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The Little Gray Cat Journal - Page 2

post #31 of 61
Thread Starter 
Sunday, May 27

I really think we’re making some progress now with the introduction. Maybe the process is like the boulder rolling down the hill. It starts out slow and then goes faster and faster under the pull of gravity. Yesterday evening all three cats took their turns at the crack in the door and despite the little gray cat’s growling and hissing, none of them really showed any great fear. And none of them growled and hissed back at her. And when I carried her from the bedroom into my bathroom, she was briefly in full sight of Mellie and Twinkie, and even though she hissed, they didn’t react at all. Just sat there looking resigned.

I wish I could be more sure of making progress with Rocket. I let him back upstairs for awhile last night, just to cruise, and it sure seemed like he was looking for a place to mark where I wouldn’t see him doing it. There was one point where he was out of sight for just a few seconds and when I got over there he was backed up behind the recliner with his tail up and vibrating. No urine, but if he’d had longer, I don’t know whether he would have squirted or not.

I’ve added Squeal and Piggy to my list. Both for the sounds she makes and her personality. Spitfire would be appropriate, but I don’t much care for the way that comes out of my mouth. Pipsqueak has the same problem.

Mellie’s still having a problem with poor appetite. I had to stand over her this morning and continue encouraging her to eat. But then she threw up most of it a couple hours later. There was a little bit of hair in it. Not much; nothing approaching a hairball. She was in the kitchen and made that funny noise some cats make before vomitting, so I grabbed her and kept her from running away off the vinyl, and held her while she did it. Afterwards, we just sat there, she in a little ball crouched on the floor, me with my hands on her comforting her. She turned her head to rest on one of my hands. It was actually quite a touching moment.

Noontime snoozetime with the little gray cat again. This cat delights in head butting me all over now that she has ointment on her head. Finally she curls up next to my right leg. Apparently this cat prefers to curl up beside her human, rather than on top of him. That’s nice but doesn’t look good for lap-cat possibilities.

Twinkie still surprises me as the slow one. I thought for sure it was going to be Mellie. But Mellie will go nose right up to the crack, while Twinkie hangs back. It’s hard to tell from his expression and his body posture whether he’s reticent or just uninterested.

Does there exist in the world a perfect cat? One of my cats is a perfect lap cat but he drives me nuts with his vocalizations, and now he’s down in the basement anyway. One of my cats is very affectionate but she doesn’t like to be held or to sit in my lap. One of my cats can and will eat anything I give him, but he’s the one with a sensitive stomach. One of my cats is a very pretty cat but she sheds, has a tendency toward dandruff, and gets bare patches on her ears in the winter. One of my cats is the cutest little thing but has a vocalization that sounds like a rusty spring. Nope. There is no such thing as a perfect cat. Or maybe perfection is in the eye of the beholder. But regardless of our cats’ faults, they get loved anyway. Now that I think of it, this is yet another way cats are much like people.

A short journal entry for the day. Nothing really of great moment happening. Just more of the same, only a little further along in the process. I think maybe it’s getting to be about time for a little foot-to-foot and nose-to-nose interaction, so the crack in the door will be getting wider. Pretty soon the door will be open.
post #32 of 61
Thread Starter 
Monday, May 28

I really think we’re making pretty good progress now upstairs. The little gray cat has been seen in full view being carried by me, with no adverse reaction from either Twinkie or Mellie. Twinkie and Mellie had no hesitation last night going for their treats when I tossed them right in front of the crack.

If there’s a problem cat, I think it’s going to be Rocket. I don’t trust that he won’t spray. I need to work with him more, reassociating his spray spots with something else that highly motivates him: food. And to remind him, I’ve put down food trays at those spots.

I’m also hoping to put up a partition wall in the basement to form a small cat-friendly room at the food of the stairs, and blocking access to the rest of the basement where all the bad, dirty and dangerous stuff is. There’s no way I can cat-proof a basement to my satisfaction. Framing the wall should be pretty easy. Sheathing the wall is going to be tough. I’ve never worked with sheetrock. And the 4x8 pieces it comes in are too heavy for me, so I’ll have to cut them into 4x4s if I go that route. I’ve never hung a door, either. Hiring out the job would cost me an insane amount of money, and I’d never get somebody to do it before the roofers come, anyway. But with a cat-flap in the basement door, I figure access to a small part of the basement would extend Rocket’s range and give him some space. I’d even be willing to put my recliner down there for him. It’s getting kind of worn and I wouldn’t mind replacing it, anyway.

Little gray got some extra time out in the main part of the house last night. She has fun exploring, but seems kind of nervous and a little fearful, although that doesn’t slow her down much at all. It didn’t take her long at all to discover the kitchen countertops. The interesting part is that she seemed quite willing to go back to her room. I think she feels safe and secure there. Previously, she would try to shoot out every time I opened the door, and try to stay out when she needed to go back in. But now she follows me right in, and doesn’t try to get out when I start to close the door. My other theory of this change is that she now knows she can trust me to come and let her out. She knows she’s not going to be stuck in there forever.

My best read of the situation now is that none of my cats are afraid of the new cat and that whatever curiosity they had about her has been satisfied. So I think it’s now time for a change in tactics. I could do more of the same, I suppose … open the crack wider. But based on what I’ve seen so far Mellie and Twinkie would still just sit there several feet away watching little gray waving her feet through the crack. I don’t want to force Mellie and Twinkie to get up close and interact with her. But I think we’re about due for some interaction in order to proceed to the next level.

One idea is to work from little gray’s side of the door and try to entice Mellie and Twinkie to come close. I have my doubts that will work. Perhaps it’s time to try crate contact: putting the new cat in a crate or carrier and allowing the resident cats access to the room where the crate is. I’ll put the crate in the bedroom, which has been “common territory.†They can see the new cat, they can interact with the new cat, but the new cat can’t threaten them. If they’re uncomfortable with the situation, they can just leave the room.

Oh, joy!! Mellie eats most of her food this morning. Maybe it was moving her feeding station up off the ground to the second level of the cat rack. She probably feels more secure. Whether anxiety was the cause of her loss of appetite I don’t know. I just want to plump her up, now. Get some “meat on her bones.†The little gray cat eats anything and everything I put down for her. She licked her bowl clean this morning, got a second helping, and licked that clean. “Teenybopper†has been going through my head. Little gray squeals like a young teen-aged girl in the presence of her favorite pop star or film star.

Right after breakfast, Mellie runs right to the little gray cat’s door. Mellie continues to surprise me as being the cat that appears to be most ready to meet the new cat. When I started this, I was sure that Mellie would be my main problem, based on two previous introductions. The two previous were male cats. This one is female. I wonder if that’s responsible for the difference. I’m sure Mellie is ready to proceed. Yet I’m ambivalent about doing that because my previous experience also tells me it’s better to proceed at the pace of the slowest cat. I think I’m going to try the crate plan with one cat at a time and monitor their reactions. If it looks like it’s going badly, I’ll cease and desist immediately and postpone until tomorrow.

Let’s put the crate plan into action. Bring crate upstairs. Put crate in bedroom. Let little gray out of the bathroom. Little gray checks out the crate. Little gray goes in the crate. Put crate in gray’s bathroom, facing out. Open the bedroom door. Mellie comes into the bedroom, sees gray, and stops. Mellie looks. Gray is strangely quiet for once. Mellie retreats to the office. She takes up a vantage point where she can see gray separated by a room and a hallway. Twinkie peers around the corner of the bedroom door. He sits there for a long time, looking at gray. Then he gets up and casually pads over to the patio door, where there’s a patch of sunshine to claim for his nap.

Put Twink and Mellie in the cats’ room. Call Rocket up. Rocket heads straight for new cat territory. He sees gray and she sees him. She explodes in her most fearsome display of hissing, growling, and screaming. The vocal work accompanies an amazing repertoire of feline gymnastics, all performed within the confines of a medium-sized cat carrier. Why does she go this far with Rocket and not the other cats? Rocket approaches the crate. He’s bolder than the other cats. He wants to investigate gray’s room. Gray’s ferocious display, rising yet another octave, gives him caution. He turns around, exits the bedroom, and makes a circuit of the living room and kitchen. Then he heads back to the crate. This time he attempts to slink past the crate and into gray’s room. Her screaming rises to an even higher fever pitch I didn’t think possible. This cat has quite a set of lungs. I’m glad all the windows are closed or the police would be here. I don’t know what feline insults and feline curses she’s throwing at him, but Rocket doesn’t make it past the crate. He turns around and exits the bedroom. I give Rocket praise and scratchies and treats. If I had a medal to give him, I’d pin it on his…..well, maybe not. I value my skin, too.

I’m not sure what to make of this seeming disinterest on the part of Mellie and Twinkie in comparison to Rocket. And the little gray cat’s dramatic performance. She’s probably just defending her territory. If she puts on the same show for the other two when they get closer, they may not take it so calmly. I don’t think it would be a good idea to force the two holdbacks. But I want to proceed with phase two of the crate plan: bring the crate out into the middle of the common room, where the cats have been sharing territory. If that goes well, the final phase of the crate plan will be to place the crate out in the main house, in the three cats’ territory. Then, if that goes well, the introduction process should be pretty near its end.

After lunch I initiate phase two. Little gray and the crate are placed in the bedroom this time. Rocket is my first volunteer. I call him and he runs up. It’s so funny to see a cat running up stairs. I’ve been teaching him a few tricks – sit and roll over – so we practice those first for a little while. He’s got sit down pretty good, but he just started roll over. Then we head for the bedroom, where the little gray cat is waiting, and not too patiently, either, in her crate. Rocket goes right up to the grill and little gray breaks forth with menacing growls, hisses, and screams. Rocket doesn’t seem to perturbed. He checks it out. I give him some treats. I give gray some treats, but she’s too much into her performance. She’s not quite so histrionic as when Rocket tried to enter her room earlier. (Maybe I made a small boo-boo there, allowing him access to her safe place?) Although Rocket looks pretty calm, he hisses once then turns aside and starts walking past the crate. Midway past he pauses, turns around, and leaves the room. After making one turn around the house he comes back, checks it out once more, and then I think they’ve both had enough of each other for now and Rocket goes back down the basement.

It’s Mellie’s turn next. She just looks but won’t go in the room. When I let Twinkie out, he does the same. Look but not approach. They don’t seem particularly perturbed, but they just don’t want to have anything to do with her yet. I’m not going to force these two to go in there and get close to the new cat. They’ll have to do it themselves when they’re ready.

It’s a holiday today. I think I’ll call it quits early. We’ve made some pretty good progess today. It’ll be interesting to see if the little gray cat performs her drama queen bit when she’s out of the carrier and in the other cats’ territory. And if she does, how they react to it. I can understand her wanting to carve out her niche in this space. But I don’t want her to do it at the expense of the quality of life of my other three cats. That is to say, if she’s aggressive with them, she’s going to be looking for another place to live. I’m hoping things fall into place and ideally, everybody has a place and they’re content and happy with their place.

