This is the ongoing saga of Kitty & Cocoa, two former strays and now pets. This thread series began several yrs ago when a then 1/2 wild Kitty showed up at my door, emaciated and homeless, with 2 small kittens at her side. As she stood there quivering beneath a shrub at my front door, she hissed at me, unsure whether to seek my help or fight to defend herself and her kitten. She had been living on the streets for who knows how long and had grown fearful of all humans, and now she had 2 kittens which she had raised in the wild with no human contact at all.
I started this series then to discuss Kitty and her 2 kittens and the events surrounding my efforts to interact with them. In time I decided to adopt Kitty. One of the two kittens died after being struck by a car. The other, which I ultimately named Cocoa was processed through the county's TNR (trap, neuter, release) program and remained wild for some time more before I finally managed to get through to him. By that time, Cocoa was too old to ever have a chance at being tame enough for adoption, so I ended up taking him in, too.
Cocoa, while afraid of others, grew up to be very comfortable with me. Kitty, on the other hand, was a very 'hard sell'. She remained distrustful for years, until very recently we finally had a breakthrough.
It has taken me a bit longer than expected to get back here to post some things.
I'll start with some pics:
(1) Kitty washing her face. She is sitting in a flower bed, left hand side of the flower beds at the front door. On one side of her is a crepe myrtle, on the other a bench. Those pale spots on her lower back are actually dapples of sunlight through the trees overhead. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day (day before yesterday) when this was taken. It's not so obvious because Kitty is sitting in the shade of the crepe myrtles. Thus the dapples on her backside.
(2) Cocoa rolling over on his back. He does this pretty much every time he sees me. He wants me to rub his tummy.
(3) Cocoa sitting upright. All of these pics were taken 2 days ago on a bright, sunny day. You can see the sun in this pic, both from Cocoa's shine and from the dark shadows on the walkway. Some of you may have seen prior photos of Cocoa when he was chocolate brown. Note here that he is as black as the ace of spades, as the saying goes, despite being in bright sunlight. Cocoa actually changes color, not from day to day but from season to season. He is black one part of the year, medium brown another part of the year. You may recall that when he is chocolate brown (milk chocolate not dark), he has a visible 'tabby' pattern of stripes, as seen in photos during the brown intervals, and an unexpected Siamese coloring. When brown, his head, tail, and paws are solid black and he has a black tabby pattern over the brown coat. Very strange coloring. As you can see in this picture, he is currently very black (all over) right now with no sign of either tabby or Siamese markings.
When viewing the pics of brown Cocoa, some people thought the color change was due to sunlight, but as you can see in these pics that is not the case, as he is very black here despite the brilliant sunlight. I believe the color change occurs because one of his coats (under or outer, not sure) is chocolate brown, the other black, so that the color change occurs either when he sheds or when he 'adds' a coat. Still trying to figure out which. If you haven't seen the pictures of 'brown' Cocoa, scan the earlier threads for them. There are a number of photos in the Kitty & Cocoa threads of him looking like an entirely different cat.
Although you can't see it from the pics, Cocoa is a very BIG fella now, weighing in at 14.5lbs AFTER loosing his pot belly (too many treats). His head is very noticeably large in comparison to Kitty's. He is easily twice her size.
She remains like an entirely different cat, sitting at my feet, rubbing against my legs, accepting and responding to petting and affection. I can't begin to tell you how much nicer it is to be able to pet her, scratch her head and back, etc and to be able to play with her freely.
I did just recently, however, notice some signs of another, most unexpected problem. Now she is showing signs of being abnormally dependent on me. Boy, that really is something I never expected to see from Ms Kitty. Now I'm wondering if she really was afraid of everything all along, and that tough exterior was just an act, a protective mechanism.
One day when she was sitting on the stairs at about my height (from floor below), I stood beside the stairs and played with her through the banister rails. She was extremely playful and animated. After a while I got the idea to get out that fishing reel toy she always liked and go outside to play on the front lawn, something we did a number of times the 1st year or so she was here. I had no problem encouraging her to follow me outside, but once out there she became visibly afraid (of everything: cars, people, noise, airplanes). For several minutes I continued 'throwing' the toy fish and reeling it back past her, thinking she would soon calm down and start to play, but no luck. I took her around to the side yard, hoping that would help (farther from street, cars, people) but still to no avail. She was so frightened out there that I began to feel sorry for her.
When I gave up and headed back toward the door, she ran past me, eager to get back inside. Once inside again, she was fine. As you may have heard me say before, she has been staying indoors almost exclusively this past year, going out only about once a day and then only for some 15min to do her business. (She doesn't like to poop indoors, and I can't argue with that.) Otherwise, she is practically an indoor cat now. I'm happy that she is staying inside these days, as I know that is much safer for her, but I'm not happy to see her so painfully terrified when outside.
Since then I've begun to notice that, except for her once a day brief excursion outside for, you know, she otherwise follows me. If I go out, she has to go out. If I come back inside, she has to come back inside. The other day I made some 5 trips in/out in 5min or less (out to pick up after Widget, back in to get camera, in again to get missing sim card, etc). Kitty had to go in and out with me every time! That day we were in the back yard. She is less fearful out there away from people, cars, noise, etc but she still had to come back in with me every time and go back out again, 5 times in as many minutes.
The next day I was heading out for a few groceries. While standing outside the front door looking for my keys, I heard Kitty at the door meowing to get out. When I let her out, she hung around with me there on the steps. It was clear she was anxious about being outside. A vehicle went by out at the street, and she quickly hid in the shrubs by the front door. Before I could turn the key in the door to lock it, she was standing on the door facing, her nose pressed against the area where the door opens, waiting to go back inside - she may have thought I was heading back inside since I was facing the door. I let her back inside and left.
Since these events, I've been more aware and more observant of her fear of being outside and her apparent fear of being away from me. While on the surface this looks like a new problem, I'm hoping it is all part of her original problem, having merely become more visible now since she has begun to accept and open up to me. She used to appear ok outside, but maybe she was afraid even then, just not willing to let me see her fear. It's also possible that one or more person in the neighborhood may disapprove of outdoor cats and may have harassed her for such behaviors as pottying in flower beds, walking/sleeping on cars, stealing pet food, sleeping in open garages, and so forth.
Not knowing how else to help her through her fears, I'm just continuing to offer my love, care, and support in hopes that as she did finally learn to trust me so will she also eventually learn to trust that all is well in her life in general. As Liz put it so well, I continue to wonder what she may have endured in those early years that made her so fearful today.
A few more pics, same day. These were the best I could do. Both cats tend to hang around close to my feet, where it's impossible to get a photo except of their backs. Note here again that Cocoa is very black. Also all pics, these and earlier ones, were taken with the same camera (the Nikon) and with the same settings. I was particularly unable to get Cocoa to pose for a decent shot of his face. I'm posting this one to show, again, how black he is at present.
After sitting in that flower bed some 10-15ft from me just long enough to wash her face, Kitty then walked over to me, which is where the cover photo originated (her walking across flower bed toward me). In that photo, she looks to me as though she is hunting prey, perhaps because her gaze is so intense, but in actuality, she was just walking (from that spot where she sat washing her face) over to me where she remained until I started back towards the door. Then she made a bee line for the door and back inside to her cozy bed.
Cocoa is doing really well. He has been spending his days snoozing indoors for several days now and then going out to prowl at night. Other times he will just come in twice a day, morning and evening, to eat. Sometimes, when the weather is nice, he will hang around in the back yard all day coming inside every few hours to look around, nap a bit, and then go outside again.
He passed a big milestone recently, one I wasn't really expecting. You may recall that he was always uncomfortable coming into the MBR. The rest of the house is very open with high ceilings and missing walls. For a semi-feral cat such a Cocoa, that probably feels less restrictive. The MBR, on the other hand, is more closed in, more cave-like, I figure, from his perspective. A couple years ago in an effort to help him get over his fear of the MBR, I started feeding him in there. Not an optimum solution, but I hoped it would help him to see the room in a more positive light. For a while he ate and left quickly, so that it didn't appear to be working.
In time, he learned to feel safe in the MBR but only if I was in there with him. When he came in each morning, he would sit and 'holler' loudly (no way I can call that a meow) until I would followed him to the MBR so he could eat. If I was busy cooking or dressing or something, that could be quite annoying. Not wanting to condone his impatience, I would continue with what I was doing and try to ignore him (not easy). Then one morning when I was fixing breakfast, I noticed that he just came in and quietly disappeared. I was shocked to find him in the MBR alone, just sitting on the bed waiting for me. For Cocoa, this was a big step forward for him to be willing to go into the MBR alone like that.
After that day, he has been fine in the MBR alone ever since. Now after he finishes his breakfast, many days he curls up in a chair in the MBR where he sleeps all day long. I go elsewhere in the house, do housework, cook, work in my office, etc while he remains in the MBR alone. Recently, I've even gone outside, taken Widget for a walk around the block, etc all while Cocoa was napping in the MBR alone. I think he really has conquered that fear now.
I didn't know that. Of course, Cocoa is not by any stretch of the imagination a Siamese, but it's abundantly clear from his brown pics that there was at least one Siamese somewhere "in the woodpile". The boy clearly has a couple Siamese genes. While the black on chocolate brown coloring is not as obvious as Seal Point, Chocolate Point, and so forth, the pics of Cocoa in his brown coat show an unmistakeable Siamese pattern.
Cocoa's 2 'coats' differ not only in color but also in texture. I like both of his coats, equally well. His black coat is very sleek and shiny with hairs that lay flat against his skin. His brown coat is much more dense, bordering on fluffy, with hairs packed tightly together so that they tend to stand more upright. The brown coat does not have the lacquered shine of the black coat. The black coat feels silky smooth to the touch, while the brown coat feels more like an ultra-plush stuffed animal or a faux fur coat. Like having 2 different cats.
I looked around for some of his brown pics. I didn't find the one I wanted, but here are a couple. in the 1st one he was pretty young (under 1yr). In both you can see the distinctly black 'points'. In the 2nd one you can see some of the tiger or tabby striping on his legs. I never said any of these were particularly attractive markings, just interesting. When these photos were originally published, many people thought the sun was bringing out the brown coloring, like the way velvet is darker or lighter depending on which way you look at it, but, hopefully, it is clear from a comparison of both sets of pics that the sun was every bit as bright in the pic above where he is jet black. During those times when he is brown in photos, he is also brown when viewed with the naked eye, brown with unmistakable black points.
I rather enjoy his changeable coloring. It is certainly not boring.
I didn't realize that Cocoa is so much bigger than Miss Kitty! As Silvrwilo mentioned, my Siamese mix get much darker during the winter. In the summer, he has the typical coloring, but in the winter, the tips of the lighter fur are dusty brown. His daily habits are similar to Cocoa's current habits, he generally sleeps inside during the day (especially this time of year) & goes out (often to hunt) at night.
Now, that you have a new perspective into Kitty's personality, it's all the more important & wonderful, for her happiness, that she trusts you & can rely on you! Her face looks more content/happier, to me, in her pictures. If she lived in a constant state of fear/anxiety, living outside, & she wasn't yet used to you & your home, she never really had any peace - poor girl! So glad that she's found peace with you...
I'm thinking that you and your home are the only safe and loving experiences she's ever had. Perhaps she has a touch of PTSD, and the sounds etc of outdoors induce flashbacks. Before knowing and trusting you she had a protective emotional 'shell' that allowed her to function. However now that she has her guard down to be free to love and relate to you, she feels more vulnerable out side without her prior aloof, 'tough gal' shell.
You can't really get any size info from the close up pics I've been posting. For a long time I didn't realize the size difference between them either. They very rarely stand beside each other. I knew Cocoa was larger, but I didn't realize just how much larger until I did finally see them next to each other. That plus weighing him recently, made it obvious.
Oh, I'm so glad you think she looks happier and more content. She would almost surely have to be happier. I've become like this giant Santa Claus to her. Any time I'm in the kitchen cooking, she is at my feet rubbing on me as industriously as possible. It's like I'm one of those Genie lamps, and she is hoping for 3 wishes - all of which will involve meat scraps. I give her a bite sometimes but not always. That doesn't stop her from trying though. When I come home from the market and am repackaging meats for the freezer, sometimes I will cut 2 or 3 tiny, bite-sized pieces off for her, pop them in the microwave for 20sec, cool, and give them to her for a special treat.
It's just so wonderful to have her rubbing against my legs, something she never, ever did before - no matter how many treats I gave her in those days. It's also wonderful that now I can reach down and pet her and pet her and pet her, and she will just stay there rubbing me as long as I will keep petting her - and she holds her head high looking so proud and so happy. I wish I could figure out a way to take a picture of that look. (Hmm. maybe I can. thinking...)
I've been thinking about doing a pastel painting of Kitty from one of the better photos I took a few years back. If I do - and if it turns out decent - I'll post a copy. I used to think she was ugly, but now I'm biased. I see her through different lenses now.
I use soft pastels; however, while they are sometimes mistakenly associated with chalk, they really are not chalk. This is especially true of the professional grade pastels I use (because my teacher at age 17 stressed that we should only use professional grade products).
I rarely use fixative. I have a can of workable fixative and use it only if necessary to gain more 'tooth' (get the paper to accept more pastel). I don't use it over the final layer of pastels to 'fix' the pastel to the surface, because fixative tends to alter (darken) colors and in so doing may ruin the painting.
Kitty came home shortly after I posted that she was out. There was a decent lull in showers, and that's when she showed up, soaking wet and starving. I toweled her dry and fed her, twice, since she gobbled the 1st serving down quickly and asked for more. I figured she probably needed it, since she didn't get dinner last night. As soon as she ate, she went directly to her LR chair and has been napping there ever since. Cocoa came in early this morning and has been inside snoozing since breakfast.
It has been a wet, dreary day here today. Hoping for sunshine tomorrow.
Cocoa came in yesterday morning around 8AM and went out again a few minutes ago when the rain finally stopped and the sun came back out. Kitty went out shortly before him. Both cats spent last night inside, and both cats stayed inside while I was out running errands earlier, and both were inside for over 24hrs before going out.
Edited to remove all of my OT stuff. I was having a very bad day. Arguing with insurance carrier, postal carrier put my mail against the front of the box where it got soaked so bad I had to carefully lay the wet pages out to dry, left my car window down so my car also got soaked. One of the few positive outcomes is that someone saw my open car window and went out in the rain to cover it with plastic. I'm thinking it was either my next door neighbor or a guy I met recently (the brand on the plastic pointed to one or the other of them). And my back/hip has been hurting again the past couple of days. So, bad day. Hoping for a better day tomorrow - and more sunshine.
