George Update

We went through about 6 months trying to integrate George with our other cats. Here’s an update on Georgie. We realized that the integrations weren’t going well, so we were weaning him of the meds and were looking to possibly rehome him, if we could find the right home.

A coworker knew someone that was looking for a cat, so we were hoping he would like George, but that fell through. Once Georgie was off his meds his personality started to really come out. He’s a clown; such a silly cat. He’s still really sweet (to us). He has our hearts and we can’t let him go at this point.

So now Georgie lives in the bedroom area of the house while the other cats stay out in the living area. He’s really happy, we think. He and Nathan still batt at each other at the gate. Perhaps when Petunia passes we will try to see if he can get along with the others, but we aren’t holding our breath. Maybe someday when he’s old he’ll mellow out, we’ll see.

Occasionally he still pees on the bed. It seemed to start again, when my husband wanted us to site swap again to let him have the other part of the house for a bit. It seemed to stress him some more, switching back and smelling the other cats. He also occasionally will pee on the bed if we spend a lot of time out in the living room with the other cats. So we keep the tarp on the bed as a preventative measure. This is really the reason I wouldn’t try to rehome him, you never know if he did it somewhere else how they’d react. Lord knows it wasn’t easy for me to accept in the beginning.

So here’s to a long and happy life for Georgie. He likes to hang at my feet in the morning while I’m working, lounge out on top of the cat cocoon, and snuggle in bed with me and my husband. Such a sweet boy, our Georgie.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad Part 4

Well, here we are about 4 1/2 months after we initially adopted George. We’ve tried many things to fix how we screwed up our introduction of George to our other cats. I left off with the cat behaviorist and working on her plan. It took us about 3 months to go through all of the steps. We took it real slow (2 week full separation reset, 4 weeks of treat time, 3 weeks of scent swapping, and we added an extra week just in case).

George peeking out of his gate

We decided to try the introduction again the day after Christmas. George has seemed ready to come out. He was always trying to open the double doors at the gate.

Let me start by saying, George is the sweetest, most relax and chill cat I’ve ever known. He is so content and happy. He has been bonding with us and getting sweeter with every day. He comes to me in bed and paws at me when he wants to snuggle. He will relax with me in bed and purr. He likes having his belly rubbed. I’ve been working in the dining room and my husband has been sleeping on an air mattress in the dining room all so we can keep all of our cats happy and give them all enough attention.

So, the day after Christmas we let him out. My husband and I were watching him and playing defense. He was fixated on the other cats, but also trying to look around and explore. I tried to get ahead of him to make sure he didn’t sneak up on another cat. I also blocked him from getting close to Tuna. We cut it short after about 10 – 15 minutes and let him back into his area. A day later we tried again. Our cats are very wary of George and downright scared of him, except Marvin, who will growl and act tough. The second time George was walking around and really fixated on the other cats. Marvin was not helping with his growling. We were blocking and keeping between George and the other cats while he tried to explore, but his tail was starting to get puffy. I was out ahead and saw Pumpkin in George’s path, so I picked him up (Pumpkin was George’s punching bag before). When George came into the room and saw me holding Pumpkin it was like he wanted to climb me to get to Pumpkin. I had put Pumpkin down on the air mattress. Eventually George came in and tried to attack Pumpkin again, so we cut the session short again.

We’re heart broken. I was really hoping that we could get him to not attack our cats. We think he does it out of fear. They scare him and then he attacks them out of fear? If that makes sense. So we can either keep living the way we have been living separated with 1/3 of the house for George and the rest for the other cats. Or we can rehome him/take him back to the rescue. We’ve already put feelers out there to see if anyone we knew would want a cat (that doesn’t already have a cat or dog). We don’t know of anyone. Even his pee/poop issue has completely gone away. It was only triggered by the initial stress. Now that he’s happy and feels safe that has stopped.

I joined a few Cat Behavior groups on Facebook and posted a shortened version of my story there. A Cat Behaviorist reached out to me and I’ll talk to her on Monday. I really don’t know what else there is to do for George. Maybe over more time things could get better? I really don’t know.

