Escape from Al-cat-raz

In October, a new cat started visiting our 3 while they were out in their netted ‘catio’ area. We lovingly named him Beastie, due to the fact that he is black, fluffy and absolutely huge. He also happens to be extremely cute, which meant that when Betty went missing (and he was the prime suspect) I found it almost impossible to be annoyed with him.

FB_IMG_1516483462412

Yes, this is another ‘crap we lost our cat’ blog post. Buckle up.

It was 9th December and we had been out doing Christmas shopping in the glorious surroundings of Lewisham Shopping Centre. I had bought a mini poinsettia (which would die 3 days later) and the other half got some new slippers. When we left the flat, the cats had been playing in the garden and we assumed they would come in when they felt like it (like they had done many times before). The catio had been taken down in early November as they seemed a lot more confident going out, and we wanted them to explore, so we had no reason to think anything would go wrong.

But, of course, it did.

By 8pm that night, Betty still hadn’t reappeared. George and Moo appeared unbothered by this so we fed them and tried calling their sister in, shaking biscuits, making ridiculous noises into the night. The whole lot. But she didn’t come in. We realised that she had probably encountered Beastie and fled somewhere.

Believing that she would fall for the same tricks as last time, I set up the humane trap again, put a blanket and a hot water bottle in it with a nice bowl of food and thought she’d be hungry and cold enough to come in immediately.

Instead, it snowed and Betty stayed away. As anyone who has ever had a missing cat will know, patience is key in these situations. Patience and Dreamies.

IMG_20171210_105916_900

So, for 11 days, we relied on our patience and bags of treats and the trap (which was being roundly ignored). By this point we had distributed leaflets to all the neighbours, the local vet, the CHAT shelter and the school which backs onto our house. The latter of these communications would be the most interesting as it turned out. More on that in a moment.

We also decided to invest in one of those infrared weatherproof camouflage-coated all singing, all dancing hunting cameras. Sidenote: best thing ever.

We had the idea that if we could at least spot Betty and figure out her routine, we might be able to find the best place to put the trap and hopefully get her back home before Christmas.

The first night resulted in footage of a fox and not a lot else. We also got a phone call from a neighbour offering to help us look for Betty as she had access to the area around the back by the school. Of course we leapt at the offer and agreed to meet her the next night.

We turned up at 8.30pm, Dreamies in hand, ready to do some cat hunting. Our friendly (if slightly eccentric) neighbour came out and directed us to where we would start the search. And so, for an hour and a half, we circled the area, calling into trees, bushes, underground parking spaces, alleyways, nooks, crannies, drainpipes… basically anything that a small, black panther could fit into. It became apparent over that 90 minute session that our neighbour was even more fond of cats than we are. This was demonstrated when at one point she got on the floor in front of someone’s house and tried to coax what was quite obviously an owned cat over for some treats to ‘check if it was a stray’. Still, having her on our side was better than not.

We parted ways with much better knowledge of the area, and went home to figure out a plan.

A few more days passed; Christmas came and went; the stockings I had bought for the cats remained over the fireplace, untouched for when Betty came home. We continued the routine of refreshing the food, moving the trap, calling out to her.

And then, on Boxing Day afternoon, there she was! Sitting on top of the 15ft high wall at the end of our garden having a sunbathe as if nothing was wrong. We quickly grabbed a leftover turkey leg and a feather toy and ran up the garden to try to coax her down. But, in typical cat fashion, she flatly ignored us. So I started hurling bits of meat up at her so at least she would eat something. This proved quite effective. So effective that we started getting regular sightings of her on our Bettycam.

IMG_20171226_111724_850

Except it wasn’t always Betty… as well as the fox(es) and a dog or 2 that were staying upstairs over Christmas, we also discovered that aside from Betty and Beastie, there are 2 other cats frequenting our garden every night. So, 4 black cats and a pack of canines. Gardens are mad after dark.

