9-25-15 Friday

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Does Stinkerbelle spend more time on the ground with the peasants now? How is she dealing with Tommy’s death? Did she ever spot Maxi and think it was Tommy?

Stinkerbelle’s not really spending any more time on the ground than before – she comes down to eat or use the litter box, might let Fred pet her ONCE, and then she’s back atop the kitchen cabinets. She’s our very own kitchen witch! Her behavior hasn’t changed as far as I can tell, she demands her morning snack along with everyone else, and glares down at us if we’re being annoying.

She hasn’t mistaken Maxi for Tommy in many years. She did once or twice when she was a kitten, but she learned pretty quickly that Maxi was not going to give up the cuddles. Of course, Maxi doesn’t come inside very much, either – she doesn’t like other cats at all except for Newt (who, really, she only tolerates), and so she prefers to hang out on the side stoop or in the garage. If it’s cold or rainy she’ll favor us with her presence very briefly before demanding to go back outside.


Does wee Badger need the Sugarbutt treatment perhaps?

I did try a sugar compress on Badger’s sore back end, and it didn’t really help. I used Desitin, which didn’t really help. Then Connie mentioned the idea of using coconut oil, and it actually does seem to have helped! It’s still a little red and sore looking, but not nearly as bad as it was this time last week. (I’ll do an update on the BeeBees and their back end issues down in the section where I post their pictures.)


Speaking of strays, a question for you Robyn (and your other readers)– when you have a kitty come around, how do you determine if it is just visiting or if it is looking for permanent residence? I ask because I believe that someone has abandoned their indoor/outdoor cat in my apartment complex (probably after moving away). I have affectionately named her Chalupa and she might be in heat (a feral male has been shadowing her). She is looking skinnier than normal and has extended her roaming range. She often comes by to longingly gaze at my kitties and their pampered life through the window. I am not looking for any new additions, but I do volunteer for a rescue organization that could find her a great home. I just don’t want to abduct someone’s cat. Does a note on a collar work? What do you write?

I can tell you that around here, if a cat shows up and is really hungry, hangs around a lot, and only takes a little while to warm up, they’re probably strays – though we do check with the neighbors, just to be safe.

I would put a note on her collar that simply says something like “Hi, this kitty has been coming around my house a lot. I want to make sure she has a home and is cared for – if she’s yours, can you let me know?” and include your preferred contact information. I’ve put notes on collars a few times in the past and never heard anything – though I did it once, and the cat never came around again, so I suspect his owners decided to keep him inside!


Abigail said: My folks, now retired, are both veterinarians. Neither worked with cats and neither much like them (I am the outlier in the family in several senses). Whenever I’d foster little babies, which wasn’t terribly often, my father would tell me that ‘everyone knew’ that bottle raised kittens grew up to be troubled cats as adults. He could never explain what the trouble was and how it was different than the type of trouble ALL adult cats are, and I never heard it from anyone other than him, but still. He disapproved of bottle raising kittens based on some old country vet folklore he couldn’t explain. I’d be interested in knowing if anyone else has ever heard this thing that everyone knows, and can provide more details on the particular type of trouble these cats grow up to display.

Maggie said: The only thing I have ever seen about bottle babies is the fact that our local shelter tries to foster them (ideally starting when they’re being bottle-fed but at least after weaning) in a house where there’s an adult cat, so they can learn how to be a cat.

I had a bottle baby years ago, and he was an only cat until he was about 1-1/2 (and the second cat was also a bottle baby, so he was no help). He was always a little goofy, and definitely preferred humans to other cats, but he wasn’t a problem at all–he was very good-natured and easy-going. The second bottle-baby was a special case, in that he was pretty obviously slightly brain-damaged (he was found at about 2 weeks old in a garbage bag in the dumpster of my apartment complex. The rest of his litter didn’t survive, and he almost didn’t make it himself), so I have no idea whether being bottle-fed had any effect on him. He was very sweet, but very skittish because everything confused him.

