Purrfect Pet-Sitting! (Part 2)

I was surprised and so happy that in the 12hrs after my cat-sitting posting went ‘live’ I got about 6 applications! Single people, couples, some traveling in Canada at the time, some retired and living not far from me, some willing to come to my home from England and the US. I’ve since learned that for those offering to pet-sit, there is a daily ‘e-mail blast’ that they can subscribe to that shows all new listings. Smart.

The next part was a little overwhelming for me and I’m not sure I can tell you why. I read each application e-mail carefully, looked at each of the potential pet-sitters profiles, read what others have said in their reviews of candidates’ pet-sits, looked at their ‘verification level’ (basic, mid or advanced in terms of security check), and their level of cat-experience.

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One couple who applied were exceedingly experienced and from the local area as well. They were a retired professional couple who had many international long and short duration pet-sits. In fact, as part of their letter to me, they provided a link to a Toronto Star article which was written about them and their pet sitting. With their immense experience and my lack of experience, I thought this would be a perfect fit. I contacted them using the in-site messaging system, and we discussed the cat-sit. I was suddenly much more comfortable – they seemed amazing and very trustworthy. They asked if I had photos of the home.

Good photos are integral to your profile. People react to images – like in adopting out kittens, selling your home, or posting a dating profile. The necessity of having photos for success in securing the right people was apparent to me and I ran around the house taking photos of rooms the pet-sitters would use. It was an overcast day and frankly, everything would have looked nicer in the sun, but I didn’t have time to obsess since my profile was up for 18hrs without any images. Though the site tells you to add many photos to make your profile interesting and engaging, I was only able to upload 6… no matter how I tried or reduced the size of the images I was using. It turns out that their system only allows 6 at this time.

I also uploaded photos of Nuala, Shadow and Cooper with short descriptions of each – there’s a photo section for your pets.

 


My potential cat-sitters were delighted to see the photos and agreed to the pet sit. I was relieved, excited and happy – until a day later when they cancelled; needing to be elsewhere because of an illness of a friend. This was understandable, but it does highlight a potential challenge with this system. Sitters might cancel. You need a back-up if things don’t work out. Imagine if this happened last-minute!

Luckily, I’d had 4 excellent applications (I had 12 in total – and I ‘shut off’ my posting after 2 days so I wouldn’t get more). In a matter of hours, I chose a couple who I had a great feeling about. We messaged back and forth and had a face-time chat from their pet-sit in England. They are semi-retired as he can work from home anywhere in the world. They were warm, engaging, knowledgeable and funny – able to answer all my questions. We ‘clicked’ and we agreed that they’d come and pet-sit for me.

I want to highlight that I found it helpful to:

  • Schedule and have a face-time or skype conversation – a real conversation will have much more depth and give you an idea if this is the right fit for you. I am ridiculously inept with this – I never use video calls. My first was to my pet sitters. I muddled through – they were forgiving. If I can do this, you can too.
  • Make a list of all the questions I had for the pet-sitters – so I wouldn’t forget them when we were talking. Read the company online material on how to organize pet-sits.
  • Make a list of the ‘truths’ about us that I’d want them to know – things that might put someone off. I was very upfront about Shadow’s nervous stomach and the fact that she throws up 2-3 times a week and that they would only need to wipe up – that I’d wash the floor before and after the pet-sit. That they shouldn’t worry about this. That Nuala is litter-sensitive and would try to pee standing up (and get some outside the box) if she had to go more than 24hrs without the litter being cleaned… you get the idea.
  • Be up-front about house rules. One person would have friends come and visit her in our home (but not stay overnight) – this came out in the video call. That just wasn’t a good fit for me – not that there’s anything wrong with it. Other simple things – I was clear – no shoes in our home and absolutely no smoking of any kind. Again, you get the idea.

This whole process was more detailed and personalized than interviews I’ve done with local pet-sitting services before hiring them. Frankly, putting in significant thought and consideration into your ‘interview’ process pays dividends throughout the pet-sit. Ultimately, you are responsible for who will be coming into your home as your ‘guest’. Most are doing this with care and good intentions – but you need to be sure and comfortable that it’s a good match. It’s always possible that there are some in it for selfish-only reasons; less concerned about the pets and unable to manage the house responsibilities – a reality of human nature. In a sense, both sides are taking a leap of faith so make sure you look carefully before you leap.

