Cindy is Going to Her New Foster Home Tomorrow

Cindy, my sweet little all-gray hoarding house foster cat, is moving back to Cambridge, Massachusetts tomorrow. I am so excited for her and her future. I love her, but she can’t thrive here where there is a brooding large Wave-cat to chase her back into her carrier-cave all the time. This is one of the few times where I’ve been most excited to see a foster move on.

Cindy and her brother came to me on May 6, 2018. Cindy and her brother Roscoe (formerly Zinfandel and Rose–pronounced like the wine) were in a tiny carrier, huddled together in the carrier in their cage in the isolation room at the Cambridge PetSmart. I started blogging on them on my first blog, Digital (Word) Diaries, to keep a record of when they arrived and how they made progress. Roscoe became friendly first and we did separate them. Here I am six months and ten days after Cindy and Roscoe came to me. It’s a milestone.

Cindy is friendlier, but not all the way there yet. I’m hoping her new place is where she can blossom. Her brother was found by his new adopters to have cataracts at a young age and I am hoping she gets friendly enough to be examined for this as well.

Her foster-to-be from my former rescue group, Broken Tail Rescue, has one cat and a husband. Fewer cats and more people! Way to go for socialization! Also, if Cindy needs more vetting she won’t be up here in Maine any more, far away from the services BTR uses.

I’ll post an update on the trip and drop-off tomorrow.

Cindy Comes Out in the Evening

Cindy, my shy foster cat and the inspiration for this blog’s name, has been spending more time out like a non-shy cat and I love it. I mean, she still has her ruffled fur like she’s thinking about this and not sure if she likes it, but she makes it out into the living room and its accoutrements.

Last night I don’t know why I was so beat, but I treated myself to a browse of Instagram for as long as I wanted. This was on my bed-setup in the living room: a long story for another time. I was scrolling, scrolling, and I saw Cindy come out of her carrier-cave and walk about a bit. I petted her but had not a lot of energy for play. She ended up sitting in what I call the “turkey position” on the rug:

cindy ruffled fur sitting

cindy sitting living room resized

Tonight, she came out and played like crazy for a random three minutes. My young kitty Pearl, just a little older than Cindy, made it difficult when she pounced on her because seeing Cindy attacking the Cat Charmer was so exciting. (It’s pretty harmless, they’re almost friends, but Pearl still has a distinct advantage because she has no fear.)

All the cats calmed down then. I got some petting in and Cindy ended up on top of the latest carrier setup:

cindy on carrier

This is a cheap carrier from Broken Tail Rescue, my Massachusetts rescue and one I worked with for about a year and a half (Cindy is the remaining attachment). I put a big, folded, white towel in it and I thought it would be too cushy for Cindy. She’s indicated before that extra-cushy things feel odd to her and she doesn’t trust them. It is also covered with a thin white towel. She likes it! I think she likes the covering and privacy, so she has gotten used to the inner cushiness, which is great.

Seeing Cindy on TOP of the carrier dozing off, instead of INSIDE it as a carrier-cave was very sweet and warmed my heart.

Don’t get me wrong, she still hides most of the time and most of her day, and I still have to get up at 4am and say “no” to Wave who has decided this is the time to investigate her latest carrier-cave. But these last two days there has been this little ray of sunshine. This is good because she’s moving to a new foster home about 4.5 hours away on Saturday. She will need all the non-shy-cat behavior training she can get in order to adapt more quickly rather than slowly.

How I got Wave, and his Meeping and Meowing

Wave and Iris

Wave’s on the left; Iris on the right. He looks so innocent.

I love my cat Wave like I love some family members. Deep down. That means that on the surface, things can be pretty irritating sometimes.

Wave, like all my cats, is a foster fail. Back in 2015, my good friend from PALS Animal Life Savers http://www.palscats.org/ was not only the volunteer coordinator, but very subtly had christened me to foster cats. She had me over to hang out with her shy foster kittens and cuddle them. She gave me the books of my favorite behaviorist to this day, Pam Johnson-Bennett. She told me various things. At that time we were very into separating shy kittens so that the kitten sees the human as where it gets its emotional needs from, and bonds. At this point I think we took this too far.

She gave me a calico older kitten named Penny, and I cuddled her and she got friendly right away. She went to the PetSmart adoption center and was adopted out quickly. Then my friend passed Seven, whom I named Dakota Paws, to me. He wasn’t quite ready by the time he went to the adoption center. He got adopted but the last we heard he was afraid of the dog, even though we were told the dog was old and did not do much of anything. The adopter kept him in the basement which was ALLEGEDLY furnished…we called for updates but never heard anything after one surprise call during which we learned this information. We sent his one-year anniversary card. I will regret that adoption forever.

