Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Kitty = Old Kitty

June 28, 2008

After 24 days with the spastic New Kitty, we finally have some peace and quiet at home. I'm no longer saying "Don't!" or "Get down!" or "Noooooooo - not that vase!" or "Oh my god - anything but the coffee decanter." No longer do I hear things come crashing down in the next room. And no longer am I awakened several times a night by a 9-pound creature tearing across my Calvin Klein duvet cover and doing gymnastics on my bed. I've never had to yell at Baby. All this yelling was getting old fast.

Today New Kitty went to a new home. Baby and I couldn't take it anymore. She was just too rambunctious for us. Baby is so mellow and sweet. New Kitty, at 11 months old, is still a kitten. Even Baby had a reached a point where she just sat calmly and collectedly watching this cat run around like a chicken with its head cut off. Baby had a look that said, "My god, woman. Chill. I'm trying to relax here. Can't you just sit down for a minute?"

I had the same look. Frequently. So New Kitty is going to live with a couple in the Heights where I think she'll be happy. The woman works from home a lot, so she'll be getting a lot of attention. Now, don't get me wrong, New Kitty had her good qualities - like it was cute the way she turned her head sideways sometimes and did back-flips when playing by herself with her little rainbow puff balls (which she loved and I was constantly fishing out from under the furniture). She also liked to play fetch with those balls, as I learned a few nights ago. And she was like a slinky maneuvering the 3" clearance under the love seat (still not sure how she got her whole body under there).

Alas, enough was enough on the other antics.

I'm so relieved she is gone and I have my happy home back. June has been so hectic. In fact, I can't believe we're in the last week of this month. I had a trip, two overnight guests, a Yankees game, a sick kitty, a psycho kitty, and two major desktop trading outages at work that managed to consume a week's worth of work.

On Thursday the 12th I flew to Tidewater, Virginia to attend my 17-year-old nephew Jason's high school graduation. He is the first of my six nieces and nephews to graduate, so it was a special occasion for me. My mom and dad met us there, as did my sister Lisa from Tennessee. I'm so proud of my nephews - both Jason and his brother Matt have turned out to be interesting, well-read individuals with integrity. They're fun to talk to, as well - both are smart guys. (A shameless plug, but I really love my nephews!)

Here are Jason and I at his parents' house in Chespeake:

Here are my parents (and that's me at the buffet table, of course):

My sister Lisa:

My cool nephew Matt and the proud mom:

On Saturday, several of us took a ferry over to the Norfolk waterfront one day. A sign said, "Eat at Joe's," so we did but we have to recommend that you don't. Filthiest restaurant I've ever seen. My salad was crap, although I have to admit the hush puppies were good, and I think these two gals enjoyed their bucket of crab legs. That's my sister-in-law Jacqui on the right and her hysterical sister Joan Marie on the left:

Later that evening, Jacqui threw a great party, attended by the rowing crew team that she has worked so hard with for the past couple years. Since Jason, the crew coxswain, is leaving for the Marines in August, the group of 40-ish and 50-ish women that he led to many rowing victories was sad to see him go. And with the Navy transfering Jacqui to JAX, Florida, next month, it was a double-whammy for this close-knit team. A fascinating bunch. Jacqui's sister Joan Marie had me in stitches the rest of the time. I hadn't laughed that hard that much in a long time.

Love the pop-tart story, Joanie! Ha!

Anyway, I'm off to finally have a relaxing weekend (what's left of it). Ah.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kitties Update

June 11, 2008

See the naughty kitty up on the kitchen counter? Hmph. She'll learn. (Which in cat language means she'll learn to jump on the kitchen counter only when I'm away.)

I'm still unsure if the kitties will work out their anxieties and get along. There's no guarantee that'll happen, so I haven't picked a name for New Kitty.

Day before yesterday, during one of the many times that Baby chased down New Kitty and cornered her, I realized that Baby is literally scaring the pee out of New Kitty. It wasn't the first time that New Kitty ran into the bathroom and crouched behind the door. When I went in to check on her I realized she'd just squirted on the bathroom rug. I felt terrible that she'd been scared enough to momentarily lose control. Then I noticed another little yellow spot on the same rug in the same area, so I knew it wasn't the first time.

