My Cats   1 comment

This is the introduction to my cats that I wrote up for the new housesitter/cat nanny this week:

Aside from the two human grown-ups in the family, Dale and Bonnie, the household is made up of two cats, who pretty much run the show around here.  They are littermates and are now 14-years-old.

 Bubba is a 16-pound tomcat, officially down on his veterinary record as a “common domestic longhair,” and usually goes by the pet names of Mr. Bubs, Buddy Boy, Bubba-Wubba, and Bubsy.  He is a very affectionate cat and loves to be petted by both of his humans, and he loves to be held and cuddled by his “mom.”  Ever since he’s been a kitten, he has done a ragdoll imitation when I’ve held him and gone completely limp in my arms.  Right up there with love and affection on his list is food.  The boy loves to eat!

Bubba’s sister is a ten-pound short-haired calico known as Katie.  We frequently call her Katie-Cat.  I call her a variety of other pet names, such as Princess, Punkin, Babydoll, and Sweetheart, but these are names probably kept between her and me!  She is an aloof cat and has really only bonded with me.  I’m the greatest thing since canned tuna in her book and she constantly craves attention from me and sleeps with me every night.  She has no use for my husband, however.  Unlike her brother, she has never wanted to be picked up and held.  In fact, she struggles mightily to get down, so we just don’t do that.  She’ll sit on my lap and stretch out on top of me in bed at night, but she won’t let me hold her!  She is very wary about who she accepts canned food from.  She looks to me eagerly to put some canned food in her dish and will eat if I give it to her, but she won’t eat canned food from my husband and she’s been known to eat only dry food while I’m gone. 

Neither cat has ever been spoken to in a singsong, “here kitty, kitty, kitty” tone of voice and they’ll look at you like you’re nuts if you do that.  Mostly, they get talked to like people.  I’ll come in the door and say, “Hi Buddy Boy!  How was your day?  Everything go okay today?  What did you do today?”  Long conversations aren’t necessary, of course, just don’t expect any favorable response to “here kitty, kitty, kitty.”

Katie and Bubba have an interesting history.  14½ years ago, I was feeding their mother, a stray, feral cat in South Minneapolis.  When she had her litter of kittens (Katie and Bubba are the only survivors of the litter), she had them under the neighbor’s porch.  When they were around six weeks old, she brought them to the food dish on our front porch. 

Mama Cat was feral and unsocialized and her kittens were feral and terrified of human contact.  We made some initial, unsuccessful attempts to capture the kittens, but soon realized that we were just scaring them more with our failed efforts.  I backed off and just fed them, first putting their food dish out on the porch and then going back into the house, then putting the food out and standing inside behind the screen door, and eventually working my way out onto the porch to sit with them from a distance while they ate.  At no time, however, would they let me touch them.

After doing this every night during the summer of 1994, I finally made my move.  I put their food in their dish, got their attention, and then took the dish and put it inside the house in the foyer.  I stood there with the front door open.  They were as happy as could be to come into the house to eat.  There was no “capture” involved.  Katie and Bubba began their lives as housecats.

They saw the inside of a house for the first time when they were almost five months old.  As you may know, if a kitten is not socialized around humans when they are very young – four to six weeks old – the chances start to go downhill of them making a successful adjustment to living around people.  Katie and Bubba began their close human contact very late in the game.  They have done remarkably well as pampered, very loved housecats, although Katie didn’t purr for probably the first year and would startle if I tried to pet her.

They have done very well and have no issues with litterbox behavior or any other misbehavior.  The only thing that sets them apart from other cats I’ve cared for and known is their apprehension of strangers.  If someone comes to the door or someone they don’t know enters the house, they are scurrying for the basement!  We even disconnected the doorbell after learning that the sound of a doorbell on a television show would send them fleeing for the basement!

They’ve gotten better with age.  Bubba came out last week and socialized with our company from California – five people at once!  He came out and visited with my husband’s boss when he came over for supper last month.  My coworker, Fe, who fed them when we were gone for a weekend a few weeks ago, said that he actually came out and waited for her to put supper in his dish.  She was shocked!  He’s come a long ways just recently with getting over his fear of people he doesn’t know well.  Katie still remains aloof and by herself when company is around.

Both cats are in good health.  They are up to date on checkups and vaccines.  We have been monitoring both cats yearly for geriatric metabolic problems such as kidney and liver problems, diabetes, thyroid issues, etc.  Last year, it was discovered that Bubba is running a low potassium level, most likely due to aging kidneys.  Supplementing him with potassium has brought his level back up to where it belongs and his general well-being and energy seems better than it was before.  That is the only issue we’ve had in fourteen years.  (Aside from a few hairballs!)

So, those are my cats.


Posted August 29, 2008 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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One response to “My Cats

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  1. I enjoyed hearing about your cats. How kind you were to take them in. I used to have a black cat named Olive whom I rescued from a shelter. She was a gorgeous girl, indeed. I still miss her.

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