Ok, now this was cute. Wish I had a camera with me at the time.
Sometime mid to late afternoon the rain stopped and the sun peaked out for a bit, and both cats seized the opportunity to go outside. A few minutes ago, I went to the front door to turn on the LR light (so the house doesn't look so dark from the street). By that time it was raining again. (This is beginning to look like one of those 40 days and 40 nights kind of rains. We're on about Day 3.)
Through the narrow window flanking the front door, I caught a glimpse of Cocoa's head. He was sitting patiently at the front door, in the tiny corner that is protected from all but blowing rain. I opened the front door to let him in. As he moved, I saw that Kitty had been sitting there very close beside him, the two of them sharing that tiny space while waiting to get back inside and out of the rain. I almost couldn't believe it. Clearly, when the situation warrants it, they can get along after all. Once I opened the door, both cats leaped to the door and inside, happy to get out of the rain and back inside where it's dry.
The sight of them waiting together to get back inside was unexpected not only because they were out there huddled together (getting along) but also because both cats had already been inside for more than 24hrs when they asked to go out, yet both had come back an hour or two later eager to get back inside.
Cheryl, I found your information on pastels VERY interesting. I got mine while attending NC School of the Arts back in...(tmi)...and they are carefully packed away somewhere in in my house. I do remember that they seemed extreemly costly for a 10"-12" long box of perhaps 10 or so vivid and multicolored cylindrical things (not chalk) about 4" long each. They came from a small art shop near the school that had many artist's tools (brushes, easles all types of medium) etc. We students got a special discount but the pastel assortment box was still over $100. All of my works were lost in a housefire 1/82. As that was over 30 years ago I think they must have been the good ones. Two assignments I particularly remember were simply after that color renderings done at 5 minute intervals during sunrise and sunset on three different days. Prior to that I knew that each were beautiful to behold, butnever in my wildest imagination had I any idea of the spectacular light show that is created each day for us. If I remember correctly each event required 5-7 separatet pages utill I decided to divide each page in half to save paper. I have not done much (a few sketches ) since then. There's always tomorrow though. Lighting designe was my major with Costume design next.
Thanks. I found that very interesting. It does sound as though you were using the professional type. Incidentally, prices on pastels and other materials have gone up a LOT since I was 17, so you can't compare what you paid then with the prices I gave (which were today's prices). I have one box, a very large assortment of 400 or so colors that I bought in the late 90's for $400 - which seemed high to me at the time. That same box is now selling for nearly $2000. Needless to say, I'm glad I bought them when I did. They last forever, so it's practically an investment.
I removed all the info I posted earlier on pastels, because not only was it OT (and a lot of it) but also because I was afraid it made me sound like a snob - and that couldn't be farther from the truth. I've had times of plenty and times of extreme scarcity as I imagine is true for many people. These days I'm pinching pennies and living the frugal life, trying to save as much as possible for hard times. Were it not for my teacher (at 17) who stressed the need to buy professional grade materials, I imagine that I would have bought the cheaper products, thinking those expensive, professional products were for successful, professional artists. Were it not for my former teacher, I doubt I would appreciate the reasons for buying professional products.
I wanted to stress to everyone who may read this the difference professional grade art products make and why you should use them if you can. On the other hand, I do understand that sometimes we just can't afford $100s of dollars for the best products. I'm not able to lay out that kind of money right now myself and am just lucky to have bought my supplies in years back. If student/hobbyist products are the best one can afford (and I'm speaking now to everyone out there), then by all means use them. Better to use student grade than give up art altogether. I just wanted people to know that student grade art products work against you. If you are using student grade paints, pastels, etc and are experiencing a lot of frustration in your efforts to produce the desired results, know that the problem may actually be the product. Even your favorite artists probably couldn't produce a good painting using student grade paints or pastels. Also, one really shouldn't use student grade products if there is any chance you might want to sell the painting, this because student grade products will most likely fade over time (some colors, not all), thus changing your work.
Thanks for filling me in on your art experience. I found it very interesting. Incidentally, the latest group that is having difficulty gaining professional acceptance for its work is the color pencil group. Have you seen any of the recent results professional artists are now producing with color pencil? It's unbelievable and quite impressive. They have developed methods for producing works (with color pencil) that look like oil paintings. Awesome. But it takes a LOT of time to produce such results in C.P. Just as with pastels, they are not using the color pencils you might buy for kids but rather professional grade pencils with light fast pigments.
Anyone who reads even a bit of your writing would already know that you are a very sensitive and special person! Snob? No way!
I have been asked how I knew so much about so many things. My response is that I am very interested in life, and the world around me. This makes for a great beginner and therfore have tried, taisted or experienced many things. A Jill of all trades yet an expert at none. LOL
Thank you so much for that wonderful compliment! I'm a bit of a 'Jill of all trades, expert at none' too. If only there existed a good career path for people with that knowledge set. It often seems like many of us on this and the Heidi threads have a number of such things in common.
I have several things to tell you about Kitty & Cocoa - so please don't run away. I would like 1st to share with you that (w/reference to the other day when I was so frustrated) (1) the insurance glitch finally got worked out, (2) the soaking wet mail dried and though a bit crumple here and there seems no less valuable for the wear, and (3) while my car may be a bit soggy for a day or two, it's times like these when one can really appreciate the true value of an old car. Each time I find myself all flustered as was the case the other day, I try (even if often in vain) to remind myself that these things always get worked out one way or another and being upset never seems to help the process along one bit. Maybe someday I will learn not to get upset by such things, things which although they may seem huge at the time, are really but trivia in the larger scheme of things. Maybe someday...
Now on to cats:
Cocoa: I'll begin with Cocoa who has been staying indoors almost as much as Kitty this past week or so. Although I figure this is due in large part to current 'monsoon season', he did also spend 2 beautiful, sunny, warm, & dry days indoors as well. Maybe he is learning from Kitty that there are numerous benefits to being indoors, like access to food, clean water, climate control, and a soft, dry bed for napping away from cars, people, other animals, and so forth. Again today, he is asleep in his favorite chair. He has spent every day asleep in that chair for nearly a week now. Sometimes he goes out and about at night. Other nights he spends still napping in that chair.
Cocoa has finally shown improvement on that incessant meowing (more like a high pitched cry) when he doesn't get his way immediately. He used to sit and scream endlessly until I let him out or fed him or followed him to the MBR or whatever he wanted at the time. As difficult as it was to ignore him and go on about my business (until I was ready to tend to him), I've stuck to my guns on this issue, and it has finally paid off. Now, when he wants out, instead of sitting in the hall screaming endlessly, he meows once and then sits patiently in the hall or by the door waiting. I like this new behavior and want to encourage more of it, so now I curtail what I'm doing a little sooner to reward his patience by getting to him faster.
Cocoa is smarter & more trainable than I realized. Since he grew up I've had problems feeding him & Kitty together. He thinks he should be able to eat his pick of the food from both dishes, and Kitty doesn't argue with him on this. She just walks away looking annoyed while he licks the gravy off her canned food as well as his own. In case I didn't mention, he likes the canned food now. For the longest time he would have nothing to do with the stuff. Those were the peaceful times. Then he started eating a taste now and then. Finally, now he loves the stuff and will eat a serving any time he can get it.
For a while now I've been feeding Cocoa in a separate room from where Kitty eats. That helps, but now that he is older, I can no longer get away with giving Kitty her canned food and then giving him his dry food in a separate room. He's too smart for that now. He knows she gets canned food, so he often likes to go to her room to check it out for himself. If he smells the cat food, he will stick his big head in her dish, gently displacing hers, and proceed to eat his fill before coming to his room to eat.
When he would hop up onto the chair (where Kitty eats), I would tell him, "No" calmly but firmly and then either make him get down or pick him up. When I pick him up from the chair, he holds on to the upholstered dining room chair with his claws, so I just calmly and quietly lift him AND the chair - until he finally sees the futility of his efforts and drops the chair. Then I take him to his room to eat his food. To be fair, I grab the can of cat food as we pass through the kitchen, and serve it to him in his room along with the dry food.
After doing this a few times, Cocoa has finally reached the point where if I say, "No" when I see him getting ready to jump up onto the chair with Kitty, he will actually back away and follow me to his room - as long as I grab the cat food can and show it to him as we pass through the kitchen. He seems to understand very clearly that (1) I'm not going to let him eat Kitty's food and (2) I'm going to give him some in his room. Even if he has already jumped up onto the chair beside Kitty, if I say, "Down" he will actually jump down and then as long as I show him the cat food can, he will follow me to his room. He understands the entire scenario quite well, and obeys my commands. He just needs to see proof (the can) that if he behaves he will get some, too.
I really didn't know such things were possible with cats. I always figured cats did as they pleased regardless. I also didn't realize Cocoa was that smart. I've underestimated that boy.
Yes, I agree. I think that goes to what I said earlier. Cocoa is pretty smart, smarter than I realized. For a long time he didn't want the canned food. I tried to convince him to taste it, but he was adamant in his resistance. More recently, however, his taste matured to the point that he learned to love the taste of canned food. Once that happened, he became aware that he was being 'cheated' in that Kitty was getting the good stuff while he was being carted off to a different location and fed only dry food. Clearly, he didn't approve of the situation, so he set out to fix it.
Many days upon coming inside he would insist on going to Kitty's dish to check for canned food - and eat any he found whether Kitty was there or not. Absolutely, Cocoa took the initiative to get what he wanted and to let me know it. By 'trainable', I didn't mean to imply that I was somehow getting my way or controlling him. Rather my use of the word 'trainable' was meant to compliment his ability to understand the situation and make the more complex decision to walk away from food 'in the hand' realizing I was promising him the same food in another room. None of this was about me. It was all about him and his ability to reason in more complex ways than I believed possible.
I really never expected a cat, any cat, whose face was only inches from a highly coveted food item to make the decision to get down and walk away w/o even so much as a taste and do so only because he was asked to do so by a human, a human who at the moment didn't even have the can in hand to offer as an alternative. When he gets down like that, however, he remains in close proximity, still in the doorway to the room with the food and will agree to leave the room only if I show him the cat food can or a bowl of the food, thus promising to give him the food in another room. To me this ability to understand the promise and to make the decision to walk away from the item he wants and do so for something as abstract as a promise shows a degree of complex thought that goes beyond what I previously believed possible with cats. I'm thrilled to be wrong, btw, and thrilled to be having this level of communication with Cocoa.
I'm happy to give Cocoa some of the canned food, btw. Like I said, a couple years ago I tried to get him to eat it. I don't, however, want him to take Kitty's food, so I'm happy that he listens when I ask him to get down and walk away. I don't give him canned food every day, because I don't want him to learn to expect that. Kitty 'must' have canned food for breakfast every morning. Cocoa is happy to eat his dried food, unless he smells canned food down the hall, that is. He sees it more like something we might have some days but not everyday, like a special treat. I would like to keep it that way. It's bad enough that he thinks he 'must' get a Temptations treat (dessert) with his breakfast daily. Cats seem to form habits very easily. I don't want him to form the 'I must have canned food for breakfast' habit like Kitty.
Now that Cocoa has learned to enjoy canned food, I give him some any time he comes inside while Kitty is eating hers. To do otherwise would seem unfair. I never want him to think that I'm treating him unfairly. He & I share a very special bond. However, to keep him from forming the 'must have canned food everyday' habit, some days I avoid feeding Kitty her canned food until after he goes back outside. (Kitty has access to dry food any time she is indoors, btw.)
So, yes, the training goes both ways, but I'm happy about that as real communication goes 2 ways.
The other day I promised to return with some info on Kitty. Sorry I'm running a bit late with that, but here it is...
I'm happy to tell you that Kitty has been going out a bit more the past few days. She seems to be doing pretty well in the back yard. When I reported on her apparent fear of going outside and, worse, what appeared a potentially unhealthy dependency on me, this was something I had noticed only recently, something I hadn't been observing long enough to be sure about it. I'm now happy to report that her fear is not bad enough to keep her from coming and going as needed or desired.
I don't think this is a new fear. I think there were signs of this fear in her all along. It's just that before she became sufficiently comfortable with me and with being indoors, she really had no other choice but to cope with the outdoors, fear or no fear. As for signs this fear was there all along, recall that when I 1st found her, she was crouching in the shrubs near my front door that night looking clearly frightened at the time. She even hissed at me, sending mixed messages. On the one hand she had brought her kittens to my door in search of help. On the other hand, she was hissing to say, "Don't mess with me, Human!"
She had given birth to and raised her kittens in my backyard under a large clump of prostrate rosemary, yet until that night I had never seen her or the kittens. I now think she had probably come to my backyard originally, lured by the frequent chicken I was putting out back there for the raccoons. At that time I was buying 1 or more rotisserie and/or fried chickens weekly and tossing not only the carcasses out back but often the thighs and legs which I did not like, especially since the deli often cooked them without removing the fat. While raccoons will eat chicken and chicken bones, they preferred the dry cat food and some of the other items I was offering them at the time. so they often left the chicken behind, which was perfect for a half-starved cat trying to make it on her own while pregnant and nursing (any dry cat food they left when full was also perfect for Kitty). I recall at the time being somewhat surprised that the chicken was being consumed so dependably even in winter when the raccoons are far less hungry and often don't even finish their cat food.
What is amazing is that Kitty managed to live and eat in my backyard all that time w/o being seen. It was only after the fact that I was able to put all of this together to realize she was living back there and it was she who was consuming the chicken. During the time when I was putting chicken and bones out there almost daily (a few pieces at a time), a time or two while in the front yard after dark I had seen the silhouette of a cat going down the edge of my property line, apparently headed for the backyard. I never saw the cat in the back yard, but I figured it was headed back there, lured by the chicken I was putting out at the time. Around that same time I had seen a Siamese from down the street in my front yard a time or two during the daytime. At the time, I figured it was she whose silhouette I was seeing at night. Now, in retrospect, I suspect it was probably Kitty on her way to/from the den where she was keeping her kittens.
It wasn't until after I had met Kitty and was feeding her and planning to adopt her that I learned about the den under the rosemary where she was keeping her kittens in my backyard. I learned this when I extended my contract with my gardener, who had previously been maintaining the front yard only, to include the backyard. while cleaning up the backyard, he stumbled upon the den and reported it to me. I told him to mark off an area around the den and leave it untended to allow the kittens to continue to live there.
