Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cats Cats Cats... for the Cat lovers out there...

This post is dedicated to my cats... I'll add photos later.
We originally had 4 cats, 1 dog. Now we just have 3 cats.

Coot, may he RIP, was the alpha. Neurotic, slightly psychotic, but lovable Coot. Coot was a silky (very silky soft fur) black cat with a white chest and paws & whiskers.  He was our tuxedo cat, all dressed up, no place to go.  Coot was a worrier.  He worried about everything and everyone.  If the cat's food container (self-feeder) was low, he would cry and let you know.  If the Dog's water dish (the cats shared Hunters large water cooler/watering dish). was low, he cried about that. If coot was crying, something was wrong. You would ask him what's the matter, and he would lead you to the problem.  Stand by to make sure you fixed it, then he would leave.  It wasn't that he wanted the food or the water, he just was afraid it was going to run out.    He even did that when Hunter's dry food would get low.  If Coot was crying, it meant something wasn't right. He wouldn't stop until you went with him to fix it.  He would cry if someone got trapped in the laundry room. Even Ruby - his nemesis. He was the old man. A year older than Ruby. When M & I moved in together my daughter J & I brought Coot & Ziggy. M brought Ruby & Hunter.  And then J felt sorry for this scraggly flea ridden kitten and paid the adoption fee and we ended adding Sonny.  J & I had gotten Coot as a kitten, when some friends found the bedraggled wet kitten that would fit in the palm of your hand out in the rain outside a convenience store.  Our friend already had 2 cats, and couldn't take on another, so we took him.  Coot had grown up around dogs, when he was a kitten my partner at the time had 2 labs, and Coot was unafraid. As a tiny kitten you might find him up under the chin of the big yellow lab trying to get to the gravy in the dog's bowl.  Luckily all the dogs Coot (and the others) have been around were all gentle giants.  Besides being a worrier, Coot was nervous.  Besides crying to let us know when things weren't right, if he got too upset, he would get dandruff really bad.  Which with his black silky fur was very noticeable.   Coot was a sweet kitty, I miss Coot. For that matter, I miss that old yellow lab too.  I was there and watched both (at different times obviously) take their last breath.  I was alone with my partner's old yellow lab, she couldn't deal, so I was there for the big guy.  For Coot, we were all there - me, M & J. All crying and reminiscing about happier times & happier memories.

If Coot was the old man, that makes Ruby the old lady.  Ruby is a calico tabby cat. Dark rusty/brown color, some stripes on her tail, otherwise mottled. White chest, paws & face. Sort of dainty but tough as nails. Don't mess with Ruby. That goes for human or animal.  One minute she can be purring and demanding you pet her, next she'll swat you to let you know you should have stopped that - didn't you get the secret signal she'd had enough? Ruby and Coot had some sort of love/hate relationship going. They would hiss and fight. For some reason, Ruby would get behind the bedroom door, swatting at Coot out through the crack at the hinges.  He would sit and box back at her.  They also like to fight for who got to be on the bed.  Coot was declawed, so he had no front claws.  The rest of the cat's have claws.  So Ruby had the advantage.  But Coot would still wop at Ruby with his paw. He packed a mean punch. Normally Coot would end up chasing Ruby off the bed, then he would lay up there.  He was getting older, and while he would sometimes exhibit signs of acting like a kitten again, he normally didn't want to play with the younger ones - Ziggy & Sonny.  Ruby doesn't like any of the boys. We aren't sure that she likes anyone.  Normally while Coot was alive, he was the only one that really fought with Ruby, on a couple rare occasions, Ziggy joined in, Sonny was a bit clueless.  As I've mentioned before, something is wrong with Ruby's meow. She can get loud when she really wants to, as we have heard her when she got trapped in the laundry room. Most of the time tho, the best she comes up with is a faint "meep" sound. Otherwise you can watch her mouth open and shut but no meow comes out.  Like she has permanent laryngitis. Although when Coot was still around and Ruby would get shut in the laundry room, Coot would be sitting outside the door crying, Ruby would be quiet.  If didn't hear Coot, he'd come looking for us and lead us to her.  Timmy's in the well... you need to come help NOW.  Told you it was a love/hate thing.  Is Ruby the alpha female? she's the only female.  I'm not sure I'd call her alpha.  More likely crotchety.

