Thursday, December 17, 2015

On-going Kitty Update

As you probably know, a few weeks ago Wynn was added to the family here at Fy Nyth. She truly is an adorable kitten! About 4 months old now and so full of energy one minute and then napping the next. She loves chasing a little blue squeaky mouse I got her around the house. 

Fitting her into the house is not a problem. I tucked both her bed and litter box into the bottom of my shower which is no problem since as you also probably know, I only use it for storage. When she is not playing or napping in her bed, she curls up on the couch, sits in the window sill, or naps in my lap for hours while I read. It does feel pretty amazing to have her soft cuddly little body curled up in my lap all relaxed and purring away. You probably also remember that I was a little concerned about being allergic to her. 

I never did let her up in my sleeping loft because of this concern. But by making sure she did not hang out where I sleep, and washing my hands immediately after petting or cuddling her, we seemed to be getting along ok. Sure, any time I'd forget and touch my face, my eyes would water, itch, and swell up. And I seemed to get a few rash-y spots on my wrists and hands. But for the most part, we were getting along ok. And did I mention she is so adorable?

Then another week went by. Despite continuing the above precautions, I seem to be really allergic to cats. I was never really sure how allergic I was to cats themselves. Growing up, almost all cats I was ever around were barn cats, and they always had hay dust on them. I know that I always have been and still am pretty severely allergic to hay. So I wandered if the cats were really the problem? Well I believe they are. I think over time, despite sweeping up daily and that Wynn is pretty short haired and doesn't shed much, those allergens were either building up in my house or just in my own immune system. 

Now being in a small space with something that makes you itch, swell up, and have a hard time breathing, is a problem! We might have been able to stay in the same house if I had ten rooms and she could have stayed in a few of those and I could have mostly avoided those. But instead, this I how life was going. 

I'd come home and she'd want attention. So I'd pet and cuddle her for a bit. Then I'd have to wash my hands and arms well, not touch her or anything in the main house again (couch, chairs, window sills, or anything else Wynn touched or sat on), race up the stairs to the loft and close my gate the keeps her out, change out of all the clothes I was wearing while petting her and into clean clothes, and hang out up there. Then if I needed to pee, get a drink or anything else not in the loft, even in the middle of the night, I'd have to change back, go downstairs and repeat the whole process again when I came back up. If I needed to go to the bathroom, I'd have to sneak in and close the door quick before she joined me. Otherwise she'd be crawling in my lap while I was on the toilet and really making me itch. If she tried to follow me and I had to pick her up and move her out of the bathroom, I'd have to go back out too so I could wash up (the only time not having a sink in my bathroom has been any kind of a problem) and then repeat the shenanigans to try to get into the bathroom by myself again. And even this process was leaving my body feeling right on the edge of being overwhelmed all the time. Because she's a kitten, which I certainly do not blame her for, she'd always come running right to me and rub on my legs, jump in my lap, and sometimes scratch me accidentally. The tiniest scratch, caused by anything else, would be no problem, but I guess whatever causes me to be allergic to cats, causes problems with this too. Even the tiniest scratches would burn and itch for hours, then get all red and puffy and weepy for a week or so. 

So, despite how totally adorable Wynn is, and how excited I was about having a new pet in my house,  and how bad I feel that it didn't work out (yeah I cried about this), she now lives next door in my friend's huge shop with his kitty. I still get to see her daily, but can wash up and go back to my once again allergy free house. The day I moved her over, Fy Nyth got the most thorough cleaning of it's life! Every pillow, couch cushion, sheet, towel, blanket, etc got washed. (Thanks to a friend for letting me use his big washer and dryer!) All the surface areas got wiped off. Every nook and cranny was vacuumed. Now I could once again sit down in my house and take a deep breath which was lovely. As a side note, all that took a total of four hours, about half of which was just waiting on the washing machine and dryer. How fast can you deep clean every fabric and hard surface in your house?

So Wynn lives next door and I can breath again. End of kitty story right? Nope. 

