Cindy Continues Progress…and a Funny Video

Playtime! I’ve been away for a weekend but Cindy seems emboldened even more just as long as Wave isn’t too close. My neighbor, Kitty-Kitter’s former caretaker, was my cat sitter and she did a wonderful job. I can always tell by the cats’ attitudes when I return.

Here is a video featuring Pearl, my small black one-year-old female, Noodle, the bigger black-and-white girl who is only seen once, and Cindy, in gorgeous gray. You can see Cindy isn’t as involved as Pearl, but is stretching and is interested. Play is so important for cats to stretch their mental and physical muscles. I gotta say I don’t always feel like doing it but often they enjoy interrupting any home yoga sessions. I give in and it turns into playing with the cats.

Playpen Fail! – Again

Cindy was so alone in that playpen. Some playpen! She wasn’t even playing. I mean, luckily she was not getting chased and beat up by my resident cats, but she was being examined from the outside in an annoying way, and she just stayed in that good ol’ carrier.

I didn’t know how to reach in and pet her. I’m too big to go fold myself in there and try to play with her. So I took her out, in her carrier. The thinking is, I can put her back in if I like. But I think tonight I will sleep next to her carrier as usual, in the living room.

Taking her out was rewarding. She came out of her carrier after a little while and she played and did some washing and looked comfortable. Even though I wasn’t able to pet her yesterday due to the playpen issue–cats like her are afraid of hands coming in to them and I didn’t want to do that–she remembered pets today and I got in tons! I got to scratch her cheek fur and use both hands, and at one point I had one hand on her belly and the other on her back. Belly touching is the preliminary to picking up!

She also played a whole bunch. I keep trying to get a video of this, but all I got was washing: Cindy Washing Intensely

(Note, there are speaker wires next to her, but the speakers are entirely unplugged. The green thing is a cat tunnel.)

Of course, I don’t want to be too positive. I am pretty angry at every other cat in the apartment. Even Kitty-Kitter, the stray I took in from down the road, ran at her and even when she was already in her carrier, swatted her. What is it about this small, shy cat that makes everyone want to bully her?

She came with her brother. Because she was with one partner cat for her entire early life, is that why other cats reject her? Or, as I have been thinking, does she just throw off fearful pheromones? I found the Pet Remedy to in the short run, not be incredibly helpful, and now I’ve misplaced it. Yes, perhaps I am not even organized enough to be a cat parent!

Tonight I had a vision of how friendly I could get Cindy to be. I could even get her used to being moved in her carrier, if I just move it into the playpen and back. But there are so many obstacles–five of them exact. Do the math. Five cats. Two rooms: four if you count kitchen and bath, but only one door between them.

Aside: what should I call the playpen now? The corral?

Cindy’s Good Day

I still don’t know what may have happened during the daytime. I refused to close Wave in the small bedroom even though he goes on the cat tower in there.

Nonetheless, I got to come home at lunchtime today, and Cindy was out. I always feel that thrill of excitement when I see her doing normal cat things, like jumping up on the big ornate footstool I keep by the front window for the cats. I took a picture, but it’s not as exciting to look at as what I was feeling.

Cindy at Lunch small

This evening, I came home and Wave was still mostly sleeping. I started doing yoga–oh, my aching left shoulder from my non-ergonomic work desk setup–and the friendly cats love yoga. So does Cindy! She came out of her carrier three separate times and I was able to pet her. She rolled over and started rubbing her back on the rug, like a nut. I always try to film this but it doesn’t quite ever look as dramatic. The action of grabbing for the phone to film puts her on alert. So here’s a close-up still photo anyway.

Cindy with Mat

She wears a concerned expression most of the time. If I was her, I would be concerned too! Not Wave, but my fun, lithe, affectionate little black shorthair Pearl was scaring her today. What is up with this?! I got a great comment from a writer at Katzenworld about using Pet Remedy to help with introductions and I eagerly await a bottle I ordered in the mail.

Cindy’s getting harassed by a small cat, not a big cat. And not only that small cat, but her big nemesis, Wave, forgot about her enough today that she did come out to play. She has an indomitable spirit!

Cindy – Attacked and Almost Friendly

Two mornings ago, I woke up and opened my eyes and looked across the room, and there was Cindy staring at me. Yesterday morning, I opened my eyes and she was right next to the bed and staring at me. This morning, I heard her meow-complaint from the kitchen and called to her. She came up. I played with the long wand–the former handle of the DaBird–off the edge of the bed and when I “shushed” my finger and thumb together, she came to me. I wanted to pet her but reaching out from the side of the bed is too scary for her.