We eventually abandoned the idea of the trap, and instead started leaving bowls of food out on the patio table. Which we really should have tried first because as it turned out, Betty took very well to this and started coming down for regular meals.

This continued into January, and then it happened. One morning we let George and Moo out to have a play and stretch their legs. The rain and cold that we had had over Christmas and New Year finally lifted and it was nice and sunny. I was in the front room, with a clear view through to the back door, playing Mario Galaxy and swearing at the TV. Suddenly, there was a loud hissing from Moo. I turned to see what the fuss was and there in the kitchen was a small, black cat. Betty had returned…

But in my eagerness I managed to scare her off back through the catflap. Annoyed with myself, I moved out of sight and hoped she would come back in. About 10 minutes passed. George ventured back out, having come down to see what Moo was hissing about, and I was just about to give up and make some tea when George came barrelling back through the catflap pursued by Betty. The camera footage would later reveal that he had actually gone out and chirruped at her to come back in. Extra Dreamies for George!

IMG_20171227_200156_231

With Betty in the building, timing was everything. I waited for her to come far enough in before standing up. Predictably, she bolted to the nearest exit – which happened to be the door into our bedroom. WIN!

We had her in. I ran to the back door and bolted every lock on the catflap, the deadbolts, nailed some boards over the windows… ok not quite, but close enough. We had her home. A month and a day later, but home she was and that was that.

IMG_20180111_070113_643

As before, we kept her isolated for 24 hours to administer worming tablets, flea treatment and just ensure that she was eating and drinking ok. Despite being very annoyed and really quite skinny, she was fine and after a few hours even allowed me to stroke her. She slept under the bed that night, and the next day we let her see her siblings.

George, the sweet little ball of love that he is, immediately ran to her and gave her nose a lick. Moo growled at her from the corner, but that was all. Betty didn’t smell right, you see, and Moo is a cat that likes things to smell right. She’s also just a bit weird, so we had to allow her a while to calm down and accept her sister again.

IMG_20180120_210227_931

It’s taken 2 weeks, but finally there is peace and harmony in the flat once again. Betty is fattening up, George is snuggly and Moo is weird as hell. And we love them all.

IMG_20180118_200746_215

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Day 242: Lilies and Lapcats

Yes, it has been a while since our last update. This is partly down to laziness on my side, and also having a mass of cat on my lap which prohibits typing (more on that in a moment).

IMG_20171012_230857_115

I’m pleased to say that in the weeks following Betty’s Great Escape, a number of things have happened:

  1. George became a fully-fledged lapcat. To the point that I can now go for 5 or 6 hours at a time (usually on a Sunday) with him not shifting from my lap. He also loves helping me work from home on Wednesdays.

IMG_20170927_160716_117

2. All 3 cats had the excitement of an overnight trip to the vet because SOMEONE *cough definitely Moo cough* decided to bite a lily which we carelessly left on the table. Although it was only a tiny nip on one of the leaves, we didn’t take any risks and tried to get them to the vet as soon as possible. Of course this meant we were faced with having to get all 3 cats into carriers. George and Moo were fairly easy, but Betty – as ever – proved to be a challenge.

After an afternoon of employing every trick I could think of, in the end I opted for the humane automatic trap which we used to trap her from the garden. She was grumpy, but we managed it.

IMG_20170922_174203_079

On their return, each cat had some interesting shaved patches and Moo even had a fancy pink sparkly sock because she refused to stay still while the vet did blood tests. All 3 were given the all-clear, and it had another surprising effect…

3. All 3 cats are now strokeable, and Betty is very nearly at lapcat stage like her brother! Moo is still a little way behind, and unfortunately doesn’t seem able to purr like her siblings… but she will still headbutt your hand and rub round your legs at feeding time.

We are also doing more outdoor trips, and the back yard has been netted over to create a safer enclosed area for them to prevent another 2-week saga.