Like anything, there can be negatives:

  • Time investment to get this all set up and organized;
  • Some breakage from regular use of household items;
  • For security reasons you should lock away valuables;
  • Your dates or your location may not draw enough pet-sitter attention (your profile and pictures become more important);
  • Departure timing/ flights times need to be clearly discussed/managed. Plan to have sitters arrive early and give yourself a sufficient buffer (perhaps they need to come hours or a day early);
  • Utility (and internet) costs might be higher than your normal usage.

The next step was offering the cat-sit to this couple through the site and having them accept the dates. This is the on-site confirmation of the agreement. I’d spent hours making the suggested ‘Welcome Guide’ for the sitters… everything from emergency contacts, to vet info, to house info. When someone ‘accepts’ your offer of the pet-sit, you simply click to send this guide to them. You only need create it once… because it is saved on your profile for future use.

This is already too long, so let me skip forward. The couple arrived at the time we’d agreed and were kinder, more responsible, more wonderful than I could have hoped for. It immediately felt like I knew them and could trust them. I gave them a tour of our home and cats and felt good about leaving them in charge.

We went away for 2 weeks – and had updates regularly from our pet-sitters. They are amazing people who left my home in immaculate order, spoiled my kitties so much that they were too-pampered, and who were more trust-worthy than anyone I have ever had to look after my cats. My first experience was an amazing one. I would have these people back in a heart-beat.

We’d also planned months ago for another week away – and I’d planned to have a neighbour come for a quick visit each day. Instead, I posted this week on the site once I had the membership – and invited one of the 4 great couples who had applied to the first post to apply for this one instead. They were able to come for this week – so we met via face-time, made plans, and they booked their flight from England to visit our home and area. Guess what? They too were great.

It will never be easy for me to leave my home and pets in someone’s care honestly. That is the downside of being a private person and homebody. However, I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried this new paradigm of pet sitting – and this particular company – TrustedHousesitters. This is a good fit for me, for us, and for our cats who have been very happy with this. Well, perhaps Cooper would rather we never leave; he still hides from everyone new (for days on end) but that is a story for another day! IMG_4204 (2)

Here’s the info again in case you are curious: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/su/WxumAgrh

This link above is my ‘personal referral’ and what that means is that if you sign up, you’ll get 20% off the price I paid to join. Or use this code at check-out for the same results: RAF218163. And, I’ll get 2 free months of service on their site. When you join, it’s for a year of using the site – as many pet sits as you want. I didn’t have a referral, so I paid full price (poor me). They are not paying me to recommend them or any such thing – 0 kickbacks and just my honest opinion. Though if they decide to give me extended free membership, I’d take it.

Got questions? I don’t mind answering questions about this service or it’s structure. You will get honest answers – from someone who has been a member for 2 months and had 2 pet-sits in her home (3 weeks of sitting total).

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Purrfect Pet Sitting? (Part 1)

Canada- this is for you. USA- yes it’s for you too. Europe? Yes – you as well. Australians – not sure – try it and let me know! And England and the UK… it’s for you and by you… so thank you!

Many of you cat-lovers find yourselves in the same situation as J and I do. We’d love to travel – visit family who are not close, or go on a week’s vacation, or explore a new country – but a huge concern and hurdle is what we’d do with our kitties.

There is no doubt in my mind that cats would be happiest at home. Cats are so location and habit-bound – it is inherent in their nature. So what do you do? Ask neighbours to drop by? Do you hire a visiting pet-sitter? Someone to stay in-home and provide company as well – despite the costs? Beg family or friends for a big fat favour?

In the past we’ve done a number of these things – and combinations. No one choice or combo was satisfying and the right fit.

We used to have the most amazing pet sitter: a man who was incredibly reliable, a life-long animal-lover who managed a pet store for some time – someone trained and certified in pet first-aid as well as bonded with insurance. He was a dream to work with and worth his weight in gold. He was the person who gave the meds to Nuala’s littermates and mom when we needed to go away. Not everyone can find someone as great as Keill. I wish everyone could – and frankly I will be forever thankful to him for the care he gave our furry friends – fosters and pets.

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Nuala and her litter-mates when they were my foster kitties

When he retired, things went sideways. I called and tried out a number of ‘services’. None were even close to as good as what we’d had. Some were late. Some were dodgy. And the one that did me in was listed as a reputable agency for the whole area, but up-charged ‘distance’ to come to our centrally-located home, failed to provide me with the documents promised, showed me expired liability insurance, and told me that my business was not wanted by them when I asked for their updated liability insurance. What a nightmare! I wish I reported this to the BBB.

