Nope

“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs

all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.”

“Touched By An Angel” Maya Angelou

 

A really nice woman contacted me about Oscar. She was gentle, kind, and really wanted to meet Oscar. I asked the pertinent questions and then we had her visit.

She was immediately charmed by Oscar’s beauty. (How could she not be? Isn’t he a bit of a George Clooney?) Oscar did all he could do to ignore her. He retreated to his favourite sleeping corner under the big palm and stayed there. Now and then he eyed her suspiciously. Treats, toys, and games he loves could not entice him to engage. We went downstairs for a little while and then came back up and he sat with me and she was able to touch him a little. Still he was very hesitant and stiff and sauntered off shortly.

This is my fault. I have not tested him with people or acclimatized him – I don’t take people to my bedroom often. It’s funny though – when he met the guy who first wanted to adopt him, Oscar was more gregarious.

My concerns with this adoption were that she had never had a cat before and that she lives in a studio apartment that is limited space. She has a gentle touch with Oscar but is very hesitant and trepidatious. I wonder if he felt that? Oscar might not be the best ‘first cat’ for someone and would do well with someone who has an experienced hand – but I won’t dismiss someone just because they are a newbie. We were all newbies once! As for the space – I struggled here. Petfinder says that a bachelor/studio apartment is too small for a cat – for quality of life. There’s lots of debate as to what constitutes ‘sufficient’ space.

I told her to take a few days and think about it – because adopting a cat is forever and she had to be sure about it. She asked lots of pertinent questions about cat-care by e-mails.

On Wednesday morning she responded – she had decided not to adopt Oscar. She didn’t think he liked her and was worried that he would not become attached to her. She also was very concerned that she couldn’t pick him up so how would she get him into a carrier to go to the vets? This was a question she had asked me before – and she hoped that cats learned to ‘want’ to go into carriers on their own. Though I had provided her with an answer and offered a demonstration, it was not enough.

Despite my honest assurances that Oscar just takes time, is initially shy and would come around to being very loving since that is his nature, she was not able to see beyond that first meeting. Sad as it is, this is fair. It’s hard to be brave and love a cat you don’t know.

In adopting a pet, I really think it has to be love. Maybe not love at first sight – but love. You have to follow your heart.

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Bad Habits

Let’s face it, we teach our pets bad habits sometimes. I can vouch for some too lenient behaviour when it comes to my own kitties.

I try my best to teach fosters good manners. Good behaviours will always help them in their lives to come – help them bond with their humans and not have issues of contention. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to train great manners – or sometimes I just get a bit lazy in training and spoil them a little with extra flexibility, attention and love. And treats.

Here are 5 bad habits that I’ve taught Oscar:

  1. That people sit on the floor to hang out with him. Oscar has a trust issue with people coming at him from above. I indulged this rather than training it out of him immediately.
  2. Treats are an every day thing. I give my own cats treats every day – so Oscar gets the same.
  3. Quick litter service – Oscar’s litter gets cleaned every day. Sometimes twice a day. And he waits for it to be cleaned. In the real world a litter may go for a day or two without cleaning; it’s good for a cat to experience that so it won’t throw him.
  4. Fresh water arrives 3x a day. Okay – it’s because I use a small bowl for it. But I like making sure it’s fresh. Maybe it’s a guilty conscience from the outside-days when I’d see him drink from the dirty old birdbath.
  5. I let him scratch/stretch on the carpet. It’s so much to ask that he learn the difference between the flat carpeted scratching surface and the wall-to-wall carpeting. He IS trying! I’m lenient – too lenient.

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THE One?

Some of the hardest moments are ones like these. When you love a cat, you put aside your own issues and hope for the best home possible for him. You also know that it’s a form of insanity to turn away good homes and try to wait for the ‘perfect’ one.

My version of a perfect home for Oscar would be a couple – no kids. I don’t care what age they are. They would have a 2-3 bedroom apartment or house and 1-2 gentle cats. Of course rainbows would always end at their home, and stars would twinkle above.

But then, am I just looking for ‘us’ in a different address? Isn’t it human nature to be more comfortable with what you know?