IMG_20171105_134041_330

With the cold weather setting in, we are looking forward to having 3 cuddly winter cats and celebrating Christmas! I’m being ambitious (stupid) and am powering ahead with a Christmas tree, but have only bought unbreakable baubles so the cats can bat them around and not hurt themselves. We’re hoping George might even fit a little Santa suit…

IMG_20171029_162323_081

The Great Escape

I got the idea a couple of months ago to create an outdoor space for the cats – for when they were ready. The shelter had recommended keeping them in for at least 8 weeks, and as June approached we felt it was safe to start making plans for their first trip outdoors.

Having fished a couple of wooden pallets out of a skip down the road, I started to make plans for a ‘Catio’ – a cat patio, obviously. The idea was to have a climbable space with interesting (cat-safe) flowers to sniff and little fluttering insects to bat about.

It was all going swimmingly – June 17th was the hottest day of the year so far. As Gaz was here in the morning, we opened the back door and let the 3 fur balls venture a little way outside into the yard. Cautiously, sticking to the walls like little magnets, all 3 stepped over the threshold to explore…

IMG_20170617_094542_069

They came back in after about 20 minutes – a brief trip was exhausting enough, and mid-morning naps are important. Fast forward an hour or 2, and I was outside the front of our flat painting and stenciling, feeling very pleased with myself. The cats were indoors, snoozing away. At about 3pm, thanks to the heat, the Catio was completely dry and ready to be carried through to the back.

With the cats (supposedly) still fast asleep, I started carrying through the wooden palettes from the front to the back, assembling the finished piece and ensuring all the rubbish and recycling was put away. Just then – disaster struck.

The through-draft from the back and front doors being open slammed the front door shut behind me, leaving me outside in nothing but shorts and T-shirt, no phone, no shoes, no suncream… and the back door remained open. I could see my keys sitting on the table just inside the door, so after about 45 minutes of banging on neighbours’ doors and attempting to break in by force, I finally worked out that I could use a broom handle and a chopstick, held together with some masking tape (all of which I had been using for the painting earlier) to fish the keys through the letterbox. Crisis averted – or so I thought…

I carried on assembling the Catio and clearing up around myself, and before I knew it, it was dinnertime. Sheba for the cats – pasta for me. After about 20 minutes of calling for the cats, it became apparent that only 2 were making an appearance for dinner that night. Moo and George got stuck in, and left me climbing under furniture and looking in cupboards for Betty. After an hour I couldn’t find her anywhere at all, and it was then that I realised that she must have escaped during my lock-out.

Sure enough, at about 11pm, she appeared out the back – but had absolutely zero intention of coming back in. We decided she’d be ok for a night and probably come back in the next day, so we left a window open and went to bed.

Three days went by, and we had no luck, so in an act of desperation we decided to leave the doors open again and waft some nice chickeny smells from the kitchen into the garden in an effort to drag her in by her nose. This had a reverse effect and in fact resulted in George deciding to go camp out with his sister under a bush in the back yard. So we were left with a very sad Moo.

IMG_20170621_113606_366[1]

At around 7am the next morning, Gaz went into the bathroom to find George sitting quite happily on the rug in there having jumped back in through the window during the night. This was Wednesday 21st, my work from home day, so I was able to ensure George was fed and watered and happy. There was still no sign of Betty.

The next morning I left, and told Gaz to ensure the bathroom door was closed and the window left open, just in case Betty wanted to come back in.

Can you guess what happened next?

If you said: Gaz forgot to close the door, you’d be correct. And so we lost the Moo. Luckily Moo had even less of an adventurous streak than George, and at around 3am on Friday morning she too leapt through the bathroom window and came home. Betty remained in her bush.

IMG_20170708_112614_072

It’s important to say that during this time we spent every single evening outside either looking for her or trying to coax her in with food, but as she is a little feral at heart anyway, nothing was going to bring her in. She had a good bush, fine weather and had worked out that coming down in the dead of night to eat any food left out for her would not endanger her freedom.

