Scout and the Art of Compromise

Scout and I are working on our relationship.

He likes to chew on artificial pine, climb to the highest point in any room and knock off of every surface anything not nailed down. I like going home to find things where I left them and love the idea of not having a cat that swings from light fixtures like a little monkey.

So we’re going to compromise. We’ll do things his way.

For real guys, there is no compromise with a cat, especially an eight month old kitten with the playfulness of a baby and the strength of a small tiger.

He’s my little panther.

I lost him the other night. Searched the entire house until making it to the laundry room where I heard a faint jingle. And then up popped his little head!

Like a jack–in-the-box!

He’s cute, right? Of course, I didn’t think he was so cute the previous night when he was knocking vintage items off the top of my kitchen cabinets like a little maniac.

But he is a cat and cats weren’t designed to be down low. They are tiny little killing machines meant to climb high, hide stealthily, sharpen their claws and do as they please.

So instead of trying to stop what I call bad behavior, the new goal is to provide alternate opportunities.

Can you tell I work in marketing? I’m pretty good with a positive spin if you give me a minute to think it through.

So he wants to be up high? I’ve made the top of the linen closet comfortable for him. It’s the highest structure in the bathroom so he can survey his kingdom any time he likes.

If I’m foolish enough to leave a remote control or book on the coffee table, there’s no reason to believe it will be there when I come home. That’s just silly on my part as it is a cat’s duty to knock these things on the floor.

Those top shelf red containers in the laundry room will never have anything inside then because they provide a comfortable, warm and high place for a catnap and this seems to prevent him from trying to wiggle into an old wardrobe in that room or from climbing onto the clean towels in the linen closet. If he wants to roll around in my dirty clothes basket, who am I to argue? He’s not hurting anything.

However, we do have real and serious issues. For example, he chews on and tries to eat every bit of artificial pine in the house and most of the silk vines and flowers. All along, I’ve been scheming to design a Christmas tree situation that he can’t destroy but there’s little I can do about him trying to eat something he cannot digest.

Goodbye Christmas tree! Maybe we can revisit this next year…..

Anyway, the compromising seems to be going well. As long as Scout continues to get everything he wants, we should be fine!

Have a cat story to share? I would love to hear! Have you ever tried giving them a pot of fresh grass to distract them from eating artificial pine? This is my last resort.

Leaving Scout For Adventure

Scout did better while I was gone this last trip. He suffered severe separation anxiety during my late summer western vacation and I wasn’t sure how he would do with being left again but was pleasantly surprised with the results.

This time, he was nice to my mother for the first couple of days and turned a bit mean toward the end.

He isn’t a bad cat but clearly was worried I wasn’t coming back and maybe just a little impatient from all the waiting.

He was the sweetest little boy when I came home. He greeted me at the door, happy to be held, and purring while nuzzling up against my neck and face. This lasted approximately ninety seconds before he turned angry and started biting my hands.

He was upset and this was the only way he knew how to express his anger, fear and sadness. So I let him go at it for a minute before offering my him a toy in exchange for my hands.

Afterward, he had a little snack and, belly full, curled up in his chair by the window for a nap while I did chores.

All was right with the world.

When he woke up, life went on and neither of us spoke another word of my irresponsible disappearance.

I’m hoping it continues to get easier for him and suspect that it will. It has to be hard to be a little animal, a creature of habit who doesn’t understand why his human mom disappears.

I wish there was a way to tell him that, no matter what, I will always come back for him. Since there isn’t a way to tell him, I’ll just have to keep showing him.

Want to read about how Scout did when I took my western adventure? Click here.

This Face

Cute boy.JPG

Who could say no to this face? We humans like to say that we rescue animals but sometimes I wonder just who did the rescuing. I gave Scout a place to live and hopefully a good life – but he has repaid me twofold with more companionship and laughter than you can imagine.

If you have a chance to rescue an animal in need, I suggest you do it. You’ll undoubtedly change both your lives forever.

Recovering From Surgery

Scout was neutered this week. It’s a pretty simple process these days- I dropped him off at the vet before work and he was awake and playing with the staff before I came back at lunch.

I hated leaving him with strangers and felt guilty for having the procedure done in the first place (even though it’s in everyone’s best interest). I was pretty sure he would punish me for abandoning him there and allowing them to do something so terrible to him.

When he came home, he was clearly tired but couldn’t settle down enough to sleep. So I cuddled him on the couch while he napped all afternoon. Well, ok, I napped some too despite the fact I never take naps.

He slept well, purring and snoring, occasionally waking up to gaze adoringly at me. And I realized that he wasn’t mad at me for taking him there but he loved me more for coming back to get him.

It was a sweet moment.

That sweet moment has been followed by two days of worry and trouble. How do you keep a kitten calm?