Teeniebopper – kind of catchy, I’m thinking. I hope she’ll be around to wear some kind of a name I give her. It’s not a lock, yet.
post #33 of 61
I just got onto TCS... I had a long weekend without you guys It seems like your making progress with the little grey cat.... But your still looking for a name??? Hmmm.. Let me think about this one.. I'll get back to you
post #34 of 61
Thread Starter 
Tuesday, May 29

As I open my eyes this morning it’s with a certain amount of reluctance to begin the day. Despite the progress of the last few days, it’s beginning to become very long and tiresome. At the end of the day I have about 15 minutes to read and then I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. When I check my message boards after breakfast I find out that someone has had a very tough weekend, ending up losing her kitten. And I missed the whole thing. I wasn’t there to offer her my support. I should kick myself. This introduction has got me so wrapped up in myself and my problems that everything else is passing me by. Maybe I should take some time off.

There’s five litter boxes in three locations, four feeding stations with three different food mixes, three playtimes with different toys, three treat times (at least they all like the same treats, but I’m running out of them,) doors to be opened and closed in certain sequences (and one doesn’t latch easily,) keeping track of where the cats are, Rocket to be watched every second he’s upstairs. This takes a lot of mental and physical energy, and especially lots of time. And the there’s this journal. Things aren’t getting done. Like persistent computer problems I keep futzing with. Little gray will be fine in her room. Rocket will be fine downstairs. But no -- I must persevere. That plan will just drag it out even longer. I need to get these cats functioning as a group. Well, at least together as a group. Then it will all be much easier.

I wish there was something I could do to spark Mellie’s and Twinkie’s curiosity. At this point they should be trading pokes through the crack in the door. But those two just sit there and look. There’s some kind of an invisible wall located about three feet around the little gray cat. What’s the deal? She have bad breath or something?

At least Mellie ate most of her food this morning. There’s that glass again – is it half empty? Or half full? Mellie must like her feeding location up off the floor.

Bingo!! Up off the floor. Height? Is that what’s going on between the little gray cat and my two reluctant cats? The vanity in the spare bathroom is flush with the wall right next to the door. The little gray cat can jump up there and look down on any cats on the other side of the crack. She’s got a height advantage!! Now I remember I had this problem with Twinkie’s intro. I need to put something on the vanity so she’ll be forced to be down on the floor at the same level as the cats on the other side of the crack. That little project takes over an hour and kills much of the morning. Now we’ll se if it works.

While working on the project, I needed to go in and out of little gray’s room several times for measurements and fittings. One time she outsmarted me and squirted out into the hallway. Mellie was sitting right there. Fortunately little gray dashed into the room across the hall, I slammed the door, scooped her up, and deposited her back in her room. I think the thing happened too fast for Mellie to have a reaction.

Back from an errand I remember gray needs ointment on her bare spots. I carry her from her room to the bathroom in full view of Mellie. Gray briefly hisses at Mellie. Still no reaction from Mellie. The lack of reaction from Mellie and Twinkie baffles me. Mellie, and to a lesser degree Twinkie, were the ones I thought I’d have the most trouble with.

I’m still flying by the seat of my pants. Any expectations and plans have long gone out the window. Nothing is working out the way I thought it would. My gut feel is that Mellie is ready. Twinkie I’m really unsure about. Yesterday I was carrying him and just “sort of by chance†wandered into the bedroom. He seemed relaxed. I stood there about six feet from the door, safely outside his invisible barrier, and he just calmly looked at the door. All of a sudden, with no warning, he began to struggle to be free of my hold, using his claws!! Twinkie is normally very good about keeping his claws sheathed around me. It’s almost like some sort of wild animal spirit took control of him and in an instant he reverted to his ancestors’ primeval non-domesticated state. I had to gracelessly toss him on the bed to avoid bloodshed. When we think we know our cats, they prove us wrong. Decisions made based on how we perceive our cats acting are unreliable. We can only stumble along, doing our best, and our cats only tell us how well we did after the fact.

Rocket may come up for a while. I put down food trays at all his marking spots. I wouldn’t think he’d want to spray where he eats. Rocket paces around for a while. He stops by the little gray cat’s room and they get in some mutual hissing. Neither side sounds particularly convincing. Gray looks up at me with a question in her eyes. It looks like a “how did I do?†type of question. Not the question I want to hear, or to answer. She’s not going to get approval from me for hissing at my other cats. Rocket does some more pacing, then stops behind the recliner and raises his tail. He’s standing right on a tray. I warn him off and send him back down to the basement. Rocket’s problem concerns me the most. Neither his time in the basement nor my deterrents and reassociation are working.

Rocket gets fed where he backs up to the recliner. Mellie gets fed on the cat rack in the cats’ room. Twinkie’s tray gets put down right in front of the gray cat’s door. Gray gets fed in her own room. Rocket scarfs his down in about 60 seconds. He’s much faster when I don’t put ping-pong balls in his food. He goes back down to the basement and begins complaining. Twink has no problem eating in front of gray’s door. I guess food dissolves the barrier. Mellie hasn’t eaten a mouthful of hers. She’ll eat when I’m standing right there directing her attention toward her food dish and chanting, “Eat Mellie, eat. Please eat, Mellie.†I really can’t do this every meal – spending 20 minutes willing Mellie to eat. I leave her to grab a quick microwaved Stouffer’s entree. I’m really not very hungry, either. Twink is finished and comes in the kitchen and gets in the way of cleanup. I’m pretty short-tempered by now and poor little Twinkles gets yelled at. He responds by running into the living room to scratch vigorously at the carpet. He gets yelled at again.

I wonder if I should just give up, turn them all loose, set down cheap crappy dry food, and let them work it out. But I know what would happen. Rocket would turn into a furry sumo cat, Twinkie would get crystals and explode, Mellie would waste away to a small calico stole, and I don’t know about little gray, but I think she’d make out all right.

One of the cats’ food dishes is missing. I bought eight Corelle dishes, two each of four patterns. Each cat has their own pattern, so I know whose dish goes where. Whattheheck?!?! How can a food dish up and walk away? I can’t find it anywhere. For cryin’ out loud, this is turning into the Twilight Zone. Back to the cats’ room. Mellie hasn’t eaten any more since I was out. More chanting and finally we settle on her having eaten one-third of a small portion.

The dishes get washed. When they’re all in the drying rack, I count bowls. Eight bowls – two each of four different patterns. I suspect my brain is malfunctioning. I can visualize short circuits sparking up there.

I don’t know. This is getting depressing. I think I took on too much bringing in the little gray cat. Compared to now, things were going smooth as silky cat fur before she came here. Yet, when I go in her room and she softly rubs up against me, firmly head butts me, looks up at me with those big eyes, and gives me a damp nose-to-nose greeting (yes, she’s a wonderful nose-bumper) – I just can’t visualize giving her up.
post #35 of 61
Thread Starter 
Wednesday, May 30

In the cool of a new morning, after a night’s sleep, fortified with support and wise advice, I make a command decision: Rocket will stay in the basement until the little gray cat is in. By trying to solve two problems at once I’m solving neither. So I’m going to concentrate on gray’s introduction, and then deal with Rocket. This requires some hardening of the heart, because it gets to me when I go down there and I can see he’s not happy. And he hasn’t been getting his due share of my attention. But I hope that doing this will, if successful, get him back upstairs faster.

Last night I saw one of those surprising changes in group dynamics. I wish I could have gotten a picture. I saw Mellie and Twinkie sitting side-by-side at the open patio door looking into the night like a pair of old friends. To understand my surprise, it’s necessary to know that Mellie has disliked Twink since he arrived here. Over time she’s come to accept him, with just an occasional hiss or a growl and an angry swat to remind him who’s boss. But she would never share intimate personal space with him like I saw last night. So it seems the arrival of the new cat is causing a rapproachment between Mellie and the Twinkster. This makes me happy.

Little gray certainly has a good appetite. She gets a second helping again this morning. In fact, I swear she’s looking a little plumper. I want to weigh her. Out comes the scale, and gray gets carried to the scale in full view (intentionally) of Mellie and Twinkie. In fact, since Twinkie is always the first one at the scale, he’s already there, has to be shooed aside, and gray gets placed on the scale right in front of him. Little gray is putting on her fearsome cat act, but it’s only a shadow of yesterday’s performance. Twinkie extends his nose toward gray, thinks better of it, and then hisses briefly. This hissing doesn’t seem convincing. It looks to me like posturing. On both sides. But I don’t push it. Little gray is there only long enough to get a weight. She’s up two ounces since Saturday.

This is a good chance to weigh Mellie, too. Twinkie is back on the scale when I get back with Mellie. Apparently little gray’s scent on his spot doesn’t put him off. Mellie is down another two ounces since Saturday. I’ve been trying to stimulate her appetite with Fancy Feast. I ran out yesterday. I’ll have to get some more today. If she doesn’t eat tonight, she’ll go to the vet tomorrow.

Mellie and gray are eyeballing each through the crack and trading hisses and growls. Mellie’s body posture looks pretty tensed up. But she stands her ground. Even though Mellie’s anxious, her willingness to engage is a good sign. Apparently her invisible wall has come down. After yesterday, I’m willing to call this some kind of a turning point.

Noontime and plans for Mellie change. I’m uncomfortable with the way she’s acting. She just doesn’t seem right. “Sluggish†might be the operative word, though it’s hard to pin down. I do a pinch test on Mellie and on surprised Twinkie, waking him from a sound sleep. Mellie’s skin doesn’t bounce back quite as fast as Twink’s. That, coupled with her weight measurement earlier, prompts a call to my vet. All it takes is mention of the weight and she says Mellie should come in. So…..vet appointment at 2:00, which is going to cost me $100 plus. On one hand I’m going to be pissed for having to spend the money if nothing’s wrong, and on the other hand, if nothing’s wrong I’m going to be happy that nothing’s wrong. The other hand is the hand that I want.

Bumped back to 3:30 by an emergency – my first bump – Mellie needs to be removed from the carrier by taking the top off, as usual. She forms a big red, white and black ball in my cradled arms, with her head tucked firmly into my armpit. My poor girl is shivering. The weight check confirms the weight loss. The physical exam and history find nothing to be alarmed about, other than the weight loss, and no diagnostic tests are ordered. The doctor says the pinch test is normal and the snap-back normally varies from one cat to another. The doctor’s conclusion is that this is just one very hungry cat who’s holding out for -- DRY FOOD!! Ack!! It took me a year to get her off. She was eating wet food just fine for quite a while. Why does she decide now to starve herself in order to get me to put her back on dry food? It doesn’t quite make sense to me, but if it will get her to eat, I’m willing to do it. Tonight we’ll tempt her with Fancy Feast first. If she doesn’t want to eat that, then I’ll have to pick up a bag of dry food. But first Fancy Feast. She’s eaten that before and I think that’s better than dry food. It’s not what I’d like to feed her, but I need to get this cat’s weight back up. I need to “plump her up.†It sounds like I’m fattening a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

We have a short discussion about Rocket’s spraying. I learn that cats who begin spraying are unlikely to stop. The doctor tells me that some cats can be trained to spray at a “spraying station.†I’ve never heard of such a thing so I’ll have to research that. If he’ll just spray at a spraying station, and if it’s in the basement, I don’t have a problem with that.

