that energy and no arthritic joints. I can see me chasing my catnip ball for a few minutes before work, taking it with me for breaks, etc, etc. That would definitely add some pizzas to the workday.

Anyhow, I don't think this is the case with meezers cats, lacking the catnip gene, that is. I'm pretty sure she mentioned that they play with plain catnip and other catnip laced items, just not the catnip ball. I figure it's just like with people. Not everyone prefers the same delivery mechanism. Some like their sugar in their morning coffee. Others prefer it in the form of a doughnut or as jelly on their toast. Same hit of sugar to jump start the day, different delivery mechanisms.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

I'd settle for a trip back to 50...

Our catnip ball came in one of those adult proof hard plastic clamshell nightmares. I think the potency degrades over time. They play with old catnip toys that surely cannot have much scent left in them unless they were in safekeeping under the refrigerator or the washer. They discriminate about food, so why not amusements? Everybody loves the laser light, and the fishpole dangly thing, and they seem to altenate their preferences in regard to the other toys. They do not hesitate to drag them all out of the toybox while they are deciding, and I have yet to persuade them to put them back when they are done.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

When ever the cats play with any toy... Buddy has to come along and take it... all those funny little mice... he chews them - eats the fur and spits out the plastic form that is left over... well, he bit the nipball in half.... i was not pleased. I'm thinking maybe i can crush/pulverize it, and the boys can have nip powder.

I think Buddy is jealous.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Ok, is everybody sitting down? Because...

Despite having been surgically altered at a young age, Cocoa has recently become incredibly territorial. I've seen it with the turn of events with Kitty. He lets her come into the house, but he makes sure she knows that HE is now the boss.

I need to weigh him again. He looks huge lately. His body is so long. He's like a stretch limo. He just goes on and on and on. And his head is huge. He was standing head to head with Kitty the other day and then you could REALLY see how large his big head has become. And he thinks he runs everything now. Except the house. He does behave with respect in the house.

For a long time now, I've seen signs of him behaving in a territorial manner regarding me. He is actually better now about that than he used to be, but if he is in my lap and Widget comes up to me, he will send Widget away to reestablish his boundaries. He will go over to Widget and just put his paw on Widget's shoulder gently - and Widget knows that means, "go away, so I don't have to get my claws out". More recently I've seen much more subtle indication of analogous behavior between him & Kitty, but, again, with them it is so subtle as to be virtually invisible.

If I'm petting Cocoa and Widget walks up to my other knee so that I am then petting both of them, one with each hand, it will instantly be obvious that this is NOT ok with Cocoa. He will look over at Widget, see that he is sharing the attention with Widget, and out comes that paw. Or sometimes he will just walk over to Widget, right up to him much the same way that guys will sometimes get in each others faces when posturing.

Still sitting down? Not wanting to get to out of shape while lying around the house eating bon bons, I've been taking frequent, short walks with Widget. I'm afraid to go to far lest my leg/back act up, so I just make lots of short trips. The weather is wonderful right now. Neither too hot nor too cold. So I really enjoy the opportunity to get out and enjoy the sunlight and/or moonlight. Widget loves it, too. I think he actually enjoys getting out frequently this way more than one longer walk.

A short while ago I grabbed my shoes and Widget's lead and we headed out the door. We had just made it around the tall shrubs that separate our front yard from the neighbor's when there IN THE STREET, no less, sat Cocoa. He was just sitting there in middle of the lane closes to our house - but he wasn't in front of our yard. He was in front of the next yard down, and sitting in the street. I was horrified, of course. I liked it so much back when he was afraid of the street. The picture of him, virtually solid black, sitting their in the street at dusk, is more than a little unnerving to me. I would have intervened except that I knew it would do no good. I could chase him out of the street for the moment, but there would be nothing to stop him from sitting there again as soon as I left.

As we approached him, Widget and I walking up the sidewalk, Cocoa still sitting pretty much motionless in the street, I wondered, hoped eve, if maybe it wasn't Cocoa at all. It was semi-dark out, and from where we stood, still a few car lengths away, I couldn't be sure. I wasn't aware of another black cat in the area, not such a sleek one as Cocoa. There was Tom, the old, feral male cat that was hanging around the house a bit back when Kitty & Cocoa were eating outside. I hadn't seen Tom in quite some time but figured he was probably still around, but Tom did not have the sleek, well cared for look of Cocoa. Tom had longish, tangled hair with the disheveled appearance of a man long homeless. This was not Tom, but hoped it was also not Cocoa, a hope which quickly faded when, as we grew near, he stood up and calmly walked over to us there on the sidewalk.

