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I hope this doesn't turn into a problem (pets).


Luminara
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Keeping this short, have to work with the girls, but I just brought a stray kitten home.  Jessica, my cat, is... not small.  She's burly, muscular and bigger than most males, and has an instinctual drive to chase and catch that makes most cats seem completely domesticated.  This is a 12'x16' cabin, only one room, no way to keep the two separated other than the carrier, and May, the new kitten, panics when she's in it.

 

Jessica needs a feline friend (no amount of play time i give her is sufficient, she's obsessed with play), May needs a home and I need to be able to sleep at night without worrying about a kitten trying to survive under a house, alone and unloved.

 

But I'm really concerned that I'm going to wake up tomorrow and discover that Jessica has used May's internal organs to decorate the cabin.

 

Fingers crossed, folks.

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Thanks to severe allergies, I'm clueless when it comes to cats.  I'm pretty good with dogs, having owned several and spent a while as a long-distance dog courier between Southern shelters and Northshore Animal League on Long Island.  But I digress.  Let me put this to my sister, the animal whisperer.  I swear she has an aura that attracts all manner of animals.  She's owned several cats, always 3 at a time, and has spent a lot of time as a volunteer at a cat rescue society.  No guarantee she has any tips to help, but no harm in trying.

 

(Hmm...The Animal Whisperer.  Name for a mastermind?)

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Going to bed soon, but it's been relatively peaceful between them.  May has already grown comfortable enough to explore a bit, and even play, but she's displaying a preference for physical attention and close proximity to me (she'll be a lap cat, definitely).  Jessica is establishing herself as the dominant one, but she's really uncertain about what's happening and how to handle it.  They've exchanged a few hisses and aimed a couple of thwaps at each other (May tries to keep a distance, but she doesn't back down when Jessica comes too close), and Jessica is growling while she stares at May, but she's behaving completely normally (for her) when she interacts with me (fortunately).  No claws or teeth yet, or even physical contact, between the two of them.

 

I think they'll make it through the night without me sitting between them.

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I'm happy to hear there is progress, seemingly.  Hopefully nothing further is needed, but just in case, I received a reply from my sister. It reads:

 

couple thoughts.  There are Liquid and airborne remedies to calm a cat.  The Shelter uses Rescue Remedy and I use Richard's organics pet calm liquid.  

(Which can be found on Amazon.com)

 

There are calming collars, too, such as Relaxivet calming pheromone collar for cats (Also available on Amazon.)

 

There ar also several plug in airborne pheromone diffusers that fill the room with calming scents.  (Relaxivet cat calming pheromone diffuser was mentioned, again at Amazon)

 

Besides these they should hold/pet the big cat for a little while then pet the kitten while still paying attention to the big cat. This reinforces to the big cat that she is still the Queen.

 

They can also use the carrier as a hideaway for the kitten. Make it comfortable for her but don't shut the door. Drape a towel over the door area with just a small opening. Cats like to go in dark places when they are scared. If the kitten runs to the crate the big cat most likely will not follow her all the way in.

 

Put the big cat's food down first then the kitten's but about 3 feet away.    

 

The biggest thing is patience!! It could take up to 3 months for things to settle down.

 

(Hopefully, much faster - Techwright)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Techwright said:

The biggest thing is patience!! It could take up to 3 months for things to settle down.

 

No broken bones or dismembered limbs when I woke up.  Eyeballs still intact, ears don't have any piercings.  I'm taking care of some other cats for a friend this week, so these two spent the morning together without me to intercede.  To my surprise, May was still where I left her on the love seat, and Jessica was sitting on the top of the tree-bed-house-thing, 3' away, without growling, hissing or even glaring.  I opened the adjacent window, May hopped onto the tree-bed-house-thing, right into Jessica's face... and it was almost 10 seconds before Jessica hissed.

 

Jessica could still unintentionally cause May serious harm, or kill her (really not exaggerating, she's built like a weight lifter), but I think we're past the "I'm going to kill that little whore" problem.

