The Three Mouseketeers
Jun 4, 2005
I made a capture last night, but unfortunately it isn't NC. It's BP, and I don't know if I've EVER seen such a panicked cat. (S)he's running in circles in the trap, banging HARD into the sides trying to escape. BP won't stay still long enough for me to get a good look, but his/her nose looks pretty damaged from all the banging. Poor thing!
As stressed as this cat is right now, I don't think I'll even bring it in the house or try to move it into a larger crate until after Paul (my vet) comes to do his thing here today. Now he'll have 2 cats to neuter/vaccinate/clean and treat ears/FeLV test, etc. This one is going to have to be put completely under before we'll be able to handle it at all.
Oh why couldn't BP have been as tame and grateful as GB?
At least after today, all three new strays will be sterilized, and two will be definitely safe from the haying equipment.
Jun 4, 2005
Well, it's done, and I don't expect either GB or BP are considering me to be much of an angel at the moment. On first observation in the trap, Paul thought BP would turn out to be a girl based on head shape. After BP was sound asleep, closer inspection revealed those little boy parts which are no more.
Since Paul determined all three boys to be the same approximate age (12-16 mos), and since they all showed up as intact toms at the same time, and since mature toms aren't known to travel in packs, and since the only fighting I've witnessed outside has involved Billy (no fighting between the three newbies), we're both guessing they're siblings who were either dumped by an uncaring human or driven out of their previous territory by a dominant tom.
So now The Three Mouseketeers are all neutered, FeLV negative, and two of them are safely tucked in my bathroom sleeping off the sedative. Now if I could just lure NC back into the fold ...
P.S. I have now covered the crate with a large blanket so that BP can wake up in a less threatening environment.
Jun 6, 2005
There's good news and there's not so good news. The good news is that GB is recovering nicely and isn't inclined to hold a grudge for my part in his castration on Sat. He's also quieted down quite a bit.
BP is still an unknown. Unfortunately, GB seems inclined to aggression toward BP, so I've been having to keep the poor black boy in the large crate in the bathroom. He cowers in the now-soiled litter box at the back of the crate all day and has dumped his water bowl several times, effectively soaking the piece of carpeting that's supposed to be making him more comfortable. I really have no way of cleaning or removing any of it without handling him, and neither one of us is brave enough for that yet. I have sat next to the crate and stroked him a little through the wire, but he just tenses up and freezes in place, trying to pretend I'm not there. I really have to get him out of that crate, but I'm going to have to restrict GB to the bedroom in order to give BP and bathroom.
That's going to be a problem since the only way into the bedroom with the baby gates blocking the other doorway is through the bathroom, and that leaves LOTS of room for error in terms of GB and BP mixing it up. It also is going to require extra vigilance to make sure BP doesn't escape into the rest of the household when we enter the bathroom through the utility room. And then there's the issue of putting a litterbox in the bedroom for GB. I HATE that idea, since it's nearly impossible to vaccuum litter out of carpeting.
What I really need to do is integrate GB into the rest of the household as quickly as possible so BP can have the entire bathroom/bedroom area to himself. But I really want to give GB a week to recover from his neuter so he's feeling 100% healthy for introductions. I'd actually rather give him several weeks (6 weeks, ideally) to allow all the residual male hormones to dissipate from his body before bringing him into the rest of the house, but I don't have that luxury. His huffy behavior with BP tells me that he's still responding to hormonal impulses, and that'll make integration with the other cats difficult. This would all be so much less complicated if these cats would have shown up at, say, 6 mo intervals.
Sadly, I haven't seen NC for 3 days now, and I have a bad feeling that he's gone. I don't know if he just left or if something caught and killed him, but he doesn't seem to be around anymore. I'm trying not to dwell on it, or I'll just get angry with Joe all over again for allowing this to happen. I'm hoping my scaredy boy will come back, of course, but the other two have to be my focus right now. At least I have access to them.
