>> 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???)