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Making After Loss

On my last post about losing all the kitties, Linda Raha suggested I make scrapbooks for the kitties. She knew that that would be right up my alley. What she didn’t know is that I was already making something to remember my dears by.

Using my art journaling supplies and a carton that cat food comes in, I made this so that all the kitties (including Mac who I lost in 2015) are together, right where I can see them all the time.

The cat bed and bowls are dollhouse-sized. The kitty on top was a gift. Here is a close-up of the kitty pix.

Upper left is my heart Pear, then clockwise, Mac, Felix, and Izzie.

Monday I had the vaccine booster shot, and I felt fine yesterday morning. But then I started to get sick with a 101 fever and then painful lymph node swelling under my arm, reaching into my chest and back and down to the tips of my fingers. I had finger cramping last night, but not this morning, so maybe I will be getting better soon.

Well, i wanted to share with you my little cat nicho. Make it a great rest of your week.  XOXO

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In a Fog

This has been such a difficult three months for me. On the one hand, I am blessed that I am not recently mourning any of my human relatives or close friends. But two of our long-time kitties and one of our kitty grandkits have passed away–one in July, one in August, one in September. Isabella Rose, or Izzie, was my daughter’s cat, only 11 years old, and I used to babysit her alllll the time. I loved babysitting her. She would walk in as though she owned the place. She had the other cats convinced of just that. We had Felix for fifteen years, and he was such a gentle, sweet soul. He endured chronic GI problems for years, but we set up a camera over his litter box and monitored his “schedule” for two years. I didn’t mind at all because I loved him so much.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that the latest loss is my closest friend, my heart, Pear Blossom. She was 21 1/2, but that only makes it harder because we were together for so long. So many of my people have known her over the years. And with her kind and helpful personality, she touched so many lives. Pear and Felix were from my first group of three cats. They were very good friends–the three mousketeers. Macavity passed away in 2015. If you would like to read the story of how Mac, our first cat, came to be a part of our family–and how the gardener changed from a self-avowed cat hater–you can read this story: My Own Cat Hero or a Loss Upon a Loss

Why do kitties always take a turn for the worse on the weekend when one is least likely to find one’s vet available? Izzie passed on a Sunday, and both Felix and Pear on Saturdays. And yesterday, on Saturday, Tiger got sick!!!!! I took her to the ER after calling them and making sure. But when we were getting checked in, the vet called in sick. They sent me to another ER across town. At that one, the vet was just going into surgery and the wait would be hours. I was concerned that Tiger could have a urinary blockage as she had been running in and out of the litter box, unable to pee. By this time my vet was open (only open mornings on Saturdays) and although they were completely booked up, she let me drop off Tiger so she could be examined between patients. Luckily, Tiger turned out to have a UTI, not a blockage.

Being there at the euthanasia of three cats in three months has made me feel like the Angel of Death. I’m a benign zombie, not fully in the moment. The couch is soooo lonely without Pear next to me, even if another cat comes to me. I can only sleep at night with the little blanket Pear used in the last few weeks of her life.

Of course, life keeps on happening, right in the face of grief. But I’m trying to go easy and not push myself right now.

I had posted the following pic on Instagram in September 2019, while I was babysitting Izzie. I felt like Snow White with the 7 little cats–so happy to have them all together in my home. But now it’s easy to see the devastation.

Don’t worry: Tiger and Kana still make me work hard with all their needs. And Perry needs lots of attention because he’s grieving more than the other cats. He is at loose ends much of the time, with a sad look on his face.

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In Loving Memory

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Neighborhood Visitor

I have this great photo to share with you. I did not take it, but it is one of the bobcats from my neighborhood. My neighbor found the animal resting in his yard, so he snapped this image. What luck! And what gorgeous animals the bobcats are.

This poem was in Poem-a-Day this morning coincidentally.