Many people say that it is probably best to rehome George at this point. That’s such a hard thing to do. We’ve never given up on a cat before, but of course we want him to have the best possible life. I think if we knew he was going to a really good home it would be easier for us to let him go, especially now that we have bonded with him and he with us.

Because of all the George things going on this year I haven’t been crocheting much, but I did make this little freehanded phone holder for my treadmill. My little treadmill is to keep me running over the winter. But it doesn’t have a place to keep my phone and not all my shorts have pockets, so I made the little pouch to keep my phone handy, in case I want to change a song on my playlist.

Kitty Couch

I started making the kitty couch at the beginning of the summer and I just finished it this morning. While it’s a bit of a pain to make, it really doesn’t take months to make, I’ve just been distracted by George. I finished the couch itself this summer, but took forever to pick up the Afghan to finish.

Completed couch

My friend had given me a crate of yarn that she got from someone else. I had a few skeins of a teal yarn in there, so I thought it would be perfect for my kitty couch. The Afghan yarn also came from my free crate.

The pattern is available for sale and is only $2. For the most part, I found the pattern easy to understand, but I made some mistakes and modifications along the way. My first mistake was that I used a size G hook for the couch, and that hook was only supposed to be for the Afghan. As a result I needed to modify the entire pattern to fit the dimensions of the couch.

My next mistake is that I ran out of yarn, so I had to buy some more skeins. Thankfully it was no dye lot so the colors matched, for the most part. I think the older yarn from the crate may have faded some.

I used white yarn to join the panels. It reminds me of the piping that couches used to have in the 70s or 80s. The cats couldn’t wait for the couch to be completed before testing it out.

All of the cats have been on the couch and they love it, although I don’t have a picture of Tuna on it. I’ve had the couch done for months now and the cats have been using it regularly. I really dragged my feet on the Afghan. I hate making Granny Square Afghans, in general, but a mini one? I only really pushed myself to finish it because I wanted to complete the look.

Anyway, now that I’m done my husband wants me to make more so the cats don’t have to fight over it. Perhaps I’ll make a round one next. I could probably free hand something like that.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad – Part 3

An update on George’s integration into our cat family.

After the Cat Behaviorist came, she gave us a map for our re-introducing plan. To start, we need full separation for 2 weeks to reset everyone. We keep George in the bedroom area and the rest of the cats have the rest of the house. So I set up my office on the dinning room table, so I could spend the days with the other cats. We also bought an air mattress and one of us sleeps on the air mattress with the other cats while the other one stays and sleeps with George. With this arrangement the cats get company most of the days, but my husband and I don’t get to see as much of each other as we live mostly separate lives on opposite sides of the house.

One of the other things the Cat Behaviorist recommended for the introduction phase was medication to reduce George’s anxiety and aggression. In general, I’m against medicating cats for things like this. But at this point I’m willing to try just about anything, so long as this is temporary and not a life long thing for George, I’ve agreed to medicate him during this initial introduction phase. The vet did warn that in some cases the medication can cause aggression to increase as the inhibitions decrease, so that is a possibility. So far George has been on the medication for about 6 weeks. He does not appear to be scared or anxious, and he does not seem to be more aggressive. The one odd thing we have noticed is that George stares at himself in mirrors now. He never seemed to do that before the medication, so it’s a bit odd.

The first introduction step on our plan is for treat time. We can provide treat time as many times a day as we want, but we usually do once a day. We started the treats on practically opposite sides of the house and opened the hallway doors so the cats could see each other through the baby gate. We were told to only move them forward about 6 inches at a time and only when they are all comfortable. The important thing is for the session to end on a positive note, so if things look like they are going south, just end the session. Short and sweet is important.

