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The Little Gray Cat Journal

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
I though this might be fun. I’m journalling the entry of a new cat into my household. For some quick background, I have three cats: Mellie (calico), Rocket (orange tabby) and Twinkie (orange and white) who are pictured in my signature. I saw a wonderful little gray tabby female at Petsmart and adopted her on Saturday. Herein begins a daily journal of the new arrival, so far called “little gray cat.â€. This puts me in the glare of public view so I have to make a good introduction. And if there are any hitches along the way, a place to get some help and information. For those who have done this many times, don’t laugh too hard. Go easy on me. This is just my third introduction. And the first didn’t turn out well.
post #2 of 61
Thread Starter 
Friday, May 11

I’ve decided to go ahead with this, or at least check out the cat, so I call the shelter, express my interest, and ask a few questions about the who and when of their Petsmart schedule, download the adoption application from the website and fill it out. That’s about all for today.
post #3 of 61
Thread Starter 
Saturday, May 12

I email the app to the shelter. The morning is spent getting a room ready. My plan is to use the small spare bathroom off my bedroom as the new cat’s room. My bedroom will become “common ground†so starting now it’s closed off to my three current cats. The bathroom just has a shower stall, so I remove the door, put down some anti-tracking mats, and install a litterbox in the shower. The lower cabinet door comes off and the empty lower section gets a spare cat bed. A cardboard scratcher, a box for a hiding place, and food and water bowls complete the setup. I make a cover for one of my small carriers, because they told me she’s “shy.â€

Adoptions start at one, so I get there a little early. I’m concerned someone else may have put in an app. There are some kids in the room looking at the kitties. They’re poking their fingers in the cages and I think, “Keep your hands off my cat!†But of course, it’s not my cat, yet, so I keep quiet. I meet Aileen, who hasn’t checked her email. But I took along an extra copy of the app so she looks it over, and asks a few questions. I have to tell the story about Tommy, a cat who I had to surrender. She’s satisfied, but wants to look in the box first to see if there are any apps in there. It’s empty. I’m relieved.

Aileen takes the little gray cat to the private room. I sit on the floor, she puts the cat down, and I let her come and check me out. I really don’t think this cat is shy. At least not with me. After she’s been giving me the “take me home†treatment for a while I pick her up and look her over. She looks absolutely healthy. A nice little kitty. Maybe a little skinny, but I can fix that. So I tell Aileen I’ll take her. I get the carrier, open the door, and the little gray cat strolls right into the carrier without needing any encouragement. We fill out the paperwork, I make out my check, I ask Aileen for a small bag of the food little gray cat has been eating, and then little gray cat and I get in the car and head home.

Parked in the garage at home, little gray stays in the car and I go in and sequester Mellie, Rocket and Twinkie in their room. Gray gets carried into her room, I open the carrier door, and close the bathroom door. I close the bedroom door and open the cat room door. The three are none the wiser.

Later that afternoon, I check on the new arrival. She’s doing fine and is happy to see me, and shows it. She’s been chilling in her carrier and so we spend a little time together. I put a little catnip on her scratcher and she uses it enthusiastically. She gets a little wet food put down alongside the dry food from the shelter and she eats it.

That night, the little gray cat is absolutely quiet the whole night.
post #4 of 61
Thread Starter 
Sunday, May 13

First thing in the morning I check on little gray. She’s still doing fine. She’s eaten some food and used the litterbox. She’s left a deposit overnight. I marvel that such a huge pile could come out of such a small cat. I decide to put the scratching post that’s in the cat room in there. I can’t do this without letting her out of the bathroom, so this involves some deft maneuvers involving cats being moved in and out of rooms, doors opened and closed, etc., so nobody meets anybody unexpectedly. By now, Mellie, Rocket and Twinkie know something’s up. Rocket’s meowing at the bedroom door. He wants in to see what’s going on. Twinkie hangs in the background. I notice Mellie is looking at the door with a kind of a resigned look. This is a big improvement over when Twink was adopted, when she shot looks that could kill.

I let little gray out to play in the bedroom under my supervision. We do some loving and some scratching and some playtime. This cat is not at all shy. She got over that after about five hours here.

The day goes well; little gray and I get to know each other a little better; the other three don’t seem upset, yet, so if everybody’s healthy after the new girl’s physical, we’ll start the intro. But for now, each time I go in, I change clothes into my “contact†clothing and then afterwards change again and wash my hands and face.

Sunday night is not quite as peaceful. She knows that room is out there and that I’m in that room and could come in and play with her if she can only get me to open that door. So she wakes me up several times during the night. But I don’t give in, except once I get up and slap on the door to see if I can get her to understand I don’t want her to do that.
post #5 of 61
Thread Starter 
Monday, May 14

First thing in the morning I call the vet. There’s a new receptionist so I have to spell everything out and explain the whole story. But there’s an opening at 10:30 and I grab it. I make an attempt at clipping little gray’s nails and actually get all the front ones done. The back doesn’t look too bad. I get the paperwork together, put the resident three in their room, little gray goes easily into the carrier, and we take the short trip to the vet. Gray is quiet in the car; a big change from my other cats.

The receptionist and I take the little gray cat into exam room number one. She stays in her carrier because I know she’s a little squirm-bucket and isn’t going to like me holding her for that long. I don’t want her walking on the floor. Vet-tech Jennifer comes in and takes the history. I explain that I need just a rabies vac and a prophylactic Drontal. I open the carrier, a little gray cat shoots out, and Jennifer carts her off for weighing. The doc comes in, gives gray the once-over while I tell the story. Gray is constantly in motion. Pretty soon she gets annoyed and starts using her fangs and claws to let me know she’s tired of being restrained, so she goes back in her carrier while the doc goes for the pill and the needle. Gray is even more annoyed after the pill and the needle, and so quite willingly goes back in the carrier. Doc and I talk about the risk factors due to the incubation window for FeLV and FIV since little gray had her negative SNAP test when she first came into the shelter and could have been exposed before or after the test. Doc also wants a fecal sample because some cats from this shelter were found to have Coccidia. I say I’ll try to get one to deliver to the clinic, and I’ll think about having another SNAP test done.

Back at home, little gray is happy to be out of the carrier and back in her little room. I call the shelter to get some more info about her background and exposure to other cats and decided the risk of having been infected and the SNAP test not picking it up is very low; less than my previous adoptions. So, since everybody’s healthy, we’ll go ahead with the intro.

Rocket has been wanting to get into the bedroom, so today I let him in, with the new cat in her room of course. There’s a strip of poster paper across the bottom of the door, so nobody can see anybody or stick paws under the door. Not yet; it’s too soon. Rocket sniffs carefully around the room, flehmening in a couple spots, but seems not to be upset, so I put him out of the room.

After lunch, I let Mellie into the bedroom. She’s uptight and nervous and has that “lookâ€, so after a few sniffs she gets put out. Twinkie still hasn’t shown much interest. These first moves are to aquaint the three resident cats with the new cat’s scent without any sight of the new cat. By now, of course, they know she’s here. They’ve heard her. Now they’ve smelt of her. I also take a towel that’s been in her room and has her scent, and bring that out into the main house to put that beside the door into the bedroom. The Rocket and Mellie check it out. Later I see Twink rolling around in it. I think he’s overlaying his scent.

I keep going in and out, checking for a fecal sample. Still none. It’s nice and warm out, so I open the window and she’s entranced by the outdoors. She was in a cage at the shelter for over two months, so this little room with its window must be close to heaven for her. Even better is coming, I hope. I put some poster paper over the inside of the door in case she repeats her scratching at the door of the previous night. So now it’s drawing toward the end of the second full day and hopefully Mellie will be a little less anxious tomorrow. I’m not going to push it. I think Rocket is ready, but Mellie isn’t. It’s hard to read Twinkie.
post #6 of 61
Thread Starter 
Tuesday, May 15

Well, it figures. I just get settled in bed and I hear the sound of litter being kicked around in the little gray cat’s room. So I have to get out of bed and get the scoop from the cat’s room. More doors opened and closed. I already had a plastic baggie strategically placed, but forgot I only have one scoop. Into the gray cat’s room to scoop up another huge and nice and firm-looking deposit, into the plastic baggie, into a paper baggie and then into the fridge.

Little gray was quiet overnight. Just a little meowing at first and then quiet. I think she’s learning fast. But she’s also learned that when she hears the bedroom door open and shut I’m coming into her room, so I hear the soft plop of her jumping down from the perch and I know she’s waiting behind the door to shoot out into the bedroom. And now if I don’t open her door when I’m in the bedroom she meows, insisting I come in. So I think I’ll work on two things: dissassociating the entry into the bedroom with opening her door, and not answering her every meow.

Another thing we’re going to work on today is weaning her off free feeding dry food. She’s had several meals of wet and eats it fine. Although we have another sloppy eater in the house. So today perhaps three small meals of wet and then put down some dry for overnight.

Off to the vet’s to deliver the fecal sample.

Mellie looks like she wants to get into the bedroom to see what's going on, so I let her in for a bit. She's doing better than yesterday. I offer treats for a positive experience in the "common room" where she can smell little gray but not see her. But then little gray lets out a squeak and Mellie gets a real anxious look, so back out the door she goes. And Twinkie is waiting outside, looking like he wants to see what's up in there, so then I let him in. He sniffs around but doesn't look either too uptight or too curious, either, so after a bit he gets sent out. Rocket is asleep in his bed box.
Little gray is a real lover cat. She just loves to smooch.

