Tag Archives: cats

Montgomery

In keeping with my new trend of putting off writing blog posts (and most other paperwork) here is a post I’ve been planning to write for four months! However, the last part of the post was not part of my original plan…

It is no secret that I love cats. I’ve written before about my view on having pets in a childcare home and about our adoption of a tiny little stray, the struggle to introduce the new cat, and the eventual loss of an old one. So, it should come as no surprise that when one of my childcare families fostered a momma cat and her kittens…I picked one.

To be honest, originally I just picked him out as my favourite one of the litter with no intention of actually adopting him but…it seems I have no self control *sigh*. I was a little apprehensive about bringing a new kitten into our home. Malta, our almost 14 year old cat is easily stressed and within seconds of the kitten being carried in the door she ran upstairs to vomit. She was not actually my biggest concern – she takes a bit of time to adjust to change but usually adapts without too much fuss.

Four year old Monkey (legal name Button) was the one I was a little worried about. Monkey is a not-so-small-anymore cat with a HUGE attitude. She has a tiny little squeaky mew but makes up for it with a loud deep snarly growl. She uses that growl to voice her opinion about everything. Her growl doesn’t always mean ‘NO! Leave me alone’ when someone tries to pet her, sometimes it is a demanding ‘Sit still, I want to sleep on your lap.’ and she doesn’t take no for an answer.

Not only did Monkey vehemently disapprove of Montgomery visiting, she also complained about any people who touched him or breathed the contaminated air around him. However, she is all noise no action so I figured she would eventually accept him – he was so small and adorable;

Monte & the toy cat the toddlers thought he needed – it looks just like him.

We did plan to keep Montgomery in quarantine for the first two weeks before letting the other cats ‘greet’ him. Rather than lock him away in a room by himself we decided the loft in the playroom would make a good temporary kennel. There I could easily observe him throughout the day and bring him out for supervised playtime with the children. Monte did not approve of the plan – it was less than one day before his first escape from quarantine and we soon discovered he could not be contained. Every new barrier we designed was treated as a challenge and quickly conquered.

Monte (far left) outside the loft he should be in.

Not only was it impossible to keep him IN the loft, we also couldn’t keep him OFF the loft. He climbed the support posts and ran laps around the OUTSIDE of the netting and over the top taunting me from the nine foot ceiling as I fretted about him falling and breaking his tiny little legs. We eventually managed to quarantine him on the main floor of the house – leave the older cats ‘safe’ space upstairs.

He loved toys – his toys, the children’s toys, my toys and things that were not toys.

Monte & the fish.

I have always taught the children to respect the cats’ space – don’t chase them, wait for them to come to you, be gentle and kind. Monte would have no part of that. I tried to keep him out of the playroom when I wasn’t able to directly supervise the toddler/cat interactions but he’d fly over the gate to play his favourite ‘come and get me’ game.

He demanded his own chair at quiet time – would knock them over and try to open them himself if I didn’t set one up for him.

The older cats cowered upstairs long after the two week quarantine. Even with food bribes, coaxing and cuddles they were reluctant to be near him. After all, he was quite terrifying.

Destructo Cat

Malta was the first to accept his presence – it took about four weeks. As long as he was being calm she would allow him to be near her. Sometimes when he was sleeping she would cuddle and bathe him. She tried to teach him to be polite but she would not tolerate any playful behaviour – she was far too old for that.

It took Monkey longer. Even after she started venturing downstairs into enemy territory she did not want him near. Monte however continued to push boundaries and considered her his favourite squeaky toy – poke its butt and it makes a funny noise.

Montgomery continued to find new things to play with – and destroy. He loved playing fetch with his mouse – it was the only way we could get out of the house without him trying to escape. Throw the mouse down the hall and rush out the door before he gets back. When we returned he’d be sitting, waiting by the door with the mouse in his mouth. We bought him dog toys after he tore up some cat toys.

Monte in a box with ‘Firefox’ the puppy tug toy.

We built him a floor to ceiling scratching post with shelves to sit on and hanging toys.

Monkey was starting to enjoy having a playful little brother – she doesn’t like toddlers and Malta doesn’t play (Monkey does chase and bully her sometimes). Still, in order to keep her ‘grumpy cat’ status Monkey wouldn’t admit she liked the little cat. If we caught her in the midst of a wrestling match or cuddle/bath time she’d immediately stop and run away growling like ‘Ewww, I acidentally got some of its fur on my tongue’. We were not fooled by the fake distaste. If she wanted to play and didn’t know where he was she would toss one of his toys around and wait for him to show up. She also liked playing tag games on the cat post.

