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Clarence is a She. We decided on her name before we were sure of her sex! But we like the name and think it suits her, there are precedents in any case as in Sister Mary Clarence :-)
More Meme Cats
More Meme Cats
And so have we. For weeks we have been battling large numbers of jumping small black enemies on the six medium-to-large cats we seem to have now. The kitties - who are no longer small - are plagued with fleas and the three older ones likewise. They have been sprayed with solutions herbal and solutions chemical, they have been Spotted-On, dabbed, tabletted (under extreme duration usually and not always successfully) until they flee (har har) whenever we approach them ! and everything short of being bathed in lotions.
At the same time we have also sprayed all the nooks and crannies in the soft furnishings twice, washed all the bed linen and clothes several times too. Hoovered round the whole house at least once to remove all dust and eggs which is a major effort in this mansion ! We had already removed almost carpets to reduce dust (sorting out the ugly floorboards is a long term project but the concrete looks nice painted ...)
And still they come and after a few days relief we find the blasted black specs again all over the house. Getting immune to being bitten now, but I have had a couple of very itchy swellings. I know one favourite bed of the kitties outside that is going to be flea ridden for sure, so it needs clearing up. Some gardening is probably overdue anyway !!
... I can feel little black specs crawling all over me now ....
Pissy Cat is doing really well now. We had a couple more incidents the first week, then he was a really good cat and managed a whole week without peeing indoors. Unfortunately he had a relapse when the cat flap was accidentally left shut last week after we caught Fatso for his vet's appointment, but we can't really blame him for that. It probably helps quite a lot that he now has a bed behind the bathroom door, which he can retire to when it all gets too much. One night I found him sleeping next to the loo - which is not ideal when you need it in the middle of the night - so I persuaded him to move. John then made him up a bed behind the door from old towels. And now he has some territory of his own, in the form of the bathroom, which Madam never goes into. Since then he's been fine and reverted to his usual "Pest" moniker :-).
Mindyou he had a lucky escape from "training" yesterday (Sunday). We went to the pet superstore for less than an hour, and when we got back laden with kitten feeding accoutrements we found the whole house stank of extremely strong tom pee, even stronger than he usually manages. But we couldn't find any wet in his usual marking places, and fortunately for him I'd noticed him asleep upstairs before we went out, where he still was when we got back.
So we think this time it was the strange tabby who has also been hanging around, and who keeps provoking hissing matches and occasional cat-paw fights with Fatso through the cat flap. Fatso seems to think it his duty to sit just inside and guard it, and he's normally quite safe since it's usually set to exit only. But since Mitsi went missing we've left it on "in-and-out" so that she could get in if she turned up. I've found that tabby item in our hallway at least once before, so I suspect it could well have come inside and decided to mark a new bit of territory. Anyway we let the Pest off this time, and it seems to have been the right thing to do as it's not happened again.
Glad to say we think we're making good progress with feeding the kittens. It's fortunate they were nearly ready to start weaning anyway. The ginger one (the firstborn) took solid kitten-food on his first try, he can actually suck from a bottle instead of just chewing on it, and he's also got the hang of lapping milk from a cupped hand, though not from a bowl yet. The tabby one too can drink with gusto and is able to take small amounts of food off a jamjar lid (kitten-sized plate, you see). The black and white one, who was the last born, doesn't know what solid food is except that it's something you walk across on your way to see what your siblings are doing. But at least he/she can chew on a teat whilst you dribble milk into his mouth !
We're also having Fun With Toilet Training. Sammi found some useful pages on the net about bringing up kittens, and all weekend has been religiously rubbing their nether areas to make them wee. They're starting to be able to do it unaided now, insofar as we've found several kitten-sized lakes of pee on the wooden floor here and a damp patch on the living room carpet. Sammi managed to catch the tabby in the act and plonked it on the litter tray, whereupon it did us proud by making full use of the facilities. Their first solid output: that has to be a good, if already rather smelly, sign !
They are also getting quite active and steady on their legs. Considering that three days ago they could barely stand up, they can move pretty quickly now when they want to. We barricaded the three steps down to the cellar, but it can only be a matter of days before they discover claws are good for obstacle courses and get down there anyway. The three older cats are behaving predictably too. The black one wants to be friends as long as they don't chase him, and he even tried to give one of them a lick today; Fatso is curious but uncertain about these small squeaky new things; and the Pest is extremely nervous whenever he sees them and thinks they are all out to get him. Just wait until they start kitten-fighting with him ...
We had a hopeful bit of news late this afternoon as well. The Avon lady called round and said she'd seen a cat answering to Mitsi's description where she lives nearby. We do hope it's Mitsi but it was already getting dark when we heard, not to mention hailstorming heavily, but we'll be round there tomorrow for sure. It's not far as the crow flies and there is plenty of undergrowth there where a cat could lurk for some time. But the street layout is confusing and might be hard for a cat to fathom. With any luck she may have just wandered or been chased out of her familiar territory.
Sorry about the poor picture quality by the way, still getting used to digicam programs. It's not as good as I hoped in low light. There's also something very strange going on with the rotation flag which I will endeavour to sort out !