I’ll try to get some photos today to post in the “Meet My Kitty†forum, but it’s dark and cloudy and forecast to stay that way. It’s hard to get her big beautiful eyes with a flash.

The vet’s receptionist just called and the fecal is negative.

I still don’t know if she’s sleeping in her cat bed because she’s always waiting on the other side of the door. So this afternoon during naptime I snuck around the backside of the house, hoping to look in the window and see if she was in her cat bed. She wasn’t. She was sitting on top of the vanity. But the good part is she recognized me.

I think this arrangement, with the two closed doors and the new cats and the resident cats separated by a “common†room, creates a situation where the three resident cats are curious about what’s going on behind closed doors. You know how a cat can’t tolerate a closed door. So I think this helps to overcome their defensiveness against a strange cat in their territory. They can’t see the cat, but they know she’s there. The closed doors stimulate their curiosity, and hopefully motivates them to actually want to see the new cat.

Not much else happening this afternoon. Everybody’s sleeping. I did some more of the towel-rubbing stuff.

I played with little gray using a Cat Charmer. It’s interesting how cats have different preferences even in their play style. Little gray likes to chase things in the floor, but isn’t interested in batting at things dangled above her head. Whereas Twinkie doesn’t do much chasing, but he does like to bat. Little gray also likes to grab the toy and race away with it.

Little grey seems to be taking over the bedroom. This cat isn’t shy at all; she’s quite outgoing, IMO. The info sheet has “gets along with other cats†checked and now I’m wondering if they were wrong about that, too. Maybe they’re basing that on her being caged with another cat, but that cat was a cat she was surrendered with. I’m going to let the three cats into the bedroom more often so they have their scent fresh in there, too. This evening I opened the bedroom door so all could go in at the same time, but as soon as Gray squeaked, Mellie bolted out and then hunkered down right outside the door, glaring in with big eyes. She hissed at growled at Twinkie when he got close. Maybe she’ll take it all out on Twinkie, who’s used to it, and that will spare little gray.
post #7 of 61
Thread Starter 
Wednesday, May 16

Every time I go into the little gray cat’s room I check around, expecting to find a pile of vomit or poop. None so far, but this morning I find someone in the three cats’ room has vomitted overnight. I think it’s Twinkie. He was a bit subdued yesterday and didn’t have much appetite for supper. This morning he’s spunky and ate all his food so I hope whatever was bothering him was chucked up. But if it’s a hairball, there was none in the vomit. Time will tell. And speaking of time, it’s funny how things work out sometime, because I woke up a few minutes early and ended up only about 10 minutes behind instead of 20 because of the vomit. That’s one of those half empty/half full discussions that leave me bored. Later I find someone’s had the runs during the night. It’s all in the litterboxes, but that’s the drawback of non-clumping litter: running poop breaks into numerous small fragments that are a bitch to clean out. That drains some water out of the half-full glass.

I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling like I’m not making much progress. The boys are ready for the next step, but Mellie is not. I have to go at the pace of the slowest cat. So today the plan is to give Mellie more time in the common room alone. She tends to be intimidated by the presence of the boys. And sure enough, the first time alone in the bedroom this morning, she looks much less anxious than yesterday and even goes run up to the door to listen and sniff. Little gray is very accomodating, not making even a peep while Mellie is there. Mellie gets a couple treats and seems almost reluctant to leave the room.

So far my time with the little gray cat has been pretty frenetic: playing, holding, scratching, petting, care-giving; all the usual human/feline contact sports. So the other plan for today is some quiet bonding. I usually lie down on the couch for a little snooze after lunch so today I’ll try that in the bedroom instead while I let her out to see if she snuggles.

I’ve been trying out various names. Nothing really lights up my lips or gets her attention.

My experience so far with this little gray cat has just reinforced my opinion that the assessment of a cat’s personality in a shelter setting is so unreliable as to be nearly useless. Oh, I suppose it’s useful for weeding out undesirable behaviors. But one can only get a vague picture painted with very broad strokes. The environment affects behavior, and personality is judged mostly by behavioral responses to environmental stimuli. A cat doesn’t show their real and complete personality until they’re secure in their new home. Rocket is my only cat who turned out somewhat the same as he was described. Although if I’d known at the time how much a “talkative†cat really talks, I might have had second thoughts. And certainly not encouraged him in it when I got him home. So far little grey is pretty quiet, and I’m not going to encourage her to become a talkative cat because one is plenty enough for me. Physically I see characteristics that lead me to believe she might turn out to be the female version of Rocket. Her skeletal structure; the way she walks and moves; the way she looks at me; her boldness in exploring new territory. My goodness, I might have a Rocket and a Rocketess!!

The “bonding through snuggling†didn’t work out as she was in constant motion the whole time I was in the bedroom. I suppose she had some energy to burn off after doing nothing most of the morning and/or is still finding interesting things to investigate in there. I’ll probably try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll let her out into the bedroom early so she can burn off her energy. Except I’d prefer to monitor her. Today she surprised me by leaping for the top of the dresser, making it two-thirds of the way, and scrabbling up the rest. Not too good for the finish. I’ll have to put some empty beer cans up there to give her a noisy surprise next time she tries it. Good thing recycling wasn’t last week or I’d half to drink some extra beer today to get enough empty cans.

Whoa. A bit of a curve this afternoon. Yesterday Twinkie was fine. Today I let him into the bedroom and grey cat starts caterwauling (I came to understand that word much better after I got cats.) Twinkie freezes, stares at the door, and hisses!! I pick him up to get him out of there and he hisses again!! I don’t know. The only thing that’s the same is that it’s different. I was expecting problems with Mellie, not with Twinkie. I was hoping to take the off the poster paper covering the gap under the door tomorrow so they could start playing footsies through the gap. Now……I’m not so sure.

The fast progress of the little grey cat is also a surprise. She’s yelling up a storm because she wants out of her little room into the big wide world of the house. She wants to meet the other cats. Maybe she wants to take over the place? I don’t know. She hasn’t met Mellie yet. But her eagerness and boldness is surprising given that she was billed as shy and timid. And I asked one of the shelter workers if she showed any signs of wanting to be a dominant cat and was told she didn’t. I just hope it’s the rambunction of youth, and that my cats will put up with it.
post #8 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thursday, May 17

Last night I tried another tactic to desensitize Mellie. We had treat time in the bedroom. Or tried to. One of the treat games we play is I toss the treats and they chase after them. The boys were fine with this in the bedroom. But for Mellie there was an invisible wall about five feet inside the door. If a treat landed beyond that barrier, she stopped short and wouldn’t go any further. Today, I’d like to try some playtime with her in that room. If only the little gray cat hadn’t kicked up such a fuss at that critical time, Mellie would be further along. This will be the fifth full day and the slow progress is getting frustrating. And the frustration breeds ambivalence. Did I make a mistake adopting the little gray cat? Is this going to work out? A complicating factor is that I’m going to have my roof shingles replaced in early June. The cats will need to be boarded for a couple days, due to the noise and commotion. There’s a risk they won’t be ready to share a room if we don’t get going here. Introducing Twinkie took over two weeks but that was mostly because he came down with a cat cold shortly after arrival and I postponed the process until he was better. I wish I wasn’t under the pressure of any deadlines here, but, there was this cat, and ….

Also last night I had no sooner gotten in bed and closed my eyes that loud noises started coming from the spare bathroom. “Bouncing off the walls†is a figure of speech, but I can’t understand how a little seven-pound cat could make that much noise without actually bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a combination pillow fight and ping-pong tournament with jingle bells. After a few minutes of this I had to get up, go in the room, and take away the noisy toys. I dug in the toy drawer and found a little catnip mouse to substitute for the noisy toys. Back in bed it still sounded like a pillow fight for the next ten minutes and then things calmed down and she was quiet all night. I’ll have to do some more playtime tonight, I guess. While I was in there I noticed she had already eaten all of her overnight dry food I had put down. So if there’s a nice looking poop in the box this morning I think I’ll just take away the dry food entirely and put her on her on a schedule of three wet meals and a bedtime dry food snack.

Mellie just spent some time in the bedroom. She does better in there without the boys, and this morning she got through that invisible wall of last night, sniffing around and flehmening the new cat’s scent. With big eyes and a defensive posture to be sure, but it looked like progress to me. Little gray cooperated by staying quiet for quite a while until finally she let out a little squeak and Mellie was out of there.

