His First Real KissMouse

We are just 2 weeks away from Cooper’s 1-year anniversary of arriving in our home. I can’t believe it – but I also can’t say that time flies.

Above – the first 15 minutes he was in our home

Nuala has been sick or off-kilter in one way or another pretty much since his second week in our home. It’s not that they aren’t friends – they are wrestling buddies (so unfair that he’s about 2 weight classes higher than her), food buddies, and Nuala even cleans him. They are excellent company for each other – but it’s more other behaviour or health things with her.

Shadow has been exactly as we hoped with ‘da boy’: skittish but not truly worried or terrorized by his presence. She has known him from his young days, wasn’t threatened by his introduction as she would have with a mature kitty, and watched him grow. He sill wants her to play, but he gets hissed at many times a day when she tells him ‘lay off’. Of course he turned out to be much more rambunctious than we hoped for Shadow’s disposition.

Ah Cooper. Well, our little wrecking-ball (more about that in a later post) has gone from that little fuzzy kitten we brought home on December 22, 2015, to a cat who looks like he ate that kitten! Cooper is likely 15lbs of silky-furred muscle now. So much for the personality description of ‘quiet and calm’. He was only quiet because his vocal cords are broken and don’t work. He was only calm because he was cooped up (hence the name Cooper!) in cages and sick his entire young life. When he was allowed out and given tons of love, his little muscles developed, his balance developed, and he discovered he loved running. He dashes the length of the house at least 1-2x an hour. Quiet and docile, my butt!

The tree went up this past week… it was so easy to decide how to decorate it. Plastic Only! It’s still an 8-ft natural tree – with all the challenges that entails for a cat-home. We have a very steady base, don’t fill the water to the top (tree water becomes toxic), have less ‘temptation’ on the lower branches. Still I give J & I credit for being relatively fearless in putting up Christmas ‘like normal’. He has been nearly a saint with the tree so far (as close to a saint as he could get). So… the tree is up and holding.

All is merry and bright… pretty much. And it’s Coopers first real Christmas with us since he was in a separate room when he first arrived. It seems like it was so long ago… but he really is part of our family now. A big, kooky, sweet, wrecking-ball part.

Merry KissMouse, Coop!

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A year later; my fave basket-case

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Courses of Action

I’m exhausted from being worried about Nuala. I know you know what that is like: when you know something is not okay with your pet and she’s family, it wears you down. I’ve explained about months of bad litter behaviours. Of over-licking and biting her back toes and nails. Of chewing off the fur on the tip of her tail.

Before this all started she got a pretty bad dose of FHV (kitty-cold) from Cooper who brought it into our home. Two years before that, she caught a mild case of calicivirus from the Rascals foster kittens. A year before that she went through ringworm with her siblings at the age of 5 weeks.

She is a loving, sweet natured cat who is very people-focused and also emotional. She shows her love or dislike or worry. She is not a lap-sitter – never has been. I wish she would, but it’s just not her thing. She will however reach up to be picked up every single day and will snuggle into your shoulder and purr every time. That’s her thing.

So when she was ill, I really didn’t know what to do. Can’t spent a ton on a battery of tests. But I also won’t ‘let it slide’ just because there is no physical damage I can see. I KNEW something was wrong. But what? Was it behavioural? (A reaction to the new kitty Cooper?) Was it physical (an illness surfacing or re-surfacing?) Or was it a combination of multiple things? That’s the hard part. What if there were two separate physical ailments plus a behaviour originating from it or the stress of it? What if there was another factor – some unseen variable – that was creating part of the problem.

I’m exhausted from chasing my tail on this.

