Progress

Oscar notes from last week…

 

Sometimes changes are slow – and sometimes they come fast and furious.

The last few days with Oscar have been interesting. He has lost an almost imperceptible edge of reserve or tension about being petted.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s there. Outside he loved being petted double-handed and head-to-tail but that was different – you expect him to be aware of his surroundings and have his guard up a bit. It’s like he’s let out a big mental sigh and said ‘hey this indoor life is okay!’. I don’t yet touch his paws or his belly… though he keeps ‘sort of’ offering them.

He is also up and around the room more when I visit. He has always (almost from day one) come over and eaten the minute I add more food for him. I think this is a learned habit from all our feed times outside and he’s very comfortable with it. He’s now started to chase a few treats around the floor for me. This is not only exercise for him, but also some interactive ‘fun’. It’s his first ‘game’.

Oscar loves cat nip which I rub on his toy ‘mousey-mouse’. He licks mousey mouse to death while holding it down with one paw. I don’t have a photo of it (haven’t taken my camera in for a week) but it’s adorable!

Oscar is eating any dry food I give him. And he’s getting the same mix my girls get. He’s had a few types over the years I’ve been feeding him, but knowing that he is just fine with a number of different dry foods is promising. He is drinking lots of water. He is a perfect user of the litter.

I’ve added a cat-nipped scratching post and some toys to his room. So far those are of no interest.

Oscar hates the sound of the bathroom fan (which I use daily to circulate the air from the room and also to ventilate litter smells). He’s getting calmer with it though. Now he just glares at it willing it to stop. He gets the radio for a couple of hours every day (noise, voices, crazy human music) so he can get used to sounds my own cats take for granted but are frightening for an outdoor cat. I’ve vacuumed outside his room and brought the phone into his room to chat.

Oscar, you’ve come a long way baby!

Have Yourself a Meowy Little Christmas

(aka Natasha & Nuala’s Pawesome Christmas Playlist)

Our northern, snowy Christmas is magical … so we chose some songs for you that capture this wonderland and the joy of the season. It’s a jazzy selection –  a great playlist nearly 1.5hrs long or you can play individually hot-linked songs – this is a celebration of a Canadian wintery, cozy Christmas. Nuala and I hope you enjoy it with real Canadian ice wine, spiced eggnog, or a hot chocolate!

From Shadow, Mouci, Nuala, Oscar & the both of us….MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Have Yourself a Meowy Little Christmas

(Playlist linked here – just hit ‘play all’ – 1hr15min)

Individually linked songs are below

ImageWhite Christmas  ~ Diana Krall  

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas ~ Harry Connick Jr 

I’ll Be Home For Christmas ~ Micheal Buble

Sleigh Ride ~ Ella Fitzgerald & De Vol Orchestra 

Jingle Bells ~ Diana Krall  

Santa Clause is Coming to Town ~ Lena Horne 

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer ~ Ella Fitzgerald 

Winter Wonderland ~ Ray Charles 

Baby its Cold Outside ~ Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel

Let it Snow ~ Frank Sinatra 

Happy Holidays ~ Peggy Lee

I’m Gonna Be the First ~ Harry Connick Jr 

Santa Baby ~ Eartha Kitt

Zat You, Santa Claus? ~ Louis Armstrong

Merry Christmas Baby ~ Lou Rauls

The Christmas Song ~ Nat King Cole Trio

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ~ Diana Krall  

Blue Christmas ~ Harry Connick Jr

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve ~ Ella Fitzgerald

O’ Tannenbaum ~ Vince Guaraldi

Sleigh Ride ~ Ferrante & Teicher 

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm ~ Les Brown

White Christmas ~ Charlie Parker All-Stars 

Meowy Christmas Friends!

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Let It Snow!

We re-wrote this Christmas classic for cat-lovers. Don’t forget to do all you can for the kitties who are abandoned or lost outside. You can make every difference in their lives!

I know you want to sing-along… let’s hear you! Enjoy!