The cats love to follow us in the laundry room and will sometimes hide and get shut in there when we shut the door. All cats seem to have a door alarm. Even if they are in another part of the house, they know if you go in a room (bathroom?) and shut the door, and will immediately appear outside said door and cry and stick their paws under the door trying to signal to you that they are there and that help is on the way, soon as they figure out how to get that damn door open... Cabinets, now cabinets they can open. Just so you know, they can open all the cabinets, weave in and out and around all the pots and pans and anything else you have in there. Normally they don't, but they can.  Just in case, we always rinse off the pots/pans. But the doors, can't quite get those door knobs to turn.  That proved a problem once. M & I had left on a week long vacation and taken Hunter with us.  J was stopping by the house off and on checking on the cats.  With plenty of water and self feeders out, and clean litter boxes, they are usually good for a couple days on their own.  Sometime between when we left on Friday and J showing up on Sunday, however, all 4 cats somehow shut themselves in our bedroom.  This was odd, in that Coot & Ruby had managed to get the door shut before while boxing with each other, but normally Coot is outside the door when this happens.  But this time all 4 were in the bedroom.  This could have been really bad. Or well, worse than it was, I guess being stuck in a bedroom for possibly 2 days without food or easy access to water isn't a good thing.  Our bedroom has a full bath attached, so they could drink out of the toilet if necessary, and the cats used our walk in shower as their bathroom, and left a few presents.  As I say, could have been a lot worse.  The shower was much easier to clean up than if they peed/pooped in the bedroom.  We aren't sure how they came up with the idea, but could tell they'd all used it. After that incident we started blocking the bedroom door so nothing similar could happen again.  That was really the only room that it was an issue, and that was because of how/where the door is.

Hunter was the next oldest.  He was a large sweet dog. Rarely barked. Was a very good dog. Definitely a gentle giant. His mother was golden retriever, not sure about the rest.  It was claimed the father of the puppies was a Rottweiler, but he didn't have Rottweiler in him, they are stocky. He was almost as large as a Great Dane, had a running dog's build, and loved to stretch those legs.  He was fast.  The vet said he might be part Irish Setter. He had short reddish hair.  He looked a little like a very large Vizsla. He got along well with the cats.  He and Coot became very good buds, Coot would walk in and around Hunter rubbing all over him.  Hunter wanted to play so bad with the cats that sometimes he would try to put his paw on them, coot especially and he would yelp, and we'd have to fuss at Hunter to leave the cat alone, then there would be Coot right back over there beside Hunter rubbing all over him.  Sonny also was a big pal.  We think Sonny thought he might be a big dog too. When Hunter would get a treat or table scraps, like a piece of steak, Sonny was right there wanting a piece too. Course we had to give Sonny a much much smaller piece, but he seemed to always want whatever the big guy got.  Sonny also tries to make a sound like a woof.... more like mouf... Hunter always had dry food sitting out, and also got one can of wet food a day.  He especially liked the kind with gravy.  Problem is that the cats also really liked the gravy.  Many times, we would put out Hunter's food, and he would come to us and lean against us whining, and the cats (especially Coot) would be on their hind legs licking the gravy off the food in Hunter's bowl.  Hunter could have gone over and growled or barked or scared the cats off, but no, he would come whine to us like he was saying "the cats are eating my food again.... cant you do something?"  To solve the problem we got a second bowl, and would pour a little of the gravy off into the "cats" bowl, then put the rest of the can in Hunter's dish.  Made everyone happy. And whatever the cats didn't finish up, Hunter would later.