And it’s noontime; I’ve had stuff to do and not enough time to do them and didn’t get them all done and I’m tired and I’m hungry and I haven’t spent any time with the little gray cat other than to feed her. I haven’t even cleaned her litterbox yet. And so another half day goes by. When she got here she was sooooo happy to be here and now her enthusiasm has waned. She doesn’t greet me in the same way. I wonder if she’s disillusioned. I wonder if I did the right thing for her by adopting her. I think it’s one of those days that seems to come with every new project where you get ambivalent about having started it.
post #9 of 61
Wonderful journal. I have enjoyed reading it Keep it coming!
post #10 of 61
I agree, I enjoy reading about the little gray cat!
post #11 of 61
Thread Starter 
After lunch I plan to spend some time with the little grey cat and then snooze in there to see if she’ll cuddle. I walk into the cats’ room and see puddles of vomit on the floor and diahrrea in the litterboxes. There goes the play time. So who vomited? There’s a little bit of dark hair in the vomit…looks like Mellie’s. But Twinkie had that gas or whatever last night. And then Rocket comes into the room, goes into a litterbox, and squirts out a stream of liquid brown. OK. But is he the one who vomitted? He does seem a bit subdued today. Does he have a stomach bug? Ate something that disagreed? Or is it the stress of a new cat? I hope it’s not a bug. Then all my cats will get sick. The last time that happened it was six weeks before things settled down to normal. And now there’s one more link to make a bigger circle. All my hygienic precautions have been in the other direction. And I dropped those after grey cleared her physical. If Rocket’s sick I can’t let him play footsies. And he’s ready now. Sigh. At least I have a little snooze in the bedroom while the Nature’s Miracle is soaking. But little grey still is in constant motion. Just a little blur of mottled gray and cream fur. No snuggling today.

Late afternoon and getting close to mealtime. I’ve been debating whether or not to feed Rocket. He seems to be coming out of his funk and showing some appetite. But here’s Mellie drinking a lot of water – unusual for her. Maybe it was her that threw up. Why is all of this even going in my journal? Because it affects when I have the cats start physical contact. I really don’t want the new cat to start out by catching something. If Rocket’s got a stomach bug, in my experience it’s going to go from cat to cat to cat and then possibly back again for another round. This could take weeks. Do I expose the new cat or not?

I play with little gray for a while and take a few pictures. She still seems spunky and healthy. And nobody’s got a cat cold yet. Although I think I’d trade a round of cat colds for a round of vomitting and diahrrea.

Oh, oh, I may get my wish fulfilled. Twinkie is sneezing. Rocket seems to be doing better. He had a decent appetite. Although Rocket could eat anything at anytime. He’d have a decent appetite on life support. So that doesn’t mean much. It’s Mellie who picks at her food and leaves most of it uneaten. But that doesn’t mean much either. She’s always a picky eater and sometimes skips a meal for reasons only she knows. Those cat behavior experts who wrote about how to introduce cats, did they address dealing with the resident cats’ health?

The little grey cat gets a good start on shredding my poster paper protecting the inside of the bedroom door while she’s spending time in there alone. And makes quite a racket doing it. She really wants to get out and meet the other kitties. I look at Mellie and she’s just giving her inscrutable look. Well, that’s better than before, I guess.

We try the playtime in the bedroom thingy with Rocket, Mellie and Twinkie. I use a toy that Mellie and Twinkie like. All three come in the room. Rocket just watches, Mellie ducks under the bed, and Twinkie plays like he usually does. Hoping to engage Mellie, I lure Twinkie out of the room with the toy and shut the door in his face. Mellie doesn’t like the door closed. She likes to keep her options open. I try to get her interested in the toy, but she just keeps looking anxiously from the closed door on one side of the room to the other closed door on the other side. So I open the bedroom door and at about that time the sounds of a little gray pipsqueak come plainly from behind that “other†door. Mellie bolts for the safety of the office and that’s it for the play session.

I have a fun play session with little grey. She’s such a character. I’m using a wand with a black furry ball on the end of the string. She ignores the ball and goes for the wand, grabbing it from me and running away with it.

We’ll probably try the treats thingy again tonight with the three. No big changes planned for tomorrow. Just more of the same until I can figure out what’s up with Rocket’s diahrrea. So unless there’s big news, I’m just planning one journal entry tomorrow evening.
post #12 of 61
And of course you did the right thing! Little Grey will be much happier once she's able to have the run of the house... right now, she's probably starting to view you as a prison warden, but she'll adore you once that phase is over.
post #13 of 61
Thread Starter 
Friday, May 18

This morning there’s no vomit on the floor, but there’s still diahrrea in the litterbox. Mellie and Twinkie both have little appetite and leave food in their bowls. If somebody needs to go to the vet, I hope it becomes obvious today. Why do cats wait until the weekend to get sick?

The little gray cat was quiet all night. I guess that extra playtime worked. I think it’s time to start spreading her scent over the rest of the house. Get the other cats used to it being there. So my plan for the day is to let her out of the bedroom to explore the living room and kitchen. The doors to the cats’ room and the office will be closed, with the three confined behind closed doors, of course.

I decide to feed Mellie in the bedroom. She needs to get over her anxiety in the room before we can proceed. I put a tray with her bowl just inside the door. She goes to the food but is too distracted by that closed door on the opposite side to eat. So I move the tray just outside the door. She’s still distracted. I partially close the door, leaving it open about four inches. She begins to eat, but keeps glancing up through the opening with that anxious look in her eyes. Finally I close the door and she eats.

I’ve been trying out various names on the little gray cat. When I go in to her room to pick up her food dish, I try out “Teenie.†Usually when I open the door she dashes into the bedroom. But this time when I use that name she looks up and me, comes back to me, and starts rubbing up against my leg. Is this the name she wants?

Beginning yesterday, I’ve been occasionally leaving the bedroom door open for short intervals to allow the three to circulate in and out as they please. This morning when I go in to see if anything’s going on, I find an oval-shaped wet spot on the side of the box spring. Rocket is sitting on the bed. Rocket routinely engages in “fake†spraying, so I suspect he’s the culprit. Unless I nip this in the bud, he might do it all over the house. So the plans to let little gray out are postponed. This is a new problem I didn’t face during my last intro, so I’m going to open a thread in the behavior section to get some input. I’m not about to do DNA testing on the urine spot, so I need to find out which cat did it and how to prevent it from happening again. The first thing is to get out Nature’s Miracle and clean the spot. I have an old fitted bottom sheet covering the box spring, so, oh goody, I get to take everything off, including a heavy, heavy extra thick mattress to get at it.

After lunch and a snooze with Twinkie, the bed gets remade and I’m off to the pet store for cat food, litter, Feliway, and more Nature’s Miracle. Holy cow, is that Feliway ever expensive at the store!! It’d be a lot cheaper online, but I need it NOW and the store has got me by the scruff (to coin a cat-oriented phrase.) Then I go to the grocery store and find out Nature’s Miracle is $4.00 cheaper there. Sigh. I have two empty diffusers at home, so I pry open the single refill bottle I bought, divide the liquid between the two diffusers and plug them in.

Rocket is feeling better today, though he still has the diahrrea. It’s my experience that could take a couple days to clear up yet. But I know he’s feeling better because he’s going around the house complaining about things. I don’t think we’ll need to see the vet today.

Then I find a small damp spot where Rocket has been doing his “fake†spraying. So it’s Rocket who’s the culprit as I suspected. Nature’s Miracle gets applied liberally to the whole area. But just to make sure I know, Rocket comes along and backs up to the spot with quivering tail. I shout at him and interrupt him. I go to console him that I’m not mad at him and why is he doing this? He doesn’t believe me; he comes along a couple minutes later, backs up to the backside of my recliner, and does the deed before I can interrupt. I actually see the urine stream. This time it’s a bigger spot. More Nature’s Miracle is applied. I wonder if he just started or if he’s been doing this now for some time. I should check out the other spots I’ve noticed him back up to. One of those spots is my CD rack. I don’t want to find out what urine does to CDs.

Now I’m wondering if this is really about that chair. And maybe the stress of the new cat triggered the spraying. I’ve noticed lately that he’s commandeered that chair. That’s where he naps; no other cat naps there any more. When I sit there I have to either pick him up and set him back down on my lap, or if I’m going to have snacks, he’s not allowed to sit with me so he gets set down. As soon as I get up he’s back in the chair. I’m wondering if he’s marking the chair as his and ONLY his. Maybe I should just let him have it? It’s getting old and I’ve been thinking about replacing it. I could just put it in the cats’ room. Would he nap in it there or would he want the new chair?

My mind is going in circles. I need some time here. Rocket, Twinkie, and Mellie get shut into the cats’ room with a Feliway diffuser. I have to close the window else the diffuser won’t work. Poor little gray kitty. She’s pretty much ignored today so far. She’s such a great cat. I hope I can make this work. But maybe my vet is right. That’s too many cats for my size house. Her theory is 500 square feet per cat. I have a 1250 square-foot house. So I’m over even with three. Personally, I’ve been happy so far disproving that theory. But maybe now I’ve pushed it too far. I hope not, but it might be.

Time to watch a movie with a beer or two and some crunchy munchies.

After that I clean the two urine spots. They’ll get some Feliway spray as well. Then I go in to check on the three in the cats’ room and find some more vomit. This time it’s neatly deposited on the tracking mat. Somebody’s learning? I’m thinking it’s Rocket, so with his diahrrea as well, he’s going to fast tonight to give his G-I system time to calm down. And if I find some more vomit with fresh food in it, I’ll know it’s not him.

Little gray kitty is eating well and has deposited another nice, firm, and very large poop in her box. I play with her for awhile, then feed the cats. Mellie and Twinkie are eating outside the bedroom door.

More of the same planned for tonight. Rocket is going to stay under close watch.