That's when I became concerned. I feel sorry for New Kitty. I'm quite sure that Baby is just playing with her, because she's not attacking her. But New Kitty doesn't know that. I'm sure she thinks she's being tormented.

It's quite possible that, in time, things will get better. This could still work out. So I'm going to give them another week together and see how it goes. If New Kitty is still scared out of her you-know-what, then I'll find her another home.

And then I'll go adopt another kitty and give it another try. Baby would probably do better with a male (as I suspected all along), and with a mellow cat. New Kitty is still a baby, so she's probably a bit too rambunctious for Baby's liking.

We'll see. This might all work out, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Meanwhile, here they are after Baby chased New Kitty under a piece of furniture:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Kitty Contention

June 8, 2008

It's amazing how this relationship between Kitty 3.0 and Kitty 4.0 changes every day, and sometimes more often than that. Today the tables have turned again as the balance of power has, once again, shifted.

Last night it was Baby who slept under the bed. When I got up this morning, that's where she was. Meanwhile, New Kitty was running around as if the apartment was her domain entirely.

This was after New Kitty kept me awake from about 3:00AM to 6:00AM with her antics. Supposedly she is 10 months old. If that's the case, then she is still a kitten, and she's certainly beginning to act more and more like one as she gets over her fear. She's all over everything! And I am forever retrieving her toys from under the furniture. Of course, that could also be the Maine Coon in her. They are forever kittens.

Baby is much more laid back.

A weird thing I noticed: By Day 2, New Kitty had started drinking from my night stand water cup. Every night. Just like Martin used to do. I couldn't believe it. That must be the Tabby in her. Only her head is much skinnier than Martin's, so she can get to the water level no matter how far down in the cup it is.

That I don't mind so much - I was used to having cat hairs in my iced water (in the old Martin days). But chewing on my big fake palm tree, that I mind! That must be the Coon in her because Madison used to do that, too. It's a fake plant, so I don't understand the appeal of this one tree to both of the Coons I've had. I'll just have to chalk it up to being more silly Coon-like behavior. . . .

So New Kitty is adapting well. She is much more brave now, as of her fifth evening with us. Earlier this afternoon and evening, Baby was giving New Kitty more space. I was so proud of her! In fact, when New Kitty went nuts with the spinning mouse toy, she was playing literally inches from Baby's head; Baby sat by nonchalantly while New Kitty dove time and again at that mouse.

Later when New Kitty, (who is something of a contortionist--to the point I find myself calling her Upside-down Kitty), raised a paw to the toy, Baby took it as an aggressive moved toward her. So Baby reared back and raised a paw right back at her, but that was as far as it went. New Kitty just wanted that mouse.

It's all talk with these two. Neither is overly aggressive - they just aren't sure what to do with one another yet.

I thought, "Wow, Baby has chilled out," right? Yeh, but not for long. I guess Baby got into her nocturnal play mood later on because she started chasing New Kitty down at every sighting and cornering her in the bathroom or closet. She seemed more interested in playing than attacking, so I think she meant nothing by it.

Anyway, the alpha kitty struggle goes back and forth, back and forth. At least we are making progress! And both of them are starting to eat more normally now. That's a relief.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Kitty Compatibility?

June 7, 2008

In an interesting turn of events last night, the two kitties both slept on my bed. That never would have happened with Madison and Martin - especially on their third night together.

I was sitting on the bed playing with New Kitty (she was sitting to my left) when suddenly Baby jumped up on the bed (on my right), and hissed in surprise at the presence of the other cat on her bed. Baby held her ground in the very spot where she'd landed on the bed as New Kitty stayed perfectly still and growled back at her. But Baby remained calm, laid down exactly where she was, and New Kitty did the same. Within moments, both had closed their eyes to snooze.

I think they were both on and off the bed all night. There was one quick hissing scuffle on the floor by my nightstand at some point in the morning.