Monkey looks grumpy because I caught her playing with Monte.

It was actually really nice to see Monkey playing now. After living with an old cat she had been getting very lazy – and ’round’.

There was one bothersome aspect of Montgomery’s that I initially blamed on ‘teething’ and I hoped he would outgrow it but instead it was getting worse. Monte likes to chew and eat things that are not food. He has chewed through just one power adapter cord but there are many other things he has chewed or eaten. Whenever I find items that have been chewed or cat barf with foreign objects in it I try to kitten proof more but he just moves on to chewing something else.

This is the part of the post I didn’t originally plan to write. In early December Monte stopped eating. He still begged a little when the other cats did but he walked away from any food he was given. He stopped playing, he stopped purring when we petted him, he didn’t like to be picked up or carried and he wouldn’t even drink water. We were worried he had an intestinal blockage so we took him to the vet.

After a hospital stay, IV fluids, pain meds, antibiotics, several x-rays, and some prescription food he seems to be back to normal now. Thankfully he didn’t need surgery. Monkey hated him for a few days after he returned but she has gotten over it and they play together again. Monte still eats things he shouldn’t *sigh*. The vet bill cost me more than if I had closed the daycare for two weeks and taken a vacation.

I’d rather have a cat than a vacation – even if he is a brat. Make better decisions Montgomery.

Cat Quiz

First, the question is…

‘Why would my cat, Monkeybutt, choose to jump the six foot span from the table to the kitchen counter?’

  1. She wanted to demonstrate her expert agility.
  2. Taking unnecessary risks is exhilarating.
  3. There was a shadow on the counter that could have been a crumb and she wanted to help clean up.
  4. It was the easiest/quickest way to clear off the counter in one swift motion.
  5. She is a brat (hence her name).
  6. The children told her the floor was lava.
  7. I told her to get off the table.
  8. All of the above.

 

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Mali

I was just a toddler when I got my first cat and officially became a ‘cat person’.  Since then there has been a cat in our home except for a few brief periods when circumstances did not allow us to have pets.  Like humans, each of the 16 cats that have been a part of my family has had a unique personality.  For me, of all those cats, Mali is probably the most memorable.

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Yes, she did eventually grow into those ears!

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She was always a very easy going cat – she didn’t just ‘tolerate’ the attention she received from the children – she really seemed to enjoy it. Dramatic play was fun, especially if she got to ‘nap’.

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She also enjoyed chasing games;

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And Hide & Seek;

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Even screen time got her attention;

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But above all else she loved to snuggle;

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After all the children had gone home she would follow me around waiting for me to sit down so she could curl up on my lap.  She could be a bit demanding – impatiently sitting by my chair, meowing to let me know I was taking to long to get there.  She forced me to sit and relax and she even made doing paperwork enjoyable.

At the end of every day she would follow me upstairs, burrow under the blankets and snuggle up against me as close as she could.  The sound of her purring would lull me to sleep.  However, this past summer she stopped coming to bed at night – instead she would stand guard at the bottom of the stairs to prevent Button (aka Monkey-Butt) from following.

Malta had begun to accept Button’s presence in the house and at times even seemed to enjoy their chasing games.  Mali’s dislike for the interloper had only increased and was sometimes almost an obsession – hunting and attacking the little cat whenever she could.

Mali continued to run to sit on my lap when I sat down but she often struggled to get comfortable.  She was unusually tense and rarely able to fully relax. Every noise or movement startled her – even sometimes when I would pet her. The vet prescribed some anxiety medication but it didn’t seem to help.

Then Mali began having seizures – most were very small but a couple of them rendered her unable to walk for half an hour.  Her mournful howl at the onset of each seizure was heart-wrenching.  The vet prescribed more medication but warned me that if the seizures were caused by a brain tumor the medication wouldn’t help.  The brain tumor could only be confirmed with an MRI and if we wanted that we would have to take her to the veterinary college in Saskatchewan.

The seizure meds made her drowsy – I had to wake her to give them to her and then she would sleep again.  She had to be coaxed to eat even a few pieces of food and rarely moved on her own.  I decided that I should make one last vet appointment for her 😦  Sadly, before I could take her to her to that appointment she had another seizure and we rushed her to the emergency veterinary hospital. She lay on my lap for the entire 40 minute trip – no noise or movement other than her laboured breathing. RIP Mali, I will miss you.