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They made some progress today.  Several moments when they were almost in physical contact without hissing, growling or raised hackles.  They even came close to playing together under the love seat.  Jessica even did her butt wiggle when she was stalking May at one point.

 

This is all on Jessica.  May's settled in perfectly.  She uses the litter box, knows where the food and water are, explores her new home and is absolutely happy.  She's submissive to Jessica, but not to the degree of rolling over and showing her belly.  She'll hiss back, that's about it.  Once Jessica relaxes, I think they'll get along.  If Jessica relaxes.  Torties aren't known for being calm, and being half Savannah, she's owning crazy like she invented it.  But she's not being hateful, and that's a big step in the right direction.  My last tortie was hateful, and would've gladly killed my Maine Coon if she hadn't been half his size.  The reversal in this situation, with Jessica being the big, strong one, is what had me most concerned.

 

I think we're almost there.  A few days and I might see them curled up together... or sitting in the rubble of the cabin, wearing their innocent expressions.  May has that "incorrigible scamp" look.  May is probably short for Mayhem, but when I ask, she just sticks her head in my hand for more scritches.

 

Eh.  I built one cabin, I can build another.

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We had two frights this morning.  Well, Jessica did.  She's very easily startled, which is actually hilarious.  Her tail puffs out like a chimney broom (her hackles don't raise, oddly), and she waves it furiously until I pick her up and calm her down.  She's so used to not hearing unusual or unexpected sounds that May hopping down from her perch surprised her.  Poof, swish swish!

 

But they just had a nose to nose encounter without a hint of aggression.  I should probably start drawing up plans for the next cabin...

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There was a stretch of about half an hour with these two engaging in slap fights, chases and tackles this evening.  Jessica whipped out the claws a couple of times, tail puffy and flailing, but she calmed down quickly when I spoke.  I didn't shout, I just talked quietly, soothing her with my voice.  May seems to know what's expected of her.  She'll try to instigate play, and becomes submissive if Jessica asserts her dominance, but she defends herself when backed into a corner.  They also spent more time on the love seat together, and Jessica even made a few attempts to pounce on May's tail.

 

Bed time.  Well, for me.  The girls are already asleep.  They probably need their energy for a 3 a.m. spaz-attack.

Get busy living... or get busy dying.  That's goddamn right.

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Woke up at 5 a.m. this morning, knew immediately where Jessica was.  She sleeps near my legs.  Clambered out of bed, checked the time, turned on the lights and started looking around for May as I filled the kettle for my morning coffee.

 

Not on the base of the bed-tree-house-thing.

 

Not on the love seat.

 

Not in the shower.

 

Not on a window sill.

 

Finally, I turned to ask Jessica if she'd seen her.

 

May was lying 1' away from Jessica.

 

Jessica looked at May, raised a paw and bopped her on the head.  May didn't flinch.

 

We're going to be just fine.

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They just needed to establish a pecking order, once that's done it's usually less stressful for them and their hooman.

 

The biggest thing regarding cats and space is they need their own. We currently have only one cat but he has three cat trees of varying size and a window roost. For multiple cats, they tend to like to have their own space where they can relax without having to deal with others, low hidey-holes, high perches, etc.

 

Glad to hear that your two cats have worked it out and are getting along.

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1 hour ago, Oubliette_Red said:

Glad to hear that your two cats have worked it out and are getting along.

 

They've reached the point of grooming one another.  And sleeping side by side occasionally.  I came home yesterday to find them snuggled up on the bed together.

 

Jessica moved before I could pull out the phone to take a picture.  She's a greeter.

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  • 4 weeks later

Final update to provide closure for anyone who was interested.

 

May is still somewhat skittish around me.  She usually dashes under the love seat or scoots away when I try to pet her.  I have to let her come to me.  And she nearly panics when I pick her up.  I've been holding her for a few seconds each day, so she can become accustomed to it, but it's going to take a long time for her to adapt to that.  Inexplicably, she doesn't mind if I grasp her tail when she's going past, and she'll lie on the love seat next to me and allow me to pet her when she's ready for a nap.  I think she's bonded with Jessica too well.  She doesn't hesitate to sit or lay with Jessica, chase her, let herself be chased, etc.  Jessica is her best friend, I'm not, and I suspect it will always be that way.  And I'm okay with that.  A big part of why I took her in was to provide Jessica with a companion, not because I needed more than Jessica was providing for me, so she's doing what I'd hoped.  I'm always hopeful that she'll take to me a little more, but Jessica's happiness and well-being are what matter most, and she seems to be happy to have May as her foster sister.