Jun 7, 2005
This is as much of the Black Phantom as I've seen all day since allowing him to escape his crate. He's smooshed himself into a small gap between the tub surround and the vanity.
Jun 7, 2005
I haven't seen NC in 4 days now. :-(
Jun 10, 2005
Sadly, there has been absolutely no sign of NC nor indication that he is still here on the farm. If he is here, I suspect he's dead. But he may have been so spooked the night I caught BP that he just took off. Or the dance he and Billy did all day the last time I saw him might have been about seeing if he could claim Billy's territory for his own, and being unsuccessful, perhaps he just moved on to less populated pastures. I just don't know.
Another thing I don't know is how I'm going to win over BP, and I'm going to need all of your support to keep me going until I do. I made a BIG booboo with him today. Suffice it to say, it was NOT a successful interaction.
I don't know if I explained this about BP yet, but he has almost completely shut down, mentally speaking. You know how when someone is truly bored with what you're saying and has spaced out, they'll look at you with this blank, expressionless stare that doesn't quite seem to meet your eyes head on? That's what BP's eyes look like nearly all the time. But it isn't boredom. He just looks like he's left the building ... or in his case as though his fear has trapped him in his own head. He is completely unresponsive other than keeping his eyes turned toward me anytime I'm in the bathroom ... unless I do something truly stupid like today.
A couple of days ago, I got up the nerve to sit on the edge of the tub and reach down into the hidey hole and gently rub BP's head a bit. He froze and gave me that "out to lunch" stare of his, but he stayed put while I stroked him for a minute. I thought it was progress. I obviously thought it was a whole lot more progress than he did.
Today was the first time he went into the carrier I have set up in the bathroom with a comfy piece of shag rug. I know from experience with Mew and NC that the carrier makes a welcome hidey hole for such cats. He continued to stay in the carrier for several hours while I walked back and forth through the bathroom while doing household chores. I finally decided to see if I could do a little BP bonding this afternoon. I took a few little slices of hotdog and tried to make friends by slowly introducing my hand into the crate with hotdog in hand. I got right up to his face with a slice before it fell out of my hand, so I took another slice and started over. This time when I got up to his face, he shot out of the carrier like a bullet and ... well ... take a look at the pic and see if you can "Find The Black Phantom".
Anyhow, BP is not going to be an easy one to win over ... assuming it's possible at all. I've just never seen an animal so shut down and frozen with fear. Even Mew, who was a very feral tom when he showed up and spent the first few months hiding behind the toilet, slapping me with all claws extended anytime I dared get too close, was at least reactive. I knew he was "in the present", and I could get some vague handle on his mood du jour. BP continues to be a complete mystery other than his terror.
I feel horrible for him and almost wish I could just turn him loose outside, but I can't risk allowing him to injure any of the resident cats. I already saw him confront Billy once before I caught him. As tough as Billy is, he's in his mid-teens and could easily be injured by a strong young cat. Besides, I can't in good conscience leave a cat to fend for himself through a northern MN winter outside.
No, BP is going to have to find a way to make peace with this family. I just need to keep reminding myself that it took almost 4 months before I could even touch Mew, and now we are so bonded that I don't know where my heart ends and his begins. I hate being the cause of this sort of trauma in an animal's life, but I have to keep faith in the long-term goal and my own ability to wait him out. When I start to waiver ... and I will ... I will need all of you to keep reminding me of the love to come. I know it's in that little boy. If only I knew how to unlock his heart.
Jun 11, 2005
In contrast to yesterday's miserable failure with BP, today I am enjoying phenomenal success with GB! It's been a week since their neuters, so I decided GB was fully healed and ready for some face to face interactions with the rest of the family, sans baby gates. He's been just fine with everyone he's met through the baby gates all week, though some of the residents have felt obliged to hiss at him in passing.
