Kitties…

It has been a little while since I made an update about our latest feral kitty, the tiny and very autistic kitty, Zeeta.  And that is because change is slow with Zeeta.  Zeeta is a kitty of routines, and you must never vary Zeeta’s routines.  Sameness is the glue that holds her world together.  “Change,” says little Zeeta, “is EVIL.”

I recently had a very fine reminder of this.

Because I have been sick, I have had a tendency to get up at least 5 times in the night.  And Zeeta had worked this behavior of mine into her “world view”.  We had a routine.  She would come into my room at night, hop up on my bed, get love and snuggles until a  sound or movement sent her fleeing into my closet.  And there she would stay until I got up for my drink of water, and returned.  At that point, Zeeta would come out and make her inquiring “mak” sound, asking if she could get on the bed.  And I was supposed to say, “hup, hup”, pat the bed, and she’d hop up, get love, and then settle until the next thing scared her.

Well, I’ve been doing better.  And one night, after she fled to the closet, I stayed asleep.  Fast asleep, until I was awakened by a very odd noise.

It was a noise that cannot be properly described in text.   It needs … an illustration, and it went something like this:

mak

Zeeta was walking back and forth next to my bed, occasionally doing circles, with hair practically on end.    She was so upset that it took her a minute to register that I was calling her.   When I finally got her to come up to the bed, she continued to “mak” at me, because of the horror, and it took a lot of loving to settle her down, because … Change.  I’d changed my routine and threw off Zeeta’s entire world.

In the morning, after the dust had fully settled, I did find it terribly amusing.  Because I am an evil, heartless, Cat-Mommy.   But the upside was that her experience actually lead to some improvement in Zeeta’s state.

The next few nights, when “the thing” scared her, she hesitated at the edge of my bed.  You could see the wheels moving, as she considered that if she got off the bed, maybe I wouldn’t wake up, and she’d be stuck on the floor, “mak’ing”.   The hesitation led to her sometimes deciding just to settle at the end of my bed looking uncertain.

Nights went by with her discovering that staying on the bed did not lead to carnage and bloodshed.

And last night?  There was no fleeing at all.  She stayed with me, either laying on me or by my side.  The little bugger was actually happy all night!

I don’t know what’ll happen next because I have noticed a definite, “One Step Forward, Two Back” thing with the Zeeta.  Still!  Change!  For Zeeta, that’s really something!

Of course, none of this alters how she is when I am NOT in bed.  I still can’t pet her or pick her up during the day.  Verticle, walking Humans are still quite scary.  In Zeeta’s mind, only being horizontal in my bed makes me safe.   And if we are outside the house, she reverts to completely feral.  Super-duper Feral.  Even the three feral cats we feed outside the house are more comfortable around us than she is when we’re walking.

For an example, Mr. Biggie, our very old, feral cat hangs around us in a mildly social way when we’re puttering about in the yard.  He keeps a buffer zone of at least 8 feet, but generally does not flee like Zeeta does when we, um, move.  And Mr. Biggie always gives her a look for it, as if to say, “Really?  You live in their house.  What the @#$ are you running for?”   I think he figures Zeeta has the good life, and is putting on “feral kitty aires”.

Poor old Mr. Biggie.  Jatina is hoping he will move in with us this Winter.  She worries a lot about him because he is such an old kitty.  I suspect he will.  I’ve caught him peeking inside the house lately when the door is open for a breeze.  I think it is just a matter of time.  He is already testing the waters.

And?  Cienna’s friend “Baby” has been doing much the same.

We’re going to become the Crazy Cat ladies, aren’t we?  That Destiny approaches, and it’s inevitable, isn’t it?

Ah well.  At least it keeps the rats away.

And I really do like having a kitty sleeping on my bed.   What’s one more?

 

 

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Breakthrough Baby

Well, at least a very nice step forward.