After switching to a vet who was actually listening to me (not just hearing the words), I’ve been working on this again:

  1. J bought an air-blow deterrent for the area she was soiling in the basement. I was not sure about this behavioural fix since it’s punitive. However, unlike the one we tried like this some time back, this one worked. No kitty is going into that area now. For any reason. I won’t remove this little egg-shaped machine, because cats love and respect routine and now this is part of the routine. I don’t want to change the rules (again) and it’s one hallway that they don’t need to use for any reason.
  2. We tried different litters, new litter containers, have 2 open and 2 closed litters. What I hadn’t tried was to put a litter in a new area of our home. I resisted this because there were no great logical places for it… and I didn’t want litter smells in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. In the end, the bedroom was the loser since we put a covered litter in the second little bathroom – beside our bedroom – the one we use when we give our big bathroom to the ‘fosters’. Immediately all three (I think!) cats wanted to use this convenient new spot. Great – they love this litter, and our bedroom sometimes smells.
  3. All three kitties went on Milbemax – a gentle and effective dewormer. I didn’t see any worms, but I had long suspected Cooper of some intestinal bug since his poop was eye-wateringly stinky and a little wet for his entire time with us. And if they share litters…. well you know. After the season of visiting the ‘Out’ was over, all three took milbemax (the vet listened and I appreciated her going with my plan despite not knowing me well, and not being fully convinced. Milbemax is gentle enough for young kittens – it would do no harm as a precautionary measure – I know because I’ve used it with every batch of foster kittens). It’s two weight-related doses… and there was no change after the first dose, but Cooper’s poop began to smell like regular cat poop just a couple of days after dose 2. Is this one of the variables?
  4. After the Milbemax, Nuala didn’t have any behavioural issues for a few days. I thought we were in the clear between the deworming and the new litter placement. Nope. She continued to bite her back toes and toe-nails. Dermatitis of some kind? Or infection (bladder, skin, or other residual secondary infection from her bout with FHV?). And she peed outside perfectly clean litters a couple of times.
  5. Next visit to the vet – the vet didn’t agree with me, but again she listened and understood why I wanted one round of precautionary antibiotics. I was trying to safely get rid of the ‘usual suspects’ before having to invest the considerable money in tests. Judge me for this frugality or not – there are limits to my budget.
  6. I don’t know how this will work. Nuala is on day 6 of 10 – using a 40mg dose of amoxicillin 2x each day. I am not looking forward to the common side effect of antibiotic-induced diarrhea, but it’s part of me being committed to helping Nuala. She’s still biting her toes and toe nails. She’s had no litter issues since day 2 of the antibiotic.

I will let you know how this goes – I wish I’d been able to do all this in June when I took her to our last vet. This course of action is my gut feeling – I feel good acting upon it. But I’m also learning as I go – for example I’d never considered cat’s sense of smell and cleanliness as an intervening variable – what if Nuala didn’t want to use the litters Cooper used since he was so darn stinky? What if she started holding her pee from not wanting to get into a stinky litter – and got a bladder infection? Behavior + medical linking variables.  This can be in any number – or permutations.

I’ll figure this out. At least Cooper has normal poop for the first time since we met him. That’s a step in the right direction – getting one thing fixed at a time. Please send good thoughts to our little orange kitty.

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In the middle of a slow-blink

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Christmas Came Early

I don’t do one single thing about Christmas until after Remembrance Day. It’s like a family rule and respect for those who served… so the days between Halloween and Remembrance Day are often cleaning and chores for me.

Today however, the kitties got their Christmas.

It wasn’t planned that way – a local pet store had their ‘friends and family discount day’… 15% off. It works out to just saving the tax, but hey, we’ll take it. We needed stuff! Our 3 wave scratching posts were shredded – the sisal part. The cardboard scratcher was okay… but only in the middle strip where cats can’t scratch it properly. Cooper spent last night chewing my silk flower buds in the vase (urrggg – I’m sure he’s eaten a piece or two) – always wants something to chew. (Did I tell you how much he loved the dog chew I got him?) We have toys. We still need to replace the damaged stuff.

So off we went…

There is no use waiting for Christmas morning to give these ‘gifts’ to them. They are some of the basics we keep for them. Just out of the car, a wash to get it clean (some toys)… and then they can have them.

