March 2011

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Thursday night I trapped a cat. Back home I visited with her in the carrier and determined she was tame. She has a beautiful white coat with a hint of grey down her spine and a dusty grey tail. Her coat was dirty and she was very, very skinny.

Tame cats who get lost or abandoned don’t know how to take care of themselves. Lost tame cats are the underfed dirty looking cats. Feral cats, by contrast, do know how to take care of themselves and they can look pretty good, as long as they are healthy.

I set her up in our display cage. I’m building inserts for this so cats have several levels on which to perch and the messy litter can be kept on the bottom layer. With out these cats, litter, and food are all on the bottom and that is not how cats want to live.

When I opened the carrier door she jumped down to the floor and hunkered down. She was just slightly receptive to pets. Clearly socialized to people but in shock from her recent experience. To be so skinny she must have been out on the street for a month. To go from a pampered life as a companion to living on the stree must be scarry and confusing.

The White Lady at our house

With the comfort of some pets she went over and ate the food that she had previously just sniffed at. She did not seem inclined to climb back up to her carrier or the cubby so I put a snuggly wool cloth down on the floor for her, covered over the cage, and let her have a quite, warm, dry night.

In the morning I found that she had regurgitated her whole meal. I had encouraged her to eat too much food at one time. I cleaned everything up and gave her some more food. I pet her more and found her slightly more relaxed. She purred. I brushed out her coat.

Later that morning I said Medicine Buddha prayers, concentrating specially on her. When I came down again she had eaten all her food and climbed up to the cubby. I pet her in there and she purred then kept purring after I stopped. I gave her another small portion of food, which she ate. She was happy to be inside a relaxing a little.

Luna soon after she arrived

Early afternoon I bundled her into her carrier and took her down to the Seattle Animal Shelter. Within a couple minuts of sitting down with officer Corry she was vaccinated, given wormer, treated for fleas, and scanned for a microchip (none). He took her to the back where she’ll be fed and fussed over by volunteers. In a couple days I hope she’ll be transfered to a foster home for some indoor TLC.

Her way of snuggling into my hand reminded me of Luna. Luna came to us underweight, half her coat licked off, and somewhat is shock from some recent experience. Now she is pamperd daily. Hopefully the White Lady will soon have a happy, pampered existence.

Update

The Seattle Animal Shelter said she was “ancient”, may be developing kidney disease, and not a candidate for adoption.  We gave some thought to adopting her ourselves.  Nelson and Luna were returning to a happy two cat society – we hated to risk upsetting that.  But if the alternative for her was euthanasia we might.  Fortunately, the woman feeding her where she was trapped volunteered to take her in.  At the shelter I saw that someone had written “sweet” on the cage card.

White Lady at the shelter

White Lady's cage card with volunteer notes

In addition to the vaccinations and flea treatment the shelter also did FIV/FeLV tests (negative) and microchipped her.  This is a great facility and the people at the shleter are working hard to help animals in their care.  Today the White Lady goes a good home.

White Lady in her new home.

Jojo was our third cat, and he surprised us.  To explain how I have to tell his story.

We got Jojo as a foster transfer.  Another Seattle Animal Shelter foster family was asking for someone to take Jojo as he was harassing their elder cat.  We were looking for a buddy for Nelson and thought that could be Jojo so we took him in as a foster.

Right off he intimidated us.  He growled at our other cats through the door and growled at us.  Physically he is a robust cat and we were wary of him.   We thought he might eat little Nelson for lunch.  Jojo does not weigh more than one pound more than Nelson, but he just looks bigger.

The introduction to Luna and Nelson was slow but eventually they were all together.  Soon Nelson and Jojo were play buddies.

Nelson and Jojo playing

All Three Together

We saw an edge of aggression in Nelson’s play with Jojo but we figured that Jojo could stand up to that and otherwise things looked good so we adopted Jojo.  We now had three cats.

Jojo and a toy

However, neither Marie or I felt a strong bond to Jojo.  He seemed primarily interested in play with toys and other cats.  He did not display much affection toward us.  But, he needed a home, he was difficult to adopt, and he fit in with our other cats.  We could give him a good home.

We continued fostering and took in kittens Maxwell, Sabine, and Blanca.  Sometime during this the relationship between our residents soured.  Nelson started attacking Jojo and became less happy in general.  Jojo, in turn, got more play aggressive with Luna.  Soon we were isolating Jojo from Luna and Nelson.  To keep Jojo company we kept Maxwell with them – they were good buddies.  But they would spend most of the day in Marie’s office.  Nights we gave them run of the downstairs.  Max, however, would usually slip past the side of our barrier to join us upstairs, leaving Jojo by himself.