It was only later as I put all of these pieces together that I came to understand that Kitty and her kittens had been living and eating in my backyard all along. The night she appeared at my door finally making herself known to me occurred when I tired of chicken and stopped buying it. For a period of some 2 to 3 months there I had been on a chicken kick, buying 1 and even sometimes 2 rotisserie chickens weekly from the grocery deli plus a fried chicken. Some days I also stopped off for a 2 to 3 piece box of chicken on my way home from work. All of the bones plus the uneaten chicken (legs/thighs) were deposited out back in the area where I fed the raccoons. For a starving, homeless cat, this almost daily meal of chicken and/or chicken bones was a godsend which made it possible for her and the kittens to survive.
When I tired of chicken and abruptly stopped putting the leftovers out back, Kitty & her kittens suddenly lost their meal source. The raccoons would not have left even so much as a single piece of dry cat food for them most nights, as that was the raccoons' favorite meal and to avoid leaving food to attract rats, I was careful to give them only the amount I knew they would eat. Once the chicken was gone, Kitty would have gotten nothing most days/nights, and she probably couldn't kill enough mice, rats, and birds daily to feed herself and her kittens who by that time were on solid food but still very much dependent on her for their survival.
It was then that she came to my front door, kittens at her side. I remember at the time equating the two, her appearance at the front door with the cessation of free backyard chicken. I'm guessing during the time when she and the kittens were living and eating in the backyard, she had been watching me, observing my interactions with the raccoons and how I fed them. She had, no doubt, noticed that the raccoons were not afraid of me, that they freely walked right up beside me, crowded around me even, and that some even took food from my hand. I believe it was for this reason that she connected me with the food offerings and had the tinniest bit of trust necessary to reveal herself and her kittens to me at the front door that night. When the chicken offerings stopped, when she and her kittens were starving and desperate, I think she came to my front door hoping I would give her food as she had seen me do for the raccoons daily. She was still very much afraid of me as evidenced by her hissing, but given that she was desperate she had gained the barest modicum of trust needed to approach me, and that's where it all began.
This isn't what I had actually planned to tell you, btw. It's just part of my offering of 'proof' that Kitty was afraid all along. She lived in my backyard w/o ever being seen by day and was only seen as a silhouette once or twice at night. She taught her kittens to hide under the rosemary at the back of the property, coming out only at night to eat. She taught them to fear, avoid, and flee from humans, a lesson which plagues Cocoa to this day. Gladys and some of the neighbors had seen Kitty and her kittens when she took out at night in search of supplemental food from pet food dishes (especially after the chicken was cut off). Gladys referred to Kitty as "that wild cat" and was shocked to see me interacting with her up close when I began feeding her and her kittens at my front door. One evening as she was walking by while I was feeding them Gladys said with disbelief, "That isn't that wild cat is it?" She went on to comment that I must have a special way with animals because no one had been able to catch Kitty before. (Kitty was smart enough to know who to trust and not trust.)
There is more but, hopefully, this is sufficient to show that Kitty was afraid all along, hiding out by day, sneaking around at night in search of food, not allowing others to get near her, teaching her kittens that their lives depended on avoiding humans at all costs, and so on.
...I STILL have some recent news to tell you regarding Kitty. Not sure if I will get to that tonight...
Not sure if I mentioned this yet, but I think I know what has ratcheted up Kitty's fears outside. 1.5yrs or so ago the city erected a stop sign 1 house down from me. We all hate it and wonder what the city was thinking. The stop sign is in the 'middle' of a 20mph street (not an intersection). It's a very quiet neighborhood with almost no traffic. The street is an effective dead end as it goes no where looping back onto itself a few blocks down from my house, so that it is only useful for residents. I have never seen more than 1 car at the stop sign at any time, yet now every car has to stop there just the same. As soon as I back out of my drive, I have to stop at the [stupid] stop sign (alone, no less). I'm guessing the city had some left over signs and nothing to do that day...
The stop sign probably benefits the cats by making it less likely they will be run over, but I think the noise made by the cars and especially the trucks taking off again from that stop sign is what I think is scaring Kitty (and Cocoa, too, for that matter). There are more trucks (moving vans, furniture deliver, appliance delivery & repair, UPS, FedEx, etc) than you might expect, and they are much noisier when taking off from a stop than you might think. Trucks strain mightily to overcome inertia and get going again. Several times when Kitty went out and then quickly fled back inside, it was due to just such a truck engine straining noisily. This new 'predator', the noisy trucks, is, after all, relatively new on the scene, having shown up only in the last year. If you listen to Gladys, Kitty may have lived in this neighborhood (alone) for a number of years, and all that time w/o the noisy trucks taking off from the stop sign, until now. Trucks were here all along, but w/o the stop sign they go buy quietly.
I even notice the difference from inside my house, btw. Before, whenever I heard the sound of the UPS truck straining to take off or of its breaks squeaking to stop, I recognized this as an indication that I was probably getting a delivery, but now that the truck has to stop at that stop sign, I hear that sound several times a day when I'm at home. I also hear the cars taking off, not to mention all the other trucks. It's not loud enough to be bothersome to me from inside, but I'm noticing that it does scare the cats, always when they are outside and sometimes even when inside. I'm pretty sure that stop sign is the major reason for Kitty's heightened fear outside now and the reason she is especially fearful in the front yard.
Edited to add: I apologize if this is a repeat of information I may have already posted. I recall type some of it up already, but don't recall if I actually 'sent' it. Sometimes I start posts w/o finishing them. Some of these get lost during reboots, etc. Basically, I was too lazy to go back through the recent posts to see if this info got posted. Sorry about that.
The other day, I was out in the back yard photographing flowers. Kitty was out there with me. She always enjoyed hanging out with me in the garden, except she used to stay mostly just out of reach, rarely allowing me to pet her. On this day, she was right against my ankles, and when I reached down to pet her, she was soft and relaxed as she rubbed against me. I was SO awesome. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be able to pet your cat at will. So nice. I could almost just forget about photos and just enjoy stroking her soft, silky body - but after a few minutes I did get back to the camera.
As I walked around the yard admiring plants and taking pics, Kitty walked with me, stopping off now and then along the way only to catch up with me again a few minutes later. I didn't realize Cocoa was even out there with us until my path led me to the auto hose reel housing upon which he was sunning himself. "Cocoa!" The words escaped my lips before I had a chance to think. I glanced over at Kitty nearby and saw the unmistakably displeased look on her face, but it was too late to take the words of excitement back. "Kitty!" I said, turning my attention to her in hopes of making up for my error. Almost instantly, Kitty came over to me and jumped up on little table beside me and lying down there. This was new. This was a definite change in behavior for Kitty. She had always been jealous, but whereas before she had dealt with it by acting disinterested, now she was asking for the attention she craved.
I stopped and petted Kitty for a few minutes. When I had 1st seen Cocoa out there with us, I had been excited at the opportunity to maybe get a picture of him, too. I had been taking pics of Kitty all during my outdoor photo session with the flowers. Upon seeing Cocoa I had simply been thrilled at the prospect of getting some pics of him, as well. Now I realized it was important that I give Kitty LOTS of attention. I could snap a pic or two of Cocoa but he shouldn't appear to be the center of attention. So that's what I did. I even took a bunch of extra pics of Kitty to keep her in the spotlight, and I actually believe she knew the difference and appreciated the attention. I did get some pics of Cocoa, but I got a lot more pics of Kitty whom I lavished with back to back pics as though she were a super model, stopping only briefly to grap a quick pic of Cocoa.
Cocoa, btw, is not jealous. I've heaped attention on him since he was just a little fella. He is very self confident. He loves to be rubbed and petted, messaged and 'scritched', but sometimes he has to get up and walk away, going over to his spot to sleep as if saying, "I know, I know, You love me. I'm just going to step over here for a few minutes to get some space. I'll be back after my nap." Since Cocoa isn't the least jealous or insecure, I figure I can afford to heap a little extra attention on Kitty for a while in hopes that maybe someday she, too, will know without question that she is loved.
This is the story I had been waiting to tell you. I sort of glossed over the important point of this, that being the extreme difference in how Kitty handled her feelings of jealousy this time, the fact that this time instead of sulking in silence she was able to ask for what she wanted. I was very impressed with this change in her.
Pic 1: Kitty immediately after I saw Cocoa and spoke his name. She is looking over at him.
Pic 2: Kitty after hopping up on the table next to me
Pic 3: Still on table, casting a glance over at 'that rogue'
Pic 4: Cocoa in the Adirondack chair (where Kitty is looking in Pic 3)
Pic 5: Kitty starting to enjoy the attention being focused on her
Has anyone out there seen the sun lately - like in the last 2 to 3 wks? We have had dark, overcast skies and endless drizzle punctuated here and there with outright downpours. It has been like that for weeks, so long that I'm starting to worry that the sun may not be up there anymore, may have exploded and fallen from the sky or burned itself out and gone dark. Help. I need to know that somewhere out there sunlight still exists.
All this endless drizzle plus periodic downpours, the whole world being soaked and icky even during the occasional 10min or so w/o rain. Both of my cats have taken up near permanent residence indoors as a result. If this continues I may have to raise my rates for litter box pickup.
So all this time inside has lead to a couple of interesting changes. Before Cocoa started spending all day and 1/2 the night indoors, Kitty's goto sleep spot had been a chair in the LR. I figured she chose that spot for the sunlight. The LR is on the S & SW sides of the house, and I usually leave the blinds in there partly open to admit some light. It has always been Kitty's favorite room. A while back I put a very snuggly, shaggy rug over that chair to make it more inviting for Kitty - no, it's not an attractive feature, but who among us doesn't do crazy things for her kitties?
Unfortunately, the LR is on the front of the house, and I spent almost all of my time in the back of the house (great room, kitchen, MGR, etc). I could probably rent the front part of the house out and never miss it. None the less, Kitty was always quite content alone in the LR - until HE moved inside. Cocoa's goto spot is in the MBR. He sleeps in there night and day. In the evenings, I often watch TV in the MBR. This means Cocoa is 'with me' for several hours a day, while Kitty is way down the hall on the other side of the house. I could tell she wasn't happy about this arrangement, but sleeping in the LR was, after all, her choice.
A few days ago Kitty began napping in the master bath (instead of the LR), curled up on an padded, tufted, upholstered, vanity stool where she has been a constant fixture now for some 3 days. Her motives seem obvious. She wanted to be closer to me. She didn't like being so far away on the front of the house while Cocoa was in here with me. She came into the MBR a few times looking around. Apparently she didn't find a comfortable sleeping spot in the MBR. She probably didn't want to nap that close to Cocoa anyhow or that close to the noisy TV. She chose the master bath because it is close but separate by a wall, attached yet around the corner, close enough for her to keep an eye on things, separate enough to allow for some privacy.
It's clear Kitty still harbors some jealousy. What I like about New Kitty is that instead of pouting and being angry, now she takes action to improve things and/or get her needs met. Much better way to handle things.
Today something REALLY big happened, something most of you probably take for granted with your cats, but something HUGE for Ms Kitty. Today for the 1st time EVER, she rolled over onto her back, legs apart, and relaxed to allow me to rub her tummy!!! Never before had she bared her vulnerable tummy in this manner, inviting me to rub it gently. Never before had she trusted me this much. In fact, I had no idea what a lovely, light beige color her tummy really is. It was awesome to finally be able to rub her tummy. :-D
After 3yrs of not even being permitted to pet her [head] most of the time, finally being invited to rub her vulnerable tummy was like winning a long coveted prize which always seemed to lie beyond one's reach.
Things are going well with my kitties, considering that it's only been six months since I brought the little one home. I let the little girl out a couple of weeks ago & she freaked out & spent a day & a half under the deck, so I guess she's an indoor kitty for the short-term at least. But she's an absolute joy - playful & affectionate - on & off my DH's & my laps constantly! We still play musical doors, so the oldest & youngest never have access to each other, when we're gone or asleep. But we have an open door policy, when we're home & awake, & it's nice to see the eldest venturing into the house more & more, and the youngest starting to become a bit more comfortable with him around. I took the attached pictures, last weekend, as proof that they can co-exist (for when we need a reminder) & that there's hope for a permanent open door policy in the future.
Kitty sure has come 'full-circle' and I am so happy for you two!!! There is a good chance that you will be able to call her to the bedroom or carry her in there to a comfortable spot and settle her in for the night. Gosh, this is so great to see! This shows that with the right communication: even the most resistant individual can change.
And Liz, it looks like your two are building tolerance for each other and that is good news!
Kitty does come when called, but I'm not sure she fully understands what, "Kitty" means. She actually appears to think it means, "Come quick. I have a treat for you." She comes when she hears her name, but she arrives expecting food. And lately it seems as though she is always, always hungry - but only for special things, not for the high quality, dry, cat food which is available to her at all times.
I remain astonished at the effect that slow blink (cat communication) had on her, producing instant results where no amount of soft words and kindness did over the course of years. It may not be the answer to every cat problem, but I think I will try it in addition to love and kindness for all future troubled cats.
Thanks for the pics. It's helpful to see pics, especially for long term DG friends. Your cats do seem to be getting along well in the photo. It's especially impressive that they have chosen to come together in the one room like that. Lying around in such close proximity is just icing on the cake, so to speak. Kitty and Cocoa choose to do that only very rarely. Every now and then I'm surprised to find the two of them napping in the sun on the same chaise, but that does not happen with any frequency.
What are the names (or IDs, such as "new girl") of the cats in the picture? I count 3 total. That's not all of your crew though, is it?
Glad to hear that all is still going well with them.
I've seen Terese's bunch: Buddy, the dog, and Charlie & Lucky, the cats. Then again, I haven't seen them lately. Charlie & Lucky are two of the most attractive cats I've seen. I love the black & white 'party' color. (That's what it's called for Cocker Spaniels.)
I've seen Debbie's dogs, including the giant lap dog. Do you have any cats, Debbie?
I've seen Sheri's dogs & cats, except not the newest dog, the maltipoo (sp?). Got any pics of the new dog, Sheri?
Remember a while back when I asked if it was bad to let Cocoa eat the dog food? You told me it wasn't good for him. You were right, of course. Recently, I stumbled quite by accident upon the answer as to why. Turns out it can be worse than I thought. Not just a waste of food/money.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, their system is not designed to produce large quantities of insulin. Food that is high in carbs, which includes even some cheaper types of grain-prominent cat food, put a heavy workload on a cat's pancreas to produce the necessary insulin. If given this type of food over a period of time, a cat is in danger of developing diabetes. Dog food also has too high a carb load for cats.
