Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Meet Mr. December!

Julian

 Age: 3 years
 Breed: Domestic Medium Hair
Gender: Neutered Male
Weight: 12.5 lb 
Demeanor at the vet: Cooperative, but headstrong

Marley and Curie: buddies. Gone but never forgotten
 In 2012-2013, I lost two cats to cancer within 7 months of each other - one to Hodgekins-like lymphoma, and one to an adenocarcinoma of the lung. Both had been battling cancer for over a year. I had two other elderly cats at home, two small children, and I was emotionally and financially drained. The last thing on my mind was  adopting a new cat. But as these things generally happen, an innocent kitten from Elizabeth Lake Animal Rescue found his way into my heart - before he had been officially put up for adoption by the rescue. (This was not Julian...)

Chillin' in a basket
Once the new kitten, Miles, came home, all he wanted to do was play with my older cats. Mina and Serendipity would have nothing to do with him, and I felt bad for him. Two months went by. Meanwhile, a "teenage" cat had been brought into the hospital for Trap, Neuter and Release into a feral colony. Trisha was hopeful that she could find him a home so that he did not have to go back out in the cold October weather, because he was so friendly. I wasn't sure, at first, because he was a little older and seemed shy, but I agreed to take him home and give it a try. 
When I first got him home, he and Miles hissed and growled at each other and it didn't look promising. I isolated Julian from the other cats for a gradual introduction, but he launched out of the isolation room and an hour of "chase the cat" ensued before I could get him back into his isolation room again. In contrast, Miles had submitted to isolation with grace, which was helpful, since he had intestinal parasites that needed treatment before he could join the rest of the cats in the house.
After a week or two, however, Miles and Julian became fast friends. While they do not sleep together,

they play constantly. The sound of gallumphing cat paws echoes through the house as they leap and dance and chase each other up and down the cat trees and up and down the stairs. Despite this friendship, relationships between the young cats and elderly cats in the house have been strained. My cats participated in two behavior studies offered by Dr. Deporter at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services testing the response of Intercat Aggression to different pheromones - one which seemed to work, and one that did not. Over time, with the use of pheromones, calming treats and positive reinforcement, relationships between the cats have improved, and they all seem to tolerate each other, if not enjoy each other's company.

Snoozin' after surgery
I have started clicker training Julian to keep his mischief at bay. He is responding well to clicker training, and has learned "come", "sit up" and "spin", so far. He is easily bored, and will alleviate that boredom by chewing on books, rugs or, more recently, my three-year-old's toys. Miles, in contrast, enjoys gnawing on wood, eating stickers, setting his tail on fire and stealing the food out of your hands at the dinner table. In Julian's defense, the toy he ate WAS shaped like food - a carrot - but unfortunately, he had to have surgery to have it removed.

Julian is a joyful cat - he loves to play, and will bring various toys to play fetch up and down the stairs for hours on end. He follows me around the house, right on my heels, and tries to anticipate what piece of furniture will be nearest my stopping point in the house, so that when I reach my destination he can already be there, waiting for
affection.
His eyes say 'I love you' every day.
He is not a quiet lap-sitter, but rolls on your lap and head-butts any book, magazine, electronic device, craft or other item held in your hands until you find yourself sitting with your arms in the air and he is standing on his hind legs on your lap, trying to head-butt whatever is out of his reach (including your chin!). I have placed bird feeders near the windows in our house, and he can often be found holding long, in-depth conversations with the birds and squirrels that visit them. He has a deeply satisfying purr and his tail is always flagged straight up in the air. He is a little bit of a bully towards the other cats in the house, but mostly because he seems to have become the self-appointed leader, and wants to keep everyone else in line. Overall he is an amazing cat!
Snoozin'