No wonder home-owners and pet-lovers are so afraid to leave their homes and pets. We’ve barely been away this past 3 years. Cooper is definitely not used to having us away.

But sometimes life offers you wonderful opportunities for experiences… so if that involves going away, what do you do? I ran into this 8 weeks ago. I had 4 weeks to make pet-arrangements and leave on a two week dream-trip.

Years ago a friend told me about a service she used to leave her cats when she was going on vacation. The prospect seemed interesting but I had concerns. I noted the site, and put it aside. Now, I questioned her and perused the site a number of times. I spent a day looking around, considering their ads, FAQ, as well as the postings I could see, and then discussing it with J. I decided to move ahead – and pay to join this pet-sitting service: if I got one good week of pet-sitting in the year, then it would be worth the $130Cnd membership price.

The premise is simple – and also simply genius. Willing pet sitters offer to care for your animals and home for free while you are away. You offer them a nice place to stay. You gain house/pet sitting services and they gain free accommodation. Your pets get long hours (not just a quick visit) of care and play each day while your house is not visibly vacant, but occupied. They get a free comfortable and clean home to stay in – while they might be traveling to a city they’ve always wanted to see. It’s an idea born out of the ‘sharing culture’ – a bartering of services.

Yes it’s FREE beyond the annual membership fee. Both sides don’t charge for anything.

I’m a very private person and this would not be 100% comfortable for me. It would feel very strange having people I barely know coming to stay in my house – sleeping in my bed and cooking with my pots and pans. But having my home and kitties cared for by other ‘proven’ animal lovers was a prospect I couldn’t ignore.

I paid and began working on our profile: I was rushed since my time was so tight before departure. I had just 3.5 weeks to post our ‘home/cat sit’, get applications from those interested, respond and review candidates, and make the final arrangements. A second worry for me was that I’m in suburbia – and thought I’d post my home/cat sit and perhaps get no responses because no one would want to come – or the site wouldn’t have enough people on it to generate house-sitters for me.

There were three sections to the profile; an intro, about the home and area, and about the responsibilities and pets. I knew that people wouldn’t know anything about me, my home, or my cats, so I had to be clear with our expectations, the duties involved, and also be honest but ‘sell’ our home as a great place to be. (I mentioned that I was nervous that I’d get no responses to my post, right?) The best way for me to do this was to think of why I loved my house and living here – and convey that.

I posted my profile on the site that same day. I set up the dates I wanted for our cat-sit the next day when my profile went ‘live’.  This process took time, and frankly there were a number of actions on the site that didn’t seem intuitive. I had to send the company a couple of messages for things I couldn’t figure out on my own. They provide a live chat – but they are in the UK and off-times for me here. So they responded by e-mail and I found this helpful.

I’m going to write this in two parts… more tomorrow… only because I’m tired and I’m starting to realize just how long my post will be.

 

The website? https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/su/WxumAgrh

I can offer you this – the link above is my ‘friends and family referral’ and what that means is that if you decide to sign up with Trusted Housesitters, you’ll get 20% off the price I paid to join. Or use this code at check-out for the same results: RAF218163. And, I’ll get 2 free months of service on their site when the code is used – so thanks in advance. Membership is for a year of using the site – as many pet sits as you want. I didn’t have a referral, so I paid full price.

They are not paying me to write this – 0 kickbacks and just my honest experience. Though if they decide to give me free extended membership, I’d be a fool to refuse.

Things Go Bump In The Night

I’m a good sleeper. I slept though this whole thing…

From the time Nuala was a kitten, she has periodically (several times a week) dragged the same white shoelace around the house and dropped it somewhere near us. Early on we realized that this was a gifting behaviour where she’d go and ‘find and kill the snake’ and bring it to us as a gift.

When Nuala arrives with ‘the snake’ she makes a big meowy production of it. She chats and carries on until you recognize her skill, generosity and love. “Wow, you are a good girl. Smart kitty. Thank you, Wala!” And then she gets petted by one or both of us … and often picked up for a hug.  Nuala is a shoulder-cat who also loves hugs where she nestles into your neck or ear and nuzzles you. Yes it’s cute. It’s not always convenient when she chooses to do this.

