We took Elvis to the vet’s yesterday for a check-up and some blood tests. The blood test required him to not eat for 12 hours beforehand, and it got me thinking about how different our cats are.
When Lola went to have her teeth cleaned back in January she wasn’t allowed to eat beforehand either. And she spent almost all of the 12 hours loudly voicing her displeasure at the lack of food. The result of that was a very restless night, as she kept us awake with all her yelling.
Elvis on the other hand didn’t yell. He was very quiet. But each time that it was close to a meal time he would do his best Puss In Boots impression, with the widest eyes he could muster, and give the sweetest questioning meow. And then when I fed the others but not him he looked at me with such a bewildered and betrayed expression..!
As far as I can remember we haven’t had to withhold food from Sampson at any time, so I don’t have any evidence of how he’d react. But given that he’s so very food oriented I can’t imagine it would be fun for anyone involved. I expect he would get very hangry, and almost definitely take out his frustrations on the two cats that would be getting fed.
I’ve written many times about how greedy Sampson is. He’s very food focused, and seems to be highly attuned to the sound of the food box being opened.
His food focus has been a problem. He tries to steal any human food that’s accidentally left anywhere he can get to. (Or some places that he shouldn’t be able to!) He eagerly licks clean the food bowls of the other cats and indeed will steal their food if given the opportunity. There have even been a couple of occasions that he has made himself sick from eating so quickly.
We seem to have finally found a solution for his meals. A solution that slows him down so that he doesn’t bring his food back up. As an added benefit, if he’s eating slower it gives more time for Elvis to finish his food without Sampson jumping up to steal it.
The solution is a little activity centre. We spotted it in the reward shop of the site we use for most of our cat-related shopping, and as we had enough points to get it we decided to try it out. I’m so glad we did – it’s fantastic.
The activity centre consists of two parts. The white base has little bumps on it to help keep the food from sliding around too freely. The blue dome clips on over the top leaving a few little openings perfectly sized for a paw to sweep into and pull bits of food out.
Using the activity centre requires Sampson to use his brain to get his food. He can’t just mindlessly wolf it down without a thought.
The first time we fed him with it he was a bit unsure. I had to show him how to hook the food out a couple of times before he would even attempt it. He’s gradually got used to it though and now uses it like a professional – his paw flashes in through the opening, curls around and swipes some of the pieces of food out where he eagerly munches on them.
Whilst he has got faster at eating from the activity centre as his proficiency and understanding of it increase, he is still eating at a much more reasonable pace than when he was just eating from a normal bowl.
You might be looking at that title and thinking “that’s a weird title to have on a blog about cats!”
You’d be right to be confused. And you can blame husband for that.
I should start by explaining a bit about our cats. If you’re a regular reader of my posts you probably already know something about them!
A lot of the time our three cats get on fairly well. They’re by no means the best of friends, and you’re unlikely to see them snuggling up together.
But from time to time they’ll permit nose kisses or a friendly licking session. Sometimes they’ll even play together.
Sometimes though those play sessions get a bit rough. A bit hissy. And that’s where the title of this post comes in.
If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s a logic puzzle. You have a wolf, sheep and cabbage and you have to get them across the river, but you can only have one in the boat at the time. You can’t leave the wolf and sheep together, because the wolf will eat the sheep. If you leave the sheep and the cabbage together, the cabbage will get eaten. The puzzle is to work out how to get them all across without anyone getting eaten.
Hopefully I haven’t lost you!
So, how husband came up with this analogy…
At bedtime we have to have Sampson not behind a door because he scratches awfully (even with sticky back plastic up! Although I think this new brand is less sticky which may be the problem…) But then Elvis kept bothering Lola at night, keeping us awake with the sound of bickering. We figured we’d have Elvis through with us as well which solved that problem.
That reminded husband of the logic puzzle. Lola is obviously (according to husband!) the sheep. The problem was between Elvis and her, which means Elvis is the wolf. Therefore Sampson is the cabbage. It’s fitting, because sometimes he seems to have the brains of a cabbage..!
But sometimes… the cabbage attacks the wolf. And that seems to be where the analogy falls apart!
Sampson is, without doubt, a mummy’s boy. He loves to snuggle up with me at any opportunity.
Husband and I theorise that it’s because he was so young when I got him. I’ve mentioned this before, I think.
When Sampson and his litter mates were newborn they and their young mother were abandoned at a vet’s. The staff took them in and cared for them, but didn’t have the resources to keep them for long.
Once the kittens were weaned the staff started looking for homes for them. Sampson came to us at just 6 weeks old. We had other cats so the staff were comfortable knowing he’d learn how to be a cat from them.
Sampson was absolutely tiny when we took him home. I could hold him in one hand. He seemed so delicate.
If I’m honest, I got a bit overprotective of him. I worried about the older cats or the puppy hurting him.
For the first couples of weeks he barely left my sight. In fact he spent quite a lot of time cuddled on my lap. Actually he quite liked to climb up and cuddle on my chest, almost in my bra!
As time went by, and we both got more confident, he would interact with the world more. He started playing with the puppy, and the other cats. I vividly remember him playing with our fluffy ginger tom and disappearing under all the fur!
When Sampson was a few months old I left to start university. I couldn’t take him with me. I missed him, and the other animals, very much. Every time I went back home he seemed to have grown tremendously. He’d still try and snuggle on my chest though, as soon as he remembered who I was.
