Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ted's New Tower

Ted has new digs, and he approves.

His three-level tower cage arrived a few days ago, and proved not too difficult to set up, despite the instructions being entirely in Chinese or Korean or some such inscrutable script. Fortunately the diagrams were sufficiently scrutable that, with a few false starts, I got the thing put together. Then I hauled Ted out of his original enclave, stuffed him in a carrier out of the way, disassembled what I had so tediously assembled a mere week or so ago, and reassembled a new cage complex.

I took the larger cage, turned it so the door end faced away from the tower, dropped the tower end inside that long cage (I tried to drop it outside, underneath the tower, but it wouldn’t fit), then tied the two cages together with shoelaces around rolled towels filling the spaces at the joint. The bottom-level tower doorway faces into the long cage, which is where the litterbox sits. The second-level doorway (door removed) faces out over the long cage. Atop the long cage I plopped a soft-sided portable kennel, an opened end butted against and secured to the tower. This provides a lair Ted can reach from the midlevel shelf of the tower, with sides and top that zip away so I can get in at Ted for petting and plucking out. Here, let me show you what I’m talking about:

Here’s the litterbox end of it all, with easy access for cleaning, much easier than the old complex. Given Ted’s unfortunate proclivity for aiming up and out when peeing, being able to fit the cover on is a Big Deal. The bottom tower door sticks out on the right because I wasn’t able to remove it.


The side view, showing the doorways into the long cage and the kennel lair:


Since the tower assembled in sections, I was able to put the top third on with the door facing outwards, giving me easy access down to the midlevel shelf where I put Ted’s food and water dishes. The opening’s high enough that he isn’t likely to make a sudden break for it when I open the door – not that he’s inclined to fight for his freedom anyway; he’s more interested in getting petted and fed.


Ted’s got a good view out over my deck to the thin strip of lawn that passes for a backyard, so he can amuse himself watching whatever passing squirrels and birds may make their appearance there or on the fence beyond. The cylinder thingie in the lower left corner of the tower is a useful stepping stone to the first elevated shelf, but he has no need of a similar aid to make it up to the top shelf.

That’s Ollie checking things out.


Another view of Ted’s dining room. The lair side facing the deck slider is a mesh, so he can lurk and surveill simultaneously.


I’ve stopped worrying that Ted will be unhappy in captivity. He seems contented, greets me with relaxed pleasure, doesn’t even try to get out when the door’s open, and in general appears to have decided that life is pretty darn good for him in there.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finally! The Floodgates Open

Ted has been refusing to use the litterbox ever since I put him into captivity over a day ago; to excrete at all, in fact. I was worried enough to be contemplating a vet visit Monday morning. Then I went out to do critter care at the farm an hour-plus ago and came back to find:

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! He’d finally voided his bladder! And a mighty void it was, a veritable flood of pent-up pee. In the box, to boot.


Ollie and, to a lesser extent, other of the young guys have taken to trying to walk on top of the cages, teetering on the wire mesh. So yesterday I put a multi-folded wool throw on top of the smaller cage and it instantly became a favored napping spot for various of the boys. Ollie still kept teeter-wire-walking. So just now I’ve laid folded throws on top of the larger cage. This appears to have met with universal approval. It’s interesting to see that at least one of the free males will hang out on top of the cage or in a napping spot nearby almost all the time now, so Ted has company.

When I took the photos below, Ted, still basking in my effusive praise for his pissing prowess, was purrfully playing with one of the catnip mice I drop into his cage from time to time; if he bats his toy too near the bars, alas, one of the outside pride will reach in, snag it, and steal it. It’s a never-ending battle to keep Ted supplied with amusements, but I don’t mind. Now that he’s used the litterbox and seems to be happy in there, I’m thinking this just might work for us all.

The latest in slammer amenities, being inspected by Pumpkin:


That round beige thing has a hole in the in-facing side and carpeting within, and Ted likes to crawl in and curl up there now and then. He’s big enough that he has to stick his head outside to fit, but this appears to be fine by him.


Outside looking in: Pumpkin and Peanut, and that black blob by Peanut is Schooner.


Update: Chillin' with the Tedster:


Ted Held Hostage -- Day Two

We all survived the night, though not without some cost.  After hauling from store to house, erecting, and setting up the two cages, getting the Tedster settled, and so on, I then spent several hours sitting in the recliner next to him, keeping him company while watching TV and doing some proofreading; then went to bed – and woke up, midsleep and this morning, with a wicked lumbar backache.  I’ve hit it with ibuprofen and Ben-Gay, gently stretched the area in the course of the usual morning cleaning of eight litterboxes, and hope to do further limbering in an hour or so when it’s horse chore time.  And definitely stay out of the recliner today!  Sigh....
Ted seems fine, calm, mildly complaining now and then but otherwise unfazed.  He ate breakfast with vigor, despite my having stirred into it a dissolved Wellbutrin dose.  I stuck a yardstick through the bars of the big cage to rearrange the towels, since I can’t otherwise reach them without an ungainly contorted effort from the small cage end door, and he enjoyed a yardstick back scratch.  The only thing that concerns me is his failure to use the litterbox yet.  Didn’t use the towels, either, or spray outside the cage.  He went into the slammer in late afternoon yesterday, so it’s not a full 24 hours yet.  Hopefully breakfast will move him to void soon.
Not having a side door on the big cage is proving to be awkward.  I may need to go ahead and get a two or three door large crate ASAP.  There are such crates available at Petco in Topsfield.  Only problem is, the Petco crate doors aren’t removable and they don’t open back flat against the cage side; I’d have to jigger a filler for the triangular space between crates when butting them together.  So:  added cost, added backbreaking labor of taking the current setup apart and installing a new crate.  Ulp.  The heck with it – for now.
Off to check on him
Still no litterbox use, but I crawled halfway in through the small cage (draping myself over the [fortunately, in this case] still-unused litterbox), propped myself on one elbow, and reached the other arm into the large cage for some serious cat-skritching and stroking.  Ted gobbled it up, purred, wallowed, reveled.  Then I withdrew, cautiously – between the iffy back and the imminence of bashing tender body parts on cage wire, speed is not an option – and gave him a couple of catnip mice.  He’s having a blast with them.
Still sucks for both of us, but I think he’ll be okay.  Time will tell.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ted's in the slammer -- and it's a life sentence

Yes, unfortunately, Ted is now caged, and will have to stay caged for the foreseeable future, perhaps for the remainder of his life.

It’s that or put him down because he’s urinating all over the house. Territory marking, no doubt; stress at multiple males, perhaps; maybe simply the grumpiness of advancing age (he’s in his midteens). I never caught him at it, but I suspected him of house-pissing after Ed and Fred’s deaths. The episodes ended after a couple of weeks in each case; perhaps he thought he’d sufficiently marked his territory for the new world order?

Now, with Tomba’s departure and the arrival of Stan and Ollie, the house-marking has not only returned, it’s ratcheted way up. He’s hit my office especially hard, and I’ve actually caught him twice doing it behind my back – literally behind my back; I was working at my desk, heard THAT noise, smelled THAT smell, and turned to see him scram as I screeched. I’ve thrown out ruined stuff, scrubbed and pet-deodorizer-sprayed all the blasted surfaces I found by crawling about the room in the dark with a blacklight, have a steam rug cleaner with special pet-odor agent on order – and I just can’t trust him; within a day of the big all-but-steaming cleanup I caught him backing up to the wastebasket for another hit. He’s sprayed in the living room too; I suspect the upstairs bathroom (sniff – whiff?) but can’t find the exact place; who knows where else he’s gone I haven’t found yet, where he’d go next if I did nothing?

You ask, what about giving Stan and Ollie back to the shelter? And I reply, what if that doesn’t solve the problem? Once they begin this sort of pissing, they rarely reform. I could try kitty Wellbutrin, but (a) it didn’t do much for Tomba, and (b) Ted is a bear to pill. My office, to be blunt, intermittently stinks, and we’re not even into warm humid weather yet. I can’t work around, I can’t live with the stench and the constant vigilant mistrust of leaving Ted free to roam and piddle where he will.

Ted’s too old and too wary of strangers to try to rehome, even assuming anyone would want to adopt a known pisser. So it’s prison or death, alas, and I – judge, jury, executioner – have chosen the slammer for him.

I already had a small cage, the one I’ve used for housing cats on medical hiatus from freedom. After lying awake last night for hours pondering what to do, I went out today and bought a larger cage, the standard sort of large-dog-sized folding wire crate, and have tied the two cages together. Voila: Ted’s new prison. The white object above Ted is a rolled towel tied into place to block the gap between the larger and smaller cage openings.



On order is a six-foot-high, three-perch cat cage which I will tie into the other two cages. Since that has a door at all three levels, when it arrives and gets added to the current set-up I’m hoping to tie into the second-level door yet another crate I bought today, a cloth-sided dog den with a plush (removable) floor that I’ll put on top of whatever crate ties into the tower.

Oops! I might have to buy still another large wire crate to substitute for the one currently in use, because that one, what I was able to get on short notice today once I’d made up my mind, only has one door. (This crate, for example, has three doors, all removable, which would make tying cages together much easier, but I didn’t want to wait for the shipment to arrive to take action.) Would’ve been cheaper to euthanize Ted, eh? And no giant cage complex cluttering the living room!

But I just couldn’t do it. Maybe it’s selfish of me; maybe he’ll be so miserable caged that it would be kinder to call it quits. He’s already lived a good long happy life. But he’s handling the caging pretty well so far; complaining, yes, but after the first few minutes of looking for escape he seems to have settled down, and he’s eating, so he can’t be too freaked out.

So there it is: Ted’s a prisoner and I’m his warden. What a life.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oh-oh -- I'm surrounded

When the Ipswich Pride get hungry and want me to feed them, they start to gather about me. Quietly, one by one, they drift from their various snoozing spots to wherever I happen to be.

I’m working in my office. All seven of the senior felines have come in and disposed themselves about me.

They look hungry.

They’re eyeing me.

* cue theme from Jaws *