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In the middle of the night last night, Nuala woke J with non-stop meowing and scratching our carpet. It went on and on. Finally he turned on the light… she had found and brought the ‘snake’ and also a small mouse. Yes, a real one.

It was too late already to save the mouse, or J would have tried. We have a 0-kill policy with our kitties. And a sweet little deer mouse from the forest that abuts our garden has every right to live… in the cool fall they do try to get into the warm house. How this one got in … and why he didn’t flee when he smelled cats is a mystery. This happened a year and a half ago… one got in. But we were able to save that one.

So bleary-eyed, J got up and petted and commended Nuala for her heroic and ‘wonderful’ actions and her loving large-hearted generosity in bringing us her kill. To share food is the ultimate compliment from a cat.

Bleary-eyed, he took the departed mouse to the garden fence where hopefully a night creature will have a meal and the food-chain will be natural and whole again.

I guess I’m just lucky she didn’t bring it into our bed to present it to us … like she does with her toy mice.

Things They Never Forget

In just over a month, Nuala will turn 6.

I can’t really believe that. She’s still a kitten in my eyes. I have known her from the first hours of her life. She was born in the house she lives in. She’s faced so little change since she was a kitten. The hardest part was losing two moms – her own mother’s passing when she was just 9 weeks old, and then Mouci’s passing 2 years later. Mouci was every bit a mom to Nuala though Mouci had never had kittens of her own. Theirs was an easy and beautiful bonding.

But like seasons, little things change in our homes and lives. I try to keep the kitties out of our bedroom – not only to keep fur off the work clothes but to ease the burden of dander on J’s sudden diagnosis of asthma that requires a daily puffer.

This doors-closed policy has not sat well with Nuala. 5 times a day she will go to the bedroom door and scratch on it. Wanting in. Wanting in even if we are not there. Wanting in especially if  we are there.

Recently it’s occurred to me that she is bonded with the place. Our master bedroom and bathroom (in all it’s craptasic builder-basic simplicity) is hers in a deep sense I think she feels. She was born there. The weeks she knew her mother were all there. The weeks she played with her siblings were all there. Does she feel all that – that connection to her birth family?

When she comes into the bathroom, she runs and plays along the side of the tub even when she’s alone. The way they used to pay when they were young.

In our bed, she still wants to walk on us and lick us awake and play with our sleeping forms as she did when the 6 kittens had been reduced to 3 with the adoptions of Cayenne, Chili and Nutmeg.  Ginger, Paprika and Saffron (aka Nuala) were given wider house-rights and used to play on us.

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And you  just can’t put down an empty laundry basket. She loves them… she must jump into it to play or sleep. I’ve been thinking of how I carried them from our master bath to the front room to train them to new spaces before they met their future adopters. Every day (2x a day often) – I’d carry kittens in a laundry basket across the home. Did her love and ease of baskets start then and remain with her?

To this day she ‘captures and kills’ the ‘snake’ and brings it to us – the same long white shoelace she played with as a kitten when all the others were adopted and gone. Does she remember? Or does it just resonate in her somewhere?

Nuala was the one left behind. The one who stayed. I often wonder about the others. Are they happy? Safe? Cared for and loved? Would they remember these things if they encountered them again? The shape of the tub that they played in, the feel of that bathroom where they spent their earliest weeks, the smell of each other, the love that was given to them there – by us and by their mom.

I always instinctively knew that the first weeks of life for kittens shape them forever. Forge how they choose to interact with other cats and with humans – forever. How they build trust and connect. But I have never been sure about memories. Nuala is showing me that there is a connection.

So… with a glad heart… and just a bit of melancholy… our bedroom door stays open. Like an open door to Nuala’s past and the days we shared with her family

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Our bathroom (kitty nursery) with nuala and family

 

Out of the Closet

I have thought of a dozen kitty-moments to share with you and failed to sit down to write. I think part of me is sad and guilty that I’m not helping kitties – other than my own. Not directly anyway. The situation with our 3 is precarious and I don’t dare tip things.

Anyway… we just had a little adventure. And as cat lovers I’m sure you will relate.

I was sitting on the couch and toggling through my phone messages when I heard a ‘squeek’ in the background. The lightbulb hadn’t gone on yet… I looked over my right shoulder down the hall and to the dining room and I saw a mouse!