Around the time of Sampson’s first birthday I quit my university course and moved to Finland. (And that’s a story for another time and place!) It became a lot more difficult to visit him, of course. And still every time I saw him he seemed to be bigger!
You may well be familiar with the story of Sampson moving to live with us. My other English cats are now living with my brother, and all seem much happier in their new situations than where they were.
And you can well imagine how pleased I am to have my not-so-little boy back with me!
We’re in the middle of another cross-country move. (And yes, the last one was only a year ago!) The move itself took place a couple of days ago so now we just have all the unpacking, organising, and settling in to do! Actually I moved a while ago as my new job started at the beginning of August, which is why I haven’t been around here much since then. But now husband and the cats have joined me (at last!)
As I said, this is the second time we’ve done a cross-country move in about a year, and it got me thinking about how much Sampson has moved from home to home in the last couple of years.
This move, from the North of Finland to the South – that’s one. Two was last year’s move from the South to the North. Move number three was about four months before that when he came all the way from England to join us.
When he was in England he was staying temporarily with a friend of ours. He moved there (move number four) from staying briefly at my mum’s new house, to which he’d arrived (move five) from my older brother’s. And he had gone there (move six!) from my mum’s old house!
Six moves (assuming I’m not forgetting any) in less than two years. That’s a lot of moving for one cat! Especially considering three of them were long distance.
Living in six different homes in two years could get very stressful for a cat. (Probably for a human too!) I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. Sampson has coped very well with it all, most likely because all of those homes (aside from the one when he was with our friend) were with people he had known all his life.
He was fine living at my mum’s old house because he’d always lived there. He was fine being at my brother’s when my mum moved, because he’d known my brother since he was a kitten. He was fine being at my mum’s new house because, again, the people were familiar.
He settled in quickly after his move from England because he’s known me his whole life. In fact we’ve often got the impression he thinks I’m his mummy – he was only 6 weeks old when he came to us (a story for another day, perhaps) and was very attached to me to start with. Which certainly made it easier for him to get used to living with us in Finland.
And of course the other moves since then have still been with us, so the people and things in the flat have been consistent even if the location hasn’t been.
But for all three of the cats’ sake (and ours!) I do hope we don’t have to move again for a while! (And certainly not cross-country!)
Have you moved homes with your cats? Did they settle in easily to the new home, or did it take a while? How did you help ease the transition?
I’m here to tell you a secret. It’s pretty shocking. Are you ready?
Lola is a monster.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit there. But she’s definitely a pest! And she’s not the only one. Sampson can be very pesty too. Elvis is alright, most of the time.
Now as cat lovers, you may be wondering why on earth I’m saying such awful things about my beloved furry friends. First of all I would reassure you that I am saying them in a loving manner – with fond irritation. And second of all, because it is true.
Lola and Sampson both have the bad habit of scratching at closed doors. Most of the time that’s little more than an annoyance, but at night time… Well, we humans do need to sleep at night.
For the last couple of years it hasn’t been a problem. At night we have two doors between us and the cats, which means even if they scratch at a door, they’re not scratching at our door, and we’re able to get our beauty sleep!
But… we’re going to be moving (cross-country, again!) in the next few months. And it seems there’s very little choice of flats, meaning we may end up having to take one that – sit down, this might shock you! – doesn’t let us have two doors between us and the cats at night.
I know. This is nightmare fuel right here.
In all seriousness, it is a concern. I work as a nanny, and taking care of two toddlers after barely any sleep really doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.
The solution, it seems, is to try and teach them to not scratch at the door. But how? We tried just ignoring them in the past, in the hopes that they’d get bored of doing it, but it never worked.
Then I remembered reading somewhere that cats hate the feel of sticky back plastic (contact paper). I’d read the suggestion of putting it sticky side up on kitchen surfaces to teach cats not to walk on them. And I wondered if the same solution could work for us in this case.
I happened to have a roll of blue sticky back plastic that I’d bought for crafting a while ago, mistakenly thinking I’d picked up a clear one. As I didn’t have any other use for it I figured I may as well use it for this experiment.
It was easy enough to do, though took a little while. I measured at cut the sticky back plastic, removed the backing and used masking tape to stick the panels onto the door. (Remember, it needs to be sticky side out.) I did both sides of the living room door as well as the outside of the bedroom door. I actually ran out of the blue and had to use some clear as well, but I’m sure the cats aren’t interested in the colour!
Husband was skeptical but… There hasn’t been a single scratching incident since I put the plastic up! We’ve not yet tried leaving them “loose” at night, but we’re building up to it.
No more scratching, what heaven! Now… if only there was as easy a solution to stop Lola from yelling behind the door…
Do black cats like sunbathing more than their colourful friends? Do you think anyone has ever done a study on that?
It seems to strange that we find Sampson sunbathing, or dozing in a puddle of sunlight, more often than the other cats. I seem to recall my other black cats being particularly partial to sunlight too.
Oh sure, the ginger cats and the tabby cats, the tortoiseshells and everything in between, they liked the sunlight too. But in my experience it seems like black cats are the quickest to take advantage of the sunbeams, and do so for longest.
Sometimes I’ll go to stroke Sampson when he’s been laying in the sun, and he seems so unbelievably warm! I wonder how he can handle getting so hot. Wouldn’t the black fur be a reason to stay out of the sun, to keep from overheating?
Perhaps these are just the ramblings of an overtired mind. (What a long work week! And so much to do to get ready for our big move in the summer.) But as a cat owner, sometimes one has to ask these important questions.