Next was Wave. I often think that Wave and Seven would have been a great pair to raise. Wave had the coloration of Seven aka Dakota Paws, a black and white tuxedo. He was longer and skinnier. He was VERY shy.

When I first got Wave, I lived with my boyfriend, and Wave never got to know him. He would hide every time he heard Clay climbing the stairs to the bedroom. The petting sessions at first weren’t petting sessions because I generally don’t socialize in crates and I couldn’t get over to him or get him over to me. He wasn’t food-motivated, and he stayed skinny. The worst luck was when I attempted to socialize with Gerber chicken baby food and it must have been out of date. He vomited all night and I had to take him to the vet in the morning. I was just a temp who didn’t get paid if she didn’t work, and had to commute an hour and a half besides that. I remember sitting the in chair at the vet’s office with no sleep, staring and stressing. I picked him up hydrated at the end of the day, though, and he wasn’t the only one who felt much better.

Wave was only sort of into playing, too. There was nothing he especially loved. Eventually, he did start coming within reach when I was sitting on the bed so I could pet him.

Then I got Tidbit, who was feral! But that’s another story.

The only thing Wave really liked to do was run around at 4am, either by himself, or chasing our adopted cats. He would incorporate a good hearty scratching at the litter box in the bedroom, so intense that litter would be on the floor in the morning, into his wee hours routine. And when he would run, he would meep. “Mmmmmmeeeeeep!” over and over. Stress city for me. Clay sleeps through anything.

I was hired permanently at the temp job, I moved closer, and there was some pushing to get Wave into the adoption center. Maybe I should have known better, but I didn’t like this. I moved with Wave, and by then it had been six months. I was not the amazing socializing machine I had thought I was! I adopted him because I thought at six months, you have to either fish or cut bait, as the expression goes. (There’s another one, “shit or get off the pot,” which I definitely thought to myself but have to put at least in parenthesis for crudeness.) Also, I didn’t want what happened to Dakota Paws to happen to him. I didn’t yet have the experience of having so many cats already that the foster cat stays a foster cat no matter how long that cat takes.

When I began to foster, Wave would meep at the door of the foster’s room most of the night. He was aggravated, egged on, by these cats’ existence. Usually it ended up being a female in the room, and each female wanted to be in her own space, and it was not good. One time he leaped a four-foot high cat door and all of a sudden I heard squalling. He has a small notch in his ear from Roxie the tortoiseshell.

He would also just generally walk around and meep. At night. And in the wee hours. And now he does it for Kitty-Kitter. Meeping, scratching at the door…then I open up the door and he’s deathly afraid of her! What a silly cat.

I’ve gotten to be an expert at quickly dividing a can of food at 4am mostly to shut Wave up. But I don’t like it. Giving cats food to shut them up is like plunking a kid in front of the TV for the same reason: most of us have done it, but you do it too much and it’s not healthy for them. I don’t have a solution right now, but I’m too concerned for his welfare to surrender him to…any rescue or shelter at all. See, I love him. Just deep down in my sleep-deprived soul.

 

 

Sigh!

Why do Cindy and Wave, her nemesis, have the ability to eat next to each other, but then it’s cat attack central all night long?

Wave and Cindy

Left: Cindy. Right: Wave. To explain a couple things in this picture…yes, there is a tissue on their cat mat. Apologies. Thankfully they are eating food instead of playing with the tissue and eating that instead, which I have seen start to happen in the past. I swear I’m cleaning it up right now! This is mat #2, which is in the living room. I have some files and computer equipment near it. The toothbrush head showing to the left is another failed Shy Cindy experiment….toothbrush taped to a back scratcher to pet her. This was from way back when she wouldn’t allow herself to be touched. Now it just sort of drifts around the living room floor and I can pet her on my own. Progress, in a way! I should probably dismantle it.

Broken Tail Rescue has asked another foster person today if she can take Cindy. I will be heading to Massachusetts on Friday and could take her. I haven’t heard, but will wait and see.

Cindy’s Progress

Cindy has been very sweet since being taken out of the playpen. She allowed a big cheek scratching again tonight–me reaching from behind and to the side of her and rubbing that extra-thick fur on her cheeks and massaging some of that scruff skin. With both hands! This got purrs.

She was out tonight a few more times than usual and a good portion of that, Wave was sleeping in the cat tower so she could act all squirmy and play a little and he didn’t pounce.