He’s not supposed to jump or run around a lot. Keep him calm, the vet said.

Attempts to keep him calm or to remove temptation to jump have the opposite effect. He is willful, to put it kindly and shows no sign of slowing down.

At this point, I’m just hoping he doesn’t hurt himself.

Wearing the cone does slow him down but he keeps finding ways out of that thing and I’m afraid he’ll hurt himself in the process if I continue forcing him to wear it.

Have a tip for keeping a wild child… ahem…. an active little cat…. calm? I would love to hear it.

Pets, Travel and Separation Anxiety

Scout is about seven months old now and seems comfortable in his role as King of the House. When I planned my summer vacation and arranged for Scout’s care, I thought he would struggle but it never occurred to me that he would be crippled by my absence.

But that’s exactly what happened.

I arranged for my aunt to stay with him for a few days and for my mother to take care of him the remainder of the time. Despite having company and care, Scout was terrified and acted out.

Actually, he was just mean. Viciously mean, in a way that only a terrified pet can be.

When I found Scout, he was about ten weeks old and living on the street. A tiny tyke, he weighed two pounds and had terrible food insecurity issues but was an absolute doll.

Almost immediately, I became his human. He’s nice to other people and happy to play but he’s very quick to come back to me and is even a bit clingy at times. He seems to remember being on his own and to understand that I was his rescuer; he rewards me every day with affection and gratitude.

However, he still gets mad when he’s hungry, scared or feeling somehow insecure so I was apprehensive about leaving.

Turns out I had good reason to be and I feel terrible for the pain he experienced that week and for how mean he was to my family.

Poor little guy. He just missed his mom and didn’t understand.

When I came home he was thrilled to see me, purring and sweet for about ninety seconds. Then he remembered himself and became angry. Another week passed, alternating between being angry and ignoring me before life returned to normal.

I stayed at a friend’s house Monday night and Scout came through like a champ with me being gone for just an overnight. So I’m hopeful that he has figured out that I’ll come home when I leave.

Is it possible future vacations won’t be so scary for him?

Want to read more about Scout? Here’s the story of how I found him and a more recent story about his temperament.

Scout “The Purr Face” Capone

Living with Scout is sometimes like living with a tiny gangster. He is such a sweet boy most of the time – he loves to purr, cuddle and play, graciously accepting attention at almost any time.

But if he’s angry, it’s best to just get out of the way. It gets bad enough that I’m working on a cool gangster name for him. “The Purr Face Capone” is in the lead right now.

I accidentally locked him in the bedroom closet yesterday. About ten or fifteen minutes passed before I realized the house was too quiet and went looking for him. He’s so dark and small he can hide anywhere and nearly disappear so I took my time searching high and low.

When I finally located him, there were just two little furry paws sticking out from under the door. He wasn’t crying or moving. Just waiting patiently for his incompetent mom to notice his distress signal.

His initial reaction upon release from this dark prison was gratitude. He purred and nuzzled and cuddled for about a minute. Then, without notice, gangster kitty took over and I’m pretty sure he wanted me dead.

So he spent the rest of the day trying my patience, defiantly perching on the dining room table for a better view out the window. He knows he’s not allowed up there and he also knows that it makes me angry.

We spent the entire afternoon bickering over the table and over my record collection which he loves to climb on and threaten to chew. He doesn’t actually bite down but strategically places the corner of the record cover in his mouth as though threatening to destroy it. He knows he won’t get sprayed with water if he’s sprawled out over the records.

We appear to be at an impasse.

Just wait till he finds out the internet is calling him “The Purr Face!” Ha, ha. He’ll hire a hit out on me then.

Adventures in Cat Parenting

I bought a playpen for my cat this weekend. It will enable Scout to be outside when I’m working or relaxing. With mesh sides and top, he can see out and safely get plenty of fresh air. It’s not huge- about 36″ in diameter and 23″ inches tall- but it’s a good size for a cat to just hang out and play with toys.

We went outside early this morning so I could work on a project. I set him up in the shade and provided several toys as well as fresh water to keep him happy for a while.

And he was happy… for a while.

He sat and looked around, watching the birds and chattering occasionally. And then he started chattering to me.

Loudly.

The next thing I knew, there was a scuffling noise and I turned around in time to see the aftermath of what appeared to be a riot. He had overturned the playpen, dumping his bowl and scattering toys everywhere.

And then he started to cry.

I ran to get him out and he purred happily, cozying up underneath my chin as we went back to the house.

Evidently, he just wanted a little attention.

This week has been an exercise in patience as I try to persuade him to drink more water. He refuses to drink from a bowl so I bought him one of those kitty water fountains to insure he always has fresh water. But he parades past that thing to beg for fresh water in the sink.

He’s not at all spoiled, right?