Let It Snow

~ Modified lyrics by Oscar da Kat ~

yowled in time with the original – hotlinked to youtube

Sing it Sinatra! ♬

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

But the warmth inside’s delightful

And since I’ve a place to go

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

 

It doesn’t show signs of stopping

An’ I’m tired of snowbank hopping

I’m cared for and that I know

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

 

When I finally came in that night

How I hated living out in the storm

But if you’ll really hold me tight

All my life I’ll be warm

 

The sunlight is slowly dying

The icy night would leave me crying

But as long as you love me so

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

 

When I finally came in that night

How I hated living out in the storm

But if you’ll really hold me tight

All my life I’ll be warm

 

The sunlight is slowly dying

The icy night would leave me crying

But as long as you love me so

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

 

Merry Kiss-Mouse, Everypawdy!Image

Zat You Santa Claws? (Kitty Gift Guide)

 Whoo hooo! The season is merry and bright and … it’s time to play Santa Claws to our kitties. We rarely splurge, but try to give them interactive, fun toys that can be used for a long time. Here’s our family’s Kitty Gift Guide. Ready?  (Music to read by: Zat You Santa Claws)

Before you jump in – will you consider buying one of these toys to donate to a cat shelter? When you buy your next bag of cat food, will you buy a second (same brand) and donate it to the shelter near you? Many pet stores have a donation box right there for you. It’s giving from your heart, and you will know that your gift is feeding the neediest of kitties. Thank you!

  1. Da Bird: ImageTo say that Nuala loves this is the understatement of the year. Picture a fishing pole with a spinner made of feathers. As you pull this through the air, the feathers spin and create a bird’s flight-like motion. Cats go nuts for it. Nuala goes for broke with it, and ends up doing some crazy aerial flips to get it… and it leaves her panting. This means I must not let her over-exert. Even 17.5 yr old Mouci is very attentive and will attempt a swat at it. Rated 5 Paws – Irresistible, simple, fun to play with (for cats and their people) and inexpensive (About $10).
  2. The Wave Scratcher: ImageTried and tested, the wave scratching post is a favourite! It’s a necessary accessory – but also a removable toy with a spring under it. If you have kittens in the house, this is a perfect first scratcher – they love playing on, under, over it. Three litters of kittens in our home can attest to it – the Mousketeers, Spice Rack and Rascals each got one of these. They last quite long (until claws rip the natural scratching surface to shreds). The interesting thing is that both cats and kittens like sleeping on it too. Rated 5 Paws – great for home use (try rubbing a bit of catnip on it), effective, and long lasting (This was about $34 but since it’s both toy and essential equipment, it’s on our list!)
  3. Catit Senses Play Circuit:Image Originally bought for Nuala’s litter, the kittens played with this every single day. Then the Rascals played with it. Nuala still plays with it, and sometimes sleeps in the center. It’s loved and never put away. You can also buy more than one (we got our second last Christmas) and the pieces can interconnect to make long waves or circles… it keeps it changing and interesting. This circuit contains a ball which moves in ways that create irregular motion and cats can poke and push the ball around. Rated 5 Paws – Inexpensive, durable, washable, easy to adjust and seems to hold interest for a long time. (About $20)
  4. Squeaky Mouse on a Stick:Image If you find this please let me know where! Picture a hard plastic fishing pole with a string and an electronic squeaking mouse on the end. This was originally bought for Nuala when she was young. She loved it to death… literally. She not only chased it everywhere every time, but she’d drag it around the house and bring it to us so we’d play with it. She washed the mouse in her water bowl once too many times. Long after it’s final squeak, she continued playing with it until it was threadbare. Failing to find this toy again, we bought squeaky mouse (available everywhere for about $5) which cats like the sound of. The original was more fun since you could drag it around and it would squeak when it bumped into anything. Rated 5 Paws – fun, quirky, interactive  (about $15)
  5. Mousey Mouse: np102Okay that is not the toy’s name: it’s simply a plush mouse from Ikea. It’s precisely $1 and it’s soft, cute, stands up to chewing, pawing, and laundry machines. It is better made than the stuffed mice I’ve bought before. There is no built-in interactive play with this, but it’s just SO cute! I have a couple – one is put into the catnip container to soak up the ‘yummy smells’ – then a week or so later, I pull it out and Nuala goes nuts for it. She sometimes spontaneously plays fetch with this mouse and it’s adorably cute. This is my choice of catnip toy for Oscar and he holds it down with one paw and licks it to death. So sweet! Rated 5 Paws – ridiculously cheap, well made, oh so cute.
  6. Krazy Kitty Catnip Bed:Image I can’t remember when our house didn’t have these! They are cotton pads with a little batting in the centre. There is a hole to pour in some catnip … and then just give it a rub and give it to kitty. They roll, chew, and otherwise krazy-enjoy this pad. I have used one on our sofa, on our cat’s window stool, or even just on the ground. They come with funny cat fabric designs… and stand up to washing and drying. Just re-fill the catnip every so often. Rated 5 Paws – Easy to use, locally made, lasts years, and the kitties love it. It also can be used to train kitty to sit on particular places (About $20)
  7. Catnip Dancer:Image Tried and tested by Nuala, Catnip Dancer is a winner! It’s very simple, but the bouncy movement is really irresistible. Something about those little bits of paper really entices kitties to pounce, chase and swat. The green mouse end smells like catnip and offers two toys in one. 4 of 4 cats we tested it with found it aMEWSing – even Oscar gave it a swat. Rated 5 Paws – inexpensive (about $6), interactive, effective, and long lasting