I thought that was interesting and wanted to share it, especially since you were adamant that Cocoa shouldn't eat dog food. You were right. I certainly don't want to end up giving him daily insulin shots. Since we discussed this, I've been doing my best to keep him out of the dog food, but it's not easy. There is one particular brand of dog food that Cocoa likes. When we have that brand, I have to avoid feeding Widget when Cocoa is in the house. Even if Cocoa is napping, he snaps to attention ASA I put a little food in Widget's dish. At 14.5 lbs Cocoa is 3x Widget's size. He will take Widget's dish away even as Widget is standing there eating. (I'm guessing this is not a problem most people experience, since cats don't normally push dogs around like this.)
I have followed this thread from the very beginning. I am enjoying it very much. My Torrie who after 11 years when she had a basal cell tumor removed has allowed me to touch her at last with my bare hand since July 2012. Can't make up all of the lost time in years, but I was touching her fur by way of a hair brush before. The joy of it all.
I'm so glad to hear that you are finally able to touch and pet your cat Torrie! You certainly have waited patiently for a very long time. I know how wonderful it is to finally be able to touch/pet Kitty after 3yrs. I can only imagine how much more incredible it must be after 11. So happy for you - and also glad to hear that you are enjoying this thread. Thanks for letting me know. BTW, do you have a pic of Torrie?
Cheryl... Debbie has tons of cats. Darla and Marla are her daughters kiddens -- my guess is they are 6+ months old and just darling.
then there is Daisy, frankie, Dexter, Alx and I'm sure i've missed one... I think there is one more female. And of course IzzyBelle.
Since I'm on my extended vacation... I do not have any new pics of the fur kids... we will be leaving FLA next Saturday, the 9th of march to head home and back to reality. BUT -- have to say, we are ready mentally to buy a house down here... just not financially... plus our kids still live at home.
Cheryl, I just have two cats, Benedict (Benny) and Scrambles (Scrammy). They are brothers, about 4 or 5 years old now. My son rescued them when they (and their 2 siblings) were abandoned by their mother. When I decided to end my marriage I took the cats with me. They have kept me sane, well most of the time.
Scrammy always has to have a drink of the milk when I have cereal. I decided to give him a bit of milk the other day so got out a martini glass for the milk. Benny had to have some too.
Cheryl, you want names, you got 'em. The one on the left is Marni - the rescue we brought home in the fall of 2011. She's not really so dark, attaching another pic, so you can admire her beauty! ;-) She was supposed to be 4years old & love other cats. Vet said she was more like 8 years old, HATED the other cats, and has CRF. She's very tempermental, but a real love & quite easy-going, now that she's been here for about 18 months. The siamese mix on the floor is our old man, Kitzen, a rescue we adopted when he was 10 weeks old - that was more than 13 years ago. He's always been an easygoing guy, prefers being outside much of the time & is a hunter - he brings all sorts of critters in the cat door in the middle of the night! He's always had a companion cat, but Marni chased him all over - screaming like a banshee - so he's leary of other cats now. After Marni had been here a year, we were finally able to leave them alone together & now, they're fine. The "kitty" on the right is our newest cat. I never intended to have 3 cats, but when I had her TNR'd at work, last April, it turned out that she had a broken leg & was very frail (only 4lb.4oz.), so as soon as I stopped fostering my SIL's 15 yr. old cat, I brought her home (in August). Thought she'd be a great companion for Kitzen. She was semi-feral & escaped the day after I brought her home, then lived in the backyard for about 10 days. Fortunately, we had a strong bond, so she stay near me. Then Kitzen tried to chase her off the property (repeatedly), so once I brought her back in, she was (& is) afraid of Kitzen. She's a total love & lap cat. She & Marni get along well, now... As you can see, she's no long a frail little girl! The last picture (on the right) is the semi-feral, who I've cared for, on the property where I work, for the past few years. She's too feral to ever bring home, but is happy, where she is...
Torrie, you have been so patient & I'm thrilled for you that it's paid off!
Catbird, my kitty with CRF insists on drinking from a glass, so she has her own (otherwise, she'll just drink from mine.).
Cheryl, there is a map in town...directly to my place...sort of like your raccoon buffet but with kitties. Anything homeless or ill can read it.
Two have showed up at Midnight exactly, and 4 months apart...May 14 & Sept. 14.
Oldest is Franklin Lucifer was our first rescue, they tried burying him alive. He is now 13 and a love bug.
Then Dexter Ambrosias is my tuxedo. Have had him since 10 days of age! He is now 12
Daisy May is a blue merle and one of my "midnight" kitties. She is 7 years.
Huckleberry Finn (of famous Huck & Souky love letters) is the other Midnight baby...he is 7 also, orange tabby.
Lexi Anastasia is my daughters first cat, adopted from shelter. She is now 9 years, long hair black kitty...total Diva.
Shannon (the daughter) also has Marla Mittens and Darla Dimples...who are 9 months but about the size of 4 or 5 month old babies.
And then there is Axl Rose. He and his sisters were abandoned at the golf course as tiny bundles. I had them since 3 weeks. Rehomed the
girls and just have Axl...who is 2 years...Tabby boy.
And yes all the animals have middle names. Isabelle Grace aka Izzy is the only dog.
I can't begin to tell you how very much I enjoyed viewing your pics and reading about your kitties. It was a rare treat for me, this brief glimpse into your worlds. I believe that was Friday morning. Regrettably I've been quite busy just recently and did not have time to respond at that time - or now. Please know that I truly did enjoy your submissions and that I will be back very soon to discuss. :-)
My cat Izzy just turned two and I think she has gained weight. Or it could be her winter coat. Your cat weights more than either one of my schnauzers. They were one in September 2012. I will try to get a photo with Izzy, the cat and Emma, the female schnauzer. They are close to the same size height wise and length.
Thank you for posting pics with names and descriptions. I really meant it when I said what a joy it was that one day to view everyone's pics. It helps so much to be able to put faces to the names for the little bits you guys share now and then about your own pets. Marni is beautiful. The middle pic does indeed show her beauty much more fully. She looks so regal and also comfortable and happy stretched out on the rug in her home there. Kitzen is also lovely. I had a Siamese years ago who looked just like him. She was sweet but also a bit of a trouble make and 'heck-raiser', something I attributed to the breed. She knew she was much, much faster than me and delighted in breaking the rules in plain sight and then running away before I could get up, only to return and do it again as soon as I sat down again. She was a bad, bad girl.
The new girl is lovely, too. I'm partial to those multi-color coats. Does she not have a name yet? I remember very well how you waited impatiently for the chance to bring her home, and how stressful it was when she got away and you feared you might never get her inside again. I remember the joy and relief when you caught her again and how she seemed happy and content to be back inside after her frightful experience outdoors.
The all look very content. It's abundantly clear that you have changed all of their lives in a wonderful way.
Today the oddest thing happened. Kitty & Cocoa actually seemed to be hanging out together and getting along as apposed to just trying to get along on separate sides of the lawn/house as is usually the case - when they aren't openly arguing and fighting, that is. This odd behavior continued throughout the day. I was tempted to think I should start carrying a sign saying, "The end is near" or something of the sort. It was just so unthinkable.
Now please understand that I have almost certainly misinterpreted something here, but they were sitting together in the backyard this morning when I called them in for breakfast. They came in the door 2 abreast (and no snarling). After eating his food, Cocoa headed down the hall instead of climbing into his favorite chair for a nap as he usually does these days. I figured he had decided to go back outside, so I followed behind him. Only he didn't go to the front door at all. He took a last minute turn and walked 1/2 way up the stairs to sit beside Kitty. I looked over at Kitty and she looked fine with this. No hissing. Not even that familiar ticked-off look. It was as though the entire world had suddenly gone mad.
I went back to my work, expecting to hear Cocoa calling me at the top of his lungs any minute, wanting to go out, but he never did. He spent a considerable time up there on the stairs reclining beside Kitty before finally returning to the MBR to nap in his favorite chair. That afternoon when I let Widget out the patio door, they went out together and stood on the patio together for a bit. Kitty even put her face to Cocoa's, sniffing him. Still no hissing. No arguing. Not even a scornful look. And so it went for the remainder of the day.
Now trust me when I say that I do expect them to resume normal, combative behavior any second. In fact, I fully think that I must surely have somehow misinterpreted events altogether, perhaps just seeing what I wanted to see. Still, this was so incredibly rare and unexpected that I just had to share the moment before it is gone. :-)
Thanks for posting pics of your 2 lovely felines. I'm a little confused about who is who, since they are both drinking from martini glasses. Is the black one Benny? He reminds me of my Cocoa, so right away I love him. He looks like he's celebrating New Years. I love the other one's coloring and how you captured the pic of his tongue out, licking the glass. Great pics. Who's who? (Hope I didn't miss that.)
I really have to be getting off to dream land now. To everyone else who posted pics, I haven't forgotten you. I loved all of your pics, too. Just have to do this a little at a time. I will be back soon - but, hopefully, not tonight.
Almost forgot to mention. **********OT Public Service Announcement - Because I Don't Want You to Get Sick******
BumbleBee has announced a recall on canned tuna, specific cans only. If you have any cans of BumbleBee tuna on hand, albacore or regular, it's very important that you check the list of effected codes to determine if it is safe to use. You can find the codes on the FoxNews site and on the BumbleBee site, plus I'm sure it is available elsewhere on the net, too. Google it. If you need it and have trouble finding it, PLMK, and I'll get it for you.
Please don't eat tuna from effected cans or give it to pets. There was a problem with the cans such that some of the lids did not seal properly, leaving the tuna at risk of spoiling and/or harboring dangerous pathogens. Per the news, no one has gotten sick yet from this. It's a voluntary recall at this time. Just wanted to be sure everyone got the word.
I have some tuna on hand myself, and I specifically purchased Bumble Bee after reading that it's the only tuna still packaged in the US. So much for that. I haven't had time yet to check my codes.
Regrettably, my poor kitties have almost no food. They are down to the dregs at the bottom of the bowl. I'll have to pick some up when I'm out tomorrow. I'm a bit bewildered - and annoyed at how this came to be. I order there food from Amazon as I often do. I ordered it well ahead of time.
I have a Prime account (maintained even through the darkest days of the layoff because it's an annual fee which managed to fall outside that window) which gives me 2-day shipping for 'free' (except, of course, for that annual fee) and overnight shipping for $3.99 even on large, heavy items like the giant, battery powered, garden buggy I ordered several years ago.
I've been a Prime customer for quite a few years now. In years back I often ordered 'tons' of books, professional and hobby, plus a variety of other things for around the house. Every order always, always arrived as specified, overnight or 2-days. On the rare occasion that something could not be shipped right away to arrive on time, that was always indicated and highlighted before I placed the order. The service has been so great that over the years I guess I've grown to trust them quite a bit. They never fail, until...
My 2-day shipment of cat food was due to arrive last Friday, but never showed up, and the tracking info was never updated. Due to a banner on the FedEx site about weather related delays, I kept waiting patiently, thinking this must be the reason. It did seem odd though, since a few years back when a big storm had people stuck for days in airports all over the country, my 2-day Amazon package STILL arrived on time. I should have picked something up locally to tide us over, but I've been busy, and every day I just knew the package would arrive - but it didn't. Finally, I emailed Amazon. Interestingly, I had to google for Amazon customer service info, as I was unable to find it anywhere on the site. Maybe my oversight with all the other info in the way, but it did not seem like they wanted the contact info to be easily found.
They responded to my email in just a few hours. The email said they had refunded my money - and nothing else. No explanation. Not even a simple, "We're sorry", just here's your money, leaving me to wonder when did the service get dropped from customer service?
I'll didn't actually want a refund. I wanted my order. Now I guess I'll never have the same unwavering confidence in them that I had before, and that begs the question whether to even bother keeping the Prime thing anymore. As for the cat food, I will pick some up tomorrow. I felt especially bad tonight when Kitty actually tried to lick the remnants of spaghetti sauce (w/o meat, just with the juices from having meatballs cooked in it) off my dinner plate (put to one side a few minutes earlier). Tomato sauce doesn't seem like something a cat would want. Again, it didn't have meat in it. That made me think she was really hungry. In my defense though, she did still have probably 1.5c TOTW cat food in her dish, so she could not have been starved. She just didn't get her Fancy Feast today. After the tomato sauce incident, I felt so bad that I ended up nuking about a 1/4 c of chicken breast fillet (human version) for her. Hmm, Kitty is pretty savvy, she probably 'saw me coming' and 'got over' on that one, lapping up those few bits of sauce just to look really hungry and pathetic for effect. Oh, well, so much for believing in companies and services.
Cheryl, glad you liked the pictures of my kitties. It was just luck that I got the picture with the tongue out. The black kitty is Scrambles, he does have a small white spot on his chest and a little white underneath. Benny is the gray striped one with the white feet. Brothers from the same litter. I love them so much, they keep me sane (most of the time).
I posted pictures of my crew on the thread "Urethral Blockage in a Male Cat" on the Pets forum. It is Post #9439976. My boy Kashi had to have surgery a short time ago. He is doing well but has a lot of weight to gain back and is being very stubborn about switching over to canned food. He is a very strange cat. Very serious. He is tall with very long legs and he strolls around like a model on the runway.
In our household of 6 cats we have a complete kingdom with Kashi, the king, Hope the queen, Trouble & Missy are the princesses, PIA is the cinderella pariah sister, and Ditto is the court jester who keeps us laughing.
The first picture is Hope (champagne Burmese), Ditto ( Longhair Japanese Bobtail), and Trouble ( Mi-ke - Japanese for Calico) longhair Jap. Bobtail.
The second picture is Trouble & Ditto on top of the kitchen cupboards.
The third picture is Kashi, Shorthair Japanese Bobtail
I raised & showed Silver Persians back in the 60's and when my last 2 silver boys had to cross the Bridge I went looking for a breed with less hair to groom. I have a rescued formerly feral cat named PIA (Pain In A--). She is tortoiseshell, shorthaired. She is 11 years old and is the pariah. Everyone picks on her. But after the boys went I needed more than just one cat so---- My first one was Hope who is a retired Grand Champion Burmese, Her nickname is Tank and she lives up to it. She is small, compact and ALL muscle. She runs with her tail straight up and looks like a mongoose. She is half the size of the others but keeps them all in line. no one messes with Hope! Then came Missy, a Sable Burmese. Tiny, sleek, extremely active, and devoted to Pete. She rides around the house on the headrest of his electric wheelchair. The 2 Burmese were great but I wanted something to keep up with Missy so after much research and contacting many breeders I got Kashi from a lovely woman and VERY responsible breeder in Canada. Then came Ditto (I wanted a longhair. Nice & fluffy but not the grooming of a Persian) and the Pete wanted "color" so along came Trouble. That's my crew.
