We Just Keep Moving Forward

Cisco is doing so well in the house.  He is out and about in the house all day.  He spends most of his day in the den looking out the window or catching some sunshine!  Jake and Marvin mostly ignore him and he mostly ignores them.  We have even left the house and allowed Cisco to stay out of his room.  The next step will be keeping his door open over night.  That may just happen later this week.  I could not be happier with all of this great progress from all three inside kitties.   Here is Cisco in the den on a sunny day.

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Cisco has learned many of our daily routines.  He knows that my husband keeps treats in his office and is starting to go in for a visit.  He knows that before our dinner, Misty gets a kong and the cats get a piece of dehydrated chicken cat treat.  He also knows that after our dinner, everyone gets a few bites of plain cooked chicken.  When it comes to food, he is learning fast!  Here they all are after dinner waiting for some chicken!

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Most nights after dinner, it is playtime for the cats.  I usually take them up to Cisco’s room and we play with the Cat dancer, string under a blanket or feather wand.  My husband will then join me or take over once Misty is settled. Marvin just loves playing with the feather wand in the apartment.  Cisco really likes the Cat dancer or string under a blanket.  Jake likes to perch himself on top of the apartment so that Marvin and Cisco remember he is “King”.  Here is Jake and Cisco during a play session:

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Sometimes during the evening, I will find all 3 on the back stair case.

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The outside boys are so ready for warmer weather.  March has been very chilly.  We have yet to hit 60.  Many days are cloudy and down right cold.  The March wind has made its presence known.  Checking the forecast, I do see warmer weather arriving for the weekend!

Each day that the sun is out, Shadow, Stellar and Hampton can be found lounging in the rays.  It can be quite cold, but as long as their is sunshine, they are happy.  Shadow caught his first chipmunk the other day.  As usual, he played with it for a bit and then it got away.  He just likes to hunt them!

Stellar has had a bad case of tapeworm.  I have wormed with 3 times since January and I still am finding them.  With his black fur, they are easy to spot.  I washed all of the bedding earlier this week.  I may have to breakdown and apply Revolution to him.

Hampton just loves living on the deck!  He watches the birds, squirrels and chipmunks, but he is definitely not a hunter.  He loves the sunshine and even on very cold days, he might sleep in the sun for a bit.  He has done very well sharing space with Shadow and Stellar this winter.  The bond between the 3 of them has continued to grow.  Hampton is no longer the odd man out as Shadow and Stellar have learned to accept him.  Here are a few pictures from this past week.

Stellar and Shadow

Shadow grooming Stellar!

Hampton

Hampton taking a dirt bath!

 

 

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Cisco’s progression

I am so happy that it is March and warm sunny weather will be more frequent. Unfortunately March has been very cool, rainy and windy.  March definitely came in like a lion and hopefully will exit as a lamb! The forecast for the next few days is very cold.  Daytime highs will only be in the 30’s and night time lows in the mid teens.  Brrrrrrrr.  It has not been this cold since early February.  The outside boys have not been using their heated houses every night, but I do believe they will need to snuggle for the next few nights.

Cisco has been doing so well.  He is such a sweet, docile boy.  All of our pets have many nicknames so it was only right for Cisco to follow suit.  We call him Big Boy or Buddy.  He now really enjoys looking outside and watching the birds and squirrels.  He has an “apartment” both upstairs in his room and also one on the first floor in the den. Two weeks ago my wonderful husband and son built Cisco an apartment of his own for his room upstairs.

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He loves to play with the da bird toy, feather wand or a simple string.  Yet mostly he prefers just lounging and getting pets.  My husband does most of Cisco’s feedings.  This has really started to pay off.  Cisco is now beginning to wait for his meals out in the open instead of hiding under the table.  He also is used to hearing my husband’s voice and footsteps.  Unfortunately he is very leery of unfamiliar people.  Our son was home from college and Cisco had a difficult time warming up to him.  Also when he looks out the window and sees a human, he will jump down and hide.  Marvin was very much like this too when he first came into the house.  He may always hide when people come to the house, but that is just fine with me.  He is warm and safe inside our home.

