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06 March 2009 @ 06:11 pm
My flist is full of excellent advice! Thanks for your ideas, hugs and encouragement regarding Handsome Tom. Please know that I do not want to get rid of him. He chose us, and we accepted that charge, and I feel as if we must do all we can to honor it. And, of course, he's a very cool cat and I love him to bits. I just can't accept making my other cats miserable for his sake.

Since so many of you responded, and many of you had similar suggestions, I thought I'd answer in a general post rather than responding individually.

Getting another animal isn’t an option. We have four cats already. Though Esme is close to Tom’s age, she’s not keen on playing with him. He chases her, she freaks the hell out and runs away screaming. I’m fairly sure it’s that he’s such a big boy. He’s nigh on sixteen pounds; she’s about eight. Still, since the whole Tom-flinging-Jilly incident, Esme has been approaching HT several times a day, just to sniff noses, before bouncing away. That’s encouraging.

Human interaction is already in play. I play with Tom every day (plain white string is his favorite) in the hopes it will work of some of his boundless energy.

I’ve tried the pheromone diffusers. They did nothing. I’m considering giving the herbal drops a go, so thanks to all who pointed me in that direction!

For those who mentioned the claw-caps: do you put them on yourself, or does it require a vet visit? Not that I’d hesitate should it be the latter. I’m just curious. Also, how long do they last?

A cat pen sounds like a good idea, but there’s no feasible point to install one. Letting him out on his own isn’t going to happen. We live by a reasonably busy road whereon very few drivers obey the speed limit. I’ve seen far too many animals - wild and domestic - meet their fate on this road. HT himself nearly ran in front of my car once. In addition, I was taking him to vet, or stopping in on his behalf, nearly every month when he was living outdoors. Worming, flea and tick meds, bites and scratches, an abcess, follow up visits... not to mention the cost of antibiotics. Still... I wonder if HT would let me put a kitty harness on him? I could take him for walks/runs around the yard. Hmmm.

Meds are an extreme measure, declawing even more so. Now, I grew up with declawed kitties, none of whom ever experienced any personality changes after the surgery. Even so, I would not consider doing that to Tom - nor to any kitties that come into this house - unless there were absolutely no other options. At this point, there are, and I’m going to explore all of them. I’m going to drop by the vet’s office sometime next week and see whether I can just chat with him or if I need to set up an appointment.

In other kitty news, Jilly and Isabeau have spent most of the day in hiding and have refused to use the litter boxes downstairs. I’ve had to bring one into the living room, but that can only be a temporary measure. They did come out to eat, which is good, but then ran back to their respective hidey-holes.

Shortly thereafter, Tom tried to go after Jilly and would not be tempted away with playtime. He did, however, sleep curled up at my side last night - all night. When I woke up, he stretched, looked at me, and began purring. Oh, and when I grabbed a quick nap yesterday, Esme slept on my hip and didn’t leave - though she did growl - when HT pushed his way under the covers. Again: encouraging.

*sigh* look at that face!


Sleepy Tom is even sweeter.


Just because she's so ridiculously adorable:


I feel: hopefulhopeful
pheylanpheylan on March 6th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
You can buy claw caps at any of the big pet stores or you can order them online. The brand we use is called Soft Claws. You may have to trim his claws first depending on how long they are, then you put a spot of glue in the cap (glue comes with the package) and press it onto the claw. It will last as long as the outer sheath of his claw does, so expect to be replacing them at odd intervals. We use them on two of our cats and - although they don't like the indignity of being held still for the sheathing process - we have never noticed them having any problems because of it. You may want to enlist Don's help so one of you holds the boy while the other gives him the new press on nails. BJ and I work as a team and can get them capped pretty quickly.
el diablo robotico: toeffe closeupplatypus on March 7th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
I clip my cats' claws regularly, and they're pretty good about it. Having had one adult cat declawed, I don't think I could do it again; her personality didn't change, and she probably got over it ten years ago, but the memory of her limping around miserably just kills me. I know sometimes people run out of alternatives, and I won't go on a holy crusade about it, but I hope the alternatives prove adequate to keep him from drawing blood from other cats.

One of my cats, Toeffe, sounds a bit like your Tom -- big, aggressive, sometimes playful but sometimes just bullying (and I don't think our other cats know or particularly care about the difference). When we first adopted him, we didn't know about his, uh, attitude problems, and very nearly didn't keep him; he was making our little girl cat's life miserable. For years, we'd close him in the den at night so he couldn't chase her and she'd have some peace. We did eventually find out that desensitization worked on both sides -- when he saw her constantly, he was less likely to attack her on sight, and when she saw him constantly, she was less likely to flee on sight. But it took a long time.

Then we picked up another stray, a big girl who's unfortunately very shy and skittish. And Toeffe started attacking her, sometimes pretty viciously, because of the whole introductory stress thing on top of his usual pigheadedness. It took us a year to get them all integrated into the household without violence, but it did eventually happen. I'm not sure what flipped the switch; just a lot of time and a lot of patience. We did give Toeffe time outs, and kept bringing them together in controlled situations, but again it was really being all together as much as possible that finally got them acclimated to each other. We fed them together, petted them together, played with them together, used the water bottle and other distractions when we saw him stalking one of the girls, etc. I don't know how long you've had Tom, but if it hasn't been months and months you might try backing off to keeping them separate for a while and then doing a slower re-introduction. A small litterbox permanently kept in an area the girls can retreat to might make them more comfortable.

These days, Toeffe rarely jumps anybody to the point where we need to call him off or water-bottle him, and he even sometimes coaxes the others to chase him. (He's also wicked smart, so all we need to do is say his name in a disapproving tone of voice and he'll flop to the ground and try to look innocent. He's a bit of a bastard, but we love him.)
Zoë Tzoethor on March 7th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
HT is very nearly the spitting image of Ms Friskers - it's ridiculous. His face is just a smidge more masculine than hers is. :)

I really feel for the kitty trials you're going through - it very very hard getting Imri and Ysa to adjust to Ms Friskers, and there was a definite period of litter box use refusal. (Just in case the growling, hissing, and hiding did not tip us off that they were PEEVED.) What I can tell you, and just hope that it comes true for you, is that Ysa and Ms Friskers are now the best of friends and snuggle together, and Imri and Friskers play together all the time.


And - for us, anyway, it seemed for a long time like absolutely no progress was being made, and in fact that things were getting MUCH MUCH worse, and then, in the span of maybe a week, it suddenly seemed like it was all ok.