Nothing more we can say really. Mitsi went out yesterday, late afternoon or early evening, and hasn't come back :-( We've been round the neighbours and asked them to check she's not stuck in their sheds, and stapled notices to the nearby telegraph poles, but it's 24 hours now. Not the first time one of ours has gone missing for 24 hours so not completely worried, but it's darned awkward with the kittens not being weaned yet.
We're trying to feed the kits with kitten formula and a kitten bottle, but it's pretty hard. They're not used to it and they can't suck. At three and a half weeks, they are also now at the age when they can squirm around and spit the teat out quite effectively. At least they are all quite active and even pee-ing occasionally, so we must be getting enough milk down them. The books do say they only need a few ml per feed - just lots of feeds still. I thought my baby feeding days were over until today !
Oh yes. Did I mention the crypto-Siamese Pest has a Siamese yowl too ? And he is not happy about some strange cat in the garden now.
He's still pee-ing indoors every couple of days, by the way, in case you were curious. But at least that's better than last week.
Well we hope so, anyway. Junior was the runt of his litter and for a long time had the title of "ugliest cat in the world", his face was so crumpled and the black patches on his otherwise white body so oddly arranged. He's part Siamese, though the genes mostly expressed in his thin and tapering black tail - if it wasn't for that you wouldn't know. As such he's intelligent and actually a really nice little cat, and his face has filled out now that he is mature. But as a crypto-Siamese he's also quite sensitive and very demanding if you indulge him too much (his other, more usual, title was "Pest"). As a runt, he's always been on the bottom of the local cat pecking order.
Where we lived before was in a small close so our four or five cats ruled the area, and had very little competition. Two of them, the females, who had been used to being single cats beforehand, didn't move with us as they chose to go and find obliging pensioners with a ready can-opener, who would keep them in single pampered luxury. We even met one of the new cat-slaves when they came round to see whose cat had moved in with them.
Here, the remaining three boys are just a few of a large number of felines. Some of the competition were here first and had territory already - others we think are new themselves, but far more alpha-cat than our easy-going middle-aged batchelor crew. So there's been a lot of spraying in the garden, on the bins and by the the back door - anything which sticks out a bit basically - which we have to clean regularly otherwise ours (even though all neutered in childhood) start marking indoors to compensate.
Since Mitsi decided to move in, the former Pest has been struggling to keep his place in the cat tree. She was only six months old at the time and wandered around the house laying kitten ambushes for the staid older trio. They did not like this and generally treated her with suspicion and ran away from her (I said they were easy going). Junior, as the youngest, was especially unimpressed with being pounced on and fought with by a kitten - which might seem odd because it's only a year or so since he stopped trying to play-fight himself with his older part-siblings. But you can't fight time or nature, and to protect himself Junior became quite dominant towards the young female Mitsi, hissing and cuffing and even chasing her whenever their paths crossed.
Since Mitsi had her kittens last week, the Pest now has a bad case of jealousy. Apart from all the interest in her, as a nursing mum she gets extra food, a box by the radiator, and she has these odd small things which do nothing but squirm around and sound like squeaky toys all the time. He doesn't know what to do but he's anxious, so for the last week the house has stunk of male cat pee.
We weren't sure it was him though we had our suspicions, but we couldn't find who was doing it or where, as it was always done at night or other times when nobody was about. Even though they're all neutered and shouldn't be able to spray like a real tom, it's still so pungent that after a few hours diffusing, you can't really narrow down on it. It came to a head when male cat pee appeared on my desk sides and top yesterday (Mitsi's kitten box is also in the study so it was a clear territorial challenge to her). Last night I finally caught Pissy Cat in the act down in the cellar - so I rubbed his nose in it, gave him a comforting stroke, then threw him out, with the cat flap locked on "exit only". It may sound cruel but it's how you train real kittens so I hope it will work for our arrested-kittenhood adult boy.
Today I've been giving him extra fuss and attention to build up his confidence. Nothing like a bit of fuss from the real alpha male in the house to bolster your self-importance :-) And there has been no repetition yet today - it looks hopeful that we can train Pissy Cat out of this bad habit.
We've cleaned and covered up the smell with Jeyes Fluid, to stop him or the others trying to re-mark where they smell his old marks. "I love the smell of Jeyes Fluid in the morning, it smells like Freedom". I also rubbed some very very dilute mixture on my fingers and stroked him with it, on the back of the neck where he can't lick. So now he's marked with our scent, the clean disinfectant scent of the house collective. I expect we'll still have a bit more piss to clean up, but now we know who it is I hope we can solve it.
Next to tackle is his new found habit of dumping his, err, dumps on the lawn, rather than under the massive laurel bush which I tried to teach him when we moved in. After a winter unmown, it's now grass with an unhealthy covering of smelly cat dung. But one thing at a time otherwise he'll get too stressed again !
One very small cat, and three healthy looking kittens ! One ginger+white, one black+white and one tabby. She won't let me photograph them yet but stand by for a flood of newborn kitten photos. Clever cat :)
Who ? The cat ...