I went into the bedroom this morning and put the harness on GB. Of course he thought that was bothersome but not worth too much of a fuss. Then I went around to the livingroom side of the gates with the leash and removed the bottom gate. GB wasn't too sure about coming into the livingroom at first, preferring to stay just inside the bedroom doorway until Mew (ex-feral tom turned diplomatic liaison) walked in and touched noses with him. When Mew walked back into the livingroom, GB came out, too. I snapped the leash on him (which he REALLY didn't understand or appreciate), and off we started on our adventure.
GB hung by the bedroom doorway with Mew for a couple of minutes before leading me off to the kitchen with the Bossy Aussies at our heels. Although GB didn't particularly enjoy being followed by the Aussies, he wasn't much rattled by them, either. When they got too pushy, I backed them off so GB could explore in relative peace. He walked obliviously past BooBoo, Pretty, and Annabelle with barely an acknowledgement as he continued his journey through the diningroom. Into the office we went, where he met Bitsy, Lamie, and the ever-present Mew (who had clearly designated himself official "Escort to the New Cat"). Then it was off to the guest bedroom where GB met the 24 lb Lion King, Noddy, who was blatantly unimpressed with yet another lowly subject in his domain. Nods doesn't really care how many cats move in as long as they don't make a point of bothering him in any way.
The only room that gave GB any pause was the livingroom because Raggie and Moonie, the two geriatric canines, had not been to the gates to meet and greet him earlier in the week. It took him a little while to figure out that they presented no threat. After about 15 mins, he walked back into the bedroom and I closed the gate behind him so I could go outside to do barn chores.
This afternoon I let GB out of the bedroom again. He's been so extremely good that he's already moved to Phase Two - removal of the leash. Now he's walking around like he owns the place ... or at least like he's scoping it out for ownership.oooooooooooooov bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb
Hmm. Guess who just jumped up on my desk and finished that last sentence for me! After having knocked over the Jade tree in the guest bedroom, GB is now in here eating lunch on my desk. He has now located the cat food bowls6tttttttttttty7rfffffffffft (excuse you, GB!) in the kitchen and the office and is investigating every nook and cranny for more treasures. He has only elicited hisses from three of my hissy girls (one of whom even hisses at me when she feels like it). There hasn't been a moment of tension between him and any of the boys, but that'll change when Billy comes in from his farm sentry duties. As senior cat, Billy will have to growl at GB when he sees he's out of the bedroom.
I don't think I'll allow GB access to the basement until at least tomorrow. Not that I'm worried about him disappearing in all the junk down there. I'm really just worried that my nasty little Lamie will corner him down there and smack the tar out of him - one of her favorite tricks. She knows she can cause all sorts of trouble down there with the other cats before I can reach her to break it up. Such a brat! I'd really like to give GB the chance to figure out the necessity of avoiding her upstairs before I give her the opportunity to ambush him downstairs.
Anyhow, things really couldn't be going any more smoothly with GB's integration into the family. It's a rare cat, indeed, who can move into a modest house with 10 resident cats and 4 resident dogs without going berserk. This guy acts like he was born and raised here!
Maybe GB is my reward for taking on the challenge of BP.
All in all, it's a much better day today than yesterday.
Jun 12, 2005
I had both GB and BP neutered a week ago yesterday - the day after I managed to live trap BP overnight. Since I had nowhere else in the house to keep the newbies segregrated from the resident animals, and since I didn't know how the newbies would react to each other, I kept BP in a large wire crate in the master bathroom while GB had run of the bathroom and bedroom. GB would circle the crate and occasionally say nasty things to BP, but he didn't try to get physical. When I checked on them in the morning I would find the blanket I draped over the crate to be all askew, but I don't know which of them was moving it around.
Since GB has shown absolutely NO sign of aggression toward any of the resident cats (all of whom are spayed/neutered), I am assuming that his response to BP is solely based on the fact that they both still have residual male hormones coursing through their systems and are still responding to each other an intact toms. Those hormones should dissipate in about 5 more weeks, and I'm hoping GBs unpleasant attitude toward BP will dissipate along with them. They haven't had any contact since I gave BP run of the bathroom and restricted GB to the bedroom.