one cranky lady said: I can only speak from my experience, in that 1) I’ve never heard that bottle babies were more trouble as adults, and 2) the greatest cat my family ever had was bottle-raised before we adopted him. He was different, sure, but in good ways — he was a very calm, mellow, yet curious cat. Car trips didn’t phase him, visitors to the house were always objects of interest, and he had a charming habit of sitting with our elderly next-door neighbors on their porch every evening as they enjoyed the sunset. We took him to the vet without need of carrier or harness, and when someone in the family was sad or crying, he insisted on being near them, whereupon he would assume the kittyloaf position and purr like crazy. I don’t know if he was with other cats before he came to us, but I agree with what Maggie said about fostering bottle babies with other cats. I think that’s a good idea.

I’ve never heard that bottle-fed kittens are troubled; I’ll be interested to hear if anyone else has heard that!

I will say that I’ve only had one bottle baby (Maddy) who was a singleton, and I’d never do that again. Kittens very much need other kittens around as they grow, so they know how to relate to each other. If I ever end up with another singleton, I’ll find someone around their own age to join them ASAP.


Holly said: Okay, I looked and I knew your readers would want to know:
You must like the names Peter and Paul. You have fostered the following “Peter”‘s and “Paul”‘s:
Peter Brady=Brady Bunch
Petey Pickle=Pickles
Skinny Pete=BeeBees
Paulie Walnuts=Sopranos
Paul Simon
I will let someone else work the girls out. I don’t think Mary was used much but I think Lucy and Molly are possible #1 contenders.

Thanks, Holly! I DO like the names Peter and Paul! I wouldn’t have guessed that I’ve used them both so many times, though.

Mary was used at least twice – Maggie’s official name was Mary Margaret, but I never ever ever called her that (and then of course there was Mary from PP&M). I just love the name Maggie and it had been used before, so “Mary Margaret” was my workaround.


I love this picture of Zuke. He’s such a beautiful boy!

“NO, I wasn’t reading in bed when I was supposed to be sleeping, and I didn’t put my book under my bed, that would be CRAZY.” Uh huh, Calabash, tell us another one.

Zuke considers his next move.

“Lady, why you so weird?”

All 8 in one picture! Not all in focus or all looking in my direction, but whatcha gonna do?

Spitz is looking very Loon-eriffic.

Phelps has Deep Thoughts.

Zucchini, Pattypan, Calabash and Ambercup are all officially scheduled for their spays and neuter next Thursday! They’ll be 12 weeks that day, can you believe it?


“One of these days I’m going to figure out how to get out of this tub, lady, and there’s gonna be TROUBLE!” (Skinny Pete)

Oh, Combo. You and your tongue!

Badger has a concern.

I put a small litter box in the tub with these guys, and for the first day they ignored it. Then yesterday morning I was feeding Combo. He was eating just fine, then stopped eating and pulled his head away from the bottle, looked disgusted, and spit out three pieces of litter. So apparently he thinks he’s a hamster and was saving some extra litter for later. When I went in to feed them last night, one of them had peed in the litter box like a little 3 1/2 week old genius.

Poop talk below; skip to the next section if you’d rather not read it (it’s not graphic, but I know some of you would just rather not hear about it).

So, the diarrhea that Skinny Pete, Combo and Badger have been having – and for which I took Badger to the vet last week – has only improved to the point where they aren’t soiling their bedding in between feedings, so that’s good. But every single time I potty them, I get diarrhea, and a lot of it; and it stinks particularly bad (like rotten eggs). Yesterday marked a week they’d been on the medication, thus a recheck was in order. I dropped them off at the vet yesterday morning and had breakfast with friends. When I got back, they hadn’t finished up yet, so I waited. Basically, they’re loaded with something (the vet isn’t sure what), and we’re changing their medication, which will hopefully help. They’ll go back Tuesday for a recheck, and I’m hoping that by then I’ll be getting something OTHER than diarrhea from them!

