Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I get up for 2 minutes to do laundry and INKY went for CC in the box at the base of the staircase. I screamed (sudden high pitched gasp to distract them-ala Victoria Stillwell in It's Me Or The Dog) and banged on the french doors to really distract them. CC was not fazed and INKY soon walked away. Still I think these negative interactions are supposed to be avoided at all costs right now. I hear cats don't just "work it out".
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Last night I grew tired of the treating and let INKY get closer to CC and even let him get whiny and growly. Then...I squirted him with water (remember, never let your cat CATCH you doing this!!!!). I had to squirt him a few times to get him to stop the insanity then I just ignored him. I had to do this again today. Same scenario: CC on the spiral kitty staircase and INKY on the TV next to the structure making noises.
Last night I took INKY into the guest bedroom and tried to play with him. Most good feline behaviorists will tell you to play with your cats daily. It is important to complete the prey cycle (I'll have to write about THAT another time). But, I've been having trouble doing that with my cats lately. At least he played a little and we got to spend some quality time together without the other buggers (until they started scratching at the door). Anyone have insight about my cats not playing properly? I know they are distracted and paranoid about the other cats ruining their game (which tends to happen when the other cats miss mommy and start scratching at the door and crying. OK...maybe it's not me...maybe they just NEED to know what is going on on the other side of the door!)
For now, I continue to use the bribery technique for counter conditioning as often as I can STAND it! God only knows what happens between them when I am not here!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
I moved into my bedroom to watch Housecat Housecalls with JP sprawled on my lap. Apparently at this time, INKY had redirected his anger and my husband caught him going after Scooter. Scooter and CC kinda look alike and they are both kinda anti-social. I'm not sure exactly what Spike(husband) did to stop INKY....but...everyone seems fine now.
I need to communicate again with Mieshelle. My contract with her is wayyyyy up and she's busy being newlywed and all (damn, I wanted her to marry a friend of mine down here in Miami) but she said she will write me again. I'm sure I've flooded her box with emails. You see I can't stop e-ying! I just have so many questions. I know many of the basic theories of feline behavior but because I have 5 totally different cats....it all gets complicated.
Would it be better for me to let CC go back outside (she used to be indoor/outdoor before she got attacked and abscessed in Jan. 2008) so she can get the heck away from INKY or will that cause more problems (other than the obvious dangers of being outdoors!!!) such as...new smells setting INKY off like crazy and one of the old problems where CC is afraid to use her cat door because the other indoor kitties are waiting for her just inside. How do you answer THAT?
JP joined my clowder (look it up!) in 1999. I must have just broken up with a boyfriend and decided he could easily be replaced with a kitten (I shall refrain from any further commentary on this subject at this time). I contacted the Cat Network http://www.thecatnetwork.org/ (still don't know how to link to a word!! Der!) and went to a home in Miami Shores to pick myself a lovely kitty. At the time I had Spike (shorthair white with dark gray splotches (one shaped like a hidden mickey!!), Jazz (Spike's brother...long grey fur) and Zebe (foster child, dark longhaired... uhhh.. tabby kinda thing? I'm not too good with breed ID's. I'm not into breeding at all!). Anyhow...I wanted a different looking cat...like, an orange kitty or siamese or something I didn't already have. I've always wanted a black cat, but I actually had a black haired Mufasa a few years earlier.
Well, at this home of a cat network person (I believe it was 2 women that lived there as well as the cats and dogs)...there were many cages filled with many kittens. Any one of them would have been wonderful...but most of them looked like the cats I already had at home. I was harboring a pretty good cross section of cat breeds. Then I met little JP. He was mostly white with grey and black. He looks a lot like Spike...so I kept passing by him. But he wasnt having it! He kept crying and crying for me. He wanted out of the cage full of black monkey-kittens (they were the most insane kittens I had ever met. They frightened me a little). Well, I finally picked him up and instantly fell in love. I really didnt want a repeat of the white with grey theme....but everytime I put him down he cried hysterically until I picked him back up. Then the woman let her wolf dog in the house (yes, the dog was part wolf). He was beautiful. And HUGE. The dog went up to little JP and sniffed him. I though JP was a gonner...but NO! That randy little kitten smacked the wolf in the face and scared him away. That sealed the deal. I signed the adoption paperwork.
The next few days were TORTURE waiting for the women to get JP neutered and physically checked out. I wanted that little kitten in my home so bad. The day I was supposed to adopt him, I went real early to the Luna Star Cafe in North Miami (I figured out the link thing!!) to wait for the call.
They called, I chugged my beer (maybe it was actually coffee?) and bolted over to pick up my little angel. I made my friend drive so I could pet kitten all the way home.