The Waiting

Jane Wong

I was waiting for something
to arrive. I didn’t know what.
Something buoyed, something
sun knocked. I placed my palms
up, little pads of butter, expecting.
All day, nothing. Longer than
that. My hair grew, fell out,
grew. Outside my window, I felt
the flick of a tail in September
wind. A bobcat sauntered across
the grass before me, the black tip
of its tail a pencil I’d like to sharpen.
I immediately hushed, crouched,
became a crumpled shock of
joy to see something this wild,
not myself. It turned to look
at me, its body muscular in
the turning. In its mouth was
the tail of a mouse drained of
blood, dangling diorama of death.
Sharp eyes looking at me and then,
not. Its lack of fear, its slow stroll
across the stream’s bridge, fur
lacquering its teeth. Sometimes
what comes to us, we never called
for. How long had I been crouched
like that? I stood up, blood rush
trumpeting. My arms wrapped
themselves around myself, lifted.
It was as if a bank vault had
opened and I was just standing
there, stealing nothing.

Copyright © 2021 by Jane Wong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Make it a great week!

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A Mixed Bag Week

While the gardener and I were in California for two days last week, my daughter encountered the bobcat. She was in the back of our house, watering plants. As she turned slightly, she saw the bobcat walking toward her from the side.  She scooted into the house quickly and took this video.

She said that the bobcat actually hung around the backyard for awhile. Then he/she was back again the next morning!

In Arizona our mask mandate is expired, but where I go people are all still wearing masks inside. Not outside, thank goodness. Without a mask mandate, you do run the risk of running into a jerk. When we were in Pasadena, I noticed that everyone has to wear a mask outside, even walking down the sidewalk where other people are a block away.  I thought that was pretty stupid, too. I wanted to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. Dear God, Can we please have common sense back? I promise I’ll take good care of my share. Love, Luanne

Pasadena sidewalk

Not sure if I mentioned that my The Artist’s Way group finished the Cameron book and is moving on to another. We’re starting Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s a short book, but so far it has some brilliant ideas. I also think the Cameron is brilliant, but there are things I don’t like. One of those is that Cameron comes from a place of extreme privilege, whether she thinks so or not, and it kind of permeates the book. The Bayles and Orland book has a voice I prefer.

Here’s one of my latest art journal pages. Although it’s not cheerful, I am pretty happy with this messy one. The man’s face is a transfer from a sketch my MIL did of a man at the Art Students League when she was there. His name was Leonard.

I read an article, “Success and the Late Blooming Woman Author,” in a recent issue of Writer’s Chronicle, the publication of the AWP. Late blooming is a subject dear to my heart because I didn’t publish Doll God until I was almost sixty. Look at this passage:

The percentages of women writers 55 and older being published in “the most equitable magazines”  “rarely reached twenty percent.” Ugh. Well, I keep working against that. Never said I wouldn’t take on a challenge.

Leaving you with a little cat chat. This Perry routine has evolved over time, and this is where we are most recently: Every night Perry carries his “babies” up to our bedroom and, one by one, lays them in front of my face and looks at me for approval. His babies are little stuffies we call squirrels and mice. They are not all squirrels or mice, but they are close enough. When I wake up in the morning, I am surrounded with cat stuffies in the bed. Here’s another piece of cat info: when I hold two cat food cans in front of a cat–let’s say, Felix–he will go back and forth a couple of times, sniffing them, and then nudge one toward me. There is no doubt that my cats know they are supposed to choose which one to eat.

Make it a great week, dears.

 

 

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The Boss’s Tail: Part 6 of The Caterbuddy Tails

My name is Kana, which derives from the name Nakana, but is not short for Nakana. I am Kana, jungle panther, black velvet empress of the realm.

Being the boss is the most important job in the world because without a boss the underlings are without direction. Being the boss is unrewarding and difficult, but it is my purpose in life.

How would Mom handle these kids without me to help? The night I first met Mom and Dad (4 1/2 years ago) I could tell they were a little clueless and needed some help around Casa Castle. I was unappreciated at the shelter at that time because the roaming room was ruled by a monstrous male cat called Henry. Because I was the obvious choice for boss, Henry thought I was his enemy. I would have been content to rule jointly, but he told me that a female wasn’t going to be a boss when he was around. Henry attacked me, so the shelter put me in prison for my protection. I was in my cell when I spotted Mom. She glanced over at me, and I stood up on my back legs and drilled her with my piercing hypnotic stare. She was a goner after that.

But Mom and Dad didn’t take me home. I knew I had smittenized her, but they left me there. Week after week, they visited us for their janitorial and librarian duties, but they left without me. I got ringworm and had to go to the hospital room which might as well be an asylum straight out of Dickens. When that finally cleared up, they shipped me over to Petsmart, which is frequented by the lowest types. They obviously do not realize the talents of an 8-year-old big black female cat as they oohed over the silly kittens and prissy cats. I sat there under glass as if I were a pheasant waiting to be served. They brought me back to the shelter as if I were a loser.