I dozed off and got up again and played with her and was able to pet her. She ran to the shushing sound of my thumb and finger several times. She will sniff my hand, avoid it with her head, and then present her back for pets. It’s Stage 2 of accepting pets. And she purrs.

Yet, Wave got his claws into her again last night. There was a lot going on: I was catching up on podcasts, doing laundry, doing dishes, going back and forth. I was in the bedroom when I heard the sounds start up. After shouting “No!” twice, Wave backed off and moved to a different room entirely. Cindy might go to a foster in Massachusetts with Broken Tail Rescue, soon. She will take the spot of a shy kitten named Mustard, when Mustard gets adopted. (He’s from a litter called the Condiment Kittens.)

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (or vice versa)

Cindy lets me pet her fairly easily now! It’s amazing! At the same time, Wave is trying to dominate her and rushed to attack her once per day for the last two days.

I’ve been playing every night with Cindy, and the attempts to pet during play are paying off. Her muscle memory seems to expect it now. She doesn’t like it when she sees my hand–she will give it the “hairy eyeball”–a big rolled eye watching it because she is SO SUSPICIOUS. Yet, the hand that pets, she almost invites. She trots by me and sometimes even if she’s chasing a toy, she stops, hesitates in front of me. It’s so cute. When I do reach out softly and sneak my hand up to pet her back, she arches her back and she lets me follow through by surrounding her tail with my hand and petting till the end. If I put my hand too close to her neck, she twists her neck, flipping her head back and forth. I guess my fingers feel weird on her shoulders? I can pet her repeatedly.

Other times during our play-pet sessions, I do one or two back pets then move my fingers up to her cheek and scritch the extra-thick cheek fur and the side of her neck. She loves this and she leans into it so much that if I’m not careful she will plop down on the ground, my hand will shift, she will notice it’s a hand, and flip back up onto all four feet ungracefully and bolt. She only bolts a little distance now, but nonetheless I don’t want this to happen. I can also massage the scruff of her neck and this makes her purr.

My ambitious goal is to be able to pick her up and to have her comfortable with other people. It may be ambitious for her, but this is simply the way that cats that relate well to humans are, so it is necessary, I think. I have two cats at home I took to socialize and never socialized completely. Those are the besties–and the bullies–Iris and Wave. Right now I’m frustrated with both of them. It’s been illustrated to me how full socialization is so important.

I had not seen Wave attack Cindy for days. I was relieved. I could stop posting about this terrible thing on the blog and I could safely keep Cindy until she was comfortable with people. No such luck, it turns out. The night before last, Cindy was out in the kitchen, staring at something: maybe the strap hanging off of my backpack? She was mesmerized by whatever it was and clearly thinking whether to attack or run. It is this kind of intense instinctual behavior that sets Wave off. It also sets him off when she is playing like a nut. I noticed Wave was staring hard in her direction–the precursor of an attack. I tried waving a toy back and forth in front of his face to break his line of vision. No luck. Then I acted as if I didn’t care about either of them and was just going to do my thing. This seemed to work. Wave’s eyes did not seem so bright or focused.

I was wrong. I heard a quick thump and a few scuffling sounds, but I knew what it was. They hadn’t even gotten to their screeching yet. I hustled around the table and there again was that tableau with Wave basically surrounding Cindy and holding on to her, with an added twist–he was biting her neck. This is a dominance behavior. Ouch!!! Only then, a couple screeches started to come from one or the other of them. Always good for the neighbors.

I yelled, “Hey, hey! No! No!” and poked Wave with my foot. I’m sure the whole building heard that too. He ran off. He is a neutered male but I always wonder if the vet missed something because of Wave’s behavior. Not only does he keep wanting to dominate this tiny female, but he has been meowing at night all week. Big, long meows.

Last night I didn’t expect the attack at all. But again, we were all in the kitchen. Again, I heard a few scuffling sounds I did not like, and with my suspicions I looked around the table immediately. The two were right in front of her carrier with him not embedding hisclaws in her too hard, only holding on to her shoulders with his front claws, but very definitely biting her neck. I could see the skin pulled up. “NO!” I yelled–and Wave stopped and ran away! Can you believe it? He knows the word No! now.

