Thanks to all for covering me when I was out last week. The convention went great. The week before that I'd arrived at the cat-room to find a black cat (Pepper), a black cat (Gemini), a black cat (Kon-Tiki), a black cat (Bean), a black cat (Okra), and Dobby (who I'd never mistake for any other cat). With Tiki's adoption, Peaches' return, Eddie's adoption and then un-adoption, the arrival of purrbox Fruity Pebbles, and (temporary we hope) departure of both CHESSA and EDDIE both back at the clinic over health issues, we're back at six cats: Mr. PEPPER, GEMINI ("Mr. Jimmy"), bonded pair BEAN & OKRA, and beautiful gentle FRUITY PEBBLES (a semi-senior cat) and PRINCESS PEACH (Peaches).
Since Mr. Pepper's been in such a foul mood, I decided to see if special treatment would improve his mood. It did. First I let him out first thing when I arrived and let him have the whole room to himself, putting a short cat-stand in front of his cage and petting him then and there. He enjoyed this so much that I put him on the leash and took him out for a long walk. He was nervous at first but then got interested and explored. He even made the discovery that those bags on the shelves were full of food and put a row of them to the smell-test, one by one. When we got back inside we had a game, again just one-on-one, and he loved it. Hadn't known he's v. fond of the string game. I also petted him some more, gave him catnip, and combed my fingers through his fur; the loose fur came off in surprising quantities (shedding for summer, I assume). He even let me rub him down with a wet cloth to get more of that loose fur off.
Once I started letting other cats out his mood changed. He moved from the short cat-stand by his cage to the tall one near the cabinet, and here he showed his other side: objecting with hisses and swats at any cat trying to get up, or down, or pass by his spot on the mid-level of that cat-stand. He also swatted at me any time I went to get some cat dirt or cat food. It's a territory thing, I think. Had a hard time getting him back in his cage at 12.30, only to have him beg to go out again as I was finishing up. I did, and again he was on his best behavior. Although he got spooked shortly after we went out he behaved while out and also upon coming in and (reluctantly) going back into his cage.
My cat Parker was like this: the switch between wanting to be petted and hissing, swatting, or nipping was split-second. The only thing to do was to be watchful, and not to escalate things (since then he'd get really worked up, and angry rather than just briefly annoyed). Think once Mr. Pepper's in his own house he'll settle down a lot.
The other walker today was GEMINI (Mr. Jimmy), our current Boss Cat (luckily he has a sunny disposition). He played all morning, sometimes with a piece of string (which he'd catch in his mouth and reel in, sometimes carrying it off) and sometimes with feathers-on-a-stick. He's a great cat. I was particularly amused by the way he announced himself with a little mrr! whenever he arrived, whether jumping up onto the cage-tops or down from the cage-tops onto the cat-stands or bench. At once point several people (employees) gathered for a discussion about something outside the door to the cat room, and he went over and started talking to them (mrr! mrr! mrr!) from our side of the door, clearly asking to go out and join the conversation. He had a long walk and loved it. He also really enjoyed the catnip I distributed all round after he came back in (as did they all, but esp. Pepper and Jimmy).
Little BEAN followed him around like a little brother and played whatever game Gemini was playing. Glad to see Bean overcome his shyness: he likes being petted but would prefer to be played with. All the cats enjoyed playing w. the feathers and the string, but Mr. Jimmy and little Bean were the most enthused (I'd say those two played Advanced String Game 101). He was out pretty much all morning, while his sister OKRA stayed in, then came out, then went back in, all morning long. She's much the shyer of the two but is starting to gain some confidence; she came out whenever she saw what she thought was a good game going on and retreated when things got hissy from Mr. Pepper.
PEACHES, a truly beautiful cat, with long fluffy fur like dark-streaked orange marble, decided to go high as her strategy to avoid conflict, spending much of the morning among the blankets in the top level inside the cabinet. She liked it there so much, in fact, that after leaving that spot she returned to it later, climbing over a startled Pepper and launching herself into the cabinet -- only to fail to get a grip on smooth metal shelves and come tumbling right back out again. Luckily she didn't seem hurt, only chagrinned, so I lifted her up and put her where she wanted to go, where she stayed for over an hour until deciding to come out, getting herself hissed at some more (poor Peaches). She ended the morning in a box on the cagetops, which she found restful and a hiss-free zone.
FRUITY PEBBLES was a little more low-key; she tried several places high and low (inside the basket, atop the cages, under a cat-stand) but didn't seem to find a spot she really liked. Offered her some lap time several times but she wasn't in the mood. I'll have to make sure she gets some one-on-one time and special attention next week. I wonder how she'd do on a walk.
And that's pretty much it. Several visitors, but none who seemed serious prospects for adopters.