Why JP? Well, being a single private-school teacher (read...poor old maid)living in the big city with no family around...my mom was constantly telling me I shouldnt have cats. I can't afford them etc. So...I wanted to name the kitten after my mom. But it was a boy. My mom's middle name is Jean. That sounds like Jean to me. (this loses something in the translation...Jean could be like GEEEEEN for a girl or John for a haitian/french boy) and my dad's name is Paul. Well, dad is Italian so I don't know why his momma didn't name him Paolo in the first place...thus...my kitty got the continental name of Jean-Paolo or JP or...well, we have many variations around here.
AND HE IS STILL CRYING TODAY! He never shuts up! I love him. He's cute. He's sweet and loyal. In a future post I will tell you about baby JP coming home to see his new big brother Spike. I have a great picture of the 2 of them! But I'll have to scan it...that was in the before times when I didn't know nothin' about no digital cameras. I didn't even have a computer then!! Whaaaat
This AM CC was trying to get down from the spiral staircase and INKY was sitting at the bottom, his stare keeping her up there! I gave them both cat milk and treats to continue trying to recondition them (especially INKY) that seeing eachother equals yummy treats and good times. This seemed to be working well until I realized I couldnt leave them there alone. INKY will never give up! He will sit there all day to be sure she doesn't come down. So....after some moaning and meowing and stuff...I tried to lure INKY into the guest bedroom. Nothing was working and I didnt want to try to pick up an aroused cat again. Then a truck arrived outside the front door, which spooked him a little and he ran into the other room only to return shortly after upon realization that the truck was not going to enter his house. Then it hit me!! Not the truck...an idea. I knocked on the front door. This always works. Cats scrambled left and right to get away from the possible intruder. I was able then to pick up INKY and move him 3 more feet into the guest bedroom. While in there he was on edge. Looking around for the intruder. He didn't want to play so I poured him some food. He wouldn't eat. He ran to scratch the door. That's when I heard the crunching sounds. Spike had been apparently hiding in that room too. He'll never say no to food. Well, eventually INKY calmed down a little. He bumped heads with me and followed me into the bathroom. I let Spike out and INKY even ate some food and watched Waynes World with me. He was distracted by my husband mowing the lawn and coming in and out of the house. So...after a while I went out and saw CC hiding under the computer desk again. I reminded her about yesterdays adventure when we both got trapped by the computer desk (INKY has such power over all of us!) and I picked her up and moved her onto one of her boxes in the studio. She seemed happy. I let INKY out and he sniffed around but didn't find her and didn't get irritable. Thought everything was fine until JP came over here to the computer with me (we planned to blog about HIM today) and suddenly there was the madd hissing dash of dark cats out of the studio and into the TV room. I shook the shaky noise can to stop the insanity and all that did was frighten away JP. I ended up fetching the squirt bottle to squirt INKY (warning, this must be done anonymously! IF your cat realizes YOU are squirting it...s/he will just be mad at YOU. S/he will not connect the squirt with his bad/undesireable behavior)because he was stalking CC...moaning, growling, hissing etc. Now, CC is hiding under the zero gravity chair and INKY is about 2 1/2 feet away on top the previously described classy tupperware furniture. They are both lying down calmly now, so, I'm gonna let it be!
Friday, July 18, 2008
picture of CC on my bed during the initial reintroduction days when she had to get locked alone in the bedroom often. Ain't she pretty?? I love her!!!
This morning I was watching Barking Mad in my bedroom and I wasn't sure if all the angry cat sounds were coming from the TV (where behaviorists were trying to condition a cat to be comfortable (ie. do not attack and otherwise freakout) around dogs. I paused the show (love DVR's!!! I highly recommend this device!) and ventured out into the house at large (not that it's a large house) to find INKY sitting, flat-eared, on a piece of furniture, for lack of better term, and CC cornered under the computer desk AGAIN!
Soon enough there was crying from CC and howling from INKY. CC started to attempt to walk by INKY (pretty confident move! but not smart). INKY was getting really riled up, so I picked up CC to transport her again (maybe that's not smart either. I wish an expert would read this blog and HELP ME!!!) but INKY was not moving and I couldn't walk past him with CC in my arms. I tried distracting him by tossing crunchy balls and shaking containers filled with coins (we have these strategically placed around the house) and I tried pushing the office chair into the "furniture" (OK...it's another tupperward tub filled with some kind of collectibles) to frighten him away, but when INKY gets in this aggitated state therer seems to be nothing to bring him back. CC and I were trapped in the corner. It was pathetic. I reached for a fly swatter and tried gently nudging INKY's behind off the...ok...classy tupperware tub. We're not rich here! And I guess we're not so classy either. We'd get rid of the tubs in the TV room if the kitties didn't love sitting on them so much!