It’s great that he knows the word No and listened to me, but I need him to KNOW not to start. Wave seems full of angst these days. The cherry on top is that after a night of meows, Iris, his best friend, imitated him and started meowing this morning.

One step forward, two steps back. Or is the progress with Cindy two steps forward?

These pictures were taken when I came home work one day. She was out and having a relaxed moment on a chair, just enjoying the sun like any other cat–almost as if you could walk right up to her and pet her!


Cindy Goes Back to Her Old Self

Tonight I tried the petting during play with Cindy and she was nowhere near as up for it as last night. I had the yoga mat out in the kitchen, the same toys, but I got my hand batted at multiple times! I finally was able to sneak up on her and get a few pets in for which she stayed, but not 12. More like three satisfying pets and two raceaways.

My guess is that I was overeager. She can see my hand coming because I’m moving it faster, expecting too much.

In addition to that, she is SO into playing. She was playing with the rug alone, by itself, today, hopping and jumping on it and sinking her claws into it.

A Good Night – Little Successes with Cindy

Tonight, Cindy looked at my hand and didn’t run away. Oh, sure, she ran away from it plenty of other times tonight, but there was that one time I showed her the hand and she maybe, just maybe equated it with petting and did not run away. I petted her twice on her back after that, and she walked away a little bit, but she did not bolt, and the whole reaction–from both of us–was very mellow. That’s just what I wanted! Petting is normal–that’s what I want her to learn. Normal in a good, kind, home and house sort of way.

Cindy moved to the kitchen about a couple weeks ago, give or take a week–this timing is not clear since I was taking a short blogging break. I was pretty unhappy with it because I used to lie down next to her every night in the spare room, formerly the bedroom. She would be in her green soft carrier and I’d be pretty close and could deflect a bully like Wave almost every time, unless it was a real sneak attack. Due to the bullying, she ran and just switched like that! to a carrier under the side table in the kitchen.

Ugh, I thought, I don’t want to lay down next to a carrier in the kitchen. I spent several nights sleeping on the bed feeling luxurious but missing Cindy. Then I realized how much time was passing. I put a small meditation cushion on the kitchen floor–something I’ve never really used for its intended purpose–and sat on it to play with Cindy. I noticed, as in my last post, that she was gaining courage in the kitchen, going to the window and also waiting out in the kitchen for her food when I got home. Then I noticed she was frolicky in the morning and I had a play session with her today on a yoga mat, in the kitchen. And I came home at lunch and had another short play session with the Cat Charmer. Tonight I started play sessions with the Cat Charmer and with the Cat Dancer and was somewhat aggressive in my pursuit of getting some pets on her back.

It worked! In the space of about twenty minutes she went from running from the hand to purring when she got sneak pets without visuals, to waiting for a few play motions and then for pets (still without seeing the hand). She made a couple swats at my hand when I tried to show it at first, but stood still. Finally, that moment. A gentle sniff of the hand and then I got my two pets in.

One day she will be able to be picked up. I gotta believe this!

Progress with Cindy

Despite the harassment by Wave and Iris, Cindy has has some progress in the last few weeks. As far back as two weeks ago, Cindy allowed me to pet her ten times in a row! This happened while playing. She is not very food-motivated so play is the way I try to get close enough to touch her. She starts purring when I pet her! She doesn’t allow this every day, though.

Cindy also is starting to make friends with my smallest and youngest of cats, Pearl. Pearl chases Cindy and bats at her, same as the other kids in the schoolyard here, but she does so gently. Cindy is the most submissive cat I have seen, and she does not fight back and usually goes to her carrier retreat, the latest carrier retreat being in the kitchen. However, Pearl, as soon as she gets to Cindy, basically just throws an arm over her and then lets go, and Cindy looks back and thinks something like, “huh, that’s not a problem,” and stays out.

They both like to play with the same toys–the Cat Charmer felt rainbow ribbon and the Cat Dancer wire with bobble-ing pieces of rolled-up cardboard on it. Today I was playing in the kitchen with the Cat Charmer and Cindy was going nuts. She barely needs me to move it. She looks at it, and pops up in the air, twisting, going a little sideways, with her tail heading in the opposite direction, and drops down batting at it as if it had been trying to combat her all this time.

The cats have been calm this weekend because I’ve been lying around with them–I have a cold.

Here is a picture of Pearl and Cindy next to each other in the window–they’re noticing me so they look a little suspicious, especially Pearl.

Pearl cindy 2