Margaret's Musings on Cats

When one has pet cats, or is involved with rescuing cats, there are some interesting, funny, surprising, distressing or puzzling things one observes. Here are some vignettes of experiences I have had with cats under my care that I wrote at the time they occurred, rather like a diary.

Margaret Schill


2000 Sumner almost died

2002: Galen's Freeze-Dried Chicken Treat Addiction and Withdrawal

2003

2004

  • Simon: Hunter and teacher

  • Simon says, no more cats!

2005

  • The Mind and Body of Simon

  • Introducing Seamus

  • Seamus and his pen pal Sparky

  • The Night of the Opossum

  • Catio Breaks, Cats Escape

  • Galen's humongous hairball


2005

The Mind and Body of Simon

May 24, 2005

I could probably write a whole book on "The Mind and Body of Simon".  It would cover a whole lot of things.  That cat has led me to learn about treatment for broken fangs (which I refuse to call "canine" teeth), malfunctioning tear ducts, unusual eye infection leading to eye mucous having to travel all the way to NYC to be tested to find the correct medication, hotspots (or "horribly itchy bumps") and their treatments, feline asthma and conditions that need to be ruled out, how to give pills to cats who are "big and bad", that special cat calling sound when a prey has been caught, worm hunting behavior of cats, lots of intercat behavior situtions- some good, some extremely bad, Clomicalm, and so on.  Plus Simon photographs well with interesting expressions, so I could get a nice shot for the cover of the book!

Which to choose ....

   

   

Below is Young Simon, when he first took over our home. The vet said he was around 7 months old, but I think he was closer to 9 as his "parts" were on the mature looking side and he was pretty darn "tough".  We thought that was as big as he'd get, but he grew more.  Look at his cute little baby head, except it wasn't so cute in person as he nipped me a lot, trying to bully me.  He wasn't as bad as Sparky in some ways, though.  That Sparky was a real trip and a harder to tame down to dealing appropriately with humans.  Simon did great with the "hold down on a surface by the scruff" method, like a mother cat doing to a kitten that bites her.  He probably had lots of "scruffing" by his natural mother, LOL!

 

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Introducing Seamus  (see also wvcats.com/seamus.htm)

June 4, 2005

I scared the ever living daylights out of Seamus yesterday evening.  I was going out the front door and he started to follow me.  So I made a loud hissing noise, which makes my adult cats back up an inch or two.  Well, poor Seamus was terrified and shot off across the room at light speed, all frantic looking for a place to hide.  He finally ran up the couch and behind the window curtains to hide.  I felt so bad! 

But, actually that was good.  Maybe he won't try to follow me out the door anymore.  He wasn't afraid of me when I came back in and held him, so I am hoping he didn't realize it was me who hissed, but rather some horrible monster cat on the other side of the front door.

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Sumner, who usually is the first to accept a new cat, is more wary of Seamus than he was of Franny when she was a small kitten.  He even hissed at Seamus!  Seamus had pounced on Sumner's tail when Sumner had his back turned, which startled Sumner, so it really isn't surprising that Sumner hissed.  Plus, I am sure he remembers 9 month old Sparky's surprise frequent back jumping which Sumner did not like.  So I guess he wants to train little Seamus right off the bat before Seamus gets any ideas about back jumping.  (Sparky was the seemingly abandoned cat we rehomed to Michelle, for those wondering who Sparky is.)

Minerva is her usual scared of new cats self, and is mostly living on the back porch and in the enclosure, as she does for about a month when we bring in a new cat.  When I am dishing out the canned food, she can hear it and makes the kitchen door cat flap knock and squeak by it's swinging so we know to bring hers out onto the porch and then makes a cute meow that I am sure means "thank you".  She will risk going by when Seamus is in the cage, but would rather not be anywhere around where the little scary monster is or may be.  Still, she is not as afraid as she was of Franny.

Jolie is a growly, hissing thing, like she was with Franny.  When she comes in the room when Seamus is in the cage, she hisses her evil sounding hisses for a while alternating with growls- a good five minutes.  When Seamus does not vanish, she either leaves the room with one last very pointed hiss while glaring at him, or curls up grumpily, but quietly, in her favorite spot, the window hammock, glaring at Seamus.  But, Jolie is doing better with Seamus than she did with Franny, as she does not go to the door of Seamus' safe room and hiss at the closed door like she used to do with Franny for about two weeks whenever she passed the door.