As I mentioned earlier in the post, coconut oil on his bottom and at the base of his tail has helped alleviate the awful soreness Badger was suffering from. It’s still a little red, but not nearly as bad as it was, thankfully.


Sheriff Mama (Kara) thinks you’d better check yo’self before you wreck yo’self because she is keeping an eye on you and your shenanigans.


2014: “You’re INSANE!” says Ralph. “A BALL. Of all the crazy ideas!”
2013: She wubs the babies.
2012: He’s such a Magoo.
2011: No entry.
2010: No entry.
2009: “What you MEAN ‘no more belly rubs’?!”
2008: No entry.
2007: Look who’s back!
2006: She might have a ways to go in the brain department though – really, what can you expect from a one-month old? – because she’s not quite getting the whole “doorway” concept.
2005: No entry.



9-25-15 Friday — 23 Comments

  1. I am currently fostering (or foster-failing, it is currently undecided) a momcat and her single kitten (the others were stillborn or died just after birth and this one barely survived-mama rejected it at first & my hubs had to cut the cord!) Since mom is there with it, do you think he’ll be ok without littermates? I’ve heard kittens learn not to bite by playing with each other, and when one squeaks, the other knows they’ve bitten too hard. Momcat plays with him sometimes. No, I mean she plays *with* him. Like he’s a toy. He’s only 2 weeks old! But he seems to be ok so far, and she’s gentle. I think she’s not much more than a kitten herself, and bored all alone locked up in one room.

    Also, do you do any kind of hygiene precautions coming into or going out of foster rooms to your permanent residents? (Obviously not counting poopy kittens. I’m sure you wash up after THAT.) or if everyone looks healthy enough, you don’t bother? Mamas been tested, and I’m pretty sure no one has fleas, though I haven’t used any treatment, but I wash my hands after being in her room. I don’t wash before, maybe I should? (I have 7 permanent residents)

    • I can’t answer for Robyn, but I have had a mom with a single kitten (surrogate mom at that). Silver turned out fine…bearing in mind that once she was big enough and tested/vaccinated she got out to interact with my adults as well. Plus I suspect her mom had kittens prior to her so Marble was pretty laid back about the whole thing.

      Precautions? I make sure to wash my hands everytime I go in and out with my fosters.

      • I agree with Random Felines – I think the kitten will be fine.

        I also wash (or use hand sanitizer) before and every visit with fosters. When they’ve got diarrhea – like the BeeBees do – I have a t-shirt and pants that I only wear in the room with them, then change clothes when I leave the room.

    • That’s one of the things I love about her, too. If Kara had a taser, we’d all be GOIN’ DOWN and floppin’ like fish on the lawn!

  2. Unrelated question for Robyn: How do you like that alarm clock? (it’s the kind that shines the time on the ceiling, yes?) I have often considered getting one like that so I don’t have to put my glasses on to see what time it is.

    • I actually bought it to put in the foster room (the clock I had in there wasn’t keeping time well), but it’s so bright in the foster room during the day that I couldn’t see the numbers. Fred said he’d give it a try, so it’s in his room now. He likes it a lot – the face of the clock is too bright for me and it would bug me, but it doesn’t bother him.

  3. When we get single orphans (and that happened a couple of years ago with Wednesday the Freeway kitten) as soon as they are up an running around, I bring in one of my kitten like neutered males (there are usually at least one or two). We bring them in for short periods of time, but very often they “fall in love” with the baby within hours and that’s that.

    A single kitten (or kittens) have one objective after their physical needs are met, that is to follow a larger cat-shaped object around and learn “cat.” If there is no cat, a friendly dog will do and if there are no other animals they need a lot of extra human attention and you have to teach them things like “no-bite/lick” and “soft paw” yourself; but it is much better to find at least another kitten for a companion or a friendly older cats.

    Kittens should of course, never be left with older cats until it is certain a bond is established but some neutered males that are fixed early stay kitten like and kitten friendly all their lives (it just depends on the cat). Sometimes spayed females will “adopt” kittens as well…

    • I love this about following a larger cat-shaped object around and learning “cat”!