The cats have a pecking order when it comes to eating. However, they take turns. When Coot was around, he was often first.  Then either Ruby or Ziggy and Sonny.  Now that Coot is gone, sometime Ruby gets there first and Ziggy will wait until she is done, or Ziggy will be first and Ruby will wait.  No real rhyme or reason.  Sonny, our special needs kitty, he eats when he wants.  The others will let him. They seem to all know he is special. Ruby will fuss a little bit, but let him go out of turn.  Ziggy will just share the bowl with him.  Same with the water dish.  Now when they used to share Hunter's water bowl, they never shared at the same time with the dog. but because the bowl was large, it was easy for more than one of them to drink at the same time.  Now they have a smaller "cat sized" bowl which is really too small for more than 1 but sometimes we will still see both Sonny & Ziggy trying to drink at the same time.  Another difference now they no longer have the large water bowl is that the floor doesn't stay as wet.  There were two reasons for the wet kitchen floor.  First was Hunter, he would slosh water, and leave a trail after taking several gulps of water.  So you had to watch out for the patches of dog slime.  The 2nd reason was Ziggy.  He likes to drink from his paw, and will sometimes splash water, we sometimes wondered if he was doing it for fun, or trying to skim the dog slobber off the top of the water before he drank.  We think mostly he just wanted to play, because we would catch him slinging water at Sonny or at Hunter.  For some time Hunter was blamed for all the wet floor issues until Ziggy was caught in the act.

Ziggy is our little grey tiger. Ok, he's not so little. Over weight actually, although the vet did say as long as he is active, jumping and playing not to worry too much.  He can jump and he plays. So for now, we haven't changed the means of feeding the cats.  To put Ziggy on a diet would mean they all get put on a diet and we would have to take away the self-feeders and make sure they all got their dinner.  As for Ziggy's jumping ability, not long after we moved into this house, we found him on top of the top kitchen cabinets (up over top of the refrigerator by about a foot 1/2.  We guess that he got up there by jumping on the counter top and from there to the top of the fridge and from there to the top of the cabinets - unless he went from the counter to the top of the cabinet directly.  That's really the only time we found him up there.... he just wanted to see what the view was and whether there was anything worth checking out.  Ziggy is a lover boy and loves to snuggle and is very social. He's best pals with Sonny. J and I got him as a small kitty and he bonded instantly to me.  He is my boy.  He will be social with anyone but he is definitely attached to me.  He is very playful and has a mischievous streak.  He is very gentle when he plays, and rarely puts his claws out.  Even the vet has commented on it.  We believe he learned to play keeping his claws in because of Coot, who was declawed.  After all using claws wouldn't be fair when Coot couldn't.  Only rarely if you are playing with Ziggy will he barely put his claws out sort of as a warning.... but not enough to really do any damage.  He does the same thing when you are petting him and he doesn't like something you are doing, or he might "fake bite" you, put his mouth on you, without actually biting down. Just long enough so you get the idea.  Ziggy was always Coot's pal.  Whenever we needed to take Coot to the vet, we often would end up taking both Ziggy & Coot (in the same cat carrier) because it would help make Coot feel better and less worried. Later, as Coot got older he didn't want to play as much and Ziggy bonded more with Sonny and took Sonny under his wing.  Ziggy is also our attack cat.  Early warning alarm system.  If strange people show up (as in complete strangers, repair men, UPS drivers, etc), or if strange vehicles pull into the drive (or we have discovered lately he reacts even if a delivery truck pulls into the neighbors drive), then he growls.  Yes, he growls. I first told M about it after we moved in together to let her know, if she heard Ziggy growling that it meant we probably had someone pulling in the drive or something wasn't right.  She responded with a yeah right, cats don't growl.  Now Hunter would bark if a strange dog, or rather a strange big dog (he seemed to think little dogs were maybe cats) was around.  He would bark if you left him outside too long.  And if someone strange was outside in the middle of the night sort of thing.  Otherwise he didn't bark.  He didn't bark if we had repairmen coming to fix things... He would scare the repairmen because he was big, and he would be straining against whoever was trying to hold him back... because he thought all visitors to the house were there to see and pet him. But even if Hunter didn't always bark or growl, well Ziggy would.  First time M heard him, she told me (surprised) Ziggy does growl... yes. really. ferocious little tiger he is.  Course I'm not sure what he would really do if there was danger or the danger came in the house, maybe run to the treat cabinet and hope the thief was breaking in to give the cats treats? no, but seriously I do think Ziggy maybe would do what he could to protect us. Especially me.  Not sure what he could/would do, but he'd try, least that is what I believe.

