Monday, October 25, 2010

Mainly About Tucker

Tucker, the new foster-cat, is doing very well. His depression ended after about five or six days. He started eating again, drinking water on his own, and after, I think, four days, he no longer had to be force-fed with a syringe. He stopped using his hiding spot behind the bookcase and was eager to leave the library and explore the apartment, and meet the other cats.

The reason he was kicked out of what had been his home for five years was his intermittent use of the litter-box. He would periodically relieve himself elsewhere. As I’ve mentioned before, this indicates either a physical problem - too many cats using the box, litter not being changed, a medical problem with the cat - or an emotional one - stress, principally. Tucker used the litter-box provided for him at my apartment right from the start. He did wet outside of it on two occasions, and in two very specific places. I had put down cat-beds for him to use, if he wanted. He never did, so far as I could tell, sleeping instead on the top perch of the cat-tree in the library, as Ren had done. Tucker did, however, wet on the cat-beds, first one, then, when that was removed, the other. Previous foster-cats had used them as little as had Ren, so their smell would have been on them as much (or as little) as on the mats I spread out on the floor when a new cat arrives - or on the books and furniture in the library, for that matter. Tucker was specific in using those cat-beds. Before and since, he has been scrupulous in utilising the litter-box.

Aside from his despondency, Tucker’s integration has probably been the easiest I’ve experienced with any of the foster-cats at my apartment. Ren doesn’t like him, but aside from the big boy’s long whining growls, the only trouble has occurred when Tucker jumped up on the bed to find Ren already there. Other than that, things are going smoothly.

In fact, Josie seems to have found an occasional playmate in the new boy. I’ve seen them chasing each other, one zooming through the nylon tunnel at the other, ambushing one another from around corners. It doesn’t happen all the time, but they are definitely playing. Josie seems to like smacking the nylon tunnel when Tucker is in it, then pursuing or being pursued by him when he emerges.

Tungsten doesn’t like Tucker, but I think it’s his presence to which she objects, rather than the cat himself. She will hiss and growl at him, but otherwise ignores him.

Tucker is a smart fellow, and learns quickly. He knows his dinner- and snack-times, when the soft food is served, and is impudently vocal when he thinks I’m taking too long. He seems to enjoy the odd bite of bread. One day, I found a piece of pumpkin loaf had been nibbled, the plastic wrap having first been torn away. I suspected Josie, my resident heavy-eater, or perhaps Tungsten, who will prowl the counters for snacks when I’m not looking. The next day, I heard a noise in the kitchen and, when I investigated, saw Tucker rush out. A loaf of bread, the bag ripped and a corner nibbled, was on the floor. Later, a sandwich I had set aside to take as a lunch to work had been sampled. I think I must buy a bread-box.

I’ve seen him eating soft food with his paw. I’ve observed cats dipping their furry toes into water, then licking the liquid off. Tungsten has done that when she’s come across a glass with just the last drops of milk at the bottom, and couldn’t reach them any other way. But scooping up food with a paw is a new one. It was suggested to me that Tucker may be the next step in evolution for cats. If I come home and find him sitting at the table with a knife and fork, I’ll know. If only I could teach Tungsten to use a napkin.

He has also started imitating Ren’s manner of snoozing on his back, spread-eagled. Not the most modest pose for sleeping; there were other habits I wish he could have picked up from the big boy... He also likes lying on his stomach, stretched out with his legs straight behind him. He reminds me of a bathing beauty on a beach.

Tucker is very friendly. His purr, which starts quickly, is deep, and he will spontaneously rub up against me. When he is feeling particularly amiable - or if soft food is being prepared - he will rub his face against my shoe, continuing in his action so that his whole body rolls over and flops onto my foot. He enjoys playing, though he seemed afraid of a simple stick at first, backing away from it. I encouraged him to swat at it, and his initial efforts were frightened little taps that were suited more to testing if a stove-top was hot. A week later, he was hitting that stick with force if it came near him, and pursuing it, trying to knock it down or capture it. Now, enjoys a good playing session and he will grab at the thongs of a ‘cat-o-nine-tails’, of which previously he was afraid.