 

Play time with Jessica and May is not gentle.  Jessica bites May so hard that May squeals and whines... and as soon as she breaks free, or I intercede, she pounces on Jessica and starts it all over again.  Chases can be chaotic with both of them running around and under things, especially with Jessica's size and strength (bull in a china shop).  May has some odd fascination with my shoes and boots, scatters them all over the place several times every day.  She also, and it's absolutely adorable, vocalizes when she's playing with jingly balls.  She won't do it with strings or pieces of paper or anything else, only with jingly balls.  Chatters away like she's having a conversation when she's playing with those.  When Jessica wants play time with me, May intrudes, which confuses Jessica.  She's not sure if she's supposed to keep playing, or let May have fun instead.  I'm still trying to find a way to give Jessica some exclusivity, but in a 12'x16' space, there's really no way to separate the two, so we're still working on it.

 

She's definitely settled in and accepted that this is her life, and she seems to be aware that it's better than it would've been under that house.  She's a happy kitten with two friends who love her, all of the entertainment she could dream of, warm places to sleep, plenty of food and the freshest water nature can provide.  She spends most of her time playing, and she does it with the exuberance and gusto that only kittens can pull off.  I'll have to take her to a vet in a few months, for shots and spaying, and I already know that's not going to be a pleasant experience for either of us.  We'll get through it, and I'm sure Jessica will be a big comfort for her when she comes home.  Other than that, I think there's nothing really notable left to say.

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  • 1 year later

I did it again.

 

Back at the beginning of October, 2021, I was sitting here, playing Co*, and I heard a cat.  I look at Jessica, Jessica looked at me, May looked at Jessica, I looked at May, and so on.  We spent at least 90 seconds asking one another, "Did you say something?" and doing double-takes.  Then I heard it again, and I was certain it came from outside.  I walk out onto the porch, look around, and see...

 

IMG_20211031_170133578.thumb.jpg.318052aee19c773112057b144bec9b4a.jpg

 

Arthur.

 

Let's pause here for a moment to consider this.  A small mammal wandering alone in the forest, meowing.  From an evolutionary perspective, nothing about that indicates fitness to survive.  Making noise increases the likelihood of a larger predator homing in and attacking, and it also warns prey, so if the animal making the noise isn't eaten by something else, it's not going to find anything to eat, itself.  And cats aren't stupid animals, evolutionarily speaking.  He was meowing with a purpose.  He was looking for something.

 

He was looking for me.  @Bill Z Bubba, I told you that the cat chooses you.  Perfect example, right here.

 

I'm Arthur's best friend.  He tells me I'm his best friend every day.  He follows me wherever I go in the forest.  He'll follow me right up to the nearest road, he'll follow me on a four hour hike, he'll follow me when I'm carrying a chainsaw and a splitting maul.  Where I am, is where he wants to be.  And I can't say that I have the slightest problem with that.  He's almost the perfect cat, as I see it.  If he'd jump up on my bike and go for a ride with me, then he'd be perfectly perfect.  But that's a step farther than he's willing to go, and I'm also fine with that.  A hiking/wood cutting buddy is one more buddy than I had before.

 

Anyway, Arthur went back up the hill and told all of his other friends about me.  And one by one, they all moved down to the valley.

 

camille.png.931a416f8dd5edfaa127487ee9e7ebd4.png

 

Arthur's mother, Camille, was the next one to show up.  She's as sweet as any animal I've ever met.  She's not clingy, just always happy to see me and to be pet.

 

Up next was a surprise.