I have not had a mouse in our home since the summer about 12 years ago when Nikita the Brave carried one inside to play with. I mean, I’ve said it often: no sane mouse would ever enter our doors. After all, they would pick up the kitty pheromones and sense that danger. And I’m a little germ/bug phobic and don’t have windows open without intact screens and never leave doors open more than a minute walking into the house – even with groceries.

But good judgment and logic be damned, there he was running along the baseboard towards the front hall. And in a picture my still-befuddled brain managed to register, I saw Nuala, Cooper and Shadow in pursuit. Not hot pursuit – but curious and surprised following. Not really knowing what to do. Even Shadow was too curious to let her scardy-cat heart rule the moment. Pure happy discovery, if not killer instinct.

You never know how cats will react. Nikita – a seasoned hunter, allowed indoor/outdoor, and savvy of the world – would play with a mouse for amusement. Picking it up as gently as a kitten, and put it in the center of the room for it to run and then she could chase and bring her ‘toy’ back to restart the game. Mouci, the most wonderfully sweet cat who got along with everyone, would immediately shake the mouse killing it. We would do all we could to rescue them. We love wildlife.

Don’t get me wrong: I am girly and don’t want to touch mice or have them in my abode. I also don’t want them to die. So this means that I call (quite calmly) to J who arrives on the scene and devises a plan.

Lucky for mr mouse, he ran into my front hall closet. I made sure to follow the chase before I called for J… and saw mr mouse disappear under the door.

Nuala and Cooper were dazed, confused, and a little resentful as they were corralled into the only room that has a door. Then we blocked exits from the closet and my ‘bird rescue’ shoebox was pressed into use – as every shoe was thrown out of the closet in search of a terrified little mouse. It took a while but J managed to get him into the box.

It was only about 3 steps to the door and freedom but he didn’t know it. We let him go in our garden. He just sat there … stunned. And entirely unhurt.

Oh how I wish I had a photo of all three of our kitties coming together to follow – even herd – this poor little mouse. Luckily he didn’t die of shock and fear.

And while Nuala and Cooper are still sniffing every inch of the closet, that ends the adventure of da mouse in da house.

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Not our mouse – but very similiar. Field mice are common since we live near a forest

Embracing The Krazy

You think I’m going to tell you more about Cooper’s hijinx – but surprise! – I’m not.

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‘why youz wavin likes a fool? I waz jus gettin sweepy’

This past weekend I went to the big One of A Kind Show and Sale. I love this show because it’s filled with immensely creative people who make the most beautiful things. Artisans – in wood, paint, glass… and catnip. What?!?

I visited a homey booth that feels like an old friend – a small Peterborough company called Krazy Kitty. In fact, the friend I was at the show with was adamant that this was a booth she had to visit.

Krazy Kitty came into our lives about 17 years ago – when I bought two cat pads for our fab calicos Nikita and Mouci (rip babies). They were an instant hit. They loved them and used them for years. It was one of the best Christmas presents ever for them – and I’ve had the pads on our ‘fave cat gifts list‘ ever since.

Their cat blankets (I call them pads) are rectangular simple fabric on both sides – though more recently one side is fleece for extra cushy-ness. I often chuckle at the bright and lively fabrics because they are cat-themes, whimsical and funny. Inside is a light layer of batting and a helping of their proprietary catnip. Enough for months of enjoyment. This well-constructed cat pad lives up to gentle-cycle washing and the dryer. After washing, you use the small hole in one side to refill the catnip since the wash/dry gets rid of the potent scents.

Their organic catnip is the best I’ve ever used. Even better than my own which I grow and dry myself. Cats go crazy for it – hence the company name.

Ironically, our new vet gives one of their little catnip squares for each check-up visit. When she offered me one, I turned it down initially saying I grow my own. She said it was excellent catnip and organic – so I took one – and only when I got home did I see the little label and grin.

I have 4 cat-pads; now old, thinner and faded with use but still usable. New cats are often happily trained to sit in the spot where these pads are placed. My very old pads are great for lining cat-beds, carriers, or for window-seat places. Happy de-stressed cats.

I bought Cooper his first, new cat pad (that makes 5). My friend came away with their refillable snuggle sticks. I treated each of us to a package of their wonderful catnip. Frankly if I had the money, I’d send you each a kitty pad for your fab feline.

Don’t you love it when a product is really good and the thing lasts?

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My friend barely got in the door before Oscar (19) was demanding his new snuggle stick. I love this fishy design

**No paid endorsements here. Though frankly if they gave me free stuff for a write up, I’d totally do it and you would too! LOL

**No cats were coerced in the making of this blog post – the purring, chewing, drooling love is real

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Like Cooper needs any more krazy!