The other important thing is for the treat to be amazing, something that makes the cats go crazy. So we tried to see what the cats like, and of course, they all seemed to like something different. At first we tried bonito flakes and Tuna and Pumpkin appeared to like them, but they tired of them quickly. Marvin and Nathan love kitten food. George appeared to like canned salmon, at first, but in the end goes crazy for Temptations. Now everyone pretty much gets kitten food, and George might get a few Temptations as well. At one point George escaped the gates and rushed to the other cats, just to get their food, so we found it promising that he was only interested in their food and not attacking them.

So that’s where we are at right now. We are still on the treat time step, moving forward slowly. Taking baby steps. George seems to be getting antsy and ready to come out, but as tempting as it is, we want to keep following the plan and not rush it. We probably have at least 4 – 5 more weeks of this to go. We are hoping that by Christmas, or at least by New Year, that we can try to introduce them again. We will need to see how it goes.

This little sweetie pie is worth it. We love him and we’ve been bonding with him and he’s been bonding with us. Let’s hope this all works out in the end. This little one deserves a good home.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad – Part 2

I left off the story of George on a good note. Things were going well. We were following the steps and we were really hopeful. But then things stalled and started to go in reverse.

The baby gate was working well, and feeding time was working well, but play time was not working very well. The second time we tried to have a play session with Pumpkin, George rushed Pumpkin and swatted at him. Pumpkin just rolled over and took it.

We soon realized that George was territorial and his aggression seems to be triggered by it, the peeing too. Yes, his peeing was starting again (or continuing) so the bed tarps seemed to come in handy after all. He also peed on the couch, a cat bed, my husband’s blanket (from what I could tell so far).

So now I bought another book, The Cat Whisperer. I also bought more Feliway and a calming collar. We tried a third play session with Pumpkin. We tried it in a neutral location, the basement. I was able to keep George busy with play. Pumpkin didn’t want to play, he mostly tried to hide from George and kept his eyes on him the whole time.

One thing we noticed was that George was shaking his head and rubbing his ears. So was Nathan, so we scheduled them for a vet visit. It turns out they both had yeast infections in their ears. I also talked to the vet about George and told her all the things we were doing. She mentioned there was a calming food we could try, but since I wasn’t able to get George to try the calming treats, I wasn’t sure if I’d get him to eat the special food. She said it was too soon to try medication. Honestly, medication would be a last resort, and even then, I wouldn’t want to need to medicate him other than as a temporary solution.

I was able to treat George with the ear cleaning and ear drops, but when I tried to treat Nathan, he acted like I was murdering him. He was scared of me for a day and kept running away from me. I felt like a horrible cat mom. I cried. My baby cat was afraid of me and our new cat wasn’t getting along with the others. Nothing was going well.

It seemed that when the cats came onto George’s side of the house, that he would be more territorial and likely to attack. I tried to limit George’s time on the main part of the house, that’s the side he prefers and I was trying to not allow him to own it as his territory as much.

At one point Nathan got onto George’s side and George tried to chase him down again. My husband was able to grab him and hold him until I got Nathan back on his side. Nathan broke out a few more times, thankfully without incident.

George has become more vocal. For a while we were able to leave the doors open at the baby gate, but then he would get aggravated at the gate at he’d vocalize. Sometimes he’d rush the gate and swat at the cats if they were there. Granted, sometimes the cats would instigate it.

We had the idea to try to use a leash on George during playtime to prevent him from attacking. Using the leash seemed to work. I even started using the leash this week for feeding time as well.

Last night I tried walking George through the living room on a leash. I lead him around by using a toy wand while playing. At one point Nathan jumped on the wand toy and George rushed him. This morning I tried leading him around on a leash, more just letting him explore on his own, while I followed him. He locked eyes on Tuna. I kept trying to break his stare and redirect him. He started to walk away, but he just tried to approach her from a different angle. Then he tried to rush her. Thankfully both of these times he had the leash on, but it really has us feeling defeated.

I’m not sure what else there is to try at this point. Tonight, we have a cat behaviorist coming over. We are running out of ideas. It has been almost 4 weeks since George came back to us. He is the sweetest, most affectionate, and playful cat. He loves people, but we’re not sure if we’ll ever be able to get him to accept our cats. It’s really heartbreaking.

