Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘cat photos

Dear Onyx,

Thank you for coming into our lives. You’ve brought us many happy moments. We love how affectionate and playful you are. Now that you’re healthy, you’re also starting to explore and show your unique quirks, which is equally fun to see.

From the moment we first held you at the Capital Humane Society, we knew that you had lots of love to give. Yes, you might have clung to us out of fear, but you also kissed me with your tiny tongue. When we finally got to bring you home, it didn’t take long before you wanted to touch our hair, our fingers, our toes. You’ve always wanted physical contact and that makes you very endearing to us. Now that you know us, you’ll run up to us or flop on the floor to ask for tummy rubs. You’ve even climbed on my keyboard and pushed the pages of a book I’m reading to get me to focus on you. When we pick you up, you no longer cling to us out of fear, but now instead you snuggle on our laps, our tummies, our chests. And there you purr up a storm of content. You’re super cute when you stretch out your paws to touch us. You are a love.

How impressive is it that even when you were sick, you proved yourself an escape artist? Just three days after we brought you home, you wriggled out of the side of your crate when you heard me fixing breakfast. Within a week, although you had started gaining weight you still weren’t having solid stools, but you were determined to climb onto the guest room bed. I underestimated how fast you’d figure that out. One minute you were on the floor and I was arranging blankets in your crate, the next minute you were on the bed and I was watching to see how you did it. I finally figured out that you were scrambling up the sheets. One of my favorite things is when you play hide-and-seek. You wrap yourself around a bed post, peek your head out to catch my attention, and then duck it back when you see me. And then there’s your latest trick, that of trying to run away when you don’t want to get caught, especially at bedtime.

In that first week after we brought you home, you showed so little interest in food and toys that more than once we thought we were going to lose you. We even took you to our vet. I raised the possibility of “failure to thrive”. Our vet immediately dismissed the idea. No, you weren’t well. But you also had spunk. And you showed it during our visit. You kept wanting to jump off the exam table. We finally put you on the floor, where you promptly tried to eat dirt off the floor. You wouldn’t eat kitten food, but you’d eat dirt! That’s some weird logic. But we didn’t care, because then you started to play with some dog leashes that were hanging from a hook. We had never seen you play before. It didn’t take long before you were playing with all kinds of things. Some of them we’d rather you wouldn’t, such as my pencils and papers. Others we’re more than happy to let you have, such as soft balls, plush mice, and wand toys.

Time passes so quickly. In just another couple of weeks, we’ll be looking for an adopter for you. We’ll be happy-sad to let you go. The moments we’ve shared with you have been priceless. But you’re also going to fill your adopters’ lives with happy moments. Little Bat Girl, we wish you the best moments and the best life.

Love, your pet foster parents.


Agility at home! Guests for a week! A breakthrough in a behavior problem! September was a month of upheaval for our family. It started with us buying and moving into our first house, and finally having space to set up an agility course at home. After that, my parents came to visit for a week, which provided all the pets with lots of socialization opportunities. Finally, seizing the opportunity to start anew, I tried once again to keep Rainy off the counter tops, and this time might have found a long-term solution.

Back in February of this year, I wrote an article called Cat Agility, where I shared my attempts to replicate an obstacle course at home. At the time, the biggest hindrances were space and cost. Regarding space, I even posted questions to a Facebook agility group, asking members: “Where does everyone practice?” It turned out that I wasn’t alone. Others were doing agility in the hallway of their apartment building or in the living room. And we all were frustrated that we couldn’t leave our equipment up to use as time allowed. Hence, my excitement that I could reserve a portion of our new home’s finished basement for agility. At last, the pets and I could do agility whenever we want without the hassle of having to put up and take down a course. Moreover, I now can teach agility to even our shyest cat. As for cost, there are economical ways to build an agility course. As I noted in my Cat Agility article, I found a small affordable tunnel at Toys R Us. In addition, I bought two sets of weave poles and hoops for cats from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Since writing my article, I also bought a foam jump through Lincoln Pet Exchange. Next purchases will be the supplies for an A-Frame and a pet walk!