We greeted Cocoa, petting and sniffing respectively, and then the 3 of us continued our walk along the sidewalk. As we walked I wondered what insanity would cause Cocoa to sit in the street that way. I thought about the evening when some time ago when I had seen Kitty walk across the street in that same spot only to be accosted by a Siamese cat from several doors down. At the time, the Siamese had been waiting on the sidewalk in that very same area much as Cocoa was sitting in the street today. The Siamese had been waiting there guarding the sidewalk which she apparently took for her territory. When Kitty came across the street and tried to step up onto the curb, the Siamese accosted her, hissing and posturing. In the end, Kitty chased her away and came onto the sidewalk anyhow, but it had been clear that day that the Siamese was claiming and guarding that spot much as Cocoa now seemed to be - but why? What was so important about that spot? Or was it just the place where cats chose to cross the street, perhaps the best crossing in the area, 1/2 way between cross streets and offering excellent cover on both sides, a fence and foliage on the one side, dense shrubbery on our side.

I was just a few houses down, having finished that thought, when I heard Cocoa meow and realized that he was no longer with us but had stopped one house back. I turned and called him, but he stood firmly in his tracks. I was sure he had come this far with us in the past, so what was the problem now? It was then, as I looked back once more, that I saw the shadowy figure of what appeared to be another cat, also following us but a little further back. In the darkness, I couldn't make out color and details only that this catlike blob appeared to be mid grey in 'value', an artist term denoting the quality of lightness/darkness.

"Kitty?" I called out, "Come on, Kitty" If another cat was following us, then surely it must be Ms Kitty. She had actually followed us a time or two back when I was unemployed and the 4 of us used to walk together, sometimes starting out in a caravan much like this, with the then new and fearful cats staggered behind Widget and me. But the other cat remained motionless and unresponsive to my call. I called a time or two, brushed it off as strange, and walked on deciding to ignore them both.

Almost immediately, Cocoa appeared beside us as we continued along the street. Good, although I still wondered what was the deal with Kitty, why she was hanging back there and acting so strangely. Finally, we reached the house that marked our goal of 1 past our last destination. We turned and began our trek homeward.

As we again approached the area where the action had occurred earlier, the other cat was still there. "Kitty, Kitty," I called the other cat, again. She stood up and took a few steps toward us at which time Cocoa let out an ear-piercing, blood curdling scream so loud as to cause the motion/sound sensitive lights to come on a few houses down the street. The sound was decidedly not a normal, cat-like call. It was one of those strange, mangled noises which I have previously only heard from a Siamese, which seem to have their own, distinct language.

I was shocked by Cocoa's behavior. I knew he and Kitty had been having their disagreements but nothing like THIS. It was then, with the other cat standing upright her hair standing on end in response to Cocoa's obvious threat, that I noticed her hair was much too long. There was no way this could be Kitty. I realized her hair was on end, but even so, Kitty's hair is simply not long enough to stand that far out from her body. Still I was confused as she was otherwise the right size and color to be Kitty - and she had been following us, something I would not expect from a stranger, not to mention that I was not aware of any other cats in the area.

As Widget, Cocoa, and I continued walking along the sidewalk toward her, Cocoa posturing heavily and still letting out periodic, shrill screams, the other cat turned and ran. But here again, much as one might expect Kitty to do, she ran directly into my yard and across my lawn. She ran to my house. She was mid size. She was greyish. She was following us. She had run to our house. She MUST be Kitty! But something wasn't quite right. Her hair was too long, and the way Cocoa was behaving...I had NEVER seen this side of him before. He stopped at the corner of the yard to sniff where she had passed through and let out another scream.

She was still crouched on the walkway in front of the house and just a short distance away from where we stood. I walked over to the bench in the front yard where I sat down. I called out to her again. Even as I spoke, Cocoa screamed loudly over me. I reached down and picked him up. His body was stiff, and he was screaming even as I lifted him. I paused for a moment realizing that I was most assuredly in dangerous territory now. As a child I had seen my mother clawed badly by our very sweet, pet cat, a cat we had raised from a kitten, a cat which had never been feral. It had occurred when my mother went out and picked the cat up in an effort to avert a fight between him and another cat. I had learned at that early age that one should not get between two warring cats. Now here I was lifting Cocoa's obviously stiff body even as he issued another blood curdling scream - and Cocoa was feral. He was comfortable with me, but he was not your ordinary pet cat, and I had no idea what he might do at this moment. I half expected to be showered with claws even as I went on to lift him up to my chest, but he surprised me. He did issue yet one more warning to the other cat, but he softened in my arms and made no attempt to harm me. Cocoa is an enigma. I never know just what to expect from him, and he never fails to surprise me.