They still hiss and growl at each other but things are definitely improving. I just wish they would both eat more. Baby's intake is half what it was before New Kitty arrived, and I'm only able to get New Kitty to eat once a day. It's better than nothing. No doubt it's all stress-related and will improve in time. If not, I'll have to take New Kitty to the vet sooner than I thought.

Today it was 92 degrees and humid here in New York! I mean incredibly humid. I put on my tank top and shorts and began my weekend trek to Manhattan at about 11:30 this morning. I was sweating buckets off my forehead before I was even halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was cramped with tourists as usual. I walked north through Soho and then west past Washington Square Park, and over to the Village. It's a great area - lots of neat little shops and beautiful architecture. I want to spend more time exploring that area.

I walked north and then east to Union Square where I was so hot and soaking that I went straight down into the subway to the R platform (I hate the R, so I'm not exactly sure why I went to it instead of the 4/5 - the pathetic R is always such a long wait). But there, hanging on the ceiling above the platform bench was a big round fan.

Never seen one of those in the sweltering subway before. It was heaven. As soon as the Q came, freeing up space on the bench, I sat on that bench and suddenly no longer cared how long the stupid R took to arrive because I was finally cooling off. It was a long but cool-ish wait.

The sophisticated lady sitting next to me on the train had traveled with her husband all the way from New Zealand to see their new grandbaby in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I love that about New York - every day there is an opportunity to meet someone from another place with their own story to tell.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Two Days with New Kitty

June 6, 2008

I haven't named Kitty 4.0 yet, so I'll just call her New Kitty for now. The shelter always doles out a name, and this one got "LadyBug," but I'm not so sure it fits her.

As of about 24 hours ago, the tables were turned. Baby was no longer as nonchalant as she'd been the first 24 hours of having a new cat living in her territory. She took to chasing down New Kitty at every sight of her. Poor New Kitty would run and hide behind the shoes in the closet, or dash under the bed.

So it's been like that at every meeting between the two girls now. Hissing, growling, and running. But no biting. This is good. But each time, I felt sorry for the poor New Kitty being terrorized by my little Mean Girl, so I'd coax her away from the scene of her crime.

The funny thing is, I don't think I really needed to intervene. Once Baby catches up to New Kitty, as I noticed tonight, she has no idea what to do. She just stops short. Silly girl. She's all bark and no bite. As I watched, I noticed that Baby chases New Kitty into a corner, stops, gets bored, turns around, and saunters away.

So no more interventions. I'm letting them continue with their mini-alpha kitty battle.

I'm not as worried as I was yesterday. This just might work out after all. If only I can get the new little gal to eat. She's all skin and bones (except for her fluffy tail). I know she's stressed out, and that's probably killed her appetite. But sooner or later she has got to get really hungry. Sooner or later she's bound to eat. I hope so.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Kitty Intro

June 5, 2008

So the girls (Kitty 3.0 and Kitty 4.0) have met. But their first couple meetings consisted of hissing and groaning. Baby is a bit less concerned about the stranger in her home than I expected her to be. She really seems more curious than anything. But New Kitty is scared of Baby. New home, new food, new litter box, new owner, new water bowl, new everything - and another cat, to top it all off.

Here they are, with Baby getting as close as possible to just look at New Kitty:

Baby stretches a tad closer, and New Kitty takes a step back:

Baby gives up and sets herself on the arm of the love seat, watching New Kitty. Somehow, with my back turned, New Kitty made it past Baby and under the love seat. She's been there ever since (going on an hour now). This was also where I found her hiding early this morning when I was (for the second time this week) awoken by a page from work. There isn't much space under there, but she manages to squeeze in.

Baby takes up watch as close as she can get, not moving a muscle until she gets bored with it all about 15 minutes later:

Eventually she abandoned her post and crawled up in my lap to be petted.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Kitty v.4.0

June 4, 2008

Deja vu. In spring 2006, when I lived in Maryland (ick) with my cat Martin (may my sweet boy rest in peace), I decided to try to get him a playmate. Some of you remember Madison (a.k.a. Kitty v.2.0).

