Archive for March, 2009

Cats are Funny!

It’s Barb here this time. Andy is on an annual ‘Nearly Spring Silly Season’.

And that is the subject of this post. It’s been a while! Anyway, one of my favourite twitter friends suggested that I should change my Twitter Avatar to a picture with me and Andy, face to face, as it were. I laughed out loud when I read her tweet! The very idea!

What my friend didn’t know, and I guess I have never revealed, is that Andy is nearly feral. I don’t want him anywhere near my face for a ‘photo shoot’! Don’t get me wrong! Andy loves me with all his heart and soul. And only me, evidently. Well, he does like his feline housemates, but there are very few humans he will tolerate. In fact, I have seen him warm to only two other people in his entire life. Kathy, my friend who feeds my gang when I am away for any length of time and Stu’s dad. I can’t figure that! Lloyd is not particularly fond of cats and is here very seldom, but Andy seems to think he’s OK. Kathy, of course, he adores. Stu, who lives here, can’t get near to him.

So how does Andy relate to me? Well, he adores me with his eyes. He will wind himself around my legs if I am standing and he cherishes whichever chair I am sitting on. If I am lounging on the loveseat, he loves to come up and tuck into the back of my knees. If I am sitting there, he will come and lean against me and even claim my leg with a forepaw. But he will never sit on my lap. He will never consent to being held, except if I collect him under my left arm, so he is hanging like a wild cat, and only so long as he is liking being scratched under the chin. He purrs all the while, but after about a minute and a half – and he lets me know – I have to let him down, or risk severe lacerations. I can pet him at any time and I am unique in this. No-one else is allowed to. When I am in bed, he will come and tuck into the backs of my knees, my tummy or into my ankles. If I don’t move much, he will spend an entire night with me.

He loves it when I talk to him and sometimes I will stand at the kitchen window and tell him about all the birds outside. He then leaps to the window and chats at me while he catches up with all the bird activity outside. Andy is a unique individual, indeed. I am blessed to have him and be loved by him and that he is such a character that I can create a blog that is his and mine. He is goofy, unique, fiercely loyal, independent, comical, irreverent and caustic all at the same time. Andy is a ‘talker’. He loves to play fetch and all the while I throw small paper balls, he natters and purrs and brings the ball to my feet – to throw again. He especially loves to be surprised or tricked. If he thinks the ball is going one way, and it turns out it’s going the opposite way, he is delighted and says so! One of these days, I will find all these paper balls under something, or behind something and because they will be covered in years worth of fuzz, I hope Andy is sleeping so I can dispose of them without feline interference.

So – I was not prepared to do a photo op with my face next to Andy’s. But he is a beautiful boy so here is a picture of him being a very handsome lad.

Andy loves my stuff

Andy loves my stuff

Just so you know…Andy was one of a litter of six. He was born to a lovely marmalade female, whose name was Rosebud. Rosebud evidently mated with a Siamese as her progeny were two female seal points and four male flame points. Rosebud was fostered just before the kittens were born. The family that fostered her was the family of one our most cherished volunteers. Unfortunately, they were reluctant to disturb Rosebud while her babies were tiny. That was a lesson learned for the education of other foster families. Anyway, some of the kittens were fine. Some of them, however,  were very cagey. Andy is one of the cagey ones.

When a mom cat or dog, or any other species for that matter has babies, it is imperative to ‘socialize’ the young. This is not invasive and the mom probably doesn’t mind in the least. It is just a matter of petting the babies several times a day. You can handle them from almost the first moment after their birth. And you should! Andy is a case in point. Gretchen, who came to the shelter as a stray, had obviously been well socialized before being abandoned. She arrived as a 3 – 4 week old kitten. But she has always been very outgoing and friendly. She has never met a stranger!

This brings me to Parta and feral cats in general.

Parta arrived at our Shelter via City of Whitehorse Bylaw Service. I’m not sure why they thought she was a nice cat because it was evident as soon as we took possession of her, that she was absolutely feral. Not long after she arrived, it was also evident that she was pregnant! We ended up housing her in a meeting room that had a sink and lots of room for her to get out of the way, once the babies were born. She would glare at staff as they did their work, and sneak up behind them while they filled her water bowl at the sink, smacking them on the backs of their legs. These surprise attacks resulted in a lot of mopping up water, but curiously, she never used her claws. She was very fond of tuna, so staff would set a small bowl of it at the edge of the room, and would use the time she was eating to handle the kittens. Parta was uncomfortable with this at first, but she eventually seemed to understand that we meant no harm to the babies. They grew very well socialized and were all adopted.

I was a little concerned about what to do with Parta after her kittens were gone. As she was then, she was not adoptable. She was very good with other cats though, and was a mother through and through. She took over all the motherless kittens at the shelter. I had a habit of stroking all the cats I came across as I made my way through the days at work and I didn’t think about it, really. One day, as I passed by one of the cat trees I reached into one of the cubbies to give Parta’s last remaining kitten a pat and without a thought, I gave Parta a cheek scratch. Just as I did it, and she snapped her head back, I realized my mistake. It was too late to escape and as I accepted that my hand was about to be shredded, Parta shocked me. She sniffed my fingers and offered me her cheek for another scratch! For many weeks, she would warily allow this familiarity only from me. Eventually she accepted certain staff members and one volunteer couple. I was delighted when the volunteers adopted both Parta and her boyfriend, Pilot.

Parta was my first experience with a feral cat. I have no idea what her life experience was but once she allowed us to touch her, we discovered a pellet under her skin so she certainly had a reason to be wary of humans. There were many feral cats that came in over the years I was there, and it seemed the best way to socialize them was to simply be near them and let their innate curiosity take over. Once they experience petting, their hedonistic nature does all the work.

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