Settling In: week beginning 07/07/14

Pete on his first day

Part of my job involves working with people who are not coping well at home, and several of my colleagues have had the sad duty of removing animals from owners who are unable to care for them properly, or sometimes unable to prevent other people from abusing them. Over the years we’ve spent  lot of time looking at the cat rescue sites, hoping that the animals we’ve removed have found happy homes at last. In recent weeks I’ve found myself repeatedly drawn to the Lothian Cat Rescue site, always returning to look at Pete.

Pete is between 3 and 4 years old and was found straying in Dunbar in early April this year. He was scratched and scarred and bruised, and full of worms and infection. He hadn’t been neutered, and he wasn’t in good shape at all. Lothian Cat Rescue cleaned him up and healed his wounds and sorted his infections, and neutered him, but nobody wanted to take him home. For some reason, black and black & white cats always wait the longest for new homes, and as Pete can’t live with other cats, other potential adopters couldn’t take him.

Now, I love “tuxedo” cats the most of all and the combination of his cheeky face and his sad story was calling to me, although I didn’t particularly want a cat. But I couldn’t get him out of my mind and eventually decided it was time to meet him. So on Saturday I went along. The volunteer let me into his pen, and he let me stroke his head and rub his furry cheeks until he’d had enough. He stretched out on the shelf and snoozed for a bit, showing me his furry belly, and he let me pick him up and cuddle him. One of the volunteers was amazed at that – she says she still has the scar on her arse from an altercation with an attempting-to-escape Pete – and I think we both knew then that Pete and I were destined for each other.

I took myself off to the pet megastore, stocked up on everything I would need (except a catflap and a carrier, which Amazon were supposed to deliver on Monday but they still haven’t arrived and this is Thursday), and on Monday a friend gave me a lift back out to the centre, with a borrowed carrier.  Poor Pete did not like being in the carrier, yowled a lot and eventually broke out of the door and jumped out. So we had to borrow another carrier from the centre. He didn’t like that either, and he definitely didn’t like the journey back. He was crying and panting and shaking and I was starting to worry that the journey was too upsetting for him. But we got home, and I opened the carrier, and he hopped out. And within five minutes, he looked like this

Pete arrives

I have never seen a cat relax into a strange environment so quickly. He had a sniff around and found his bowls, flatly refused to get into his bed (I then took the igloo-style bed back and changed it for a hooded one, and he won’t touch that either, so I might try and change it for a flat one), had a cuddle on my lap, and had a stretch on the floor. Within an hour he was running to me rather than away when something frightened him so. He really likes a proper cuddle on the lap, he really coories in and does a lovely snuffly purr, and loves having his head rubbed. And when he really really wants a head-rub, he stands on his back legs like a meerkat. 😀

We had a good first night. I went off to bed, and left the bedroom door slightly ajar so that he would know where I was and could come in for reassurance if he needed it. He came in, slept on my feet until about half three, and then went off to the livingroom, came back, meowed loudly and started asking him to follow me in a manner which made me think perhaps Timmy had fallen down a well. I got up and followed him, only to find he was unhappy because there were only biscuits in his bowl. I told him that was it till breakfast and there would be no breakfast at such an unreasonable hour, so he followed me back to bed and slept until I got up. And then he ran through at the speed of light and danced in circles while I dished up his Felix pollack with crunchy crumbles, which is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever smelled.

I don’t want him in the bedroom as a usual thing. I’m happy for him to come and sniff around while I’m in there, but I don’t want him spending much time in there, and definitely not sleeping in there regularly. So Tuesday night I shut the door tight and hoped he’d be ok. He cried outside the door for a few minutes, which made me feel bad in my tummy, and I had to keep reminding myself that plenty of cats aren’t allowed in the bedroom at night and they all survive, but I stayed firm and he gave up after five minutes or so. He was absolutely fine in the morning, and he was fine last night too.

Pete and I went to the vet on Tuesday so he could have his first set of jags. He didn’t like the taxi trips but wasn’t as distressed as he was when I brought him home, and by the return trip, he made only minor protests. He was a very good boy at the vet’s too (Edinburgh Cat Clinic). He had his first vaccinations and tolerated the needle very well, and the vet listened to his heart and his lungs and said he was splendid. And he is! He sat very well on the weighing scales (5.8kg, not fat, just a big cat) and then tried to have a little snooze on them.

He’s getting more and more confident all the time. He was quite clingy for the first couple of days, following me around and looking worried at every little noise, but he’s getting used to things very quickly. He sleeps for 95% of the time, demands cuddles for 1% of the time, and the rest of the time he begs for food. He’s been a very naughty boy today and last night. The shelter said they fed him morning and evening, with a pouch of wet food and some biscuits at each feed, so I intended to carry on that way. The good thing is, because the shelter feed the cats on whatever cat food people have donated, none of the cats get the chance to be fussy. So my plan is to buy several varieties of food and alternate them so he doesn’t get used to one thing and start turning his nose up at the cheaper varieties. He eats a pouch in a few seconds and then begs for more, so I decided to try giving him a pouch at breakfast time, biscuits in his bowl just as I leave for work, a pouch at dinner time, and biscuits in his bowl when I go to bed. Well, I won’t make the mistake of leaving the box of catfood pouches on the worktop again. When I got up this morning somebody had spent the night dragging three pouches out of the box and across the floor and eating the contents of one of them. No wonder he hadn’t eaten all of his overnight biscuits! So I put the pouches back into the box, closed the flap, turned the box so the opening was up against the microwave, and put a weighted tupperware box on top.

When I got home at lunchtime, the tupperware had been moved and another empty pouch was strewn across the floor! So the pouches are now in a locknlock box and Pete has had his first telling off. I don’t think he paid much attention though.

I’m looking forward to him getting his final set of vaccinations in 3 weeks time so that he can start to go out, not least because the wet food makes his poo in the litter tray very very stinky. The smell calms down once it’s covered by the litter, but while he’s putting it out, it’s nauseating.

But I love him!