Cooper is in heaven. Nuala is too … until Cooper comes to whatever toy she’s got. (Shadow is hiding out upstairs). They have a new wave stretching/scratching post- with a little catnip rubbed on the scratchy part. New ‘kong’ chew toy for Cooper (he’s seriously a puppy) but this one is for cats – can’t wait to see if this works. New ‘mouse on a stick’ toy – since Cooper has chewed the tail off the mouse of the last one and has pretty much chewed through the sturdy rope. (Yes – do laugh – I laugh but in a sad way since he’s such a wrecking ball).

Unfortunately the store didn’t have ‘da bird’ or the ‘bug’ toys that are our must-haves. We still need one of each… Cooper needs to keep expending that kinetic energy!

Do your kitties get Christmas gifts? What are they getting?

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Do you see one face… or two?

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Little Orange Hero

Today Nuala might be a hero – a little, furry, orange, accidental hero. She was outside in our back yard on her harness and leash and she kept trying to get into the neighbours yard. Our yards are pretty open with only 4.5ft iron rail fence… so she can see whats in their garden and can fit through if the lead is long enough. She was pretty insistent – and then J realized why.

A little bird had struck their window and was still somewhat alive on their deck. J knocked, but it’s Thanksgiving and they are not home so he popped over and brought the bird to our yard. It was not moving, but not dead. A flurry of activity here – we both looked up what to do with window strikes, bring in both cats, find a un-waxed shoebox or paper bag, get the bird to a safe warm place (J’s office is warmed by the sun and has a door we can close to keep curious kitties at bay).

The bird was tiny – and I didn’t know what it was. I think it was a little brown creeper. With many North American bird species populations showing losses of 70-90% and with cats and windows as the most massive killers (numbers beyond comprehension) every life matters.

If you have windows that face trees – especially forest – you have a ‘kill zone’. The bigger the window, the more dangerous. Birds can’t see glass (especially highly reflective glass) and only see the trees reflected there and fly to them … and their deaths. You can put up UV reflective stickers on your windows, keep the blinds closed, or as I do  – keep the windows dirty especially during migration times (the dust is a barrier that they can sometimes see). I also use UV stickers on my larger windows. I rarely get a bird-window collisions – but nothing is perfect.

We left the little bird alone in the warm room in its shoe box. They say an hour. We waited an hour and it was slowly coming to – flapping like it wanted to leave. As per the online instructions, we walked into our forest nearby… and opened the box. It didn’t come out immediately. In fact when it flew – it only went a short distance and hung awkwardly from the tree – but too high for us to re-capture it. We waited. And waited. It didn’t fly off or move. We had no choice to leave it there to recover it’s senses (we hope!).

Went back an hour later to look at/for it. It had flown off – it wasn’t on that tree or on the ground or nearby. Every cell in me hopes it survives and is okay.

But no matter what, our little orangie is a hero to that bird. If it has any chance at all, it’s because she was vigilant and alerted us to its plight. You hear so many stories going the other way – cats killing birds. It’s so nice to hear a good-news story of a rescue partially by a cat. Way to go ‘Wala!

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All hail Nuala, our little hero

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13.5lbs of Love

In our home, we celebrate our kitties’ birthdays. If that makes us crazy cat-lady and cat-guy, so be it. We love our family.

Part of this love is investing in the vet visits. This is often a sore point for me since vet care around here is extraordinarily expensive for the average person. It always seems to leave you between a rock and a hard place. I try to be reasonable and keep the costs down by opting for only meds or procedures I think are necessary. It helps that I don’t like over-medicating myself or my kitties.

Every year, around their birthdays, we review our cat’s health and what the primary concerns are. This often means a visit to the vet. So… yesterday Cooper went to meet his new vet. It’s my first lady-vet – and frankly I like her already. She’s got a no nonsense approach and is reasonable to speak to. (Yay!) It’s a family practice where she and her husband treat all their clients.