In September, my parents came to visit for a week. None of the cats had met them before. Rainy hung back initially, but by the evening she was coaxing them for food and attention. Throughout their stay, she also tried to visit them in the guest room more than once while they were sleeping. Also, during my parents’ visit, we invited friends over twice for games. Rainy once again made her presence known. We also had my in-laws (Andy’s parents) over for a visit. All the pets welcomed them. They brought their dog too. Prior to this, Rainy had met their dog a few times at their home. For the most part, Toby maintained a respectful distance from Rainy, but they remain curious about one another too. I suspect one day they might even become play buddies! All these visits have got me thinking again about Rainy’s potential as a therapy cat. Keep watch for future articles on this front

“Down!” “Get off!” “Leave it!” If you’ve ever yelled any of these commands at your pets, you’re not alone. Rainy is over two years old, and until recently nothing that we’ve tried has successfully kept her off our counters. First, we attempted the standard methods of using a spray bottle, double-sided tape on placemats, aluminum foil, and cans with coins in them. The idea behind all these contraptions was to make the counter unappealing, and indeed they’ve worked with other cats of ours. Unfortunately, none of these things have ever fazed Rainy. Next, we tried creative methods such as motion-activated deterrents. Andy found these scary rubber snakes that strike out when they detect movement. The first few times Rainy got “attacked” by these, she fled the kitchen. But the prospect of food encouraged her to persist, and soon she had learned how to stay out of the reach of the snakes. Then I tried an idea I got from a podcast. Just before preparing food I let Rainy down into the basement, where I let her explore until I had all the cat dishes filled. My latest idea has been the most successful. While I prepare the cats’ food, I have Rainy sit on a small stool next to me. Each time I open a new can, if she has kept her bottom on the stool, I let her lick food from my finger. This way, instead of simply restricting her access to food, I’m rewarding her good behavior. This idea has worked so well that as soon as I place the stool next to our kitchen countertop, Rainy jumps up on it and gives me her attention.

With the arrival of October, life is more settled at the Frederick household, and I’ve finally resumed daily training with the pets. I’ve also begun a new kind of training, one that involves all the pets, and will introduce you to it in my next installment of Rainy’s adventures.

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

Onyx peered through the top of her carrier. Andy and I had brought her with us on our weekly visit to his parents. She was in a strange new place, surrounded by new people, new noises, new smells. But suddenly familiar hands were reaching for her. When I picked Onyx up, she snuggled into my soft pink sweater. “Do you need to use the litter box?” I asked her. I carried her to the bathroom, closed the door behind me, and placed her into a portable litter box. Nervous in the unfamiliar environment, Onyx lost no time in hiding behind the toilet. I retrieved her, held her close, and then returned to the dining room. Andy’s parents both took turns saying hello to Onyx and gently stroking her head. She stared at them with wide yellow eyes and continued to cling to me. I returned her to her carrier until after dinner, at which point Andy and I took turns holding her while the family played cards. Onyx grew more relaxed, laying on our laps and purring while we played When it was time for dessert, Andy gave Onyx to his mom to hold. Onyx didn’t object. Instead she settled in for a snooze, remaining on Andy’s mom’s lap until our game ended and it was time to leave.

Kittens need to be socialized. The main socialization window is from four to fourteen weeks. During this time, a cat is most receptive to new experiences. Kittens that are properly socialized are more likely to display confidence, seek attention from people, relax when held, and recover quickly from unexpected situations. Because Onyx had been underweight and contagious throughout November, Andy and I have just recently started introducing her to other people. When friends visit, we introduce them to Onyx. Each time, Onyx has allowed our friends to hold her, but has then happily returned to our arms. We’ve been taking Onyx for regular visits to Andy’s parents too. On the second visit, I placed Onyx on the table and Andy’s dad called for her. She cautiously walked towards him and, upon reaching him, immediately huddled into him. Later when cookies were being handed out, Andy’s dad offered her a nibble. She didn’t show much interest, but must have enjoyed the experience. Next thing we knew, Onyx was strutting across the table seeking food from Andy’s mom, then Andy, and finally me. We had a curious kitten on our hands!