Over the years we all acquire stories of our pets. Each one has it's own story. That's why we love them.
Cheryl --- It was so heart warming to read Miss Kitty and Cocoa are getting along, even if it is only occasionally. the nose poke much have been cut to witness... and I wonder if Kitty knows you are watching, if she'd do it or not. She does have to keep up her reputation...
Well -- we have about 4 more hrs on the road and our 8 week winter vacation will be over... I can not wait to hug my boys Buddy and Charlie, and Lucky too. WIll have to see if the human boys are home, they just might get a hug too. I may have to give Sir Charles a can of food to break the ice... i'm sure he will be mad that we left for so long.
to the others... I have enjoyed seeing pics of everyone's kitties... and The Professor too. ;-)
Just a quick note before I get back to work in the kitchen. I'm making both my meals for the next few days and a batch of dog biscuit batter, the latter to be baked later tonight when the heat generated by the oven will aid in heating the house (it's pushing 70 right now, so any added heat would have a negative effect at this time, necessitating the use of fans and possibly even the A/C.) Many of you may recall that I've been making Widget's treats for some time now. Recently, however, I've managed to crack the code to soften chicken and some pork bones and grind them to a fine slurry for inclusion in my pet treats. This new finding has enabled me to use bones that would otherwise be tossed out and make treats from them that even Kitty and Cocoa enjoy and which are safe and healthy for them all.
As I had for some time been eager to find a way to use chicken bones in particular, I have for some 6months or so now been saving all chicken bones in the freezer, including carcasses from baked and broiled chickens, both those cooked at home and those obtained from the deli, and even bones collected after eating fried chicken as well as those left over from other chicken meals. Pretty much every chicken bone that I've come across since I stopped putting them out for the raccoons following Heidi's demise has gone into a special bag in the freezer marked with a giant red 'X' to insure I can easily distinguish it from other foods in the freezer.
This new method allowed me to process those chicken bones (and some smaller bones from pork chops and the like) in such a manner as to produce a very dense slurry containing all of the remaining meat, cartilage, and bone, plus the naturally derived gelatin. In the fridge this congeals to a very dense 'jello' or gummy bear like substance which I can then cut into small cubes to make treats for the cats, treats which contain only pure, 100% meat and bone from human-grade sources. Unfortunately, in this form it requires refrigeration and will only keep for a few days. However, mixed with other ingredients it can be baked into hard, dry dog biscuits which get 4-paws up from Widget and which have a very good shelf-life.
My current process involves making up a batch of this stuff, cutting a small amount into treats for the cats over the following days and freezing the remainder in 'bricks' to be added to dog biscuit batter at a later time as needed. The hardest part is limiting Widget to only 2 a day. Widget like my prior dog biscuits ok, but he really loves these.
Hmm. I forgot that this dog biscuit thing is still very much a learning experience as I continue to attempt improvements some of which alter the chemistry of the recipe. I whip up the original recipe and get a batch of them in the oven in about 10min now, but some of my alterations take a few rounds of trial and error to get right. Such is the case with the new chicken bone slurry. This batch didn't work out so well. Bummer. When they cool, I'll have to see what I can do to salvage them.
The 1st batch I did with the bone slurry came out great. Widget loved them. Unable to leave well enough alone, this time I tried to increase the ratio of meat/bone to filler substantially. I forgot about the properties of the gelatin in the slurry, in particular how the gelatin which appears like a solid when cold converts to a liquid when heated. Oopsie. The large quantity of liquified gelatin spelled disaster for the dough which needs to be very dry and stiff to achieve the desired finished texture. The dough appeared dry before it went into the oven, but converted to a liquified mess after a few minutes in the hot oven. Major oops. Like I said, a learning experience. Disappointing today - for me and for Widget who was eagerly awaiting his opportunity to sample the finished product - but I'll get it figured out with a bit of practice.
This is my last update on tonight's batch of dog biscuits. Now that they have cooled substantially I find that they are not the huge disaster I previously thought. They will need more time in the oven to dry out properly but are otherwise fine. This dog biscuit recipe seems to have a huge tolerance for variations in ingredients, both in type and quantity. Even with all that extra moisture, after a few hours sitting in the hot (but off) oven the texture is very much the same as always, albeit still too moist and in need of additional drying time. Widget went nuts over the sample I just gave him, so with decent texture and high dog-approval I guess they are a success after all.
I've been meaning to tell you guys this next bit for months. Can't recall if I ever actually did, but don't think so. Bare with me here, as I sometimes suffer from the malady known as 'senior moment'. :-)
You may recall a day many months ago when I posted a furious note about a neighbor who had brought her dog into the middle of my front yard (not the edge, the middle) to poop. By sheer coincidence I had stepped out of my house at the exact moment when the dog was in position but had not yet soiled the turf. What happened after that was an exchange about which I was really rather embarrassed. I had snapped and said something I dared not repeat.
While I'm still not at all thrilled with my behavior that day, I do have an interesting update to post. The lady no longer stops to speak with me, but I can deal with that. I'm not that fond of frenemies anyhow, and I think someone who chats you up to your face and then walks into the center of your yard to let her large dog relieve itself is hardly a friend. Anyhow, one day a month or so back I just happened to be walking past a window at the perfect moment to see her walking by with her dog, leash in one hand and a little doggy-do bag (full) in her other hand. She walked past my house w/o stopping, btw.
Again, I'm not proud of my behavior, but considering that in 11yrs I've never before seen her carrying one of those bags (even though I've seen her walk that dog many times), well, I'm thinking maybe I didn't do such a bad thing after all. Maybe I could have achieved the same results in a nicer way, but who knows. Some people may need a virtual wallop now and then to really get the message. Hard to argue with results.
I already knew better than to talk that way to people. It's not something I normally do, but I 'lost it' that day. Thinking maybe what I learned is to take an extra shot of progesterone on my 'hot' days to counter the effects of the extra estrogen.
The other thing I learned is that it actually had a positive outcome in that the lady is now taking responsibility for her dog's waste for the 1st time since I moved here 12yrs ago. Let's be honest. There is no way she didn't know that what she was doing was wrong. Aside from the HOA rules regarding such behavior and all of the notices the HOA sends out reminding people about such behavior, we all know that our neighbors don't want us to bring our dogs to their yards to defecate. After all, if she thought having a steaming pile of...on the front lawn (reminds to all that I live in the city) was such a good thing, why didn't she just walk the dog on her own lawn.
Oh, well, glad that situation is over, at least until someone else decides to behave badly. The other thing I learned here is that, while I'm still convinced that most people are good, some small subset of people have to be put on notice that you simple won't accept their disrespect.
...which brings me to my other recent rant, the Amazon thing. Since I posted my dissatisfaction here, it only seems right that I should also post this part of the story.
The message they sent in response to my query about the missing cat food (and other items), you know, the message that contained neither explanation nor apology, requested that I call them to discuss payment/refund method - requested I call a long distance number even, as though Amazon doesn't have an 800 number somewhere. With all that has been going on, I forgot to call until yesterday at which point I let them know politely but firmly how I feel about their handling of the situation, both the lack of apology (just common courtesy) and their audacity in expecting me to pay for the call given the fault was clearly on their side. I did also tell them how happy I had been with their exacting service prior to this unfortunate event; how that made me all the more disappointed in their handling of this situation; and that I might think twice in the future before trusting them with my orders.
Bottom line they are overnighting the stuff, including cat food, for Saturday delivery to arrive tomorrow at no cost. Now if it doesn't arrive tomorrow as promised, I'm going to be really PO'd. Otherwise, I guess I'll give them one more chance. One mistake in 12 or so years isn't too bad - although their is still no excuse for their nonchalant handling of the situation after the fact. (I did also make a formal complaint regarding their initial handling of the situation in hopes that they might consider taking action to avoid such behavior in the future.)
and when you look at the dog poop thing... everywhere, I mean, everywhere -- even dog parks, you are supposed to pick up after your pets, and huge no-no to 'go' on someone else's front lawn, much less leave it there.
Finally got my dog biscuit process pretty much perfected. I managed to produce 4 cups of ground chicken, cartilage, & bone with very little water content. Made a 1.5 gallon container full of dog biscuits with a 4:1 ratio of meat/bone to cornmeal. Note that is a WAY higher concentration than even the best quality dog biscuits I've seen in stores. Widget wolfed a couple down and begged for more. I just calculated the cost of ingredients and found that all 1.5 gallons of these super healthy, high protein, and Widget-approved treats cost me just 30 cents - total, for all of them! (Rem: the chicken bones, meat, cartilage, etc were all 'trash' saved from my meals, the meat being only the small bits of meat left clinging to the bones here and there.) The 30 cent doesn't include the nominal cost of electricity to process and bake them as I have no way to calculate that, but I bake them at night like this so that the heat from the oven helps to heat the house, thus reducing the need for the furnace to run.
This was my last batch from the chicken bones I had previously stored in the freezer. Realizing there will be very few chilly nights left before summer (nights when I can take advantage of the ovens heat rather than have to burn additional energy to keep the house cool as will soon be the case), I decided to make up all of the dog biscuits now. They store well in the fridge and/or freezer for many months (and at room temp for several weeks or so).
I'm very pleased with this batch - and I can see that Widget is, too, as he still has one eye on the kitchen hoping to get more.
That thought has occurred to me a time or two, Sheri, mostly due to your words. Then I remember that I'm not a veterinarian or other pet/dog professional and thus don't really know or have a basis for knowing (i.e. degree) what is good for dogs. Then again, I do know that my treats are made with human grade food, whereas the vast majority of dog treats are not. I do know that chicken meat, cartilage, and bone all contain a wealth of nutrients that are good for dogs and that once softened and ground fine the bones no longer pose any risk (just benefits from the wealth of nutrients). The treats I made last night contain only 3 simple ingredients, all human food grade: chicken, egg, and corn (with a 4:1 ratio of chicken to corn). I sometimes replace the corn with oats, rice, legumes, etc.
I do also know that ever since I gave Widget one of those treats this morning, he has been driving me crazy for another and he never does that. All day he has been sitting in front of me staring at me with that goofy look, the look I recognize as "can I have another, please, please, please?" I keep telling him 'no' and to cut it out, but he keeps coming back to sit and stare at me. (smile)
Also, I figure there must be gazillions of rules and laws and hoops to jump through to sell them. And to make them in larger quantity I would have to buy chicken and factor in that cost, although I doubt that would add too much to the cost. I use the 'free', left over bones for Widget's treats, but there are, of course, only so many of those to be had - would be nice if I had some way to gather all the wasted chicken bones from the neighborhood, the ones no doubt on their way to add to the tonnage of the landfill.
One day when looking around online for recipes and for info on the benefits (and any downsides, although I found none) of softened, ground chicken bones, I stumbled upon a website where someone is selling homemade dog biscuits online. I thought about maybe trying that, but note that she was able to say that she was a veterinary assistant for x years. That gave her some credibility that I don't have. On the other hand I'm an engineer, educated and well read. I have access to all the information I should need to figure this out. Most of all, I'm a lifelong animal lover, someone who cares deeply that all creatures be cared for properly, and that is something you can't necessarily say about the corporations that make most of the pet food and treats. I also have access to and input from animal professionals of many kinds, rehabbers, veterinarians, etc. And I can say that my own dog Widget eats (and loves) these treats. He's like my QC (quality control) expert. Heck the cats (and we all know how finicky they can be) have even begged for and eaten some of the treats at various stages from wet dough to 'done'.
I don't know. Am I just finding excuses not to do something...?
This is a photo of what I make for our two schnauzer puppies each week. I add a small amount of dry dog food and some brown rice when I serve them. I warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. I use a Cuisinart to chop it. I used to chop it by hand but a friend reminded me I had a Cuisinart.
I told my DH about your biscuits and the dog bones. He thought that was a great idea. So I have a chicken in the fridge right now so I will save and freeze the carcass when we are done with it. I might just add it to their dinners because they do not get many treats.
What do you all think of that.
Today their vegetables are green beans, salad peppers, sugar peas, carrots and brussel sprouts. All fresh except the green beans. They are frozen.
Last photo is Izzy the cat and Emma the schnauzer. You can see they are close to the same size.
That looks delicious - even to me. About that chicken carcass, you do know that you shouldn't give cooked chicken bones to pets, right? The bones break (or crack when gnawed) to form razor sharp points and edges which can spell disaster in a dog's digestive system, slicing, cutting, ripping. In addition, dogs are inclined to swallow large sections of bone whole - larger than anyone would think possible. Veterinarians tell us that they see many life threatening ER cases of dogs that have eaten cooked chicken bones. Even if it worked many times in the past, I don't recommend giving them cooked chicken bones, as this could be the time it doesn't go well.
Some people do favor giving dogs raw bones. Many people who feed their dogs a raw meat diet also include raw bones. Since I'm not an authority on these matters, I won't comment on this other than to say that raw bones, while still presenting some dangers, do also have numerous benefits and are closer to the dog's (wolf's) natural diet. Basically, I don't know how safe or dangerous this may be. (I know about cooked bones because I spent one night in the pet ER after my 4.5lb dog swallowed a chicken leg bone WHOLE - yes, whole, we saw it stretched across his stomach on the X-ray.) I know bones contain lots of nutrients and are good for dog's teeth, plus I'm sure dogs love to receive them. If you plan to feed them raw bones, I would recommend doing some research online where you will find information from some of the groups that support the feeding of raw meat and bones.
The bones I used for my dog biscuits included both raw & cooked - before processing, that is, since after processing all were cooked to the extreme. My process includes pressure treating the bones for the period of time required to render small bones bendable/flexible and large bones (leg/thigh) soft enough to crush easily between thumb and forefinger. This is important. I grind the softened bones into what is essentially a 'bone smoothie', but even if I didn't grind them, they would pose no harm to the dog's digestive system as they are too soft and flexible to cut, tear, or bind. Grinding them makes them 'fit' better in the dog biscuit dough; however, in some batches I have left some of the softened bones rough chopped to add interest. I may do more of the rough chopped [softened] bones in future batches as I find Widget likes them that way perhaps even more - but, I reiterate, even these rough chopped pieces of bone are so 'soft' that I could easily crush them in my fingers like potato chips. (Potato chips are a pretty good analogy of what the bones are like after pressure treating. Although the bones are not quite as crisp as potato chips, they are roughly as delicate and easily crushed as Lay's potato chips.)