My husband can’t stand to think of him going back into a cage at Petsmart. I’m afraid of him getting adopted, he wasn’t adopted for 2 years already; he was with the rescue since he was a kitten without being adopted. But if he was adopted, and he pees on someone’s bed out of anxiety or fear? What’s going to happen to him? If we could only get him to accept our cats, we can give him a good life. And if he pees on the bed every now and then, we can live with that.

Fingers are crossed that the cat behaviorist can help us. I know we’ve made small improvements over the past 3 1/2 weeks, but I’m really hoping we can get past the attacks on our cats.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad

“I will name him George, and I will hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him” 

My blog is mostly about Crochet, but I’m also a crazy cat lady. This post is about our attempts to adopt a sweet, affectionate, loving cat who hates our other cats.

We went to Pet Smart one Saturday to pick up some cat food.  Since we don’t get out much anymore due to the pandemic, we took a drive to the Petsmart, about 45 mins away in a large shopping area.  When we got there, we saw that they had the cats for adoption.  This was the first time we saw them out since the Pandemic started.  My husband and I always love to look at the cats for adoption.  We weren’t planning on bringing any new cats in currently.  We already have four.  

Marvin has been my husband’s cat since he was practically newborn.  He was found at his apartment dumpsters one night.  His brother was already dead, so my husband took him in, and raised him as a bottle-fed cat.  Pumpkin and Petunia (Tuna) are brother and sister and we took them in after my husband’s mom passed; they were her cats.  Tuna has Stage 2 Kidney disease and we really thought we were going to lose her earlier this year, but she’s a tough cookie and keeps holding on.  Marvin, Pumpkin, and Tuna are all about the same age (about 13 years old).  We adopted Nathan Jr. in December, he’s just over a year old now and is very much still a kitten in many ways.  He’s innocent and sweet, but also a little bit of a spoiled brat at the same time.  We’ve lost three cats in this past year (Sammy, Tabitha, and Oliver) and we’ve been wanting to build up the cat brood again. Nathan Jr. (we just call him Nathan) is the first of the next generation.

George’s adoption day.

While at Petsmart, my husband fell in love with George (Adoption agency name was Ludachris, but we renamed him George, aka Georgie and Georgio, so far).  George is an all-black cat listed as 1 ½ years old.  We always said we wanted to adopt a sibling pair after Tuna passed and that we didn’t want to bring in any more cats until she passed, but George gave my husband a lick, so it was all over. There was also another little all black female kitten.  Her daintiness reminded me of Tabitha.  So, we decided to try to adopt them both.  I thought George might be the perfect age for Nathan; Nathan has a lot of kitten, play energy that the other cats don’t enjoy very much.  I also feel that Nathan needs a playmate.  Unfortunately, the little female was already adopted, but we were approved to adopt George.

We adopted George on August 25 picking him up that evening after work. He was so sweet and affectionate, we loved him so much.  When we first set him up, we put him in the guest room and my husband slept with him the first night.  George had used the litter at least once (old litter box with regular dust free litter) that first night/day.

Up until this point we were calling him Lou.  But he never really responded to Ludachris or Lou, so my husband suggested George and it made me think of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, so he became George.  Anyway, we kept George in the bedroom area the next day.  The bedroom area includes our bedroom, my husband’s office, and the guest room which is also my office (we both work from home).  The bedroom area also has two bathrooms and a hallway, and it has a door that separates it from the rest of the house. We decided to leave Tuna in with us because she is old and would not go after George and we thought she’d just stay away from him, which she did, but this was our biggest mistake.

Tuna spent most of the morning under the bed in my office.  This is her den, and she often goes and hangs out there.  At some point while I was in a meeting, I heard a commotion.  George and Tuna were batting at each other.  We broke it up and he left my office.  This probably happened about two more time.  After the second or third time he actually swatted at my husband as he tried to break up the fight.