      I’ve had a bunch of foster litters and one litter-with-mama, and it was amazing how much faster the ones with a mama learned how to use the litter box and eat solid food. See mom do thing, watch, learn.

  4. We’ve only raised one bottle baby and she ended up being “part” of another litter once she was weaned. Bug truly thought she was people though and we suspect she may have thought the other kittens were aliens around for her entertainment.

  5. My morning radio show was talking about all the things you can use coconut oil for so I’m not suprised it’s helping the Badger bum.

  6. The only bottle-fed kitten I had was having trouble eating, just wouldn’t touch cat food, neither wet or dry. I tried lots of stuff, but she just kept wanting the bottle. Eventually, I put her in with my other adult cats (closely supervised) and within a few hours, she was eating dry kibble. For some reason, it took her seeing another cat eating to make that transition. She remained with my other indoor cats, 6 at the time, and all was well. She became the largest cat I ever had, and was a total lap-cat, sweet-nature.

  7. In my opinion, if the stray cat is getting thinner, seems to be in heat and is constantly at your place, the chance of ownership is small. If they are owned, they don’t deserve their cat back. Again, just my opinion.

    Truth: I may have “liberated” a wonderful black cat that was marginally “owned”. He lived a very happy life with us and was a marvelously well-behaved boy.

  8. I can’t give advice on bottle baby kittens, but I’d agree they need to have other kittens/cats around.

    We found a boxer mix puppy who was only a week or so old and raised him. At the time we had two cats but no dogs. That poor dog thought he was a cat until he was around 18 months or so and we adopted a very motherly-type German Shepherd. She set him straight, but he always, always, did the sideways hop on tiptoes when he tried to get another animal to play with him.

    Both our cats at the time were female. The Siamese wasn’t interested, but our Tortie took over some of the bathroom responsibilities and loved to mother him.

  9. I love Abigail’s question-because I have two cats that were bottle raised. The first cat, Simba-was brought to the vet to be euthanized, his rib cage was deformed. Thankfully one of the vets decided to try something, put him in a cast and expanded his chest. Long story short, Simba is now 16 years old, and has always been the funniest, friendliest, most personable cat ever. I always attributed to the fact that he spend almost 4 months at a vet clinic, where he was handled a lot, and given lots of love. Seriously, you call this cat, he comes running like a dog would. When we brought him home, he immediately bonded with our other cat, who was actually feral when we got him, a year or so earlier. They are a Band of Brothers.

    The newest cat, Mewlan-bottle fed-but as ornery a cat as I ever saw. She likes me, but wants NOTHING to do with the other cats. She was a rescue at as a newborn, (not by us), bottle fed with two littermates, lots of love-but she has no interest in the boys. She hates them! She is going on 3 yrs old, and has never warmed up to them.

    So I have a question-are male cats friendlier than females?

    So my thoughts-is 3 a crowd? I am looking at my 2 male cats this minute, and they are curled up together and happy as clams. She is in the bedroom, seemingly perfectly content.

    • I think male cats might be friendlier, just based on my own anecdotal evidence. My own (female) cat has never liked any of the male foster kittens I’ve brought home. She hisses at them and whacks them with a paw if they get too close. The females… well, she doesn’t LIKE them, but she at least tolerates them.

      Random pulled-out-of-my-ass theory: The girl cats have to protect their kittens, so they’re meaner?

    • Neutered male cats tend to be more kitten friendly but full toms are more likely to kill kittens so breeders only allow Daddy visits under supervision.

      Some tom cats DO love their kittens but you can’t count on; spayed females may go all maternal on adopted kittens, but you can’t count on. My Poppy was rescued from a backyard breeder and she cries and goes nuts if I listen to sound to baby kitten videos – if we had known, we would have introduced them The Wombles litter (now over a year old) because we got them at the same time but we had no idea.

      Even then, I can’t count for sure on her being kitten crazy but my hunch is the next time we have rescue babies she will play, wash and other wise adopt them if we go slow.

      For some reason a large number of neutered males tend to love kittens, some will even carry them around like a Mom Cat, hold them down, wash them and do all the Momma cat things – they can’t feed them but they let them nurse their fur; and I’ve seen them bring back prey for older kittens.

      I suspect it is a hormonal thing, and the boys that love kittens even if they are snipped as older adults, are the same former tom cats that made good Daddy cats.

      But always go slow when introducing an adult cat to a kitten, sometimes they just walk right over with a “ug, needs washing; someone’s got to” and start babysitting right away, other cats take a few days to decide to go with the program.

      This is also why two kittens is always a good idea if you have one older cat; so if the old geezer or madam isn’t interested and wants to spend their time glaring from the top of the fridge, the kittens have each other.

    • I think it really depends on the cat, but I will say that our adult males are more willing to put up with kittens than the females have ever been. Of course, Maxi and Kara want NOTHING to do with kittens, and I think it might have to do with the fact that they raised their own kittens and they’re of the opinion that they are DONE with mothering.

  10. Could it be Giardia? That’s the only thing that’s ever killed one of my fosters (from dehydration since the diarrhea was so bad), so of course I’m hyper-paranoid about it.

    • No, it’s not Giardia. Every single kitten I’ve fostered (well, not maybe ‘every single’, but close) has had either Giardia or Coccidia (and very often, both). It’s epidemic in this area, and the vet would have recognized it. That said – the meds they’re on treats both Giardia and Coccidia (along with other things) – so hopefully they’ll help. They haven’t made a different yet, but it’s only been about two days, so there’s still time for it to kick in. (Please please please let it kick in!)

  11. We found our kitten Fox outside under a neighbor’s house screaming his head off. He still had rounded ears so I think he was about 3 weeks old. We had 3 other (fixed) male cats at the time who I never worried about but I kept Fox in a rather large dog crate when I wasn’t around until he was an older kitten, mostly so he would learn where the litter box was. He also had poop issues and there would be little poop lines against the baseboards that I cleaned up forever. We rescued him around September so he hit a lot of holidays as a kitten with people in the house. He has always LOVED being the center of attention and is completely social. He still lays in front of the television for every Oscar party. He’s a whiner but we kind of found him that way. He loves new places and new people. He doesn’t mind being in the car. As a kitten I had a hard time transitioning him to solid food, finally a vet shoved (and I mean shoved) some wet food down his throat and within a day he was eating wet food and solid food a few days later. He was 8 weeks old around that time, I’m embarrassed to say. Our cats always played with him and we would play with him a lot. He does bite sometimes, that’s probably my fault. One cat took a special liking to him and they would cuddle and groom and play fight a lot. I supposed he would be the one who “taught” him how to be a cat, though with 3 cats wandering around an 800 sq foot house you’d probably pick up on some things whether they are ignoring you or not. I would never call Fox “difficult.” He’s the best cat I’ve ever had. He’s friendly and mindful and loving. Cats are cats and they all have different personalities, I don’t think bottle feeding really has much affect on their personalities. The only thing we probably did to change his personality was have a lot of people over when he was a kitten playing with him, that probably made him crazy social. But loving new places and the car, that’s just who he is.

  12. only kitten syndrome is a serious problem. Kittens that don’t socialize with other kittens don’t learn to cat and so they can’t communicate properly.

    I had a single kitten born to a mother and that kitten was spoiled rotten… she was a terror, wanting what she wanted when she wanted it and was not a good people cat, so I brought in a few more kittens for her to play with, it was weeks before she finally accepted what a group dynamic was.

    Bottle kittens are only an issue if the person doing the bottle feeding doesn’t know cat. Bottle fed kittens learn how to cat from the people touching them and when they don’t understand cat they often give mixed signals which mess the cats up big time. They don’t learn proper manners and they don’t learn to communicate well.

    I’m glad the coconut oil is helping.