For the first time in my life, I became clinically depressed. What is a boss without peons to boss around? My life was over. Or so I thought.

One day, months after first meeting Mom and Dad, Mom came into the roaming room with a kennel. I was nearly suicidal by that point and ignored her. When she picked me up, I snapped at her. But she held on and pressed me into the kennel and snapped it shut. She brought me home.

But I wasn’t going to make it easy for anybody who made me wait like that. No matter that she had been waiting for her old cat to die before she could get me. That she had been telling everyone about me and how she wanted me to come live with her. Hmmph!

To show Mom–and Dad too–who is boss I started a campaign to run their stupid runty calico Tiger out of town. I had her quivering and shaking and running and crying. But my mother is as stubborn as I am. She came up with all kinds of tricks to protect Tiger. She never gave up on me either.

So I stopped bothering Tiger because it wasn’t getting me anywhere. And besides by then Mom and Dad knew I was boss. Mom loves and respects me so much. Dad respected me from the beginning, especially my teeth, but it took him longer to love me. He started looking out for my best interests and became my buddy.

Life was the best at that point. I was boss of the casa. Mom figured out I have IBD and gives me the right food so my stomach doesn’t hurt.

Then Perry arrived. [Kana visibly shudders.]

Perry is a handsome young male cat. He is good-natured, but unfortunately he also wants to be boss. Everyday we have to have little tiffs to see who gets to be in charge. The truth is, since he’s a nice boy and just learning I often let him think he’s in charge. But we know that I am the real boss just letting him have his baby way.

I am now 12 years old. Pear is the oldest at 19, but she is independent and doesn’t want the responsibility of management. Then Tiger is 15. She’s grown a lot since I’ve gotten here. I take credit for her transformation. Felix is 13. He’s a sweet boy who gives me no trouble. Then me. There are two younger than me: Sloopy Anne and Perry. These five are my minions. My underlings. My “kids.” I AM BOSS.

Sleepy Kana

INTRODUCING MY MINIONS:

The Baby’s Tail

The Dowager’s Tail

The Bitch’s Tail

The Outlier’s Tail

The Kitchener’s Tail

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Nurse Luanne and the Potty Cam

All week I have been dealing with Felix’s illness. He seems to have feline interstitial cystitis which is very similar to the interstitial cystitis my daughter was unfortunately diagnosed with last year. She is having difficulty getting hers under control. It has greatly affected her life.

Now that I am taking charge of Felix’s health, I am getting an idea of what my daughter is going through!

Two biggest changes that need to be made for IC: stress reduction and diet change.

I have accomplished the food change (to Hill’s CD stress chicken and veggie canned and Hill’s CD ocean fish canned), although I am having to give him fish half the time, which I don’t like to feed as it isn’t healthy for cats. I will work on this issue.

Stress is more difficult in a six cat household. Perry has had to sleep by himself in the guestroom because he’s the worst offender. Poor Perry can’t understand why he hasn’t been getting all the attention lately.

Then Felix needs subq fluids for now, given in shots under the skin. And syringes of water because he won’t drink any water at all.

Bladder meds. Pain meds. Anti-nausea meds.

We took Felix to the ER twice since his hospitalization because the IC causes him so much distress that he acts as if he is blocked even when he isn’t. And the reality is he could block again, especially so close to the original blockage.

I am exhausted because this summer has been exhausting anyway.

Yesterday we spent all afternoon installing a potty cam (pet monitor) over the main litterboxes (we have 2 in the laundry room) so that I can watch for signs of Felix being agitated and running to the litterbox repeatedly when we are not home. Now I get notified when the cats walk into the boxes!

In this photo you can see that the pain meds allow him comfort.

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The Kitchener’s Tail: Part 5 of The Caterbuddy Tails

Luanne: Felix, please tell your story to my friends. They have heard from Pear Blossom and Tiger and Sloopy Anne and Perry. But you and Kana have not yet told your stories. I need to coach Kana a bit on how to tell a public story, but you should be fine. Just tell it how you remember it. How you know it.