I use chicken bones for this because they are smallest and easiest to soften. (If feeding raw bones to dogs, larger bones such as beef bones they can gnaw on but which are too large for them to bite through or swallow may be preferable to chicken bones; if interested in feeding raw bones I would recommend doing some research online and/or consulting your veterinarian.) Because of the greater weight they must support, beef and pork bones tend to be much larger and harder. These larger bones are much harder to break down. I have had some limited success in softening some of the smaller bones from pork chops and such, but chicken bones remain the easiest to work with.
Bones have lots of good nutrients to offer, but just be careful about how you use them as they can also be hazardous. Best of luck in whatever you choose.
If you sent a sample to my friend Donna at Carolina Poodle Rescue (all types of dogs). You could even advertises doggies!" Donna Ezzell & Dreamweaver farms is the founder/ Director. They have a great site online.
Thanks so much for the information. I had no intentions of feeding them the bones. i was going to grind them but I did not think about the pressure cooking. I think I will just stick with the vegetables. They get vegetables twice a day with 1/4 cup dry food each.
I did cook the prime rib, three bone, today and they each got a new bone. We had prime rib at Christmas and they are still working on those bones. I cut off the majority of the meat but they didn't care.
I was unclear as to exactly what you were planning to do with the chicken carcass. I posted the warning in an abundance of caution, both for you and others who might read this. Not sure what you would use to grind the [unprocessed] chix bones. Even if it worked, I think that would be quite hard on most equipment, especially regular kitchen appliances. Bone is an amazingly hard and almost indestructible substance. Glad to hear the pups enjoyed the beef bones.
After so many years of running these serial threads, I've become very much aware that what I write, even when 'addressed' to an individual, is often read by numerous others, including many who may be lurking (not posting) and others who will find this thread in the future. Thus, when composing posts I think not only of what I want to say to the individual but also how it will be read by others. I often include additional explanations and warnings which may seem like overkill to the individual with whom I'm speaking but which are intended to reach all of the 'invisible' people who will read the post now and in the future, just an abundance of caution in an effort to insure that my words will not be misunderstood or misinterpreted by any who read them.
They told me that you are their favorite person of all my friends. They all agree that you are a 'whisperer', beloved and trusted by many animals who would otherwise never trust a human. Dogwood deKatt wants you to know that his rubs go the extra mile and include him with his entire upper body loving on your head and rubbing his face back and forth in your hair. His are very memorable hugs & rubs!
Of course it could be that they caught wind of those yummy homemade treats and are just kissing up for that, but I don't think so.
Every now and then I manage to convince myself that Cocoa is no longer feral, and then something happens to disabuse me of that notion. He's pretty calm around me, well, most of the time, that is, so it's easy to get the notion that he's tame now. Truth be told, he still flies off the bed sideways if I so much as cough or sneeze, blow my nose or sometimes even just crinkle paper.
One day last week Cocoa was napping comfortably in the MBR. Cocoa was in there, too, and even I was taking a brief power nap to restore my energy between morning and evening shifts. I heard the door bell. On my way out of the room, I pulled the door 'to', something I often do to keep Widget contained so he won't lick guests to death.
The guy at the door was there to sell lawn care. I sent him away quickly, with just one sentence (one pleasant but definitive sentence). Closing the door once more, I turned and went back to the MBR to let Widget out. It wasn't Widget who met me at the door but Cocoa, and he was clearly hysterical, his eyes the size of saucers that almost entirely covered his face. There was no reasoning with him and no calming him down. He went directly to the back door, insisting to be let out, which I did.
To fully grasp the situation, you have to know that my house is 'deep', and the MBR is sequestered on the back of the house well away from the front door. Light from the MBR windows is not even visible from the street (even though there are windows on the side of the house). Between the front door and the MBR is a foyer, dining room, guest bath, and master bath. (You don't have to go through those rooms, of course, but you pass them on your way down the hall.)
With the MBR being so far from the front door and considering that I closed the MBR door on my way out, I would not have expected Cocoa to be so incredibly upset by the presence of a man who barely got out one sentence before being sent away and who never set food inside the house. I could see a 'normal' cat maybe hiding under the bed or something of that sort until the person was gone, but Cocoa was absolutely terrified even after the man was gone. I wish you could had seen Cocoa's face. It spoke of all out, run for your life terror. He had to get outside, get away and put distance between him and the place where the man had BEEN before he could even begin to calm down again.
I never know quite what to call Cocoa. I figure people probably take exception to my use of the term 'feral' for him. He seems so tame around me. He comes when I call. I can hold him, pet him, rub him, and so on. How can that be 'feral'? But then again, Heidi (the raccoon I befriended for many years) was wild (i.e., feral), but she would walk right up to me and even eat from my hand. Before she died, I was even able to pet her finally, yet she was a wild animal. That she had learned to trust me did not change her status as 'wild'. She remained always fearful of all other humans, running for cover any time she heard the neighbors outside. If Heidi could be comfortable with me and yet wild, then so can Cocoa. Right?
A few times I've tried to hold Cocoa close to my chest, petting him and talking to him, while walking toward another person. He goes ballistic. By the time I get within 30 - 40ft of the other person, I can no longer hold onto him no matter how hard I press him against my body and try to restrain him. When I let him go, he flies from my arms and races for the forest where he disappears, not to be seen again for hours (hours after the other person is gone). It's not just that, but everything about his demeanor and body language says that he firmly believes that his very life depends on putting as much space between him and that other human as possible. For these and other reasons, I say he is feral, regardless of his relationship with me. (Curious to hear your thoughts.)
My first thought was he may have been upset about being closed up in the room, confined. Or could have been a combination of confinement and hearing a strangers voice may have pushed that button in his mind. I hope he is back in and behaving in his usual loving ways.
Oh, absolutely, Cocoa is fine now. He was back to 'normal' when he returned home a few hours later that day. I only told that story to illustrate the extent of his extreme and almost irrational fear of humans (other than me, of course). What I was trying to convey is that, although he seems fairly normal when it's just him and me, he really is still feral. Like any other wild animal, he firmly believes his life depends on avoiding humans, and I see that very clearly any time someone else comes anywhere near him.
Cocoa's mother (Kitty) raised him and his brother (who later died due to car accident) with the understanding that their lives depended on avoiding humans at all costs. She kept them stashed (hidden) in the forest edge behind my house. They were never allowed out in daytime but were to stay hidden and quiet in their hiding place by day - even after they were old enough to eat solid food. At night (only) she led them out of their hiding place to look for food. At some point, probably because she could no longer find enough food on her own to feed herself and them, she began to bring them to my door at night, where I would put out food for them.
His mother was not actually feral. She had apparently been raised with/by people but had been homeless and on her own for some time when she had the kittens. By that time, she had become distrustful of humans and seemed to believe it was in the best interest of the kittens to raise them to fear humans. It was only because his mother brought him and his brother to my house at night to eat that I was given the opportunity to try to gain the trust of the kittens. Realizing that my efforts to get through to them were critical to their chances of ever having a 'normal' life with people, I spent a lot of time sitting outside each night trying to establish contact (and trust) with the kittens. (The SPCA later told me that they were already well outside the window of opportunity for being tamed by the time she brought them to my house.)
After their mother cut them loose, the 2 kittens continued to hide out in the forest behind my house. They continued to stay hidden all day, coming out only at night and only then coming to my door for food. It was only after Cooca's brother was killed and he was alone that he finally began to trust me enough start coming out of hiding in the early morning when he would hear/smell me outside. It took a LOT of work on my part to get him over his fear of just walking around outside in daylight. I remember at the time thinking how sad it was that the kittens were so terrified even to leave their hiding place in daylight. I spent as much time as I could working with them to try to get them over their fears. I knew I would only have a limited time to get them accustomed to as many things as possible before the 'kitten' window closed and they would probably not accept new things anymore - but at the same time the process was really, really slow, as the kittens' fear made them very resistant to any of this. So that, basically, is the greatly condensed story of how Cocoa came to be how he is, feral but having some trust in me.
Since I came here a while back to complain about my Amazon order for cat food, that 2-day order that ever got here, I figured it only fair that I should also post here to give them credit for the 'fix'. As you may recall, shortly after I posted my initial rant over not getting the package or the apology, I posted a 2nd time to say that I had finally gotten to talk to an actual human being at Amazon and that she had promised to overnight my package to arrive the following day, a Saturday (at no additional charge). She did this because I told her I didn't want a refund; I wanted my stuff.
Although by that time the package was already several weeks late (based on the original 2-day delivery estimate), it did, in fact, arrive on Saturday morning. The package included a large bag of Natural Balance cat food, the 2 ingredient, duck and pea variety, plus several boxes of food for me. I thought that was it, a done deal. I had paid for the package 2 wks or so earlier when I ordered it, and now they had FINALLY sent it. I did appreciate that when they FINALLY got it together, they 'ate' the cost of overnight deliver and the even higher still cost of Saturday delivery in order to get it to me asap. I did also FINALLY get my apology - just proper, human etiquette.
A week later, the following Friday, the UPS truck pulled up outside and dropped off yet another box from Amazon, even though I hadn't ordered anything else. The box they left looked suspiciously similar to the one I had already received, the one with the cat food and such. My 1st thought was, "Oh, no, please tell me they aren't now going to keep sending it over and over (and charging me)". Upon opening the box, I found that it did, in deed, contain a duplicate copy of the other order, the cat food and my food. Upon double checking the invoices from both boxes, I was elated to also find that the 1st one, the Saturday deliver was actually sent at $0 charge and the 2nd one at the actual price; hence, in compensation for my trouble they had actually sent 2 full copies of the order for the price of one. So that's cool, huh? When she said she would overnight the pkg at no extra charge, I hadn't fully understood that she meant I would actually receive a total of 2 packages. Yay!
In the end I felt they had done a very good job of compensating for their error. I doubt most stores would have been so generous. With only the one boo-boo in a dozen or more years and with them ultimately having done a decent job of handling it (once I finally got to talk to a human, that is), I've decided to forgive and forget - and keep them as my 'goto' place for all manner of shopping. Sorry for this the 3rd in a serious of semi-OT (hey, it is about cat food) posts, but once I did the rant, it only seemed fair to follow up with the kudos.
Forgot to mention the other good news which is that it should be a long time before Kitty & Cocoa run out of food again.
Nice avatar pic. Sorry I didn't respond sooner. I actually typed a big post and then didn't send it. I'm getting bad about that lately. Have to work on improving. I'm so glad they did make it right (and then some). They were my goto shopping place for so many things. I didn't want to be out of sorts with them. All is fine again now. And, yes, free stuff is always great. In this case, the other 'stuff' on the order (besides cat food) was several cases (3pks) of Atkins bars. I just like them for candy bars, not on the diet - so more food for Kitty & Cocoa and more 'candy' for me.
Today I have a ton of stuff to do, lots of important stuff, including a big interview at 1PM. No time to waste. Now today of all days, after eating his breakfast (hours ago) Cocoa has curled up in my lap and refuses to leave. He doesn't normally stay in my lap more than a few minutes lately, usually when trying to score a treat, but for some reason today he wants to live there - and he's in the way. Right now I'm typing with my laptop on one knee and Cocoa on the other, sleeping.
I tried earlier to insinuate it was time for him to go, but that only seemed to cause him to really 'dig in'. I tried to gently push him off my lap, but he refuses to get up. All the way to the edge, he continued sleeping, so I gave up.
He's apparently very sensitive. Last week when I had an interview and didn't want him to start 'hollering' at the top of his lungs in the middle of things, I picked him up and gently put him outside. He refused to come inside again for days. He acted like he thought he had done something wrong and like I was after him. Then when he finally did come back inside, it was a week before he would finally sleep in the chair in the MBR (his favorite), because that's where he was when I put him outside. Apparently, he thought that's why he got booted out.
So now, he won't get up. I love that he's in my lap. Love petting him. If I didn't have so much to do today, I'd be thrilled, but he probably wouldn't be in my lap if I weren't busy. I think he's determined to stay in my lap because I tried to push him out. Oh, well, I have to get stuff done. No room to goof off today. Guess I'll have to get up from my seat. That way he'll have to go. Hopefully, that won't make him think he did anything wrong - and hopefully he won't come back again as soon as I sit back down. Not today. Not when I have so much to do.
You've got that right. The day of my last interview was the 1st day he had decided to stay inside in a couple weeks. He seems to always know when I'm to busy for him, and that's when he gets determined to stay close and get in my way. The little rat. After I typed the above, I got up, and did a few quick things around the house (to make it look 'real'). Once I got up thereby forcing Cocoa to get out of my lap, he marched directly to the patio door and demanded to be let out. I haven't seen him since, so I don't know yet if he is angry or pouting.
As for my interview, I didn't feel it went all that well, to be honest, but then again this was my 2nd interview with the same company, and I was sure the 1st one went poorly, so who knows. They are giving me complex problems to solve on the spot, so the interviews have been anything but easy. After the 1st such interview, a friend/colleague who has a PhD and who was a university professor for a couple decades said that he didn't think he would have been able to solve those problems on the spot during an interview. Thanks for your support. :-)
Hmm. For now, let's just leave it at "I'm looking". I will explain more later - but will try to remember to put it on my OT thread, the one in Back Porch. When I do that, I'll also try to remember to put a link in this thread to let folks know. Oh, and I know you aren't prying. I'm just not eager to discuss it at this time - but I will in time.
...hanging in here...have made a nice knot at the end of the rope and am hanging on...
Once again, I have a super busy day planned. This time I'm even running behind schedule, and what do you think would happen? Cocoa, who went out on his own after breakfast, suddenly decided about 30min ago that he had to come back inside to check on me - and while I was sitting down for 3min to do something, he positioned himself on my lap and again refused to leave. When he gets in this mood, if I try to push him, he 'digs in' resisting all attempts even to push him off my lap (w/o getting rough, of course). So I gave up and sat here petting him for the last 30min despite all that I have to do, and you know what, I think I may have learned something...
As I sat here petting Cocoa who was 'holed-up' on my lap and refusing to leave, I realized that he only does this when I'm unbelievably busy, when I have more stuff to do than time to do it, when what I have on my list cannot possibly be accomplished in the given time. As you might imagine, at such times, I'm also usually a bit tense. I mean, who wouldn't be when trying to do 2x what is possible? And these are the moments Cocoa chooses to slow me down even more by taking up residence in my lap and refusing to leave.
