So Proud of Our Garrusy Cat!

We were able to trim Garrus’ nails ourselves today with a towel over his face, a stress reducer to calm him, and patience! (He normally gets his nails trimmed at the vet’s office.) The stress reducer also made him more chilled out and affectionate (!) so he forgave us quickly and repeatedly asked for visits from both of us. He even started talking outside my office door when I was trying to do schoolwork, at which point I took a break and he came in for a desk visit. We were able to pick him up and have lap time with him – and he even purred in my lap! Such huge progress for our Gentleman Cat!

I may have RBF but I am secretly purring.

Desk Buddies

Aaron recently bought me larger monitors for my computer – highly useful for grad school – but the cats apparently think my desk is even more irresistible. Now all three regularly stop by for desk visits.

Garrus can be very persuasive when asking for desk visits. Thank goodness he is a Gentleman Cat.
Mau rarely visited my office before but recently that changed. Once he saw Garrus up there, he made himself at home!
Mau decided to ponder cat things while up on my desk.
Charlie did get up on my desk but after chasing the cursor on my screen, I asked him to get down. He gave me this face afterward.
Charlie likes to trot into my office and ask for pets around 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon. He flirts like this on the window seat to get my attention.

Desk Visits

Garrus has always been reserved but he has been slowly becoming more affectionate. Being on Zylkene has noticeably helped him be more relaxed, faff about less and actually eat at meal times, and regularly ask for pets. He’s not accustomed to being picked up or held much, though, so we will continue to work on that.

Lately, Garrus started jumping onto Aaron’s Mac desk in his office and recently started to do the same on my desk more often as well. At first, he was more interested in sniffing the monitors and investigating everything on the desk. When he turned his attention to either Aaron or me, he seemed like he didn’t know what to do. (Charlie and Mau, by contrast, know exactly how to ask for pets and can be most persuasive about it.) We talk to him and offer him scritches, and if he is in the way (e.g. standing in front of the monitor we are working on), we can ask him to move and he does. He doesn’t knock items off the desk either.

“Excuse me, I would like attention please.”

“Pardon me, madam. Would you please take a break from reading your library book to give me scritches? I would most appreciate it.” After giving me this look, he softly bunted my chin and he received a smooch on his head in return. [please excuse the messy desk]

Often, when Garrus comes over for desk visits, Charlie trots into my office squeaking and flops onto the window seat for his own visit. Then I have to ensure both kitties get enough attention! It’s a demanding job to be sure.

Look at this purr monster!

I believe that Charlie is a happy little boy. I mean, look at that face!

Do your cats demand desk visits? Do they demand visits in other locales in your home? Do they get obnoxious about it or are they polite? Please share in the comments!

Toothless King of the House

It’s hard to believe that Mau has been with us for two months now. When we brought him home in late June, he was timid and certainly not feeling his best given the advanced state of her periodontal disease. In the Pflugerville Animal Shelter, prior to his transfer to Austin Pets Alive! and foster care, he was withdrawn, gaunt, not eating much, and spending most of his time in a plastic bin in his cat condo.

He just looked so sad, stressed out, and in need of serious TLC. Although volunteers regularly loved on him and brushed him, his coat was in a sorry state because he did not groom himself very well.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief when Mau started eating wet food and ate with relish! Because he was underweight, we gave him additional small meals. What does it say about our house that two out of three cats need to eat like Hobbits in order to get to a healthy weight?

When Aaron and I spent time with him, we were nevertheless struck by how sweet he was. With photos like this, it was quite apparent that we had a most handsome boy on our hands too.

One month later, he showed us how much he loved human company and that he was thoroughly down with snuggles. Lap time is an imperative!

After he had his long-awaited and much-needed dental surgery, he started to blossom. While sick, he demonstrated little interest in playing (understandable) but once he started feeling better, we caught him batting crinkle balls and springs around the house. He hopped into boxes and raced up the cat tree, unceremoniously unseating Charlie from his favorite platform.

Our evenings are MC’d by this lovey boy. Isn’t he cute? He greets us with an enthusiastic  and demanding “MEH!” and purrs when he receives the attention he wants. And he’s charmingly fluffy too!

Playing vs Fighting

Feline housemates, just like human housemates, may not always get along. Depending on the cats involved, they may actually fight or simply ignore one another. Other cats like to play and tussle with one another, and that can sometimes look like they’re fighting.