The interesting thing about Jolie and her weeks worth of growling and hissing at Franny's door is that Jolie wound up being the first of our cats to play with Franny after all her dramatic noises.  The males accepted Franny being around sooner than Jolie, but mostly just hung out next to her.  I wonder if Jolie will wind up that way with Seamus.

By accident, when Seamus was loose in the living room and computer room area, he zipped into the bedroom that Jolie was in when I was trying to sneak through the door.  He wound up running at Jolie, but I think it was an accident.  She shrieked and Seamus ran to hide under the bed.  Then Jolie hissed at all the other cats that wound up near her.  Even at Simon.  But he didn't get upset with Jolie for that. 

It does work out well that Galen is accepting Seamus so quickly, as Galen almost always wants to be with me, so while I am spending time in the same area Seamus is in, Galen can supervise with me.

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June 6, 2005

Today, I did the "protective hover" over Seamus and let him eat his canned food out of the cage next to Simon while Simon had been happily chowing down next the cage when Seamus was in it.  Since Simon seemed so relaxed the past two days eating right next to a caged Seamus, I thought it might be ok to try the "protective hover".  It worked out well. :)  Both Seamus and Simon were so busy eating their food that they hardly looked at each other or cared the other was near.  This would not have been the case a few days earlier.  I was, of course, prepared for things to go terribly wrong and to either snatch up Seamus in a flash or huddle over his body and let Simon attack my head.  I did not let there be any after dinner mingling yet.  Don't want to push things.

But, there was an accidental mingling of Simon and Seamus this evening.  We though Simon was out in the enclosure still, as he had been when we looked a few seconds prior.  So we shut off access to the enclosure and let Seamus out to wander, with Simon supposedly safely blocked out.  A few minutes later we were looking for Seamus as we couldn't find him anywhere.  The smart and agile fellow had gone through the cat flap to our small front porch enclosure, (which is the size of a closet sticking out onto the front porch).  

Simon was sitting on the lowest shelf, and little Seamus was on the one up near the ceiling!!  But Simon was perfectly relaxed just watching the outside.  If Simon had been there first, Seamus would have had to jump up next to Simon first.  If Simon was there first, he did not care the baby was up on the top shelf. Seamus hopped down to the shelf Simon was on when he saw us, and then Simon hissed and batted him, but not in a very worrisome, aggressive serious fighting manner- not yet anyway.  Of course we took Seamus out of there.  But that was actually a good sign that Simon will eventually likely accept Seamus just fine.  Still, it was a negligent thing on our part to not triple check were Simon was.

Seamus is a brave one, and very agile and fast!  He is not a senseless kitten though.  When Jolie was loose in the same room earlier with him and she hissed loudly when he came near, he discontinued his apparent plan to jump at her and went off to play with a toy.  So likely, he would have just run away from Simon if we hadn't scooped him up.  We will be much more careful though.

Hmmm.  Jolie has been resting in the window hammock next me and Seamus just jumped up there.  She hissed and smacked him, and he jumped down right away.  No growling though like she had been the previous days just seeing him in the cage.  Then the little pest jumped back up again, but she just sat up very still and quiet and glared him.  He jumped back down and is now across the room.  Jolie went back to lying down to rest.  So this is very good.

That's three out of five cats now who can have supervised mingling time: Galen, Sumner and Jolie.  This makes life easier as we can spend time with those four in the same area and Seamus won't need to be shut up by himself much.

Oops, the little dickens just jumped up next to Jolie again.  She didn't bother getting up out of her reclined position this time, just hissed.  He jumped down and now her eyes are shut, trying to resume her nap.  Wow!  This is quick for Jolie.  Not time for unsupervised mingling yet, though.

Sumner finally smacked Seamus and held him down when Seamus kept trying to jump on his back.  We were rescuing Sumner at first, but he is so much bigger, he needs to learn he can rescue himself and teach Seamus to quit jumping on his back.

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June 9, 2005

Simon is fine with Seamus now!  He's actually the best of all the cats, next to Galen.  He is not afraid at all, tolerates Seamus trying to jump him, and even invites Seamus to play some.  Simon will be lying stretched out on his side and when Seamus comes near, Simon reaches out his paws and waves them some for Seamus to play. 