Not much in this journal today about the little gray cat. Goes to show that when a new cat is brought in to a household where cats already live, most people’s concerns are improperly directed toward how the new cat will do. The problems are most often with the resident cats.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.
post #14 of 61
Keep 'em coming, I love reading your journal It gives me something to look forward to!
post #15 of 61
Thread Starter 
Saturday, May 19

Last night before bedtime I spent some time snuggling with Rocket. This is probably the first time since the little gray cat came that he’s snuggled with me. I’ve been trying to give each of the three some individual attention, but it’s hard. And I know Mellie is getting short-changed. But knowing Mellie, I think she’d understand and expect that’s the way it has to be. There is no fairness among cats.

Rocket wakes me up this morning at the usual breakfast time and he is HUNGRY and makes sure I know it. No sleeping in today. I decide to feed Rocket in his usual place, which is the bedroom. I think things have been topsy-turvey for him lately. He was shuttled to the office when I closed off the bedroom and then when he came down with diahrrea he was moved to the cats’ room. Maybe if he gets fed in his usual place it’ll restore some measure of routine and also associate getting fed with the new cat, so he realizes she’s not a threat to his food supply. He’s very food motivated. I put some cardboard over the place he sprayed yesterday, move the Feliway diffuser into the bedroom, and spray some of the aerosol around. Getting the grey cat fed and the others fed all at the same time requires some prior planning and strategic maneuvers. I’ve gotten used to thinking ahead before opening and closing doors. That all works fairly smoothly and I notice no new spots in the bedroom afterwards. When placing the bowls in the cats’ room I did notice a spot of thin bile deposit on the lower level of the cat rack, so I think it was Rocket who vomitted. Feeding him this morning takes a risk of more vomit, but he’s obviously feeling better so I think it’s a risk to take.

While washing dishes I see Rocket backing up to the backside of the recliner, where he squirted yesterday. I yell and throw the sponge at him. He’s startled before he has a chance to squirt. Then, moments later, I see him backing up to the closed bedroom door. I’m right there to stop him. But I can’t watch him all day. He gets shut in the cats’ room He hasn’t sprayed in there as far as I can tell. But I’m just this side of desparation setting in. I can’t let him get started with this behavior. I’m wondering whether I should take him out of the equation. Maybe if he lives in the basement for a couple weeks I could get the grey cat in and then reintroduce HIM. But that was my last chance move with Tommy and it didn’t work with him. Time for another thread and get some advice from the members of the forum.

I don’t know how foster homes do it. Although I’ve read that when the resident cats get used to strange cats coming in and out it’s not as much of a problem for a new cat to come in. I reflect that my experiences here are only my third introduction, and that my knowledge is mostly “book knowledge.†Theory is fine, but experience always trumps, and I don’t have enough of that yet to assure a successful outcome.

I bring up some cardboard from the basement and block off all the spots I’ve seen him try to spray. Let’s see what happens. I let the three out of their room. All three check out the cardboard. Lookee here – a nice little tunnel!! But, sooner rather than later Rocket backs up to the cardboard behind the chair. I startle him off with a clap. He goes right to the bedroom door for another attempt. Foiled there, he heads for a cardboard scratcher leaning against the wall. There’s nothing for it but to put him in the basement. The only way I can confine him in the cat room is if all three get stuck in there. That’s where the litterboxes are, and the place I usually put a third box when I need one is occupied and closed off.

I’m pretty sure this is behavioral, but I call a clinic that’s open Saturday morning to see if he should have a urinalysis to rule out a UTI. Naturally, they’re booked solid. A vet will call back.

I think Rocket likes it in the basement. I’ve sprayed the spots with a vinegar and water solution and I’m willing for him to come up to see if that works. He wants to stay down there. Maybe there’s no new cat smell down there. I think this journal should be retitled. It’s all about Rocket now, not the little gray cat. I let Rocket back up in a little while when he wants back up; I want to see if the vinegar and water work. He checks all his spots, but he knows I’m watching him like a hawk and eventually goes into his room to take a nap.

The vet calls back. We have an extensive discussion covering all the circumstances. She agrees that it’s most likely behavioral, thinks we can wait out the weekend, and recommends seeing his regular vet on Monday, and confining him for now. She’s very nice considering I’ve only been to their clinic once.

Rocket goes back down into the basement. I spend most of the afternoon and the first part of the evening dealing with a computer problem, but that’s not part of this journal. Thanks, Bill Gates. As many billions as you’re worth, it’s a tiny, tiny fraction of what you’ve cost the world’s economy.

One good sign today comes from Mellie. I see her go by herself into the open bedroom to check things out. She doesn’t seem too perturbed, even going right up to the closed bathroom door to sniff around. Maybe Rocket’s absence helps. She gets fed her supper inside the open door. But she doesn’t eat much, so I transfer her to the kitchen. After supper I see if I can get her to come into the bedroom with me. She comes part way in then casts the evil eye toward the bathroom door. So it’s quite clear she’s going to do this at her own pace, but at least that pace is forward, however, slow.
post #16 of 61
Thread Starter 
Sunday, May 19

The little gray cat has been here for over a week and is still, for the most part, in her little room. The enthusiasm she had upon arriving here has diminished noticeably. I wonder if this is because she’s becoming accustomed to her new home and her new human, or if this is because she’s becoming disappointed in her new home and her new human. As best as can be determined from the circumstances, she was a surrendered housecat. And she was in a cage for only about two months. So she could very well still have some memory of her previous home, and so maybe she knows that what she’s got here isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I hope she doesn’t have to stay in there last until her enthusiasm drops to zero. She’s got so much, and it’s such a pleasure to be a part of it. Her approach toward playtime reminds me of Tommy and his “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” play style. I hope her enthusiasm lasts, and that it’s an clear image of her real personality. She’ll be a real joy to have around.

Before bedtime last night I played “chase the treats” with Mellie and Twinkie in the bedroom again. I think that invisible barrier is crumbling. Maybe her early solo recon began to convince her that what was behind door number one wasn’t nearly so fearsome. Not nearly so fearsome as that awful vacuum monster, for example. On a couple tosses she forgot herself and chased the treat to within inches of the bathroom door. Maybe that’s one good point to be said of a recovering dry food addict.

During playtime last night I tried out “Teenie” some more and variations thereof. I didn’t get quite the reaction of the first time, but she does seem to be paying more attention to that name than some of the others I’ve tried. Is it true that cats prefer “ee” sounds? Most of the diminutives and familiars in the English language end on an “ee” sound. How about in other languages? What’s Russian for “little gray cat” for example?

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I think I woke up after hour after two o’clock. And not all due to the cats. Finally, almost an hour early, I give up. But my resurrection is delayed so as not to allow Rocket to think I’m getting up for him. Cat Psychology 101. What’s the battle plan for today? There isn’t one. Colin Powell said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Time isn’t exactly an enemy, but it’s not on my side. And the cats have been dictating the moves, anyway. I’ll have to think about this later.

Mellie seems to want more attention than usual this morning. Late morning, while carrying her, I casually stroll into the bedroom. She doesn’t let me hold her very long under normal circumstances, so the fact she lets me continue to hold her for another 30 seconds or so while we’re in there, then jumps down on the bed without any unusual looks or body postures, is encouraging. The I offer some treats and she goes right up to the bathroom door to get them. It would really be nice if I could remove that strip from the bottom of the door today and see if they’ll play footsies. Someone gives me some advice that if I can get Mellie to accept the new cat first, Rocket is more likely to come around. It sounds plausible to me. I’ll have to play it by ear.

The little gray cat gets her mid-day meal. She’s eating well and pooping well. I’m going to scale back the mid-day meal and hopefully have her on two-a-days by the end of the week. I weighed her yesterday, and she weighed in at seven pounds, six ounces. I think that’s about the same as she weighed at the vet’s office on Monday, but to me, she feels sleeker. I suppose a few ounces can make a difference on a skinny little kitty.

After lunch Mellie and Twinkie are both taking treats right up to the edge of the door. So I conceive a bold and daring plan. I remove about four inches of the poster paper covering the gap at the bottom of the door. Now there’s three-quarters of an inch of clear space. I don’t know what or how much of the little gray cat she can see, but surely enough to know it’s a cat right there, inches away from her. She notices the gap, approaches it, tenses and hisses lightly. Then she hisses again, stronger. It’s at this point I should have distracted her with another treat. But I’m too slow adjusting my strategy to the demands of the moment and she hisses again, with great emphasis, putting so much into it that a small unswallowed piece of treat flies out of her mouth and lands just this side of the gap. Quickly I toss a few treats in the other direction, and she goes after them. I follow her back to the office to give her some hugs, pets and scratches to let her know she’s my girl. Despite the hisses, she doesn’t seem to be too worked up about it.

Meanwhile, Twinkie spies the open space and approaches the gap. He’s crouched down, nose inches from the door. I hear a hiss, and I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s the little gray cat hissing at him!! Twinkie runs back to the shelter of the dresser, but wait, here’s Mellie, growling at hissing at him, too!! Poor Twinkie doesn’t know what to make of the situation. He’s getting hissed at from two different directions. Mellie slinks under the bed, casting angry eyes over her shoulder at Twink, and a slightly ruffled Twinkster-cat exits as gracefully as a picked-on cat can exit.

