3-9-11 – Corbie Wednesday

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Andrea asked:

I’m a long-time reader of your blog, and I’m hoping maybe you (and the other readers) can help me. We have two female cats, 3.5 years old and 1 year old, and three weeks ago, we adopted another 6 month old female. My older cats seem to be used to the kitten, but the kitten still seems deathly afraid of my older cats. Feliway Spray has calmed her down some, but she’s still scared. I’m not sure how to help her, and I’m very against returning her to the shelter. Should I try secluding her again, and reintroducing after another period of time? Or do you have any other experiences/tips to share?

and I said:

Andrea, I think I’d recommend separating them for a while. Spend as much time as you can both with her and with your other cats, and after a few days bring a blanket or bed that has the scent of your other cats into where you’re keeping her. Let her get used to the scent of your other cats, and then if you can, put a hook on the door so that it only opens a few inches. So your other cats can see and smell the kitten and vice versa, but she still has her safe place. If she handles that well, then start allowing her a little supervised time out with the other cats, and then let that stretch to more and more time. I think that a slower introduction to your cats might freak her out less.

and Lita said:

Andrea, can you not wait it out a while longer? Have the older cats ever attacked the kitten that she should be so scared? I think supervised “get-to-know-each-other” times and just patience might be all you can do. If the house cats aren’t threatening the kitten all you can do is wait for her to get used to them. Maybe wipe them down with a towel and put it in the kitten’s bedding or actually put one of their blankies on the kitten’s bed?

and Doodle Bean said:

Hi Andrea, it’s very important to take a lot of time to introduce a new cat to an existing cat household. This guide is helpful and recommends starting the process over again if things go awry, as they have for you. Hope it helps!

and THEN I stumbled across this:

5 Tips for Getting Your New Cat Used to Your Family

Which means we’ve given poor Andrea lots of advice, but if anyone else out there has anything to add, please feel free to do so!

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Truly, it’s almost embarrassing, just how much time I spent telling this boy (and all of you) how beautiful he is.

And he is. He really, really is.



He’s become accustomed to waking up and seeing me standing over him with a camera. It doesn’t even startle him anymore.

“How YOU doin’?”


If he were human, he’d have taken out a restraining order against me. He’d haul my butt into court for stalking him. But I can’t help it. I lurve him. He’s so purrrrrrrrrty. I just wanna touch him with the fangers.



He puts up with my weird stalkery ways because he knows he’s got me wrapped around his little finger. Um. Little claw?

So I haven’t told you exactly what’s going on with Corbie – don’t worry, it’s not bad! It’s just that he’s a thin cat, and in the past couple of months, we’ve noticed that from the waist up (not that cats have waists, but you know what I mean) he looks perfectly fine. But from the waist back, he looks like he’s starving to death. Which he’s NOT, let me tell you, boyfriend can eat when he wants to.

He also has this kind of knock-kneed thing going on that’s hard to explain – he walks fine, but his back two legs kind of go one in front of the other (I’ll attempt to get it on video so you can see what I mean). I originally mistakenly told Fred that Corbie was bowlegged, which triggered a memory, and I thought “What if he has cerebellar hypoplasia?”, but I went and read about it, and watched some videos, but that’s not it. He also can’t really jump – he can get up on the couch if he wants to, but that’s by pulling himself up by his claws rather than jumping. Though he can jump from one surface to another – he jumps from the table next to my recliner, to the back of my recliner – if they’re roughly the same height, but he just can’t jump UP.

This is not something that was going on when he was little – we would have noticed it. It’s something that has come on gradually as he’s grown. Several days before I had surgery, I took him to the vet. She looked him over, took some blood, and then took an x-ray.

Structurally, he’s okay. He’s got a perfect skeleton (and have you seen x-rays of cats? Aren’t they just the neatest things?). The night before I had surgery, the vet called and told me that his blood looked okay, but he had an elevated level of… something (my notes on the topic are hiding in my desk somewhere and I don’t want to go looking for them) and long story short, we should try giving him Taurine and L-Carnitine to build up the muscles in his back end.

Then, of course, I went off and had surgery. About a week and a half later, I remembered about the Taurine and L-Carnitine and I went online and looked around to see what I could find for supplements. There are these treats that have the right amounts of Taurine and L-Carnitine in them, but we’d have to give four treats, twice a day, to Corbie and that seemed like an awful lot to get him to eat, especially considering that we didn’t know if he was going to like the taste. So we ordered L-Carnitine in powder form and Taurine in capsules, with the intention of sprinkling them atop a scoop of Gerber chicken baby food and letting Corbie eat it.

Well, the problem was that to make sure Corbie was the only one ingesting it, Fred had to take him into the guest bedroom. Being locked in the guest bedroom freaked Corbie out, and he wouldn’t touch the stuff. We dithered about what to do for a few days, and then finally Fred just tried mixing the powder with water and shooting it in the back of Corbie’s mouth.

Corbie’s not crazy about it, but he handles it just fine. So he’s been on Taurine and L-Carnitine for about a week, morning and evening. Fred doesn’t think there’s any difference in Corbie, and he’s probably right, but to ME (you know, the woman who stalks Corbie relentlessly), he looks a bit bigger. A bit more muscular.

We’ll keep going with the supplements and see how it goes. It’d be nice if this took care of the issue – though I need to check with the vet and see if this will be a lifelong thing or if we can discontinue the supplements after a while. Whatever the issue is, I can tell you that it hasn’t slowed Corbie down at all. He runs from one end of the house to the other just fine, he plays, he snuggles, he’s a happy boy.

He might have a skinny back end, but he’s perfect to me!