That April, I adopted 7-year-old Madison, a gorgeous, gray Maine Coon, from the county shelter. I swear that I did everything I could at home to make it a smooth transition. I read all the articles about keeping the cats separated for x weeks, I used the methodology behind adapting each kitty slowly to the scent of the other, and then went to brief supervised visits, etc.

None of that crap worked. After three months of tremendous, time-consuming (and increasingly agonizing effort), I had to find Madison a new home. Of course, by then I'd become attached. But Martin wanted her to be as far removed from him as possible. He'd have nothing to do with the playful little gal who was invading his territory. Off she went.

When Martin passed away last October 16, I went out looking for a new kitty. My search for a new companion actually helped me survive those first few grief-stricken weeks. On November 1, I brought home Baby, a 5-year-old Tiffany/Chantilly from the NYC Animal Control Center in Manhattan.

Baby is nothing like Martin, except that she tends to be somewhat laid-back. Martin was beyond laid-back. He was downright lazy. And fat. And happy. A play session with the ever-mellow Martin might have lasted 45 seconds--on a good day. He just wasn't into mobility. Activities that didn't involve belly rubs, eating, or napping just didn't interest him much.

Baby, on the other hand, is more playful than Martin. God she loves to chase the laser beam, chew on her mouse toys, and bite my appendages when in "attack" mode. (Just play bites, mind you - completely harmless.)

Martin was a pillow cat. Baby is a lap cat. Martin wasn't big into being brushed. Baby goes nuts with when she is being brushed - she acts like she's in heaven.

Now that I've had Baby for over six months, I figure she's settled in enough to maybe get her a playmate. For the past few weeks I've searched and searched for the right young, male, declawed cat to be Baby's new daytime companion. The process is a pain in the butt because you always have to deal with kooks, disappointments, and misleading ads before finally locating the right pet to adopt.

Yesterday a new ad came up on Craigslist for a 10-month-old Maine Coon that was dropped off at the shelter on May 31. They called her "LadyBug" at the shelter, not knowing the name given her by the family that abandoned her to be euthanized. A nice woman (Jennifer), who rescues cats and volunteers at the Brooklyn shelter, took LadyBug home with her. I saw the ad before Jennifer even had a chance to post photos, and I called her from work this afternoon.

Before I knew it, I was headed to south Brooklyn on the unfamiliar M train and walking into a small apartment in an old row house inhabited by 22 cats. We were out of time, as the woman was ready to go to her volunteer job. So I quickly gave her $50, filled out the one-page form, and took LadyBug home in a cardboard carrier.

She's mostly been under the bed ever since. I put her in my bedroom with food and water, shut the door, and immediately walked the four or five blocks to the pet store where I bought a small litter box and extra litter. She came out from under the bed not long ago this evening and drank some of her water, rubbed up against me, explored a bit, played a bit with a toy on a string that belongs to Baby, and then went back under the bed.

Earlier I'd brought a little margarine-sized tub of catnip in and held it under the bed to coax her out. She came closer, sniffed it, and shoved her paw into the tub, spilling cat nip all over the floor under the bed! I guess she likes catnip! (Although she didn't fall for the trick and come out.)

She's a funny-looking cat. Her head and torso are pure Tabby. In fact, she's kind of skinny for Maine Coon. Her feet have a lot of Coon in them, but her tail - that's all Maine Coon, as is her Madison-like waddle. Her tail is so broad compared to her skinny body that it looks off-balance.

Ironically, her facial features are nearly identical to Martin's. In fact, Kitty 4.0 very much resembles a cross between Kitty 1.0 and Kitty 2.0! It's strange.

Baby is curious but not freaking out. She knows that there is another creature in the bedroom and has sat calmly outside the door in wait. For this evening, I'm trying to keep the routine as normal as possible for Baby and plan to keep them separated over night, which will require some juggling later, before bedtime.

So we'll see if Kitty 4.0 is good enough to keep. Backward-compatibility with Kitty 3.0 is a pre-requisite. Only time will tell. But this time I'm not making a big deal about it. I'll keep the two versions separated for one or two days then see what happens.

No way I'm dragging this out for three months! Let's see how it goes this week. . . .