Sam's Story continued
Sam's Story - Page 2
Sam got a girlfriend for Valentine's Day! After some searching, we found a one-year-old female cat, short-haired, black and white, FIV+, from a feral colony trapped last summer. Since her rescue, she had been living with thirty or so other FIV+ cats, so being one of two indoor cats is a whole new experience for her. Her new name is Scamper Elizabeth.
We keep a new cat isolated for awhile so the resident cat can get the idea without feeling too threatened and so they can be introduced gradually. This also gives the new cat a chance to get used to the new surroundings slowly and with as little stress as possible. This little girl disappeared into the woodwork of "her" room for two full weeks. We knew she was black and white, but hadn't seen the whole of her, didn't know what her markings were like except for the crooked white blaze on her face. At night, she ate the food we left, used the litter box, and was very good at dumping things off tables, but when we were around, she kept to her deep hiding place.
Sam and Scamper Elizabeth discussing philosophical subjects
One night, at about 3:00a.m., I woke to hear Sam making some odd sounds. I found him in front of the isolation room door making soft meowy noises at the new girl. After that, I put sliding screens in the doorway, attached with hooks and eyes to the door frame and stacked one on top of the other so the new kid could have some air circulation and get to know the sounds and smells of the rest of the house, and the two could meet each other safely. For several nights, they sat on either side of the screens and discussed deep philosophical subjects. If either of the human inhabitants came anywhere near, the little girl disappeared. Slowly she became a bit less timid, and decided early one morning that she had some things to say, in squeaks sounding very much like a dog chew toy, from the safety of her doorway. After that, she would watch us from behind her screens. Then I took the screens away, and she stayed on her side of the open doorway for a while. When curiosity got the better of her, she ventured out to explore, making a mad dash back at the slightest sound. Gradually she has gotten braver and settled in at her own pace.
Scamper is about half Sam's size, and she fell in love with him. They chase each other through the apartment - often at 4:00a.m. - they play leapfrog, and they curl up together. Sam does get a bit annoyed when Scamper jumps on his tail, which is her favorite toy, and he really would like her better if she wasn't always waving her tail in his face. But he licks her. That was important - he loves to lick and needed somebody other than me to lick with his of-so-very-rough tongue! Scamper is playful, curious and kitten-silly and a great addition to our family.
She took to the raw diet with gusto, and cleans her plate with the mushroom supplement in her food, as well as some pro-biotics, some digestive enzymes and nettle and a quercitin product for allergies. When I take my own vitamins morning and evening, the two cats line up for their "cookies" - vitamin tablets and a hairball/digestive aid - which they happily take from my hand. It's a wonderful thing to have a food-oriented cat, as long as you're paying enough attention to quantity and keeping weight under control.
Scamper gets an occasional runny eye, a cough once in a while, and once a week or so, the loudest sneeze I've ever heard from a cat. Otherwise, she appears to be healthy. I say "appears to be" because after six weeks out and about, we still couldn't touch her or pick her up. She would take food out of my fingers and climb into my lap to do so. When the alarm went off in the morning, she'd come up close to my face - but hands were very scary. At about 10 weeks, I could touch her with one hand while she took food out of the other. And at about twelve weeks, she's beginning to show signs of enjoying being touched and she likes to "help" me make their breakfast, so she's been scooped up from the counter and gently placed on the floor several times. She's much braver when Sam's close by than when he's out of sight. I suspect every time she's been picked up in the past, it was to be shoved into a box and taken somewhere she didn't want to go. Meanwhile, I'm not yet able to trim her needle-sharp little claws or get her in for a medical evaluation. Since she was very young but of an unknown age when she tested FIV+, I want to rerun her bloodwork as soon as possible. Kittens under six months of age, who test positive may have gotten some antibodies from their mom and should be retested six months later to establish a definite diagnosis. It is possible that Scamper doesn't have FIV at all, and I'd like to get a good baseline on her other bloodwork for liver, kidney's, etc.
Sam continues to do well. He's getting lots more exercise, thanks to Scamper and looking quite svelte. He's had a couple of bouts of digestive upset, which gets treated with fasting for 12 to 24 hours followed by a bland diet of chicken baby food or plain cooked chicken and no supplements for a few days, and then gradually returning to his regular regimen. He's taught me that I really have to go slowly with getting him back on his regular diet, avoiding chicken necks and organ meats for at least a week or his upset returns. This last time, he finally upchucked a rather large hairball and was quite fine afterwards. He also had a bout of severe laryngitis along with lip-smacking, indicating nausea. That turned out to be due to the presence of a downstairs apartment guest who smoked almost constantly. The problem cleared up as soon as the guest departed. Sam had his six-month checkup at the end of May and was found to be healthy, with some early dental issues. We'll increase his consumption of chicken necks (raw so the bones are chewable, don't splinter and are good for scraping plaque off teeth) and see if that doesn't help. Anything that puts more food on his plate makes him happy! We'll check his bloodwork again at the next six-month checkup and continue to do that annually to keep an eye on his liver and kidney values.
Now that the weather is warmer, Sam and Scamper have access to the screened porch, where they can play, argue, curl up in the sun, and watch birds in the daytime or bugs after dark. It's a nice, cozy place where they can watch the world from on high (second floor). Sam's looking forward to a lazy summer, and Scamper's looking forward to jumping on Sam's tail. Hopefully the next installment will be about Scamper's first checkup and nail trim.