My Week in Cats.
Remember how about a week and a half ago, I told you how two new cats showed up within a day of each other, and I hoped they weren’t dumped? Well, as it turns out we’ve only glimpsed Newman once or twice since then, and both times he was heading to a particular house down the road. I’m guessing that he belongs to them (that, or maybe they offer better food than we do!) and was just coming by here to visit.
Rufus, on the other hand, stuck around. We weren’t seeing him all the time, but we were seeing him several times a day, and very often he was either watching or hunting birds in the side yard. He had no interest in making friend with us – any time we set foot outside, he ran to a safe distance and kept an eye on us. But any time he saw one of our cats in the back yard, his tail would pop straight up, and several times we saw him rubbing against the fence with one of our cats on the other side giving him disgusted “I don’t KNOW you, stop that!” looks.
The more I watched him, the more concerned I got. “If that isn’t a pregnant female, that’s a female getting ready to go into heat,” I fretted. And “Doesn’t that LOOK like a pregnant cat? Look at the belly!” Finally, around dinnertime on Sunday, with bad weather on the way, I looked out to see Rufus sitting under one of the bird feeders, eating bird seed that had been knocked to the ground.
“Oh god, he’s so hungry he’s eating bird seed!” I said. “I think maybe you need to get out there and trap him. He’s going to go off and have kittens in the woods, and we’ll never get hold of them!”
“There’s cat food on the side porch!” Fred objected.
“He’s too scared to come up on the side porch because whenever he does, you rush out there and try to touch him!” I said.
We dithered about it for a while longer, and then finally I gave the go-ahead for Fred to trap him. Fred went out to get Newt and bring him inside (so he wouldn’t end up in the trap), and Rufus ran off behind the garage. Fred set up the trap, baited it with mackerel, and then came back inside.
Literally, in less than three minutes, Rufus was inside that trap, freaking out about being trapped.
We got the foster room set up, and then Fred brought Rufus – trap and all – upstairs, opened it, and let him out.
This was Rufus on Sunday.
Fred kept going in and spending time with Rufus Sunday evening – we were still unable to get a look at Rufus’s back end, so didn’t know yet whether we were dealing with a pregnant female or not – and Rufus was pretty freaked out. When we first let him out of the trap, he jumped up onto the window sill in an attempt to get out. He finally ended up under the cat tree for the most part.
At one point, Fred was in there with Rufus, and I was in the bedroom changing my clothes, and he called “I… I need some help in here!” As it turned out, he needed paper towels and cleaning spray, and I brought them in to him, expecting to see that Rufus had had an accident.
Rufus had had an accident, alright. There was poop ON THE WALL five feet up, and several feet away there was more poop on the window sill. Fred mumbled something about how Rufus had jumped up on the window sill and pooped, then jumped up on the cat tree and… actually, I don’t remember exactly how he explained away the wall poop. But he later confessed that he’d tried to pick Rufus up, and Rufus lost his mind, did some ninja moves, and Bob’s yer uncle, there was poop on the wall. Not a small amount either, mind you.
Fred was able to pet Rufus on Sunday and put Advantage on him to kill any fleas, but that was about it.
Monday afternoon, he was able to determine that Rufus was not, in fact, a pregnant female but a male. Rufus wasn’t actually coming out to be petted or anything, but if we pulled him out of his hiding place under the cat tree, he’d sit in our laps and purr.
By the time Fred got home from work Wednesday, Rufus was coming over to us (with some coaxing) to be petted. With Fred’s permission, I made the appointment on Friday to have Rufus tested and neutered. Fred and I approach the whole visit to the vet thing completely differently when it comes to the cats who show up in our yard. I prefer to whisk them off to the vet immediately to have them tested and (if they’re old enough) fixed, to get it over with. Fred, on the other hand, doesn’t want to “traumatize” them, and prefers to wait. Since he’s in charge of taming semi-ferals, I usually let him have his way.
Rufus tested negative (thank god) and his fecal showed that he only had some easily-treated worms. This was an amazing bit of news, because almost every cat we have coming through here tests positive for either giardia (HATE giardia) or coccidia (HATE coccidia).
We brought Rufus home and settled him in the guest bedroom. He reverted to his scaredy-cat ways at first, but now he’s pretty much coming out and letting us give him love. Since we know he’s safe for the other cats to be around, we’ve let Jake in to hang out with him. Rufus was very excited to see Jake, but Jake takes a little while to warm up, and so far is only hissing and smacking at Rufus. I’m sure that’ll change in time.