As soon as I feel safe leaving GB unattended with the resident cats so I can let him out of the bedroom permanently (which I think will happen very quickly), I'll be able to reopen the bathroom door and give BP access to both bathroom and bedroom. Hopefully that'll help him feel less confined and vulnerable so he can start to relax a bit.
It is possible, however, that GB's unpleasantness toward BP was, at least in part, a response to BP's own fear. When an animal acts like a victim, he tends to be victimized by others of his kind. Since I still have absolutely no handle on BP's true nature, only time will tell how he ultimately melds into this family's social structure.
It's funny that you should mention feline mentoring. That's exactly what Mew seemed to be doing with GB yesterday ... not that GB needed it. Actually, I had a conversation with Mew just last week and explained to him that BP was going to need a lot of help to get past his fear and join the family. Since Mew had been in BP's same spot just a few years ago, I asked Mew to help BP through all this psychological trauma and try to convince him that this is a good, safe, loving place to be. Mew takes his role as diplomatic liaison very seriously. I have no doubt he'll do what he can to help BP (do I sound completely nuts or what!).
Just to clarify things, most of our feline family go in and out of the house at will. When we incorporate a new cat, I generally keep them in the house for a year to give them time to adjust and make sure they feel like part of the family before allowing them outside access again. It does get complicated, though. For instance, Weasel gets extremely aggressive with the other cats outside, so I can only let him out by himself or with Somer who, for some reason, he leaves alone. Annabelle (who was last year's stray) still hasn't managed to convince me that she's 100% adjusted to life here, so I haven't let her out yet. She'd probably be fine, though. I just prefer to err on the side of safety. Mew indulges his inner feral when he gets outside and refuses to come back in on his own. Last time I let him out a couple of years ago, it was three days before I could convince him to let me bring him back in. I haven't had the nerve to let him out since, though I know he wouldn't go anywhere. I just don't relish the thought of another midnight slow-speed pursuit to get that boy back in the house.
Jun 12, 2005
Well, that didn't take long. I let GB out of the bedroom again this morning, this time without either the leash or harness. Lamie was napping soundly in my chair in the office, so I opened the basement door to allow GB to explore the lower depths of his new living environment. He ran right down there to see what new adventures were to be had. After a while, he resurfaced with a vengeance (he's apparently one of those cats who only knows how to negotiate stairs at warp speed) and came into the office where he leapt onto my desk and walked across my keyboard to see what I was doing. He stepped into my lap, and I swiveled my chair around to face Lamie's chair. GB stepped onto Lamie's chair, miraculously NOT eliciting a growl or hiss from my intolerant little girl. He stood for a moment and allowed her to sniff his tail before he jumped down and wandered off. Now he's so comfortable that he's lying on his back on the floor with the Bossy Aussies standing over him, daring him to run. This boy is truly remarkable.
Needless to say, GB has already decided he is fully integrated into the family, and I have now released him from any more bedroom restriction. In fact, he is now locked out of the bedroom, and the door has been opened between the bedroom and master bath for BP's benefit. Here's another thing that didn't take long ... BP has already safely tucked himself away in his new hidey hole under the bed! I'm not sure how to interpret that, seeing as NC was too scared to even come into the bedroom except under cover of darkness, but he was fine with being handled as long as I did so in the bathroom. But of course it's ridiculous to try to compare one cat with another. BP is his own cat with a whole different set of problems. With any luck at all, he'll feel a bit more secure in his expanded territory.
I'm thinking it's all progress ....
Jun 13, 2005
It was an active night here at Shadowood. GB, with run of the house for the first time, had fun knocking things off counters and tables all night. Between the crashes and his near-constant trilling (song of joy?), there wasn't much sleeping going on.