I sat there on the bench holding Cocoa against my chest and looking at the other cat. I had picked him up in hopes of keeping him from attacking the other cat, something which I thought might be close at hand at the time. The other cat, which I now was fairly sure was not Kitty had taken a step or two toward me still crouching close to the walkway. He/she had clearly wanted to come to me, although I knew not why. He/she had also appeared somewhat wary of me, or was the fear actually aimed at Cocoa who had kept so close to me from the moment the other cat appeared on the scene? I would have like to get a closer look at the other cat, but I could see that that was just not going to happen today. Even as I held him, Cocoa had issued another of those ear piercing screams. It had been very clear that he was talking directly to the other cat at the time saying, "Don't come another step this way, or I WILL get down and come after you!" The other cat had heard him clearly and had instantly stopped in his/her tracks, crouching there for another moment or two, long enough for me to see that he/she had some white around the mouth, which Kitty does not. Moments later the other cat whirled around and fled the area.

I put Cocoa down again a few minutes later when it was clear the other cat would not be returning. He sat for a few minutes on the sidewalk as though still guarding his territory. Then he moved to sit by the shrubs. I tried to call him to come inside with us, but he would not even consider it. He had a job to do.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Terese,

What you described is SO familiar to me, except in my house it's exactly the other way around. If I toss a dog toy for Widget to fetch, Cocoa will run past him and take it. I don't really think Cocoa wants to play with the toy so much as he wants to interfere with Widget playing with it and with me. Kitty doesn't involve herself in such things, just Cocoa. When he is in the house, everything is his. He will take any toy Widget tries to play with. He doesn't destroy them, just keeps them until Widget looses interest.

I think it is a jealousy/control issue. The larger, stronger animal does this to the smaller, weaker one. In this case, Widget is smaller than Cocoa, so Cocoa takes advantage of him. Cocoa even chases Widget sometimes. Even outside I have caught myself reprimanding the CAT and telling him to stop chasing the DOG. How ridiculous must that sound to others!

That ball, at least the one I have, is fully edible, so you should be able to crush it and give it to them as catnip. Sometimes I put a pinch of catnip on the foyer rug for them to wallow in. I figure I can always vacuum it up later. Kitty especially likes her catnip that way - although she did want to play with that catnip ball, too, but Cocoa wouldn't allow it - and now we can't find it still.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

meezers,

I hear you. Neither of mine will even acknowledge the existence of the laser light. This is most confusing to me, as I once had a cat who would do back flips in the air and try to climb the walls to get to a flashlight 'spot' on the ceiling. That cat would just go nuts the minute I turned the flashlight on. I would laugh my fool head off watching the cat's antics. I can't believe neither one of these will have anything to do with it.

I think it's the feral thing. They know it's not real, and they refuse to pretend otherwise. Foo-ey.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

Ours can hear me pick up the laser light from the bottom shelf of the coffee table. It gets quite entertaining when they are all after it at the same time. Some stalk, some wait for it to come closer, some (Iris and Tao) simply fly after it, furniture and knickknacks be damned, one side or a leg off, full speed ahead. Mini doesn't bother, she's old and arthritic, and prefers to let the younger set do the dirty work.

I think you are right, they can't smell it so it doesn't exist.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

meezers,

I'm going to have to do some thinking on that "I'd settle for a trip back to 50..." comment. Boy, that's heavy. Gives one pause. Thanks for that bit of much needed insight.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Ok, admittedly that one post is WAY long. Let me sum up the important points:

1) Cocoa is acting strangely. (ok, maybe not real news.) He is super territorial. He's about 2 now.
2) Cocoa sits in the street. (not good at all. will not add to his longevity.)
3) There is another, hitherto unknown, cat in my yard. From what I could see, a pretty, long haired grey, possibly with some white and other colors.
4) This other cat seems, for lack of a better word, interested in me. It followed me down the street until forced by Cocoa to turn back. It tried to come when called. That seems more like the behavior of a cat who is currently without human connections, a stray looking for a home and somehow, like all the others realizing I'm friendly.
5) I definitely don't need another cat, but I would like to get closer to this one. If nothing else to take it to the shelter where it can get help.
6) Cocoa has forbade the other cat to come near me.