I don’t really understand what just transpired here. Has Mellie been distracted from her reaction to the new cat by her long-cultivated disdain of Twinkie? Has the little gray cat actually sided with Mellie against him? Is he going to end up the poor little whipping boy of two girl cats? Is this a good development or not? I don’t know. It’s time to give it rest so the strip goes back on the door, sealing the gap. With the gap covered, Mellie is still willing to come right up to the door for treats, though she does keep a wary eye on it. Twink would rather just sit back about six feet from the door and look at it. This is enough for now. I’ll call it progress. The bedroom door stays open so the two cats can circulated in and out as they please. I realize now that I forgot to use Feliway. Damn!! So much for hasty plans.

The thing I’m missing here is what is the little gray cat’s reaction to all of this. I can’t be on both sides of the door at the same time. After Mellie and Twinkie have left the room I check on her and find nothing amiss.

Rocket has missed all the fun because he’s in the basement. I think it’s good therapy for him. He hasn’t sprayed once down there. Maybe the peace and isolation help him to destress. He’s got a cushioned, covered carrier to snuggle in. And he made for himself a secluded little hermitage in a storage area where he sits and meditates. He complained quite a bit yesterday, but is taking it well today. I’m doing laundry, so I’m down there from time to time. And he got some individual playtime and treats before bedtime last night, and he’ll have them again tonight, so it’s not exactly Alcatraz.

For suppertime I try feeding Mellie and the gray cat on opposite sides of the door, but Mellie’s having none of it. So I put her back in her room. Little gray hasn’t eaten anything, either, so she goes back in her little room. All this switching of feeding places isn’t having any positive effect, I don’t think.

Little gray has torn up the paper on her side of the door in her room. This is the second time she’s done this. I wonder if I’ve aquired a paper shredder. Maybe I can put her to work on my discarded account statements and save the electricity.

I wonder what Rocket would do upstairs, so Mellie and Twinkie get put in the office and I let Rocket up to see if he’ll spray. He ignores his spots. He probably isn’t up there long enough, he isn’t stressed, and he knows I’m watching. I suppose he’ll have to go to the vet. I take him out for a walk. He walks very nicely with me, now. Then he goes back downstairs.

Right now I don’t have any more plans for the day. If I get another bright idea this evening that can’t wait, it will go in tomorrow’s journal.
post #17 of 61
In Russian, "little gray cat" would sound something like "malenkee saraya coat". I'm sure someone with better Russian could translate properly

In French: petit chat gris
German: kleine graue Katze
Italian: gatto grigio piccolo
Portuguese: gato cinzento pequeno
post #18 of 61
Thread Starter 
Monday, May 21

Today is day 10 of the little gray cat’s entry into her new home. From her point of view, progress is nil. But from Mellie’s point of view, yesterday’s events show definite progress. Mellie no longer yields to her fear upon approaching the little gray cat’s domain. She’s extremely unhappy still, but so long as she believes she can stand her ground against the little gray cat, she won’t see her as an overwhelming threat.

I have another concern about Mellie. She hasn’t been eating enough. Her last weight check was down. Most mealtimes she leaves most of her serving in her bowl. She’s always been a picky eater; sometimes willing to skip a whole meal in protest it’s not the junk food she craves. But that seldom lasts more than one meal. So is it just about the food again this time, or is it about the new cat? Or is it something she needs to see a vet about? I don’t know. Yet one more concern.

Speaking of concerns, it has occurred to me that the cats are upset because I’m upset. I’m not directing it at the cats. I don’t think. But cats are very sensitive to mood. I’ll have to try harder to keep things as calm as possible. If they’re acting up because I’m acting up then it creates a self-sustaining chain reaction. So let’s just try not to explode. Think positive thoughts. The power of positive thinking!! Oh, wow, what a concept!! Maybe I’ll have to write a book. Hmmmm, not so fast. Some mornings it takes all the positive thinking I’ve got just to get out of bed. My book will turn out to be a work of fiction.

None of the cats have come down with a cat cold yet. This will be a first for me.

This journal started out to be about the little gray cat. It seems it’s been taken over by my concerns for the other three cats. Hypochondriac is the word used for a person overly concerned about their health. I wonder if there’s a word for a person overly concerned about their cats’ health. Catachondriac? It has a nice ring. Remember me to Merriam and Webster.

Rocket is back from the vet. There was a substitute doctor filling in for his usual doctor. He was a good, cooperative kitty. He even stopped purring long enough for the doctor to listen to his chest. That’s a first. His urinalysis, done by cystocentesis, was negative for everything. I wasn’t surprised. He’s on the right kind of diet to prevent urinary tract diseases. So now I know it’s a behavioral issue. I had a nice conversation with the vet tech and the doctor. I’m considering letting him go outside to be an indoor/outdoor cat. So I had him vaccinated for FeLV and picked up a couple extra Frontline ampules to apply to the indoor cats. I don’t want fleas in my house. Talking about territory sparked an idea. I might open up the basement to the cats. That would increase their territory and hopefully Rocket wouldn’t feel the need to spray. Maybe I could put a cat flap in the basement door. Maybe I could build a wall to keep them out of the most dirty and dangerous areas – my workbench, the laundry area, the HVAC area, sump area, etc. If I can get this done in two weeks I might also be able to put them in there during the roofing job. At least now I know Rocket is healthy. I’m glad he’s healthy but I’m ambivalent because behavior issues can be difficult to deal with.

The little gray cat has been pretty much ignored today. I let her have the run of the bedroom. She thanks me by scratching at the paper on the inside of the door. She’s turning into quite the paper fiend. She’s shredded the paper on the inside of the bathroom door once, since repaired, and also done a pretty good number on the cardboard that’s covering the cabinet where her bed ease.

I also do some work with Mellie and Twinkie individually outside the bathroom door. They’ll go for the treats right up to the door if the gap is closed, but with the gap open, they stay clear. When I open the gap, the tips of little gray cat paws are seen, accompanied by little gray cat squeaks.

Since Mellie won’t eat in the bedroom, I feed Twinkie in there, next to the dresser, which is about half-way to the bathroom door. He eats fine, but casts glances toward the door while he eats. At least Mellie eats most of her meal, but not after I bring her back to her food dish twice to encourage her to eat. Twinkie eats all of his and then runs over to bump Mellie at her dish. That doesn’t help matters. I get Twinkie a second helping and bring him back to his own dish. Now Mellie’s food is tainted with Twinkie cooties, and she’s even less interested in eating, and needs to be urged on again.

When I go in to the bathroom to pick up the little gray cat’s food dish, I find little bits of cardboard all over. Apparently the Fooey that I sprayed on there yesterday didn’t work. Even though I sprayed enough on there that just the smell of it brought a bad taste to my tongue. I bend down to pick up one of the larger pieces. It’s not cardboard. It’s a little round ball of poop. Ick!! How the heck did this get here? It’s got little bits of litter stuck to it. Did she kick it out? She’s quite the litter kicker. Was she playing with it? Double ick!! Did it stick to her butt? I think so; there are some little bits of something still stuck to the hair back there. I hope that’s not a frequent occurrence with her. Isn’t she supposed to clean herself?

The little gray cat is getting used to me handling her. She’s less of a wiggle-box when I’m holding her. She lets me hold her with her belly up. She likes belly scratchies. She allows me to touch her paws. I’ve clipped her nails twice already. I can stick my fingers inside her lips, but she’s not happy having me open her mouth, yet. I’ll have to work on that. I brush all my cats’ teeth. While she’s laying on her back in my lap, we exchange some blinkies, and she quiets down.

While walking Twinkie the little gray cat is in the window watching. Twinkie doesn’t notice her. I figure, what the heck, he’s got the whole outdoors behind him, and he’s not in his home territory, the screen and six feet of space separate them….she can’t be a threat to him how. So I hold him up so he can see her. She just meows and rubs against the window. He hisses. Not a spitting hiss, but he’s not happy. He hisses again. I try to reassure him; to calm him. No go. He hisses again, and yet again. All right, I don’t want to make this any worse. So we continue on our route around the yard.

This whole experience just goes to show that introducing a new cat is different every time. You can just never predict how difficult or how easy it will be. I suppose it gets easier with more cats and/or more frequent introductions. I haven’t had the opportunity. I just want to get this one over successfully.
post #19 of 61
Thread Starter 
Monday, May 21, Addendum

One more interesting development to add to my journal for today. I brought Rocket up to see how he’s doing, and to give him some time up from the basement. Rocket cruises around, checking things out, but doesn’t back up to any vertical surfaces anywhere. He spends a great deal of time at one of his spots he’d been fake marking, a spot where I had applied some vinegar and water solution, smelling, tasting, and flehmening. Then he went into the bedroom, where the six-inch gap under the little gray cat’s door was still open from earlier in the day. He hears some squeaking from the bathroom and noses up to the gap to check it out. Suddenly there’s hissing from the inside. Rocket pins his ears back and runs into the cats’ room. He spends some time on the window perch, then cruises back around the house and back into the bedroom and back up to the gap. This time, again, more loud hissing and then growling from the other side. Rocket pulls his nose back and looks like he’s just been smacked over the head with a wet mop and called a bad name. What the?? does this mean, now? I’m left scratching my head and after some more time at the window perch, Rocket goes back to the basement. At least he didn’t spray anything, before or after the hissing. If this little gray cat is going to intimidate big Rocket, I wonder what she’s planning for my household. This is not going at all like Twinkie’s introduction.
post #20 of 61
Thread Starter 
Tuesday, May 22

I’m going to leave the six-inch under-door gap open today and the bedroom door open so Mellie and Twinkie can go in and out as they please. I know they’re both hissing at the little gray cat, so I don’t see any point in keeping up the fiction that there’s not another cat in the house. The closed door will at least keep them out of each other’s faces.