Simon is the best at acting like a tolerant mother cat teaching a kitten to chill out.  When Seamus gets too rowdy with Simon, like trying to lunge at his neck to bite it, without even getting up, Simon just puts a firm paw on top of Seamus, holding Seamus down.  Simon is a lot stronger so Seamus does get held down.  Or, if Simon is sitting up and Seamus gets too rowdy, like keeping on lunging to bite at Simon, Simon just smacks him down and holds Seamus down with a paw, giving a stern look.  Today, when Seamus kept getting up and going back at Simon out in the enclosure, Simon finally just got up and came into the house to lie down.  Seamus followed, but just layed down next to Simon, doing what his cat "daddy" was doing.  I guess Seamus took that correctly as the signal that play time is over and now it was nappy time.

However, we still need to keep Seamus shut up at night when we are sleeping, as Big Guy, the tough stray, comes around then and gets Simon extremely upset, with Simon's his puffed out about triple it's normal size.  Simon redirected some aggression onto Sumner in the middle of the night due to Big Guy apparently having come near the enclosure.  It wasn't a serious fight, but Simon might hurt Seamus by accident if upset by Big Guy in the dark.

So now we are up to free mingling all the time except when we are asleep or not home.  We do sometimes need to shut Seamus away, when he is terrorizing Sumner too much.  Poor gentle Sumner.  He has got to get a little more firm when Seamus won't let up. 

Minerva will lie near Seamus when Seamus is out in the enclosure, but gets upset if he comes near her and runs under the chaise lounge to "hide".  For some reason, Seamus does not follow after her when she hides under the chaise lounge.

Seamus and his pen pal Sparky

(As written by Margaret and  Michelle under the thought control of Seamus and Sparky.)

June 5, 2005

Hey Sparky, here I am trying to be like you.

 Me       You

I know, I have to work on the stance.  And fatten up some.

Tell your human I am NOT thinking of getting in trouble, merely what I can do next to entertain myself.  It's so hard to decide what to do, there are so many things.  I do this, then that, that back to this, over here, maybe over there, no back over to that.  I get so worn out I even have to lie down and rest a while!

Hey, did you ever play with this thing, this ball on track?

It's great!  I spend a lot of time playing with it.  Oh, and I found out I am a good jumper.  Yep, that's right.  I can hop right up on the bed now without having to climb partway like I thought I had to the first day I was here.  I am ashamed to admit it, but the first day I could hardly hop up onto the edge of the bathtub.  But that's easy now.  I don't think I used to get much jumping opportunities to practice my skills.  I know I need to get good at jumping so I will be as good at cat back jumping as you are.

Regards,

Seamus

Hi Seamus!!!! Sparky here!

Hey, you're getting pretty good with your stance!!!!  You must be a quick learner!!!  Keep up the good work!

I'm pretty sure my human knows you're not trying to get into "trouble" trouble, but "fun" trouble just like me.  I'm always looking for ways to entertain myself too, but sometimes my mom (and Muffin) don't understand - maybe I just get too rough... Muffin is SUCH a GIRL!!!!!!  I'm getting older now so I'm trying not to bother the girls too much but sometimes it's just so much FUN!!!!!!

Hey, did you ever play with this thing?

Hey, yah!!!! I got one of those!; Your new mom gave it to MY new mom so I have something to play with.  Mine is blue.  SOMETIMES my mom will put a little tiny bit of catnip on the scratcher part and then it's every cat for himself cause EVERYBODY tries to hog it!  I really like it.  I think you might be too little for catnip though.  I'm a big boy now - I'm a year and a half old so I can have some once in a VERY "blue moon" my mom says.  I'm a pretty wild and crazy guy so my mom keeps me "in check" a lot.

I know I need to get good at jumping so I be as good as cat back jumping as you are.

Sounds to me like your jumping skills are coming along just fine.  It did take practice, even for me, so don't get discouraged.  I was little once too, you know!  You know what was funny?  When I came to my new house, I tried to jump on my "brother" Milo's back, and as excellent as I was at it - I couldn't do it very well!!!!  Milo is a BIG boy and when I jumped on his back my feet didn't touch the ground and he just walked with me on top of him!!!!  Boy, was I embarrassed!!!!  I don't try that anymore because he's still alot bigger than I am.... but I sure would LIKE to!!!  I did manage to do it the other day but I was cheating.... he was laying down.  Oh well....