So...I put CC back on the floor under the desk and managed to sneak by INKY myself without incident. I realize I probably made things worse by coming at INKY with CC...and the chair and the noise. Man...I feel like I'm trying so hard here and might not be making the right choices. I need professional help. No...I mean a feline behaviorist. My time with Mieshelle Nagelschneider has long expired...even though she hasn't completely abandoned me. She's the best. I don't know how to hyperlink her name so click this: http://www.thecatbehaviorclinic.com/
At any rate...who is actually still reading this? God bless you.
I coaxed CC out with some cat milk (gave it to INKY too once he appeared to calm down. Gotta stack those positive interaction experiences. THIS I know!). Bottom line: I put CC in solitary confinement in the guest bedroom suite. She has food, water, litter, cable TV...everything a cat could want. Oh yeah, futon and compfy places to sleep - since that's all she ever seems to do now (STRESSED KITTY). I just went back in there to play with her but she must have been hiding under something...or maybe she finally busted out and hitched a ride back to southbeach to reclaim her sobe party-girl lifestyle! She hates the 'burbs.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Can anyone help this poor dude on Premios Juventud sing in tune? Aiiiiy!
Last night CC was up on her perch atop the spiral staircase (built for kitties only) and INKY was below STARING at her for hours. She began to descend and INKY was getting chatty. Since CC would have to walk (or run) past INKY to get food, water or bathroom) I made an executive decision to transport her via my arms past the dreaded INKY and to her food bowl. Dunno if that was smart or not. I ended up with a couple scratches. But I think CC is too scared to go near him sometimes. Saw a video yesterday that talked about, among other things, signs of a stressed cat and I think CC is stressed: compulsive drinking, sleeping A LOT!!! and hiding and she may even be losing fur. Spike(husband) and I even talked about rehoming CC (easier to do than the obvious rehoming INKY).
This AM CC was still up on the perch and INKY still stalking her below. I managed to entice INKY with a toy into the guest bedroom and play with him and hang out for a long time so CC could come down and eat etc. INKY enjoyed his "Mommy-INKY time" today.
So...I have heard no screaming, hissing or fighting since .... ooooh, 11 AM...what day was that? Yesterday? Yeah! New record...but, I was away from home most of today. Doing some work for the Miami Shores Flute Ensemble. When I stopped by the house to feed them at 4:30, INKY and CC were sitting suspiciously close together. I checked INKY's claws and he didn't have any CC fur stuck in them!
I hope you enjoy this closeup picture of CC hiding in INKY's tent. Inky likes to go crazy camping! She's really pretty. Don't you think? I got my Cat Wrangling book yesterday. I'll let y'all know if it is any good. Pettiquette by Amy Shojai is awesome!
Had fun swimming with Tab and her kids today. Came home starving waiting for Spike to come home. Guess it's just me and my quality television programming this evening.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Which brings us to today...
He was evidently still aggitated by this. This AM he was sitting on the couch still staring up at CC who had probably been up on that perch all night. CC came down to eat or something and INKY had a go at her and ended up chasing her screaming into another room while I sprayed him repeatedly with water. Granted, my running after him, possibly yelling (can't really remember to be honest) may not have helped my cause.
So...I decided CC needed to be quarantined (oh no! That's what got us into this mess in the first place!) in the guest bedroom. And Spike insisted on going with her. She's still there now - about 3 hours later. I just removed Spike so she can feel totally safe and relaxed until INKY can calm down out here.
And it is thundering and lightenining to add to the fun!
I'm trying to ignore INKY so he doesn't get attention for his bad behavior. I had a question though....and I'm having trouble remembering it...oh well. There's a couple obvious questions:
1) should I have quarantined her again?
2) should I be totally ignoring INKY? He was scratching at CC's door even.
3) should I not have let Spike in there with CC?
4) should I let CC out for dinner and serve her and INKY yummy stinky canned food together (10-15 feet apart of course)?
My husband and I have 5 cats and 1 house (no dogs, children or other animals). As of January 2008, 4 cats stay inside (Spike, JP, Scooter and INKY) and CC goes in and out as she pleases.