Hiss! One at a time our three cats entered the living room to check out the crate and its occupant. Inside the crate, Onyx lay curled on a beige pet bed. She stared demurely at the cats, who each took their turn stalking about her crate and hissing before defiantly leaving the room. Two of our cats elected to return when we had dinner. From the safe distance of the recliner, they watched Onyx. And she watched them. Our third cat snuck behind our recliner, used the litter box, and returned the way she had come–just to keep as far away from Onyx as possible. When we finished eating, the other two cats fled too. I opened the crate and placed Onyx on my lap while Andy and I watched television. Curiosity eventually drew our cats back to the living room. Cinder, our tortoiseshell and oldest, sought refuge in her cave. Bootsie, our former feral and second adopted, didn’t return that night. This left Rainy, our brown-patched and youngest, to welcome Onyx. She bravely jumped onto our recliner, even ventured a sniff of Onyx’s tail, and then curled at my feet with her back to me. 

It has been easiest to introduce Onyx to our dog Barnaby, as Barnaby is indifferent to all animals. Here, Onyx checks to see if the gray lump is alive.

Introducing a new kitten to an older cat should be done slowly and carefully. After all, the resident cat (or cats) will have established territory, and the introduction of another may not be well received. This is one reason that Andy and I initially kept Onyx separate from our other cats. They could no doubt smell her food and litter box, but only through the safety of a closed door. This gave everyone plenty of time to adjust. Once our cats stopped hissing at the guest room door, I swapped some of their bedding. Onyx received a couple of their beds and our cats got some of Onyx’s blankets. Our cats showed little interest in the new blankets, but Onyx spent several minutes sniffing the beds. During this time, Andy and I were also often bringing Onyx out into the living room, but limiting her to our laps. The above steps aren’t new to us; we followed them when Bootsie and then Rainy joined our family. But our three cats are now bonded as sisters; I feel trepidation about how to introduce Onyx into the mix.

The two cats stared at each other from either side of the guest bed. I sat next to Rainy with treats and toys in my hands, while Andy sat near Onyx with treats and squirt bottle handy. Rainy leaned forward and glared at Onyx, who lay alert on her black blanket, but otherwise neither cat moved. Rainy straightened up and glanced at me. I rewarded her calm demeanor with a treat. After she gobbled the treat, I tossed several more in front of her. Andy and I wanted our cats to view the introduction of Onyx as a positive. If anything were to endear Rainy to Onyx, food would be it! I let Rainy stuff herself, especially because this encouraged her to move freely about the room and closer to Onyx, while Andy sat ready to squirt water if a fight ensued. No squirting was necessary. I brought out the toys. Onyx sprang after a wand toy while Rainy watched. Andy and I declared the evening a success.

Later that week, Andy and I introduced Cinder to Onyx with mixed results. Like Rainy, Cinder was content to stare at Onyx from a safe distance. The difference is that treats are more problematic for Cinder. She has the mentality of a shelter cat that has needed to compete for food. As such, Cinder growls protectively over her food if any living being is nearby. While Cinder did accept a few treats, she soon ducked under the bed to hide. From there, she kept a close eye on what was the happening in the room and repositioned herself more than once. But again, no fights ensued. We don’t intend to give Bootsie a turn, as she doesn’t like to be corralled into a room. Instead our next step will be to allow Onyx free run of the living room, with the other cats having access too. And Andy will keep the squirt bottle handy. After that, we’ll simply continue to socialize Onyx, preparing her for the day she’s adopted.

RainyTraining rule number eight: Figure out the source.

Training rule number nine: Maintain a routine.

August was a chaotic month. As a result, Rainy and I got less training done. We took another trip to Hearts United for Animals, returned a couple of times to the local rose garden, and met that puppy again.

What’s most rewarding about our visits to Hearts United for Animals is that they’re always an adventure. The first Sunday of August, Andy and I packed food, water, and a litter box. Then off we drove with Rainy to Auburn. As soon as we entered the agility building, we heard shelter dogs barking in the next room. I immediately pulled out high-incentive treats. Rainy gobbled them up but remained vigilant. I didn’t push her to perform. Instead we strolled around the building and, as we encountered obstacles, I encouraged her to try them. She agreed to do the table, the tunnels, and the dog walk. When we figured out that she felt most comfortable in the tunnels, we used them to our advantage. I’d face her in the direction of a tunnel, direct her through an obstacle, and then allow her to retreat to the tunnel. After doing this a few times, Andy had a different idea. He carried her over to the next room and lifted her up so she could see the dogs through the window. After a minute, she seemed calmer, as if simply knowing the source of the noise was enough. She was now willing to tackle obstacles closest to the door, such as the A-frame, weaves, and teeter. Once she had run a few courses, we allowed her to explore, and she discovered spider egg sacs. Our trips are always an adventure!