BEFORE I got Wynn, I had another cat. Kinda. For about 4 hours. The above and below photos were from those four hours. I had been looking for a cat and was offered an older one that needed a home due to family issues in his previous home. Great! We met up and I brought him home. He seemed calm and pretty settled about the move. Four hours later, he ran away. Nothing could convince him to come back. Not even warm tuna. There was some snow on the ground so I spent some time the next three days trying to track him, kept food and water outside, and looked everywhere I could think of that he could hide in the area. After three days of no sightings, no tracks, no food being touched, etc. I gave up. No shelter in the area had him. It was never above freezing, even during the day, and I live in the woods. Coyotes, foxes, owls, hawks, eagles, pine martins, wolverines, and then the bigger stuff like wolves and mountain lions all live here. The things around here and could eat a cat are too numerous to list! So I felt terrible, but obviously he was dead. I was really sad, but don't think there was anything else I could have done. I guess I got over this and a few weeks later adopted Wynn since I was still looking forward to having a new pet. Her story turned out as described above. Obviously, I can't be a cat owner so I settled back into just having pet worms. They and I get along really well at least.

Then, a few days after resettling Wynn into her new home and adjusting to my cat-less state again, I got a call from my neighbor who Wynn lives with now. He said he was sure he had seen my first cat. Now he's someone I trust, so I was sure he'd seen an orange cat, but there was no way this could be my cat. It had been almost a month since he'd run away! Again, I live in the woods and mountains of northern WY. At this time of year it's cold out. No temps clearing freezing. And all those predators around. He was an older cat (11 or 12?) to start with and the past owners had him de-clawed so he couldn't even defend himself or climb a tree. There was just no way it could be the same cat. My friend had tried to approach this cat, but it ran away from him.

The next morning however, there was fresh cat tracks around my house. Where there had been none for all these weeks. I always pay attention to the tracks to see what is coming by, and I was sure this was a cat. It even sat on the porch for a bit and seemed to come and go from generally where my friend had seen the orange cat. So we put out a live trap with cat food to see if we could catch this one and rescue it. The next morning the food was untouched and the trap empty. But there were more fresh tracks around the house. This time when I tried to follow them, I was soon totally befuddled. They wondered back and fourth around the house, but then never went anywhere. This was not possible unless this cat had wings! The snow that morning had a nice fresh coating and tracking was not hard so what happened to it? There were no marks of an owl or something picking it up. Suddenly the other possibility occurred to me. The base of my house had been totally sealed off with snow as a skirting. But the sunny side of the house had started to melt out a little despite the temps and now there were a few gaps in that skirting. If this cat didn't have wings, it must be under the house! 

I grabbed my flashlight and tried to peek under the house. My first "here kitty, kitty" was rewarded with a meow! It took less than a minute to coax him out. Was this the same cat I'd lost? I didn't know. It was orange. But it's coat was dull and rough not sleek and shiny like my first cat. And it was nearly dead. Just a bag of bones. I don't know how much it weighed, but picking it up, it felt like a feather. Upon closer inspection, he was a male though, and had been de-clawed. It had to be the same cat!

 He did not seem scared of me at all. I gave him food and water right away and he ate like a starving animal for a minute, but then couldn't hold anymore. I'm sure his poor stomach was quite shrunken. But he seems so happy to have someone petting him and was purring away in that skeletal little body of his. I almost wanted to make him stop because he sounded like he might just rattle his bones apart!

Here you can see what he looked like that day. Gaunt even to the eye, he felt much worse if you ran a hand down his back. You could not feel any flesh on those bones even though his hair somewhat hides that. The tips of his ears were frostbitten so he'll probably loose the tips eventually and be a kind of funny looking cat. 

I so wish he could talk! Were was he all that time? How far did he go? Did he eat anything at all? How did he find anything to drink with the temps we had? How did he avoid being eaten himself? And why did he come back? My best guess is that he realized he was about to die and came back just to see if there was help here. 

He's been on a steady diet of as much rich nutrient dense food as he can hold. Fish, eggs, cream, bacon, canned cat food, kitten formula dry food, etc. He always has about three options out to pick from. And lots of water. He drinks quite a lot. His stomach seemed to expand slowly. After a few days he was able to eat a larger amount at once and more during a day. After about a week, you could actually feel him developing a gut. His bones still stuck out, but now when you picked him up, he was getting heavy.