Not that anyone could have slept through BP's antics in his enlarged territory which now includes the bedroom. BP, or Rocky as Joe is now calling him (at least temporarily), spent his night caterwauling and bouncing off the walls ... even accidentally landing on the bed a few times. I heard one mighty crash as he flew through the air (thus the name Rocky, as in the flying squirrel) and flung himself toward the curtain valance. But again, I have to interpret this behavior as progress. At least he has finally come out of his traumatic coma-like state and rejoined the living ... for a few hours last night, anyway. He is, of course, back under the bed now.
Hopefully as he becomes more active (more active?!?!) and comfortable at night, he'll start introducing himself to the other animals through the baby gates. I'm encouraged that he went back into the bathroom to eat and use the litterbox last night.
Sleep? Who needs sleep?
Jun 14, 2005
Last night was calmer, thank goodness. BP is still quite vocal at night and spent a great deal of time looking out the window ... or rather, staring at Joe in bed while sitting in the window. He seems, at least, to have figured out that glass is a barrier in spite of the fact that it is transparent. No more "flights of fancy" into the window and valance.
BP also apparently approached the gates several times while I was still awake in the livingroom. Mew was suddenly VERY interested in the new cat on the other side of the gate. I think it was, perhaps, the first time he'd actually seen BP. To my surprise, Mew even hissed at him a few times. Then he laid down next to the gate and just watched him for a while. I suspect there were other kitty interactions through the gates, as well, during the night of which I was unaware.
This morning BP was expectedly back under the bed when I delivered his breakfast. He has, however, gotten up the nerve to emerge and jump onto the windowsill a few times this morning but instantly dives back under the bed if he hears me approach the baby gates. I am only able to catch fleeting glimpses of the end of his tail as he disappears again. If he has an interest, he'll be able to watch me and the other animals move around the yard and barn, as the bedroom windows face both. In an attempt to help him acclimate to household living, I have turned on the TV in the bedroom at very low volume.
GB also gave us a break last night. He didn't cause anything to crash onto the floor until 7 a.m., by which time I am usually awake, anyway., He has apparently now decided to collect his favorite toys and carry them down to the basement. What a little monkey! He is also learning a few kitty manners, courtesy of the rest of our pride. He is starting to display proper respect when faced with a crabby cat, backing away and lying on the floor until the crab passes.
I'm starting to think it's a good thing these two showed up together. GB keeps me busy enough that I'm not inclined to push my presence on BP, which I think would be counterproductive at this point. And the other cats are still interested enough in GB to keep their focus off BP, as well. �ll the better to give BP the time he needs to adjust in his own way and time.
Someone is doing a lot of calling in the other room just now. I suspect it may be BP, though it might be GB, as well. I think I'll go investigate. If it is BP, I'm glad to hear him interacting with his environment.
Jun 15, 2005
HAPPY DAYS!!! Guess who I just spied out in the yard - NC!!!! YIPPEE!!!! He's still alive and he's here!!!! Now if I can just get my hands on him, one way or the other. I have NO IDEA if I'll be able to catch him again, but I am just SOOOO relieved to know he's still with us. Of course, we still haven't cut hay, so there's still that danger looming ... but so far, so good!
I have to go out to the barn now for chores. NC is over by the manure pile. Wish me luck reconnecting with the little boy.
Jun 15, 2005
I just got in from the barn. No sign of NC once I got outside, so he's keeping a very low profile. I still have the live trap and just finished hosing it off thoroughly again. I will spray it later with catnip spray and try baiting it tonight.
Did I mention that I would very much appreciate if EVERYONE would send NC your strongest mental vibes to PLEASE go into the trap one last time so we can keep him safe and well-loved in our family?
Jun 16, 2005
Keep sending those good vibes, folks. There was no capture last night and no sighting of NC yet today.
I'll try again tonight.
Jun 16, 2005
NC sighting in progress ...
I'm watching the top of his back just barely visible moving through the tall grass in the hayfield outside my window. It's a good thing that boy is white, or I wouldn't be able to spot him at all. He seems to have claimed the spot where we burned the old house as his new territory. It's all overgrown and brushy now, bordered by a hill of topsoil that was dozed up to make a bare spot for the burn back in 1996. That hill makes a good vantage point for NC, and the burn refuse that never got cleaned up creates hidey holes for him to disappear into. I think tonight I'll put the live trap out there and hope he's hungry enough to take the bait.
