Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Belated Feral Cat Day!

According to my Honey Badger Calendar, yesterday was Feral Cat Day.
(And heartworm day!)
So, it seems like an appropriate time for an update on my darling cat. As you know, my sweet boy has had some struggles with his FLUTD.

Lately, though, he's been doing great.  A few months ago, we started Operation Litter Box. I bought 2 additional litter boxes and a couple different kinds of litter. I put the boxes in the places he liked to pee most. (I finally gave in and figured it was better to have litter boxes on my carpet than to have to regularly clean up pee.) Soth hated the pine litter I bought, so that one was out.  But he loves the recycled paper litter.  He's been using his litter box regularly--a few times he's gone to pee in the bathtub and then thought better of it and ran out to one of his new litter boxes instead. The only time he still pees on things is if I have junk mail piled up waiting to be sorted. Maybe he does have a sense of humor.

Soth has also become king of the castle.  Not that he wasn't ruling this place before, but now he has the tower to prove it.

A about a month and a half ago, he developed a fascination with my closet shelves. He's always had access to the closet because the doors slide and he can open them on his own. So it's just easier to keep the door open for him all the time. But then he discovered that there was a whole new world on top of my shelves where I couldn't reach him. Also, he was being dangerous in his attempts to get up there.

He'd stand on the back of a ROCKING chair and leap for the shelf. I'd try to keep him from jumping, but as soon as I'd leave the bedroom or go to sleep, he'd leap. Sometimes he'd make it easily. Other times, he'd just get the shelf with his front paws, hit the hangers with his back, and scramble to stay on the shelf. A couple times he fell.
So I tried the cheap method of dealing with him. I pushed the chair up against the closed closet doors so that he couldn't pull them open and get on the shelf. He would still paw at the doors. And every time I wanted clothes or shoes, I had to move the chair. Adding extra steps to my morning getting ready routine is never ideal. So, I moved his cat tower from the living room into the bedroom.
This worked better for us. I could get to the closet more easily and made his leap to the shelf a little safer.  But it still wasn't ideal. He missed the shelf a couple times.

So, the King got a brand new tower that is taller than I am and allows him to step from the top tier of the tower to the shelf.
I put this together on my own!

You may notice that in the first few pictures, there were a lot of blankets on this shelf. Somebody decided he didn't like them there and he pushed them off the shelf. I haven't found a good place to store them, and until I do, they've taken over my chair. And my shelf has turned into a cat kingdom. His purr pad is on top of the box, his fish bed is in the cubby, and he's happy as a lark.

In addition to turning into the king of the closet, my bunny cat has proven his skills as a ninja assassin. Yesterday, I had slept really well and sweet Soth came and curled up on my tummy a few minutes before the alarm went off and purred and purred. I was so happy that he was being snuggly on a cold morning. For a brief moment, I thought it was strange that he had been good enough to not get shut out of the bedroom in the middle of the night and then the alarm went off, I pressed snooze, and I closed my eyes for another few minutes.

Then I turned on the lights when the alarm went off again. I noticed something on the carpet. It looked like a fur ball. But it's a strange amount of fluff for Barley to have shed at this time of year when she should be bulking up for the winter. I put on my glasses and quickly realized it was a mouse!

My little cat had killed a mouse.

I hate mice. I used to love them when they were cute and sang about the streets of America being paved with cheese and being under the same pale moonlight as their lost relatives. Then a mouse came into my dorm room in college and it stole a piece of my chocolate. Mice became my nemeses. I didn't see another mouse until I lived in New Mexico where mice carry the plague.

To me, mice are worse that roaches. (I grew up in the south, so roaches are a normal part of every day life.) Mice are germy, dirty little vermin.

I also don't deal with dead things. I skipped the burial for my first dog. I never saw one of my parakeets when they were dead (thank you, Mom!). I have never personally flushed a fish down the toilet. I had no idea how to deal with this dead mouse. I ended up getting my little garden trowel and flipping the mouse into a box, so I could get it to the dumpster without seeing it or having to touch it. But the mouse was lighter than I thought and when I first tried to flip it into the box, it flew across the room and landed in another spot of the carpet. I screamed. (Sorry, neighbors.) Eventually, I got it into the box and into the dumpster.

But I was terrified the rest of the day. I had to put on music to go to sleep so that I wouldn't think I was hearing mouse noises. I had to steam clean my bedroom carpet to get rid of dead mouse germs. This weekend I will be pulling every single thing out of my pantry to make sure that there's no mouse-nibbled boxes.

He's so proud of himself.
I'm baffled at how this could have happened. Every night, he wakes me up knocking things around.  Every night, I wake up and shut him out of the bedroom. When he plays with his toys, he demolishes them. (He's rougher on toys that Barley is!) He bites them, sinks his front claws in, and kicks with his back legs until his toys are shredded. I NEVER heard him knocking this mouse around. There was a clean kill--no blood, no guts, just a dead mouse. This has me convinced that he's a ninja. (Or he's been watching too much Revenge with me.)