While Mellie and Twinkie are eating in their rooms, I let gray out to roam the rest of the house. I get Mellie from her room and carry her out to the living room. There’s that little gray cat she’s been getting glimpses of. Despite Mellie having the height advantage, gray vigorously defends her right to be there, and Mellie responds in kind. Mellie goes back in her room, gray goes back in her room. Just testing the waters here. No harm done, I don’t think, but they’re not ready yet to share the same space. I wonder if by letting them loose to have a hissing contest that it would get it out of their systems. It might, but with Mellie’s previous history, I can wait another day.
post #36 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thursday, May 31

Last night I couldn’t wait. Driven by an insane desire to see what would go wrong next, I initiated phase three of the crate plan: put the carrier with the little gray cat inside in the middle of the living room. In other words, in Mellie and Twinkie’s territory. Initially, the bedroom was a “common†room. Territory both sets of cats used, but didn’t cross paths. The last few days it’s been becoming more and more the gray cat’s territory as she spends more time in there. Mellie and Twinkie seem reluctant to go into that space. They give the gray cat a buffer zone. It’s like they don’t want to have anything to do with her. They know she’s here. They’re heard her and smelled her since the beginning; the last few days they’ve seen her. But even though she’s left her scent in their territory, they’ve only seen her there very briefly. They need to get used to the idea of sharing their territory with her.

So I put gray in the carrier and put it down in the middle of the living room. Mellie was at the open patio door and Twink was up on top of the fridge. Gray started up with her jittering and jabbering. A larger, heavier cat would have made the crate dance. Mellie and Twinkles just watched. No incentive to get any closer.

Then I had a brainstorm. My brainstorms usually aren’t planned in advance, certainly seldom thought through. They seem so inspired and obvious at the time I just go right ahead. The brainstorm last night was to let little gray out of the carrier and keep her occupied with playtime: a leather shoelace that she can’t resist. My purpose was to get her out in the open in the other cats’ territory, without her going after them and confronting them. So I got the leather shoelace and opened the carrier. Here’s where my plan failed. I forgot that what gray does when she gets ahold of the shoelace is to run with it. So that’s exactly what she did: she grabbed the shoelace firmly with her teeth and ran with it back into her bedroom!!

Well, as long as the toy was out, I began to play with her in the bedroom, and I left the door open. The shoelace just happens to also be a fave toy of the Twinkster-cat and so eventually he came and watched from the open door. He edged into the room. Twink wanted a go at the leather. That looked promising. But then the little gray cat noticed he was there, and poofed up her tail in response. Well, we don’t need any of that, so I immediately picked her up, chucked her into the bathroom (her inner sanctum) and closed the door on her. To keep the mood light, I then played with the other two cats for a little while. So much for brainstorms. Sometimes they’re disasters, sometimes they’re duds. Once in a while, when I’m lucky, something good happens. Last night was only a dud.

This morning Mellie eats most of her Fancy Feast and Twinkie spends some time peering through the crack in the door, so I’m cheered. A day that starts out on two positives. Then I pause and think, “Where is it more likely to go from here? Up or down?†I think I’ve been influenced by events of the last….oh my, almost three weeks now.

After lunch I notice Twinkie is relaxed and resting in his spot on the couch, Mellie is relaxed and resting in her spot on my office chair; so I think it’s a good time to repeat last night’s exercise. But only with one cat, so Mellie’s door gets closed. I lure the little gray cat out into the living room with the leather shoelace, and we play with it for a time right in front of the couch, and Twinker doesn’t bat an eyelash. This goes on until gray starts tiring of the game and begins to notice Twinkie watching her. It’s time to lure her back into the bedroom. There she plays with the leather while I fold laundry. The door is open and after a little bit I notice Twink sitting just outside the open door, watching intently. But he makes no move to come in. When the gray cat notices him, I decide not to push it any further and so I leave the room, put the jig back in place, and close the door. Twinkie noses up to the crack and receives the usual growl and a couple hisses. He’s had enough for right now and wanders off. My gut feel tells me if she’d just tone it down a bit those two would be OK together right now.

Mellie’s making some real progress today, too. I’ve been taking my opportunities when I see them to gauge the mood of the cats and their readiness to approach each other. Mellie has been spending quite a bit of time at the crack in the door today, so I see another opportunity for a one-on-one. I don’t see the little gray cat on the other side, so I cautiously open the door a little ways, just wide enough for a small cat to squeeze through. Gray comes to the door. I have one hand on her and I’m ready to grab her to stop her escape or to shove her back in the room if things turn ugly. Mellie and the gray cat look at each other. Gray looks at me as if asking me what she should do. She seems to realize it’s time to play it cool, and she does. Both Mellie and gray hiss softly at each other but I don’t see any extreme emotion in their eyes or their body postures. I can’t watch both cats’ eyes, but I don’t think Mellie ever dropped eye contact with gray, while gray looked away and up at me a couple times. I think Mellie’s establishing herself above gray in the local cat group hierarchy. This is good; that’s what I’d like to see. So, I think at this point their hissing is merely a formality. Because things are looking so good, I’m hoping I can get a nose-to-nose. But right at that point Twinkles wanders up to see what’s going on. I can’t control the situation (“control†is used in a very loose meaning where cats are involved) with three cats, so the little gray cat goes back in her room and the door is closed.

My gut is telling me good things again. It’s feeling better than it’s felt for some time. I think things are just about ready to come together between these three cats. That’s good because Rocket is getting really ornery in the basement. As I would if I were stuck down there all day.

Things are going so well with the cats today I just know there’s no way I can get through the whole day without some minor disaster to ruin it, and it comes in the form of a pretty good slash to the side of my palm while working on that stupid wall in the basement. It’s way too big for a simple bandaid and in a very inconvenient location – I just know it’s going to get infected and be painful for the next couple of weeks. You don’t heal as fast when you get old. Quite a few choice swear words are floating through my mind, but I shan’t put them down.

I deserve a break today. I'm off to McDonalds.
post #37 of 61
Well, it seems as though you are making progress. In my own experience of introducing cats... usually they didn't take so long to get acquainted. I guess every cat is different though. Your doing a great job, don't give up!
post #38 of 61
Thread Starter 
Friday, June 1

I do love clouds. I especially love cumulonimbus clouds. Cumulonimbus clouds remind me of many fond memories. We don’t often get to see decent cumulonimbus clouds in Wisconsin. It isn’t that we don’t get them. It’s that the air is usually too hazy with humidity to be able to see them. Not like out west, where in summer the air is clear enough to see over a hundred miles, and the cumulonimbii grow daily, punctually like clockwork, on the Front Range, and gather their ranks to march out over the high plains, trailing feathery rainshafts that mostly evaporate before reaching the ground. Yesterday evening while returning from Walgreen’s to purchase first-aid supplies, the air was clear enough to see some gorgeous cumulonimbus thunderheads on the western horizon, building toward the stratosphere, their taughtly billowing and radiant edges illuminated from behind by the low-angle sun, but containing within them a dark, murky and ominous core. Cumulonimbus clouds are a portent of something to come – perhaps something beneficial in the form of rain – perhaps something harmful in the way of severe weather – perhaps a change in weather due to the passing of a front. And so I felt like a front was approaching – an end to this long and exhausting process – success as refreshing as rain . Or could it be severe weather on the way? No, last night I chose not to think it possible of anything dark coming from such a beautiful scene.

It’s a new day. Looking out the window I see fog and I feel humidity. The front hasn’t passed. The Bulwer-Lyttonesque prose inspired by visions last night gives way to the realities of the current situation: the little gray cat needs to get introduced before the roofers come next week so they can all stay together in the basement; the partition wall needs to be finished so they can stay down there; Rocket needs to be reintroduced upstairs without spraying or a suitable alternative to urinating on my furnishings needs to be found; Mellie needs to eat more and put on some weight; Twinkie needs to take all this in stride; and I have to do all this before running out of money, time and sanity. Today, fog still obscures the outcome. Yes, it’s just another new day in the life of coaster’s little family.

Late afternoon and nothing much has happened yet. Twinkie and Mellie spell each other on crack watch duty. But when gray squeals or paws through the crack, all they do is watch disapprovingly. I think it’s time to move things along. I open the door to let little gray out. Twinkie is in the middle of the hallway, telling the new cat this space is his. Gray throws a few squeals at Twink but he’s impassive. She slowly slinks along the periphery, sampling the scents deposited there as she goes. Twink turns his back to gray and begins grooming himself. Gray begins making a thorough investigation of the cats’ room, slowly working her way around, sniffing carefully as she goes. New cat in the inner sanctum. But Twink is unconcerned. Eventually he strolls into the room, his room, to watch, and perhaps to claim the exit. Gray carefully and gingerly climbs into the litterboxes. But she doesn’t use them. I’ve noticed that she’s investigating the room, but she didn’t leave any urine in the litterboxes, and she hasn’t rubbed up against any place, so as to not leave too much of her scent, either. Bye and bye Mellie wanders into the room, and she’s got her unhappy face on. I don’t want Mellie to be unhappy, so I pick up the little gray cat to return her to the bedroom. And gray is unhappy now as well, and shows it with growling and hissing. I bop her on the head when she does that, hoping that she takes that as correction, much as a momma cat would correct her kittens. This is as far as I want to push it right now; I don’t want any of them to be angry or unhappy and associate those emotions with the other cats.

On the one hand I’m disappointed there’s no overt interaction going on between these cats. I’d hoped to at least see some footsie being played by now, if not sooner. Gray plays footsie with me. (And she’s a great paw-patter, too, which I’m happy to find out. None of my other cats are.)

On the other hand, nobody seems to be afraid of anybody; there doesn’t appear to be any overt aggression developing; Mellie and Twinkie have accepted the fact of another cat in the house.

Despite the lack of interaction, the rest of what I’ve seen leads me to hope these three cats are ready to be together. And we do need to get on with that because I got confirmation today that the roofers plan to start my job on Monday, and I want to be able to put the cats in the basement, to be further away from the noise and vibration. I’m putting up a partition to keep them out of the non-cat-friendly parts of the basement. But they’ll all have to be together there for a couple days.

The checker at the grocery store today has a cute name – Teonie – but she couldn’t tell me what it meants, and it’s not on behindthename.com either.