Sparky 

Hey Sparky,

I tried jumping up on Galen's back and grabbing him by the neck, but his fur is too slick so I slid off.  I think that is why.  Well, actually I had the same problem you did with Milo.  My feet couldn't reach the ground and I wasn't able to get up all the way on Galen's back.  

Is it normal for the other cat to just turn around and look at you like he is bored and sleepy.  Cuz that's all Galen did.  How are you supposed to dominate a cat that doesn't care?  I did take over his pet mat at the end of the bed for my noon nap so he had to nap up by the pillows next to Mommy's head when she was napping too.  That was some power for me, right?  I heard you did that same thing when you were here.

I think that real big orange cat Simon is starting to like me.  We ate our canned food right next to each other.  Well I was in that cage, but still, we were next to each other and he never even hissed at me like he did the other day. 

But boy oh boy, that black cat Jolie is a mean one.  All she does is hiss, growl and glare at me.  She won't even eat if I am in the cage in the same room she is.  Since you are having trouble with a girl cat too, maybe all those girls are fussy, crabby things.  

Seamus

June 6, 2005

Hi Seamus!!!

But boy oh boy, that black cat Jolie is a mean one.  All she does is hiss, growl and glare at me.  She won't even eat if I am in the cage in the same room she is.  Since you are having trouble with a girl cat too, maybe all those girls are fussy, crabby things.  

Yah, girl cats can be a pain!!!!  I don't know what's wrong with them! Why can't they be purrfect like us guys? 

Is it normal for the other cat to just turn around and look at you like he is bored and sleepy.  Cuz that's all Galen did.  How are you supposed to dominate a cat that doesn't care? 

I guess that's normal cause that's all Milo did when I jumped on HIS back and I couldn't touch the ground.... I can't figure out how to dominate him either, so if you figure it out, you better let me know.  Then maybe we can "bottle it and sell it" and get rich and buy a huge, massive screen house all for ourselves!!!!! (NO GIRL CATS ALLOWED!)

Wow!  Maybe Simon is getting to like you since you could eat next to him and he didn't growl or hiss... even though you were in the cage.  I think I'd feel safer in the cage for a while more if I were you - just to be sure....know what I mean, Seamus?  Maybe you could try it if your mom or dad stand right there with a towel or something in case he goes bonkers and tries to whip your a... when you are eating.  You could always ask!!!!

Yah, taking over the pet mat on the bed is COOL POWER.  On the other hand, sleeping next to mom's head would be pretty cool, too.... guess I'll have to think about that one.  I'm older now so I see things a little differently than I used to when I was your age.

You might want to give Galen a little slack, too, though.  I hear he's a pretty sick boy.  You should let him have the mat sometimes, just to be nice.

Sparky

The Night of the Opossum

July 1, 2005

This is not our cat!

My husband was doing the cat head count and door check before going to bed. He thought our gray cat Sumner was clinging to the netting of the enclosure, but when he got closer to get Sumner down, realized it was NOT Sumner but an opossum. A young opossum. The gods were with the opossum as our eager hunter Simon had come in early to go to sleep, or Simon would have hunted down and most surely have caught the opossum. Then he likely would have proudly brought it in to show us like he does when he catches bugs.

Minerva was asleep on a chair on thelatticed-in porch between the house and the enclosure. My husband quickly closed off the cat flap, woke me, and I got Minerva and Seamus in the house. Seamus has run out to the enclosure during the commotion. He was stretched up sniffing the opossum's tail when I caught up to him. Minerva had awakened and was cowering under the chaise lounge. The other cats had been in the house, luckily for Mr. Possum It would have been horrible if all five of them were awake and out there (Galen is at the vet's overnight, or it would be 6 cats).

The opossum was not full grown, being about the size of 4 month old kitten Seamus, which is small, but not really small- about half the size of the average full grown cat.  We learned that you can't scare opossums away.  We opened both doors of the enclosure leading to the yard and  waited for it to realize there were wide openings, but it did not move.  