I was certain this kill was his way of celebrating Feral Cat Day. I'm not 100% sure what his life was like in the year before we found each other, but I know it was rougher than it is now. He was underweight and had little chunks out of his ear. (I used to tell my grandma this happened because he got violent when he drank cheap beer and started a bar fight.) So, I know he's not a "real" feral cat since he lets me pet him (and sometimes enjoys it), he sleeps on my feet, and he enjoys sitting next to me on the couch, but I also know that he is not the most domesticated cat I've ever met, either. This mouse incident proved to me that he actually has some survival instincts (and I'm so glad that he thinks his cat food is more delish than mouse carcass).

Most of the time I question his survival skills. I'm not really sure how he survived without me. He tends to get stuck a lot. When I leave out paper shopping bags for him, I have to cut off the handles or he gets his head stuck in them (your science teachers were not lying when they told you that animals would get stuck in those plastic 6-pack things and plastic bags). He has gotten stuck behind my television before.
He might have been able to get out, but I've had this tv since I was 12 and I was not risking its well-being letting him figure out a way out of there.
This morning, it was a bra that was his downfall. I had just gotten out of the shower and wrapped my hair up in the towel and I was getting ready to put in my contacts. Soth was rubbing on everything in the bathroom and purring away, thinking that he would be more likely to get breakfast sooner if he was cute. All of the sudden he started to flail. I thought there might be a mouse in the bathroom. As soon as I got my contacts in, I realized that he was stuck in the strap of a bra that I had hanging off the laundry hamper and he had just flopped onto the floor to wait for me to rescue him.

So while I know that he could have fed himself on the streets,  I'm not sure how he lived on the streets without getting himself into some sticky situation. He needs me just as much as I need him. So, happy belated feral cat day, my boy! I love you more than rainbows.

He just curled up in my lap, so it was time for a selfie!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall Fun

The last few weeks have been a little crazy. I've taken on some new responsibilities at work and have been trying to squeeze in as much time with my parents as possible with my parents (who officially moved south today). So, there have been a few days where I've only seen my Barley girl for 2 or 3 waking hours between running back and forth to work, meeting my parents in various places, and having a bit of a social life.  We barely met our September walking goal (we got it by .02 miles).

It's so hard not to spend endless amount of time with this face.
Despite our limited time together, the pup and I have had the most fun together the past few days.

On Tuesday, I got to see the wonderful sight of my pup having fun in agility class.  I don't remember the last time she had fun in class.  When we first started training, she loved going to school. She'd run through every trick she knew, trying to figure out what I wanted from her. She was constantly praised for loving to learn (what can I say? She takes after her mama!).

Lately, our classes have been anxiety-filled. As more small dogs entered our intro class and the dogs we had been with for multiple sessions moved up to new classes, Barley got more and more uncomfortable. We spent more time working on focus and calming exercises than working on agility. Barley was constantly on edge.

This week, she had fun. Our new trainer set up all kinds of games (all of which involved chasing treats--past weave poles, past jumps, so she adored the games) to practice 2x2 weave practice and getting distance in our send outs over jumps. Barley loved every second of it. Her tail wagged, her ears were in their happy position--sort of up, but still a little floppy--and she was 100% focused on me. We were even praised for our recall techniques!

Class started a little bit scary. Our lab friend, Annie, snuck out of her down-stay while her mom was setting up equipment and came over to say hi to Bar while we were helping hold to A-Frame still while it was raised to full height.  Bar like Annie, so we had no issues, but then Annie went to say hi to the golden retriever in class.  They started to play (which was adorable) and chased each other through the tunnel--and Barley was sitting at the end of the tunnel.  The golden is still relatively new to Barley and she was not pleased when the pup came running out of the tunnel beside her. There was some barking and some lunging, but the pup was smart enough to stay away from Barley and we got back under control in no time.

Usually, when something like that happens, Barley holds a grudge against the other dog for eternity.  (That's how she ended up flying over the dividing gate to chase down the small dog in our old class.) Tuesday, she got back under control and never worried about the golden again. We were behind her in line for all the activities and Barley never batted an eyelash. She had no interest in going to teach the golden a lesson about personal space or even looking at the golden the rest of class.  I was so proud of her and our trainer praised her when we were walking out at the end of class.

Then yesterday, we woke up early to get to the Arboretum.  Today and tomorrow are the Goblins in the Garden Halloween event, but since we try to limit our exposure to other dogs and children, we can never go to the actual event.  Luckily, they set up scarecrow row and the rest of the fun early.  So, we went early, early Friday to take some fun fall pictures and see the scarecrows.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. My sweet girl was exceptionally good at tolerating my endless photo shoot :)







The G is hard to see, but it says Goblins.











Then we had a beautiful walk at the State Park this morning.



Overall, despite not seeing much of each other the past two weeks, we've made the most of the time we have had!  Hope everyone else is having as much fun as we have been having!