Sunday, 9 December 2012

Shadow the former stray cat

One early August morning Eric noticed a cat in our back yard, it happens often around here and is usually one of the neighbour's cats. It makes our cats crazy and they get quite annoyed by seeing another cat in their yard; they pace back and forth from window to window and usually take it out on each other. Eric went outside to scare the cat away but the cat didn't go very far. I looked out our bedroom window and the cat saw me and started crying and meowing. I felt bad for it so we left some food, Eric said the cat looked in rough shape with something wrong with its tail.

When we got back from work I looked for the cat and saw it in our front yard. It was a black cat that came right up to me and wanted me to pet it. It started licking me and following me around the yard. It was clearly sick with mucus coming out of its nose and eyes and sneezing a lot. It had a lot of burrs in its tail which I was able to remove and it seemed very skinny and malnourished. The cat was surprisingly friendly. I was very torn with what to do, if I took it to the Ottawa shelter (I can't bring it to the Arnprior one where I volunteer since I live within Ottawa city limits) I figured they would put it down. They get a lot of cats and don't really have time to deal with sick ones. Eric agreed we could put the cat in our garage for a few days and I could bring it to the vet to see what was wrong with it. So we removed our cars from the garage, added cat food, water, litter, and some bedding it could sleep on. Since it was August it would be warm enough. I called the cat Shadow since it liked to follow me around and it was black.

Shadow hanging out on a lounge chair during her garage time

The vet told us it was a female cat, about 9 months old. They gave us some antibiotics for her after she tested negative for feline leukemia. The vet recommended keeping her in the garage for a few weeks to avoid infecting our other cats. 

Getting some sunshine and a break from the garage

Since she had problems with sneezing she wasn't eating food, cats won't eat food if they can't smell it. Eric spent several hours one night trying to get Shadow to eat some canned food, eventually she started eating it out of his hand. Within two weeks she gained some weight, about two pounds. Her sneezing was better but not completely gone so they tried a different antibiotic. It was the same thing, she was better but still sneezing and launching boogers out of her nose. The vet said we could move her into the house but keep her in a separate room.

 There's someone in there and we don't like it!

We would feed our cats treats and canned food outside the door where Shadow was being kept, this is supposed to allow them to associate good things with the new cat. Paris, the calico on the left in the above photo, was not impressed. For the most part, she avoided the doorway.

We eventually introduced the cats with a screen in between them to ensure no fights. It went fairly well and we allowed the cats to visit her in the room. She still stayed in the room while we were at work and I slept with her in the evenings. On weekends our cats would spend the day outside in the screened-in porch so Shadow had full use of the house and loved running around.

Little did we know these two would become enemies in the near future

Watching a bird movie while in quarantine in the upstairs bedroom
We went on a camping trip on Thanksgiving weekend and left her out all weekend with the other cats. We were pretty nervous and were happy to see no one was injured or murdered while we were away.

 In late October Shadow went for her spay operation, while she was under they cleared out her sinuses. Unfortunately the sneezing came back a few days later. This time they tried an antibiotic usually used for children with ear infections. It was like a miracle cure, within two days her sneezing had stopped. To this day she's on a pill form of the medication and the sneezing is under control.

After getting spayed, her behaviour changed. She growled a lot at the other cats. This ignited Maple to start chasing her, he's the Alpha cat in the household and didn't like someone challenging him. We had to start the reintroduction process all over again but he still chased her everywhere months later.  We moved her to our bedroom where she had more room and she seemed to really like it in there. She's a cat that doesn't like being constrained so she started scratching at the door so when we went to work we started putting Maple and Comet in an upstairs bedroom. They didn't seem to mind it and would go in the bedroom before we even left for the day. Evenings were tough when everyone was loose together, as soon as you turned your back for two seconds Maple would go after her.

It's still a work in progress to have them get along. Her growling has stopped but she's afraid of Maple. We allow her to go on our kitchen counter as she escapes him there. We've also put hiding spots everywhere for her. A gate on our bedroom door allows all other cats except Maple in since he's the fattest cat and can't fit in between the bars. This has become her place to run to if he chases her. She also sleeps with us in there as she knows she's safe. If I sit in the living room reading a book or playing games on my BlackBerry PlayBook she sits beside me, she knows Maple can't get to her beside me.

Shadow on the cat condo in the living room with London underneath

Sleepy kitty

So needless to say Shadow is now part of our family, making that five cats. She's quite the little character. She is very playful and likes to knock stuff off the counter tops, loves cat toys, and is our little shadow.

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