One suggestion the vet made yesterday was to deter Rocket’s spraying with aluminum foil on all the spots. I’d like to try that because every time I go down to the basement I feel so sorry for my poor Rocket. He looks so bored and lonely down there. I’m going to use a blacklight to check if there’s still any urine there. I can’t do that until it’s dark tonight. I had hoped to do that last night, but the blacklight tube I bought to fit an under-cabinet fixture I have has to be returned; it has a bent pin. Gaaaaaa….. I don’t know how much gas I waste returning and exchanging stuff. It has to be a significant cost at well over $3.00 a gallon.

After lunch I close the bedroom door and let the little gray cat out of the bathroom. I’m going to lie down for a little while and she can do what she wants. Last time I tried this she was in constant motion the whole time. And constantly purring, too. As I’m dozing off, I hear some strange noises I can’t identify. What’s she doing? I look up to find the little gray cat emerging from under the dresser, squeezing through a space too small for my other cats. Later, I come awake from dozing off again to find her lying on the bed next to me, watching me. She’s still purring, but she’s stopped moving. Maybe there’s some lap cat in there after all, and I just need to be patient, waiting for the lap cat within little gray to emerge, like little gray herself emerged from under that dresser.

I’m noticing subtle changes in the cat dynamics around here. Whether it’s a result of Rocket being in the basement, or the arrival of the new cat, or both, I don’t know. Today Mellie was on the kitchen countertop. She never goes on the countertop. Mellie and Twinkie seem to be friendlier toward each other. Mellie has started scratching on the arm of my couch. Twinkie curls up in my lap when I sit in the recliner. Lots of little things of that sort that never happened before.

I’m rereading some articles about cat-to-cat introductions, to refresh my memory, and to see if there’s something I’m missing I should be doing. The following paragraph from Jackson Galaxy’s article on LittleBigCat catches my attention:

Let's start with one of the most pleasing motivators—food! Feeding time will happen at the door of base camp until introduction is complete. If the resident cat is not on a scheduled feeding diet, it might be best to put him or her on one for now. Or, if you leave dry food out and supplement with wet food, greatly decrease the amount of dry so that wet feeding time is looked forward to more. Remember that the only time either cat gets wet food is during these "meet and greets" at the base camp door, which can be divided into two daily sessions. Place food bowls on either side of the door with a couple of feet of breathing room for each cat. Ideally, there should be a family member on either side of the door to praise each cat as they eat. The idea is that they are rewarded with food for being so close to the scent of the unfamiliar cat, and also rewarded by you with praise for eating. At this initial point, the door should be closed; the cats can smell one another just fine. If they don't devour their food at first, that's okay. They will eventually eat. Don't give in and move the food.
I tried the feeding on opposite sides already, but I’ve given in and moved the food when they didn’t eat. So I’m going to try this again.

For suppertime, I feed the two cats in the bedroom; Mellie next to the dresser and Twinkie next to the bed. That’s about six feet from the bathroom door. Mellie eats some of her food; Twinkie eats most of his; then the cats leave the room. I round them up and return them to their dining room for tonight. Mellie doesn’t want any more of her food. She goes over to Twinkie’s dish and starts eating his food. This despite the fact that’s it my raw mix which she turned up her nose at a couple days ago because it’s not pure chicken. Mellie only eats chicken. But she waives her preferences in favor of eating Twinkie’s food, just because it’s Twinkie’s. Twink gets a look from Mellie, and so he sidles on over to Mellie’s dish and commences eating her food. Success!! The two cats are eating as they normally do and they’re just six feet from the little gray cat’s door. There were a few looks at the door, and then pinnae rotated around to the reverse angle to cover the door, but all and all they pretty much ignored the presence of the little gray cat on the other side of the bathroom door.

And so I guess we’ll have to do more of the same tomorrow. It seems every day we’re just doing “more of the same.†But looking back over the eleven days the little gray cat has been here, we’ve actually made progress.
post #21 of 61
Thread Starter 
Wednesday, May 23

Yesterday I bought a 24 inch flourescent black light tube for an old undercabinet fixture I had stashed in the basement. Those little battery-powered black lights sold at the pet stores for finding urine spots couldn’t find one if a cat peed right on them.

So, last night after dark I doused the lights and fired up the black light. Wow…..if there’s pee spots, this sucker is going to find them for sure!! What it did find is every single last place a cat has vomitted in my house. Those stood out like armadas of flourescent ameobas waging epic sea battles on the berberic oceans of my home. The sight rendered me speechless except for senseless similes dreamed up for literary luridness. Some time, when I’ve got a LOT of time, I’m going to have to try to clean those again.

If you’ve never cleaned your kitchen cabinet faces, you don’t want to look at them under black light. I’d better put cleaning them on my list, too. Somewhere down toward the bottom of the list. Down there with re-cleaning the carpet. If you don’t like what you see under black light then don’t look under black light. Mankind was born to live under a yellow sun.

But there wan’t any urine flourescing in the spot where Rocket sprayed, and none in his usual fake-spraying spots. I did find one place where it looked like a cat had sprayed on a wall; this one in the cats’ room. I marked it for cleaning today. Then hopefully I can try the aluminum foil trick suggested by the vet so that Rocket can come up and I can see if he’s still inclined to spray.

I occurs to me this morning that the little gray cat has been here for a week and a half and still doesn’t have a name.

Feeding breakfast in the bedroom goes fairly well this morning, although Mellie still doesn’t have much of an appetite. I have to bring her back to her food twice, and she still only eats half of it.

When Mellie shows signs of going into her morning “psycho-kitty†period I look under the furniture for her favorite toy of the moment: a little cloth catnip “fishie†so I can throw that in the bedroom and see if she’ll play with it in the. She makes a few desultory bats at it and then leaves. So I just leave it out in the middle of the floor. A few minutes later I notice that it’s no longer there, so she must have gone back to it. And a few minutes later I peek in and notice she’s nosed up to the gap and is hissing, a rather moderate hiss, at the little gray cat.

I spend my after-lunch snooze time with the little gray cat again. I’m not sure what she’s doing. I’m vaguely aware that she’s moving around, and once she comes up to make sure I’m alive, but she doesn’t snuggle.

Because I’m busy with other stuff today, I don’t get around to Rocket until late afternoon. I put up the aluminum foil on all his spots and invite him to come up. He cruises around checking out all his spots, but he knows I’m watching so I can’t really tell whether or not he’s looking to spray.

This looks like a good time to do some work with treats in front of the gray cat’s door. I have to go back to the kitchen twice to fill up my pocket with treats. Everybody gets some, but Rocket gets most of them. When I open the door just a tiny crack, the gray cat hisses briefly. Twinkie watches from a distance; Mellie is off to the side; Rocket is right in front of the door. Not much is going on. Rocket is more interested in the treats. I can’t tell if anything was accomplished here, so I end the session. Rocket goes back to the basement. He’s not at all happy about that.

Suppertime next to the little gray cat’s room goes about the same as before. Maybe they’re a bit more comfortable. But Mellie still only barely touches her food. Twinkie finishes his. Both cats are put into their room so I can have a quick meal. Then I bring Mellie back to her food dish and wish some coaxing, she eats about two-thirds of it.

I think it’s time for the little gray cat to spread her scent further afield, so Mellie and Twink go back into their room. Rocket’s foil get picked up and put to another use on the kitchen countertop. If little gray tries to jump up there she’ll have a surprise, and maybe she won’t want to do it again. She comes out of the bedroom and goes on scouting patrol, sniffing and looking, looking and sniffing. I hope she’ll leave her scent for the other cats to smell, but she doesn’t do any marking. The scent from her paw prints will have to do for now, so she goes back into the bedroom.

Names, names…..come up with a name for the little gray cat!! The list changes daily. Top name on the list right now is “Tattie.†This comes from the Tattercoat Kit in the Joe Grey series. She’s only two-thirds of a real tattercoat, but hey, close enough. Other names that have caught my fancy are Teenie, Mickie, Neenie, Teelie, Missie, Slik, Pipsie, Squeal, and Jonnie. Tommorrow the list will probably be entirely different.
post #22 of 61
what about sophie?
post #23 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thursday, May 24

Last night I brushed Mellie in the bedroom with the Zoom Groom. Mellie just loves being brushed. She didn’t show any anxiety at being brushed and the little gray cat just feet away on the other side of the door. I forgot to mention I tried this once before (I can’t remember the exact day) and she was too antsy to let me brush her. I really do think Mellie has made great progress.

Yesterday was the third day with no poopies in the little gray cat’s litterbox. I was getting concerned. She won’t take hairball gel, and I don’t want to force it on her for fear of her developing an aversion to me handling her mouth. There’s plenty of time for that later. I mixed in some hairball gel and psyllium powder in her supper yesterday evening, but she didn’t eat all that much of it. So I was very happy when I went in to check on her just before going to bed and found a wonderful and absolutely humongous poop in her litterbox. Things like that just make my day.