I’ve been getting the little gray cat used to being handled for caretaking duties by taking her into the bathroom each evening and spending some time with her handling her and showing her it can be pleasurable and she can trust me. Yesterday I noticed that while the hair is growing back like crazy in the bald spot on top, it’s still falling out of the one on the side and it’s getting bigger. The culture at the vet is still negative. (I wonder if I’m setting up my vet to be a wax farmer with all these cultures. Fungal growth medium reminds me of these little cakes of wax in a plastic box that accountants, bankers and bookkeepers use to make their fingers sticky for handling paper. Maybe they don’t need to use those any more in the computer age.)

So yesterday I put the paper e-collar on her to prevent her from scratching that spot. That didn’t work out too good. She somehow got one leg inside the neck loop and when I took it off, she thought it looked like a great play toy, pulled out the string, and pretty much destroyed it. There’s no way I could get that string back in. Ever try pushing on a string? So tonight I put the plastic e-collar on her. I wonder if that will get in the way of the intro process.

So, not much happened today. This wasn’t the climactic day of final success I was hoping for. I guess it’s like traffic – you just have to go with the flow. Leave early, take it easy, enjoy the trip, and eventually you’ll get to your destination.
post #39 of 61
Thread Starter 
Saturday, June 2

Today is THREE weeks!!

Last night after finishing up my journal for the day I had to go in the bedroom and change for my shower. I wasn’t quite fast enough at the door and cone and all little gray scooted past me out into the hall. Mellie was on crack duty across the way in the doorway to my office. When gray saw Mellie, she stopped and started making her squeaky little threat noises (noises that would make any self-respecting alpha cat go into convulsions with laughter.) Mellie crouched with semi-flattened ears and a dilated-pupil glare, then gave a low growl and an emphatic hiss. Little gray turned around and scooted right back into the shelter of her bedroom. Wonderful!! The little gray cat is learning, and better yet, accepting her place in the local group. I can’t wait to see how she and the two boys work out their relationships. I hope she doesn’t try to push Twinkus down to the bottom of the pile. He’s a sweet cat basically, but can get kind of prickly, and if she annoys him too much, trying to gain status over him, he might not take it kindly. Now Rocket….I don’t think he cares too much about his status so long as it doesn’t interfere with his food supply.

Now that I know what happens in a face-to-face confrontation between the little gray cat and Mellie, I’m reasonably confident I could leave those two alone together without anything traumatic happening to permanently damage their relationship. I need to get a sense of the same between gray and Twinkie. And then I need to do the same between gray and Rocket. Since they all need to be together in the same space on Monday, if I can’t do all that before Sunday evening, and be feeling confident about it, then gray will have to go out for boarding Monday morning. I don’t want to do that because it’ll be almost like a reintroduction when she comes back Tuesday evening. The upshot is that I pretty much need to do Twink today and Rocket tomorrow, at the latest. So I’ll need to either be in the right place at the right time with gray and Twinkers, or else I’ll have to cleverly stage manage the situation I want. And Twinkus is not easily stage managed. No, not at all. And I’m not particularly clever. No, not at all. So, despite recent progress, I’m still feeling pressure to get this over with. And just getting it over with and not also getting it right is not an acceptable option. I haven’t put in three weeks of my life to see it go down the toilet because some mistake I made caused permanent enmity between two cats in my household.

I’m in the bedroom changing out of my sweats when the opportunity of the day appears ready to make its first tease. Twinkie is nosing at the door, apparently wanting in. I give the little gray cat a pep talk and then open the door. Twinkie sidles on it, glancing around and then at the gray cat. So far she’s refraining from any hissing. Then Twinkers gives us one of his trademark Hrrrrrrrrmmmphs and she can’t restrain herself any longer. Even though the hiss she directs toward Twink is modest by previous days’ comparison, and even though it mostly sails over his head, he decides he doesn’t need any of this. Nonchalantly and in full control of his dignity, he pads slowly out of the room. This opportunity slipped away unfulfilled, a bad habit that opportunities have not just for cats, but people as well.

While doing my stretches I see Twinkie casually relaxing on the top of the couch. Peeking through the crack (yes, I’m a crack-watcher, too.) I see gray is casually relaxing on my bed. I think this might be a good time for a manufactured opportunity. I shut the door on Mellie in the cats’ room, and to limit the field of action, also shut the doors on the bathroom and the office. Then gray’s bedroom door gets opened. She’s ready to come out and explore, cone and all. Gray trots around while Twink observes. He seems semi-bored. Gray looks like she wants to jump up on the counter, but there’s foil up there. Finally she jumps anyway and doesn’t like what she finds. I retrieve her and put her back down. Now she goes over to the couch, looking up at Twinkie, and making those little big cat noises. Twink observes, but has no reaction. She starts to climb up, thinks better of it, retreats from the couch, and continues her rounds.

Pretty soon Twinkey comes on down. Little gray is in the kitchen. Twink’s in the living room. I don’t want him to block her escape route, so I pick her up and put her in the living room on the other side of Twink. This emboldens her. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so manipulative because now she approaches the Twinkster and hisses at him. He turns and trots away. Not so fast as to give the impression that he’s intimidated, but away nonetheless. And she thinks she’s got him on the run, so she follows, hisses preceding. And now he’s starting to look uncomfortable. Why doesn’t he stick up for himself? A good solid hiss would send her scurrying. I don’t like this turn of events, so I pick Twinkie up, give him some encouragement, then put him down on the table to give him the height advantage. He seems more comfortable up here and the height allows him to ignore gray’s hisses. Finally, I get tired of her pushy attitude and pick her up and take her back to her bedroom. I actually get the feeling she’s glad to be back there. More relaxed and comfortable. She’s in her own space now. Bluffing takes so much emotional energy.

Twink comes around the corner, and slowly and carefully enters the bedroom. He’s on her turf, now. She lets him know by poofing up her tail. I don’t want that kind of confrontation, so she immediately gets scooped up and shut in her inner room.

So there are pluses and minuses to creating opportunities in cat land. I can’t pretend to know everything that’s going on, everything that’s being communicated between two cats, so my efforts are pretty much a gamble as to whether they’ll accomplish what I want them to accomplish. And I still don’t know if and what I accomplished. After all that time and effort.

Now many would say that this is just getting to be way too much. These cats are ready to get together and they’ll work out their minor differences. I don’t disagree with that. But, I think that by giving them brief and supervised exposure to each other, one-on-one with each cat taking turns, and with time off in between to relax and decompress in their own safe and secure places, working out their relationships and their minor differences will actually, in the end, consume less time. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

One-on-ones with Mellie and Twinkey have worked well enough; it’s time to see what happens with Rocket. So the two gray cat veterans get shut in their rooms and I call the gray cat newbie, Rocket, upstairs while gray is rambling about the house. I hold the door open just a crack. It’s good to be cautious. Rocket and gray approach the crack from opposite sides, leading with the noses. A nose bump occurs!! This is a good start. So I open the door and Rocket starts his rounds, casting sideways glances at a little gray cat wearing a cone that’s following him. Rocket seems mostly annoyed by the gray cat’s forwardness. Eventually he casts a hiss in her direction, but he’s not convincing and she’s not deterred. After having made the rounds and back in the kitchen, the gray cat ups the volume of her catcalls. Now Rocket’s getting really annoyed. He seems about ready to flee. That’s not what I want Rocket to do. I’d rather have him give the gray cat a decent hiss and send her fleeing. Since he doesn’t do that, I decide to intervene. I give the little gray cat MY best and loudest hiss. I don’t think she’s ever had a human do that before. She streaks back to her own room faster than the eye can follow. I can hear the scrabbling of cat claws, and she’s gone. Rocket is also gone. He’s up on top of the kitchen cabinet faster than I can follow. All is quiet for a time.

I go in the bedroom. Rocket follows. He checks out gray’s room. I’m hoping he’ll squat in one of her litterboxes and give a little squirt to let her know he was there. But he just climbs in and out, giving the boxes and the room a thorough sniff-over. I think we’ve accomplished enough by now with Rocket, so he gets a few treats and a lot of praise and gets sent down the basement. That’s a reward?

I think we’re getting very close here. I’ve seen how the cats interact with gray individually. Of course, that doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll always interact. Or how they’ll interact as a group. Cat social group dynamics are always fluid. Things change. I don’t know what role gray will play in the group. All I’m looking for, and hoping for right now, are signs that none of the cats are intractably afraid of another, and that none of the cats are irremediable hostile to another. Signs that it’s possible for the good life as my cats knew it pre-little-gray-cat will not be replaced with any significant deterioration in the quality of that life. Everything I’ve seen so far points to meeting all those criteria.

And so even though I’d hoped that today might be the climactic day I could call this introduction complete, it still has a little more time to run. A little more work to do. But what’s another day or two, a few more hours of effort, when I’m hoping for a happy, stable cat family that might very well be with me for the next fifteen years or more?
post #40 of 61
Thread Starter 
Sunday, June 3

More fun and games last night. I did some one-on-one with the little gray cat and Twinkee. He still doesn’t know what to make of this foul-mouthed little cat. She’s like the baddest girl in the sixth grade class. So far she’s all bark and no bite, and I think he knows that, so he’s not afraid of her. But he doesn’t go quite so far as to give it back to her. I had some playtime with the two of them and the shoelace. She wanted to monopolize it, and got really peeved when it was Twinkie’s turn. At that point to try to emphasize I wouldn’t stand for that kind of behavior toward my other cats, I put her back in the bedroom and closed the door. The greatest punishment for a cat is to be left out.

Next was treat time. I put some treats in two treat boxes, and then let Mellie and gray out of their respective rooms. I just wanted to see what would happen with three cats and two boxes. Gray monopolized one of the boxes, and Twink and Mellie shared the other, casting reproachful glances toward the other box and its cat. Since gray kept making vengeful noises toward the other two cats even though she was monopolizing one box, she got sent back to her room.

I’m pretty confident now Mellie and Twinkie are fine with the little gray cat. They’ll tolerate her and they’ll probably just steer clear of her. Things can change with time. I’ve noticed that when gray is so nasty toward my cats, she keeps looking questionly at me, as if looking for my approval. I’m willing to bet that much of her nasty behavior is because of her insecurity and anxiety. She’s really a very sweet cat to me. Once she settles down and begins to feel secure in her new home, I’m hoping this behavior will cease. I haven’t experienced this with my previous introductions, so I really don’t have any assurance that will be the case. But I do know that cats’ true personalities take a long time to emerge in a new home, and that even so their personalities change as they age.

The little gray cat’s weight yesterday was seven pounds, twelve ounces. That’s up six ounces already from when I first weighed her. She eats everything that I feed her. I think she already looks bigger than when I adopted her. And not just bigger around the middle – I swear this cat is growing right before my eyes.

The seat belt sign has been turned off and the little gray cat is free to move about the cabin. She has supervised access to the full main floor of the house. This morning, Twinkie was snoozing on top of the cabinets, so he wasn’t in the picture. Mellie was stationed by the patio door. The little gray cat was considerably quieter than yesterday and last night. I hope this is a good sign she’s not another Rocket. Gray and Mellie spent quite a long time just looking at each other. When Mellie was the first to get up and move away, I didn’t know whether that was a tactical retreat, or whether Mellie was just bored, but just in case, gray went back to her room.