Everything was fine and dandy until the youngest kitty, INKY started to come into maturity (around 18 months of age) and became very territorial. He would spray around the house and attack the other kitties (especially the oldest, Spike, who often can be seen with scratches around his ears). Combine that with JP's urinary problems - stones in his bladder - and we had ourselves an all out pissing war! The vet prescribed amitriptyline and even had to "up" the dosage of that, probably because INKY is a hugantic cat. Well, the meds made INKY gain weight, act lethargic, and made him hate us because we were the pill givers. Let me tell you!!! I have pilled many a cat and I know all the tricks: treats (yeah, right...INKY now will not go near any treat that we tried to hide pills in), devices to shove pills down throats (not having it), holding heads in the right angle, always being quick and confident etc. yeah....INKY is just not into pills. My husband claims he has the neck of Arnold Schwartzenegger - he can avoid any attempt to get pill in mouth and will spit it back up no matter how far down you think you shoved that pill. Don't you love the foamy half digested pills all around the house? EEEEWWW! Oh... and did I mention INKY was still spraying/peeing and attacking the other cats?
But before I forget to mention...INKY is GORGEOUS all black and shiny like a panther. He is super smart. He will do tricks (high five etc) and is very snuggly and affectionate. I adore this cat. OK...so...after several return trips to the vet and being told to put the cat outside (to beat the crap out of neighborhood cats I suppose)...the vet begrudgingly prescribed hormones to make my "bully" (his words, not mine) cat more feminine. So...instead of destroying my cats health with hormones I decided, against the advice of my vet, to find a cat behaviorist to help. I just knew this problem could be solved some other way!
I will skip the details righ now...but, I FINALLY managed to find the most wonderful woman in the cat world: Mieshelle Nagelschneider http://www.thecatbehaviorclinic.com/. She is in Oregon and I am in Miami, but lets just say she is brilliant and dedicated and almost like magic she solved that problem. I will write more about THAT and her in other posts I'm sure. But I tell you right here and right now...if you have a cat behavior problem anywhere in the US or Canada...contact her immediately!!
Skip to January 2008. CC had an abscess on her back and had to go to the hospital overnight. I could put a lot of blame on a lot of things (and people..including myself)...but....basically what happened is...after being quarantined in the bathroom then the guest bedroom (had to kick my houseguest out even), INKY would not accept CC back into the pride. Perhaps she smelled too much like the dreaded vet...and INKY had a totally flip out on CC. Not just growling and hissing. We're talking crazy moaning, screaming, spitting, howling.....it reminded me of the time a year ago when taking him back to the vet - probably to get his hormone prescription (which I never filled, thank you very much) and he was making such crazy noises it sounded to me like a 3 year old human being bludgeoned to death. Or at least...I immagine that's what THAT would sound like. Havent tried it or witnessed it myself. I digress.
So....we are almost up to date here. I'll try to spare you more details again...but...I've read several cat behavior books and seen videos and done a lot of research online about this. I know I have to do a slow reintroduction as though CC is a new cat. All the obvious tricks werent working as quickly and well as I had read they would...so...what did I do? I hired Mieshelle again. SHE ROCKS! She basically said the same thing: slow reintroduction. I dont feel like putting all the details down here since I already have written WAY too much...but I fear posters will start posting advice with obvious garbage like, you have to share the scents of the cat. DUH! yeah.
I tried to make every meeting between the 2 of them positive (yummy stinky wet food) and did some allogrooming. Go look that up. Most vets dont even know what that means. After several months I had to resort to adding medication to the routine. INKY is just so high strung and nervous etc. My vet really didnt want to medicate him again and knew nothing about compounding meds so I dont have to risk losing a finger (HELLO! I'm a musician...I kinda need all the digits intact!). I thought I was doing him a favour educating him about the compounding. I dont think he saw it that way. To this day we dont seem to be on the same page with INKY. But at least he did give in and get me my amitriptyline gel for INKY's ears. Of course, once again the meds didn't do anything except make him gain weight. Now we are on Buspar (no, just INKY, I'm on other meds. I have different problems). It seems to be taking the edge off...but I am not totally satisfied and I think I need to stop begging this vet to give me different drugs.
Where are we today? Well, INKY is on 7.5 mg of Buspar 2 times a day transdermally (in the ear). All 5 cats have free roam of the house (I have ommitted a big story of how we got THERE). INKY spends a good amount of his day stalking CC who has become more frightened than ever. She hides up high and in places where INKY can't reach her. She can spend 12 hours straight in one place with no food, water or litterbox. At least once a day INKY has an interaction with her which I usually don't see, I only hear a scream. Noone has gotten hurt yet. CC tends to come out to eat when I am around because she knows I will try my best to keep INKY at bay.
I am fascinated by feline behavior. Please stay tuned to hear more about the antics in our home. I would love to hear what you have to say...especially if you happen to be in the biz. I wish I could find a reputable cat behaviorist in the area to come to my house (on the cheap would be best as I AM a musician)...anyhow...more to come.