I have let Tucker out of the library at night, and it has caused very few problems among the household. He wants to lie on the bed - it’s astonishing how quickly the various foster-cats have found the comfort of that place - but it’s already pretty crowded, and I don’t know which cat will want permanently to give up some of its space for him. Though I woke one morning to find all four on the bed, Tucker seems satisfied for the moment with the cushioned chair next the bed.

As for the others, they are doing well. Josie seems a little more active, what with running about with the new arrival. She could certainly stand to lose weight. Tungsten is more tolerant of, or perhaps simply indifferent to, this latest foster-cat than any other. I’m sure she considers herself above such comings and goings. I regret that she and Josie no longer chase each other, the latter seeming to prefer Tucker. The orange one is kindly - or perhaps I should say, not unkindly - disposed toward Ren’s presence, allowing him to sit or lie near her, which is quite the favour for her to bestow.

And Ren no longer immediately runs for the ‘roofless cave’ (a lidless box secured to the top of the kitchen cabinets) to hide whenever the door-buzzer sounds. He still scurries for it, but he is now waiting longer before running, and he descends to meet a visitor sooner than he used.

Things are going well with the three cats I have. And the fourth.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A New Fourth

Devon no longer resides with me. That little sausage of a cat has been adopted by a very nice young couple and is now living with two older female cats in a house. He's a fortunate animal to have been adopted, and this time, he's moved into what will be his permanent home.

A few hours after Devon left, Tucker arrived. That's how pressing the need is for foster-homes for cats. The PAW Society received a call about a cat that was not using his litter-box for his waste-extraction processes: he was wetting on floors. When a cat does that, there is always an explanation; in this case, it may have been due to stress that accompanied the arrival of a new baby. Cats are sensitive, and new people, new noises, new smells, new commotions, all affect the animal. With some work and patience, the problem can be resolved. But Tucker's owners had much to deal with and couldn't help him. So he was evicted, and has come to live with me.
Tucker is a stocky fellow, black and white, with tabby stripes just visible on his sides, like ribs, and under his tail. He has big eyes and a 'short' face, in that it seems a little pushed in.

Like all new foster-cats at my apartment, he lives in the library, isolated during the day, until he becomes accustomed to things. The first couple of days that he was with me, he squeaked and cried and came over to me, pushing at my hand to indicate that he wanted some petting. Then the truth of his situation set in: he was in a new home, and not going back to the one he'd known since kittenhood. He was excited by the novelty at first, but then he probably became lonesome, then despondent. He spent several days in a hiding spot, not eating. He had to be fed by syringe, given a medicated food to keep up his supply of nutrients and water. He is now coming round, and has nibbled some of his regular food.
It's been several days since his arrival and Tucker is doing better. I am still feeding him by syringe, as he is still only pecking at his food and not getting enough. I've no idea if he is drinking enough - or any - water, so he must get some of that forced into him too. The strange thing is that, except for not eating, he appears to be getting used to his new surroundings. He is more alert and active than he had been, wanting to come out and explore. I keep him in the library during the day and arrange his food in a way that will tell me if he's eaten any. I can also monitor his use of the litter-box. He's been leaving deposits there, so I know that he's getting more water than his body needs - which is better than the opposite.

It's ironic that the one big problem that he doesn't have is the one due to which he was evicted.

But I know that he, like the other cats at my place, loves to be combed. On the weekend, before he became discouraged, he stretched out on the small table, purring with every stroke as I combed him, and when I stopped, he got up and tapped me once on the head to get me started again. So he does have a history of having his whims indulged, like every loved pet.
My three are unsure about Tucker. The first time I let him out of the library, he explored a bit, but the others were snoozing at the time. The next day, I opened the library door and Ren and Josie established themselves at the threshold to stare at the newcomer. Tucker hissed and growled a little, perhaps to show that he would not be intimidated. I'm not sure if he convinced the others, since he didn't leave the room. Ren even started going into the library; I think he was trying to make friends, for he arched his back - Ren does that as if rubbing up against someone, but he doesn't actually make contact; nonetheless, it's a sign of amiability. Tucker thought he'd better stay on the defensive, however, and hissed. Ren, who is not a fighter, backed away.

So for now, I and the PAW Society are guardedly optimistic about the new boy. He's doing better but not well enough for our liking. We want to see him gobbling food like Josie, my Chubs. Well, maybe not eating that much...