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Abby pre Vet Visit

First an Abby update:  She is eating again though in smaller quantities. She has her old attitudes back, though she still tires easily.  This morning she finally … well … defecated for the first time since returning from the vets and it appeared “normal” so she has finally been allowed out of the house.

I’m sure she will return sometime this decade.

The Grey Thing

Tiger 6 January 2012

Now a long overdue update on The Grey Thing.  When the nephews were visiting before Christmas, Master Three pointed at The Grey Thing and said “Tiger – you’re Tiger” and The Grey Thing purred. So she has officially been renamed Tiger.  She answers to Tigers too.  She also answers when you call out to Abby, open the fridge or pantry doors or rattle a box of any dry food – mum’s corn flakes for example.

Not being quite sure where she was from, and being the feline vacuum cleaner, I had been feeding Tiger in the outside laundry and she had one of Trub’s baskets in there for bedding at night.  She could come and go in the house during the day as she felt like, but I gave her bedding in an outdoor room so that she could also come and go as she liked at night.  She is not a hunter, I don’t have to fear for the native wildlife with her. Also if her owners do return, and she decides to go home, then that is also her choice.

Considering most days she spends 90% asleep either on the back steps or on my bed, I was pretty much appeasing my conscience; the cat wasn’t going anywhere.

And now it turns out the cat was right. Speaking to more people in the village, I find out that Tiger’s owners left town early last year.  They owned an establishment in the village and whether Tiger just got dumped, or whether she was left as part of the establishment is uncertain.  99% of the village apparently know where the cat is and most look confused when I ask if the cat should be back at the establishment. There have been a lot of changes and modifications in the ambiance as well as the structure of the establishment since the new owners took over so I guess I can understand the confusion. In the one conversation I have had with the new establishment owner (completely unrelated) he was unexpectedly aggressive, nasty and insulting from the start. I really feel uncomfortable whether to discuss the legal status of the cat with him or just to leave well enough alone. I frankly prefer the latter.

The morning that I took Abby to vets, Tiger was nowhere to be seen.  She didn’t come in for her breakfast.  Nor was she seen trying her usual way to con either of us into giving her second breakfast, third breakfast, morning tea, elevenses etc.  She finally turned up after lunch with a large gash across her nose, and scratches around her head and ears.  She’d obviously been in a cat fight the previous night.

That night, while Abby was in the vet hospital, I left Tiger inside and she stayed on her usual spot on top of my bed until 4:30am. She woke me at that time by mewling around my bed and walking me out to the back door.  I opened it and an icy blast came in.  The cat sat at the empty food bowl.  I fed her and we both went back to bed.  I later found out the temperature had dropped to 1.6C.  Yes that is under two degrees celcius (34.F) in the middle of summer.

It was warmer and she went outside when I next woke up.  She apparently doesn’t use the litter tray.

Unfortunately I had to keep Tiger outside again for the first 24 hours after Abby came back from the vets. Abby was just so sick.  Once she got a little bounce back, we let Tiger back in.  We also raised Abby’s food bowl one box higher so it is now level with the bench heights in the kitchen. Tiger has shown no propensity to jump that high in a single bound. Now that we have moved her food dishes inside as well, she is also showing much less interest in Abby’s food bowl.

Last night while Tiger was eating dinner, Abby was stalking her tail. Tiger was most confused and you could see the look in her face “I’m just going to keep eating now … ”

Again Tiger mewled at 4:30am so I let her out for her toilet break and went for one too. Abby just lifted her head then went back to sleep.  She didn’t start her morning crazies until 5:00am. So I think we’re all settling in to a nice family home life.

After a week and a half of wrangling with sticky tape, scissors no short-term memory and being forced into limited handwriting, all the parcels for the rest of the year are finally off into the mail. Of course the flip side is no more casual flirting with the cute guy from the town post office but there’s still the Saturday morning mutual T-shirt appreciation with the cute guy at the local library (his wife and I shop similar stores).

The Grey Thing (or walking stomach) is pretty much a fixture around here.  We have to lock her out of the house when we feed Abby bu other than that, she’s moved in.  Abby likes to be leisurely about her dinner.  Eat some, play, do a perimeter check out each of the windows, eat some more, nap, eat some more.  If the Grey Thing is inside, she nabs Abby’s food as soon as she leaves it, so Abby feels stressed and trapped by her food.  We’ve sat next to the Grey Thing and told her no and stamped out feet which usually makes her run in terror but she;s a different animal when there’s food out. So we lock her out until Abby’s eaten her fill then we wash the dishes and let her back in.  Once she knows there’s food to steal, she’s back to being a placid cat instead of a desperate animal. She’s growing fat and been wormed and fleaed etc so I think it’s just psychological from being hungry for so long.