While my son was home, he was able to help me a lot with the cats and their integration.  Jake, our very first kitty has always been “the boy’s cat”.  So it was nice to have some help with Jake.  Working with 3 cats alone was somewhat difficult so having an extra hand was very much welcomed.  Jake was able to get some great attention and see that Cisco was not a threat.  Jake had a very difficult time when Marvin came into the house.  This time around it is much much smoother.  It helps that Cisco is very mellow and not at all threatening.  Jake must realize that he can keep his title, “King of the House”!

Last week we started by allowing Cisco more time out of his room and time to explore the first floor as well as the bedrooms upstairs.  I did not keep any rooms closed or any gates up.  We did this for short bursts once or twice a day.  At first I we kept a very close eye on all of the cats as well as our dog.  All of the encounters went fairly well.  We had some great play sessions in the evenings with plenty of plain cooked chicken as rewards!

This week I have allowed Cisco time out of his room for a total of 5-6 hours each day.  He prefers the den, but has ventured all over and even found the downstairs litter box.  He is getting more and more comfortable each day.  Here are a few pictures of him out and about.

Also one with Jake and another hanging out with Jake and Misty.

I am so hopeful that as the weeks go by that he will be fully integrated into our home and feel comfortable to be out of his room and engage with Jake and Marvin.  Misty our large Samoyed, is doing just wonderful with him.  She has always done well with the cats, but when Marvin came inside, she wanted to sniff him all over and was very unsure of what he might do.  With Cisco she just gently sniffs him and then walks away.  He is not very afraid of her which helps too.  It makes it much easier as she always wants to be included in all of the cat activities.

Lastly I want to update Cisco’s tail.  When he first came inside on December 26, 2016, his tail was very angry looking.  It took quite awhile for the tail to stop bothering him.  Now it has completely healed and almost all of the fur has regrown.  You would never know it was injured.

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Mid Winter Updates

Here we are the middle of February and so far our winter has been an easy one.  We had a few cold nights in mid December and early January, but since then it has been mild and dry.  Our snowfall total for the season is under 10″.  This weekend and for the next 7 days, the temperatures are to be in the 60’s with no rain!  I have had the daffodil stalks up from the ground for over a month and just today I saw some with flower buds.  This morning while feeding the cats, the birds were singing!  I just hope that old man winter doesn’t decide to rear his head in March.

Of course with this nice weather, the outside boys are very happy.  They have been out and about a lot at night and they prefer to use the magic boxes instead of the heated houses during the night.  After breakfast they have been so tired that they all retreat to the heated houses and sleep for hours.  Today with the sunshine and temperatures near 60, I am sure they will prefer the warm sun on the deck.

I have been trying to bring them into the laundry room a few times each week.  I did this mostly when the temperatures were cold or when the wind was really blowing.  Even though I had to leave the door cracked, it was so much warmer for me.  Hampton is always the first inside.  He loves to snuggle up against me and is even starting to allow me to place him in my lap.  Stellar also loves to come inside too.  Shadow has been quite ambivalent.  The space is not large and it might feel too cramped for him with me and two other cats.  He will often come inside when the others are not around.  Hampton and Stellar have been enjoying some playtime inside too.  They love when I hide the feather wand under a towel.  Both will pounce on it, bite it and dig.  Here is a picture of the two of them:

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Hampton and Stellar

Cisco continues to progress.  For the past week, I have been bringing him downstairs to the den for an hour or more at a time.  I first had tried allowing him time in the family room, but the open floor plan was just too overwhelming for him.  He needed to start small!  The den is the perfect size and has a wall of windows for him to look outside.  I am able to work on the computer or read for a bit while he is in the room.  Jake and Marvin rarely know he is even downstairs.  Cisco is also starting to do better with my husband.  It’s small baby steps, but at least he is moving in the right direction!