Felix: Mom! Stop! You tell it. I can’t.

Luanne: Sure you can, Fefe.

Felix: Aw shucks.

Luanne: You’re so big and strong. Why are you afraid to talk about yourself?

Felix: It’s embarrassing. People might look at me.

Luanne: OK, you tell me the story. I’ll write it down and then I’ll share it that way. Nobody will ever see you. We’ll negotiate photos later on.

Felix: Um, ok.

***

From Luanne: What follows is the story that Felix told me about his life. This story was being planned when Felix suddenly became ill last Wednesday. I was out of town for work in California, and when the pet sitter was watching him (thank goodness this happened when she was at the house). After he ate dinner, he threw up ten times, began panting, and made frantic runs to the litter box. She mistakenly thought he was constipated. I have made this mistake myself in the past when Pear started having UTIs. Rather than wait until my daughter could take Felix to the vet, I had the pet sitter drop him off at the vet as she left my house. It was a good thing that I didn’t decide to wait, thinking it was only constipation.

And a good thing that my vet decided to examine him before my daughter could get there. His bladder was the size of a grapefruit. He had a urinary blockage, which is a common emergency in (particularly) male cats, and fatal if not treated in time. It ended up that my daughter took him from the vet to the hospital because after they catheterize him he would need 24 hour care. He was in the hospital for three days. Now he is home, and I am watching him round the clock because there is a high possibility that he could re-obstruct within two weeks after the initial blockage. Felix is never any trouble except when he’s sick. In the past, it’s been parasite issues that stemmed from his life on the streets. This was the biggest emergency I’ve had with my cats, except for Mac’s end of life issues. And I wasn’t even home with Felix. The nurse who checked him out said that he was “famous” at the hospital for being sweet and soooo affectionate.

***

People think I’m scared, but I just don’t like confrontation. When I lived out there, you know, I tried to stay away from cats and other animals that wanted to fight me. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Remember when I ate in your front yard every day, Mom? You knew I didn’t have a home and you and Dad were giving me food so I didn’t starve! Then I started hanging around with your dog Sandy in the backyard because he was a lover, not a fighter, too. He told me all the stories about his good life in your house. So I began to stick close to your yard, hoping you’d bring me inside, but not wanting to make a mistake in case Sandy was wrong. What if you didn’t like cats?

Then I saw Mac in the window. I knew you liked cats, but would Mac like me?

I let you trap me in your garage using that silly “pull the string and the kennel door will shut” so-called trick. It never fooled me, but so be it.

You brought me to your friend, the emergency vet. That’s when we lived in California. Remember, Mom? She told her staff to be careful when they opened my kennel because I might be feral and mean. When she put her hand in my kennel herself (she doesn’t take her own advice), I rubbed against her hand. I’m a sucker for pets and rubs and scratches.

What? Oh, you want to know what my life was life before I came to live with you? It was kind of hard, especially when it was over 100 degrees in the summer. I got dumped by the people who fed my cat mother. There were too many of us, they said.

When you brought me into the house you let me live in the bedroom upstairs with the TV for two months. I didn’t meet my human sister for a couple of months because she had just started college and you and dad were what you called empty nesters. So you two watched TV with me every night while I was in that room. We had fun, and I didn’t have to meet Mac or Pear.

After I met them and moved into the rest of the house, Mac was kind of mean. Sometimes it irritated my good nature, and we would have tussles, even pull out each other’s fur. Pear was fine. She just ignored me. But a few weeks later, we all moved to Arizona. I was so scared. I wouldn’t eat for three days, and you had to give me special medicine because. Remember, Mom?  Huh? Remember? But after that, Mac and I were friends. Mac, Pear, and I were all close from that time on. We slept on 3 beds on the kitchen counter like three little kittens. The ones who lost their mittens. But we hadn’t lost anything. We had found each other. Mac was my hero.

That was the start of my kitchen life. Once I moved into this kitchen with the long counter I never wanted to go anywhere else. The only times I’ve moved into the closet upstairs is when your dad would visit. Remember Mom? He had such a loud voice? I couldn’t listen, so I lived on the shelf in the closet while he was here. He never comes any more, but when Grandma comes now by herself I stay in the kitchen and she calls me “Mr. Big Eyes.”