We began to despair, so I ended up requesting a humane trap from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust in order to get her. They were lovely enough to send someone round with one the next day (we’re now at Wednesday 28th June) so I set it up in the back yard with some tuna. As it was a manual trap, it required someone holding a string at some distance and waiting for the animal to come and get the bait before slamming the door shut. So, I threaded the string for the door through our bathroom window and sat in the dark and waited.

And waited. And… waited. After 3 nights of this, it was fairly obvious that Betty was having none of it, and refused to come down at all. So, Amazon to the rescue once more…

I was able to buy an automatic humane trap for around £30 which you just needed to set up and leave and it would catch your beastie with minimal fuss. So, Friday night this thing arrived and I immediately went outside to set it up.

Pilchards were recommended as a better bait than tuna, so I dished up a tin each for all 3 of them, which proved to be an awful plan as Betty didn’t touch them and George ended up puking them up all over my sofa. Saturday morning came, still no Betty, the pilchards had been left well alone, and I was about ready to accept that she was a garden cat now and we would only see her when she got too cold.

I cleared out the unwanted pilchards and replaced them with the plain old Harrington’s cat biscuits that they seem to love, fully expecting them to be left the same as all our other offerings. At about 5pm on Saturday 1st July – 2 whole weeks after she went missing – I was sitting in the front room when Moo and George (who were sitting on their tree perches at the time) both whipped their ears round and stared towards the back door. I didn’t think anything of it, but decided to go and check the trap just in case… and there she was! The angriest, blackest little beast you ever saw.

IMG_20170701_232830_599[1]

I covered the trap with her favourite blanket and tried to talk to her in soothing tones about ham and chicken and how nice everything would be, but as I was making my way back in the door of the cage almost fell open. I found myself trying to stuff the seething black ball of rage back into the cage whilst running through shrubbery and half giggling, half crying with adrenaline (this is WAY more stressful than you think). Eventually, I made it back inside and closed the doors behind me safely, leaving Betty in the cage on the kitchen floor to cool off while I made a ‘safe room’ for her in the bathroom. She was very hungry – so hungry I managed to feed her a worming tablet without her noticing.

She is now settled back in with Moo and George, and they have all discovered a new favourite treat: ham (the low salt, healthy version from Sainsbury’s).

IMG_20170708_081539_695[1]

A few things to say about this experience:

1 – Cat non-recognition aggression is weird. Moo reacted very badly to both George and Betty as they had their smells altered by venturing outside. Having seen how she reacted to George, I was sure to make the space in the bathroom for Betty full of familiar-smelling things like their cat tent and blankets so when I let her back into the flat with the other 2, she didn’t smell *too* different… but that didn’t stop Moo growling at her for the next few days;

2 – You really only get 1 chance at using a trap – especially with smart cats who don’t want to be trapped. Patience is key. And don’t use pilchards because pilchard puke is literally the most foul thing you will ever experience;

3 – I will not be letting them out again for at least another 5-6 months, by which time it’ll be winter so they might be more likely to return quickly.

 

 

Birthdays: 1 (x3) Trips to the Vet: 1

On Friday, the 3 Ameowgos turned 1. After a week of tackling George’s intolerance to the previously well-received James Wellbeloved cat biscuits (suffice to say, I now see solid poops as a luxury), we settled down for some playtime with bubbles and a new spider toy.

At some point during the spider/bubble cat party, Betty suffered *something* (as yet unknown) which caused sudden “Anisocoria” or uneven pupil sizes.

IMG_20170521_094602_269

Apparently this is fairly common for a number of different cat afflictions, so we got her an emergency vet appointment first thing on Saturday morning.

After no less than 25 minutes of sprinting around the flat trying to capture the poor thing, traumatising both her and the other 2 who we locked in the bedroom for the duration, Gaz was able to take her down to the clinic.

The vet gave her a physical examination and said that it could be a number of things, potentially neurological, such as a stroke or similar. So we are now advised to keep a close eye on her and report any changes in appetite, behaviour, personality etc.