When we adopted Jake, our first cat, my husband and son built Jake what they coined “the apartment”.  It is a homemade cat tree that is on the shorter side, but also on the wider side.  It has  top, middle and bottom levels that are interconnected by holes.  Jake loved this as a kitten.  He would flip and flop from top to bottom.  As he grew, he wanted up higher so we purchased a few cat trees for him.  When Marvin came along, he was definitely a bush dweller and does not jump high or want up high at all.  It was in his room when he first came inside and then we moved it to the den for him to enjoy.  He sits on it each morning to watch the birds and squirrels and cats in the back yard.  Jake and Marvin will still play in it a few times each month.  Now Cisco has taken a liking to it!  When in the den with me, he will sit on top and look outside.  Then I hear a bump and he has gone down the top hole to the middle level.  He also enjoys hiding when he hears a loud noise in the bottom level.  I do think another “apartment” will join the household soon!  It would be perfect for Cisco’s room. Here is Cisco enjoying all 3 levels!

This winter, the wildlife has been steady.  My favorite deer group of Gimpy, Big Mama and Weeble and Wobble do not come as often.  I do see them about once a week.  Each night I have between 5-8 bucks come through the yard.  When it is cold at night I leave a bit of corn out for them.  Most mornings it is gone.  I also have two heated bird baths in the yard which all of the wildlife drink from.  I have to fill both each morning.  Here is a clip of the bucks participating in “reindeer games”!

 

The bluebirds arrived again this winter.  I saw the first one in mid December and now have between 5-8 that come multiple times each day.  They love the mealworms and the suet ball.  They are my absolute favorite bird and remind me of my dear friend, Bob each time I see them.

 

We also have a few fox that frequent the yard.  They often come through the yard during the day stopping to get a drink of water.  They are not a threat to my cats as they prefer to eat small rodents and birds.  I did have one come up onto the deck, but Stellar hissed and the fox went running.

Hopefully my next post will have more great updates and continued warm weather!

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Introduction Time

Last week I did a few room swaps and decided it was time for some between the gate face to face time.  I kept the interactions short and sweet with lots of fresh cooked chicken for all!  So far it has been going fairly well.  It took 3 days for the first hiss and that was from Jake.  I also started opening the door (with a barrier to keep him safely inside his room) to Cisco’s room so he could start to hear, see and smell the comings and goings of our house.

The room swaps quickly got boring.  Jake was the only one who really wanted to be in Cisco’s room as Marvin really didn’t care.  Cisco was unsure about my bedroom and I wasn’t ready for him to come downstairs yet.  So I decided to move to sight visits.  I have two gates separating Cisco from his room and the hallway.  Fortunately they are pet walk through gates so I don’t have to climb over them!  By having two it makes it easier to keep Cisco away from the door as well as allowing the cats time to visit without getting too close.  I started with both gates closed, but quickly moved to allowing Jake and Marvin inside the first gate.  I gave lots of plain cooked chicken to all.  There has been lots of sniffing between the three of them.  Jake did get a bit hissy, but at first it was directed at Marvin since he stole Jake’s piece of chicken!  Jake will be the hardest to accept Cisco.  It took him over a year to accept Marvin.  Fortunately Cisco is very docile and mellow.  Marvin was much for skittish and aggressive.  Here are a few pictures of their interactions.

When I introduced Jake and Marvin, I used the gates as well, but I also used a screen door.  We did not want to deface our current door so I bought a cheap wooden screen door from Lowes and would rest it against the door frame and secure with tension rods.  A gate was still in the door way for extra protection.  I only used this set up when I was home to supervise.  It was great for Marvin, but it was cumbersome to take up and down and it freaked Marvin out each time. Here is a picture of my screen door set up.

I really wanted something easier to set up, yet high enough so the cats couldn’t jump it.  My current walk through gates are 30″ high so not quite tall enough.  I scoured the internet and came up with something I thought might work.  You basically use 4-6′ in length wire shelving units and attach them together with zip ties.  Here is the article where I found this idea https://pethelpful.com/cats/Build-a-free-standing-cat-dog-pet-gate-with-virtually-no-tools.  It is a brilliant idea that works well as long as the cats are supervised.  We first started with the 6′ tall panels, but it was hard to maneuver and taller than I needed.  These were returned and instead one 12′ piece was cut into 3 pieces.  Zip ties are used to keep them together.  It is very easy to set up and easy to move around too.

