Solutions?

Each kitty offers a puzzle of how to best train and help him. Problem solving really does make a difference to your kitty who’s behaviours say so much since they can’t speak. Observation goes a long way!

Why does Oscar constantly scratch and bite behind his right shoulder blade? He’s losing fur there from doing it. He will be sitting and suddenly jump up like something bit him and scratch and bite at that spot.

SOLUTION? I need your help on this one.

I’ve begun adding a little oil to his food now and then, and also he’s eating a fat-rich diet of kitten food as well as adult food – I thought perhaps dry skin. I considered fleas, but I haven’t found one flea to justify another round of Revolution. It’s always the same place and it’s been 2-3 weeks now that he’s having it. If it was fleas, I should have noticed by now. What else could it be?

Why are Oscar’s paws so incredibly dry? I can’t touch his paws: he’s very sensitive about them.

SOLUTION: Well, there might be some frost-bite. Minor since this paw-pads are discoloured but not black (dead tissue). They have been dry since day one, but they are not improving. I’ve added a little oil to his diet and apply some natural hand balm I have which is mostly coconut oil. Since I can’t touch his paws, I spread the cream on the tile in front of his food and water bowls. Every time he eats, a little gets applied (I hope). He doesn’t love it, but it works!

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Damaged back paws

Why does Oscar have a little coughing and sneezing? There’s a little phlegm in the sound of his breathing.

SOLUTION: I had wanted to do a precautionary round of antibiotics to rid Oscar of any infections from his days outside. The vet had not suggested anything, and I was not going to be able to medicate Oscar in a normal way. I decided to do my best and I had omoxycillin in liquid from Shadow’s calicivirus last year – it’s well within expiry date and has been fridged the whole time. I gave him a weight-based dose every night for 8 days in his wet food (evening meal). This was only partially effective since for two days running, he refused to eat the meal. I would not say that this was a success – since I didn’t maintain the antibiotic at a regular dose for the right amount of days. However, he has no more sneezes and has very little cough.

Why is Oscar so static-y? When I pet him, he gets a shock and thinks I’m punishing him.

SOLUTION: I started using a little of that natural balm on my hands before petting him. It’s calmed down the zaps and he’s a much happier boy.

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My bedside buddy

Dating Profile

In the end, I do need to find Oscar a forever-home so he needs a ‘dating profile’ for his online dating. He’s come so far – and you can actually see him trying to learn to be friends and to please his humans. He loves to just sit beside me on the floor – for company. He follows my spouse around the room looking to be petted (he loves J!). Not much gets him anxious any more. It’s not perfect, but it’s really good – and it’s heartwarming to watch him blossom into a pet. It’s been over a week without a bite or swipe attempt as we show him that he can trust and that it’s not needed.

I will use the same type of battery of questions I used as a foster mom for the kittens. While the rescues I worked with usually did the screening, the last one left part of the applicant questions to me. Being a little OCD, I learned about this really fast to protect my young charges. And if you followed the adoption time for the Rascals, you know I said no to more than one party when I felt it was in the best interest of the kittens.

I posted Oscar’s picture online… Nuala gave Oscar star billing on her page. I had him as her cover with no interest. I also shared him on our friends’ pages Dedicated to Cats and Kristin’s Kritters. Lots of people admired how beautiful he is … but no serious interest.

I posted Oscar on kijiji with a $150 adoption fee (which will only partially cover his vet bills but keeps his adoption in line with other cat rescues). I am a firm believer that any of these online tools are extremely dangerous for any animal given ‘free to a good home’ as evidence of abuse and death is overwhelming. I’m basically asking that someone be committed enough to pay a part of Oscar’s vetting costs – and that allows me to know that they are committed to him and have enough funds to actually feed him.

I want to be honest and also hopefully draw the right type of person to Oscar. I’ll share the ad with you in case it helps you with your fosters or rescues:

Seeking An Angel

Do you believe in second chances if life has kicked you around?

Handsome Oscar is seeking his angel! He’s recently been rescued from the cold where he spent more than 3 of his 4 years struggling to survive. He’s bashful and confused by the ‘buzzing world’ of the indoor life, but he’s a friendly and loving cat who needs an angel to give him an indoor forever-home and some time and patience he needs to make the indoor adjustment. Oscar is a big softie who always wants to be petted and to sit beside you. He will be a loving lap cat one day – he just needs to gain trust and confidence.