HOWEVER, I’m pleased to say that after spending most of yesterday afternoon asleep, Betty was mostly ok and back to her usual self, playing tug of war and climbing all over the place. She ate a bit of salmon for dinner and biscuits for breakfast this morning before retiring under the TV for her usual mid-morning sleep.

IMG_20170521_001058_522

In happier news, we’ve had a breakthrough with the George! He is now very nearly a lap cat. We are able to pick him up but not yet hold him, and he is quite happy to sit on the sofa or the bed for cuddles. He has also very much found his ‘spot’ and is well on his way to becoming a delightful little cuddlebug.

IMG_20170514_130821_364

We have also employed a new playtime routine for the cats to tire them out before bed and also to encourage them to be a bit less afraid of us. This isn’t a problem for George but for Moo and Betty it has certainly made a difference. For anyone with cats in a flat, this is an excellent method to ensure you’re not woken up at 2am or 3am by little feet sprinting all over your furniture at 100mph.

I will usually get into bed about half an hour early, and then have the cats chase the feather wands all around he bed and over my legs. They have a wonderful time and are able to jump around and use up lots of energy, with very little effort from my side. This has the added benefit of the cats being on your lap without them realising… sneaky bonding. You will end up with fur on your duvet, so I recommend having a blanket or similar that you can put over while they are playing so you don’t end up with hair matted into your bedcovers…

IMG_20170515_222130_672

Moo will now tolerate (and I do mean TOLERATE) small amounts of stroking on her paws and tail when she is in her little hammock. Nowhere else. At all. And if you overstay your welcome you will get a slap – but this is still progress so I’ll take it. Also, her slaps are adorable and very ladylike.

Moo and Betty have been almost inseparable since arriving, so we’re hoping that as one of them gains a little more confidence, the other will follow. They have a very special bond and if Betty ‘goes missing’ (as she sometimes does – because she’s black so if she’s asleep in a shadowy bit of the room, you cannot see her) Moo will wander around mewing until she finds her. It is equal parts pathetic and adorable.

So that’s where we are. Day 73, we’ve had our first trip to the vet, our first birthday and still no cuddles from the girls. But we will persevere.

IMG_20170519_200541_852

Day 53: Has it really been 53 days?!

This morning I awoke to a little Moo face peering at me over the side of the bed. She quickly vanished when I caught her eye, only to reappear at the other side of the bed, paws on the duvet, little nose and big eyes gazing at me.

IMG_20170420_203712_942

This has been a recurring theme for her over the past week or so. She seems to be confident enough now to come and look over the edge of the sofa or the bed or whatever we happen to be sitting/lying on – just to investigate. We are allowed to look back, but not touch. Not yet…

Moo also witnessed her first thunder/hail storm last week, which had her staring intently out of the window and letting out little excited chirrups every now and then. The thunder didn’t bother her at all – she just wanted to see what all the noise was!

IMG_20170426_135732_822.jpg

Betty isn’t far behind – she also likes to come and sneak a peek when she thinks we aren’t looking. The feather wands are proving a great way to get her to come very close without her freaking out as she’s too busy plotting how to kill the dancing ‘bird’.

IMG_20170501_121956_217

She is also a great fan of gazing out of the window, although she hasn’t quite got the hang of standing up on her back legs to get a really good view just yet… which is sort of hilarious for us. She’s extremely stretchy.

IMG_20170414_111207_706

And then there’s George, who has the sweetest little personality and is turning into quite a chatty little man.

IMG_20170417_143804_683

He has now learnt that head, tummy and cheek rubs are really just the greatest things ever and can’t quite believe that he has lived so long without them.

IMG_20170501_112900_529

However – despite being totally fine to rub around our ankles – he is only really happy to receive contact when he’s in the cat tree or we’re about to feed him. In fact if you’re about to feed any of them, suddenly all phobias go out of the window… I can even *call* them over to eat now and will be greeted by 12 little paws scampering over. It’s wonderful.