 

I also had the idea that this would work well for my outside boys.  I have been bringing them inside the laundry room for some time with me when it’s been so cold outside.  I have to leave the door cracked for them, but they love it.  Jake and Marvin have been on  the other side of the inside door.  I have been giving treats to all and managing to slip a few under the door for Jake and Marvin.  Right off my laundry room is the den.  This would be another safe place for the outside boys.  I decided to give it a try and see how it worked.

I positioned the new barrier in my hallway keeping Jake, Marvin and Misty our dog out of the way.  I opened the doors and called to see who would come.  Stellar or Hampton are usually first.  They were a bit shocked to see the doorway into the house open.  Hampton ran right back outside before trying again.  Stellar decided to be brave and found his way into the den.  Of course Jake was on the other side of the barrier and Marvin soon followed.  No one sniffed, just lots of watching.  Of course all of the outside boys have seen Jake and Marvin through the screen door for years.  So this new barrier will have many uses.  Here is a picture of the barrier in the hallway and a few of the kitties.

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As January Comes to a Close

One more winter month is almost complete which takes us one step closer to spring! Our January has had its ups and downs weather wise.  We had some very cold temperatures and some very mild temperatures.  Yet very little snow.  We did have quite a bit of rain, but I will take rain over snow any day! It does seem now that we are settling into a colder weather pattern for the next few weeks.  I am at least hoping for some sunshine as January was quite gray.

Cisco has been inside for 5 weeks today!  He continues to progress, yet the progress seems slow.  I decided to completely hold off on any introductions until Cisco was done with all vaccines.  He went back to the vet last Thursday and received his second dose of FVRCP.  I had thought about switching and getting an injection, but decided to stick with the intra nasal type as I thought it was important moving forward to know if his reaction continued.  He did very well at the vet and so far no reaction to the vaccine. His tail is completely healed and 85-90% of the hair has grown back.  He is no longer limping at all!  He received a microchip and I also did a blood test that would determine if the antibodies present for FIV were from a vaccine or not.  Unfortunately his FIV positive was not from a vaccine.  I am just glad I know for sure.  It changes nothing for me and we will progress with introductions.

I had been doing scent swapping for a few weeks as well as using a cat brush and taking turns brushing all 3.  None of the cats were upset at all.  Today I decided to do a room swap.  My bedroom seems to be a place where there are the scent of all the animals.  I decided to take Cisco there and then allow Jake and Marvin time inside Cisco’s room.  Cisco did very well.  He sniffed around a bit and then settled on my bed.  He did better than I expected.  While he was lounging on the bed, I went and retrieved Jake and Marvin.  Jake went right to work sniffing and jumping up onto furniture.  Marvin was very cautious and not at all comfortable.  When I opened the door back up, Marvin ran right now while Jake wanted to remain!  I hope to continue this daily this week before moving to visually seeing each other between the gates.  Here are a few pictures:

The outside cats seem to be doing well.  Shadow steered clear of any vomiting or diarrhea and Stellar’s wound is almost healed.  I did find out that the wound was a scratch from a cat.  I found piles of black and orange fur on the side of my house.  There was lots of Stellar fur (black) and only a small amount of orange fur.  I do feel that the wound was a scratch and not a puncture from a bite.  The only issue seems to be that some of the fur that was sticky from puss has matted on top of the wound.  Stellar would not allow me to clip any more fur off or try to clean it any more.  I may try to put some Vaseline petroleum jelly on it to soften the fur.  Yet, I believe it’s more cosmetic than anything and nothing to worry about.

I am hopeful that February will be a peaceful month both inside and outside.  I have a lot of work to with Jake, Marvin and Cisco.  I also have to find the time to spend with the outside boys.  When the weather is cold, it’s very hard for me to sit outside with them for very long.

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I’m not sure what the Universe is trying to tell me….