While in her room, I saw through the crack that gray was sleeping on some of my clothes I had tossed on the bed. The thought that came to my mind was: she’s making herself at home. She’s starting to behave like one of the house cats.

Name selection is down to two choices. Gray likes both. I can’t decide. I think I’ll write a little computer program to decide for me.

When I got back from a quick run to the store, I was surprised to see a cone-headed little gray blur dashing from my office to my bedroom. Was she out when I left the house? I can’t remember. But it’s funny to see her running around wearing a cone. It doesn’t seem to slow her down much. While I was gone a wastebasket got tipped over. Mellie and Twinkie seem to be doing just fine coping with this little gray cat tornado. I think I might as well consider her introduced. At least as far as Mellie and Twinkie are concerned. There’s really not much more I can do for these two besides monitor their interactions with gray. So all that remains is Rocket.
post #41 of 61
Thread Starter 
Sunday evening, June 3

I finished up my partition in the basement for make a cat-friendly room. Well, the wall was a frame with sheets tacked to the framing. I didn’t have time to do the drywall or hang the door. But it’s good enough for the cats for the next couple days.

Rocket hasn’t had any one-on-one with the little gray cat, and Mellie and Twinkie needed to get aquainted with the basement, so this was an opportunity to bring Rocket up and let Mellie and Twinkie go down. It was pretty easy – just open the basement door and the right cats headed in the right direction. I put Rocket in a carrier until I could let little gray out. Then let Rocket out. Rocket headed into the living room, where he spotted the little gray cat in the vestibule. They headed for each and bumped noses. No hissing challenges from little gray. Rocket continued on his rounds with little gray trailing. Now little gray started into her act. Rocket ignored her. She kept it up and finally he got tired of it and gave her a good, solid hiss with fangs showing. She backed down. But got up and started right in again. Rocket looked confused. I tried to give him some reassurance. I wish one of my cats would just put this little gray cat in her place. It’s really funny how she looks up at me with a question on her face every time she challenges one of the other cats. Like she’s asking me, “How am I doing?†or “Is that OK with you?†I wish I could communicate with her. I don’t think she understands “No!!†yet, and even if she did I can’t be there all the time. She’s getting bolder with Twinkie and earlier I saw her chase him for a little ways. I wish he’d stand up for himself, too. Mellie’s taking care of herself pretty well. She’s got things under control in regard to the new cat.

Before I was finished with Rocket’s session, I heard a crash from the basement. Somebody knocked something over. I thought I should check and see what happened. Rocket and gray trailed me to the basement door. I opened the basement door and her was Mellie streaking up the stairs. I think both Mellie and little gray were startled to see another cat coming at them. Especially little gray. She let out piercing screams and took off with claws spinning on the vinyl flooring. All four cats were spooked and there was a fur explosion with poofed-up cats flying in four different directions. I was pretty busy there for a few moments separating all the cats into four different rooms. Sheesh. Just when you think it’s going pretty good then something unexpected happens. I wonder how this will affect the other cats’ attitudes toward little gray.

So another day goes by – another day I was hoping to declare a finished and successful introduction – but instead another day that I’ll just have to wait another day.
post #42 of 61
this journal is great. i am happy for your progress but i will be sad when the journal stops. i always look forward to hearing about the kittys.
post #43 of 61
Thread Starter 
Monday, June 4

I wake up at the usual time, but that’s a half hour later than I planned, so I could get ready for the roofers. I look out the window and the ground is wet – it rained last night – so my roof is wet. But the sun is breaking through clouds. Are they coming today? Rocket makes a ruckus in the basement – he broke through my partition. I’m going to have to redo that so it’s more cat-proof. Maybe I can get the door hung today. More time lost dealing with Rocket. At 7:30 the phone rings. Roofers are postponing until tomorrow. More rain forecast. A feeling of relief. I can use the extra time.


The little gray cat is quieter this morning. There’s no lasting adverse effect from last night’s events.

Little gray chases Twinkie. I hiss and both scatter. Little gray gets put in her room. Separation as disapproval.

Mellie and little gray pass each without any hisses or growls.

Mellie is sitting on the cat perch; little gray looks up at Mellie; Mellie looks down at little gray. No growls or hisses are exchanged. Little gray steps back a few feet and looks to me for comment. I give her some blinkies. She just stares back, looking petulant.

The roofing materials are being unloaded. The truck’s engine is very loud. The cats have scattered into their favorite hiding places. Little gray doesn’t have a hiding place yet so she’s running around, low to the ground, cone wagging back and forth. I catch her and bring her to her room. She’ll feel safest in there.

I’m struggling today, not getting much done. The morning was wasted running from one end of town to the other to get a couple things I needed for the door in the basement wall. I hate that when I can’t get everything I want in one store. With gas prices what they are and too many things and too little time, I’m willing to pay more just to avoid the extra trip. Merchants know this and price their merchandise accordingly, and they still don’t have everything I need.

After some time in the basement building frustration and very little else I go upstairs and I’m surprised to find the little gray cat sitting in the recliner. That’s Rocket’s favorite spot. He’s not going to appreciate that when he finds out.

Why is it when I’m busy doing something my cats are all taking naps, but when I’m tired and want to relax they wake up and want attention?

Little gray sure loves to be groomed. She relaxes in my lap and purrs. But I see the one bare spot is spreading. Hair is growing back in where it started, but it’s moved down and gotten bigger. Something is making this cat’s hair come out. The culture is still negative. I dosed her with Revolution. That should take care of mites. I hope I don’t end up with a naked cat.

Rocket’s bored in the basement. I think I’ll send the gray cat down to keep him company. He needs some more one-on-one with her, anyway. I open the basement door. Rocket wants to come up. Gray is sitting at the top of the stairs. Rocket looks intimidated. He doesn’t want to have to go past gray. It’s a standoff. Gray doesn’t go down and Rocket doesn’t come up. Finally I get tired of waiting and shoo gray away and close the door.

Gray is pretty quiet this afternoon. She spends most of her time in Rocket’s chair napping.

While I’m on the computer (and concentrating so I don’t want to be bothered) Twinkle comes looking for some attention. Poor little guy has been so neglected lately. And been such a good sport about it.

I’m trying to teach gray to play with the other cats. I have her favorite toy, the leather shoelace, which Mellie and Twinkie also enjoy. I play with gray for a while, then I take it away and play with Twinkie. When gray tries to horn in on Twinkie’s turn with growling and hissing, I hiss at her and shove her aside. Then it’s Mellie’s turn. Some more hissing and shoving, but not quite so much. Then it’s gray’s turn again. Repeat the process. I think she’s learning. She’s just watching now. Until the very end, when she rushes at Twinkie with growling and hissing. I scoop her up and return her to her room, hiss at her, tap her on her forehead, and close the door. She was looking mighty peeved when I left her. This cat has such expressive eyes.

Little gray is restless and prowls about. The vocalizations she directs at the other cats sound less intense this evening. Maybe she really wants to be friends but doesn’t know how to go about it? Maybe she’s figuring out I don’t want her to be so confrontational? They’re all guesses. What do I know? I’m winging it.

Rocket needs some one-on-one. It’s a pain in the patoot shuffling cats around. They don’t always want to go where I want them to go. Mellie is in the office, but I want to do some work on the computer, so she has to get out of there. I decide Mellie and Twinkie can go in the basement. Twinkie readily goes down, but when I let Rocket come up, Mellie shoots up, too. I don’t want to let Rocket out of my sight, so Mellie gets shut in the bathroom. She’s not happy about all of this. I let gray out of her room. I go through the same routine, hissing and tapping, to let gray know she’s not to challenge Rocket. Rocket gets a chance to squat in one of gray’s litterboxes. Gray’s not happy about that. Rocket has to go back down as I’ve got stuff to do. Nobody’s happy and I have no idea if I’ve made any progress or had any impression. Gray might be less likely to hiss and growl when I’m standing right there, but knowing cats, she’ll do as she pleases once I’m out of sight.

Mellie is snoozing on a window perch in my office – on the west side of my house; the little gray cat is snoozing in Rocket’s recliner – on the east side of my house. Separated by the width of my house, all is peaceful in coasterdom.
post #44 of 61
Thread Starter 
Tuesday, June 5

The roofers are here. The cats are freaked out because of the noise. Mellie and little gray won’t go down the basement. At the top of the stairs, gray screams at Twinkie and Rocket and won’t go down. I think these cats need to be boarded.

Called vet. Condo and cages are available. Cats go into carriers. Load carriers. To the vet. Unload carriers. There’s a friendly tortie in a cage who can’t stop trilling at us. Put Twinkie in the condo. Let him check it out. Then put Rocket in. Let him check it out. Then take apart Mellie’s carrier. (She’s in a big ball at the far end and won’t come out for any reason.) Lift her out and put her on the middle shelf of the condo. She again forms a big ball with big eyes. Little gray screams her head off when I try to put her in the condo. This cat’s scream should be regulated by OSHA. Where’s my earplugs? There’s no way she’s going in that small room (about eight feet square) with those other three cats, so I have to put her in a cage. Everybody gets one of my dirty shirts or t-shirts for a reassuing scent. Litterboxes from home are put down. Familiar toys are left on the floor. I’m already exhausted, and it’s only mid-morning.

I don’t know…..is it more stressful for them to be in their own house with all that banging and scraping, or is it more stressful to be put in an unfamiliar room, even though it’s quiet?

After lunch. Go to vet and check on kitties. Mellie is still in a ball, just as I left her. Rocket and Twinkie are still huddled together on the lowest level, just as I left them. Mellie responds to some comfort and reassurance and I get her out of her ball and checking out her surroundings. Rocket comes out for some scratchies and tummy rubs. I transfer him to the top level, and he, too, starts to show some interest in his surroundings. Twink is still in a huddle, and he’s all claws as I take him out and hold him. He climbs up onto my shoulder, and from there he jumps into Mellie’s box. Mellie isn’t happy to share her space with him and he get some hisses and some swats, but stays. I take him out and put him up on top with Rocket, and there he comes out of his huddle.

Little gray is quiet in her cage. She’s up for some scratchies. She’s such a sweet cat alone with me. I wonder if it’s just her nature to hate all other cats or if it’s just her insecurities in a new and strange place that makes her such a ball of fire.

Cats are home. The roofers made good time. They have the east side of the roof finished, and I decided that tomorrow morning I’ll just put the cats in my bedroom on that side of the house, where at least the pounding won’t be right overhead. When I picked them up, the receptionist told me that they’d been quiet and resting all day. But I could tell from their body language that Mellie and Twinkie weren’t at all happy there. Mellie’s demeanor changed in an instant as soon as she exited her carrier at home.