I had assumed he was being annoying, like when he yells at the top of his lungs because he wants something NOW and can't be troubled to wait another 5min - but that was adolescent Cocoa. He really has stopped doing that pretty much now. He'll sometimes meow loudly once, maybe twice and then sit quietly waiting (whereas before he would just keep meowing endlessly - and LOUD). Anyhow, back to the lap thing. While he was occupying my lap a little while ago, it suddenly occurred to me for the very 1st time that he might actually be trying to help me, trying to get me to relax, breath, and realize that pretty much nothing is THAT important. And it actually does work, too. You know what they say about how petting a cat or dog lowers BP, slows pulse, etc? Well, while I sit 'forced' to take a timeout by a cat apparently smarter than I realized (and smarter than me), I pet him, and I do seem to calm down - and then, his job done, he gets up and walks away, relinquishing his control over the lap.
So now he's gone from my lap and sitting on the bench at the foot of the bed. I still have tons to do but am calmer now, realizing it won't all get done, and that's ok. I'll do what I can and the rest will wait. It has no choice. Cocoa's job is done for now.
Edited to fix typo - no guarantee there won't be others though
What a wonderful thought - that Cocoa's on your lap for theraputic reasons... They certainly do know when you're in need. A couple of weeks ago, I had a terrible cramp in my thigh - something I used to get quite frequently, but haven't recently. As I lay writhing & moaning on the floor waiting for my rx to take effect, one of my cats came & first meowed at me, then licked me & stayed with me until I was okay. Obviously in that instance, my cries brought her running, but she was clearly trying to help.
What a sweet story. I hope you are feeling better and the [return of the] leg cramp was an isolated incident. I've noticed, too, that animals know when we are sick or in pain and will often try to comfort us.
Cocoa might just be trying to get attention, but it does seem noteworthy that he only seems to behave that way when I'm especially stressed.
Now I have a little 'game' for all of you. We'll call it 'Identify the Fur'. Here is how it works:
Today I took the Furminator shedding tool to one of my cats. It's that time of year again when I get a handful of hair every time I pet them. The shedding tool removed quite a bit of hair. Below I've attached a photo of the hair removed by the shedding tool. I've also included the tool itself to aid in assessing color, value, etc. This is not a trick. The hair shown was removed from the cat's back and sides, the areas most visible when viewing the cat.
Can anyone tell me which of my 2 cats this hair came from? (Hint: For those who may not remember my 2 cats, Kitty is a brown tabby per the SPCA, and Cocoa is black - well, Cocoa is jet black most of the year but a color somewhere between milk chocolate and dark chocolate during part of the year.)
Unfortunately, I'm sure the cat has plenty more hair to shed. I was happy to have gotten as much hair as I did, but it really isn't as much as it looks like. The hair is sort of fluffed up. I made no attempt to mash it down. It could probably be compressed to a ball about the size of a quarter (guessing). Lot of fur balls in there though, not to mention furniture disasters.
I'm going to wait a bit longer to see if others may want to weigh in on this. In the mean time, I'm curious as to why you chose the black cat as a match to this pile of 2-tone fur, the darkest color of which is somewhere between dirty blonde and pale brown. (The really dark areas in the hair pictured are shadows.) BTW, did you notice the near-white 'stripe' of color running through the pile of hair?
I've attached 2 additional pics. The 1st shows a section of the hair after I flattened it with my hand. The 2nd is a single 'strip' of hair as taken directly from the shedding tool. The latter shows that the strands are actually 2-tone, the bottom half of each being pale brown, while the top half is off-white. From this you can see more clearly the origin of the whitish 'stripe' that runs through the pile of fur above.
I will give my reasons first.
1)since you asked the question, the answer is likely to be not what most would think.
2)I had one black cats who, when her hair was parted and combed in opposite directions might have passed for a skunk
3) I catch a hint of the sable brown which I think only Cocoa has.
...so my guess is Mr Cocoa the camouflage cat!
My Sara who is a dark grey with very faintly visible tabby stripes also has that chalky light grey roots.
Oh, and I think that the thick undercoat that many animals get for winter is denser than their regular coat. Perhaps that explains the color, as many animals seem to have this chalky grey/white root--Possums. raccoon, kitties, guinea pigs (at least the one I used to have).
Thanks for giving me your reasons. Very helpful. Below are my comments relative to each of your points:
1) I'm guessing this one is probably the biggest reason.
2) I don't get this one. Aren't skunks black but with a wide, white stripe down their backs? The hair in the photo came from the back and sides/hips, including lots of hair from the area that [I think] should be black on a skunk.
3) The hints of sable or dark brown that you see in the photo are shadows due to the fact that the pile of hair is fairly large and unevenly stacked, and I took the photo indoors with an incandescent light directly behind me, thus casting shadows on the photo. (Note the darker blue shadows on the picture of the single strip of hair.) The actual hair is light brown and near white with no sable or dark brown.
Sara is very cute, but to me she looks closer in color to my Kitty than to Cocoa. Cocoa is much darker than Sara. Most of the year Cocoa is jet black, the color of black panthers and black lacquer furniture. I didn't really understand your last point. I'm not sure if most animals have that color undercoat. I would have to see more undercoats to hazard a guess on that. But even if that is true, I don't understand how that relates to the hair in the picture being from Cocoa, unless you are saying most have that color regardless of outer color, which would make it equally likely that the hair in the picture comes from Kitty (I'm guessing that's where #1 above comes in).
But the color is nothing like that of his outer coat. I've attached 2 photos of Cocoa below, the first showing him in black, the 2nd with some chocolate. I added another pic of the hair below for contrast. Again, the darkest areas in the hair pictured are shadows, areas where the light from the camera and/or the bulb behind me was blocked by higher sections of hair in front of it. The pale brown and near white are the true colors of the hair. (Forgot to mention earlier that I actually included the shedding tool in the picture for comparison to black - Cocoa's color.)
I took photos of the hair to post, because I find Cocoa's coat color something of a mystery. Such mysteries intrigue my inner scientist/physicist. I still don't entirely understand it, which further intrigues me. You are correct that the hair pictured comes from his under coat and only his undercoat (and actually for the 1st time lets me see that the shedding tool actually works, since it really does remove the undercoat w/o taking any of the outer coat). I now have 2 different colors of hair for Cocoa's coat, the 'black' hairs of his outer coat and the pale brown and white hairs of his inner coat. Neither of these explain why he turns that sable to warm chocolate brown color during certain periods of time. It's definitely not due to the undercoat showing through, since the undercoat hairs are pale brown at the root and almost white at the ends - like a dye job with roots growing in. If the undercoat were showing through, it should give him a whitish or frosty greyish color. Bottom line, for me Cocoa's coat color remains a most intriguing mystery.
When I get the chance to 'shed' her, I'll post pics of Kitty's undercoat. From my memory of doing so previously and from the dark grey/black hairs she leaves in her wake in her favorite napping spots, I'm thinking her undercoat is a shade or two darker than her outer color.
Sharon -- Thank you for answering the question. Initially, I had wanted to hold off on giving my answer. I was hoping to get more responses, maybe get a conversation going on the subject, but when Sheri gave the same answer as yours and indicated that one of her reasons was the fact that I asked (which meant it was probably not the more obvious answer), I caved and decided the gig was up.
Sheri -- If you look at the thumbnail pics of Sara and the hair pic I posted (just above her pic), you can see that her color is actually fairly close to that of Cocoa's undercoat. You can also see from the thumbs that Cocoa is much, much darker than either Sara or his undercoat hair.
I find this all very, very strange. I know, I know, it's just my geeky inner scientist/engineer talking to me. It gets all excited about how things work and why, that sort of thing. I find it almost unbelievable that Cocoa has such a pale undercoat and yet is such a dark, shiny, jet black on the outside (most of the year). I would think the 1/2in or so of white hair would show through his outer coat. Hmm, now that I think about it, I need to double check my assertion that the white part of his undercoat is on the end or tip of the hairs. I might have that backwards, may have gotten it reversed in the shedding tool. Need to check to be sure it not the opposite. It would make more sense if the white 1/2 of the hair is next to his skin and the light brown part at the end. I'll check this and report back.
Forgot to ask earlier. Don't you have a black cat similar to Cocoa? Does she/he have a 'pale brown\white\beigeish' undercoat like Cocoa's? If I turn Cocoa's fur backward I can see the beige/white hair underneath his black coat. I was wondering if you see the same thing with your black cat.
Didn't mean to infer that Sara was as dark as Cocoa. I did have a black cat years ago however, who just like Sara has lighter "roots", thus when the hair is parted down the spine and combed to each side (think Maltese like) one would see a dark cat with about a 1 inch light grey stripe all along the part.
I used to excel at multiple choice questions, too.
The color you are describing is part of the shaded catagory of cat colors. It is called Smoke and comes in black smoke red smoke blue smoke etc. It also includes Shaded Silver and chinchilla. Check out http://www.cfa.org/breeders/catcolorsgenetics
Sorry I've been AWOL (again). Got busy and forgot to return. Oops.
slvrwilo: That's very interesting about the smoke colored coats. Just wondering though if that really pertains to Cocoa. It sounds like that describes cats whose outer coat or top coat is colored in that manner as opposed to Cocoa whose undercoat is colored that way but whose outer coat is a solid black (or brown depending on time of year, still trying to figure that one out). Hairs taken from Cocoa's top coat are a solid dark color (either black or brown) from end to end, no smoke coloring at all. Only his softer undercoat has the lighter, two-tone coloration. Per your understanding of the color, would you still consider him a smoke colored cat?
I ask this because, as you may have noticed, the issue interests me. I've been trying to make sense of this strange coat color for some time now, and am curious as to your take on this.
Incidentally, shortly after my last post here, Cocoa 'became' chocolate brown again. He had been black for some time, you might recall. Now that he is brown again, he is a warm, medium chocolate color even at night and in very low light. The color change does not seem to be a 'trick' of bright light as some had suggested. Very strange. As usual, now that he is brown again, he has the Siamese type coloring with black points. In addition, and, yes, I know this is very strange, he also has his mother's tabby stripes faintly visible across his coat in a slightly darker brown. The stripes are only visible up close, and he only seems to have a few not an entire coat full of them like an actual tabby. I showed pictures of this before back near the beginning of the Cocoa & Kitty saga (in case anyone is interested in seeing this bizarre coloration). I guess his coat belies his ancestry as the Heinz 57 of cats (a little black, a little brown, a little Siamese, a little tabby...).
I realize, btw, that Siamese coloring is supposed to be an all or nothing thing. Yet when he is brown, there is no denying that Cocoa's nose, ears, feet and tail are as black as night while the rest of him is a warm, medium brown (except for the tabby stripes, that is). I guess it's possible that he doesn't even have Siamese ancestry at all and that the apparent 'points' may be due to something else entirely, but they sure look the same.
How interesting that Charlie's undercoat is black even in the white areas.
Yes, I realize that you are out and about, a busy woman these days. It's good to hear from you now and then; otherwise, I'll just assume you are still checking in with us even if you don't post. :-)
Although Kitty still does not like to be held - she's afraid of it really - I've found that I can hold her a bit and even brush her if I sit on the floor, let her walk up in front of me, and then just sort of contain her gently between my hands/arms without actually holding her or restraining her entirely. When doing this I keep my hands "soft" allowing her some freedom to move around a bit but still keeping her in the general vicinity in front of me. This keeps her from feeling restrained and getting panicky. I see her starting to get a little scared at times, but then I let her move about more to reassure herself that she is not 'stuck' in the one spot and that she still has some freedom. This seems to calm her down again. Giving her some tuna or tuna 'juice' also helps when I 'hold' her in this manner, as it acts as a diversion.
Although I haven't used the shedder on her since my last post, I have done so using the technique described above, the last time being the week before my last post. She doesn't like the shedder, but this time she was over it within the hour and back looking for more tuna.
Edited to add: But your point was well thought out, and I was happy to hear that at least one person answered, "Kitty".
In a true smoke or shaded coat color every hair will have some percentage of light and dark. Siamese turn dark when in a cold environment and become lighter when it becomes warmer. Charlie is just showing his summer coat.
After appearing to get along well for quite a while, Kitty and Cocoa are arguing again. I really cannot get a handle on which of them is the instigator. Kitty is the one I usually see bowing up and hissing at Cocoa in a manner that would make it appear obvious that she is the one who starts these things, but not so fast, because Cocoa can be very devious. I suspect that Cocoa may be the real culprit, stirring things up when I am not around and leaving Kitty to look guilty when she reacts negatively to his presence. But the truth is, I really do not know for sure. It could be either of them. It could even be that the instigator is Kitty sometimes and Cocoa others.
This morning Kitty would not even come inside to eat. Most mornings she comes running at peak speed, stretched out like a greyhound as she rounds the corners and sails through the door without even slowing down. Cocoa, on the other hand, if he even shows up, walks at the speed of those people who cross the road so slowly that you are tempted to think they are doing so just to be annoying - you know that barely alive, don't care if I ever get there walk - and he's coming from the very back of the yard. Plus, unlike Kitty who makes a beeline for the door, galloping like Secretariat on the way to Triple Crown history, Cocoa plods along like a tired plow horse at the end of a long day and takes the long route around the perimeter of the yard. Some days I wait for him, but most days I go and do something else and return a minute or two later in time to let him in. Calling him does not affect his slow, plodding pace either. That boy makes me laugh.
Most days Cocoa doesn't show up until later, sometimes not until evening. Even when he does show up, Kitty is usually inside and eating long before he finishes his trek around the outside of the yard. I feed him in a different room these days and never allow him to go in there and bother Kitty while she is eating. Until now this has worked out quite well, but this morning Kitty and Cocoa both came plodding slowly towards the door from different parts of the yard. Kitty stopped a time or two to sit down and wait as though in no particular hurry to get inside. Cocoa came through the door 1st, something that never happens, after which Kitty sat on the patio refusing to come inside at all. I have no idea why. I got a can of her favorite cat food out and with it managed to coax her to come just inside the door facing but she sat there facing out, her back to the the room, refusing to come any further inside. Even when Cocoa walked out of the house after finishing his meal, Kitty still refused to come in.
At the time I thought this probably had to do with some sort of argument between them. Now I'm wondering if she may be sick. I didn't try to go to her at the time. Given her refusal to come inside, I figured she would probably not let me catch her. She is smart enough to realize that I would likely take her inside if I got to her. I was outside doing yard work a bit ago, and she was not around. Now I wish I had tried to catch her just to be sure she wasn't injured or something. Hoping she comes home again soon and that she is ok.
Then Cocoa is not smoke colored, since his top coat is comprised of longish, shiny, solid black hairs (not longish in the Persian since but maybe 1.5in hairs that lay flat against his skin). Your comment about Siamese color coincides with that of Liz and also with the behavior I see in Cocoa's coat. He was black all winter long and even during our unnaturally cool spring and has just recently turned brown now that we are warming up for summer. It seems like in the past I have usually noticed and photographed his brown coat around this time of year, very early summer. Interesting.