I guess I'll wait to see if it shows up again. Now that Widget and I are taking walks, we are more likely to see it if it's hanging around here.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Bwaaahhhhaaahhaa! I quote you: "If nothing else to take it to the shelter where it can get help." Now I am not going back through the threads to see where we have seen this before, but we have seen this from you before. LOL! This was the same thing you were thinking when you fell in love with and adopted Kitty and her babies☺



btw, I think she is trying to adopt you. The word must be out on the street as well as it is out in the forest: See DoS for food and toys - she is well trained☺

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

ROTFLOL, June!

Clearly you know me well - as does she or he. Didn't get close enough to determine which, btw. I started out calling it a she because I thought it was Kitty.

Actually, I didn't so much fall in love with Kitty & co and then keep them. It was more the other way around. Initially, I was dead set against taking in a cat, or any other pet for that matter. I just didn't figure I had the time to deal with another pet. Also, I've avoided cats for ages now because I hate the litter box thing. In the beginning, I felt sorry for them. I hate to see anything go hungry or suffer or be all alone or ...any of that stuff. Initially, I was going to feed them, trap them, and cart them off to the shelter to be done with them, except...

Ms Kitty is clearly much smarter than I. She tricked me. Bate and switch, pure and simple. Somehow, while I was feeding her, she convinced me that she would not be any trouble - which she hasn't really. Somehow she talked me into letting her stay. I am also a HUGE sucker for an animal that is afraid of humans. I have this endless desire to communicate one on one with animals and let them know that some of us can be trusted. I have this huge desire left over from childhood to make friends with all of the friendless animals on the planet.

I didn't so much fall in love with her as...I felt empathy for her, for all that she had been through. I wanted to care for her. I wanted to give her the love and attention she had been denied. I wanted to shower her with good things. Good food. Toys. Etc. In the beginning I actually thought she was rather homely looking. I didn't care for her drab coloring at all. Since I found her unattractive, I feared she wouldn't do well at the shelter. I feared others would skip past her in favor of young kittens and prettier cats. With such an endless supply of cute kittens available at the shelter, I feared she would end up being put to sleep if I sent her there. I decided she wouldn't be that much trouble, especially if she stayed outside, so I decided to let her stay, but I was DETERMINED not to keep the kittens. One cat I didn't want was enough - plus there's that city ordinance limiting me to 2 pets.

I set out to try to tame the kittens while they were young so I could take them to the shelter where they would have a good chance of finding homes. Unfortunately, they were already too old to be converted to 'normal', friendly, adoptable pets. It was a loosing battle, but I was determined not to have them stay here, because I knew if the kittens stayed in the neighborhood (as ferals) they would live at my house. There was no getting around it, but I was determined to try.

Originally, I trapped the kittens with every intent of leaving them at the shelter. I really, really didn't want them here. Back then I wasn't that fond of Cocoa. He was my least favorite of the group, actually. His brother was cuter and more outgoing and seemed to have more personality. Nonetheless, it's because of Cocoa that I ended up bringing the kittens back here instead of leaving them at the shelter after they were fixed. (Somehow, even though I did not want him, Cocoa & I had some kind of strange bond from the start, or at least it was he who reached out to me from the start.)

You see, that morning when I put Cocoa in the car, cage and all, to drive him to the shelter (fully intending to leave him there), he was SO terrified. He was whaling endlessly at the top of his little lungs the whole way there. Trying to calm him (so he would shut up before my head exploded), I said the words I always use at such times, "it's ok". I promised him I wasn't going to hurt him. Those words, those very words, did me in. As soon as I said them, I knew I could not leave him, not if they were going to kill him, not after I had promised not to hurt him. I know he didn't even know what I was saying, and I know this is silly, but once I promised not to hurt him I just could not drive him to there to be executed. I could not promise him everything would be ok and then leave him there to be put to sleep. I couldn't. I was angry all the way home, too, because I did NOT want to bring the kittens back here, but I had to.

At that point, the kittens were still very wild. They would not come to me and would run away if I tried to touch them while they were eating. In fact, Cocoa would not even come forward to eat until after I went back inside back then. When I brought him and his brother back from the shelter, I let them go. They were going to live in the neighborhood as feral cats, and we were all going to take turns putting food out for them. I had no intention of adopting either of them. That's why Cocoa's ear is clipped. He is officially a ward of the city.