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May 20, 2006 – November 19, 2017

 

 

Old Cats, New Cat

Mali and Malta joined our family in July 2006 when they were just five weeks old;

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They were sisters and best friends and together adapted quickly to living in a busy childcare home.  They usually loved all the attention they got from the children but also knew they had quiet spaces to escape to when they had enough.  I often commented on their ‘synchronized sleeping’;

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Over the years they got bigger – too big actually – Malta carried a little extra weight but Mali was very overweight;

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They were put on a vet recommended diet and dropped down to a healthier weight.  They still sometimes beg for food from the children so ‘Don’t feed people food to the cats’ has been an important lesson for the children.  It has also resulted in many wonderful conversations about healthy diets for both children and cats.  Through it all Mali and Malta remained best friends and still enjoy playing with the children and having alone time too.

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Last winter when we first introduced a new cat into our family I was slightly concerned that the two bigger, bonded cats may pick on the little newbie.  Sure, Mali & Malta considered children, and even our old dog to be acceptable housemates but they had never lived with another cat.  I wasn’t certain how the ‘old’ cats would feel about another cat in the house but I optimistically envisioned that the old cats would teach the new cat all the house rules and everyone would live happily ever after.  I was wrong.

Although ‘Button’ was the name given to the tiny little cat at the humane society and is her official name on her license and other papers, she was soon renamed.  We call her ‘Monkey’ most of the time – sometimes ‘Monkey-Butt’ because she is a very mischievous, naughty, sometimes ornery little cat with a big attitude.

She taunts and torments the older cats.  She pushes boundaries – growling in protest when removed from places she shouldn’t be and then immediately returning – sitting there glaring as if to say ‘I go where I please, when I please and you can’t do anything about it’.  She opens doors and cupboards and has stolen whole sandwiches left unattended for just two seconds.  Her early life as a stray allowed her to perfect her hunting techniques and stealth mode – for the old cats there is no escape.

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Malta seems very afraid of Monkey – running/hiding from her and refusing to enter a room Monkey is in.  I wouldn’t say Monkey is mean – just more like a toddler who keeps poking you trying to get a reaction and then laughing.  Mali has become grumpy – like the angry old woman who yells ‘Get off my lawn!’ when the neighbourhhood children play there – Mali hisses and snarls and chases Monkey off counters and other places she thinks she shouldn’t be.  Places that include my lap – I have battle wounds from cat fights that have occurred on my lap.

Monkey is not longer the scrawny little stray she once was – she has become a little ‘chunky’.  Mali & Malta however have lost more weight than they ever did on their diet. I started giving them regular food instead of ‘light’ food and when they threw that up I gave them food for sensitive digestion.  They still had difficulty holding that down and were getting so thin that I was concerned about their health.

I took them to the vet and after a thorough exam and blood tests he ruled out any illnesses.  They are however very stressed and have developed stomach ulcers.  I now have to give them medication twice a day and they have prescription cat food.  I also have a plug-in diffuser that spreads peace & joy & love (cat pheromones) throughout my house.

Fingers crossed, so far there have been no more cat fights or vomit to clean up.  Mali & Malta seem more relaxed – we’ll return to the vet next month to see if they’ve managed to regain some of their lost weight.  Monkey (finishes licking all the dishes in the sink and leaves a trail of wet footprints on paperwork as she walks across my desk) hasn’t lost any attitude yet though.

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Little Miss Button

The search for our new cat began online, looking through listings of adoptable pets.  Our first trip to the Winnipeg Humane Society was ‘just to look’ but there was one in particular – named ‘Button’ that I was hoping to see.  However, when we arrived at her kennel there was a ‘Hold’ sign – someone else liked her too.  We checked out all the kennels and played with many cats but as planned we were just looking.

Over the next week we visited a few satellite locations and I did more online searching.  I noticed that Button was still listed as adoptable so the following weekend we went back to the Humane Society. There was no longer a hold on Button.  It took a long time to coax her out of the back corner of her cage.  She was so timid – maybe too timid for a busy home like ours but eventually she snuggled her scrawny little body in my arms and purred. I put her back in her kennel and we looked at some other cats.  I also revisited Button and coaxed her out for another snuggle.

There were a couple of cats that we were interested in so we met with an adoption counselor to get some more information about them.  After learning more about their background we  decided they were not a good fit for us.  I asked about Button…they didn’t know much.  She was about nine months old.  She was found living under a porch in the freezing cold.  She had ear mites but had been treated and her ears were fine now.  She had been spayed before being put up for adoption.  She was very underweight and they were trying to get her to eat more.

So….we adopted her.

They had recommended that we should keep her in quarantine for at least a week – to adjust to us and hopefully gain some weight before meeting our other cats and the children.  We kept her upstairs in my son’s room.  She was so very happy all the time – purring and climbing all over us.  It was impossible to get a decent picture of her because she was always moving or wrapping herself around my neck.