 

Madeline.thumb.jpg.c56b7d49afa84723d941faf61bd8bf30.jpg

 

The first time I saw this one, I thought it was Arthur.  And, of course, I rushed forward, arms thrown wide, cooing with delight... and I was soooooooooo confused when "Arthur" ran away.  Then Arthur walks up behind me, and I'm still seeing not-Arthur's butt receding into the brush.  Turned out, Arthur has an almost freaking identical twin sister, Madeline.

 

And there's one who I haven't taken a picture of yet, Jacob.  Jacob is Camille's brother.

 

Arthur and Camille are human-friendly, Jacob and Madeline are feral.  I was lucky to get that picture of Madeline.  BUT, after almost 8 months, I've gotten both Jacob and Madeline to the point of not bolting as soon as I open the door.  I can stand on the porch and murmur to them, and if it's dark enough, and I move slowly enough, ever-so-gently brush my fingertips along their backs.

 

None of these cats are a problem.  Cat food is cheap, I can afford to feed some strays despite living so far under the poverty line that it's hilarious.

 

The first problem is the other cat I haven't photographed.  Oskar.  Oskar is the father of Arthur and Madeline.  He's... enormous, as cats go.  He has a facial shape like a mountain lion, and when he locks eyes with you, it's not pleading or affection you see, it's calculation.  He is, quite simply, the most glorious example of a cat I've ever laid eyes on.

 

He's also feral, and worse, brutal to the other cats.  Male, female, doesn't matter, he's attacked all of them.  Both of Arthur's left legs have punctures from Oskar laying into him.  Madeline can't keep her head straight, she's always tilted slightly from whatever he did to her.  I caught him tearing into Camille a couple of weeks ago.  Jacob has, as far as I can tell, escaped the wrath of Oskar, but only because he never stays around long enough for Oskar to find him.

 

I tried to befriend Oskar, but he won't stop attacking the other cats, so I made it a point to run him off every time I see him.  Even that isn't working well... I'm awakened at 2 or 3 in the morning every few days by the sound of Arthur's screams of terror and pain echoing through the forest as Oskar goes all out in an effort to murder him.  I don't foresee a trap working on Oskar, not as wily as he's become as a totally feral cat, and I'll probably catch raccoons, possums and the other cats at least a hundred times before Oskar even sniffs the trap.  I may have to put an arrow through Oskar.  It's not the solution I want, but I have to protect my friends.

 

The other problem is, neither Camille nor Madeline have been spayed.  None of these cats belong, or belonged, to anyone.  I knew the grand dame of the entire brood (except Oskar, no idea where he came from).  She was a super fluffy orange cat named Bulldog.  She showed up when I was living in a tent, five years ago, then migrated up the hill.  She's Camille and Jacob's mother.  Pretty sure she's either gone somewhere else, been taken by the woman who used to live in the mobile home on the road (her mother passed away four years ago, she packed up and moved shortly thereafter), or died of old age by now.

 

I noticed that Camille was pregnant in December.  In February, she delivered.  Around the middle of April, she brought her litter down to meet me.  Three kittens.  One looks like Oskar (think Arthur/Madeline, with more white and less gray), one looks like Jacob and one looks exactly like her.  Being a cat person, I was instantly smitten.  And not having been socialized, all of the kittens were instantly running for cover.

 

But even the realization that I'm probably going to be up to my ears in cats and kittens in less than two years isn't the problem.  I don't know how, but I'll find a way to save up enough to get Camille and Madeline spayed, and let them go back to being outside cats after they've recovered.

 

No, the problem is, I swore I wasn't going to bring any of them inside.  Not Arthur, no matter how besotted with him I am (and i am).  Not Camille, no matter how many times she tries to walk right through the door.  Not the kittens, no matter how adorable they are.

 

I broke my oath.

 

A bit more than a week ago, Camille came down to the cabin with her kittens again.  Two of her kittens.  The third, mini-Camille, was nowhere to be seen.  I was almost in tears all day.  I crawled under the cabin, I walked all over the woods, I went everywhere looking for it, and it just wasn't to be found.  I assumed a predator, or Oskar, had killed it.