At the shelter that morning when I went there to drop Cocoa off and after I had come to the realization that I could not leave him if they were going to execute him, I asked the lady if they would be able to tame him and find a home for him. She said, "no". She said he was too old (he was still a kitten but not a tiny, tiny kitten) to ever be tamed. She said they would not be able to "get the wild out" of him enough to adopt him out. She said he would be considered un-adoptable and would be put down. As much as I hated it, I had to agree to come back for him after his surgery. I could not leave him under those terms.

After that, I ignored the kittens and spent my time with Kitty. I put food out for them, but I didn't interact with them as I had tried to do back when I hoped to tame them. I really was going to let Cocoa stay wild. I had no intention of adopting him. It was Cocoa not me, that changed everything. All of a sudden and for some unknown reason he suddenly decided that he didn't want to be feral. He wanted to be part of the family. I was putting food out and leaving, ignoring them. Then out of the blue he started coming to me. Just overnight one day he went from this frightened creature who wouldn't even come out to eat as long as I was there to this kitten who was still scared but who was suddenly determined to be my friend.

I got up one morning and went out to walk Widget and low and behold little Cocoa followed us down the sidewalk. That was the defining moment when I knew something in him had changed. He was always afraid of everything, afraid to even come out in daylight, afraid of people, afraid of me, and yet there he was a few lengths back following Widget and me on our morning walk. That morning it was clear that he wanted to be part of our group. He was still afraid, but he was willing to try. My heart went out to him then, seeing that I had decided to leave him wild but somehow he had decided otherwise. That really touched me.

After that, Cocoa just totally changed. He began to come to me whereas before he would never do so. He began trying to trust me even though he was very scared. The whole thing, his decision made all on his own to try to be part of the family, his efforts to reach out to me despite his obvious timidity, it all touched me in a big way. Even though clearly afraid, he was very sweet and loving from the very beginning (and by beginning I mean the day he decided to join our family). It was only then that I came to love him. I had given up on taming him, but he decided he wanted to be tamed and wanted to be a pet, and he worked his way into my heart and did so in a very big way.

All that said, you could not be more right. If there is a cat out there, this time one that I even find somewhat attractive from what I could see in the dark (I love long hair.), then, yes, I'm in trouble. I didn't want even 1 cat, and now look at me. The other day I was on Amazon trying to find the rare "trout" flavor of FancyFeast, because one can somehow found its way into my house, and Kitty went bonkers over it, so now I must find more. Yep, I'm a sucker for a cat or a dog or a raccoon or even an opossum. Yep, and I'm apparently legendary among the animal grapevine. I agree they must have signs posted everywhere that animals hang out. The sign probably has a footnote or asterisk saying, "just bat your eyes and look sad and hungry and you're in."

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

You know how, during the Great Depression, (no not the one last year) bums would put a mark n a mailbox or a gatepost indicating a friendly household that might offer a day's work or food?? Check your entryway. If there's a paw print...........

Emerald Hills, CA(Zone 9b)

Check your entryway. If there's a paw print... love that meezers!

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

I bet that there is! Probably all around the back fence, too, and translated into many languages! as DoS understands dog, bird, cat, raccoon, opossum...

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Oh, that is cute, meezers,

I didn't know about the depression story but love the paw print idea.

There is a problem though (aside from this being the city and there being only concrete and asphalt, nothing on which to leave a mark). 1st, roughly 1/2 of the population here constitute Clemson [Tigers] fans. Many more than 1/2 are Citadel [Dogs] fans. With both using paw prints as their logo, you can be sure that the city of Charleston is covered in paw prints already, including even some giant ones painted on streets. If the critters are using paw prints as their signal, there is bound to be considerable confusion around town with homeless kitties, puppies, raccoons, and the lot showing up at homes all over town where they are not expected, especially homes on the streets surrounding the Citadel, not to mention those sporting Citadel & Clemson flags (with giant paw prints) at their doors. And oh, the plethora of orange & blue 'paw print' bumper & window stickers adorning cars all over the area. I can see the poor, hungry, tired critters now as they emerge from the forest, look around, and then seeing paw prints all over everything before them, head in hands scream out, "WHICH paw print?!!"

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

June,

Oh, the back fence. Hadn't thought of that. One could scratch symbols on the backs of the boards, and no human would ever see them. That must be where they are.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

That could certainly result in confusion, too many paw prints. They'd have to form a little bitty kitty committee to figure out which ones are valid welcoming signals and those that are for crazed sports fans who have little regard for a population in need of food.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

ROTF, meezers!

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