At first I had to sit beside her food dish to get her to eat.  She would devour the food in her bowl but if I walked away before she finished eating then she would follow – pressing her little body against my leg like “Please don’t leave me”.  By the end of the week she was much more relaxed and putting on some weight – her spine and hip bones were not nearly as pronounced as they had been.

Over the weekend we introduced her to Mali and Malta – they do NOT love her but they haven’t been terribly mean.  It is interesting that it seems like Button thinks these other cats are in HER home.  Most of the disputes between them are started by Button.

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I joke about her ‘angry’ face because in almost every picture I take she looks a little angry.

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It doesn’t matter how happy, relaxed or content she is she still ends up making that face when I take the picture.

I guess she must have just been unhappy in the confines of her kennel at the Humane Society because here she is not a timid cat at all.  In fact she likes to be the centre of attention – as long as she doesn’t have to hold still for too long. (angry face)

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She likes to be where the action is – and she loves people.  All people.  Any sized people – even babies.  No cats.

She helps when we get dressed to go outside; (angry face)

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She watches the children through the playroom window because she hasn’t yet figured out how to get in there when the gate is shut;

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Is there a cat in this picture?

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Yes, she’s playing one of her favourite games – attack the toys the children put under the gate.

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Welcome home Little Miss Button – we look forward to getting to know you.

Liking the Space

It seems like I’ve been neglecting my blog.  Truth is, I’m feeling a little overextended at the moment.  Meetings, editing, writing presentations, paperwork, and other commitments have been eating up all my ‘spare’ time.

The 11 hours/day that I spend with the children has become my ‘quiet’ time.  Right now I’m supposed to be working on a slideshow presentation that I need to finish for tomorrow so I really shouldn’t be ‘wasting’ time playing around here but….

I wanted to share some of our experiences as we try out our newly renovated spaces.  There have been (mostly) positives and (a few) negatives from my perspective and the children’s too.

I haven’t really got the time to do this now so I’m just going to post a few pictures for now.  Here is a ‘magic’ tower;

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The blanket was successfully removed and replaced several times without knocking over the impressive structure hidden under it;

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In the nature area there has been a lot of interest in our new tree pieces – we now have several different sizes to choose from.  Here are some of the smaller ones that were being used to make a fence;

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The new art spaces have been popular too – for the preschoolers;

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And the school-age children too;

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Even the cats have been checking out the new spaces.  Malta has decided that the nap area divider is her property;

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However, there have been a few disputes about that.  Both cats have also claimed that the carpet under my computer chair belongs to them;

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I continually have to decide whether the paperwork is more important than disturbing the cats.  Maybe it is their way of telling me to go outside and play instead 🙂

Hopefully I’ll have time to write a ‘real’ post after things slow down a little.  Until then, I’ve got more work to do….

Fat Cat

Our cats Mali and Malta are six years old.  They are sisters but they have very different personalities.  Most people tell them apart by their colour – Mali is a orange/cream colour and Malta is a tortoiseshell.  Mali has another distinguishing feature that people comment on.  Mali is overweight.

She wasn’t always.  When she was two she was slim;

When she first began gaining weight I was unsure why – I fed both cats the same type and amount of food but only Mali was overweight.  Through observation I discovered that personality played a part too.

Malta nibbles her food, chewing each piece thoroughly and waiting a few seconds before selecting another piece.  Malta is picky about what she eats and the setting must be just right too.  If there is any sound or motion that disturbs her she quits eating and will not return.

Mali attacks food with fervour –  often consuming half the food in one bite and she doesn’t chew.  There is nothing that distracts her from eating.  So, I discovered that she really was eating more than her sister beause she was eating the food left in Malta’s abandoned dish.

I started feeding them separately and ensuring that Malta’s uneaten food was promptly removed.  The veterinarian also recommended a diet cat food.

It has been nearly three years since then and Mali has lost some weight but she still weighs more than she should.  The children like to see if they can lift her.

Recently, I decided to address not just the amount and type of food that she was eating but also how quickly she was eating.  I bought her this fancy food dish with several levels and she really has to work to get her food.

Moving each piece through the maze until it reaches the dish below.

Sometimes Malta likes to watch but the dish is far too frightening for her to try to get any food from it;

We had to put a cover over the top because sometimes Mali ‘cheats’ and just stands up to eat the food at the top.

It now takes Mali about 15 minutes to finish a meal instead of the mere seconds it used to take her.  Diet and exercise together.  I’m looking forward to her next visit to the veterinarian.