Cooper was terrified. He ‘chirped’ all the way to the vet – about a 5min drive. It’s the most vocal he’s ever been. He still can’t meow but he really tries, and between our family we’re doing fine with the fact that he can’t verbalize. It’s amazing how you adapt your communication when one member can’t communicate back. It’s also amazing how much a pet owner has 2-way communication with your cat: you recognize distress, fear, happiness, laziness, hunger etc all from the sounds they make. I’m learning to go around that with Cooper.

This vet (now the second I’ve asked – just to see if there was insight better than I can come up with) said that it could have been his very early illness or he may have been born this way. She checked his mouth and throat – nothing visible. We know he has vocal cords – he makes some sounds – and it’s certainly not for lack of trying! And he purrs up a storm.

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Cooper – Then (Dec ’15)

Cooper got his 1-year shots (I’m almost religious about all the shots in the first year) + rabies. I think he’d had rabies already. He was a champ – I’m the one who had to look away for the needle.

He also got weighed. I’ve been accusing him of being 14lbs… but he’s 13.5lbs of love. Or fear – he was so scared at the vets being weighed! We had to move him to and from the scale and he put out his claws and clung to the door frame. It was one of those hilarious-sad moments you want to laugh at but feel bad.

The other thing I brought up with the vet was the fact that Cooper has slightly-wet, very stinky poop. (Yeah- I know you needed potty-talk from me! Sorry) He’s had this since we got him.

I have long suspected that while he was treated for worms as a young kitten, it was also around the time when he was getting antibiotics for his FHV. If the two drugs were too close to one another, they can affect the effectiveness of each other. So the anti-parasites meds might not have gotten all the worms. Not that there have been other signs, but I feel I need to be careful and address this and I purposely waited until the weather was getting colder and I wouldn’t be taking him out into the garden nearly at all. (They can pick up worms from other species and other cats using the same garden)

Since they all use shared litter-boxes, if Cooper has any worms, he’s likely passed them on to one or both of the girls. It could be part of Nuala’s problems with the litter (still sporadically ongoing). This is my phase-one to address the situation: spend the money and have them all go through a course of milbemax for worms. (Disinfect or replace the litter boxes as well). At worst, it’s a gentle waste of my money. At best, it’s a problem solver.

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Cooper – Now

The vet suggested that I consider a feline pro-biotic. I love this suggestion and will think of this down the road a few months from now. Yes… for all 3 kitties.

Does love have a price? Well, this vet visit and the pills for the kitties came to $170. Ouch. (But that’s average ’round here) It’s what I need to do to protect the little-big guy. And the girls.

 

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You Say It’s Your Birthday

A year ago today, somewhere on the streets of Montreal a litter of kittens was born. One of those tiny wiggling babies about the length of my index finger grew to be our Cooper. He went from a high-kill shelter to a safe one, traveled across borders with kind Ontario rescuers, got the kitty cold and got better, and grew and grew…

If the birth records are right (and they are likely not -because how could they know the day of a stray’s birth?) then today – September 24 – is Cooper’s Birthday.

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Pate wasn’t evenly packed in the tins … it’s kinda a wonky cake

It’s not every day our handsome boy turns the ONE. It’s a big moment in his life (though I’m not sure he sees it that way) because he’s passing from his kitten months into his cat years. It’s bittersweet for his mom (me) – and frankly the two girls can’t wait for him to be older and lose his manic moments.

Of course there had to be a ‘cake’. Of course there was a candle (blue!). Of course we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ – though in our home it is always sung as ‘Happy Bird-day’.

Cooper didn’t care much … he just wanted to get to the ‘cake’. Nuala watched me prepare it and tried to get to it first. In fact we had to hold her back – to her dismay. He got in just a few licks before she joined him.

What do kids do? They have too much fun. Eat too much. Eat too fast. Get sick. Nuala did just that… threw up her meal all over the floor. I don’t even mind. She’s fine… both back to being happy cats after the celebration.

Today I’m very thankful for our boy – and I’m sending good thoughts into the universe for his siblings. I hope they have as happy and secure homes as he’s found.