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Witching Hour

I slept on the couch.

Don’t read drama into this – I wasn’t in the proverbial dog-house and neither was there any domestic dispute. I just like sleeping on the couch sometimes – and trust me the pillows and blankets are already there. You could say I prize comfort and my living room is for ‘living’.

So last night, after a good police show I slept happily. Shadow usually joins me when I’m sleeping the couch. She loves the quiet time with either of us – and cherishes any time she can join us for a sleep.

All was literally dreamy…

Until the Witching Hour. In our home the witching hour is at dawn. Just after the first bits of light are up in the sky. Something deep and evil hits the ‘ON’ switch in Cooper and he runs around and acts like a demon for about 1.5 hours.

He goes nuclear. He harasses the other cats. He runs back and forth across the house like his tail was on fire. He breaks the house rules – like jumping up on the bar counter, walking across my fancy-schmancy plastic-topped washer and dryer (paw print proof, my friends!), ripping into couches, knocking things over, cat food goes flying and everyone in the house is disturbed.

This is an every-morning nightmare. I hate the witching hour – when Cooper becomes a cat possessed!

I was so groggy this morning, that I tried to sleep though it and failed. That is saying a lot (those who know me know that I love me some sleep!). I was only semi-conscious when I got up, took about 2 steps, and flung my blanket in the general direction of the fabric-ripping commotion. I saw a cat fly in the dim light and things quieted down.

It did start back up a little later, but I groggily ignored it. Only when I woke fully this morning did I realize that when I flung the blanket I may have thrown it on Nuala who loves to sit nearby and watch me sleep. Or Shadow who found a quiet comfy place on the couch beside mine.

Oh no! The Witching Hour strikes again. Only this morning I guess I was the witch.

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Crashing after the Witching Hour

Yeah Yeah. I know. Cats as a species are most active in the dawn and dusk times so Cooper is genetically wired to be most active, efficient, predatory at this time. Knowing the science is poor consolation.

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What’s He Up To?

“Cooper, NO!”

Yep -after a long absence from keeping you up to date on our furries, that is still the refrain ringing through the house. Cooper is 1.5 years old. He’s still very much the wide eyed kitten – with naughtiness galore. He’s loving, sweet-natured and far too naughty. I keep waiting for him to ‘calm down’.

Despite his very loving nature, he will purposely bother the living daylights out of Nuala and Shadow trying to get them to play with him. (I mentioned how much better it is to adopt 2 kittens together, right?) He wants to wrestle and chase – he’s all boy. So much for getting a gentle docile kitten – he’s big and very playful. He wasn’t calm and passive – he was just cooped up for his young life before us and just waiting for an opportunity to run free. And run he does. He loves running!

We love Cooper – and J would grudgingly admit that he loves having another boy in the house. Team Blue. Sometimes found lounging together on the ‘boy couch’. I love all he adds to the house – despite the challenges.

Cooper has many things he loves in life… he loves sleeping. He’s either getting in trouble or in a deep blissful slumber. When he sleeps, he’s pliable like play-do. He loves burds. All sorts – but especially woodpeckers who come to my suet. He’s so lucky – there are about 5 bird-feeders and there is almost always a flurry of activity to keep him interested.

This year, I put a couple of feeders right on the wall of the house and he loses his furry little mind when the birds are so close to his nose through the window. He will bonk his head nearly every day in an over-zealous rush at one.

Challenge 1: Poor Us. Cooper will STILL go up on the bar/counter when he thinks we’re not noticing. Not often… but even once is too much. This is our fault – we have not been as vigilant with him as with our other kitties. He also loves to be upside down on the ground and drag himself along the couch. Arrrrrg. He’s also very resistant to training. NO is his middle name.

Challenge 2: Poor Shadow. He loves her. He wants to sit beside her (or on her). He wants to see what she’s doing. What she’s eating. She has always wanted to be away from cats and people for a lot of the day – and he’s too much for her. She’s licked the fur off one part of her leg (stress cleaning) – but we’re very happy that that is the extent of anxiety behaviour in our little stress-bunny. We make sure she feels as ‘safe’ as possible – and she knows that Coop has no mean bones in his body – just a bunch of naughty ones.