(For the record, Corbie is still officially available for adoption.)

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Wouldn’t you think Newt wants in? Doesn’t he LOOK like he wants in? Like he’s thinking “Brrr, lady, it’s cold out here! Let me in!”?

Not so much. He and Maxi both drive me nuts. They hunker out there and stare at me and they look completely miserable so I go running over and open the door and try to coax them in, and they look at me like “Are you NUTS? I’m not coming in THERE!” and then ignore me. Brats.


2010: Hoyt goes home.
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



3-9-11 – Corbie Wednesday — 17 Comments

  1. Wow! Corbie is really pretty!! How come you never told us?!?!?!?

    Seriously, I didn’t know he had some muscle stuff going on. At least it doesn’t sound progressive or even dire and it sounds like you and Fred are on top of the situation. But still, it kinda stinks.

    On the other hand, cat x-rays are really cool!

    And I hope Andrea finds some good advice in all that so her new kitty can calm down and be as happy as Corbie.

    As for Newt and Maxi, whatchagonnado?

    • Aren’t cat x-rays the neatest? I’d almost like to have a picture of one for the foster room!

  2. Just remembered that Kathy said Reacher pulled himself up into the chair… wonder if he has the same dealio going on?

    • I don’t think he does – when we realized something was going on with Corbie, we took a good look at Reacher to see if there was anything going on with him and he looked perfectly normal.

      To be honest, I was going to suggest Corbie to Kathy instead of Reacher, because Corbie’s less of a scaredy cat and really friendlier than Reacher. But given what the poor woman went through with Maura last year, I think she would have been leery about taking a cat with potential health issues, and who could blame her?

  3. I never noticed but Corbie’s got this lynx thing going on. Love that pic by the fence with his little ears and dark tipped tail. Looks like he should be stalking deer out in the Rockies.

  4. Awwwwww….poor beautiful Corbie. He doesn’t have a luxating patella? I would think the x-rays would show if that were the problem, or he would have trouble getting around.

    I will pray and get my boys purring for him to get all strong and muscly in his back area!

    • No, it’s not a luxating patella, his x-ray was perfect and he has no problems walking (and running), it’s just the jumping up that he can’t quite do.

  5. AWWW Corbie!

    Crossing my fingers for the Taurine and Carnitine to work. I give my 10 month old Taro Lysine with every meal,but have to make sure that our other cat doesnt scarf it down first, so I know what you’re dealing with.

  6. Hi Roby,

    I wrote you an email a month or so ago about your inspiring me to adopt a long term foster. He’s 12 and had a pretty tough life. When we took him to the vet, she confirmed that he’s likely totally deaf (undiagnosed prior to this, but his ears look healthy so he’s probably always been deaf). He also has atrophied muscles in his back legs and walks oddly on his front legs – basically he uses his forearms as paws. Since his muscles in his back legs aren’t developed properly, he can’t really jump (not to mention being declawed in his front paws so he can’t pull himself up). He also loses his balance a lot more than most cats. He doesn’t have the balance to walk on the edges of things but he’ll do it anyway and roll off the couch like it was the most normal thing in the world. He’s terribly well behaved and sweet and is just the right cat for us.

    The vet suggested that his muscles might have developed poorly due to poor nutrition. I know that isn’t Corbie’s problem (We think ours ate a lot of fast food back in the day). But if the problem is based on nutrition, it would make sense that Corbie needs more of some nutrient. There’s nothing we can do about Georgie at this point (we renamed him, he doesn’t even know), but maybe the supplements will help Corbie’s development since he’s still young?

    • I’m hoping it helps – I also wondered if it could be some sort of malabsorption issue causing his muscles to not develop normally, but the vet said she didn’t think so.

      Your boy sounds like a sweetheart. It’s amazing how cats (really, all animals) can adapt, isn’t it?

  7. I read on a rescue site that they have a method they use when rehabbing cats with weak back legs from being kept in small cages. They feed and treat them on a shelf so that they have to stand almost upright while eating. This helps them rebuild the back leg muscles.

    • What a great idea! Corbie likes to stand with his front paws on my knees while I pet him, I think I’m going to encourage him to do that more often!

  8. Aw, sweet Corbie! I hope everything goes well with his treatment. He IS so gorgeous and looks a lot like our little tabby girl Gravy — they both have such nice markings and that rich caramel color on the belly and around the face. Actually, they are surprisingly alike, now that I look again! Gravy has a white bib and is polydactyl (thumb-style), but otherwise they could be from the same litter.

    Hope you are feeling better, Robyn, and that you are up to getting some fosters soon! I’ve missed reading about your babies; I just had to put our old lady cat, Snack, to sleep a couple of weeks ago and I always look forward to reading your blog. It helps to know that there are so many other folks out there in the world who love their furry kids as much as I love mine. Thanks for inviting us into your kitten-fostering life!

    • Thank you, Alexandra, I am feeling very much better and looking forward to having babies in a couple of weeks.

      I’d say that Corbie’s caramel belly is my favorite thing about him, but. Well. You know. EVERYTHING about him is my favorite thing about him. 😀

      And thank YOU (everyone!) for reading. Y’all can probably tell that I can go on and on and ON about my cats and my fosters; it’s nice to have y’all out there reading!

  9. What great suggestions! It’s OK, Robyn, most of us have experienced abject devotion to one or more of our fur friends. (Abject devotion sounds so much better than relentless stalking, eh?) Corbie has been special since the beginning.

  10. Poor Corb! Maybe he could eat his baby food treat off a spoon, out of your hand, or on top of a counter so no one else gets it?