Sonny, is a long haired, part Maine Coon cat.  Yellow. His fur is yellow/orange with faint stripes, and he has a white chest and white paws.  And he is Yellow. A big scaredy cat. Did I mention big? He has enormous paws, he is much bigger than the other cats.  He isn't fat, just big.  Apparently Main Coon's get big, and he isn't as big as some of them I found on the Internet.  He's also a big coward.  Afraid of noise, his shadow, sudden movement...  As I mentioned, J picked out Sonny when we first moved into our house. He was still a kitten but several months old.  With long gangly legs, and scrawny. Very awkward.  J says she saw him and was afraid no one would adopt him and that she felt the need to do so to make sure he had a good home. Nothing like bringing a 4th cat into a household that has just blended 2 families.  A dog & cat, plus two cats, plus sonny.  Poor Sonny was odd man out.  First thing we had to do was isolate him in one of the bathrooms until we could flea dip him and make sure the fleas were gone.  We did not want to have a flea infested household!  We took him to the vet to make sure he was up on his shots.  The vet told us he was a short hair domestic cat.  Yeah, ok. In the beginning, none of the animals wanted anything to do with him. He wanted to play.  He was able to pal around some with Hunter, but the cats didn't want him around.  In fact, the other cats would torment him.  As he grew, we discovered he is not short haired.  He has soo much hair, he has tufts of hair growing out between the pads of his feet.  His pads never actually touch the ground.  Which makes him slide easily on the linoleum.  The other cats figured this out.  Our house makes a circle where you can go from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, out the other side of the kitchen back in the living room, completing the circuit.  The house is carpeted except for the kitchen, the landing (we have a split level) and the downstairs hallway and the bathrooms all have linoleum.  The other cats discovered they could play chase with Sonny and lead him through the kitchen from the dining room and they could turn and run out the doorway to the living room, and Sonny couldn't make the corner and would slide into the kitchen table and chairs, BAM.  Perhaps that is one reason Sonny is a special needs kid - too many BAMs.  But really Sonny isn't so dumb.  He learned to skid into the turn.  Looking much like a little kid on a skate board, he knows just when to slide and lean and make the corner and can now fly through the kitchen and out the door no trouble at all.  He does the same thing running down the stairs making the corner on the landing and down the rest of the stairs and around to the cat room.  After we had Sonny for a few months, he started filling out some and growing into those gangly legs.  He is still awkward (probably always will be), he has huge paws, and is a bit of a klutz.  As he filled out his hair grew.  Besides the tufts growing out the pads of his feet, he has tuffs coming out his ears, and has what looks like a lion mane, a fluffy feather duster like tail, and so much fur that M says he always looks like he is running with his pants falling down.  We don't have any proof that he is Maine Coon cat, but we are sure he is NOT a domestic short hair.    I did some Internet searching and found out that he has all the indicators of being a Main Coon after a friend suggested he might be one.  It wasn't long after we all started to get settled in the new house, and all the animals started getting used to each other that Ziggy & Sonny started palling around.  Ziggy took the kitty under his wing, and would snuggle with him, groom him, etc.  Animals are funny though. We took Sonny to the vet and he stayed overnight when it was time to have him fixed.  When he came home he smelled different and Ziggy wanted nothing to do with him.  Would just hiss and spit at him.  After a day or so, he realized it really was Sonny and all was ok again. Sonny is fine around the other animals, and can even be brave when it comes to taking what he wants - like food etc. but when it comes to people, that's when he is really a scaredy cat.  Strangers, loud noises, etc.  Sonny runs like a yellow blur down the stairs to the cat room.  Sonny has so much fur that we started taking him to the groomer to have him shaved.  If not, his fur will get so matted that it isn't healthy for him, and he won't hardly let us brush him or help him take care of it.  So J will come by every 3-4 months and help grab him and put him in one of the cat carriers and take him to the groomers.  They give him a "lion cut" which leaves his mane and a fluff on the end of his tail, and makes him look that much more like a little lion.  The groomer say he is very sweet. They wanted to know if he was nervous (you think? Mr. cowardly lion, nervous?) - apparently they said he chews his nails. Which is much like in humans.  We knew Coot was nervous, he had dandruff that would flare up when he was upset.  Sonny, he jumps when you make sudden moves, or if he hears loud noises, or if strange people come in the house. Or for that matter if any of us open the front door. Think he associates the front door with strange people coming in the house since we all mostly use the garage.