Challenge 3: Poor Nuala. Cooper (researched and bought as a ‘sweet docile rescue kitten’) is really here because of her. She needed him for company and love – and wasn’t getting any younger. She loves him – and cleans him – but he still wants to play fight and chase and tackle her. She gets the brunt of his inexhaustible energy and wants to hide. We had long months of behavior incidents with her – when she was peeing outside the box. She was perfect before so we knew it was either stress or illness. Knock on wood, I think we’ve addressed this now. Well, he does keep her interested in fun, engaged, and svelte!

I hope he calms down by 2yrs old! We love him and he adds so many laughs and antics to our days. But with all the work blending these personalities, we don’t dare bring in a batch of kittens to look after. I’d love to foster and help some kittens – but between the potential for disease and starting up the whole stress-behaviour problems again, I don’t dare.

Cooper is a kook!

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Off the ‘Nice List’

AAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGG!

Cooper has been chewing behind my back … and he chewed right through the wires of my fave Christmas lights. There are 5 strands on one string and (you guessed it!) he chewed through the main wire that gets plugged in. Luckily for him I had it on a timer and while it was plugged in, it was not on. J says he will try to splice together the wires – but I won’t hold my breath. I don’t know where I can get these lights any more… but they are (were) just magical!

BAD, NAUGHTY CAT!! Stop sucking up and acting all cute and loving!

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Pulled this photo off pinterest – these are our exact light set and how I use them.  Used – past tense.

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Naughty & Nice

It’s been a whole year that you’ve been our favourite little grey blur, Cooper.

This year Santa knows him much better and knows if he’s been naughty or nice. Mostly naughty. No wait – nice. Um… more naughty. But don’t worry – despite his dodgy record he’s still getting a few treats.

Cooper learned that he can jump to the end of the kitchen counter (no!), then leap to the top of the cabinets (NO!!), walk along the top of the cabinets and then drop down onto the 2in ledge of the part of the fridge that sticks out from under the cabinetry (no!!). Why would he even dream of doing this? – you might ask. Because that’s where da bird and the bug toys are kept away from him. He’s obviously seen us put them there after play and devised a way to get to them.

Da bird was found chewed to bits under the table after one of the nights when we didn’t know how he was getting them. We searched for the bug toy for a couple of days before we found it… with all the little paper bits gone.

Despite regular training, I know he’s been up on the dining room table. The secret is that the special little placeholders don’t really jump off the table on their own.

The sticky-side up tape doesn’t work with him as it has with other cats… he has his own technique of playing with it (while we’re asleep – he won’t dare going to the ‘tape places’ when we’re awake) so that it’s a toy for him. A tape ball is a fave treat.

‘Tape places’ that have been violated at least once include the fireplace mantle, the kitchen counter, the kitchen bar ledge, the fridge top, the dining table and the ledge going to the basement.

The plants (including my loved orchids) get dug into regularly. Sometimes the  big floor plant gets knocked over. He gets the water gun for that – and that’s when NO becomes his middle name. He also loves to swat at and destroy the leaves of these poor plants – endless frustration for me.

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Cooper doesn’t nap much during the day. He’s go-go-go. And unlike other cats who play until they pant and then crash after, when he’s playing and you stop, he’s riled up and will charge around the house looking for other active play.

Today Cooper played so hard with the bird toy, that he ripped the feathers right out of the holder. I’m not sure how… I think he put his full 15lbs behind the bite as I was dragging it along (he’s more a mouser than a birder… not a good jumper but a great chaser!).

He’s been better of late since he’s watching Bird TV for a good 8 hours a day – I have 3 winter bird feeders almost at the window and the birds are literally 5 feet from his nose at the best of times. He finds it fascinating (as does Nuala).

Bird TV has been a welcome reprieve to both Nuala and Shadow who are tired of him sneaking up and giving them a gentle swat before jumping on them to get them to play with him. He loves his sisters… not a mean bone in his body… but that body is 15 pounds of muscle and tackle when their slight frames least expect it.

Miraculously, he has been virtually an angel with the tree. He and Nuala will wrestle under it sometimes (presents are not kept under the tree… that’s cat space), and he has knocked a ball or two off with his ‘tail in the air like he just don’t care’ style as he prances by. But overall, an angel. He is a very gentle and loving cat -a big baby who loves being cuddled- so we just have to forgive all the naughty moments.

And yes, luckily Santa bought a new ‘da bird’ toy for Christmas. Just in time.

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