Monday, May 31, 2010

Introducing cats - Day 3

Not too much to tell today. The cats seem to be relaxing further, progressing steadily. There have been a few more encounters at the gate with no hissing or growling.

Last night was a bit rough as James actually slept in the bedroom instead of in the office with his cat, so there was a bit of yowling, but we ignored it and eventually it stopped and everyone got to sleep. I know this sounds mean to some people, but it actually is the best way to handle an animal who is crying when you know they're not hurt or sick. Going into the room every time they cry not only reinforces the behavior because you come when they wail, but it also doesn't allow them to find out that they are, in fact, going to be okay if they are left alone.

So there was one little call down the hall to let the cat know someone was still here, then we stayed silent the rest of the night.

Simba didn't seem bothered at all by the yowling. Slept through most of it from her cat bed in the living room, I assume, since she didn't even make her way back to the bedroom until much later and I heard not a peep from her. She didn't cry at all when she came back, just sat at the cedar chest at the foot of the bed and went back to sleep.

James left the house for a couple of hours today so I slipped in to spend a little time alone with Anubis, to make sure he knows even when James isn't here I am safe to be around. He's still wary but coming around. I'm sure part of it is a bit of backslide because the new surroundings smell like me, and I also smell like that other kitty that hissed at him. But I have been petting them both, going back and forth between the rooms and getting their scents on each other a little bit. I think that should help, if they smell it on themselves and come to realize the "other cat" smell isn't a threat.

But they don't seem to be acting completely scared of each other anymore, nor are they acting aggressive at all. Both cats do still act a little wary when they catch sight of each other, but nobody has been running away. They'll stare for a minute then turn and walk off. Every so often Simba still comes to me for reassurance that I still love her even though there's another kitty. But those times are becoming fewer and fewer as we go along.

Only 3 days in and everybody's making loads of progress. Which is a good thing, because I think "mom" and "dad" will be a LOT calmer once the cats have settled in. It's quite clear they are going to be fine, but it will definitely feel better once we've completed the process and everybody's comfortable.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Introducing cats - Day 2

Day 2

The night seemed to go well (for the cats anyway, the people didn't do a whole lot of sleeping). Kitties had their first encounter this morning through the gate. Thought it was going okay, but Simba hissed and yowled. But most of her hair still laid flat and her ears didn't go back all the way so it could have gone much worse. It took Anubis a minute or so to hiss back. Simba took off for the bedroom, he retreated and James had to calm him down but everyone seemed to be okay within a few minutes (except me who is a nervous wreck - you can know all the steps and processes but when it's your own and emotions get involved it makes things rough).

Simba came back to the living room after a bit and ate a little, started to play with her toys so all is well again. We're not going to push the issue. They know there's another cat there, now we just have to let them do their thing and hopefully both will get nosy enough to meet again and maybe it'll go better next time.

I tried to feed Simba some treats in view of the gate. She started to pick them up and shake them but wouldn't actually eat them. She kept looking back toward the gate like something was going to come take her treats from her. But it's a start. And she's not used to me feeding her anyplace but beside her bowl anyhow. So I moved them back to her food bowl, she crunched them down and seemed fine.

She got back to playing again, and I noticed some little food bits around the bag of Anubis' food. Looks like somebody's been nosing in. No wonder her food bowl is still full this morning. She skipped right past her diet food for the good stuff.

Later in the day she actually played in front of the gate, and the two cats eyeballed each other - no hissing this time. I think Simba's primary issue is making sure she isn't going to be replaced. She is displaying some mild signs of separation anxiety - I tried to close the bedroom door to change and she started to cry loudly on the other end, so right now all doors must be open where I am.

All in all, it's been going much better much earlier than we expected. It looks like we may be able to take the gate down by next weekend, since they don't seem to be aggressive toward each other so much as wary and avoidant.

Wish us luck.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Introducing cats - day 1

Over the last couple of days, I have been in the process of helping my other half move up to my place.

As of today, James' cat is moved up. As a bit of background, said cat is suspected to be part bobcat somewhere in his family history, and does not generally handle stress well. So we had spent a long time up to now mulling over how to handle the move.

We put some of the pheremone spray and a couple of James's old shirts in the carrier with him in the hopes of calming him down. We had tried the Comfort Zone diffusers and sprays with my cat with much success in reducing stress levels, but had thus far not tried its effects on any other cat.

Anubis panted and cried some in the car but James says that's MUCH better than he's ever done in a car ride, and that's even the longest one he's ever been on. He's in the front room now with James, he's already eaten, drank a bit, and rubbed his face on some of the furniture. Hasn't used the litterbox *yet* but we brought his old one with all the litter in it so we'll see by morning. He says he's doing better with this than he's EVER seen him do on a move before, so that's a good sign. We had planned ahead by not only putting a pheremone diffuser in the room, but also by trying to set up some familiar things before bringing him in. The desk was already set up, plus we also brought all his toys, his food and water dish from the old house, everything we could set up to make him feel at home. Familiarity is important, especially making sure there are still things that smell like the cat in the new house. This is why we kept the already "dirty" litter - totally dumping the box and refreshing it could slow the process.

My own cat, Simba seems to be doing okay. She was a bit clingy until she realized I was still going to pet her. I tried to push into my normal night routine and after that she seemed to be pretty much okay. She's a little tense, of course, but then again so are we and there's still boxes all over (we're going to start tackling those tomorrow). But she's locked eyes with Anubis at least a couple times - she put her ears halfway back like she does when she's not sure about something and wants me to tell her it's okay, but she hasn't poofed up or growled or acted like she wants to run from him. She seems curious more than anything, a little wary but he doesn't seem upset by her and she's MUCH calmer than she was with the dogs (and with Shaggy she even started to come out and get nosy about him after the first day). She is, as a general rule, an adaptable cat, but she does sometimes get a bit jealous and she is getting old and set in her ways, so I wasn't sure how she'd take it. She's not frantic, and doesn't seem to consider him a threat. Both of these things are very important.

So hopefully this is a good sign and all will go well. Simba's crashed in her kitty bed right now. So we seem to be okay as far as stress levels go. We're good for now, the next big hurdle is when we're ready to remove the gate, but we'll deal with that when we come to it. Right now, they can smell each other, they can see each other while James and I are up. He's going to sleep in the front room with his kitty tonight, so Simba can curl up with me tonight. That should help.

We're still nervous, but so far it's started off better than we expected it would so I think we're going to be okay. Now if we can just get some of this clutter pared down we'll be good. We're tackling that tomorrow.

That should help Simba relax a bit too, I think. She wasn't quite sure about the boxes that started to take over the house, so clearing that up should help.

The sad part is, I know all the steps, I've helped other people transition their pets before. I know the advice tends to work. But there's that extra layer of nerves when you're dealing with your own cats.

If the rest of the process goes as smoothly as tonight has gone, I think everyone will be okay.

Their welfare comes first right now.

We'll see where it goes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One by One

This is probably the most truly "artsy" piece I've ever done, and someday I will need to borrow use of a large format scanner and get a proper image. For now, this photo is the best I have.

This piece takes up most of a room, it's almost as big as I am, which is why the angle is so skewed. I was up on a stepstool just to get the whole thing in frame.

This was my final for my art class in college - we were told to pick a song. Just ONE SONG, listen to it, and draw whatever we see when we play said song. Only other requirement was that it had to be at or above a certain size.

I chose "One by One" by Lebo M. (Look it up and listen to it while you watch.) There's a few versions - the version I was listening to is from the Rhythm of the Pridelands CD. This link works for now:

I consider this my masterpiece. This is by far the best thing I have ever created, and the picture does NOT do it justice. Unfortunately I stored it improperly and the chalks smudged a bit here and there, but I still love it. I need a frame big enough to hold this monster.

The people are silhouettes partly because I can't draw human faces very well, and partly because I thought simple gestural type things would be more effective.

I only wish I had been able to do it on one solid canvas or piece of paper - at the time the only way I was able to meet the size requirements with the resources I had was by taping a ton of other pieces of paper together.

I've been waiting a LONG TIME to upload this one. I finally cleared enough space on my floor to get up and photo it. I WILL BE REUPLOADING once I can find someplace with a scanner big enough to fit a 5ft piece of art in it.