I've got to get that boy back in the house. Billy came in with a bloody ear last night. Apparently he and NC aren't exactly bonding out there.
Wish us luck!
Jun 16, 2005
Have I mentioned that GB is a remarkable cat? I am simply astounded at how easily he has blended into our family. He is so at ease here that none of the other animals are bothered by his presence at all. He's just one of the kids. This afternoon he walked up to the old Moondog and headbonked her nose. How did he know that Moonie is the only canine kid I've ever had who truly adores cats? He also walked up to Lamie and touched noses with her - something that only Noddy and occasionally BooBoo can get away with without repercussions. But Lamie was fine with it.
This cat has charisma. It's that simple. He successfully charmed the entire family in a matter of minutes. I've never seen anything like it.
Have I mentioned that GB is a remarkable cat?
Jun 19, 2005
NC is still around, but he's avoiding the live trap like the plague. Poor guy had a scare yesterday when I was back behind the barn photographing my iris pseudacorus by the little stock pond. The Bossy Aussies were with me wading in and out of the pond. Pippin wandered off, but Tasha stayed nearby hunting through the waist-high grass. Suddenly she started leaping straight up into the air like a dog will do after mice in tall grass. She kept leaping and pouncing until I saw NC shoot out from under her and take off with Tasha in hot pursuit. I screamed at the top of my lungs to call her off, but all it did was make her pause for an instant so NC could leap into a small tree. I felt horrible for him, but I also realized it might be my best shot at capturing him. The tree was small, and he was in a low fork. I let the Aussies hang around the base of the tree, hoping I could get through the low-hanging branches and grab NC before he'd jump out and run off again. But no luck. He was more scared of me than he was of the dogs. He hit the ground running and disappeared into the grass again. I haven't seen him since.
I don't know what to do. I don't think he'll go into the trap again. He's apparently good enough at hunting to avoid starving, so the trap bait is not enough to lure him in. I guess I'm just going to have to hope he survives haying and the rest of the summer/fall. Perhaps he'll get hungry enough next winter to take a free meal in the live trap again.
I just hope Tasha and Pippin don't start treating him like prey. I could have strangled Tasha for being so disobedient yesterday when I tried to call her off the chase. I honestly don't know whether or not she would have hurt him if she'd caught him. She has an intense herding instinct which she is constantly trying (unsuccessfully) to impose upon the cats, but yesterday seemed to go beyond herding. If only I could get NC back in the house so the dogs could learn to identify him as family.
I'm open to any suggestions anyone may care to offer.
Jun 20, 2005
OMG, not Mousketeer #4!!!
When Joe got home this evening right before dark, he reported that he had just encountered yet another new cat. This one isn't quite down to the farm yet, but he's on his way. Sounds like he's about 3/4 of the way down the driveway with 1/4 mile left to go. If Joe could have grabbed him, he'd be here now. Since he ran off into the woods, it'll probably be another day or two before he shows up here on his own.
Joe got to within a foot of him before he bolted off. He's a long-haired black cat who is apparently missing hair in spots along his back. Joe says he looks to be in pretty rough shape, matted and battle-scarred. Of course, missing hair along the back could indicate a female. You know those boys like to hang on to a lady's back while having their fun.
Oh joy. Just what we need. Another timid/feral, intact tom or pregnant queen haunting the farm. I may as well just give up and buy my own danged live trap ... and apply for charitable, non-profit status while I'm at it!
Forget a pride of cats. They're showing up in SWARMS!
Jun 22, 2005
Well, I haven't seen NC since the Bossy Aussies and I terrified him the other day, but I suspect he's still hanging around back by the pond.