I went in and out to the yard to show the opossum a body could easily pass through the doorway, but unlike a cat or dog, he didn't get it or was too scared to move.  He didn't get tempted down by cat food I brought out either. So, we sat in the latticed-in porch area and peeped out, watching and waiting for the opossum to leave.  He just hung there for a long time, so I stupidly went out and tried pushing him towards the doorway with a soft stadium mat we have out for the cats to sit on.  It didn't work.  

I then realized that opossums play dead when scared.  This one couldn't do a great job trying to look dead, hanging from the netting, but he wouldn't move for a while.  Then he tried to bite his way through the plastic netting, but was unsuccessful at that, fortunately.  We want out netting to be chew proof.  We waited and waited on the porch for a long time.  We could not figure out how it got in, as kittens cannot squeeze under the enclosure, so figured the opossum couldn't either.  We thought maybe the opossum was able to squeeze through the lattice, which a kitten head can stick out of so if the opossum had a skinnier body than a kitten, it might fit through the lattice holes.  

We saw him crawl down to the patio brick covered ground, head first, then heard rustling of leaves.  The other side of the enclosure is densely packed with wild violets, around 5 inches high. We went out to the enclosure with a flashlight and looked all over but no sign of the opossum.  He must have scooted really fast out the opened door into the violet patch without us seeing.  It was rather dark.   We don't really know how he got in the enclosure.   I sure hope he doesn't try to get back in, but I doubt it after the terrible fright he had.  I don't know why he came in either, unless he smelled the water in the water bowl that was out in the enclosure.  We don't have any food out there.  Or maybe he was just exploring.

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Galen's humongous hairball

August 11, 2005

Galen has been eating well lately, but he had regurgitated some dry food the other day.  Yesterday, he made a moaning sort of sound then spit up some froth.  I was thinking it was related to the excess acids CRF (chronic renal failure) cats sometimes get.  But then a little later, he made that moaning sound again, and threw up the largest hairball I ever saw or even imagined!  This thing was HUGE!  At first I though it was mouse he swallowed whole due to the size and the fur being gray (even though that is not possible) and regurgitated up.  It was about three inches long and very fat- fatter than a cigar, about mouse thickness.  I don't know how it came up his throat.  Then a few hours later, he threw up another hairball, but a normal sized one.  My poor baby.

Needless to say, he seemed perkier afterwards and then really had a great appetite, begging for the Purina One we feed to the strays and eating all I put out for him, then eating more dry food in the food bowls, and eating most of his canned food meal.  I am surprised he had been eating rather well the days prior to and just before upchucking the giant hairball.

I am extremely shocked about it, as I do groom my cats regularly.  I hadn't been grooming Galen every day, but still, it was more hair in his stomach than would be normal since I do groom him about twice a week, sometimes more.  I think he may be shedding more from the stress of the frequent vet visits and the needle sticks at home when we give him his fluids.  That's the only thing I can think of to explain just how much hair got in his stomach. I have seen him groom little Seamus briefly.  Maybe he does it more than I ever see which would add more hair into his stomach.  Sometimes he grooms Minerva too.

I'll be combing him and all the others more often now for sure.  I was going to take a picture of this giant hairball, but my husband threw it out and I didn't want to search through the garbage.  But I can really see now how a cat might need surgery to remove a hairball.  

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Catio Breaks, Cats Escape!

November 9, 2005

 

We have a Catio, (pictured on the left) which is the brand name of a clear lucite box that fits in a window like an air conditioner, for the cats to use to get more of a view and more room to stretch or curl up at a window than they can on a window sill.  The cats have loved it greatly for the past 5 years.  

Last night, when I was still on the computer, I heard a strange noise from my bedroom like something falling.  I went in and saw Seamus on the hamper below the window the Catio is in, peering cautiously, as if he was worried.  I looked in the Catio, and the back "wall" was gone, having fallen off!  The bottom was also separated from one of the sides.

We did a head count, and Jolie was missing.  Apparently, she must have gone into the catio when it then started to break, and either slid out as the floor sunk down and the back came off, or took the opportunity to go on a little exploration outside.