 

Two days ago, the kitten reappeared.  And it was... shocking.  Not the fact that she was alive, that was one of the most joyful moments I've ever experienced, but how bad she looked.  Her eyes were sunken, the nictitating membranes not fully opening, spine and ribs visible even through the kitten fluff... she hadn't eaten in a week, and when she tried to nurse, Camille shoved her away.  She tried to eat some dry food, but she didn't have the strength to crunch a single piece, finally letting it fall out of her mouth and flopping over from exhaustion.  And she wasn't even half the size of the other kittens.  At three months, she should be no less than two pounds.  She's not even a quarter of that.

 

I had a can of wet food left from when I was caring for the cat I had before Jessica.  Opened it up, dished it out and brought it to her on the porch.  She dove right into it, ate until she couldn't eat any more, then staggered off of the porch, looking for water (i don't put out a water bowl because the stream is 30' from the cabin).  Watching her walk was agonizing.  She could barely move, kept stumbling... I followed her and waited until she drank her fill, then carried her back up to the porch.  She went to Camille again, and Camille rejected her.

 

So there she was, this almost dead, under-weight, under-sized little thing, paws tucked under her, looking at the porch boards with a thousand yard stare... that was it.  That was my breaking point.  I just couldn't leave her out there.  Camille had basically told her to fuck off and die, and that's exactly what was going to happen if I didn't step in.

 

Not on my fucking watch.  Not this under-sized, under-weight, innocent little thing.

 

I went back outside, picked her up and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening holding her, petting her, murmuring to her.  I put out the last of the wet food I had, a small bowl of water (i don't put out a water bowl for Jessica or May because Jessica played hockey with the water bowl, and prefers to drink out of the Brita filtration container anyway, and May does what Jessica does.  but this little one couldn't reach that, so she needed something on the floor), and showed her the litter box.

 

She bonded with me so hard and fast, I can't help but believe she knew I was saving her life and was grateful.  She started purring after a few minutes, and didn't stop for the rest of the night.  Slept next to me, followed me all morning as I started my day, and parked herself right in my lap when I returned in the afternoon.  That was two days ago.  She's capable of walking without falling over now, her eyes are clearer and not sunken, her tail is erect and she's... happy.

 

May is furious.  She's been hiss-snorting for two days, and growling when she wasn't hiss-snorting.  Jessica just stares at her, and hisses when she gets too close, but otherwise, seems to be adapting better than May.  And this little thing takes it all in stride.  When the other two cats reject her, she totters back to me, tail raised, purring.  She climbs my pants leg, curls up in my lap or right next to one of my legs, and rumbles herself to sleep.  She even played a little last night, and has started washing herself again.

 

bunny.thumb.jpg.ff7586ec4ee7320330f2b79eeb2cf353.jpg

 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Rebecca.  I call her Bunny, because she looked like a baby bunny when I first saw her, the way she sat and held her head.  As you can see, she's not just a runt, she's so small, runts make fun of her.  As I said, at 3 months, she should be four times her weight and twice this size.  It's going to be rough with three cats inside.  A 12'x16' living space is not exactly a mansion.  But I'd rather feel cramped than guilty, and knowing that she wouldn't have survived one more day without my help, I know this was the right decision.  I don't know that she will live, in fact... it may be that Camille cat-sensed that she was sick or something and that why she rejected her.  But if the progress she's made is any indication, I think she's going to be fine.  And I really hope she is, because I've already become so attached to her that thinking about losing her sets me off on another spate of sniffling and wiping at my eyes.

 

...

 

Ivan climbed my pants leg to sit in my lap when he was a kitten.  Bunny's doing a lot of things Ivan did.  Perhaps that's why I'm so smitten with her.  Or maybe I just have a really, really soft spot for "hopeless" cases, like bringing her back from the brink of death and taming Madeline and Jacob.  Or maybe it's just because she's so small, and so affectionate toward me, and so nonchalant when the other two warn her off, and she walked a quarter of a mile after starving for a week and still wasn't ready to lie down and die.  I don't know.  But I love her intensely.  So we'll make the living arrangements work, one way or another.  She's staying.  She's home.

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