You and Dad and my human siblings call me Fefe. And, Mom, you call me Feeferelli and Mr. Scoobydooby Man. You call me The Kitchen Cat. You call me Feef a lot. I love to crawl into your lap when you’re at your laptop at the kitchen desk.

But I don’t watch TV with you and Dad and the other cats. I like my basket in the kitchen. I have a window to the beautiful yard Dad created, and a nice cool sink to lie in for a change. I’m also very close to the food. When the other cats are done eating their breakfasts and dinners, I like to finish up their food. I eat a lot, but I really am a big boy with lots of muscles. And lots of love. I’m not shy. I just don’t like confrontation. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Love,

Felix

 

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The Outlier’s Tail: Part 4 of The Caterbuddy Tails

You can call me the Outlier because I refuse to be seen as just another one of the clowder. (You’ve heard of a murder of crows or a pack of dogs? A group of cats is a clowder, but this group stuff goes against my grain).

After breakfast I go to the bedroom hallway for a nap because the other cats stay in the kitchen. And when everyone else is watching television or reading books in the evening, more often than not I can be found in the hall, too. That’s where Mom keeps an old deacon’s bench her dad gave her, and I like to lie there.

My mom and dad never call me outlier. They call me Sloopy Anne or Sloops or Pretty Girl Princess. They aren’t very evolved when it comes to cat genders. Before I go any further I will tell you that I don’t consider myself an outlier with my hooman parents–just with the cats. If I could live with Mom and Dad without any other cats, I would be lying in bed with them and wouldn’t get out of their laps.

I got this way about other cats because of my life experiences. The first years of my life sucked so bad I don’t want to talk about them.

When I was three I was picked up by animal control. They don’t really have room for cats, and I heard some scary talk, but a lady from Home Fur Good no-kill shelter swooped in and gave me a freedom ride to that shelter. Woot! But all was not well. It was ok, but not good. You see, they thought I was pretty and ready to go to Petsmart to get adopted, but I got really scared. And I have a BIG independent streak. Plus I’m smart, so you can’t fool me about things. So I put up a lil bit of a fuss. Just sayin’.

Petsmart, although I heard they are usually really good to strays and rescues, said I could NEVER come there again.

This is where things began to go wrong again.

The cat roaming room at the shelter is full of . . . cats. Big cats, little cats. And people, in and out all day long. You can hear the dogs barking right in the next room. I was scared. They made me live in a cage for months because they thought I was skittish.

When Mom and Dad started volunteering at the shelter I was in the cage. That bothered Mom, and she started a campaign to get me out. In the meantime, her old cat Mac died and she adopted Kana. KANA, the one from the cage next to me. NOT ME. Part of me will never forgive her for that.

I had already been at the shelter for over a year at that point (though Mom didn’t realize it yet).

They let me out of the cage, but I was scared and annoyed so I spent a lot of time in a soft little cave bed.

Mom and Dad played with me when they came to take care of the cats, but time clicked on and I had to go in the nasty little hospital room because of ringworm. The cage was very small. And the room was dark and right next to the room with the BIG dogs.

A few weeks after I got out of the “infirmary” and when I had been at the shelter TWO STINKEN YEARS a big male cat chased me up on the high boards in the roaming room. He was bothering me, and I was more scared than usual.

When the tech came into the room, Mom and Dad reported his bad behavior. And the tech said, “Oh, that Slupe [that was my name then], she’s a BITER.”

Mom and Dad looked at each other in shock. They knew I didn’t bite.

The next morning the director of the shelter came to me and said, “You’re getting a new home.” A few hours later, Mom came and put me into a kennel and took me home.

For a month I stayed in my new hooman sister’s old bedroom, and Mom would let me lie on her chest so I could feel her heart beating. Then I entered the rest of the house and met my new fur roommates. I don’t really think of them as my siblings, but as transient beings in my life.

Tiger sleeps with Mom and Dad at night, but once she’s gone, I plan to be the one in there. I was here before Perry, so I have the right. I want to be that one special cat who gets to be with my parents without any other cats around.

One more important fact about me: I LOVE MY DAD. He never grabs me for brushing, teeth brushing, or vet appointments. He lets me rub on his feet and sandals. He reaches down to pet me, and I love that. We are best friends.