It has been a rough month for my animals, both inside and outside.  It seems that just as I am coming up for air, something else happens.  Since the end of December I have dealt with 2 sneezing and eye discharge inside boys, two outside boys with upset stomachs, one outside boy with a large wound and my inside dog the ever lasting UTI.  I remain hopeful that this will all work itself out.

I will start with Cisco.  He had his first round of vaccines on January 5.  He was so good at the vet.  He was a bit tired after the ordeal, but bounced back.  On the fourth day after the vaccines, he started to sneeze.  At first it was just a sneeze here or there, but by the 5th day, he was sneezing over and over as well as rubbing his nose with such force.  I searched online and found that he was most likely have a reaction to his FVRCP vaccine that was given intranasally.  The reaction can occur 4-7 days after.  I called the vet for confirmation.  He had one day where he didn’t eat much, but he then perked up.  He was still on antibiotics for his tail so that at least prevented the virus from going to a bacterial infection.  Now 6 days later, he is no longer sneezing and really coming out of his shell.  He is starting to want to play.  My husband can go into the room to visit and occasionally Cisco will interact.  He does love when he brings chicken.  This is still a work in progress!

Next, Stellar appeared to have diarrhea.  Yet he was acting normal and eating well.  I only saw it one day and thought all was well.  A few days later, I found he had vomited all over the outside of the heated houses.  He had jumped on top and vomited there.  I do give him credit for not doing it inside the houses!  He continued to want to eat and was still acting normal.  Yet it’s always a concern.  A few days later, Hampton stopped eating.  I found more vomit.  Ugh.  Hampton is my chow hound.  He would eat 24 hours a day.  He would lap at the food and was constantly licking or smacking his lips.  I knew this was a sign of nausea.  He was not himself at all.  He stayed in the heated house and wouldn’t come out to see me.  One day, he snapped at me when I tried to pet him.  This was a real worry.  Yet each day, he did eat just enough to keep me calm.  By the 3rd day, he was eating better and the light in his eyes was coming back.  He is now back to his old self.  I am so hoping Shadow steers clear!

Jake, one of my inside boys always has a runny eye.  It gets worse during times of stress, weather changes and allergies.  This time, it was with lots and lots of sneezing.  He too was sleeping a lot.  I bumped his lysine dosage and he too is now feeling better!

Last night I was out visiting the cats.  On Sundays, I try to do a head to toe check looking for any bumps, bruises, cuts or scrapes.  I usually do not find much of anything.  Last night I found something on Stellar.  I at first thought it was an embedded stick or twig.  It was dark and I could not see.  I was able to lure him into the laundry room through the outside door.  He did not want me touching the area.  Of course Shadow and Hampton had to come in as well to see what was happening.  I ended up having to kick Shadow and Hampton out to examine Stellar better.  I also had to close the door so he would not escape.  I found a large wound that appeared to have some puss as well.  It was very clean, but the fur was matted.  Stellar allowed me to clean the wound, trim the fir and get a very good look.  I decided it would be best to start him on some antibiotics to be sure he doesn’t get it infected.  I will continue to clean it daily as needed.  I also gave him some Arnica and will then move on to Calendula.  I now have to wonder how did this happen.  I am thinking it most likely is from another cat, but this wound does look different than a puncture.

Lastly, my sweet dog, Misty has been battling a tough UTI infection since before Christmas.  She does this from time to time.  It is requiring urine samples every 10 days.  She also will go to see her oncologist in February.  She was diagnosed with cancer of urethra in January of 2014.  She was treated with radiation and chemotherapy and went into remission in July of 2014.  She has remained in remission since!!

I am ready for a breather.  My outside boys are such a worry.  I have to wonder if the Universe is telling me it is time to bring them all inside.  This is the plan, but I was hoping to wait until we moved.  I now have lots to ponder.

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Cisco’s Adjustment to Inside Kitty

I am really pleased with all of the progress Cisco has been making.  He has been inside the house now for almost 2 weeks.  The time has certainly gone fast.  He spends most of his time napping, but is starting to come out of his shell and play for awhile.  The biggest issue we have is men.  He usually hides when my husband or son come into the room.  This is a work in progress.