A few times the cats were at the door with each other and George would hiss or rush at the door.  And a few times Nathan would stick his paw under the door and George would hiss and swat at it.

My husband noticed that George had peed on the bed.  The interaction with Tuna must have upset him.  It was a strong odor, very concentrated.  We chalked this up to just some stress.

After work, we let him out and let him walk around the living area with the other cats.  Things were going ok at first.  But Pumpkin and Nathan kept following him around.  George would growl and hiss at them wanting space.  A few times Pumpkin came up to sniff him and George swatted at him.  Things were getting tense with the cats.  We decided to have George sleep in the guest room again and keep the cats separated for the night. This time I slept in the room with George while my husband slept with the other cats.

George sitting on my chest the first night sleeping with me.

We kept George in the bedroom area again the next day and let him out at lunch.  The cats started to really stress him out.  Pumpkin tried to sniff him again, nose to nose, and got swatted and batted at.  George was trying to lay down and relax, but Nathan started to stalk him.  Finally, George had enough, and he chased Nathan through the house and into the basement utility room.  Nathan was cowering under a utility cart.  I tried to separate George and he swatted at me, by I was able to separate them and get him out of the utility room and close the door.  After about 15 mins I was able to lure Nathan back out from under the utility cart, but he was very worked up and scared.

We separated George again, and this time he peed on the guest bed.  That bed did not have a waterproof mattress pad on it.  Shoot!  We decided to keep the cats separated and let George have some time to de-stress before trying to introduce them again.

I had a hair appointment this night, so I had to head out after work.  On the way home I stopped at the pet store and picked up some Feliway and some Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer.  I also got George a Teddy Bear toy.  When I got home, I stripped the bed, and I scooped the litter for George.  I thought maybe if he had some fresh scooped litter, he would be less likely to pee on the bed.  Just after I scooped the litter, George pooped on the bed.  Right there in front of me.  I was kind of frozen.  Part of me wanted to grab the poop right away.  I should have grabbed him and put him in the litter or scolded him, but I waited until he was done to clean it up.  This was pretty upsetting. Oh, and the mattress was bare because I hadn’t remade the bed yet. Ugh.

I decided the next day that we would need to work on de-stressing him before trying to introduce him to the other cats again.  We were determined to stick it out and work it out.  I had talked to the adoption agency and told them some of the things that happened and asked if they had any advice on what he liked, anything to de-stress him. I read the Jackson Galaxy method for cat introductions and started feeding the cats on opposite sides of the door. It seemed to be going ok.  He was sweet and affectionate with us, just a perfect little love bug.  The hissing and rushing of the bedroom area door were slowing down.  We thought things were gong to work out.  But on Saturday morning we saw that, he had peed and pooped in the guest bed again.

George sleeping on the guest bed behind me, while I work.

We talked it out and decided pooping in bed was just crossing the line. Even after things seemed to be getting better, we just weren’t sure.  I thought perhaps I’d go out and buy fresh new litter boxes and give him all clean fresh litter.  But then we just thought it wasn’t working out.  So, I called the adoption agency, and we took him back.  We were heartbroken.

The heartbreak lasted for the weekend.  I cried a lot.  My husband depressed; he was really bonding with George.  Then on Sunday, my husband said, “I forgot about the special litter (Cat Attract)!  We should have tried that!”  He wanted George back.  He didn’t think we tried enough with him.  I thought long and hard about it. On Monday I wrote an email to the adoption agency, pleading our case to try again.  They called me later that day and we talked, and they decided to let us try again.  This time I was going to use the Jackson Galaxy method and try to stick to it as close as possible and take it slow! I signed up for the Cat Introduction mini classes via email, basically 6 emails:

Class 1: Proactive preparation
Class 2: The importance of base camp
Class 3: “Other side of the door” feeding
Class 4: Initiating visual access
Class 5: Eat, Play, Love Part 1
Class 6: Eat, Play, Love Part 2

Nathan loves the Cat Attract so much that he will roll around in the litter.