Gray was snoozing in her cage, looking very relaxed, but when I took her out to put her in her carrier, she hissed and screamed at another cat in an adjoining cage. I don’t know about her. She might be a cat that’s only going to be happy in a one-cat home. On the other hand, maybe it’s anxiety and insecurity that causes her to act that way, and when she gets secure in her new home, she’ll be fine. I can’t tell. But I don’t want to spend a year working with her. I did that once before with Tommy and when I finally realized I had to let him go, it was very traumatic for both me and for Rocket.
post #45 of 61
It looks as though your making a lot of progress I love reading your journal
post #46 of 61
Thread Starter 
Wednesday, June 5

Last night we had some more play therapy between the little gray cat and Twinkie. I played with gray and the shoelace, running her around on the floor until she was panting. Then I played with Twink on the bed. At first she tried to jump on the bed and horn in on Twink’s turn, but each time she got shoved off. This happened the first couple of turns and then she stayed on the floor during Twinkey’s turn. We only had one mild growl and one mild hiss during the playtime. But after playtime she gave him one pretty good hiss, and then she went back in her room.

It’s nippy this morning. I have to start the furnace to take the edge off. Not unusual in early June in Wisconsin.

Rocket looks rather disconsolate this morning. I sure wish I could bring my big boy upstairs and trust he isn’t going to spray.

The roofers have arrived. They should be finished by noon. Twinkie is hiding in his usual spot in the closet off my bedroom. Mellie is hiding in her usual spot under my bed. The little gray cat doesn’t seem at all affected by the noise, being very relaxed on my lap when I’m checking her bald spots.

Someone related a story about how their cat suffered hair loss due to the anxiety of an introduction. I wonder if that’s what’s going on with little gray’s hair loss. It seems like hair is coming out on one edge of the bald area and it’s growing back almost as fast on the other edge. I now find a third bald spot developing on the right side of her neck. I wonder if this plastic e-collar is actually causing more hair loss by rubbing than it’s preventing hair loss by scratching. I decide to try putting booties on her back feet. This worked pretty good with Mellie. But I don’t have enough of the right kind of first-aid tape and she’s able to shake off one of the booties right away. So the collar goes back on.

Gray is certainly a nice, relaxed cat when she’s with me. If her hair loss is due to anxiety, maybe her antagonism toward my other cats is as well. Hopefully, then, that will settle down once she gets to know them better and is more comfortable and confident here. But I can’t wait too much longer to see improvement. I think I want to see definite improvement within the next week, or I’ll have to seriously consider sending her back. I’ve been through these cycles before – improving one week and then back to square one the next. I’m not going through that roller coaster again. She’s a really cute cat and very personable toward people. Once she grows this hair back in again, she’ll be very easy to readopt into a one-cat home. But what a shame. She doesn’t even have a name, yet. And maybe that’s one reason I’m holding off. Giving her a name would too bonding if she might not be staying.

This has been a crazy day. The roofers were suppose to finish up, but the compressor that powers their nail guns tripped my circuit breaker, and we couldn’t get the power restored. What with me futzing around trying to get them some power, running in and out, and all that, the kitties got pretty much ignored. Which turned out to be a good thing for kittle gray. She had the freedom of the house, and I think that with all the commotion going on, everybody was on the same footing and she had a chance to do whatever cats do to figure out their relationships. Sure, there’s still hissing and growling, but it seems to be pretty well balanced on both sides now. For example, I just saw her run at Twinkie, and he stood his ground. Then I saw Twinkie run at her. Both without any really hostile or defensive displays on either side. Now, they’re chasing each other around the house. It looks more like genuine cat play to me; a big improvement from before.

So while my roof is incomplete and is sporting a couple of ratty-looking blue tarps, little gray is feeling more at ease with her place in this home, and Mellie and Twinkie are feeling more at ease with her being here. That’s my impression of where it stands right now, anyway. And I have to caution myself that Rocket isn’t in the mix, yet. But after my downbeat mood of earlier in the day, right now I’m sore and exhausted but feeling better about gray. She’s not the cat they said she was, she’s not the cat I wanted, but when she puts her lovey-dovey act on me with those big golden eyes, I hope she can stay.

Oh, and the reason for the power outage? My outside outlets were on the same circuit as my bathroom, and the GFI outlet in there tripped. Pretty weird
post #47 of 61
You don't want to keep little grey?
post #48 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thursday, June 7

I’m hoping that what worked yesterday for Mellie and Twinkie will work today for Rocket, so I’m planning on bringing him up out of the basement today and let him work it out with the little gray cat and show me he’s not going to spray. As a precaution, I put aluminum foil over all the known and suspected actual and fake spray spots, and plastic on the carpet. That’s both for deterrence and for protection.

Rocket seems happy to be up. I’m not quite sure where the balance lies between the little gray cat and him. Sometimes it seems that she’s on the defensive, sometimes it seems that he’s on the defensive. I guess that’s good.

There’s a lot of hissing, growling, squealing and squawling today. But at times I find all four cats quiet and snoozing, so the warfare must not be too serious they can’t take a break from it.

I wonder if the three – Rocket, Mellie and Twinkie – are trying the old cold shoulder routine. I find those three in close proximity in the kitchen and living room, and gray is all by herself in the bedroom.

It’s kind of a crazy day. But as evening wears on and I must write in my journal I find that Rocket hasn’t sprayed (to the best of my knowledge,) no cat has killed or injured another cat, and at the moment (at least) everything is quiet.

And my new roof is just beautiful.
post #49 of 61
Thread Starter 
Friday, June 8

It’s time to write my last page in the journal. The intro process is basically complete. There’s nothing more to do that hasn’t already been done. Now it’s up to the cats themselves. As it always has been. My role has only been as a facilitator. Making it a little easier for them. I hope. In the end they decide whether to come to terms.

Today is a little quieter than yesterday, although Rocket has been in the basement for much of the day. Now he’s stalking around, murmuring about something or other. Oh, I know, I suppose he wants to go outside. Well, he’s been in the basement all day and I felt bad when I saw his disconsolate little face down there; now I give in and let him out. He heads straight for the warm concrete driveway to roll around and give himself a good back scratch. I assist him by scratching the underside of his torso. Then he heads straight for the lawn to browse on the green grass. I don’t want him to eat too much, or he’ll get sick and throw up. For which he’ll wait until he’s in the house, of course.

The little gray cat is sound asleep on my bed, making herself a nesting spot on top of one of my shirts. She looks like a raggedy old towel casually tossed onto the bed. Gray still seems to be most comfortable in this part of the house, which has been her home now for, gosh, it’s almost a whole month already.

I finally get to do some housecleaning, starting with the cats’ litter areas, which have been slightly neglected recently. With five boxes at three locations, compared to the normal two boxes in one location, and everything else that’s been going on, I don’t feel too guilty. Putting away cat things that have accumulated in various places, dusting, and vacuuming, make me feel organized and somewhat more in control. Of course, that’s an illusion – it always is – and I know it, but it feels better none the less.

I’m amazed to find out that the little gray cat isn’t terrified of the vacuum-monster. In fact, she actually seems cautiously fascinated; approaching and backing as the noisy sucking-predator hunts back and forth across the carpet, swallowing all in its path. The other cats know they must scatter to their favorite bunkers as soon as the monster comes out of its lair.

I’m overjoyed to see that Mellie is relishing the flavor of Fancy Feast I’m trying out tonight. When I go back to check on her, I find I’ve been deceived again. She’s eaten the gravy and left all the solid bits. She butts my hand gently to remind me she’s hungry for her Innova dry. Sigh. She gets it. At least she’s putting on weight.

The little gray cat is quite the eater, greedily inhaling anything I put down, wet or dry, or even raw. And she’s gaining weight, too. I can see it on her. I’m looking forward to weighing her tomorrow. It’s so good to have one cat who’ll eat anything – that solves the problem of what the picky cats don’t eat. And now I have two.

As evening comes on I know there are still many unknowns to be resolved only over time. But they’re beyond the scope of this journal. I still don’t know if I’ve been successful. Sometimes it takes months. Sometimes it never happens. Two cats can be destined to always hate each other. Cats have personality conflicts just like people do. And there’s the uncertainy about Rocket and whether he’ll spray again. But from now what happens is all part of everyday life at coaster’s house, and the story of the little gray cat’s introduction here is at

The End


coming next:

Post Script – comments on the journal and on introducing cats; a name for little gray?
post #50 of 61
post #51 of 61
Thread Starter 

My sincere thanks go out to all who offered comments, suggestions, and just good old-fashioned support. For those who posted in the journal thread, I intentionally did not respond to your posts in the thread, because I wanted to maintain my part of the thread as a journal, not as a discussion topic. Some of you I responded to by private message. Some found their suggestions implemented in the next day’s journal entry.

I’m also grateful for the excellent information about cat behavior published online and on paper. Articles and books written by fine authors and behaviorists such as Pam Johnson-Bennett, Dr. Bruce Fogle, Wendy Christensen, J. Anne Helgren, Jackson Galaxy, Mary Anne Miller, and so many others I can’t name them all.

I also want to acknowledge the cat and pet-oriented web sites and message boards, where pet owners can seek information and discuss their pet problems, and get help and support from others who’ve had the same experiences and/or share the same concern and love for their pets. What would we do without other people to talk things over? My thanks to the owners, operators and staff of these sites for creating and making available these resources and communities.

Postscript – Part One

On the journal

Everything written in this journal really happened. The only creative license taken was in the descriptive language used, which hopefully made the happenings reported more interesting reading. Of course, there were things that happened that weren’t recorded in the journal, but all the significant events affecting the little gray cat’s introduction are here.

I began this journal on a bit of a whim. My original thought was “this might be fun.†My intent was to use and to describe all or most of the techniques used to introduce a new cat into an existing cat group. Along the way, the journal took on a life of its own and I found excuses to introduce bits and pieces of my own opinions and philosophies and various topics cat and non-cat, and reason to exercise some creative writing gone very, very rusty after many, many years.

Writing this journal took a great deal of time. Much of the journal was written in first-person present tense, and indeed many parts were written immediately after the events described. Of course, the cats always took first priority, but writing this journal caused many other important priorities to be neglected, to their detriment. So I can only advise that anyone wanting to introduce a new cat shouldn’t bother keeping a journal, and if they do, for heaven’s sake, don’t post it on a message board!!

Update on the little gray cat

The little gray cat is becoming more and more at home. Today there’s been considerably less hissing and growling. I think she has come to recognize and accept her place in the local cat group, at least with respect to Mellie and Twinkie. She no longer needs to assert herself as much or feel defensive about being here. I’ve seen her pass by the other cats with no more than a sideways glance. I’m very happy with her progress today.