I just went back outside. Went out to get my garden tools and ended up doing some more work while I was out there. It's sunny out, 85F, but even in the sunshine I didn't feel hot, so decided to do some yard work. While I was working, I saw what was clearly the resting place of some animal. It reminded me of the kind of 'bed' deer leave, with all of the vegetation mashed down in an oval pattern, except that it wasn't quite large enough for a deer, plus deer don't come into the fenced backyard. Whatever animal had made this had chosen to bed down on an ultra dense row of daffodil foliage. I was standing there pondering what animal might have made this bed, when I caught a glimpse of Kitty going by a short distance away. Ahh! This was Kitty's bed, and I had roused her from a nap.
That's a little scary, since I might have accidentally injured her had she not gotten up from her bed when she did. Whew! Just 2 days ago I apparently killed a small, scarlet king snake with the string trimmer, totally by accident. The scarlet king is a beautiful, nonvenomous snake with colors almost identical to those of the coral snake. I was very bummed to think I might have killed it. And now only 2 days later to find myself slashing away at overgrowth so close to where Kitty was napping. Scary.
It was also interesting to realize that at least some of the time when I think Kitty is off "who knows where" she may actually be right there hiding somewhere in the backyard, napping - and just ignoring my calls, something she often does unless she wants something. Typical cat behavior. Cocoa usually comes when called. Usually, but not always. He is a cat, too, after all. Who knows. Both cats may spend much of their outdoor time (day time, that is) hiding out in the backyard somewhere.
Anyhow, something does seem to be wrong with Kitty. In horse terms, she's off her feed. She is definitely not displaying her normal appetite. She is either sick, or she may have caught and eaten a big meal shortly before I called her for breakfast. She is a very accomplished hunter, after all. She could have eaten a rat, maybe even a female carrying a litter, or a large bird like a bluejay or red head woodpecker, both of which hang out in the backyard. Any of these would have been quite filling. Something appears to have eaten the scarlet king snake that I killed (accidentally). It was there yesterday but gone this morning when I checked. It was a very small (but adult) snake, only about the width of one of those fat pencils 1st graders use and maybe 1.5ft long. I don't know if cats eat such things, but it is meat - and probably fresher than some of the stuff we drag home from the grocery store, stuff that has been trucked all around this country and maybe another. It's possible she may have been the one that ate the snake, also more than enough to fill her up.
When I roused her from her daffodil bed outside, she went to the patio. Eager to see if she was sick or injured, I put down my tools and went to the door to try to get her inside. Again she refused. This time I went over and picked her up. She didn't resist. I held her gently and petted her sitting her down gently inside the house. While holding her I didn't notice any sign of injury. I got out one of those little cans of Fancy Feast and tried to use it to lead her to her feeding station, since she had still not had breakfast, not one provided by me, that is. Kitty recognizes the size and shape of the FF can, and when I have used this method in the past, she has always been eager to follow the can, but not today. Today she ignored the can and sat at the door demanding to go back out.
Determined to feed her, I opened the can, put the contents in her dish, and then carried her to her feeding station where I put her down with her face over the food to make sure she got a whiff of it. This worked, and she stayed there eating, but still she only consumed roughly 1/2 of the can before she returned to the door asking to go out. I don't believe I have ever seen her leave 1/2 can of FF behind, but I opened the door and let her go outside.
A few minutes later I went out there with a container of cool, filtered water for her, just to make sure she had adequate water. She was still sitting on the patio when I went out. She quickly came right over to me, and even looked a bit upbeat this time, but she didn't drink any water while I was there. Lastly, to test her disinterest in food, I went back inside and returned with a slice of 'cheese', one of those individually wrapped slices intended for sandwiches. Kitty loves that stuff. I hate it, but keep it around for a really special Kitty treat. I give it to her only on very rare occasions and then only 1/4 to 1/2 slice from which I tear off small pieces to hand feed her, a bonding thing of sorts. (The large, grocery store size pkg of cheese slices lasts 6mo or more.)
When I showed her the still wrapped slice of cheese, she recognized it immediately, and it took very little effort to convince her to come over to me there on the patio for some cheese. I tore off a small piece, about 1/2in by 1in, and offered it to her. She took it in her mouth and ate half letting the rest drop to the patio floor where she sniffed it but failed to actually pic it up and eat it. I offered her another piece about the same size as the 1st. Again she took it and ate 1/2, letting the rest fall to the floor and remain there. She refused the 3rd slice I offered. This, too, was virtually unprecedented behavior. She usually gobbles up all of that sliced American 'cheese' she can get. She will even eat the entire slice if allowed and still ask for more. She only turned up her nose at a cheese slice one other time a long time ago, that time after I had already filled her up with too many special treats.
Bottom line, today I learned that she hides out and naps in the backyard daffodils and that she may be sick - unless she caught herself a particularly filling meal before the house opened for breakfast.
I'm finally getting over it now, but I really felt bad for days after the incident with the Scarlet King Snake. I started to feel better once the body disappeared. Although I realize it's probably not true, I'm telling myself it left (alive) - like how we told ourselves HRH (raccoon thread) had simply moved to another territory where he is still out there somewhere frolicking with the ladies.
Oh, wow, Alaska! Wishing you a fabulous adventure. Be careful though. I hear it's rugged country there, the one place in the US with land on which no human has ever tread. Don't go off hiking w/o a guide, and a good one. Lots of ways to get into trouble there if you don't know your way around.
I have some good news about Kitty. Hope you get a chance to read the next post before you leave.
Apparently, Kitty is not sick. She still isn't finishing all of her canned cat food lately. Not sure why, but she does not appear to be sick.
For the past week I've been going out early each morning to do a couple hours of yard work. This is the very 1st time I've attempted to do yard work, especially the heavy duty stuff involving power tools and ratchet loppers, since I gave it up after my knee and back injuries made it too painful to continue even with pain meds. If nothing else proved the change bioidentical HRT has made in me, surely this does. Now I finally have both the energy and ability to do this kind of work again - w/o pain. I do have aches, however, lots of aches, the kind that occur when someone my age starts using muscles that have been dormant for years.
The real reason I brought up the yard work is because Kitty has been hanging with me each morning as I work. She really is great company. Her presence helps to make it feel less like work and more like two old friends just hanging out together. She stays with me even though I'm using noisy, power tools. She doesn't stay under my feet or close enough to be endangered, thankfully. When I'm working, she lies on the grass about 10ft away. When I stop for breaks and sit on my garden seat, she comes over to rub against me, begging to be petted - and that's the incredible, new thing I wanted to tell you about.
Despite all the improvements Kitty has made in recent months (since I did that "love you" eye thing), she had still never gotten to the point of spending time with me, just lying around being petted and pampered, like Cocoa does - until now. And now I think I understand why. This week since I started spending time outside each morning, Kitty has been practically glued to my side, but only as long as I'm outside. Cocoa and Widget have me monopolized inside the house, at least from Kitty's perspective.
I spend a lot of time in my MBR, a bad habit I got into after spending months in bed in the wake of my surgeries. It's a fairly large room, and after my surgeries when I couldn't walk much, I found a way to move most of what I needed, excluding meals and baths, of course, into the MBR: TV, books, living room chairs, and so on. Now I need to break that habit. Anyhow, when Cocoa is indoors, he stays in the MBR with me as does Widget. It wasn't my intention, but this leaves Kitty out. As I mentioned a while back, she needs the chance to spend time with me alone, without those other guys in the way. Often the only chance she gets is when I'm in the kitchen working, and then she has to do fancy footwork to avoid getting stepped on. A number of times she has tried to come to the MBR when Cocoa isn't inside, but every time she does so Widget starts whining and carrying on, because he is jealous. Kitty ends up giving in to him and leaving. She isn't afraid of him, but it has always been important to her to maintain a good relationship with Widget, so she lets him have his way.
Now that I'm spending time outside, it's perfect for her. She loves the outdoors anyhow, and Widget hates it out there. As long as Cocoa doesn't catch on and start hanging around when I'm outside, this is perfect. Kitty has me all to herself, and I can tell that she is just eating it up. This morning I actually got less work done that I would otherwise, because I spent so much extra time petting Kitty. She is so loving. From the time I sit down to rest, until I get up to work again, she wants to be petted non-stop. She rubs on me and rubs on me, and no matter how much I rub her and pet her and scratch her (she likes that), it is never enough. This is a side of Kitty I have never seen before, ever, not even a glimpse. She has pretty much always enjoyed hanging with me outside, but in the past she mostly stayed close but just beyond my reach, only coming up to be touched for a second or two. Now she is on the ground rolling around at my feet as I sit on that little garden buddy (the wheeled seat the baby raccoon sat in that time and posed for pics).
Today we passed another milestone. All week she had been making moves like she wanted to roll over onto her back, but she would always stop short of doing so, or if she did she would jump back upright again immediately, before I could rub her tummy. I felt she really wanted me to rub her tummy but was afraid. This morning during my last rest break she finally flipped over onto her back, arms open wide and let me rub her delicate tummy! Yay! About the only thing that would make this better would be if I could pick her up and cuddle her. But who knows, maybe someday.
This is actually the 1st time I've ever had any indication that Kitty even wanted to be petted. (In the house) she usually doesn't stick around long enough to allow for anything more than a pat on the head or two, like the cat version of the perfunctory kiss on the cheek. Then she usually turns on her heals and heads off. She usually only rubs up against me when I'm in the kitchen and she wants something, either food or to be let out.
When she rubs on me outside like today, it's after her breakfast (can of FF), and there are no treats to be had and no reason to ask for any. For the 1st time ever, she is sticking close by me like glue and just wanting to be petted for its own sake and nothing more. She will get between my feet and stand or lie still as long as I'm scratching her back her stroking her. Then when I pause for a minute to wipe my brow, she will resume rubbing on me. Repeat. Repeat. I've really enjoyed every incredible minute of it, and it has made yard work a lot more fun. :-)
She really has come a very long way. You are so right about that. Just a year or so ago, I really had come to believe that she would never be a friendly, loving, or 'pet-able' cat. I thought I might just have to accept her as she was then. Even a few short weeks ago I wondered if she might never be able to appreciate being petted. It seems if an animal isn't introduced to 'petting' at a very early age, it may just never have any meaning to them. This seems to be the case with the [wild] raccoons. Even those raccoons that are comfortable allowing me to pet them, still don't seem to get anything out of it - although I did see some indication that Desi perhaps enjoyed it, but then for some reason I was able to get to her at a very early age. In general, the raccoons seem to neither like nor dislike it. I feared it might be the same with Kitty. I'm so glad now to see that I was wrong.
Yes, it really is exciting to finally be able to pet Kitty and have her actually enjoy it! For a very long time I didn't realize that Kitty, who seemed disinterested, was actually afraid. At long last now she finally seems to be able to get beyond her fears enough to just relax and enjoy being pampered.
Again this morning I went out early to do a couple hours of yard work. Kitty, having finished her breakfast and gone out earlier, was waiting for me on the patio. As I stepped out the door, she took off a few steps ahead of me leading the way to the area where I had been working the past few days. She reminded me very much of a dog eager to head off to work (or hunting or other sport) with its master. We had only been out there 10 min or so when it began to rain, just a sprinkle here and there at 1st, increasing later. It was hot out, and the light rain felt good. Having a lot to do, I decided to stay out as long as I could. Quite surprisingly given the feline position on getting wet, Kitty stayed right there with me until the very end.
Each time I stopped to sit down for a quick break, she joined me. I scratched her back and petted her, and she very clearly enjoyed every minute of it. When I stopped petting her for a few minutes to drink my soda or wipe my brow, she lay there between my feet like one might expect the family lab might do. She really has come a long way, and I'm enjoying every minute of it, too.
Perhaps even more amazing - or at least confounding...
This morning, I finally decided to abandon my yard work and come in out of the light rain when I realized how loud and close the thunder had become, thunder I had unconsciously ignored up to that point. Remembering that people have been struck by lightening when previously they only heard thunder which seemed far off in the distance, I decided it was time to go inside. It was only then that I remembered that Kitty has always been positively phobic about thunder. This is a cat who has always been absolutely debilitated by her fear of thunder, so much so that she would do that creeping, crawl-on-the-belly walk anytime she heard thunder even far off in the distance. This is a cat who turns to mush at the 1st sign of a thunderstorm, a cat who cowers under furniture, trembling. Yet this morning we were outside in heavy, close, and almost constant thunder for quite a while, yet she was fine, and even as we got up to come inside, she walked to the door calmly and in a normal manner, acting as though it were not even thundering at all.
Even now I am unable to make sense this thunder thing. Kitty always panics and hides under the furniture at the 1st sign of thunder, either that or she hugs my ankles trembling while following me step for step as though her very life depends on it. Yet this morning there we were outside, totally exposed, and she was fine despite heavy thunder. Could it be that she is only afraid of thunder when she is in the house? Or is it possible that she has suddenly abandoned such a disabling phobia? I don't know. It doesn't make a lot of sense.
Last night I got out my bag of cat toys and played with Kitty in the foyer. I put Widget in the MBR and told him to "Stay". This allowed Kitty and me to play alone and without interference. Otherwise, she probably would not have agreed to play. We played for about 30min, mostly with this turkey feather on a string thing. I also gave her one of those catnip saturated mice toys to bat about, lick, and rub on.
Except for the half hour timeout she took for play, when we come back inside the house, for the most part Kitty resumes her 'normal', aloof behavior. How odd is that? We go outside each morning and for roughly 1.5 to 2hrs each day she is the most loving and devoted cat ever. Then as we walk back through the door and into the house, she morphs back into the same cat I've been living with all along: aloof, all business, interested in eating, and off to take a nap. Outside she lays at my feet wanting to be petted. Inside she resumes be disinterested. Confusing at it is, it's really just as well, since if she acted the same all day long as she does outside, I would never get anything done. She's inside right now, and I have no idea where she is. None the less, tomorrow if it's not storming I'll go back out to work, and she will be at my feet begging to be petted once more.
You know, I just might be wrong about that last part - about Kitty resuming 'normal' behavior once we come back inside. I just looked up from my laptop to see her get up, stretch, and lie back down. I'm sitting on my bed, and she is snoozing on the bench at the foot of the bed where she has apparently been for some time now. lol. maybe she is with me other times, and I don't even realize it. The other night I got up in the night and found her sleeping on one corner of the bed. Hmm.