What’s not on our list? The red dot (laser pointers) and the i-pad games don’t make our list since they actually frustrate the kitty after a while because they are not chasing a ‘thing’. There is no satisfaction of the ‘win’ or ‘capture’. They are fun and easy, but don’t make up for the actual tactile interaction a tangible toy offers. Just our opinion.

What’s YOUR pick for great toy for kitty?

His Best Interest

Sometimes it’s challenging to act in the best interest of your rescue cat.

I ran into this last week when strangers hunted down our phone number and called our home. This neighbour from the next street was upset about Oscar’s ‘disappearance’ so I assured her that he was fine and gave her the address of this blog so she could see photos of him. I understood her worry.

Then she asked to see Oscar. Against my better judgement, and only for Oscar’s sake of potentially meeting someone who might adopt him, I said yes and let her visit my home and bedroom. What a privacy invasion – and she stayed much longer than I’d expected.

Unfortunately, she cares for Oscar but only wanted to take him on a ‘trial basis’ to see if he’d get along with her cats. This is definitely not in Oscar’s interest right now and I said so. He is just starting to acclimatize to indoor life. He’s been abandoned on the streets for the vast majority of his life. Forcibly moving him to a strange place and rushing him to meet 3 other animals all within the next two weeks (her proposed timeline) is setting him up for failure. If I got him back after this ‘trial’ he would be stressed, untrusting, and dealing with huge set-backs. Anyone who has housed ferals or strays knows about the long and precarious transition.

I guess this woman was not happy with my decision and has been ranting (and giving this blog address) to ignorant people. ‘Mike’ wrote me a rude post saying that I should just release the cat outside so he could be happy; I’m drugging him, and forcibly keeping him confined. He also stated that the woman would be a much better person for this cat. I wish I hadn’t spoken to this woman if she was going to act like this and give out my blog this way. However, it was an adoption chance I felt compelled to take for Oscar’s benefit.

I hate drama and nonsense, so let’s just say I won’t have any further interaction with the woman – or with her friend ‘Mike’.

Why am I sharing this drama? Because my blog is about the realities of fostering. Unfortunately there are going to be people like this that we have to deal with – in the best interest of the cat. They may ask a great deal, be intrusive, or unappreciative. This is just a reminder to rise above it and keep your focus on your foster’s interests.

When you feed and vet a stray cat, he’s yours. So Oscar is mine. I will act on his behalf… and make the decisions that I feel are best for him. Anyone who cared could have stepped up and provided a warm home, medical care, and new start for Oscar. No one did – so it was up to me.