Oscar would be happy to be an only-cat or to have a very slow introduction to another feline pal. He’s perfectly litter trained, happily eats all sorts of wet or dry foods, neutered, got his shots, deworming x 2, got micro-chipped, and he’s also tested FIV/FeLV negative (hurray!).

Happy to answer any questions by e-mail. Oscar is currently in Pickering. Thanks!

Oscar’s adoption fee is $150. His vet records will be given to his new family. Thanks to Jenny of Friends of Forsaken Animals in Durham who is helping us help him!

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Play!

Hurray for play! We all need to do this more – it changes brain waves, enhances creativity, actually improves problem solving, and keeps us young. Same goes for your kitties. Cats love routine and without some fun mental and physical stimulation they can sink into languid boredom.

Oscar is a very serious boy. He has big serious, sad eyes. He looks at me very quizzically when I do something silly in front of him. Com’on Oscar, laugh a little! Being honest, Oscar has had little to be silly about in his survival-mode life. He spent his kitten and young years avoiding starvation, cars, mean people, and predation by coyotes. Like my abused-rescue Shadow, play is an alien concept to Oscar. I think he needs to learn to play.

Nuala has donated her fabulous round Catit Senses circuit toy for Oscar’s room. I swat the ball around. Oscar does not. He just looks at me. I pull out the bug toy. Nothing. This past week I tried Da Bird. He just looked at it – when I swooped very close he backed up and looked like he was affronted by it. Lets be honest: I’ve been through the entire list I made at Christmas as perfect kitty toys.

He’s also had about 4 types of ball (bouncy, plastic, crinkly, fuzzy) with no interest. I rolled the little multi-coloured crinkled ball at him and it hit his foot and he looked sternly at it and then me – indignant at this ‘quasi-attack’. The only thing that interests him is his mousey-mouse that I dip in catnip – he licks that mouse silly!

I will keep trying. It’s so important for him to be engaged – watch the bird-feeders, chase a string, bat a ball… whatever gets him moving and thinking.

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WHY are you rolling this thing at me??

Fast-Forward~

I wrote the above about 3 days ago. Since then, we’ve had a little success with the stalwart McD’s straw! We’ve realized that when you try to play with Oscar, he remains fixated on your hands. He’s watching what you are doing and not the toy. So as he sits along our bed, we put the straw from behind the bed and it surprises him and he’ll swat at it and even roll now and then. Using the same logic, I sit on my bed (out of his sight-lines) and send da bird spinner toy flying past him. As long as I get it close to him, he’s lunging and biting at it.

Any ideas on how to teach an older cat to play?

“Why Don’t You Adopt Oscar?”

Not one of you have asked me this. I wonder if you’ve thought it? It’s a perfectly normal question.

First of all, I do love Oscar. He’s an ‘underdog’ story – I’d love him for this alone. A kitty who had been left to fend for himself alone in the world. He braved a great deal … icy cold, cars, predators, and our little forest.

Then I love him for his sweet and friendly nature despite what life has thrown at him. He’s not perfect at it, but he’s trying and he’s doing really well.

Oscar was man’s man – a guy about town. He was a dominant male cat who kept a territory. He’s a really handsome fella – and his few battle scars give his face so much character. I love him for this too.

The problem is with me. Or shall I say my home. I am confident that I could integrate Nuala and Oscar given a little time. The rest… it’s simply that I couldn’t bring Mouci and Shadow together with Oscar. Especially now since I have my hands full with them. Shadow has behaviour issues from her earlier experiences and I’m not sure she’ll ever fully get over them. She is a very nervous and scared cat. Changes freak her out. Four years after adopting her, she runs from me every day – but also is loving and needs attention. We’ve had Mouci for 17.5 years – and she’s headed into hyperthyroidism. And she became deaf this past year – right after she had the virus from the foster kittens. Her kidney levels are high and I’ve also got to watch her arthritis and perhaps some seizures. She’s okay – but not ready for a new face. It’s a given that Shadow would be a neurotic mess with a new cat – especially a young male.

I love Oscar, but I just can’t be his forever.