GB, who I am now calling Footsie (the name may or may not stick), has developed a not-so-cute habit of chasing me around the house, biting my feet and attacking my legs. It's all in play, of course, and it's better that he's playing with me at this point than trying to play with the other cats. He's probably still too new a face to be able to get away with playing with the others yet. He also has a habit of racing after me and running right between my legs, just to make sure I don't get too far away without falling flat on my face. This morning he started a new trick of racing for the door when he sees me or Joe heading for it, but he waits until we're actually at the door getting ready to open it so we can't see him coming. Sneaky little devil, this Footsie boy! Actually, I'm not too worried about him getting outside. He's such a loverboy that I'm pretty certain he'd follow me around the yard just like he does around the house. Even so, we won't be letting him out this year if we can help it.
BP has started lying on the bed at night, but I don't know how long he stays there. He scratched Joe's leg the other night when Joe apparently rolled the wrong way. BP still spends his days primarily under the bed, though he does sometimes sneak up onto the windowsill to look outside. If I walk past the baby gates while he's exposed, however, he still dives for cover under the bed. He's eating and drinking and using the litterbox at night, so I suppose he's OK. We're just going to wait him out ... hopefully.
Mouseketeer #4 hasn't arrived on the farm yet, as far as I can tell, and Joe didn't see him/her on the road last night.
And so it goes ...
Jun 25, 2005
Mouseketeer #4 apparently made it onto the farm last night, though I haven't seen him/her yet. Joe spied NC down at the end of the hayfields by the swamp last evening as he drove in after taking the new pup to the vet. He decided to take a plate of warmed cat food down there after he dropped the pup off with me to see if he could talk NC into the car. By the time he got there, NC had disappeared again, so Joe came back up to the house. Once in the house, Joe used the binoculars to see if he could spot NC down by the swamp (which we call Bunnyland). No NC, but there was a black cat where NC had been just a short while earlier. We did a quick kitty check to make sure the black girls were both in the house, which they were. I assume the black cat Joe saw by the swamp was the same long-haired black cat he saw 1/2 mile down the driveway a few nights ago.
So apparently NC and the new black cat are out here somewhere. In fact, NC and Billy were hanging out again yesterday by the old burn pile. If the black cat crosses the hayfield and comes closer to the yard, I'll bait the trap and see if I can catch him/her. Hopefully that cat will be an easy catch since (s)he has no familiarity with the trap yet.
A large doe just crossed my line of vision over the top of my monitor out by the burn pile, but the Bossy Aussies quickly sent her packing. I'd better get out there so the Aussies can put their herding instincts to better use helping me bring in the horses for breakfast!
Jun 26, 2005
There may be hope for BP yet! This morning I heard him playing with the Turbo Scratcher out in the open very near the baby gates with Mew lying just on the other side of the gates watching him. This was mid-morning in full sunlight, fully exposed! Of course I couldn't resist sneaking over to the doorway for a peek, but as soon as BP saw me, he dove back under the bed. It hurts my heart that he's so scared of me, but at least he does seem to be getting a tiny bit braver, day by day. I'm also glad that Mew and GB have stopped growling at him. It must mean that BP is coming to the gate often enough to give the other animals a chance to make his acquaintance. It probably also means he's not letting off much male hormone scent anymore.
Speaking of male hormones, I had my vet take another look at GB the other day because he's still licking his neuter incision sight frequently, and the area looks a bit swollen to me. Paul said there's no inflammation and that the incision has healed nicely. He also said GB is just a pervert! Obviously Paul doesn't know the difference between perversion and passion. GB is a VERY passionate cat! ;-)
Jul 1, 2005
I am just so excited I could burst!!! Guess who I was just playing with! BP!!!!
But let me back up for a moment. Yesterday I was standing off to one side of the baby gates near the front door letting animals in and out, and when I turned around, I saw BP peeping at me from his side of the gates, right in midday! Of course he ran back under the bed when he saw me looking at him, but it was still exciting to see him looking at me out in the open for a moment.