I found her on the other side of the house, in my neighbor's yard, sniffing around his back porch and garbage can.  When Simon and Galen got out previously, that's the same spot they always go too.  It is what the cats see everyday from the enclosure so I guess they decide that is the first place to go explore.  Anyway, she wouldn't let me catch her at first, spending some time going under my neighbor's enclosed porch that is in between his house and garage, and sniffing around leisurely.  She came out the other side, finished with her sniffing, and then let me pick her up.

The Catio was, strangely, designed for a litter box to go in, so has a big door to fit a litter box through and then get shut, and a regular small cat flap.  We never intended to have a litter box sitting in there, for the neighbors to watch our cats eliminate, so we taped open the big door so the cats had a wide entry way.  My husband taped it firmly shut, thinking it was now cat proof.  But, he had forgotten about the cat flap part, since he was already in bed and still sleepy when it happened, and the curtain was in front of it.

I was finally about to go to bed about two hours later, when I heard a strange noise out from the back porch.  It was Seamus, frantically trying to get back in the latticed-in back porch.  He was climbing all over searching for a way to get in.  He obviously had found the cat flap access in the Catio so went out the window.  I don't know how long he was out, but he sure did want to get back in, having gone around the house to the back porch and enclosure side to try to get back in where he knew the door was.  The other cats were all just sitting on the porch, watching him.

I plucked him off the lattice and brought him inside.  He seemed a bit scared and went straight to the dry food, chowing down, then had a big drink of water.

The good thing about all this is that Seamus wants to be back in the house where he belongs and feels he belongs, so if he did sneak out again, likely he would do as he did and try to get back in.  My other cats have always wound up by the door to the enclosure waiting to be let back in the few times they escaped, (except Sumner and Minerva never escaped) but I didn't know what Seamus would do.

The horrific thing about it is that the Catio could have come apart at any time, such as one day when both my husband and I were at work, and the cats could wind up outside for many hours, with no way to get back inside.  Even more horrific is that it could have waited to collapse when we go out of town for a few days at Christmas to visit relatives.  Our neighbor comes by to tend to the cats, but if some were missing, well, they would be missing.  I'm sure he would look around outside to see if they somehow got out, but if they weren't around, I don't know what would happen.  Simon loves that neighbor and meows "conversations" to him whenever Simon sees him from the enclosure, and my neighbor talks back to Simon.  Simon would for sure follow the neighbor back into the house so he would get fed some canned food if he was around when the neighbor came by to feed them.  Probably Simon would be by the enclosure, yelling for my neighbor when it got to be canned food time.

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2004

Simon: Hunter and teacher

March 16, 2004

Simon (orange) showing Sumner and Jolie a grasshopper he caught.

About two years ago, Simon spent a few months bringing in crickets and grasshoppers to my other cats, trying to teach them to hunt them.  Simon was from the streets, and is a hunting cat, but limited now to bugs in the enclosure.  Anyway, he would carry the crickets or grasshoppers in with the special call, and the other cats would gather around curiously stare at Simon's catch.  Simon would sit back watching, but the other cats just sat and watched too.  Simon would approach the live insect and swat it, then sit back, for one of the other cats to do the same.  They would just sit there.  One or two would get close to sniff or tentatively touch the cricket or grasshopper, but when it hopped they moved back.  Simon kept trying to show them what to do, but finally he just went ahead and ate them, or left the room in disgust. Galen sort of picked up on it, but after two episodes of catching slugs and having terrible slime mouth, (that stuff is hard to wipe off teeth) he is not too keen on bringing in critters he finds in the enclosure.

Simon tried to teach the other cats for a while to catch grasshoppers and crickets, but finally gave up teaching them. I think he was trying to teach me for a while too, as he would bring me bugs with his special call, hit the bugs in front of me, then sit back and watch the same as he did with the cats. I never caught and ate the bugs either, though I did pretend to admire them.  My husband just picked up the bugs immediately and took them outside.  Simon doesn't bring my husband bugs anymore since he is obviously an ingrate about Simon's efforts.

The other cats will try to catch and eat moths, other small flying insects, and beetle type bugs that scurry quickly though. I guess crickets and grasshoppers seem scarier or something with how they just sit there then hop all of sudden.

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Simon says, no more cats!

August 4, 2004

Simon has had it with this cat rescue business.  He said enough is enough already.  We took in two of my mother's adult cats, and then wound up with a 7ish month old male cat, Sparky.