Photo courtesy of Petcha

How do you tell the difference between tussling and actual fighting? Here are a few things to look for:

  1. Body language. When cats prepare to fight, they will adopt a defensive stance, curve their spine, bristle their fur, and flatten their ears. A big bottle-brush tail lashing back and forth is another indication of escalating aggression. By contrast, play cats will generally have calm, forward ears (sometimes they may flick back but are not flattened down) and won’t not have bristly fur or look like a classic Halloween scaredy cat.
  2. Position. Playing cats generally have looser positions as they tumble. Sometimes they put a paw around the head or go after the belly area (playing may look rough), but note that they take turns. Fighting cats square off against each other, attempt to intimidate each other with posturing and loud vocalizations, and strike only when necessary.
  3. Noise. Playing cats generally don’t make a lot of noise. They don’t yowl and scream, but if the play gets too rough, there may be a couple meows of protestation! When they do this, they teach each other manners and that biting too hard ends the game. Kittens learn this from an early age, ideally from their siblings and from occasionally disciplinary nips from their mom. Fighting cats hiss a lot, growl, scream, snarl, and generally make A LOT of ruckus.
  4. Friendship. Cats that play together generally have a friendly relationship and see each other as belonging to the same social group. They may snuggle together, groom one another, and even share toys or food. When cats do not have this kind of cordiality, they avoid one another and may have totally separate territories.

Photo courtesy of PetMD. Note these two tense cats are squaring off and just look angry.

Photo courtesy of Free Cat Images. These two cats are tussling, not fighting.

Photo courtesy of Chewy. The tabby on the right prepares to playfully bop the one on the left.

If you want more information about determining whether your cats are playing or fighting, check out Vetstreet, AnimalWised, and PetHelpful.

Do your cats play or do they fight? Do they like each other? What kind of antics do they do during a tussle session? Please share in the comments!

Rainy Day Shelter Visit

Aaron decided to take the afternoon off to fix our garage door. We went to Home Depot to pick up parts and, while we were out, stopped at the Pflugerville Animal Shelter to visit the cat adoption room. What a lovely way to spend a gloppy afternoon!

Mau really enjoys his box. Here he is demonstrating the swishy magnificence of his tail.

While we were not able to get photos of it, Mau did come out of his box and we brushed him. He has thin patches of fur on his sides, likely evidence of stress-related overgrooming. While he apparently eats, he is quite skinny. Amazingly, he refuses to eat wet food and insists on dry food, even though that must hurt him. The volunteers I spoke to suspect he does so because that’s what he is used to eating. He reminds me of Garrus when we first got him. Aaron agreed with me that he looked sad, a bit scraggly, and in need of our help.

While we were there, two other volunteers, Carolyn and Grandma Jean came into the adoption room. Both had worked more with Mau than I have, so I asked them questions about his temperament. When he first came to the shelter a month ago, he was terrified (understandable). Gradually, he started softening and demonstrating that he is a calm but friendly cat who likes to be held and brushed. He has toe floof! Evidently he has been handled a lot more than Garrus was, so that’s a plus, but he’s also quite a bit older than Garrus and Charlie and presumably spent years with his previous owner.

Mau doesn’t like new environments so being taken out into the open space of the adoption room is overwhelming. Grandma Jean said that he does better in the small interaction rooms. As Carolyn reached into the condo to pet him, he started licking her hand repeatedly, which I thought was an odd quirk. When Aaron and I held a kitten, he didn’t seem to mind them at all, whereas his neighbor Chester growled at the the mere sight of the kittens.

As to if and when Aaron and I will be able to foster Mau, we’re waiting for him to be transferred from the shelter to Austin Pets Alive!, since he needs extensive dental work. I contacted both the shelter director and APA and have been approved as a foster (yay), and let APA know that I wanted to foster this particular cat from the Pflugerville Animal Shelter. In the interim I’ll visit and love on him.

Peace…for about 3 minutes!

Shortly after I took this photo, the grey tabbies woke up and started yammering for attention. Obviously we had to plunk on the floor and hold kittens because I couldn’t resist giving these babies lovies. (Who would?)

The tabbies had adorable spotted tummies (!), and all of them had eaten recently, so they had little fat bellies begging for rubs. The black kitten was calm and cuddly today and, mercifully, not so pointy after having his nails trimmed. The orange bicolor and grey bicolor were chatty and bold little explorers. They are clearly used to climbing into volunteers’ laps and being adored. The orange tabby was a genuine extrovert and threw a squeaky, wiggly tantrum until he was picked up again. Once held, he wanted to chill and started to doze off against my chest. There was much internal squeeing on my end.

Kitty Yoga

I have recently started practicing gentle yoga, both by attending classes and at home. I am still getting the hang of timing it right so that all three cats are soundly asleep and thus won’t interrupt my practice with their irresistible cuteness. When I practiced at home for the first time, Boudicca woke up from her nap and immediately sought me out, talking and searching persistently for rubs. She was most confused that my lap was not really available when I tried to meditate.

Boudicca kept bugging me. With my concentration broken, I snapped a photo of her.

When Boudicca finally gave up and returned to the couch to resume her nap, I tried to finish my practice. Then the boys woke up and trotted into my office, with Charlie squeaking cutely in the lead. Sigh.

The next time I tried at home, Boudicca continued to chill out in her box (mostly). She did get up to investigate my blanket and blocks and quest briefly for ear scritches. After I finished my practice I smooched her head.

It appeared that as my practice at home became more of a regular occurrence, the novelty of it wore off. This is how Boudicca reacted when I practiced on Saturday:

Someone is not concerned.

Do your cats (or dogs) tend to interrupt you when you are exercising? Do you ignore them or do you give in and give them attention?