For some time now, Jatina has listened to me talk about poor, wee Zeeta and her unsuccessful attempts to sleep on the bed with me and Maggie-dog. Every night, usually more than once, little Zeeta would tippy-toe into my room, and kitten-cry asking to come on my bed. I would call her up, and she would jump up and try to settle, but invariably somebody would move, or cough, or I would pull the blanket over my shoulders … and it would scare the crap out of Zeeta and she would flee out my door and down the hallway.

So Jatina went and prepped a tiny cat box for my room, and told me to take Zeeta with me when I went to bed and just shut the door and lock her in. Maybe then, she’d know for sure that I wanted her in there with me.

So … Night Number One … was mostly about Zeeta roaming around the room crying.

Night Number Two, however, started the same way, but after about an hour, she gave up and got on my bed. This didn’t mean that she didn’t flee the bed over various sounds and movements, but after each one, if I called her, she did hop back up on the bed and laid down.

But then, after a couple of nights, to my delight, I noticed that Zeeta had begun going into my room during the day to nap. After this, she suddenly became much more confident in my room at night. I’d lay down and Zeeta was now a cute, cuddly kitten-cat, rubbing her head on me, rolling around, wanting and demanding much, much love. Before, of course, hearing something scary and jumping off. But now she always comes back and makes it plain that EVERY TIME she comes back, I must cuddle/pet her for at least five minutes.

Zeeta even, one night, when I put my “cat-petting hands” away by stuffing them under my pillow, she pushed her head under, found my pinky nail, grabbed it with her front teeth and tried to pull it out from under the pillow. Then, seemed to realize what she was doing and almost jumped off the bed, but I kept on saying “you’re such a cute kitty, so cute, so cute” and she came back. Though she looked chastened about the teeth grabbing thing. I think she expected me to punish her for the “nip”.

And now? Best of all? Zeeta has decided that instead of freaking out when she is in the hallway and someone comes toward her, that instead, she can LEAD them to my bedroom. BECAUSE if she can get the human into my bedroom, and on the bed with her, it is all good. She can be silly and get cuddles, because my room, is, I guess, A Magical Place.

Outside my room … however, is still “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” for kitties. There is much work yet to be done with Zeeta and the rest of the house. Really. You should hear her howl if we have to pick her up. But hey, still! We Haz Improvement! And I feel really proud that she has decided that my room is her safe place. Jatina was right!

And that’s where we are right now. And it’s a good place.

Time to Talk About Zeeta.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t really talked about Zeeta.  Mostly because it has been a great deal more difficult working with her.

With Cienna, that darling little, black cat was TRULY feral.  She was born wild, and her main fear of humans was that we were an unknown, and might want to eat her.

Zeeta, however, had learned about humans.  And none of it was good.  This was a cat, we are pretty sure, that was beaten and abused.  She was lame when she first showed up, and still favors that leg from time to time.  She is afraid of being picked up.  Afraid of hands.  Afraid of anyone getting too close.  Terrified if we pick something up, certain that we are going to throw it at her.  Or if we walk by her she flinches and freezes as if we might kick her.

She has gotten better.  But it has been very slow.

She no longer hides, unless startled by a sound, and she does come back out before too long a time.  But she still “tip-toes”.  I thought at first she had malformed nails because we always heard “tick tick tick tick” when she walks.  But recently, as she has become more settled, we noted that the sound came from her walking on her toes like an abused child does.  But when she’s happier, she doesn’t, so no “tick tick”.

She also has very “Autistic” behaviors.

She will, for instance, come and sit on my lap IF I have the fuzzy blanket.  And IF it has the right side up because she can only lay on the dark-colored side.  The light-side seems to be Evil.  Also, my legs have to be in the right places.  Bend one knee different, and she gets scared.

How it works is this: she walks up, and makes this “Ack” noise.  If I call her and pat my lap, and if the blanket and legs are right, she hops up and lays down happily.

If they are not right… she freezes when she sees the “wrongness”.  Then she backs up, makes the “ack” noise again, comes forward, sees the “wrongness” again, and backs up again.  This continues until I fix it.  It is like it creates a malfunction in her mind.  She sees that I am on the couch, and there is a blanket, and so it must be right, but then it isn’t, and she can’t accept that reality, so she keeps on trying and stalling.