I had already shut down the computer for the night, but I fired it up again to write about grey’s poopies. Funny how I’d rather sit through Windows booting up so I could type what I want to say in Microsoft Word rather than just pulling out a tablet and picking up a pencil to write it down the old fashioned way. We get so dependent on our tools and of course we’d rather use the tool we’re most comfortable with. Even if it takes three times as long and costs a zillion times as much. My longhand has gotten so sloppy due to lack of use. It reminds me of the story of how NASA spent I don’t know how many millions of dollars to develop a pen that would write in zero gravity, and the Russians solved the same problem by just using a pencil.

None of the cats has shown any interest in playing footsie with the little gray cat even when they see the tips of little gray paws poking through the gap at the bottom of the door. Maybe today we can crack the door open just a wee bit and see if there’s any more interest when they can see a little gray cat nose trying to poke through the crack.

Introducing cats this way is really time-consuming. It feels like they’re not getting enough of my time, and at the same time everything else that needs to be done is also getting neglected. The day ends later than normal, and and it seems like I’ve been going right up to the end. What makes it worse is that I’m dealing with three groups of cats: Mellie and Twinkie, Rocket in the basement, and the little gray cat. Each group of cats requires its own set of caretaking duties -- playtime, feeding, grooming, and personal attention -- in three different locations, and more or less simultaneously. Not to mention running off to the computer every time I want to put something in this journal. I can see that for a lot of people it’s easier to just “throw them together and let them work it out.†But based on my past experience with Mellie, I feel obligated to make the best possible effort to integrate the new cat into the group, and so that’s why I’m going all out and doing it this way. The chances of failure are too high doing it the easy way. Sometimes what starts out to be the easy way ends up being the hardest.

Breakfast doesn’t go too well. Neither cat is too interested in what I put down. I’m serving leftovers this morning. Mellie can always tell leftovers. I’m not sure how, but she only wants “fresh†out of the can. Twinkie prefers raw. I’m concerned about Mellie’s weight, so eventually I give up, open a can of something I know she likes, and move them both back to the cats’ room. When I go in there later to pick up the dishes, most of the food is gone. Of course, now I don’t know who ate it. But both cats are calmly sitting in the recumbent position with smug looks on their faces.

When I go into the little gray cat’s room to check on things the first thing I notice is there’s a bare spot on the top of her head. It’s so obvious it just leaps out. I know this wasn’t there yesterday. “What the ?????†is becoming a familiar exclamation around here. She’s such a squirmer it’s hard to get a look, but I can’t see anything unusual except there’s a spot about half an inch in circumference where there’s suddenly no hair. The skin looks like normal skin. No injury, no bruising, no sign of inflammation. There’s a thin layer of very short hairs over most of the area, which resembles new hair growing in. I look around her room and I can’t find any tufts of hair. I’m puzzled. And concerned in case this is something contagious. And frustrated because tomorrow is Friday and it’s a long holiday weekend coming up. I struggle to take a few fuzzy photos to post, hoping for some wise counsel from my friends on the forum.

And it’s not just the little gray cat. My computer has a virus and a good part of the morning is spent chasing it down. The nasty little sneak is hiding in some restore points. Every time the anti-virus program wipes it out, it comes back. The anti-virus isn’t finding it because it’s set to user-level permissions and User doesn’t have permission to access where it’s hiding. I have to boot into safe mode and change permissions.

After lunch Rocket comes up for a while. He doesn’t spray but I’m still watching him like a hawk. The little gray cat hisses at him when he sticks his nose down toward the gap and he runs away. Funny how things are turning topsy-turvy here. Mellie and Twinkie hiss at gray and gray hisses at Rocket. Mellie on the countertop….and not only that, yesterday she climbed to the top of the kitchen cabinet, and today she’s on top of the refrigerator – Rocket and Twinkie territory. I don’t know what’s going on, but if the end result is Mellie becoming a little bolder, that will be a good thing.

Little gray goes easily into the carrier for the trip to the vet, carried out to the door in plain sight of Mellie, although there’s a jury-rigged cover. This is a good opportunity to let Mellie and Twinkie check out the room where little gray’s been residing. Check out that new cat scent. So the door is left open. If little gray has ringworm, we’ve all been already exposed; me directly and the other cats through me.

At the vet, little gray is restless in the carrier. When she’s examined, we find a second spot, much like the first, except partially hidden in the crease between the left pinnae and the top of the skull. Doc has a toothbrush ready to collect fungal spores, if they’re present. Gray likes being brushed. Also a few hairs are plucked. And she tries using a small black light, but it’s one of those I trashed yesterday. Doc explains that there’s no point treating now. We’re going to wait for the culture. If it’s positive, then she’ll get a systemic anti-fungal. We went through this a year and a half ago with Mellie and waited three weeks for a negative. We never did find out what caused her hair loss and it eventually went away.

Compared to a year ago, the fee for the office visit is 18 percent higher and the fee for the culture is 17 percent higher. The government is lying to us about inflation. Whether it’s intentional or not, I don’t know, but inflation is NOT at two and a half percent. I don’t know when’s the last time I’ve bought anything more expensive than ground beef. My income is not going up 18 percent a year. We’re living in a financial fantasyland.

The carrier gets carried into the house in full view. There’s meowing coming from the little gray cat’s room and the door is closed. Apparently the wind blew it shut while I was out, and Twinkie got stuck in there. I open the door and he rushes out, big eyes and all, and streaks to the top of the kitchen cabinet, where he looks at me with some kind of an indescribable expression, but he doesn’t look happy.

Honestly, now -- this is a soap opera? I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. It’s real life and it’s happening. Truth is stranger than fiction, or something like that. I mean, if this was fiction, you’d think we would have already reached the point where the hero saves the day. I’m still waiting for the hero to show up.

But thinking back on Twinkie’s intro, that didn’t even start until two weeks had elapsed because of the cat cold he came down with. So I guess compared to that, we’re actually doing well. I’ll take that thought and take a break. Time for a beer, corn chips, salsa, and a show I taped.

Twinkie has pudding poop. I think he caught what Rocket had. No wonder he has no appetite and he’s unusually quiet. I suppose Mellie is next?
post #24 of 61
I saw that you had a beer? Did you remember to have one for me as well? I keep reading these posts, but it seems that you already know what your doing so there's not much for me to say LOL. I just wanted to add to keep up the good work... keep the journal updates coming- because people are reading them!!
post #25 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thursday, May 24, Addendum

I can’t see how a single person with a full time job could do this. When I was working I didn’t have cats. Now that I’m retired and have cats, it seems like a full time job. Sometimes I ask myself why I do this. I’m not rich and my income increases only a tiny amount each year. I’ve been paying for the cat expenses by not spending much on myself. So taking on another cat is not trivial. I know that, yet I ask myself if I was too hasty; did I do this on impulse without thinking through what I was getting myself into? I don’t know the answer to that, but when I hold little gray – when she gives me a nose bump with her little wet nose or looks at me with her huge golden eyes – frankly I don’t give it much thought. Only a person with a beloved pet could understand this. Sure, they create a lot of problems. But they also make those problems bearable.

I see further evidence that the resident cats are becoming more accustomed to and less anxious about the presence of the little gray cat. Now when Rocket pokes his nose up to the gap and gets hissed at, he doesn’t back away. Mellie and Twinkie ate their meals in the bedroom. I could actually close the door and leave them in there unmonitored. They didn’t eat ALL their food, but they did better than this morning. Maybe it was a good thing for Twink to get stuck in there this afternoon. I didn’t yet get around to the crack in the door routine yet, but maybe this evening or certainly tomorrow.

It’s warm here today and the cats are re-learning how much claw they can use with my thinner summertime “skin.†All three have scratched me just a little bit when jumping off my lap. It hurts. I jump; I yell; they learn. Next time they don’t use so much claw. Twinkie comes back to me and rubs up against my leg as if to say he’s sorry he hurt me.

Grey isn’t a happy camper tonight. It’s been a rough day for her. I’m trying to accustom her to being held on my lap in the bathroom so I can care for her but tonight she’s giving me angry noises and even a hiss. So we don’t get too much done. But she has a chance to explore the bathtub. Twinkie gets a full view of her as I carry her and I can discern no reaction at all.

Today I like “Tatter†because I think that goes well with her tattered appearance, and perhaps her tattered mood.
post #26 of 61
How about Tatter Grey? Then you could call her Tatty for short
post #27 of 61
I just wanted to say I'm really enjoying the little gray cat journal...what about "Gracie" or "Graysie"? I actually think "little gray cat" is a very cute name, but I understand the need for a proper name.
post #28 of 61
Thread Starter 
Friday, May 25

Poor Rocket. I can’t trust him and I can’t watch him. When he was up for a little while last night he still backed up to the couch, a spot where he’d been fake-spraying, and vibrated his tail. I didn’t wait to see if he’d cut loose with a urine squirt; I tossed a treat. So he’s up – he’s down – he’s up – he’s down. He doesn’t know what’s going on. Every time he goes back down he gives me a hurt look and then spends a half hour complaining.