March 153

Indoor Life

I want to let you know some good news with Oscar: his pee is never stinky anymore (post-neuter), he hasn’t sprayed indoors (he used to love spraying outside), and he’s given up any yowling. If the door to his room is closed in the morning, I do get some wake-up meows since he knows I sleep 8 feet away. In this respect he is pretty much like every pet cat out there! He also reaches under the door and pulls up my carpeting. He’s created a hole in the carpet there – luckily I’m not renting! I wouldn’t get the deposit back! He just wants his morning attention.

I was worried about his grooming, but it seems he grooms his fur when I’m not around since he’s looking great. He still has his thick winter coat and I’ve started to brush him – just a couple of strokes a day until he gets used to it. Cautiously since he still has an edge of mistrust of hands over him. He did try to bite the brush this morning.

I haven’t succeeded in getting him to use a scratching post: he doesn’t do anything to groom his nails. I suppose he has never had to: life groomed them for him in the past. He was getting stuck on carpet since they are long and he didn’t retract his claws properly. He thought that the carpet tiles in his room were out to get him sometimes. This has improved a great deal in the past 5 days. He has learned to retract his claws while walking on carpet and has a fave place beside the bed where he prefers to spend his day.

I’m calling on your expertise:

Any ideas on how to get Oscar to scratch on something? (He has a vertical and a horizontal scratcher, both rubbed with cat nip. He ignores the vertical one and licks the horizontal one)

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There is forever a little golden loaf-cat on this side of the bed now. And yes I know – I need to clean the crud out of the sides of his eyes. He just doesn’t love that level of me grooming him

Night Watchman

Just after I’d fallen to sleep last night, I heard an attack. I think Oscar got caught on the carpet at the entrance to our bedroom from his room (aka our en-suite bath). Suddenly I was wide-awake and listening carefully. I heard footsteps in the room. He was padding around. And then I saw him… he’d come to my bedside and was looking up watching me. He then put his paws on our mattress – and I saw where this was going. I guess I hadn’t thought this out. I thought he’d wander our room and explore on his own. I didn’t think he’d want to come into the bed because it’s such an alien concept for him.

As I was waking up I had flashbacks to when I was a pre-teen and allowed to go to a sleep-over. They had a cat that sat glaring at me the entire night and finally jumped on my head during the night. I spent the rest of the night huddled deep in the covers afraid. I actually felt nervous remembering it.

I got out of bed and walked over towards the window with him following me and rubbing my legs. I sat and petted him and chatted with him for a good 5-10 minutes and then led him into his room and closed the door. All the while, I was giving him encouragement but I realized that perhaps I’m not ready for the chances I’d take by letting him climb into bed when he doesn’t understand his claws and can get too easily startled. He could claw us for the slightest turn in the night – out of fear or protective response.

I think going forward he will have daytime full access to our bedroom and then in the night he will sleep in ‘his’ room.  This is not a bad deal, I think.

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The very serious gaze of my night watchman

 

One Step Forward

You know what they say: life is sometime one step forward and two steps back.

I’ve had a bit of that lately. Oscar is very loving and underfoot when I go to visit him. He doesn’t care about his food and water: just wants petting and bonding time. I sit on the floor with my legs out in front of me, and he sits pressed up against my thigh rubbing his cheeks on my leg. Then he looks up at me with these big eyes for validation. Yes Oscar, I do love you!

However, he did take a good swipe (paw) at my spouse and got his nose. Like every incident of claw or teeth, we don’t know where it came from and Oscar was being petted and very calm before it happened. I can’t identify a trigger or even a warning sign. Hmmm. My spouse told him ‘NO’ and then Oscar hissed. Oscar was then scolded and my spouse left the room. This is how we always handle this type of behaviour with fosters. I went in about an hour later and he wanted petting and love and then swiped at my leg. ‘NO’ again and lights-out for the night. He was sweet and loving in the morning. We have had so few incidents, that I thought I’d detail one.

Let me be honest, Oscar is a sweet cat. I just haven’t had much experience in being swiped at and certainly never bitten. So all told since I took him inside he’s tried to bite me 3 times (that first time he connected!). He’s swiped at me about 4-5x total. That is not much at all and I know that is what many pet owners face with their own pets. Now when I scold him ‘NO’, he doesn’t even hiss. I think he is seeing it as a correction and not a threat.