Oscar is warm, relaxed, and purring up a storm beside me. Now this is in his best interest.

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Fa-la-la-la-la

Do cats yowl during the full moon? Do cats continue to yowl after being fixed if it’s an ingrained habit? Two questions I have since taking Oscar on.

Oscar gave a full-on performance last night and for a couple of nights now and kept us awake. Then he jumped to the window and back down a few times. Then more singing. It occurs to me that there is a downside to sleeping just a few feet away from our guest. (Other than the fact that my bedroom (aka no-cat buffer zone) is like an icebox since I can’t keep the door to the hallway open for warmth.)

Is it loneliness since I don’t spend hours with him? Is it boredom? (Nuala just donated a bunch of toys for him) A change in environment is also a trigger. Truthfully, this is likely a habit for Oscar compounded by the fact that he’s not quite over his TMT (too much testosterone) – and yowling is a mating behaviour in both sexes. Hopefully he’ll yowl less as time goes on.

Maybe Oscar wants to go caroling? T’is the season!

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 Joking aside – there are a number of reasons a cat will yowl.

  • medical reasons (a cat begins yowling and does not have a history of it)
  • mating – both sexes yowl as part of the mating cycle
  • loneliness (both older and younger cats exhibit this – my 17.5 year old sometimes does this since she’s almost deaf and can’t hear us around)
  • changes in their lives – environment

When in doubt, speak to a vet. Cats hide illness and pain very effectively – it’s part of their evolutionary predisposition to hide weakness. Yowling could mean something serious.

A couple of handy links:

Biting Cold

It’s absolutely freezing out there: –14C with a wind-chill of –28C with blowing snow. It’s weather in which any warm-blooded creature must fight to stay alive – and cats are not made for this weather. And yet they are out there… trying desperately to simply stay alive.

If you know of any strays or ferals, please try to offer protected shelter. The shelter I bought last year for Oscar last year was an insulated plastic tote box with entrance and straw inside. (Use straw – it is a good insulator, and doesn’t get damp and frozen like cloth, blankets, or hay.) If you can put the shelter off the freezing ground (on bricks? Or on the deck like I did), weigh it down against the storm (brick or two on top?), and keep the entrance out of the snow, you will be an angel for those in need. Put out warm water in a ceramic or heated bowl (stays liquid longer) and put out food in a dry, protected area.

Last year I was so weighed down with worry about Oscar in weather like this. And I had reason to worry, since he got frostbite on both his back paws and his ears last winter. I wanted so much to try to save his life by taking him in.

Yesterday I read a story of a kitty that froze to death in this weather. It was heartbreaking and I can’t get it out of my mind. I won’t tell you the details and make you cry. I will tell you that it happens far more than people think. Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I shed tears for each one.

 

The good people making the feral/stray shelter I bought for Oscar: http://torontostreetcats.com/shelterbuilding/107-2/

Since they are very re-usable, Oscar’s old shelter is now donated to a small rescue group in Durham … they are using it to provide cover for a little lost cat in a ravine.

 

Or make your own:

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It’s easy to make and can save a life or two. In a perfect world it would have the tunnel entry to save the inside from blowing snow, an exit hole (cats don’t like to be cornered) and be weighed down so it doesn’t tip over.The dark colour is excellent if it’s in the sun – it will gather a little extra heat.

 

 

Oscar’s Secret Life

Two days ago I mentioned that Oscar had visited a couple of houses, sought food there and was friendly and sweet with his caregivers. I know this because he was fed by my neighbour after I told them that he was a stray trying to survive on his own (2x a day). He was fed by another person (more about that in a moment) 2x a day. And I fed him 1x a day. He’s had a good year in 2013 – and ample calories to keep him healthy and strong in the freezing winter. All he needed was warmth and vetting: despite the good food he still got frostbite and maintained a large territory to find a mate.