I have never tried to make him stay again. He has never tried to leave again. After having totally confirmed that I can't have a cat in the house, I wasn't sure at first what to do with him. But I decided if he could survive that long completely on his own, he was going to make a fine outside cat. He now has his house under my house where I keep just one hole through my snow skirting for him to get in and out and where it's a good bit warmer than the outside temps. He also has a kennel over by my tool shed which you can see below, but it's been updated since. It's totally sealed in and buried under snow now creating a mini igloo with a little tunnel leading into it. And he seems to like that cozy bed. He always has food and water on the porch and in his kennel. There's a log/tree pile nearby that he can climb even minus his claws if anything shows up to chase him, but this hasn't happened yet. He alternates between hanging out under the house, sitting on the porch, or curling up in his kennel. Usually whichever one the sun is hitting at the moment. Most of his time is spent relaxing and sun bathing. 

Every time I leave the house or come home, he gets up, stretches, and walks up to me to get some petting or scratched under his chin which seems to be his favorite. He sprawls out on his side and looks totally blissful when you do that. He only comes inside for brief visits and stays on hard surfaces like the floor or this chair. He loves me running a lint roller over him so I do that as soon as he comes in and sweep up anything I missed when he goes back out. And I still am careful about washing my hands well after touching him. This setup seems to work for my allergies. And for him. 

He's either decided this is home or at least it's way better than starving to death out there somewhere on his own. Every day he puts on a little more weight. Just today I noticed when running my hands down his back the bones do not seem to protrude nearly as much and there is a little flesh there. I am hopeful that he will make a full recovery, other than maybe loosing those tips of his ears. I kinda wanted to wait to post this to see that he was going to put through after my two consecutive kitty disappointments. But he seems to be doing well. Maybe by spring, Wynn will have grown up and become tough enough to join him and live back here too! I'd love that. But this is where my kitty saga stands right now. 

So now he needs a name. I've been mulling this over since he first showed back up, but now that he seem likely to live, I need to actually settle on something. I think I've been scared to name him since I was too afraid this setup wouldn't work out either. I'm thinking along the lines of a name that means miracle, amazing, tough, or something similar. Every time I look at him, I still can't believe he's alive! Anyway, I'm leaning toward "Manipi" which is Native American for "amazing," but I've love to hear everyone else's ideas too. Let me know what you've got!


  1. Manipi is very cool. I'm glad he decided to come back.

  2. Manipi is very cool. I'm glad he decided to come back.

  3. Koda = (koh-dah) means 'friend' in Dakota Sioux

    1. Thanks! I like that too. Maybe my next pet now...

  4. Here's a great site...maybe something here will 'strike a chord'!

  5. I have had a lot of cats in my life and it is not unusual for cats to take off like that when they are first relocated. When they go from one home to another, they can get confused and disoriented and their first response is to take off. But they also usually don't go very far. This experience you had with the first cat doesn't surprise me at all. Poor thing -- it sounds like he's been through so much in a short amount of time. I think I would be tempted to name him Job.

    About the kitten, what sort of litter did you use? I've known people who thought they were allergic to their cat only to find out that they were actually allergic to the cat litter they were using. When you have cat litter in the house, it's easy for the cat to track it everywhere because it gets stuck to their fur and their paw pads. Some litters have so much perfume and dyes in them that they can easily cause an allergic reaction in people. I know that whenever I clean the litter box, the dust always makes my eyes water and itch. I just thought I would mention this because it's something cat owners don't always think about when they suspect they might be allergic to their cat.

    I hope the orange cat's health continues to improve and that he decides to stay where it's safe. Good luck to both of you!

    1. Thankfully (?) I am so allergic to all those perfumes and dyes in litter, I know they are a problem within seconds of being near any of those varieties. I was using an all natural one with cedar shavings and no chemicals. But thank you for pointing that out. And yes, Manipi is doing great and has never chosen to be more than a few yards away since he first returned. He's putting on weight and looking good.

  6. As an animal lover who (a) has two wonderful cats and couldn't live without them and (b) recently adopted and then had to give up a new pet, this post first broke my heart and then made my day. Good luck to you and Manipi, and I hope you continue to spoil him rotten. One word of advice, though: you might keep an eye on the space under your house. Someday something much more dangerous than a declawed cat might decide to take up residence, and that would be no good for anyone.

    1. Thank you. I will. I've always know a lot of things could end up under there, but nothing more problematic than mice and chipmunks that dart in and out has been seen so far.

  7. Ariel, I have done catch up of your last several posts thru your Christmas day post. Your animal encounters, your animal relationships are wonderful!! Congratulations on an extraordinary year in 2015. I look forward to following your blog in the new year.

    1. Thank you! I hope your new year is wonderful as well!