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Ray of Light

Sometimes, you just have to smile and know that while it’s not perfect now, it will be one day and they will be life-long companions. It’s a ray of light … and a glimpse into their future when their present is sometimes rocky.

This is low light and from J’s cell … but Nuala walked over to the napping Cooper and cleaned him … Cooper snuggled into her and put his paw around her.

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We are still trying to blend our kitty-purrsonalities and get them to find their natural ‘grooves’ living with each other. Cooper is still a kitten and though his size is double that of the girls, he has that kitten sweetness but he’s in his terrible-twos.

In this moment I think of Mouci… and am so thankful for her immensely sweet and generous spirit. She put up with every cat she met and nurtured more than a few… including Nuala who lost her mom at 9-weeks old. Nuala always looked to Mouci as her mother (though there were 16 years age difference between them) and Mouci taught her this loving cleaning behaviour and patience. It’s now Nuala’s turn to be the teacher…

Long Abandonment

I did something I’m not proud of. I left the kitties for 10 long days to go on holiday. It’s not really the going; it’s the lack of preparation I gave Cooper for this abandonment.

We ran away to Newfoundland – and enjoyed every moment – except those I worried about Cooper and the girls.

I am very pro-vacation for cat owners, but I am also a big fan of acclimatizing the cat for the separation and the inevitable anxiety. Cats feel separations deeply – since they are very routine-focused. And they can become increasingly anxious about life without you since they have no way of knowing that you will come back. You know you will return. You see time as cycles. They don’t. They see the future stretching out in front of them as it is in this current moment.

Cooper had a really hard time of this. He has been with us for 8 months – most of his life. In that time, there is almost always someone home. And, due to this and also his early days in rescue, he is more people-focused than cat-focused. He targets people more than cats for his socialization. We are gone for 15 hour days sometimes, but that has been the extent of his ‘abandonment’.

What I should have done – and meant to do – was to slowly prepare his understanding of separation. Go away for one night. Return and shower him with love. Go away for 2-3 nights and give him lots of love. You get the process. That allows the kitty to learn that their ‘pride’ goes away but there is always a return and loving reunion at the end. It’s gentle preparation.

We have done this with all of our cats… except Cooper. In the past, we’ve left for as much as 3-week stretches and returned to lonely, but happy and well-adjusted cats. Poor Cooper – he didn’t get those lessons. He was just abandoned. It must have been a very, very long 10 days.

In that time I’m sure he bonded with (aka bothered the living daylights out of -also a cause of stress for me) Nuala and Shadow. He bonded with our pet sitter who loves him and shares his enjoyment of watching the hummingbirds at our windows. He whiled away his time sleeping. He wondered if this was the new normal… no us in his life anymore.

I’m meant to write and ask you all to think good thoughts about our ‘little guy’ – and the girls – while we were gone. In the end, I was so rushed with preparations, I didn’t do it. I came back to 3 very needy kitties. Followed us everywhere. Wanted extra love. And of course they got it – treats, and love, and excursions to the OUT. I can only imagine what they went through.

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The Cat Days of Summer

I haven’t given you an update about our kitties … but I have thought of so many things to tell you that I’ve now forgotten. Funny things. Sad things. Life’s crazy moment’s things. But then you know these – because these are the fabulous reasons for us having cats in our lives.

On the litter-behaviour front, things were good for a week and then became bad again when I added the pheromone plug-in. Not sure if that was a cause, an effect, or just an concurrently occurring variable. I wanted to throw my hands up and give up. Instead, I cleaned my floors again (hopeless tears not far away), cleaned the litters more often, and hoped for the best. It’s now been good for 3 days again… keep your fingers crossed for me.

Nuala is an emotional kitty – and so we showered her with love even though she was withdrawing from us. It’s changed her behaviour and she is more social and loving again. Not the same as pre-Cooper, but then again, she spends more time avoiding the grey freight-train.