If he stays down, I can’t find out if he’s going to spray. If he stays up, I have to watch him all the time. I wonder if I do some positive association at the spots he wants to mark: treats, scratchies, playtime. Even catnip. Or maybe he should just stay down until the little gray cat is in the group. He spent the night down.

This morning neither Mellie nor Twinkie are interested in eating in the bedroom. I’m getting concerned about Mellie’s weight, so I give in again and move them both. Twinkie goes to the cats’ room and Mellie goes to the office, so that I can monitor how much each eats. Even with encouragment, Mellie still only eats half of her smaller than usual serving. Twink eats nothing, but I find a couple small vomit spots that I’m pretty sure weren’t there before. So now I’m sure he’s got the stomach bug Rocket had. But he’s at a good weight, so I not too concerned about him. Vomit is getting to be such a common sight around here that I just let it sit there and chill until I can get back to it.

Usually the cats get weighed on Saturday or Sunday. I haul out the scale and weigh Mellie. I don’t like what I see. She’s lost about half a pound over the last couple weeks. Post a thread, call the vet. The vet is out on vacation. This would require bloodwork, which has to go out, so with the holiday I won’t know the results until Tuesday. I can take her somewhere else she’s been before, but she doesn’t like it there and the bloodwork would still have to be sent out. It’s not an emergency; I’m pretty sure it can wait until Tuesday, but I’m not happy about it. I called her alternate clinic and explained my concerns. They’re booked solid, but a vet will call back.

I go out to run some errands, including buying some more of Mellie’s favorite food. Well, I think it’s her favorite food. Her favorite changes without notice. She likes to leave me guessing.

The vet from the alternate clinic called back while I was out. His message on my answering machine said I could bring her in on a “drop-off†basis -- I could drop her off and someone would look at her when they have time. No way I’m going to do that. She’s in mortal dread over there. He didn’t sound too concerned about it, though. I think waiting until next week will be all right.

I share snooze time with the little gray cat. Again, she’s in motion and doesn’t settle down until just a couple minutes before I’m ready to get up. Then she settles down, lying on the bed next to and resting up against my left shin. I prolong the moment just so we get a little quiet time together.

Mellie was waiting right outside the bedroom door so I decided to open the door a crack. Both cats growled and hissed at each other. Soft hisses and soft growls. Drawing a line in the sand, not a declaration of war. An exchange of stiffly worded diplomatic notes outlining positions. And both stood their ground. No fear on display here. Hopefully the treaty talks can begin soon. At least about the shape of the table. I wish the little gray cat was friendlier toward my cats, but this is something I think we can work with. The little gray cat goes back in her room and the next thing Mellie knows is there’s no one there. Confrontation, not escalation.

Mellie and Twinkie get fed in the cats’ room tonight. Twinkie gets raw, which Mellie isn’t eating right now, and I remove him as soon as he’s finished, so I can monitor Mellie’s appetite. Rocket and the little gray cat get fed on opposite sides of the closed bathroom door. When Rocket is finished he goes back to the basement. I let gray out, she smells Rocket, and she hisses. So I move her food bowl to Rocket’s tray. I hope she’ll associate her food with Rocket’s smell. Mellie still hasn’t eaten much. I have to encourage her to eat more, and she does. I can’t stand over her every meal; she’ll have to start eating on her own again. But at least for now she has some nourishment.

This hissing makes me wonder whether the true personality of the little gray cat is friendly and affectionate toward people, but nasty toward other cats. That won’t be acceptable. My definition of a successful introduction is that both sides begin to tolerate each other and neither side makes life miserable for any member of the other side. They don’t have to actually like each other, but they should get along without open displays of animosity and/or aggression. There shouldn’t be “sides†at all and if they tolerate each other, chances are their early animosity will gradually evaporate. Others may have higher or lower expectations; higher or lower levels of commitment. Basically it’s a personal choice. I realize that keeping this cat in this household is not guaranteed. And I don’t want to keep working with a bad situation like I did for a year with Tommy. By the time I had to let him go we were really, really bonded and it was a quite a traumatic experience.

Tomorrow will be two weeks. A good day to get out the door jig that I made for Twinkie’s intro. Maybe even tonight if I get some other stuff I need to do finished. I think we’re about ready for some through-the-crack-in-the-door interaction. Mellie is. Rocket is. Twinkie might be the slow one this time around. He still hangs back from the current gap under the door. He doesn’t like getting hissed at.

“Tatter†and “Tatty†have been demoted. I need a different initial for little gray’s toothbrush.
post #29 of 61
Thread Starter 
Sidebar – coaster’s “jigâ€

When I adopted Twinkie I made a “jig†to hold the door open a crack. A doorstop wasn’t good enough. The combined pushing and pulling of cats on both sides is too much for one doorstop. And being one person on one side of the door, there’s no way I can place two doorstops. And just standing there holding it gets tiresome.

The jig consists of a form-fitted “shoe†that slides under the door. This mates with another piece form-fitted to the molding. A screw through two screw-eyes holds the two pieces together, and strips of wood inserted between the two control the width of the opening. The jig can be placed without opening the door wide enough to allow a cat to get through. Once it’s in place, it can be left unattended to allow the cats to interact at will.

The pieces:

and inserted in the doorway crack:

post #30 of 61
Thread Starter 
Saturday, May 26

Wonder of wonders – my cats are letting me sleep in for an extra 45 minutes this morning. All is quiet on the western front, on the eastern front, and on the subterranean front. I wake up early anyway. But the pressure in my bladder isn’t so great this morning that I can’t just lie here and enjoy it for a little while. Then, as soon as my cats hear me stirring, the “I want breakfast and I want it NOW!!†cacaphony begins. They were just alertly waiting, ears rotated toward my bedroom, saving their vocal ammunition for just the right time.

Today is the first day of a holiday weekend. People take holidays. Cats don’t take holidays. Therefore, people who take care of cats don’t take holidays, either. At least not until cats learn how to operate can openers and how to scoop litter boxes. I don’t deny that’s possible; one of my cats knows how to open cabinet doors.

Two weeks today of little gray cat’s new life in my household and her initial enthusiastic affection has almost totally evaporated and made a one hundred and eighty degree turn. She’s been irritable, whiney, demanding, and generally not very pleasant. When I hold her now she makes angry noises and even hissed once. I’m at a loss to explain this. Perhaps the wonder and excitement of a new home have given way to the dull routine of everyday life. Perhaps she knows there’s a house out there and is frustrated not to have access to it. Maybe she even knows there’s an outdoors out there and is frustrated not to be able to get out. Maybe she thought she was going to be a worshipped goddess in a new household and found instead three other cats to compete for the attention she expects. Whatever the reason(s), I certainly hope it’s just a phase and that she’ll come to terms with whatever she’s not happy with and be a well-adjusted cat. She certainly has great potential. I’ve seen it in her. What can I do now to make that happen? Or is it better to do nothing and just hope for the best?

At least she’s got an iron stomach. She’s been fed a couple different kinds of dry food and several different kinds of wet food, plus several different kinds of treats, and I’ve found no vomit and no diahrrea. One more data point for my theory that we create sensitive stomachs in our cats by feeding them the same thing all the time, something we do for our own convenience.

I’m going to work with Rocket’s spraying using the same techniques used for urinating outside the litterbox. Last night Rocket and I had some solo playtime upstairs. I used a toy to draw him to the spots he’s sprayed or fake-sprayed and each time the toy stopped at one of those spots, he found a treat. I’m not sure whether it was my imagination or just a random happening, but I could swear that afterwards I saw him walk past one of his spots, stop for a moment and begin to raise his tail as if he was going to spray, think better of it, and then walk on. Positive reinforcement works with me, too. I really need to solve this problem. It’ll do me no good to successfully introduce my gray tabby if my orange tabby needs to live in the basement or be put outdoors. If the only solution to Rocket’s problem is for the gray cat to go, I’m afraid she’ll have to go. Rocket was here first. This morning he gets fed next to one of his spots on the couch.

Little gray is in a better mood this morning. She allows me to put ointment on her head without any of the angry noises of last night. I suppose she was just having a bad day. Today she’s on a two-a-day feeding schedule. She inadvertantly started that yesterday when I forgot to feed her lunch. No wonder she was grumpy. I get grumpy too when I’m not fed. So I take myself out to lunch at a local Chinese buffet and fill myself up with happiness and good will.

The jig goes on the bathroom door. The crack is in place. Little gray claws at the door, trying to open it. Mellie approaches cautiously, and Mellie and gray see each other for the first time officially, if only through a crack partly. I’m surprised, because there’s no hissing on either side. Mellie doesn’t stay long; she still doesn’t think too much of the situation.

Little gray squeals insistently from her side of the crack while I’m putting on fresh bed linens. I ignore her. She needs to learn that I’m not going to rush to answer her every demand. Oh, I know people joke about being slaves to cat – I do that, too. But cats understand social hierarchy, and this little gray cat needs to learn that she’s below me in the heirarchy. She’ll have to discover her own place among the local cat group, but I’m the one on top. . And that’s as it should be.

And so now that I have the door crack in place, it’s just a matter of doing more of the same until they’re used to each other. As the two-week point draws to a close, I think we’re now closer to the end than to the beginning.
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