She’s learning to play from watching Abby too – she’s now zooming down the hallways like it’s a racetrack but looks confused at the other end.  She wont play with us humans yet – she will let us pat her, but still bolts if we make an unexpected move or sound.  She’s watched Abby play outside and the Grey Cat was outside playing with a leaf this morning.  Catching it, throwing it in the air, swiping at it as it came down – I don’t think she’s ever done that before.

It’s a cool day today, looks like rain is imminent. It’s all quiet outside, I can just hear some birds and the frogs at the creek.  Abby is outside, mum is at work.  I’ve taken the morning to wrap most of mum’s Christmas gifts and hide them again as well as a little house tidying.  Right now in the clean lounge room it’s just me and the Grey Thing.  She’s asleep on the two-seater couch across from me.  One side has my knitted blanket that Abby sleeps on, the other side is just couch.  She’s sleeping on the couch side.  The fourth and last seat in the lounge room has now been claimed.  Visitors beware 🙂

The Grey Thing

The prevailing local attitude to cats is to bring one home and dump it in the yard.  It is then expected to fend for itself by killing and eating everything in its environs except you and the dog.

If it dies then it is obviously a failure as a cat so you get another one and start again. In winter you can occasionally leave a shed door open for the cat, but this is a luxury, so if you ever admit it to anyone you must do it with a self-deprecating chuckle because you know you will be ridiculed by everyone else in the neighbourhood.

At no time do you ever feed or provide bedding for the cat because that softens it and it wont actually do its job of being a cat. Concepts like regularly veterinary checkups, and  the impact of cats on local native wildlife are such alien concepts as to be peered at suspiciously as if they might have fallen off a conversation destined for an urban café.

Into such an environment came first mum and then me.  Mum’s cat Hemingway was primarily an outdoor cat so mum made sure there was enough food for Hemingway to graze throughout the day.  Considering the local human attitudes to cats and the local cats attitudes to full bellies, there was a fair amount of dry biscuits left out each day.

After we arrived, these biscuits were topped up each night with the “stale” biscuits that Trouble and Abby hadn’t eaten plus any wet food Abby and Trouble hadn’t eaten.

At one point we had four regular strays as well as our three each evening.  After we lost both Hemingway and Trouble I stopped the daytime feeding and only put out the nighttime leftovers.  I wanted Abby to gain some confidence and grow into being her own cat now that the domineering Trubs had passed on.

As I’ve kept Abby to a more or less stable dinner time we’ve still been getting regular dinner guests, but they turn up around 5-ish wait for dinner and then disappear again, so the yard is Abby’s, they just “visit”.  It’s a cat courtesy thing.

All except The Grey Thing.  TGT has been hanging around for years.  She’s “owned” by one of the locals but spends most of her time in our yard. She’s very shy and usually bolts when we are around but we often come home from an outing to see her sprawled under one of the fruit trees.  We’ve never seen her fight with Abby – she always defers when Abby pushes the point.

In the last week The Grey Thing has been here all the time. Every time I step foot out the door she scurries off the back verandah, when I let Abby out in the morning its obvious The Grey Thing has slept in our outdoor laundry. Then she started sitting at the back door meowing for food before bolting just out of reach when I come to the door.

Its been raining here most of the week so Abby has spent most of the week inside with me, so lots of eating and playing inside so little leftovers.  So a few nights ago, I topped up the leftovers with some supermarket brand biscuits we had leftover from months and months back. Then I put out a second helping.  And I stood next to the bowl and I patted The Grey Thing while she ate.  Just a couple of times.

It seemed to break the ice.  She now follows mum or I wherever we go outside, she winds around our legs.  She tries to play with Abby, but Abby is far too ready with her claws and I thin the Grey Thing is an older cat who is more happy to do a mutual grooming session.

Last night I gave Abby her monthly Frontline application and gave one to The Grey Thing too.  This morning after I left Abby outside the back door, and mum was in the shower, I returned from my bedroom to find The Grey Thing sitting in the middle of the kitchen sniffing the air.  She looked at Abby’s food dish and I said no and she hasn’t touched it.  She’s been in and out all day since and pointedly looked at and moved around and cried plaintively at the food dish on the back verandah but she has not touched Abby’s food dish (which does have biscuits in it!)

Abby’s been inside and seen her in here.  Abby’s had a long play in the tunnel with me and was completely unconcerned about The Grey Thing, but when TGT seemed to be heading for my bedroom (where Abby sleeps), then Abby herded her back outside.

The sun is shining for a couple of hours now and both cats were twining around our legs as we hung the clothes out.  When we left them The Grey Thing was sunning herself under the line and Abby was butterfly hunting.

Although The Grey Thing is slowly insinuating herself into our lives we’ve been resisting because we know she’s “owned” even if their attitude to cat ownership is not to my liking she is still owned by someone else.  However, the rumour mill has it that she is owned by a couple who have returned “home” (i.e. overseas) for the next 3 – 6 months. The timescale does fit with her escalating neediness.  So it seems we may be temporarily looking after her for a few months at least.

We could also be letting ourselves in for some heartbreak.

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