Sometimes the lesson I learn from repeating an outing is all the things Rainy doesn’t like about a certain location. The rose garden is an example. It’s located next to a main street. Even when traffic on it is light, what traffic there is still whizzes past, and this puts Rainy on edge. While I do enjoy seeing the varieties of roses, they’re of no interest to Rainy. She sniffs the grass and no doubt enjoys the smells. She sits on my lap and soaks in the sun. But that’s it. To date, Rainy’s favorite places seem to be the indoor ones.

My in-laws have a toy poodle puppy. Andy and I first took Rainy to meet him in July. During that visit, we took precautions, and placed on Rainy on one side of a baby gate and Toby on the other. Everything went well! During our second visit, I kept Rainy in her carrier until after dinner but then leashed her and let her out. It only took only a few seconds before Toby barked and bounded right up to her face, ready to play. Rainy immediately hissed and swatted him. He backed away but didn’t flee. Instead he tried approaching her from behind. Again, Rainy hissed and swatted him. This time Toby’s demeanor changed. He grew quiet and his tail went still. While he didn’t flee, he opted to seek refuge with his owners. At our third visit, Toby barked and jumped, ready to play—from a safe distance.

When life gets busy, I can easily let routines slip. That happened in August. At first my plan was to just skip one day. Unfortunately, all too soon that one day becomes two or three days. Before I realized it, a week has passed. Thankfully, Rainy is forgiving. When I finally rolled out the stroller, she was eager as always to train.

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

Rainy started her week with a visit from two of our friends. In the middle of the week, we worked on established routines. She finished her week with a trip to a major pet store.

Two weekends ago, friends from out of town came by for a visit. We invited them to visit our critters before going out to eat. The critters include our 13-year-old toy poodle, our reclusive tortie that we adopted from Tia’s Place at Hearts United for Animals, a former feral cat, and our irrepressible Rainy that we adopted as a stray kitten. Our poodle was all kisses, while our tortie wanted to sniff faces, and our feral observed from the safety of the living room cat tower. As for Rainy, she displayed a cautious curiosity. Proud pet mom that I am, I wanted to demonstrate what our cats can do. We ran through a few obedience commands (sit, stay, twirl), and I also pulled out the agility jumps. Then I handed treats to our friends, who took turns getting our cats to perform. The cats were naturally nervous, but also complied with requests.

During the week, after breakfast, Rainy and I kept up our grooming and obedience routines. I brought lots of cat snacks, so that she would associate grooming with good stuff. At the same time, I didn’t just hand out snacks but instead made her work for rewards. After I cleaned her ears, which get dirtier than that of our other pets, I asked her to “Hi-Five”. Then I brushed her, even though she barely sheds, and ask her to stand and twirl (dance). I finished up by cleaning her teeth, and asking her to do her favorite trick: roll over. All done, I put a treat in my mouth, tell her “Kiss!” and let her take it from me.

Establishing a routine hasn’t been easy. I was initially reluctant to add regular training to my schedule because of the time commitment and because I thought it’d be a chore. I finally just decided to start. I picked to work with Rainy on training near mealtimes prior to my getting absorbed in other activities. Then I simply stuck to our schedule until it became routine.

At the end of the week, my husband and I took Rainy with us to run some errands. This is a new experience for me. I’ve taken dogs on errands before, but never cats. Rainy and Andy wait in the car while I make a couple of deliveries. At Petco, it’s a different story. Rainy can come with us. We loaded her into the pet stroller. Rainy sat up, alert to passing cars. When we got inside, we filled our shopping cart with treats, food, and litter, Rainy relaxed for a ride in the stroller. As we shopped, I heard the occasional “Aw” from fellow shoppers. In the checkout line, the customer behind us, and I shared how our two cats like it for walks and about where we purchased it.

Back at the car, I spoiled Rainy with lots of treats. When we return home, she flops onto the living room floor for a stretch and snooze.  Adventure is exhausting!

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

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