About 6 days ago, we were contacted by a couple living a street away who have been worried about Oscar for the past 2 weeks thinking that he had come to harm. Strangely, they knew someone my spouse knows on Facebook … so they saw Oscar’s photo on his page, looked up our phone number, and called our home. This was disconcerting for me since I value my privacy. However these people genuinely care about his welfare.

Apparently they have been feeding Oscar (alias Rusty) for 3 years – a year longer than I’ve been feeding him. He visits for dinner for his faves – Iams, Whiskas, and Temptations treats. So THAT’s how Oscar keeps his toned and buff figure! They too have cats and think he goes to homes that have cats. She thinks that Oscar and his brother were dumped on the edge of the park area near us. They adopted a cat that was caught around here, is the same age as Oscar (4 years), and looks almost exactly like Oscar. A brother?

She sits with him outside and pets him. She has given Oscar flea meds and tried to catch him once.

Apparently our little buddy is a bit of a street-bully. He’s taken on a couple of their neighbours’ cats. Since Oscar also beat up my Mouci and got into a scuff with Nuala, I feel for these families. No one should have their cat attacked in their own yard. I’m glad his wild and wanton tom-cat ways are over! I will try to find him a home where he will be an indoor cat.

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Our little buddy was not fixed so he was a scruffy fighter. This photo makes me so sad… his ears are not very damaged by frostbite here… and they are now. The edges are ragged where he’s lost tissue – can you imagine the pain?

Oscar’s other human caretaker had asked to see him. This was very uncomfortable for me since I would need to take a stranger to my bedroom. I consented after I ended my clean-room protocol – trying to act in Oscar’s best interest. However, I asked J to escort her while I stayed downstairs because I was uneasy and rattled by the privacy aspect. I planned for the visit by putting Oscar on his feline calming remedy for 24 hours prior to the visit. It was all okay – he didn’t react to the new person in his space. She loves him and he loves her and they had a good visit – I’m relieved. She is one reason why Oscar is friendly, trusting and healthy, so I wanted to make this exception for her.

What a privacy invasion – and she stayed much longer than I’d expected! Still, this was a kindness we offered to a stranger – and we have offered her the opportunity to adopt Oscar.

Happiness is a Friendly Cat

I guess Oscar and I know each other very well. He feels comfortable enough to poop in my presence. He walks over to the litter, scratches around and then finds the right position. We both look away… pretending that we’re not in this rather embarrassing situation. When it’s over, Oscar is very fastidious about covering his poop. And he likes digging in the gravel. He will spend a good 2-3 thoughtful minutes on it before exiting the box with the pride only a cat can display. Way to go Oscar!

I wish he would teach the poop-covering trick to Nuala. She poops and runs. Like saying… ‘phew this smells’ and then tearing off like ‘it wasn’t me!’.

His habits are getting very regular. He seems very comfortable with the litter and the litter box.

Oscar had a party last night. He woke us with a bit of singing. He tried to dig to China in his litter. He jumped to the high windowsill (I’d love to get a window perch for him so he could have a comfy place to watch the bird-feeders!). Ate treats. And yet, the room was in perfect order this morning and my purry friend came for petting.

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This got me thinking. Someone did Oscar a really big favour. Whether or not Oscar was dumped, abandoned, or got lost, someone taught Oscar to be loving. Albeit, his hard-knocks life outside has taught him some fear and mistrust. Still that loving side comes through. I think it is what kept him alive. It seems that Oscar has gone to a few houses that had cats… peeping in through the windows and charming his way into food. He was outgoing, sweet and friendly with his care-takers. This human-loving behaviour had to come from somewhere… and deeply ingrained since he didn’t lose it in the 3 years he was outside alone. Whoever this person was, I thank them.

When I raise kittens I give them this gift – it is my duty above all others except food. Cats who love people are in turn seen as lovable and fun. If cats love and trust humans, they have a very effective tool in their inventory of life-skills. In a home, they will seek out human attention and trigger bonding. Humans see friendship as a two-way street and a trusting kitty will welcome it. If they ever get out, they will look for humans after the initial fear wears off. They will try to befriend people.

As in Oscar’s case, it might be a life-saver!