This morning I saw Footsie (the cat formerly known as GB) lying by the gates and figured Phantom (the cat formerly known as BP) was out in the open again. Sure enough, when I passed by the gates, there was Phantom frozen in the middle of the floor, staring at me with those wide, suspicious eyes. He stood there for a minute before slinking back under the bed, but at least he didn't dart and run right off.
About 1/2 hr ago, I saw Footsie by the gate again and could see Phantom on the other side, so I decided to go sit with Footsie and see if Phantom would stay put. Of course he didn't, but he did only go barely under the bed so I could see his eyes shining from under the edge. I sat and played with Footsie right next to the gate, pushing lengths of sisal rope through the gates, trying to tease Phantom into coming out. Footsie was having a great time sticking his paws through the gate, trying to hook the rope, generally being silly. Phantom watched intently from under the bed for quite a long while but ultimately couldn't resist coming out to take a closer look. He laid on the floor a couple of feet from the gate and watched me with those wide eyes again. I really wanted to stare deeply back at him, but I figured he'd find that intimidating, so I looked casually at him and back to Footsie and the rope and back at Phantom again. He finally relaxed enough to take his eyes off me and start looking at Footsie and around at other things. He even laid out on his side and stretched a paw toward us. He wouldn't come close enough to actually play with the rope, but I could tell he wanted to.
I got up to find a stiff wand I could poke through the gates that would reach him, but of course when I came back to the gate, he scooted back under the bed. So Footsie and I started all over to try to lure him out again. Out came Phantom after an appropriate assessment period, of course. This time I stuck the wand through the gate and managed to tease him into playing! He was tentative at first, retreatiing to the bed when he felt the wand touch him, but he quickly returned and started to bat the wand around. Footsie was trying to grab the wand out of my hand on our side of the gates, so it got to bouncing around pretty actively. Both boys were enjoying themselves with the game, and I was ecstatic at Phantom's breakthrough.
I think we've been handling Phantom exactly correctly, making next to no advances toward him (except for that dumb move I made that landed him on top of the curtain rod) and allowing him to get comfortable in his own way and time. I think he's finally getting so bored and lonely in that bedroom by himself all day every day that he's ready to deal with his fear for the sake of family interaction. He now comes to the gate frequently when the other cats walk up to visit, and he doesn't even seem unduly scared of the canines.
I have a feeling he will start progressing by leaps and bounds now that he's taken the first step to interact with me, since I seem to be the family member he fears most. I just can't tell you how happy this makes me.
Nobody will ever convince me a feral cat can't be tamed. It just takes lots of patience, love, and a willingness to commit to a long term goal. Feral cat rescue is not for those who indulge in instant gratification.
Speaking of long term goals, NC just appeared in my line of vision out in the horse pasture beyond the burn pile. One way or another, I WILL bring that boy back into the family fold ... sooner or later!
Jul 1, 2005
Mew's full name is Bartholomew. He was my first feral tom, and the only cat to ever send me to the Emergency Room. He now owns a very large chunk of my heart, and I know he feels the same way about me. �s far as Phantom eating out of my hand is concerned, that's not going to be happening anytime soon. While playing with me through the gate again this afternoon, he came right up to play with Footsie who was lying beside me. I stuck my finger through the gate, and Phantom touched it with his nose, then jumped back and hissed at me! LOL! Apparently he's not ready for direct contact with a human quite yet ... at least not with me. I'm pretty sure Joe's going to be the first one to make successful physical contact with Phantom. Phantom isn't as scared of him as he is of me.
I can't even count the number of mistakes I've made with the strays and ferals that have shown up here. Some things you just have to learn by doing. Every cat is different and every integration will present its own challenges, dissapointments, and rewards. This is one of those "just do it" kind of things.
Jul 1, 2005
I am stunned.
You guys will never believe who walked up to me in the horse pasture tonight and let me carry him all the way up to the house.
I am stunned.
I am grateful.
I am so extremely relieved and happy.
Maybe I really am The Cat Whisperer. ... ON TO CHAPTER THREE
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