She will come into my room and get on my bed at night now.  But she can’t stay.  She comes in, gets some loving, but when I go to sleep, she lays there until she starts to dose.  But the moment that happens, she startles awake and flees in a panic.  This happens multiple times every night.

On the upside, she no longer hides under the sink.  And she will play where we can see her now.  And occasionally, if the right side of the blanket is up, she will lay between Jatina and I on the couch, and THERE she will sleep.  Just as long as nobody has to get up, needs to move a leg or wants to read a paper.

And?  The best thing?  She looks at us now.

Before she was too afraid to meet our eyes.  She’d walk around the house with eyes closed or nearly closed.  And whenever we petted her or picked her up, the eyes always slammed shut.

So… Baby Steps.  One tiny, tippy-toe step at a time.

 

Sharing da Love

Sometimes, I think Jatina is a Cat Whisperer.  Because today, when Xedo came around asking for food, Jatina had a plan.  She put down the food and stood waiting for the furious Cienna to come round to try and chase Xedo off.  Then Jatina quickly bent and began petting both of them simultaneously.

It stopped Cienna mid-complaint, and she settled and decided that this was okay.  Xedo found it acceptable, too.

We have speculated that the crux of Cienna rage at our petting Xedo is a fear of being replaced.  Of all those feral kitties, she was the one we brought inside, and she probably has no idea why we choose her.  And now here we are making nice-nice to another kitty.  Maybe she thought we liked Xedo better.

By petting them both together, Jatina made it clear that Cienna is still loved, even if we might also like the Xedo cat now, too.

I am curious to see if Cienna still tries to chase Xedo off today.  Or if now, they’re friends again.

We’ll see…

Is This The Beginning of The Saga of Another Feral Kitty?

Jatina put food out for Tuxedo cat in the sunroom off the porch today.  And Cienna is wandering the house yowling and meowing over the Injustice of this new development.

The thing to remember is this:

Prior to Jatina petting the little guy/gal a week ago, Cienna loved Tuxedo. They played a lot in the yard.

But now?  Ze is the devil.

Oh?  And we’re calling him/her “Xedo” now.

Anyway, ze’s a sweetie.  And little bit lame in one leg.  And Xedo now sleeps on the porch couch.  And Cienna spends every afternoon trying to chase Xedo off.  Which he/she ignores completely, because Cienna is tiny.  Xedo is tiny too, but more solidly built tiny.

We don’t plan to catch Xedo.  But if ze should decide to come inside, ze is quite welcome.  Though there will be a vet vist soon after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cienna Both Approves and Disapproves the Feeding of the Other Feral Kitties.

Port Angeles has a rat problem.  When we moved into this house, we discovered that terrible truth with great dismay.  We tried traps and baits but there were just too freaking many of them.

Jatina read on the web that just having cats around can make a huge difference.  Lady mice will not breed in areas where cats frequent.  And so we started feeding the ferals in our neighborhood, which got us Cienna, and also nipped the rat problem in the bud.

Even after we had Cienna, we continued to feed them.  And we now have about four that come by every day for food and water, and shelter under our house.

Cienna seems to think that this is just fine.  She behaves as if she is now the patron saint of feral kitties.  She meows at us if we forget to put food out, and a cat is outside waiting.  And she does not touch that food, but sits nearby and watches them eat, very benevolently.  She even plays with a couple of them regularly.

One kitty, a little tuxedo cat, has become braver over the months and has taken to meowing at us if he sees us in the yard and wants food.  As time has passed, he has come closer and closer to us, but has never come close enough to let us touch him.  But today, Jatina waited very patiently with an outstretched hand with food in it, and he finally came close enough.  She tentatively reached out to pet his head, and he allowed it.

Then, from behind came an outraged meow, and Cienna leaped over, tail puffed, and scared him off.

I guess feeding the ferals is just fine.  But we best not get any screwy ideas about bringing home another one…

P.S.

He did come back and eat later.  Don’t worry!  He haz full tummy.