The first few days inside went very well.  He would meow and yowl just a bit and this was usually in the mornings.  He would hear my two inside boys (Jake and Marvin) running up and down the hall.  Cisco would come right to the door and meow and yowl.  He did try to escape the room one morning and I had a hard time pushing him back with a pillow while trying to get inside the room.  We now are using two gates.  He seems afraid of them and has not once tried to jump them or get near the door.  It is somewhat challenging for the humans to get inside the room, but we are managing!

At first he liked to hide and sleep inside his tent house that he used outside.  Next he hid under the dresser.  For the past 5 days, he prefers to sit on a low chair near the window.  Yet he does not even want to look outside.  I have a small cat tree for him as well.  He has been on it once or twice and starting shaking all over.  It is as though the outside just petrifies him.  I did wonder if the view from a second story window scared him, but I have seen him looking down to the ground and he reacted the same.  I then closed the blinds about 3/4th of the way down.  The other day, I took the heat pad out of his tent house and placed it on his chair.  He spends most of his time there.

The hardest part is his reaction to men.  I am not sure if it is the larger stature, deeper voice or bolder movements.  When he hears my husband coming, he will hide under the chair.  If I am in the room too, I try to prevent him from hiding.  He will allow my husband to give him a few pets and even play with a toy, but it does not transfer to the next time.  We have also tried yummy food.  He usually will not eat it.  I assume with time he will adjust.  Yet I wonder if something happened to him in his past that involved a man.

Cisco went back to the vet on January 5, 2017.  He needed to have vaccines and blood tests as well as having his tail looked at again.  The good news is that his tail is healing so well!  The vet was wondering if surgery might be necessary to remove the very tip.  Yet the tail is closing up and she even saw a bit of hair regrowing.  For now we will continue to wait and see.  I can tell the tail still bothers him, but he is no longer growling at it or over grooming it.  As long as it continues to heal and he leaves it alone, nothing will need to be done!  To speed the healing, I cleaned the wound daily with a solution of Chlorhexidine Gluconate (blue solutions) given to me by the vet.  I added a drop of Colloidal silver to the cotton ball.  I did this 2x a day each day.  I also used the homeopathic remedy Hypericum Perf for nerve pain.  I did this for 5 days and then moved onto Calendula to help the edges of the wound come together.  He also receives some flower essences to help with the trauma from his wounds as well as for adjusting to inside living.  Finally he gets 2 drops of Traumeel to assist his limp.

I received a call on Saturday morning from the vet.  Cisco had blood drawn to test for FELV (Feline leukemia), FIV (Feline Aids), Bartonella (Cat Scratch Fever) and Heartworm.  He tested negative for FELV!!!! Yet postive for FIV:(.  The other test results are not back yet.  The FIV diagnosis is not one I fear.  First off, he could have received the FIV vaccine when he was young.  This would show a positive on the test.  There is another blood test that can be run to determine if the positive FIV is due to a vaccine.  Yet the test is not foolproof.  It is something I will think about.  Since he will be living with 2 other indoor only kitties, I wanted to be sure they all will be safe.  The greatest danger for FIV transmission is between non neutered male cats that fight for blood.  Indoor neutered males usually do not fight for blood.  The method of transmission is through a very deep wound.  Superficial bites or scratches are not methods of transmission.  My vet felt it is very safe to introduce Jake and Marvin to Cisco as long as it is done slowly and I watch for any signs of aggression.  This will be a long slow process.  As I learn more about FIV, I will share it here.  I do know that I will be looking for a good immune supplement to help support his body.

Here is what I know about FIV so far:  It is refereed to as Feline Aids as it attacks the immune system.  The illness can stay dormant for years.  When it is active, simple colds or gastrointestional illnesses may take longer to overcome.  Gingivitis is another problem as the cat may have difficulty fighting off bacteria in the mouth.  Eye and kidney issues could also be a problem.  For now Cisco appears extremely healthy.  I am leaning towards using a good Colostrum supplement to boost his immune system. He will have twice yearly checkups to access his health.

Here are a few pictures of him in his room

 

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