IMG_20170430_182335_384

This was me preparing their special Sunday chicken dinner; they are really not fussy when it comes to food (prawn incident aside) so I do try to keep their food a bit interesting. They will usually have biscuits in the morning and then either cat food or baked fish/tinned tuna (in spring water so it’s not salty!), and on Sundays I’ll try to make them some form of chicken because that’s their favourite.

I would say that we spoil them, but they will still eat normal cat food the rest of the time so I guess they’re just happy! It certainly keeps them energetic…

IMG_20170417_000107_014

…but there’s always time for a snooze. The girls are still not quite feeling the need for human cuddles yet, but for now they have each other. We are determined to get those cuddles one day!

IMG_20170426_160429_523

 

Month 1: Amazon Prime and Prawns

The first thing to say is, I’m terrible at updating this blog. This is probably why I never kept a diary, but the gallery is up to date so that’s the important thing.

It has been almost exactly a month since we brought home the cats and right now, they are supposed to be enjoying a special treat of prawns for dinner. I had envisioned this being a wonderful moment of human providing cats with wonderful food for which they would run to our arms and be eternally grateful. In reality, we are now watching George batting said prawns around the flat whilst Betty follows him around eating them and Moo looks on from a distance in confusion, not touching or even sniffing her bowl.

I think we may have the only cats in the world who don’t like – nay, don’t UNDERSTAND – prawns. Sigh.

Last weekend, I finally dismantled their cage so they are now free-range cats. George has progressed really well, and is now at the point where he happily accepts tickles and strokes from both of us. Here he is, gazing out of the window at the world going by.

IMG_20170408_160437_987

Moo has also done well, and will now approach us and sniff our hands as well as happily accepting treats, but we’re not quite at the contact stage yet. She’s a bit derpy, but she’s absolutely adorable.

IMG_20170406_071147_986

Betty… well, she’s just happy to be here. We think. Our little resident black panther is still painfully shy and will run and hide any time she hears a noise. However, she is very playful and we’re hoping that with a bit more patience we’ll get her to warm up a bit too. As I write, she is sitting by my feet, totally relaxed, which in itself is pretty good for her.

IMG_20170407_215758_621

For those of you reading this because you’re looking for advice on how to keep cats in a flat, I can safely say that it is perfectly fine… as long as you’re willing to put up with the occasional knocked-over ornament, noisy litter trays and trying not to let the cats out by accident when you come home.

Cats don’t require a lot of space, they will entertain themselves quite happily even without acres of land to roam. The important thing seems to be the number of climbable objects that you provide within their environment. Cats are (apparently) natural tree-dwellers in the wild, so they adore being up high and observing everything. I very much recommend this contraption – a mere £92 for 5 tiers of sturdy, cat-friendly terrain . I hear the good people at Amazon Prime are now able to put their children through university thanks to my cat-related custom throughout March… but at least these 3 are happy.

IMG_20170404_201718_921

Tomorrow, we’ll be returning the cat cage to Celia Hammond and giving them an update. We’re hoping to have progressed George to lap-cat stage by the end of May, and Moo to perhaps head rub stage… With Betty, we will just be happy if she stops finding our socks terrifying. Patience is the key… patience and treats. But not prawns.

For now, good night…

IMG_20170327_202832_057

 

 

WEEK 1: The Learning Curve

Last weekend, after 3 years of me whining about not having a cat (not including the 18 month temporary acquisition of the neighbour’s cat) we finally adopted some feline companions.

The landlord was fully supportive of the cause, and the landlady even suggested that we get 2 cats so they can keep one another company. So, naturally, we ended up with 3.

After a couple of awkward lecture-like conversations with the Cats Protection League and a disappointing rehoming attempt at Battersea, we came across the Celia Hammond Animal Trust in Lewisham. Having fallen in love with 2 black sisters on the website, I emailed the Trust and registered our interest immediately, following up with 3 phone calls. Just to make sure.