Unfortunately, Rocket has sprayed twice more (that I know of) and fake sprayed several more times in addition (that I’ve witnessed.) So he’s again spending his time in the basement and he’s quite unhappy down there. I’ve done all the usual things with no success. Again pulling out and studying my copies of Pam Johnson-Bennett I find that retraining Rocket would be a long process, possibly involving up to 30 days of conditioning at each spot. This just isn’t feasible. I’m on the verge of taking my vet’s advice and allowing him access to the outdoors. Frankly, I think he was already unhappy before the little gray cat came, having been fake spraying and exhibiting other signs of restlessness for some time. She just pushed him “over the edge.†I'm well aware of what this step means for Rocket and for myself, and I'm not happy I'm contemplating this decision.

So, as it usually goes in life, there’s some good news and there’s some bad news.
post #52 of 61
Thread Starter 
Postscript – Part Two

On introducing cats

I only hope that readers of this journal don’t think that it’s always so difficult to introduce a new cat. Every case is different. It might range from “Hello!! Nice to meet you!! C’mon in and join the party!!†to “Get outta my face you flea-bitten scumbag and don’t ever come on to my territory again!!†It all depends on the cats. Hopefully doing an introduction process makes it a little easier for them and gives us better odds at success.

There are cases where an intro might be pointless. Two cases come to mind: first is the foster home where the resident cats are used to new cats coming and going. The second is kittens. Kittens seldom need to be introduced to other kittens. Everything in their world is new every day. Why not another kitten? All other cases are somewhere in between. Generally younger cats are easier to introduce and be introduced.

Many people just “throw the new cat in with the others and let them work it out†and sometimes it does. But cats are very jealous of their territory, and they’re not pleasantly surprised when a strange cat suddenly appears. They view the strange cat as a threat, not as a chance to throw a party. First impressions are crucial for cats. Tippy won’t readily forget the way she felt the first time she unexpectedly bumped into new Tinkle in the hallway. So regardless of the personalities of the cats involved, it’s always a good idea to plan to do an introduction, start to do an introduction, and then go from there based on the cats’ reactions. Maybe it’ll only take a couple days; maybe it’ll take months.

That’s one mistake many people make – they see the intro as a series of steps, like baking a cake or putting together a model airplane. There are steps, sure, but how much time to spend on one step and when to move on to the next are governed by the cats, not by their human’s daily planner. Always go at the speed that the cats set. You might be able to skip a step. You might need to back up a step. Pay attention to what the cats are telling you. Miss Marple is going to be part of the family for a long time. A few extra days now will seem like nothing in a few months. Be sure to give it plenty of time. If in doubt, wait to see what another day brings.

Another mistake is lack of prior planning. People see a cat at the shelter, decide they want the cat, stick it in a cardboard carrier and take it home. Plan ahead – have a room and all the things the new cat needs ready before he comes home. Also have your strategy planned. How to get him into the house without Fluffy and Farfel seeing him. How to go back and forth, in and out of Fetchit’s room without him shooting out between your legs. And so on and so on.

The third mistake often made is that people don’t realize how much time and how much effort and how much expense is involved. I daresay at least one, if not three factors are going to balloon to proportions beyond your wildest expectations. So don’t bring a new cat home when you’re really busy, just before going on vacation, when finances are tight, etc. etc. Be sure you’re ready to do this now, because once that new cat comes home, he’s not going to wait for you to get paid before he needs to go to the vet.

And believe it or not, there’s a fourth common mistake: new cat parents worry more about the new kitten – is she comfortable? Does she have enough to eat? She’s hiding under the bed and how do we get her out? Oh, she’s so cute!! Loves to play!! Spend time with her!! Really, the new cat’s worries can be put on the back burner while dealing with Muffet and Magnet – they’re the ones that are going to make or break this new relationship. Remember, they’re looking upon this new kitten as an interloper and disrupter, and as competition. Give M&M extra time, attention, playtime, treats, and so forth, and they think they’re still number one in your sight. Even if your thoughts are on cute little Mipsie, still go through the motions with the other two. They were here first.

I don’t need to outline the process for introducing cats here. There are many fine articles that explain the process both online and in print. I would suggest that you go one step further and know why you’re doing what you’re doing. And I guess that sums it up: when introducing cats, look at it from the cats’ point of view.

Update on the little gray cat

This cat is exceedingly mischievious. She’s gotten into things that even Rocket didn’t at the same age. She has a permanent guilty look on her face. Which I really can’t take too seriously when I look at those huge golden eyes. And she always has to be right in the center of whatever’s going on. Which means, of course, she’s always in the way. She’s had a toe stepped on several times already. I’ll have to do an Emiril on my cat-proofing and kick it up a notch.

I’m pleased but not too surprised to see that Twinkie and the little gray cat seem to be making friends. Twink’s a really nice cat. He had a hard time getting friendly with Rocket – I think his problem was he tried too hard – and he learned from that. Now they’re nose-bumping already.

I’ve talked to the two nearest neighbors about Rocket. I’m making a sandbox cover for one neighbor and I’m going to put down some cat deterrent around the other neighbor’s garden and flower beds.

Otherwise, general slow progress is the order of the day.

And believe it or not, I’m actually still undecided about a name.
post #53 of 61
Thread Starter 
Postscript – Part Three

On naming cats

I have an awful time naming cats. Rocket is the only cat whose name came easily to me. In fact, he had his name within 10 seconds of meeting me, and two days before he came to live with me. Mellie was Camille at the shelter, so she was Cammie for a while. Then she was Sallie. Finally I settled on Melody, because of her sweet musical voice I had heard in the shelter. Except she said almost nothing for a year after she came here, and then for a while she just squawked. I never did call her Melody; it’s always been Mellie. Tommy and Twinkie both waited about a month for their names.

My cat-naming rules are too strict. They are:

1) keep the name to two syllables
2) don’t use a human name
3) end the name with an “ee†sound
4) don’t use an “s†in the name (because it sounds too much like a hiss)
5) don’t use a “p†in the name (because English speakers use an explosive “p†and cats don’t like the puff of air in their face)
6) two cats in the same house can’t have names that sound alike

As you can see, I break my rules.

There’s an old belief that cats have a secret name only they know. The poet T.S. Eliot is said to have maintained that cats have three names: the name that humans use with them, the name other cats use with them, and a secret name only the cat knows. He wrote in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Therefore, in addition following my naming rules, I have to try to figure out by what name my cat really wants to be called. This leads to trying out many names to see if any one name gets a response. This is how Twinkie got his name. I don’t particularly like his name and would never have named him that on my own. But, I got used to it. Yet I wonder: is that his secret cat name, or just the name he wants his human to call him? As far as I know, he was never called that before I adopted him.

I like to do some light computer programming, so I’ve written short programs to come up with cat names. One that I wrote for naming Twinkie constructed names from random combinations of phonemes. That was a bust. This time, I’ve made a list of possible names, and I’m writing a computer program to pick one at random for me. Problem is, I don’t like the names the computer has been choosing.

I suppose a cat just gets used to whatever you call him. If you use it often enough, he knows that it’s him you’re referring to with that name. All my cats know their names. Their human names, that is. I think that the truth be told, I still don’t know their secret names and probably never will.

Update on the little gray cat

Poor Twinkie got hissed at by both girls last night. Mellie always hisses at Twinkie when I’m getting their before bedtime treats ready, and gray wanted to jump in on the action. I think she didn’t know who to hiss at so she hissed at them both and Twink got caught in the middle of a hissy fit.

Gray is really a smart cat. I’ve noticed she picks up on things fast. Last night was her first night using the treat balls, and she got the hang of it in no time. And it looked to me like she caught on by watchiing the other cats.

She’s a really selfish, self-centered cat, too. Even for a cat. She wants all the treat balls for herself. During playtime, she wants the toys all to herself. It’s occurred to me before, and is reinforced, how much like Rocket she is. I’ve got a smaller, female version of Rocket. Rocket and Rockette? Nope. Violates rule #6 in a big way.

Today she’s my lap cat while watching a movie in the late afternoon. That’s what Rocket’s role would have been, too. She’s such a relaxed cat as she lays in my lap – just sprawled out, head and front paws in the crook of my right arm, back legs dripping over the edge of the chair between my legs. I can feel her vibrate as she purrs.

Update on Rocket

Rocket’s problem is such a part of this story that I didn’t want his adventures to be left out. Today I finished preparations for letting him go out. And about 2:00 this afternoon he did. He first headed for the warm, sunny concrete of the driveway to enjoy a good hot back scratch. Then he made straight for the lawn and browsed on grass salad. That was just the appetizer. He began patrolling the foundation of the house next. He was on the hunt for mice. I checked on him every 10 on 15 minutes, and by 3:00 he had caught at least three mice that I know of.

He seems to have made his base of operations under the deck. He was rolling around in the dirt under there, playing with a dead mouse. Then he went over to the neighbors’ yard while they watched from their deck and we saw him catch another one; it didn’t take long – the mice around here are pretty fat and dumb. He carried it inside the garage to the back door. It sure looked to me like he wanted to take it in the house and show it to the other cats. He didn’t kill the mouse at first, he just tortured it for a while. The poor thing was spinning in circles, its hindquarters paralyzed. I killed it for him, ending its suffering, by smashing its head with a trowel. Then Rocket ate it: head first – crunch, crunch, crunch – tail going down last – gulp. Lick lips – smack, smack. Look self-satisfied. I think my problem with voles tearing up my lawn won’t be a problem any more.

I have to say that if watching nature at work makes you squeamish, don’t let your cat outside, and don’t watch what they do out there. But Rocket did look like he was enjoying himself immensely, and no wonder after being cooped up in the basement. It seemed to me that he looked like, well, like a cat is supposed to look. And watching an indoor cat go outside unrestrained for the first time is, well, I suppose like a parent watching a child drive for the first time or go off to college. It’s definitely mixed emotions -- trepidation dominating – with a certain amount of pride only slightly subdued. It wasn’t just me with the emotions. Twinkie was watching from the window, and he was letting out these plaintive meows that sounded like he thought he was losing his best friend. I sincerely hope he’s not. I don’t think he is. He let me catch him, he brought the mouse to the garage, and he came to me from under the deck. At least I know he’s not going to head for the horizon. But Twinkie’s friend might be away on assignment for awhile. A self-appointed assignment of thinning out the local rodent population.
post #54 of 61
Thank you for all the updates! I've been looking forward to them! I'm glad things are getting better, and more comfortable for the cats...well slowly! Keep up the good work!
post #55 of 61
Thread Starter 
Extra Rocket update

4:30 pm – the last I saw of him was his back end as he headed down into the drainage ditch. There’s lots of mice back there. Now he’s nowhere in sight. I walk around the neighborhood, but there’s so many places a cat could be that I’d never see, it’s a wasted effort. He’s nowhere in sight. Now, I’m worried.

5:30 pm – another trip around the neighborhood. Looking behind the neighbor’s hedge, back and forth the drainage ditch, under the deck; nowhere in sight. More worried.

