Archive for the ‘The Cat Sleuth’s Cats’ Category

So, as it turns out, Mr. Darcy is mildly afraid of both the clicker AND the target stick. This makes sense because although he is a very friendly pudd, he is very “head shy”. About the only part of the process he is a fan of is the turkey I’ve been using as the reward. I’m going to put the clicker inside of a sock to muffle the sound, and rub the target stick end in some tuna juice, and give it another go :).

I’ve also been trying clicking with a couple lucky catof the Bideawee Adoption Center cats- a very confident, but slightly naughty, 6 year old female, and a charming, food hound, 10 year old male, neither of whom are “head shy” or sensitive to noise. Even with the near constant interruptions and the muffled sounds of the dogs barking in the next room, they’ve made good progress. They have become bored with the commercial treats, though, so I think that I will have to invest in some turkey breast for them too!

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So…it’s been a while ;). Going to give this whole blogging thing another go!

Phil is our 9 year old feral/semi-feral boy. He is funny and quirky, only allowing us to touch him when we’re in bed at night, and then he can’t get enough. Clipping his nails used to be possible only by hunting him down, cornering him, and then hanging on tight while getting as many clipped as possible before he freed himself. Not a series of events that a cat behavior consultant could feel proud of, but a necessity none the less. For the last two years, however, even that has become impossible. With our sweet Juno gone, and with the addition of Mak, our lovable,



but hardly top cat material, senior boy, Phil finds himself vying for the highest rung of the hierarchy around Chez Sleuth. Basically, no one has the desire or skill set to be in charge, and since Philsy  has the ability to “go all feral” on the other two, he’s gotten a bit more confident, and this extends, sadly, to refusing to allow me to hang on to him for more than a scary second or two.

Here’s the problem. If an indoor cat’s nails NEVER get trimmed, they will eventually curl around and grow into their pads. My options are to bring him to the vet, wish them luck, hope they succeed, and repeat a few times every year, or to find something he will enjoy scratching that might wear down or even break off some of the tips. I’ve just brought in a nice, nubby welcome mat because he tends to like to lie by the door, and has shown a preference for that kind of scratching surface. I’ll keep you posted!


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Junes and Me 2011

Phinny was my teacher- the spectacularly smart talking cat who reawakened my fascination with all things feline, and inspired my career path. Juno is my “kid”, my juvenile delinquent, my first behavior case at the shelter, and my heart.

Writing this now, a sleeping Junes in my lap, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. When I first met him, Juno was a “stray” from the city shelter, lucky enough to be transferred to Bideawee and given a second chance. Thin, sickly, and mad as hell, his history was a true mystery. He was picked up from one of Manhattan’s last “transient” hotels when his owner was taken to the hospital and never returned.

Juno was aggressive when handled and seemed to have no interest in humans at all, but he did respond to play. We developed a routine. Several times a day I would crumple up some extra crunchy paper and we would have a rousing game of “baseball”. Bit by bit he began to trust me, even gazing longingly out the window of the cat resort when I would leave work each night.

Then came the diagnosis of early stage chronic renal failure. Although our vets had caught it very early, this, combined with his behavior issues and age(around 8), would make him tough to find a home for, despite being a gorgeous seal-point Siamese.

He was my cat. Everything for a reason. I was overjoyed when my husband agreed. and he came home to be cat number three, with Phinny and feral Phil as brothers.

He thrived. His kidneys remained static for 5 years- twice as long as any of the docs thought he would live. He became a devoted, near obsessive, companion- full of affection for both of us, and the other cats. He saw me through a layoff, start of a business, and the death of my beloved sage, Phinaeus.

Now here we are, in the end stage of kidney failure. This previously “nasty” cat stretched out on my lap full length, frail, but purring. He takes his sub Q fluids like a champ, growling in protest, but without lashing out at me. His kidney values are very high, yet he still nibbles at his food and even bounds around a bit. Now he is my teacher- facing this new reality with spirit and love.

I don’t know how long we have, but, for now, we’re happy.

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Perfectly content with our cat family of two, My husband and I had no intention of adding a third feline to the mix.
Juno was brought to the adoption center from the local municipal shelter in terrible shape. He looked about 13 or 14 years of age, his dark brown face almost completely peppered with grey, and his body far too thin for his big, round head. He was un-neutered, leading us to believe that he may have been used as a breeding stud. He was completely distrustful to, and aggressive towards humans, a characteristic uncommon in Siamese, further leading us to believe that he had never been a pet.
He would lash out at you with little to no provocation to the point that, even after our amazing vets and their techs and assistants had taken their normal, wonderful care of him, and he had become a truly beautiful, much younger looking cat, he was bordering on unadoptable.

I began working with him, using play therapy techniques to help him to learn that humans could be good for more than the occasional meal! He truly blossomed, looking forward to our play sessions, and giving me mournful glances when I would end our play, and head home for the night.

Then came the news that Juno’s kidneys were failing, and that he would need special food and care for the rest of his life. This, combined with his lack of friendliness towards anyone but me(and even that was guarded, at best.), would probably mean that he would live out his days in the shelter’s adoption center.
I begged my husband to let us try fostering Juno in our home to see if our two pudds could live peacefully with him. He agreed, and in October of 2006, Juno came home!

From the moment that he entered our home, he was a different cat. Loving and devoted, though still resistant to too much handling, he followed us around the house, and licked us awake each morning! His health has continued to improve, and his kidneys are stable. He rough plays with Phil, helping to bring him out of his shell, and is gentle and protective of old man Phinny!

Every cat deserves a chance at a loving home, and Juno is living proof!

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phil 2phil and phinn

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Phil, also known as Philsy, Philbert, and Philly. was rescued with two siblings from a Bronx backyard, and brought to a shelter at the age of four months. Naturally the most fearful, and yes, feral of the three, Philsy had missed the crucial kitten socialization period of three to seven weeks of age, and was completely terrified of all things human.

I had only been working at this shelter for two weeks when my sweet old lady cat, Magic, passed away suddenly at the ripe old age of sixteen. Devastated, and worried that Phinny would become depressed without company, I asked Magic to let me know who I was meant to take home as his new companion, and as weird and “new agey” as it sounds, I distinctly heard Phil’s name.

Four years later, Phil continues to surprise us, last week starting to jump up in a living room chair with me; something he had never dared to do. He has taught us both more about patience and the rewards of persistence than any person ever could. The terrified “wild” animal who quite literally lived under the bed for about the first year he lived with us, has become a loving, if still elusive pet, and I don’t think that he is anywhere near finished evolving.

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Phinny, also known as Phinaeus J. Pudd, followed me home from Wrigley Field in Chicago, 16 years ago this month. He was already neutered and as clean as could be, so I posted signs around the neighborhood and in the free local paper and fully expected someone to come and claim this sweet, vocal, quirky and beautiful pudd. Thank goodness nobody did. This is my cat of a lifetime. The puss who reignited my fascination with all things feline. Smart, demanding, ultra affectionate (when he chooses to be), and anything but independent, he is the cat who even cat dismissers like. Much more to come on him in the future.

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