And speaking of… Cooper is a kook. Sleeps on his back constantly. Belly-up like he doesn’t have a care in the world. Loves all kinds of cat nip. I brought some inside (only one little plant of mine is surviving so I can’t harvest much) and left it for a moment… and came back to find that he’d eaten all of it. Smug…and almost grinning at me. Food… he has never met a wet food he didn’t like… and will inhale his and then push Nuala away from hers. We hide food and feed them in separate spots since both girls will simply give in and let Cooper eat their food.

And then there is OUTSIDE. Out is a new favourite thing for Cooper. If you remember his disastrous first visit to the Out, and his subsequent wussy-butt, pawthetic ways about being in the Out, you’d be surprised at this. Cooper loves Out. He visits the Out almost every day now and squeaks (still no voice development) at the door and waits patiently until you put his harness on. He now understands that getting stuck momentarily on his leash (pegged to the ground so he can walk the width of the yard) is not an alien attack. He just flops over (like he is prone to do in the house) and roll in the dirt until one of us (there is always someone on leash-duty) un-tangles him from whatever he’s gotten into.

Thanks to his preferences, there is now a globe cedar that has lost its lowest branches to my clippers and my giant hostas are attacked, stepped on and mangled somewhat.

But how can we resist – Cooper loves the shade, cool and damp earth, the breeze (now that he knows it doesn’t attack him – though he still doesn’t like a strong breeze and will go to the door and squeak pitifully), and the birds who fly over his head and land nearby. He’s an old pro now, and when he’s had enough (about an hour) he will let you know by heading to the door and being a total suck until you let him in.

He’s a massive baby – about 14.5lbs of love, energy and joy. He bowls the other two light-weights over, but they are getting good at working out that he’s a kind soul. He will be an epic sleeper they can count on when he matures.

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The branch on the lower left is no longer there  thanks to Cooper always rolling around it and getting tangled

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Meanwhile … on the opposite side of the yard

Perplexed Still

I don’t know what Nuala has gone though. The last few months of disengaged sickly behaviour could have been illness and could have been a behavourial adjustment to a new kitty. My gut (and I am starting to trust myself and go with my gut more often in things – since the ‘gut feelings’ are often your picking up of imperceptible changes and clues that don’t register cognitively, but exist and build subtexturally as a body of knowledge from being within the situation) tells me that it was medical.

Part of why I say this is that Nuala has met and blended well or not-very-well with a number of cats in our home without any litter-related problems. There was Merlin (who was play aggressive and too active and challenging for her disposition). There was Mouci (perfect bonding – parental relationship). There was Shadow (who doesn’t want to interact – they worked out a perfect peaceful agreement). There were the Rascal kittens – she wanted to play and keep them. There was Oscar – a mature, big, male stray the size of Cooper now – who she was curious with and wanted to engage with in play. Even with the daily visits of Midnight – she polishes the window to be let out too – but doesn’t react in a threatened or aggressive way. No behavioral incidents.

A second clue is that Nuala fully blended with Cooper. Bonding to the point of cleaning him. They shared a litter box (boxes) for months without incident before it all changed. I don’t think this is triggered by Cooper being here or even becoming bigger because she’d accepted him already. And while he is pouncy and bothers her sometimes with his joyous, uncoordinated exuberance, she had been taking it in stride.

I did all I could (except an expensive round of medical tests) to figure this out. I didn’t have time to use the scientific method of isolating variables and testing each one. Instead, I used the parental ‘throw everything at it and see if it works’ approach. I can’t tell you what may have helped or not. I will tell you that having a basement that was pooped and pee’d in each day was mentally and physically exhausting – and embarrassing. I’m telling you this because sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you have a kitty issue that is a deep challenge you can’t solve. You feel stuck, drained and defeated.