Kitty-Kitter yowls at all the other cats lately, so she is in the bedroom. It is either one thing or another lately.

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 Playpen

I now have the Zampa playpen up and running for shy Cindy. Today was the first day. I zipped her carrier–a soft dog crate type–up and moved her into the playpen by opening the mesh top. It seems to be working well. She has her carrier to retreat to if other cats try to smack the outside of the playpen. She seems confident in it, meaning she used her litter box, drank water, and ate without cringing. She just had her scoop of dry food for the day (a little less than 1/4 cup) and she did lift her head and look around every few minutes. Constant vigilence! But really, overall, she seems to like the playpen setup.

Nonetheless, I need to figure out how to play or pet her while she’s in there. I was hoping I could crawl inside. Realistically, I’d have to remove her box and then squeeze in, terrifying her I’m sure, and she’d bolt out the screen door. If she bolted while I was squeezing in, which is entirely possible, I’d likely get some scratches.

The funniest thing is that it took closing up the playpen and vaccuuming the whole living room for me to be inspired to take the playpen back out of the closet and really set it up for its intended purpose.

Here’s the setup. Not too exciting as you can’t really see her beautiful slate-gray fur through all the mesh:

Here’s an incident that happened tonight. The only one so far. Pearl REALLY wanted to get in. Pearl Messes with Cindy’s Playpen Setup

The Cat Playpen

I got my cat playpen today. Or dog playpen–pet playpen. This is one item in a string of items I’ve ordered to male multi-cat life more bearable here. The favored solution, owning my own house, is going to take a little more money and work.

I plan to use this for Cindy, but I don’t want to force her into it. She’s the most shy, so she didn’t go into it first–the most friendly did, in order of friendliness. Friendly is almost completely sinonymous with fearless.

Then I was disappointed that Cindy wasn’t in it already. Thus, I was the victim of a logical fallacy. I wanted her in one place at one time but wanted the cat to agree with me!

I put a carrier with the door open right in the middle of the playpen. Carriers are Cindy’s refuges and if she got an attack on the side wall of the playpen, she could retreat into the carrier. Well, Pearl went in and checked it out, then Noodle went in, and thinking it was the center of the universe and of course meant for her, settled down on the towel I had inside of the carrier and stayed there for quite some time.

Sorry for the clutter. Here’s Noodle in the carrier, barely visible:

Next, Iris, who can be pretty shy, entered the Center of The Universe and relaxed in there.

Wave, true to type, has not yet ventured into the playpen or the carrier.

Cindy just recently stepped in–I put a bowl with food in there. I still was reluctant to close the zipper on the door and scare her, so she came back out. So curious if she will want to go in overnight!

Kitty-Kitter update: she likes to play and wants to come out of the bathroom. She gets a vet visit tomorrow.

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 Update and Kitty-Kitter Update

Cindy has left the bedroom. I’ve never seen a cat hate one room so much! Saturday night I had my boyfriend, Clay, over, and some other people. At the end of the night, we retired to the bedroom after consuming a bunch of wine. Clay was a (fairly) new person for Cindy, so she stayed under the lowest dish of the cat tower while we talked and watched videos. As soon as he fell asleep, she was at the door meowing.

What do you want, Cindy? Do you want to go out there because you forgot that Wave is your nemesis and he’s out there? Or because you used to like to hang out in and on your carrier under the table at the side of the kitchen and watch me wash dishes?

If I played with her, she was okay. But then she’d start up again. I let her out Sunday, then repeated the process today when I went to work. She wanted to come right back out this evening. She went to the tallest cat tower, next to one of my skinny windows in the living room. She situated herself on the second tray. That seemed like a very good sign but then she went into the living room carrier aka hiding spot.

Here’s what happens with Cindy: playing, then afraid. The other cat is Iris.

Cindy’s small play session

Kitty-Kitter is here! She is in the bathroom. She did not like coming over from my neighbor’s porch to my house, but after an original meow festival in the bathroom with me she went right on my lap and it became a lovefest. The housecall vet is coming to check her out and give her the SNAP test (Felv/FIV/heartworm) on Thursday.

My neighbor met me halfway after I realized I still needed to get her bed from under my neighbor’s front porch. I specifically gave her that bed so she could get her smell in it and then it could come with her and she would have something familiar. Now she is in the bed most of the time. She is calm and quiet unless I do something near the bathroom door. Then she meows for affection time. I love her but I also have a potential home for her.

Here is a video and photo of her hanging out in the bathroom. The pink sweatshirt on the floor is what I put on my lap when I sit down and pet her on my lap.

Kitty-Kitter in her new bathroom digs

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