I thought Simon was doing ok with Calli, the obese cat we took in from my mother.  They were both lying on the back of the couch looking out the window the other day for maybe an hour.  Then I heard growling and found Simon looming over Calli as she was hunkered down on the chair next to the couch.  Separated them, all seemed fine.  Next day we let Simon in the same area Calli and Dolly were, with me in there too.  Simon started doing that "flat" thing on the floor in front of Dolly which usually means trouble, with her starting to get upset.  So I thought to try to distract Simon away and into the other room with a dragging item he likes to chase. 

Big mistake.  His interest was piqued, but all of a sudden Galen came zooming out of nowhere to get the strap.  He and Dolly both got startled, with Dolly perhaps thinking Galen was rushing her.  Once she starts her rrrowwwling sounds, Simon goes to attack her, so I quickly scooped her up before he could attack her when she made her mrrrowl, and put her in the other room.  No sooner did I do that than I heard cat fight sounds and find Simon attacking poor Calli.  Clumps of Calli fur all over.  She managed to run under a stuffed chair with Simon in pursuit.  (Probably the fastest she's ever run in her life but not the way I wanted her to get some exercise.) 

Fortunately, there was a throw blanket on that chair that I whipped off and used as a shield between her and Simon, with him trying to still get at her.  He is a tenacious and  fighter.  Somehow, I got Simon out of there (without getting torn up!) and put him somewhere in a zone not off limits due to Sparky and Dolly, which was tricky as there wasn't really any room not with a cat Simon couldn't be with.  I think I raced him through the area Sparky was in and got him shut up in the bathroom.  Or maybe I raced him past Dolly to the outdoor enclosure and then blocked the pet door.  It was very hectic and stressful so I don't really remember.

Lessons:

Keep throw blankets on furniture to use a quick shields or mad cat wrappings.

Do NOT try to do interactive play in a room where there are tensions between cats no matter what advice contrary to that one might read on internet sites.  It MAKES problems, not friendships as when one cat zooms near the other, the other cat thinks it is being attacked.  It is not a tension releaser, it is a tension creator.

Do not let there be more than the two cats one is trying to integrate at a time in the same area, as there will be redirected aggression against the others if one manages to rescue the initial target of an attack.  Do not try to do an integration visit in a closed room, as if one cat is getting attacked, it needs more area to hopefully be able to escape.

When trying to integrate cats with tensions, make sure the room closest can be used to quickly deposit one of the cats in.

Realize that two months of slow, carefully managed introductions is sometimes still not long enough, even if there had been some peaceful times.  Sometimes things actually get worse after seeming to be ok.  Some cats (such as Simon) take their time sizing up the newbies and don't do their thing until after they are confident they can take on the new cat.

Simon bit Jim

9/12/04

Sat. PM my husband tried to keep Simon from attacking Calli and Simon redirected aggression onto my husband, biting my husband's hand.  My husband had to go the ER and will have to take off work tomorrow and Monday. 

Calli

Calli

I wasn't diligent enough sneaking through the door separating Simon and Calli, and Simon ran out with Calli sitting about three feet from the doorway. Calli is pictured on the left. I think Simon may have been lying in wait to get the chance to dart out.  I made the big mistake of yelling out, "No!", which might have added stress to Simon.  Anyway, he stopped in front of Calli and starting his pre-attacking yowling.  My husband stood in between them and tried to shoo Simon away, but Simon wouldn't move.  So my husband then reached towards Simon to carry him away.  Quicker than the speed of light, Simon embedded his claws tightly and deeply into my husband's hand and wrist area then bit him.  My husband yanked his arm to get it out of Simon's grip, but Simon would not let go until my husband shoved him off with his other hand.  Simon still would not move away, though and was still in attack mode, so my husband had to shove him with his foot to make him move off and quit going for him.

All the commotion did get Calli to dart in the correct direction into the room Simon just came from, fortunately, so I could quickly close her in.  But then Sparky (who can't be mingled with Simon either) had escaped out of his area somehow, and when my husband started yelling, he ran right behind Simon to get out of the room.  I feared Simon would bloody up Sparky, but Simon was scared by then from all the yelling and panic and hid behind the toilet in the laundry room he and Sparky ran into, and Sparky ran out the pet door into the enclosure.  So I closed off the pet door, got all of the other cats shut away from Simon, got a carrier to go out and retrieve Sparky and set him in his correct area.  I was able to give Simon his asthma inhaler, interestingly, but he was then in scared hiding cat mode trying to lay low.  Then it was off to the ER.