We’ll work with Rufus, and when he’s tamed enough (and there’s room at Petsmart), he’ll go to be adopted.
The vet estimated his birth date as August 1st of last year, which puts him at about 7 months old. Fred prefers to think that Rufus is from the same litter as Alice, who he prefers to think of as from the same litter as Marty.
On Tuesday, I got an email from the Challenger’s House manager. We’d emailed back and forth since we brought Rufus inside, getting her permission to make him a Challenger’s House foster, and she wondered if we wanted a pregnant cat to foster as well.
Did I? Of course I did! BUT Fred is still doing the bulk of the work around here, and so I told him it was up to him. That I wanted a pregnant cat, but if he didn’t want to, I wouldn’t give him a hard time. He hemmed and hawed about it, but ultimately said that he didn’t want to put Rufus in the guest bedroom, thus closing off a second room and perhaps causing our cats to go on a rage-induced peeing extravaganza.
So I told her no, but that in a few weeks I’d take any pregnant mamas or kittens that came along.
She understood, of course, but she is a wily, wily one. Because she sent out an email on Thursday to a bunch of Challenger’s House foster moms saying that in recent days she’d had calls from various places and needed foster homes for two pregnant cats and a cat with some 4 month-old kittens and two additional (almost year-old) kittens. I forwarded the email to Fred.
He said that if I wanted to take a pregnant cat it was okay with him, but he was NOT ready to let go of Rufus yet (Susan had said in the email on Tuesday that if we wanted to take the pregnant cat, Rufus could go to the shelter, but Fred is determined to keep Rufus here ’til he’s ready for Petsmart). I said we could put Rufus in the guest bedroom and just deal with the fallout from our cats. He said that as long as getting the cat into our house didn’t make extra work for him (in other words, he didn’t want to have to make a special trip to get her or anything), then okay.
So when we picked Rufus up from the vet on Friday, we also picked up one of the pregnant cats (who had been delivered that morning to be tested) and brought her home, too.
Her story, quickly, is that her owners moved and left her. (Grrr.) A guy who lived in the neighborhood fed her for a few weeks and another local organization referred him to Challenger’s House.
She’s a sweet, friendly girl, to my relief. We brought her home and set her free in the foster room, and she explored, hissed a few times, and then decided we were okay.
Honestly, I kind of thought that by the time I got this entry written and posted, I’d be reporting not that we have a pregnant cat, but that we have a momma cat and kittens! She is huge, and as they said at the vet’s, she’s ready to pop.
Given that Thursday is St. Patrick’s day, I’m going with an Irish naming theme. Momma kitty has been named Mary Margaret McMao, and we’ll be calling her Maggie.
I have a list of Irish names suggested last year that I’m planning to pull from. I’m going to list them below, but y’all feel free to add more! The names that are crossed out can’t be used because they’ve been used in the past by previous Challenger’s House cats.
As a note, the first name that came to mind when I knew we were getting a pregnant cat was Siobhan. I emailed Fred and asked his opinion, and he said:
Absolutely not. a) that name annoys me. If it’s gonna sound like it has a ‘V’ in it, it better have a ‘V’ in it. b) Hell’s Kitchen
(He loathed Siobhan, who was on Hell’s Kitchen last season or the season before or whenever the last season was that we watched it. I don’t remember that season and I don’t remember who won, but I certainly remember Fred’s hatred for Siobhan.)
So those are the names under consideration (obviously, I have no clue how many or of what sex kittens we’ll end up with); if you have a favorite, feel free to suggest it!
And now we’re officially on BABYWATCH 2011.
Signs that she’s ready to go into labor NOW: She’s restless and when we visit with her, she doesn’t spend much time sitting or laying down, she’s always on the move. She’s got prominent nipples (I feel like a perv saying that, but it’s TRUE.)
Sign that she’s planning to wait a while: She’s eating like a horse, and I’ve heard/read that her appetite will drop off in the day or so before she goes into labor. Her nipples are pale pink (I feel like someone told me they’d get dark before she went into labor) and her milk sacs, though defined if you really pay attention and feel around, are not full.
Hopefully it happens soon. I can’t wait to get some babies in this house! (Assuming all goes well, she’ll be taking care of them for the first few weeks, and I get to just swoop in and be Fun Auntie Robyn, with the petting and kissing and none of the bottle feeding or bottom wiping!)
Maggie has a very distinctive “voice.” When we walk into the room, she comes over and talks to us. I had to get it on video, of course, so y’all could hear her too.
2010: Hoyt and Bill updates.
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.