I love my mom, too, but I am wary of her grabbing me. Sometimes she takes me in her room and lets me lie on her chest. She sings, “I love you, and you love me,” our signature song. And I love that. But I never know what she wants, so I try to run off if I see her hand coming near me.

Therefore, I am a Daddy’s girl. Through and through.

###

Note from Sloopy Anne’s Mom: Sloopy Anne might prefer to live in a home without other cats, but she does remarkably well with the others. She never fights with them, and she is even decent to Tiger (remember “The Bitch’s Tail“), her lookalike little calico female. That she wasn’t adopted for two full years at the shelter is because she needed to be put front and center for a moment of her life. As the shelter has grown in volunteers and experience, the cats now get moved along much faster except for cats that really do have some sort of an issue (like Tanman and Louise, the laundry room cats, who are doing so well in their new home, by the way!). No cat is left behind–there is an emphasis on each and every one.

One more thing: Sloopy Anne doesn’t realize this because she doesn’t get that close to other cats, but her fur is very unusual. It is much thicker than other cat fur, but still very very soft. And when she goes to the vet or gets her nails clipped she is always very charming and beloved. A very special girl.

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Cat Couture as Anxiety Cure

On Facebook, I belong to a couple of cat groups because I enjoy seeing the photos and hearing snippets of stories about cats. On one of the groups, I saw that a woman named Penny Cardino posted adorable photos of her cat Shadow dressed in a Christmas dress. Before you think I am talking about a woman with too much time on her hands, playing dolls with her cat, learn the reason for this. Shadow suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. Wearing her Christmas dress makes her happy. I knew that thundershirts sometimes work for dogs with anxiety, although I haven’t personally heard of a cat who has been helped by one (that I can recall). But this was the first time I had heard about using clothing to comfort an anxious cat. Penny agreed to be interviewed about Shadow and her anxiety problem.

Where did you get Shadow and how long have you had her?

We found Shadow in at a gas station in 2011. Our vet said she was about 7 weeks old and looked to have been abandoned. The first night she would not come to us, but we could tell she was very hungry. She would walk up and then dart away quickly. I went inside and got her something to eat and a cup of water. It took us three days, but we finally managed to get her trapped. A good friend of mine kept her over the weekend for me while we were trying to decide if we could keep her or not (we have a very territorial male Siamese). We decided that she had been through enough and thought that Ashby (the Siamese) would come to accept her. That was almost 8 years ago.

When did you first learn about Shadow’s anxiety?

While we were gone during the day, we kept her in a huge kennel in our son’s room so she and Ashby could get acquainted safely. We would go in and shut the door and spend time with her. She would sleep with William (our son) and then, about four months after we brought her home, we eventually just let her stay out and put the kennel away. She always wanted to go to William’s room at night and sleep with him but she didn’t want to stay in there by herself, especially in the dark. She would follow him to his room, and later we would hear her crying to get out. At that time, I did not think anything about it–I just thought she wanted to be in the living room with everyone else.

Then she would start to cry if someone new came to visit. The crying got worse; it went on for hours and nothing would settle her down. She would pace constantly. Her cries were loud and long. We talked to our vet; I really did not want to medicate her because it was not an everyday thing. Mainly, it happens when the security system goes off, visitors come to the house, or if there is work being done around the neighborhood close to the house. I started letting her go to William’s room when company came, but I would have to turn the light on for her. Occasionally, if the house was very quiet, she would call out intermittently, as if she were looking for someone. We finally answered her one night and said, “we are right here.” She quieted down, and it was as if she were making sure she was not alone.

I started to make mental notes of how frequently she had these episodes and how long they lasted. There are times that we come home from work and she is in the midst of an episode and we have no clue as to what started it. Shadow is strictly an indoor cat; Ashby is as well. Shadow wants nothing to do with the outside, and she panics if we are holding her and open the door to look outside. She will push it shut with her paws.

How does her anxiety show itself?

When Shadow has an anxiety attack, she usually starts to cry back to back. She has different vocalizations, and we have learned them, but her anxiety sounds very distressed. She paces back and forth, she won’t eat, drink, play or get on her cat tree. Her episodes can last from a day to a week, depending on the event that led to it. Her cries will break your heart because they are long and mournful. She does cry in her sleep at times and has nightmares. William says he hears her crying and will wake up and talk to her, stroke her head and let her know he is there until she calms down. What is odd about this is that during her nightmares, her eyes never open.

