Monday, 30 June 2014

Snicker Doodle: Day 20

Good friends

It's been almost three weeks since we've taken Snicker Doodle on as our foster kitty. We now affectionately refer to him as "Doodles". Doodles, who once feared even the slightest noise, has gained enough confidence to wander the house unsupervised. He has developed a good friendship with our cat Gimli and the two spend the greater portion of the day chasing one another around. You would think they were brothers if it wasn't for the difference in appearance and size. However, it wasn't all good in the beginning, initially Gimli did not take to the idea of another cat in our home. There have been a few cat fights but having grown up around cats, I have to say they haven't been that bad; a few yowls and tackling but nothing damaging. 

When Gimli first met Doodles he was not a happy camper. Of course he was a little curious but mostly he kept to higher ground in order to observe the new cat. This worked well considering at that time Doodles remained entirely on the ground level, not even jumping up to explore. There was an obvious division between Gimli's space and Doodles'. As shown in the photograph to the right, Gimli would sit in my sewing room chair and eyeball Doodles from a safe distance. Their first encounters were often kept brief because I was well aware of the tension between the two cats. Doodles was more than happy to see another cat and walked right up to Gimli without hesitation. On our first day we used Gimli to coax Doodles out from hiding and to help him gain confidence in his new environment. Gimli gave him a couple of warnings with a few growls and light batting, but Doodles would come right back purring and rubbing up against him. Each encounter became less intense and Gimli grew to trust Doodles. Now, Gimli can eat side by side, out of the same dish as Doodles. 

There are few fights for dominance every now and again. Gimli doesn't appreciate his "office" being used by Doodles. I've seen him chase Doodles out a few times. These last couple of nights I've been woken up by cat fights although I'm not sure if they're of an aggressive or playful nature; at 4 am I don't stay to find out, I just separate them. From what I have seen it appears to be all in good fun. Yesterday evening the two cats were playfully chasing one another around the house (at high speeds). They also enjoy play fighting over who gets the cat tree... even though it has two levels, which neither has figured out yet. Before I left for my vacation, I discovered the two boys sleeping together, which really touched my heart. I was happy to see that Gimli had made a friend (something I had hoped for ever since moving out from my parents house, because Gimli was raised around other cats).

Gimli is certainly not the only one to benefit from this friendship. I know if it hadn't been for Gimli, Doodles would have never left the sewing room and it would have taken twice as long for him to get accustom to us and our home. Doodles has made amazing progress! He still gets a little jumpy if you move too quickly or if there's a loud noise, but he's far more trusting than he was in the beginning. He will often seek us out for attention because he loves to be pet. He's the most affectionate cat I've met. He loves to play with toys, which initially he was too scared to do with us, but now he engages us for play. He's brave enough to go into the basement and use the downstairs cat tree which makes me very happy to see. Perhaps the most successful news is that he has begun to jump up on our bed or couch to cuddle us, and yes this means he is becoming a lap cat!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Snicker Doodle: Day 1

Snicker's First Day

The first day is always the hardest when bringing a new animal home and for Snicker it certainly was a difficult transition. Having spent the majority of his time in a cage, Snicker was not prepared to be released into a wide open room of his very own. Once introduced into my sewing room, Snicker refused to leave the pet carrier. I allowed him to stay inside his carrier for a few hours as I realized this was the only place he felt comfortable being. I prepared a small "cat cave" for him, moving his blanket, his toys and a few treats inside. I was hoping that perhaps he may claim this as his new sanctuary. After some time, I returned to his room to find him cozily tucked inside the cat cave. It was also apparent that he had used the litter box, had eaten and possibly drank a little. Given that he was not terribly comfortable in the presence of strangers, we allowed him some alone time over night.

 In the morning he was curious but not playful. Our attempts to attract his attention with toys were unsuccessful, he was still very nervous. I managed to gain some of his trust by stroking beneath his chin and petting his back. He even began to purr! I also learned that Snicker adores tummy rubs. It seems that Snicker appreciates human affection but is still unsure of his environment. Whenever we enter the room he looks onto us as though we are strangers, but a soft pet and soothing word brings him back around. He has been leaving the cat cave when we are not present but goes into hiding as soon as someone enters the room. I became concerned that he would not have the confidence to remain outside of his cat cave, so we tried a simple experiment. We decided to bring our resident cat Gimli into the room. I was curious to see how Snicker would react, he has spent the majority of his time with other cats so I felt things would go well. We brought Gimli into the room inside a carrier, we felt this would give Snicker a degree of control in the situation. It was successful! Gimli's presence encouraged Snicker to come out of the cat cave and investigate. At this point we felt it was an acceptable time to release Gimli from the cat carrier under supervision.

To my disappointment Gimli acted like a grumpy old cat and growled at Snicker a few times, while Snicker rolled around cooing at him, inviting Gimli to play. Thankfully there wasn't a fight and Gimli just decided to keep his distance, watching from higher vantage points as Snicker rolled around under the chair. I wanted to build Snicker's confidence as well as improve the relationship between the two cats, so I introduced the laser pen. This is one of Gimli's favorite toys. The two cats kept their distance from one another (Snicker wasn't afraid of Gimli, but Gimli was a little afraid of Snicker - laughable when you consider how small Snicker is compared to Gimli!). Snicker probably never really played with a laser pen before and he loved it! He and Gimli had something in common. In the end Gimli still growled a little and kept his distance, while Snicker pawed at him delicately. Gimli is just a big chicken. We took Gimli out of the room, petted Snicker for awhile and then let him go to bed. 

Unfortunately I did have to check on him in the late hours of the night, as he was panicking after hearing loud noises from outside. It's going to take time to build his confidence and gain his trust, but I have seen excellent progress so far!