Litter:

  • We always offer uncovered and covered litters so we didn’t have to try to offer a different type of box.
  • We were offering 2 types of litter texture. Just in case the cat develops an allergy, sensitivity, or hates the feel of one, it’s good to have a second on hand. Also, if there is a litter the kitty has used and loved, make note of it as a fall-back option. The secondary litter was barely used by any cat, so I went to all 4 litters with a low-dust litter we’ve used for a long time.
  • Bleach-clean the box or offer a new box. Litters get dirty and etched and cats are clean creatures. I cleaned all 3 boxes and bought a new one.
  • Gave her a pheromone infused ‘calming’ collar for 2 weeks. She hated it and wanted to get it off. Since behaviour change in the kitty should happen in the first two weeks, we didn’t torture her longer. (The collar did nothing for the obsessive biting of her toes or the litter issues)
  • Gross – but I checked her poop and pee for blood, worms, or any other clues of illness.
  • Tried putting a litter box on the same spot on the plastic mat where she was pooping daily – thinking location might be the issue of contention. Maybe Cooper had marked the laundry room (aka litter room) as his? Nope. Pooped beside the litter.
  • Washed and scrubbed the mat she was using – air dried it for 2 days – to get rid of the pheromones of it being the ‘new defacto litter’. Nope… continued the inappropriate elimination.
  • Ordered Feliway – diffuser that has better pheromone reaction in most felines and is very highly recommended by doctors and shelters. I wanted to make the litter room literally her ‘happy place’. No change – will try again.
  • Tried to put her into a litter box so it would trigger her memories and ingrained habits. She’d just exit.
  • The day before she stopped the bad behaviour, I’d caught her starting to squat, and I carried her to the litter – she immediately got out. I did something I’d never done: I locked her alone in the litter room for about 30 minutes. The behaviour changed. I am very skeptical about attaching any sort of cause and effect relationship here.

Food – The vet suggested that Nuala had a food allergy that explained her ulcerated gums. We feed a mix of 3-4 foods at any given time so they don’t get too picky. They were not liking the Blue Buffalo at all – but I thought we’d just get through that bag. I had originally thought that Nuala ate something on her first visit outside this year. I was with her the entire time, but you know cats! Many behaviours (the obsessive toe licking/biting and the ulcers) began immediately after that visit – and she had no more outdoor visits for 2 weeks and the problem calmed down.

  • We immediately changed her food, to a cheaper but good food that she had always liked and tolerated well. We then changed her food again to see if there was a difference – there was none. (Yes – everyone had to eat the same stuff!)
  • We changed treats – though the new treats we’d been using seemed to be fine for a couple of months before the problems started, we changed these too since ‘cheap treats’ are notoriously allergy-causing in many felines.
  • We haven’t gone back to my tin of mixed foods… not sure what I’ll do there.
  • The biting of the toes still continues … too much to be normal, but not nearly as obsessively as she had before.
  • My plans are to give all 3 kitties milbemax (oral worm treatment) within a month. I’ve used this lots with out fosters. If they have come into contact with worms, they are passed along by sharing litters. Cooper could be an originator or just going outside on a leash could mean one caught it.

Behaviour – We changed our behaviours and the house rules in hopes that there would be a change in Nuala. She was never punished for her litter issues – since it could be an illness.

  • We started to exercise Cooper more – I try to do 1-2 10 minute sessions of high energy play with him each day. I have asked J to do at least 1. This has eased a little on days when we take him outside – the bug-chasing and fresh air tire him out. He has less energy to bother Nuala (or Shadow)
  • We started consciously seeking Nuala out and picking her up and showing her more love. For no reason… just wanted to show her how to engage more.
  • We began welcoming her into our bedroom at night. She and Cooper have woken us up sometimes, but for now it gives her time to come and visit when she wants to
  • We recently started taking her outside more (she loves this!)
  • I checked her for any signs of ringworm – she has had it as a kitten, so she might get it in her later life. There were no signs.
  • The vet checked her carefully for fleas (biting and over-licking are flags) and checked her ears for mites – nothing there

There’s more but this is a LONG post already. I’ve shared this in hopes that one day it might help someone dealing with a similiar issue. I wish I could tell you what worked.

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