August 19, 2010

News. Pull Up A Chair.

Where did the summer go? School starts up again Monday, and I'm not terribly pleased about it. I seem to recall something about getting a little bit of a vacation this summer ... ha! Here it is the middle of August, and I haven't even managed to get to a single baseball game yet. (And since it's painfully obvious that the Rockies aren't heading anywhere near the playoffs this year, time's a'wasting!)

All my grand and glorious plans for my garden fizzled out, too. Funny how working 40 - 50 hours a week at a nursery can make one not terribly interested in spending free time outside working on planting things. I did manage to get a little salsa garden planted, but it looks like the onions are going to be the only real survivors. The tomatoes and peppers both got wiped out by hail, and while the plants themselves are hanging on, they aren't really producing anything. The strawberries I planted were turned into a litterbox for some neighborhood cats. I did get a few other things planted ... one peach tree, three lavenders and three catmints. The peach tree and the lavender were "rescues" from work and the catmint was rescued from a Master Gardener project. Pretty much everything that I actually spent money on is still sitting in its nursery pot on the patio. Pathetic.

And then of course there are the cats. Are you seated comfortably for this next bit? You might want to go get a beverage.

Life on the feline front has been increasingly chaotic around here. For a while, problems seemed to be coming at us from out of nowhere, but reflection has shown that things have been building for quite some time. I'll spare you the long, drawn-out story, but basically it boils down to an increasing unhappiness about the amount of time the humans are spending at home, plus some territorial aggression issues, along with some "social maturity" issues, and one big urinary tract infection to top it all off. Since I started back to work in late March, the relationship between the Little Grey Kitteh and the Big Yellow Hallway Monster has started to show some strain. Throw open the windows and doors in the spring and summer weather and provide the chance for BYHM to come face-to-face (through window glass and screens) with various neighborhood cats and suddenly we're dealing with a cat who not only has some weird sort of abandonment issue, but is now also feeling insecure about all these "new" cats. Redirected aggression and "marking" (yep ... kitty pee on the walls) ensue. Stress levels continue upward. The Electric Mayhem moves from being viewed as something of a plaything to something of a target. She gets cut off from litterbox access and now we have sneak-pees behind the furniture. New litterbox on the main level helps a little, but not enough. Humans make big mistake and move new litterbox into the basement. LGK does not approve of the change - more pee stains on the carpet. Humans blow outrageous sum of money on Nature's Miracle and Feliway. Massive, hardcore three-cat fight triggered by visit from random tabby outside the kitchen door. LGK attacks everybody and will not stop. LGK is relocated to the guest room with his own food, water and litter for a while to calm down. (LGK likes this arrangement so much that he's still not really inclined to come back out.) Situation is discussed, books are consulted, decision is made to re-introduce LGK as if he were a new cat. Vet visit reveals that LGK has a urinary tract infection - LGK is sent home with a week's work of antibiotics, "calming treats" and a syringe full of transdermal goo that is supposed to calm him down. (Humans think that for what they paid the vet, the goo should go in their ears!) Reintroduction process begins, starting with Big Acoustic Kitty ... and nobody seems unduly stressed about anything. Hmm. Observation of the two remaining downstairs kittehs reveals that while the carpet-piddling has ceased, spraying and redirected aggression remain ... turns out that BYHM seems to be the root cause of the problem and that LGK had apparently just reached his limit the day he blew up at everybody. Humans consider what will be involved in getting BYHM to the vet and then separating and reintroducing him to everyone, have a matching set of nervous breakdowns, sell the cats to a wandering band of gypsies, run away from home and join the first cat-free ashram they find.

Not really on that last part, but we're not ruling it out quite yet. Seriously, I have no idea what we're going to do with him. He's a huge love, but the idea of quarantining him for however long and then going through the whole reintroduction process with him and all three of the other cats and retraining him to try and defuse his whole redirected aggression issue is just about more than I can get my head around. And how exactly are we supposed to "eliminate the causes of the aggression"? We've already made the sunroom off-limits after a rather impressive fight a few months ago. We now have freezer paper taped to the sliding glass door in the kitchen so he can't see out. We live in a colonial-style house where all the 1st-floor windows are less than a foot off the floor ... are we supposed to soap them all up for the next 10+ years of his life? The book that is our go-to for cat issues is less than helpful on this. "Discourage" cats from coming around by removing bird feeders and possibly keep a water pistol handy to scare them off. Right.

So. One step at a time, I guess. All I can say is that the vet better send us home with a whole vat of that transdermal goo this time.

If you're wondering about the mama cat and her kittens in the backyard, well, nothing much has happened. The house across the backyard from us is finally occupied again after sitting empty for most of the past year. The new folks have a dog, and I think that has caused the kitties to relocate their home base. We don't see them as often, and we haven't seen all four of them together since right after the last time I posted about them. The kibble I was putting out kept disappearing, but they always seemed to come by in the middle of the night. So ... we haven't completely ruled out doing a TNR on the little family, but I don't know if it will actually be possible now. I feel guilty for not doing more, but I keep telling myself that the energy we have for dealing with cat problems needs to be focused on the four we have indoors with us. Hopefully St. Francis or some other cat-friendly being will take care of mama and her brood.

So that's our life ... how have you been?

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