How did you learn to put the clothing on her? Did you try a thundershirt first and what happened?

I used to swaddle William when he was an infant after a bath or when he would cry. I would rock him until he settled down. So I wondered what would happen if I tried that with Shadow. I saw the thundershirt commercial and tried it, but she started bucking like a bronco and her cries were more piercing. I also tried a little Prozac, but that made her sick as she does not tolerate medications well.

While out shopping for a baby shower gift, I came across a baby t-shirt that was very soft and seemed like it might fit Shadow. I decided to see if this would work better than the thundershirt. When the next anxiety episode hit, I put on her shirt and she jumped down, walked over to her daddy, and jumped up on his lap. She talked to him and her meows were not distressful. She sat with him for a bit, then jumped down but her demeanor was totally different–she was more calm and not pacing. Shadow went and got on her cat tree and actually took a nap. We were amazed that this one little shirt would make such a difference.

I have tried different materials and different styles. She is not a fan of tutus or anything that has a real tight band around the “waist.” Occasionally, she will wear a hat for picture purposes and then I take the hat off. We never leave her clothes on while we are gone; she only wears them when we are home. She last had an episode that lasted three days, our neighbor stopped by to give us some homemade pickle relish and it set off her anxiety.

Have you swaddled or clothed other animals or seen it done before?

My grandmother had a Yorkie that came from a neglectful situation and had to have all of her hair cut off. The mats were so bad that the groomer shaved her entire body, leaving only the hair on her head and tail. This dog would not come out of the bedroom and looked pitiful if we had to go somewhere. So my grandmother bought her a hair bow and a big open bag. In the bag, along with her wallet with money and ID, she paced a baby pillow. Then she fixed that pup’s hair in a bow and off they would go. They went everywhere: to the mall, Walmart, but Dillard’s was their favorite. Everyone would come peek at “Sandy.” For some reason, that little dog perked up and had a completely different attitude when her hair was fixed. She eventually grew a beautiful coat, but still wanted her hair done up in her bow.

Do you have other animals?

We have two other animals–Ashby, our Siamese and Whiskey, our Black Mouth cur.
Ashby will be 9 in March and Whiskey will be 9 in February. Whiskey will not stay still long enough for a picture. Ashby has many, many pictures.

Shadow and Ashby

What else would you like to say about Shadow?!

Shadow is a special girl; she helped my son when he was in elementary school. While he had many friends, he would still get bullied or made fun of and I would talk with him or try and make the hurt go away. Sometimes a parent just can’t make it better no matter how hard we try. But Shadow could make it better. I heard him talking to her one day; he told her that she knew how he felt. He told her that the person that abandoned her was a big bully and she understood how much it hurt him when the kids would laugh at him for being smart or a little overweight because of what she had gone through. Once in awhile, he would cry into her fur and she just sat with him while he let it out. When he and I would talk again, he would feel better. He has learned how handle the bullies.

William and Shadow

Shortly after receiving Shadow’s help, William wanted to tell Shadow’s story. He said that his peers needed to know how “dumping” an animal is cruel, both mentally and physically, so he created a Facebook page for Shadow called Shadow’s Sanctuary. He says that he did this so he could show people the long term effects of being abandoned have on the animal and the people who care for them. Shadow has about 1,000 followers. He hopes to break the cycle of abandonment. William is now 17 and Shadow is still by his side. She is afraid of the dark, unless we are with her. If we know we are going to be out after dark, we always leave a light on for her so she isn’t afraid. She loves her brother, Ashby, and is crazy about my husband. It takes a long time for someone to gain her trust, but once they do, they have a friend for life. I often wonder though, with Shadow, who rescued whom.

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Luanne’s comment: I realized after reading Merril’s comment below that I ought to make a comment about dressing cats in the general, as opposed to the particular as in the case of Shadow. Most cats are stressed out by being dressed up. It isn’t something to try just for the fun of it, unless you are talking about cats who are willing to wear hats and jewelry for photos (as some of mine are). Years ago, my daughter tried to put a sweater on Tiger, and Tiger was so upset it took her four years to forgive her human sister! But Penny’s story about Shadow shows that all cats are different and have different needs. The trick is figuring out what they need and when. That is something that Penny and her family have mastered!

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Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction