Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Learning Cat Mojo
In January, I took both furballs to the vet for their annual exams and rabies vaccinations. Though our cats are 100% indoor, there is a small chance that a rabid mouse or other animal might enter our house, and I'd rather not deal with rabies if I can avoid it. Plus the shots are cheap, which is nice.
The cats' exam went great--they're healthy and seem content most of the time. They're not overweight, not underfed, no fleas or ticks, nothing at all wrong with them. They both got their shots, and then we went home. For the next three days, Eddie wouldn't eat much.
He was slower than normal, seemed unhappy, didn't want to be picked up (which for him is whoa). He didn't want treats and would eat the wet "treat" food they get every once in a while.
The following Monday, we packed both cats up in their normal crate and took them to the emergency vet after hours. Since the illness seemed like it is was in relation to the rabies shots and not a separate illness, the vet kindly didn't charge us for the visit. Both cats got a once-over, and Eddie got a saline injection as he was a bit dehydrated. Somehow, despite the fact that both cats were in the same place virtually the entire time, Eddie developed "evil spirits," and Annie REFUSED to go back into the crate with him for the trip home. They hissed and spit at each other. Siblings, who have never been anything other than playfully aggressive toward each other, were now at full growls when in sight of each other. It was like a switch got flipped. We ended up having to buy a cardboard carrier for Annie's ride home. Eddie chilled in his normal carrier. When we got home, they were still all bent out of shape. They were outright fighting at one point, not just romping about like normal kittens. The Man and I had to separate them. Two hours of separation didn't help things. It was getting late, we were tired, and they were frustrating us. What to do?
Our cats live primarily in one bathroom (when we aren't at home). While that might seem like "kitty jail" to some people, they are pampered plenty. They have food and water, a large cat tree, and a litter box. They get puzzle/treat toys, have space to wiggle and play, and even get to scratch to their hearts' content on three separate scratching posts. The good news? We have one amazing area for our cats to live safely when we are not at home. The bad news? We only have one litter box, one cat tree, one water dish, and one portable scratching post. We quickly realized that our cats were going to need to be separated overnight. and we were woefully underprepared for such an event.
After some thinking, I grabbed a human bowl for their second water bowl, moved a food dish, made a cozy bed using a pillow and a box (which they loooooove), and fashioned a temporary litter box out of a plastic tub we had in the garage. I split the "old" (clean, scooped) litter between the two pans and added new litter to top them off so that they would both have their old scents in the litter. We put Eddie in the upstairs bathroom and left Annie, still spitting mad, downstairs in their regular bathroom for the night. They both did fine, so we switched them into the opposite bathrooms the next morning. They both had so many new smells to discover! They were both fine the next night when we got home. We thought it was going to take a long time to reintroduce them to each other, but they refused to eat until they got to sniff each other again. Annie sniffed Eddie, Eddie sniffed Annie, and she started licking him. He had quite the bath that night, and they've been fine ever since.
Not sure what got into Eddie that made him less hungry for a while, and we certainly don't know what made Annie go bonkers about her brother, but we're very glad the drama is over.
Since The Incident, The Man and I have made a huge point to spend more time with our cats every day. We've been watching My Cat From Hell on Netflix. Despite the fact that our cats are sweet and well-adjusted (mostly), we have learned all kinds of things from that show. On one hand, we feel like awesome cat guardians as we don't have nightmarish cats. On the other hand, there are things we realize we could do better. The way we play has improved. Our rewards for play are better. I've even been working on teaching the cats tricks. They learned how to "come" a long time ago (so useful!), and I'm trying to teach Eddie to sit. The cats get brushed more often so they shed less, and we've really enjoyed interacting with them more. It's a huge return on a little investment, so we'll definitely continue to work on our cat mojo.
(This, in addition to the rest of my life, is why I have been busy and posting less lately. Sorry. Real life is more important and interesting than online life. You can catch me on Twitter more often than on here, but that isn't saying much.)