6:00 pm – I put out food and water for him, and there he is, in the drainage ditch. This cat has a built-in meal timer. I casually walk over to him, disguising my relief, and sing out my suppertime jingle, "Suppertime!! Suppertime!! It's sup-sup-suppertime!!" He knows the word supper, his head comes up and turns around, and he follows me back to the deck, where his supper awaits. I can’t believe he’s so hungry. Hasn’t he been gorging on mice? Maybe that's hard work! Mellie jumps down from the table where she’s been eating her supper, ignoring her favorite dry food, she’s so happy to hear the sounds of Rocket out on the deck. I let Twinkie out of his room and he runs over, and the three cats have a mutual nose-bumping party through the screen door. I go out and give Rocket some pets and scratchies. It looks like he’s got fleas on him already. Sorry, Rocket, I’m so happy you came back for mealtime, but tonight you’re sleeping in the garage. Or under the deck, if you prefer. Rocket heads under the deck. I don’t know how this is going to work out, but so far Rocket is enjoying it, and after all that time in the basement he deserves. And I’m relieved to learn he can find his way around and come back home when he wants to. And happy that he wants to. Maybe when he gets his fill of outdoor adventurers, he’ll be ready to come back in and be happy there, too.
post #56 of 61
Thread Starter 
Postscript – Part Four

On naming the little gray cat

I make this way too hard.

I want a name that describes the appearance of the little gray cat. Well, she’s gray. She’s little. She’s got big golden eyes. She’s got four legs and a tail. She’s a cat. What can I say?

I want a name that describes the little gray cat’s personality. Well, she’s full of energy – vivacious, I guess you’d say. She’s full of curiosity. That’s a normal cat trait, isn’t it? She’s mischievious. More so that my other cats. She’s always got her nose stuck in what’s going on.

I want a name that describes what she sounds like. She squeaks. A mouse squeaks. Can you name a cat after a mouse? Would she be insulted?

I want a name that she automatically responds to. Her “secret name†if you will.

I want a name that sounds cool. A name that flows off my lips and vocal cords like it feels right. A name that I can say over and over and not get tired of; not grow to dislike. A name that both the little gray cat and I can live with until death do us part.

I’ve been trying out many, many different names on the little gray cat, trying to see if I get a reaction telling me that’s the name she wants to be called. I thought I had it once with “Teenie†(see Friday, May 18) but the reaction I thought I saw then hasn’t been repeated.

I’ve tried variations of that name: “Deenie†and “Teensie,†“Teenybopper.â€

I’ve paged through my English/Latin dictionary looking for Latin roots that descibe her in some way. “Incenda†because she’s firey. “Irasca†because she’s irascible. “Striona†as derived from her histrionics. “Tantra†from her tantrums. “Vexie†because she’s vexatious. “Kinetta†because she’s always in motion. “Questa,†“Quia,†and “Quidi.†Check your Latin dictionary.

I’ve tried names from descriptive words: “Dustly,†“Breezie,†“Gustie,†“Screech,†“Squall.†“Pipsie†because she’s such a pipsqueak. “Pattypat†because she’s a paw-patter. “Pippypat†to put the two together. And then I stretched for “Mickie†because she squeaks like a mouse. Stretched even more for “Swiffer†because she’s like a duster. “DeeQue†because she’s such a drama queen.

I’ve tried using technology to pick a name. Writing a computer program to pick names at random from a list. But then if I don’t like the name the computer picked, what good is it? I’ve used websites of popular pet names. But I want something different. I’ve used websites that find names that match keywords. I’ve tried random name generators.

Right now I’m wracking my brain for a name for, or descriptive word for, that nasty little girl in grammar school – the pushy, bratty one who always had something to say in a loud voice; who was always “me first;†who would never share – the one who for inexplicable reasons was the most popular in spite off, or maybe because of the way she was. She’s the picture that comes to mind when thinking of my little gray cat.

Honestly, I really had hoped to have a name to anoint my little gray cat with in my journal entry today, but I don’t. I’ll have to stretch it out at least one more day.

Rocket’s update

I left the garage door open, and the patio door open, until just before I went to bed. But he was nowhere to be seen. So he stayed out overnight. And then he was on the deck at 6:00 a.m., waiting for his breakfast. He looked tired. I supposed he’d been hunting all night. I don’t understand why this cat can eat so many mice and still be hungry for catfood. But if it keeps him around, that’s fine. He’s got food and water here. And today I made a sandbox for him beside the deck.

There are some drawbacks to having a hunter in the family. Last night I went out on the deck to discover the entrails and two front paws of a baby rabbit neatly deposited on the deck. I’d seen him carrying it to his lair under the deck earlier. He’s been bringing much of his catch back. So even though he might hang out in the neighbors’ bushes or hunt up and down the ravine, he seems to consider my house his home base. I’ve had several chances to exam him which giving him scratchies, and he looks just fine. In fact, he looks happier than he’s looked in some time. I don’t know where this experiment is going; I’m going to take it day by day; but Rocket seems to be benefitting from it.
post #57 of 61
Thread Starter 

The little gray cat is fitting in about as well as could be expected, considering Mellie’s disposition, which can rival the Wicked Witch of the West where other cats are concerned. I gave gray a chance to sleep on my bed last night, but she didn’t settle down, so she went back in her room. Twinkie had the bed to himself, until he started walking on my chest, and then he went in his room. Mellie is giving both Twinkie and gray the cold shoulder, and she still gives gray the evil eye and a level five hiss when gray forgets her place. Twinkie and gray are becoming friends. They play together and he watches her patiently while she grooms or acts up, much like an older brother with his little baby sister. It’s a good thing, this budding friendship, because Twinkie is missing his best friend: Rocket. And perhaps that’s why Mellie is so grumpy, too, because….

Rocket has gone missing. He stayed out last night and didn’t show up for breakfast this morning. It’s not like Rocket to miss a free meal. And my own appetite went missing as well as my motivation and concentration to get anything else done today. All the usual first steps have been taken. For now, it’s my job to wait. A job I’ve never been able to do well. I spend too much time glancing out the window. Out of the corner of my eye I catch movement on the lawn and go to the window. But it’s a squirrel, and no squirrel would be on the lawn if Rocket was here.

I understand sometimes cats will just be gone for a while and then come back. Rocket is a big boy; he’s got his claws and he hunts well. Barring a run-in with a car, a trap, or a poisoned mouse, he should be all right. But if he’s sick or injured, he probably went into hiding, and there are literally thousands and thousands of places he could hide just in the immediate vicinity. Finding him would be sheer luck. Yet, I must try, anyway. I know and understand all the risks. Yet, when I get hit with one of them, it’s hard to accept.

Rocket’s story isn’t really part of the little gray cat’s journal. But the gray cat’s story has had a consequence for Rocket. He’s missing. And Rocket’s story will have a consequence for the gray cat by putting my search for her name on low priority. In real life, stories don’t always have happy endings. Sometimes they don’t even have endings – we’re just left wondering. Maybe that’s the fate of this story. I don’t know. As of suppertime, he still isn’t home yet. But this journal is at an end.

Although I’ll try to give the little gray cat a real name real soon.
post #58 of 61
Thread Starter 
Yet Another Epilogue

This journal just won’t die. It wouldn’t let me end with such a depressing and ambiguous ending. It needed a happy ending and so it gets one.

This morning while walking the neighborhood I hear a familiar meow. There’s my neighbor from two houses down out in the driveway standing on top of a rickety ladder below one of his trees. I quickly walk up the drive. “Do you have a cat up in the tree?†“Is it an orange tabby cat?†There’s Rocket on a branch about 15 feet up, meowing his little heart out. I ask the neighbors to make themselves scarce because they’re just scaring Rocket. I try to coax him down with soothing words and his treat ball. He looks like he wants to come down, but doesn’t know what to do. I move to the other side of the tree, to shake the treat ball over there, trying to get him turned around. He turns around, but is looking at another branch. I think he wants to jump. Not a good idea.

I get the neighbor’s permission to bring my extension ladder. Not an easy thing to do, as he’s concerned about liability. I just want my cat. I go home, get the ladder, and return as rapidly as possible. Rocket’s still there. Still meowing. I extend the ladder to the maximum safe length, carefully place it against the tree, and cautiously climb up. It’s just long enough. Now that I’m sure of my footing, it’s no longer time for caution, it’s time for action, before Rocket decides to act first. I scruff him with the fullest and hardest possible scruff I can scruff, not too concerned about hurting him, and drag him off the branch, momentarily letting go of the ladder to unstick his hind feet, and then sling him over my left shoulder, where he attaches himself firmly to me. I don’t care. Let the blood run. I have my cat.

As we climb down the ladder he stops meowing and I can feel his claws retract as we touch the ground, then all the way home I can feel him relaxing. I transfer him to a frontal hold, and it’s with great joy shared between us we enter the house. Rocket first gets a meal and then a litterbox. I’m concerned about the moan he gives when he relieves himself. I hope it’s a moan of relief and not of pain. He’s been up in that tree for possibly as long as a day and a night. (Later a call to the vet convinces me to just watch him for awhile.)

We sit on the stairs, Rocket cuddled tightly in my arms, sharing our happiness at being together again. He has his little arms around me, too. Then he starts falling asleep. Well, of course, he’s been awake the entire time he’s been up in the tree. So I transfer him to a soft, snuggy place where he proceeds to sleep for six hours straight.

Rocket’s awake. We spend some time together, giving me a chance to check him over. He loves being combed with a flea comb. I’m not sure I’d recognize fleas, but there’s nothing moving in there, and a test with a spritz of water shows no flea dirt. Wow, some of his nails are really long. How did they grow that long in just four days? The long nails get clipped. Then Rocket sleeps some more.

Given the choice between the house and the outside, Rocket wants to go out. I need to show him he still has that option, so he goes out. He heads for a shady spot behind some bushes.

Now, he’s back in the garage. Does he want to come in? I open the house door and Rocket comes in voluntarily. That's what I want to see. Making his own decision to come in. Rocket sidles to the middle of the kitchen floor, looking neither to the right nor to the left, then nonchalantly sprawls out like the owner of the house, the king of the pride, the master of his domain. Mellie and Twinkie come by with wide eyes and flared nostrils to sniff of the returned adventurer, and thrill in the mysterious and primal scents on his feet and on his fur. Rocket's sooooo cool. He's been outside. He's hunted.

Little gray cautiously approaches, growling and snarling growing louder by the inch until her nose is almost touching Rocket's ear. I hold my breath, fearing Rocket's ear is about to be punctured. But he ignores her. He knows what he's doing. (He thinks.) Her growling subsides. Rocket leisurely lifts himself from the floor, saunters into the living room, and takes up a commanding position on the couch, where he gives every sign of needing more catch-up on his sleep.

All is peaceful. Now I have no more excuses to put off finding a name for the little gray cat. And no more excuses to keep adding to a journal about her introduction.
post #59 of 61
You don't need to have an excuse to keep adding to this journal. You are more than welcome to post whenever you want, about whatever you want! I will keep reading it as long as you keep writing about it!
post #60 of 61
I laugh I cry I want more.
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