Then, after days of coming out of our foster room and into my bedroom, he just stopped and stayed in his room. If I left the door open to the bedroom at night he ignored it. If I closed the door at night, he’d meow at the door and put is paw under the door and try to pull the carpet. He doesn’t love the carpet since he doesn’t really understand how to work claws and carpet and sometimes gets stuck. He spends a lot of time in his box (aka den) but almost always comes out the moment I come in… he wants his petting and quiet sitting time. Whoever adopts him will love this about him! He might not be an on-the-lap cat, but he’ll be the best TV pal!

I might not understand, but I’m letting him decide his timelines.

Once a Rascal

Once a Rascal, always a Rascal?

Well, I am not sure about that, however I will always think of them that way. Rogue is now King James, Jinx is Georgia Jinx, Minx is Moneypenny, Gypsy is Vesper, Maverick is still Mav and Scamp is still Scamp.

When they were adopted I offered the adopters one opportunity to have each others’ e-mails. I didn’t get a clear response so I never mentioned it again. However, they all have mine and I have received a few updates over the past 14 months. Maybe it’s time to just pop all the photos into an album for anyone who wants to see it. Here are the Rascals: Ever After (I’ll be adding more photos as I find them)

Oh and while I was at it, I created a Rascals playlist of the few videos we took of them. (It’s about 8 minutes long total)

 

Enjoy!

Then & Now

I’m sorry now that I didn’t pause to try to get some great photos for you… but I think you’d like these anyway. Especially those of you who saw them from the day they arrived at our home!

JINX Then

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Now

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Look… she still has the kitty blanket we sent her to her home with!

 

ROGUE Then

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Now

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You can’t see it, but beside this is his ‘mousey-mouse’ we sent him to his new home with!

 

Ever After

You would never guess what I did yesterday! We went to Toronto and visited our former fosters Jinx and Rogue.

If you remember, we fostered the Rascals and their mom Mattie at the end of 2012. When I got them, I began this blog and it was a wild ride! If you want to read more about them, begin in our archive on October 25, 2012. If you want a quick reminder of the cuteness, take a look at our photo journal.

It’s pretty unusual that I have the addresses of all the Rascals’ parents. This is the only time it’s happened with us – and the reason is that we fostered these little guys ‘outside the system’. There were no rescues who could take them, and two great women from two agencies (Toronto Cat Rescue & Annex Cat Rescue) teamed with me to save them. I fostered. They vetted and used their agency system to promote them. So in the end, I had final approvals of each family and adopted them straight from my home.

You hear of the nightmares of cats given or sold on Craig’s or kijiji. However, these are great resources for rescues, and I personally use them with all our foster kittens. I advertise them to show them off. And that is how we met the wonderful family who adopted Jinx and Rogue.

H had wanted to give her two girls two kittens for Christmas. I remember sending her a long e-mail about why I don’t do Christmas adoptions and also lots of info for someone looking to adopt. She was really genuine about thinking that this was a great idea and the girls were at good ages and ready for responsibility. We e-mailed back and forth and when I spoke to her (and asked that she go through the agency screening) I knew that she would be a great cat owner.

To prepare the girls for their kittens, they came to meet them and see if they truly loved them. Sort-of for Christmas, but with weeks notice and building up supplies, and plans, and excitement for their new friends’ arrival. We saw how they were with the kittens and how they wanted to learn about caring for their kitties.

Thirteen months ago Jinx (Georgia Jinx now) and Rogue (King James now) left our home. They are all grown up. James is a very regal cat with silky fur and the most laid back disposition. He has retained his daring, go-for-broke determination. You’ll remember him as the little guy… with lots of catching up to do. Georgia is a gorgeous, pudgy food-hound. She’s retained her shy and fiercely loyal personality. They are beautiful!

Their home is filled with window perches with cat-cushions, scratching posts, sunny spots to look over their yard. And most of all, they are so loved.

I was so honoured… the girls remembered that I had cupcakes for each week of the kitten’s birthdays, and they had gone to a fab bakery to get celebratory cupcakes for our visit!

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Our Rascals – Georgia & King James – are now uptown royalty and very loved. It suits them! Don’t you love happy ever-afters?