I have had a couple of wonderful people who enquired about Oscar. I turned one down because I felt that Oscar’s needs would not be best served to be one of 5 cats when the person is quite ill. I also turned down a second because she had never owned a cat and I think she wanted a docile kitty as a first cat. (Of course I suggested she contact one of the rescues I had worked with before – they could find her a purrfect kitty.) I also had a couple of wonderful long distance requests for Oscar. In all honesty, these could have been the best homes! People who fell in love with him, knew his story, were willing to give him the patience and care he deserves, and who would genuinely love him. But sometimes the miles are too many.

I got an enquiry about Oscar this past weekend. Oscar would have a wonderful single gal of his own. He would be an only cat living in an apartment. This person seems to have a special understanding and love of cats though she has not had one of her own. Is she right for Oscar? I guess only time will show me.

ImageI find these moments excruciating. Once I know that Oscar has a good home to go to and will be happy, I will feel somehow stronger. In the moments of uncertainty when there is only me standing up for him and making the decisions that form his forever, it’s a lonely place. A small piece of my heart breaks because I know I can’t be the one to share that forever with him. He doesn’t know this and showers me with love and gratitude every day.

Does Size Matter?

Nov34 019What is the minimum amount of space a cat needs to live in? Is there a square footage amount? With urban living becoming more and more confined – and condos selling at 500sq/ft or even smaller, some spaces that pets go into are increasingly tiny.

I toss this question out because I wonder if there needs to be a screening question when you look to potential adoptions. Is there such a thing as a too-small apartment for a cat? Is saying there is a lower limit a form of elitism?

I know what it’s like to live in a small space with a cat. My spouse and I lived with our cat Nikita in a tiny space where I had to step on the double bed to get to the bathroom and had to use a different door to get in if we put up a Christmas tree. The living room couch was a double futon and the only thing that fit in the ‘living room’. It was a little tight for comfort. Nikita didn’t mind – it had 4 windows to sit and look outside and hot water heaters which she loved to sleep on.

Later we moved to a much bigger apartment I loved – it was about 600sq/ft and we lived there happily for 4 years – my spouse, Nikita, Mouci and I.

When we first fostered, I was told I just needed a separate secure room for the mom and kittens. The rescue was delighted with the room we had for our new friends: it was about 10x12ft – with lots of windows. The kittens lived in that room for 9 weeks, and mom-cat lived there for nearly 5 months. I remember being a stressball and telling the rescue how unfair it was that this small space was all we could offer her month after month.

What our rescue contact said stayed with me – to this day. She said (roughly), ‘Are you kidding? The room you give her is about 100x nicer and more spacious than anything she’d get in a shelter so don’t feel bad.’ And she was just fine – 5 months!

Oscar has spent the better part of 6 months in my master bedroom and bathroom. For about 2.5 months he had just the bathroom as he adjusted to indoor life. I love this bathroom for cats – it has perches beside the bathtub, 2 windows. In sprawling suburbia, Oscar’s suite (aka our bed and bathroom) is bigger than that first apartment. I’m not sure I feel at all bad about that being the limits of Oscar’s space.

Technical Difficulties

There seems to be a problem with WordPress – I’ve lost 1-2 postings already and had to post them a second or third time to get them to show on the blog. I’m really sorry about this, friends! For those of you who subscribe (THANK YOU!), it means that you’ve been getting a post notice, but if you try to click on it, it’s not there. You may be getting the multiple postings I need to do to make it show on the blog.

I only use the draft or preview options to try to add previously uploaded photos into a post, but using these options create the problem.

Exploration

Oscar exploring with Nuala carefully watching his every move. He thinks it’s new and wonderful but is not quite sure of himself as he tries wandering into the family room (aka my office).

These two baby-sit each other for 1-2 hours a day – it’s a fascination, friendly, sometimes mildly contentious relationship as they try to figure our how much they love each other.

 

(In case you are wondering, Oscar has met Mouci a few times and they’ve sniffed each other. Absolutely no issues there – but I can’t leave them alone since Oscar has front claws and Mouci does not. Mouci can’t play with him or hold her ground now that she’s old, deaf, and quite arthritic. Shadow and Oscar have not met and cannot meet. She’s stressed and tense just knowing he’s in the house. It’s still a divided house and it’s exhausting to be honest! )

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Sleepless in Pickering

Oscar has a bedtime routine. I take him to our bathroom, give him fresh water, pet him and chat a little. Then I give him his catnipped mousie, a treat, or a brushing and close the door for the night. Oscar knows this routine… and cats love routines.