My husband didn't need stitches, but he did need an updated tetanus shot, some antibiotics and pain meds.  Simon got the area by the thumb, and my husband can't really use his hand.  It got puffy too and the pain went from his hand up along the nerve to his elbow.  Cat wounds hurt a LOT. Still, I am glad it wasn't poor sort of helpless obese older Calli who got tore up.  She might have wound up with chunk of flesh torn out as she would not have been able to shake Simon off.

So, I guess we need to try to find a home for Calli, which is going to be very hard as not many people want an obese, 10 year old cat who sometimes makes swipes and bites when one pets her too much.  She's nothing like Simon, though.  No cat I ever knew in my life is like Simon.  He's a combination of a tame, people loving house cat with a sweet side, and a wild, territorial street cat who believes in "shoot first, and forget about asking any questions later".  He actually is scared inside, but covers it with being aggressive.  We are going to ask the ask the vet for some meds for Simon, something like Prozac or one of the other meds sometimes used for high strung cats.  Then if we ever do get to rehome Calli, he could be weaned off the meds.  We can't rehome Simon with the way he is, plus needing his asthma treatments twice a day.  He redirected aggression onto me too a few months ago in a similar manner, but it was on my arm and I didn't bother going to the doctor.  Maybe I should have gone but it didn't get infected.

Michelle can't call soon enough about when she can take Sparky.  Calli has been hiding a lot when the Sparks gets revved up, and sometimes Jolie hides too.  Though she sometimes tries to hold her ground.   Now Sparky is trying to dominate the other cats and Sumner and Galen were each seen neck gripping each other.  I don't know if they were practicing to perfect doing it back to Sparky or it all the cats are now going through a big shake up.  Probably the latter.  Sumner did finally smack Sparky in the head when Sparky was yet again jumping on him and Sumner did do the neck grip dominating hold on Sparky.  That was good to help Sparky not feel like he is the All Powerful Cat and maybe he will quit harassing Sumner so much.  I pray Michelle's cats do ok with him.  Right now, Sparky is very social for the company of other cats and likes them around.  To do some dominating, yes, but he still is a kitten and wants to play friendly-like as well.

Simon was a good boy today.  Sumner and Galen had a brief to-do with Galen yelping.  Then Simon came posturing over at Sumner with that challenging head-tilt, ear cocked pose, but as soon as my husband walked in the room Simon ran behind the toilet again and sat in a submissive "I'm a good, calm, innocent cat" pose.  We know Simon didn't make Galen yelp, but Simon probably was worried he was going to get in trouble for it.

Simon isn't as bad as it must sound since I mostly describe his aggressive side.  Just now he came meowing with he sweet sound and dropped one of stuffed rats for me a present.  This afternoon I napped on the couch and he climbed up on me kneading and purring for many minutes, which is not something he does often.  He's a good cat, really (except when he's not LOL!). 

It's hard being Simon, full of fears and worries about stranger cats.  He must have been beaten up when he was on the streets before we took him in, and he wasn't full grown then either, just about Sparky's 7-9 months old age, except he was the size of a full grown cat then.  If he ran into to the likes of a cat like he is now, he sure had a traumatic time as a "teenager" in regards to unknown cats.  He came to us with animal fight scars, all his claws broken, and a tooth newly chipped, so something bad had happened to him prior to his coming here.  Likely he got chased off by one of the stray Toms and fell from a height in a panicked escape.  He wouldn't leave my porch for three days and nights, so he must have felt he needed sanctuary.

So he really is a scared kind of cat, just big and strong and confident enough in his physical abilities to fight that which he fears might get him, and all unknown cats are seen as possible enemies in his eyes.  Except for fluffy, smooshy Persian Marty we had a short while.  Simon let Marty eat food out from under his nose.  But the key was that Marty NEVER hissed or growled, only made appeasing little purrt noises to Simon and he acted like a submissive little kitten, not the young adult he was age-wise.  Calli and Dolly hissed at him when he came near them, so being hissed at by new cats is one of his deciding factors.