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Attic Ghoul

>> Saturday, March 12, 2011

For lack of more inspired blog subject matter, I thought I'd post another Rocky update.

Rocky has healed beautifully.  He no longer wears the cone of shame, he's eating well, using litterboxes faithfully (after a few false starts, to the detriment of a now pee-soaked suitcase) and purrs his little brains out whenever anyone visits him in his attic.  His shaved fur is slowly growing back.  He's gained weight, and looks great.  In fact, he's a beautiful cat, in a hulking, no-necker, body-builder sort of way.

He is, no exaggeration, the most affectionate cat I have ever met.  When I say he purrs his little brains out, I mean he purrs so hard he starts cooing, which turns into little cooing meows, because the purring just isn't letting enough enthusiasm out.  He's almost embarrassingly demonstrative.  He has discovered laps, and he nuzzles.  He head butts whatever part of a person he can get to, and writhes around on the floor in pure ecstasy when we focus on petting him.  He has decided, quite simply, that he loves humans and he loves being "owned".  Rocky radiates pure adoration.  It's so cute, and so very lovable, especially since he looks like a tough, battle scarred warrior.

Only trouble is, he wants to stay upstairs in the attic, by himself, forever.

That whole "let's integrate Rocky into our household" thing just isn't happening.  He hates EVERYONE with fur.  He hates the dog, and he really, really hates the other cats.  He seems to have forgotten that he once got along just fine with Tucker and Pippin outside.  Whenever another cat is nearby, either in his attic, or in any other room of the house, whether he's protected in a crate, behind a closed, solid wood door, or free to wander around, he starts growling and hissing and spitting and yowling.  He sounds possessed.  I keep expecting his head to spin around 360 degrees.

The other cats look back at him (or the crate, or the closed door that he's behind) in frank surprise, then eventually hiss back.  Weenie Wednesday weighs in at a delicate 7 lbs, compared with Rocky's 15 lbs of burly, rippling muscle.  Yet after getting hissed and growled at on Monday through our closed bedroom door, she waltzed right up to the door, shot out a sleek, petite black paw right under the door, and ripped a gash in the top of his ginormous hairy foot.  I stared in shock as blood started to ooze out of Rocky's paw.  I could just envision Weenie turning her back on the other side of that door and waltzing away swishing her tail, as if to say, "That's what you're going to get if you're a stinker and hiss at ME."

I escorted Rocky back to his attic solitude where there's no room for footsie under the door.  And then I cut Weenie's claws.

So, we're left wondering if keeping Rocky is going to work after all, or if he really ought to have a new home where's he is the only cat.  Finding a home for an adorable kitten is tough - finding one for a battle-scarred adult male cat who won't share with other pets is even harder.  And making sure it's a good enough home to meet my standards is nearly impossible. 

Yet integration is going to be stressful for everyone.  Our oldest cat, Tucker, who's 10, recently had an unexplained episode of vomiting blood, and shows signs of possible early stages of kidney disease.  I would really like to keep his stress levels down.  Then again, he's endured the introduction of 3 dogs and 5 other cats in the time we've had him, so perhaps I'm not giving him enough credit - you'd think he'd be used to it by now.

We've paid our dues when it comes to integrating aggressive cats before.  Our old cat Max spent six months living in his own room when we first acquired him, because he was violently aggressive.  And after months of work, slow introductions of him to the others, and everyone acquiring a lot of scars, he only ever managed to establish a reluctant and tense understanding with the other pets.  Shall we grit our teeth and batten down the hatches for another long, drawn out attempt at integrating someone who doesn't want to be integrated? 

Sigh.  It's so hard to know what's best for everyone.

For now, I guess he's content enough in his attic.  He kind of reminds me of the ghoul that lived in the Weasley's attic in Harry Potter.  It's a good thing we have a big house.

(Ellen - are you having better luck than I am with your new foundling???)


Woodswalker March 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM  

Thanks for the update. Good luck with integrating Rocky into your menagerie. Or finding him a serene home. I have heard about substances that help soothe cats' nerves, you might ask your vet about them.

Louise March 12, 2011 at 12:23 PM  

Yes, there's one called Feliway. I don't know how well it works, if at all, but, it might be worth a try. Or, I have a "delicate flower." On her bad days, when the world is just a little too much, I'll give her some Rescue Remedy. It works pretty well for her. You might want to try that, though, I have a big bouncer of a male that I tried it on to settle him down, and it didn't do squat.

I do hope you find a solution, because he's a lovely brute of a cat and it really seems like he wants to have people of his own. As long as he's happy in the attic, though, you do have time.

Ellen Rathbone March 12, 2011 at 9:47 PM  

Hee hee - I was just about to hit your "leave a comment" button to tell you that you are not alone in this "let's integrate the family" idea when I read your inquiry about Pumpkin! Yes, indeed - I am having the same trials that you are enjoying.

She's getting braver, and the others sometimes let her pass without notice, but cat fights (and dog chases) still take place routinely. Sometimes Idefix goes for her at 4AM - waking me with their blood-curdling shrieks, screams, hisses and yowls. So far, however, there hasn't been any blood...I think.

My sympathy for her, however, took a real nosedive yesterday, though. Toby was lying at my feet, not asleep, but relaxes. Pumpkin dashed by and he ignored her. She disappeared around the corner, headed for the furnace room to leap onto the freezer and hiss and snarl at the dog...but he wasn't chasing her! She stopped, turned around, walked back to where she could see him. He lay there oblivious. So what did she do? She looked right at him and meowed...twice. That got his attention. He rose to his feet, she turned around and bolted, Toby hot on her tail (the distance is probably ten feet, but it was a chase nonetheless). The little stinker is an instigator! Or a tease. Humpf. We are not amused.

I'm hoping that when we finally get a house of our own, there will be room enough for everyone.

For the record, I tried Feliway once before a few years back with another stray I tried to integrate into the family (she finally found a good home elsewhere). I'm not sure if I was happy with it or not, though - it just didn't make much of an impression either way!

Sneaksleep March 15, 2011 at 12:19 PM  

I just don't have as much experience as you do with integrating cats who don't want to share with other animals. When we brought Ben home, Ivy gave him a puncture wound the first week, but that settled that she (despite her size) was the boss, and since then they mainly play tag or "king of the bed". Fur may fly a little, but never blood. As for meds, our old vet gave us tranquilizer pills for the cats when we moved up to NYC, and they did precisely nothing. They still both yowled the whole way. Good luck! I'm glad Rocky's doing better, and at least content with his attic.

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