Our "cat room" is a storage room at the bottom of the stairs that has a cat door cut in the bottom of the door.  Besides being used for storage it is where the litter boxes and cat food is kept.  Main purpose was to keep it out of Hunters reach.  Unfortunately dogs think cat poo is a form of delicacy... we will leave that thought at that.
After Coot was gone, the cats had an adjustment period where they all figured out their place in cat society.  Well except for Sonny, who appears to be exempt. If you watch them, you can tell they (all the animals) just make allowances for him.  Ziggy became a bully. It appears he feels it is his place in life to make Ruby's life miserable.  To follow Coots footsteps and keep Ruby off the bed.  Ruby is not having any of it.  Normally Ziggy snuggles with us at bed time.  Often wants under the covers and snuggles in.  Otherwise he snuggles with Sonny at the foot of the bed. Ruby likes to sleep by M, or up on her pillows at the top of the bed.  It is a king, so there is plenty of room for all the cats and us.  Ziggy will chase Ruby off then sit at the bottom scowling and guarding the bed so that she can't get back on.  Sort of an example of cutting his nose off to spite his face because he can't get any attention down there, doesn't get to snuggle in, but guess he's happy because he is keeping Ruby away.
Another thing that has changed since Coot & Hunter have gone is Ziggy's behavior after I leave and come back.  Before if I had to travel for work.  He would be so upset and pissed at me when I would get back that he wouldn't have anything to do with me for several days.  He would make sure he was in the same room noticeably ignoring me.  Not come when called, and not want me to pet him, etc.  Now, if I leave, then when I get back he won't let me out of his site, and wants to be glued to me like a furry tumor.  It takes a few days before he relaxes and goes back to normal.

So.... that's our furry family members. We wouldn't take any thing for any of them.  And most definitely miss the ones that are gone.


Diane J Standiford said...

Now we know! Wow, such a family. You made me miss my lab, Annie and our cat, Tristan and Klaus. Sad stories I won't sully your great post with. What do they think about you telling all about them on the WWW? Did they paw a release?

Doug B said...

Well I enjoyed this post. I'm allergic to cat fur so can no longer have an indoor cat. Your post made me even more aware of that miss. But I have several outdoor cat friends and I love them to death. They stop by throughout the day when I'm home to say "hello" (and "feed me"). They always come to my truck and greet me when I come home. I like a cat's independence. In general they seem a lot more self-assured than dogs. Anyway, am still looking forward to your maybe posting some pictures some time.

MS Day Dreamer said...

Ok... pictures are up.
And yes the animals all pawed a release. All but Sonny love the attention... so they have no problem with me sharing them online. Even Sonny was ok long as he got treats and no one touches him.