The other night I was just too sleepy from napping on the couch to do the routine, so I decided to let Oscar stay in our bedroom for the night. He looked at me quizzically and seemed fine with it. So, the lights went out and we closed our eyes.

Oscar decided that freedom from routine meant freedom from conventional quiet time. First he scratched on what I can only hope was the wave scratching post. Then he decided to play with the little orange ball and chased it back and forth around the room knocking it on the baseboards. It was quiet for a moment and we were falling asleep when he decided to amuse himself with the senses circuit. It was funny and we laughed but we weren’t sleeping. Then he decided to push his treat ball around and get every last treat. I fell asleep to this ‘rattle’. My spouse was kept up for most of the night… with the bouncing play only a nocturnal creature can muster.

Oscar had a ball… played with every one of his balls. He played with the mouse, the hedgehog, his scratching post, and then even gave us a symphony of litter scratching.

I’m not sure who was more in the doghouse with my spouse – Oscar or me! But you better believe I’m off to tuck Oscar in tonight!

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Not Just A Pretty Face

Neuroplasticity. Use it or lose it. Learning helps you become a better learner. Yes, I know we all have to keep our minds active or we stagnate. Kitties are the same way – they need little challenges, boredom breakers, puzzles, and new things to help them stay young, playful and intelligent.

Yesterday after weeks without it and about a 3-day re-introduction, Oscar discovered how to work the treat ball. I used to ‘use my paw’ to roll it in front of him and let a treat fall out for him. Then once in a while Nuala was allowed to use it (she’s a savant with the treat ball and can empty it in about 2 minutes). So Oscar watched and learned.

Maybe he learned too well? I came in and saw him eating a treat and was impressed: about an hour later, he had emptied the ball! Like a child he had eaten every treat he could get his paws on. I had to laugh.

Oscar, you’re not just a pretty face! (I always said he was one smart guy!)

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I’ve got those black marks on my lens for the past 3 days – and they’re not coming off! URG!

Loving the Indoors

I still love mornings with Oscar. It’s our time. We hang out. We chat. I have a coffee while he purrs against my leg.

This is not a besotted foster-mom talking – Oscar has the sweetest face. No matter what is going on there is a gentle curiosity. Big dark eyes. Serious expression – a gentlemanly reserve often broken by his playful side. Here’s a little of yesterday’s morning soccer practice.

 

I’ve updated a page just for Oscar – here it is: https://thekittenkaboodle.wordpress.com/oscar-quick-views/

For those who wonder how the outdoors has influenced his indoor life, it’s amazing to say that he’s fully an indoor kitty now. Never a yowl, no hissing or swatting, completely on human schedules, loves his litter, loves napping in the corner, plays with all sorts of toys, never scratches furniture (yet), and is slowly learning to use his scratch pad. He’s a horizontal scratch-artist. Oscar loves other gentle cats – I’m hoping for a home for him with one or two other kitties. He loves being brushed. He loves having his cheeks scratched. He’s really taken to this indoor life!

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FURzilla

I think you’ll remember how puffy and fuzzy Oscar looked when I took him in. He was wearing a thick winter fur that seemed to have a rougher topcoat and an undercoat as well. He was as well defended against the cold winter nights as he could have been. Instead of facing more sub-zero temperatures and the killer winter of 13/14, he spent his nights in 20C luxury. His coat was not needed.

Over the months, Oscar’s fur has really changed – from that thick luxurious heavy coat to a silky, glossy, and thin coat – the mark of a pampered house-cat.

Now it’s changing again. Oscar is shedding. Everything I own is covered in fur. He’s burying my room in fur! Every time I pet him, he seems to shed some more. I brush him almost every day and yet yesterday’s brushing session (which he really enjoys – but I don’t try the tummy area) yielded 3 full brushfuls! Imagine – this is after brushing him the day before and taking out one brushful. And one the day before that!

Is Oscar on his way to being bald? I hope not, but he’s definitely letting the fur fly!

 

Are your kitties shedding? How do you manage the fur?

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