Friday, August 1, 2014

Smile, smile, smile ... it's Colleen again

Colleen's new favorite day spot ... won this at the BlogPaws conference!

For those of you keeping up with the Colleen saga, we hit another major milestone today.  She let me pet her as I was putting down her breakfast!

This is big. 

For several weeks now, she's been coming up on the bed at night and again in the morning - only when Lorenza is already present.  She'd let me scritch and pet - under the chin, behind the ears, shoulders, even loves the 'elevator butt' scratch.  I could run my hand down her full length (only one hand at a time, please).  I'd get a little purring, only at arm's length mind you, but she's getting braver every day.

Any other place in the house, she still stays at least 5-6 feet away from human contact. 

I've been working with her at each meal time.  Trying to get her to approach closer and closer.  She would almost reach in to sniff my hand, but then would back away until I put down her dish.  Then, this morning she walked directly up to me and let me pet her as I put down her breakfast!

Baby steps.  Lots of patience.  Wonder if one day she'll crawl up into my lap?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fat Cat ... Needs Advice

While I've taken some time off from the foster blog for a while, I've got a problem with my own cats and I'm looking for advice.

You might remember some of my past posts about my cat brood. 
There's Lorenza, the mother figure and calming influence.

Then came Colleen, terrified of life - but (you'll be happy to hear) is doing so much better now that we discovered all she needed some pain relief.
She was followed closely by Cotton, my own grumpy cat (who really wants to be an only cat).

And then there's Davey, my own true foster failure.

While Colleen has received a lion's share of attention lately, it's now Davey who is my current problem child.  Throughout my life, I've been lucky enough with cats that we've been able to feed wet food a couple of times a day, supplemented with dry food in a free-feeding bowl.  To date, none of my cats abused this practice and all maintained a healthy weight during their very, very long lives.

At our annual vet visit last fall, the girls had kept their girlish figures, but the boys had put on a few LBs.  Time to change things up.  I'd be happy to be able to stop free-feeding altogether, but I can't get all four cats to co-operate.

Lorenza is the only cat I've ever met that simply won't eat wet food.  Turns her nose up at every option offered.  She's a grazer.  She'll eat a couple of mouthfuls here, a couple there.  Until very recently, she wouldn't even eat if there was anyone else in the room (human or cat).  Somehow she still managed to keep a nice healthy weight and very shiny black coat that has little shedding.

Colleen now has to be medicated once a day.  Unless she's kept contained in a small room 24/7, she's still not at a point where she can be picked up and managed.  She's just starting to approach me (at arm's length) for scratching & petting - and then only at night when I'm lying down.  She's made amazing progress in her journey and I'm encouraged by her daily.  That said, the easiest way to medicate her is to add her dosage (it's in liquid form) to her nightly wet food.  Colleen rarely eats dry food.  She has to be fed in a separate part of the house (to keep the boys from raiding her dish).  Now that I can touch her daily, I can tell that she's been able to put on some weight (before the pain meds, she was skinny & boney from stress).  To keep her stress levels down and to encourage her to make further progress on her journey to trust humans, I have not recaptured her or subjected her to small quarters for a while.  Also, the foster kittens have been quartered in the space I would have used for Colleen.  It's a juggling act.

So, we have one girl who only eats dry food and one who only eats wet food.  Both with issues about space and companionship at mealtime ('don't touch me!' ... 'don't look at me!').

Then there's the boys.  Both of my gentlemen are larger cats.  Nothing petite about them.  Cotton came to me fairly young, but 'full-grown' (I inherited him from a cousin who passed).  She used to allow him to be an indoor-outdoor cat and I'm sure his adventures allowed him to burn off more calories than he does at my house.  Here, he's strictly indoors (and doesn't seem to mind one bit).  He did, however, begin to gain weight and once he was over 15 lbs, it was obvious that he needed some intervention.  He never looked ungainly, but just a little rounder than he needed to be.  Probably ought to tip the scales between 12-14 lbs.  He gets mighty cranky when he's hungry, so he did use those old hunting skills to seek out the other bowls I had hidden around the house for the girls.  My house has a very open floor plan, so it's really difficult to create separate spaces without actually closing them up in bedrooms or bathrooms.  Although he fights getting on the scale, I think the no-free-feeding has had a desired effect.  He appears a bit sleeker and has less wattle in his belly.  However, when I stopped free feeding dry food, he became more aggressive to the other cats.  Sometimes, it looks like he's trying to play - but he's just not good at it.  I don't think he had siblings long enough during his early life to learn how to play nicely.  Mostly, he just hisses & strikes out, usually at Davey (his go-to punching bag). 

Yes, Davey.  All this long-winded story comes down to him.  My tiny little blind bundle of fluff has grown into an 18 pound long-haired sweetie.  But I don't want him to turn into a 20 or 25 pound sweetie.  Now Davey is from some large cat breed - definitely got some Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat or something in those genes that makes him big-boned.  He's also a forager.  Being blind gives his nose an extra advantage and he can sniff out something edible anywhere in the house.  Also, being blind keeps his world pretty much down on the floor.  He never learned about 'up' unless he can climb (like up on a bed or chair).  Once he knows how high 'up' is on a surface, then he can gauge a jump.  Today, I found him snacking on the foster kitten chow.  I'd placed it up on the bathroom counter (where he's never been), but he found it by smell and climbed up there via the toilet seat.  Rascal.

So where are we?  4 cats - two will eat anything and everything they see; two are grazers and nibblers.  Open floorplan house.  3 of the 4 cats get freaked by small spaces or being 'trapped' behind closed doors.  Already using weight management foods and portion control, but requires a lot of human effort to get the grazers to eat sufficient amounts.

Does anyone else have feeding issues in a multi-cat household?  Any clever solutions?  Love to hear about them.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Colleen's doing better.  For that, I'm grateful.
  • There's less hissing (not much, but less).
  • There's been no striking or spitting for a few days now (yay!)
  • Her skin is SO much better, now that I can touch, pet, & scratch her multiple times a day.
  • Her eyes are less dilated (less scared).
  • Still some drooling in response to the meds, but that's OK.  Lorenza bears the brunt of that!
  • I've taken away the hiding tent, with no apparent ill effects.
  • Lorenza has started purring again every time I reach in to pet them.  Hopefully, that will rub off on Colleen soon.
The future's looking brighter for my girl.  For that, I'm grateful.

Lorenza (rear) and Colleen (front)
The flash still makes her blink ;)