We thought that Max could be the cause of Nelson’s aggression so in August we redoubled our efforts and soon found a good home.  It did not solve the problem. Worse, Jojo was by himself most of the time.  Out of sympathy, Marie or I would sleep in the downstairs bedroom to keep him company.  

This is when he surprised us:  he turned out to be great company.  Jojo is a really sweet cat.  He likes to be with us and is interested in what we are doing, loves head rubs and play time, and sometimes crawls into our laps.  He is not exceedingly affectionate but very interested, interactive, and self-reliant.  A great companion.

Helping us clean the bookshelf

Meditating with me

Snuggled into my lap for a nap

We both came to feel a much stronger connection with Jojo so we increased our efforts to re-introduce him and Nelson.  In September We hired a can behaviorist who offered a lot of good suggestions.  Her program was to give Nelson a reason to like Jojo through positive association with food, treats, and play time.  When that alone did not work we gave Nelson kitty prozac.  When that did not work in January 2011 we added another anti anxiety drug.

Jojo and a foster kitten

By the end of January we admitted that it was not going to work and it was time to find Jojo a new home.  I made a web page [link], a petfinder.com listing, and kept Craig’s list postings up to date.  After a week a nice couple from Everett contacted us.  They seemed cat savvy and willing to have patience with Jojo’s slow adaptation to new situations.  They didn’t have any cats but did have a little dog.  Jojo and dogs were a complete unknown.

We wanted to give Jojo a good home but could not. We could at least feed him the best food we knew and keep him company as best as we were able but once we adopt him out we would give up control of that. I would like to explain all this to Jojo – why his whole world is about to change – but can’t. This is a time of feeling my limits but still trying to do the best for Jojo.

When we met the couple we liked them.  They appreciated both cats and dogs and the different type of companionship each provides.  They liked who Jojo was.  Jojo seemed to like them.  The only question was would Jojo like the dog, Teddy.

Jojo’s standard response to a new cat is to hiss, growl, and run away or swat at them.  We have introduced him to a lot of kittens and this has been his initial reaction to all of them, even Button, Ambassador to Cats.  Jojo gets over it but it takes about 2 weeks.  I thought if we got a similar reaction to the dog that was a good sign.  Back up, tail fat, full attack mode would be a contra indication.  Well, Jojo walked right up and sniffed Teddy’s nose.  No growl, no hiss.  He did lift his paw as if he was thinking of batting Teddy but then set it back down.  He was interested and calm.  Somehow dogs are in a different category – somewhere between cats and people. We all thought it could be a good match.

So we got their carrier, said last good byes, and away Jojo went.

Jojo and the dog Teddy

Jojo about to got to his new home

I find myself wondering:  how is he doing?  Is he scared?  Is he interested?  What is he experiencing?  Why don’t he write?  That is just it.  I would love to hear from Jojo himself – but I never will.

After a couple days we got this report:

Jojo is fitting in well.  We kept him in the bedroom the first night so hecould get used to his surrounding and our smell without the dog botheringhim.  When we let him out he looked around a bit and came right back tothe bedroom.  He sits in the window during the days and lays in bed withus at night.
We are glad to have a new companion and teddy seems happy to have a new friend.

We may get one more update but likely won’t know how the rest of Jojo’s life goes.  As the Buddha said:

From meeting comes parting
From birth comes death

This is inevitable and we are ultimately unable to protect others or ourselves from these experiences.

4/28/11 Update: We got an update!

hello tom!

Sorry for the lack of email we have been out of internet for a while.
JoJo is doing great. He loves playing with teddy and loves sleeping in
bed with us. I have not managed to catch a picture of him and teddy
together yet, they always stop playing as soon as I grab the camera. JoJo
even get along well with the two year old up stairs.

He spends alot of free time looking out the slider door where there is
squirrels and I think some frogs. As well as plenty of time in our
bathroom keeping an eye on our guinue pigs and hamster.

Im not sure what time you fed him at night but we have been wanting to
feed him and teddy both when we eat at 5 . However he is insistent that we
feed him at 3. So of course the pets now all eat at 3.

He still seems wary of coming out of the bedroom, but he also seems
content in there so we do not push it.

Sincerely,
Ashen

Jojo's original adoption blurb (from the shelter)

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