Within a few days, a slightly surreal house check interview was arranged with a lovely lady who has her own ample menagerie of adopted cats, chickens and dogs. We were cleared for adoption that evening and, not being the patient type, I requested to meet our prospective fur babies the next evening, which CHAT happily agreed to.

So, Friday night we grabbed our cat carrier and jumped in an Uber ready to go pick up our twin black beauties. We had read on the website about them being semi-feral, so weren’t quite sure what to expect. Would they run away in horror or attempt to take our faces off? Such suspense.

The answer was neither. When we arrived, we were taken down to meet the cats – with a small detour as our guide had to stop and feed her 3 week old kitten. We walked into a room with rows of cages, all occupied by various quantities of cat. The lady opened the cage for our cats and we were met with the twin glares of 2 small black dragons.

They were gorgeous, but after a few minutes of talking to the lady and discussing their needs and temperaments, it was decided that they would be just a little too tricky. Reluctantly, I declined those 2 and asked if there were any others that we could see. She explained that all the friendly cats went very quickly, so the ones in this room were a bit more challenging. We looked around, and staring at us saucer-eyed from one of the top crates were 3 little faces.

IMG_20170311_144909_440.jpg

We asked if we could meet these 3 – at the time named Austin, Mercedes and Rolls-Royce (more on those names later). After a bit of play with the feather teaser, we were in love. The lady said we could take the 2 girls together and leave the slightly more rambunctious boy as he could be rehomed with a different cat, but after a brief chat about finances, the man of the house decided they should stay as a set. So we got all 3.

Our 3 – now George the Furred (tabby), Betty (black) and Moo (black & white) – were found as kittens in an abandoned garage on the Old Kent Road in London (hence the car names). When we brought them home, it took took well over 2 hours to get them all from their carriers into the temporary crate which is designed to give them a ‘safe space’. Yes, we have snowflake cats.

IMG_20170312_095921_419

Having set up a veritable mini cat paradise in the crate for them, complete with a small cat tree, hammock, teepee and fleece-lined box, the cats began to settle in. We attempted to implement set meal times, as recommended by the CHAT staff, but this was not as easy as we thought.

For the first 3 days, Betty and Moo barely ate and showed no interest at all in playing. We decided that leaving biscuits in the crate with them during the day while we were at work might encourage the girls to eat a bit when we weren’t there.

This was a mistake. George took full advantage of our naivety and has put on a visible amount of weight since arriving… so we have now introduced meals at 7.30am-8am and 8pm-9pm, with treats hand-fed to them as part of their socialisation training. This was supposedly also meant to be a good opportunity to stroke the cats as they would begin to associate food with stroking… or stroking with food. Either way, a positive association. This also hasn’t quite gone to plan, but we remain hopeful.

On Monday, we got them to venture a little way outside their crate, playing with the feather teasers and laser pens. This seemed to go very well. In fact, it went a little too well and by Friday the cats had the run of the place and had found a very cosy hiding hole right under our TV table which is virtually inaccessible.

IMG_20170316_205722_180

We had been warned not to let them out of the crate until they really wanted to come out – but in our over-enthusiasm we lost sight of this advice a little… As a result, my entire Saturday was spent attempting to herd cats back into their crate so I could leave the flat knowing they would be safe. Top tip: cats really don’t enjoy being herded. And it is a 2 person job. In fact I would recommend a 2:1 person to cat ratio.

So we are now back to basics. The cats have just been served a special Sunday dinner of chicken with gravy – it smells better than cat food and they prefer it too, so it works for everyone. This week we are hoping to properly start the socialising process, through more in-crate play, hand feeding and reading them books (to get them used to our voices, not because we’re insane). We have also been leaving Classic FM on while we’re out of the flat, as the soothing music and interludes from Bill Turnbull are recommended to keep the cats calm. I don’t know whether the Feliway diffusers have worked at all, but the cats are certainly less skittish than they were when they arrived. We’re hoping to introduce them to my mother next weekend…

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