Smokey in His Room

He's right next to me looking at the catnip bag in my hand.
He’s right next to me looking at the catnip bag in my hand.

What a difference being in a home and being able to take his time getting accustomed to the space. No more hissing or swatting, lengthy meowy statements and hangry reactions when people visit. Smokey has been able to take his time and find his own way into socialization. I visited him on Wednesday and took the photos in this article.

Smokey has been at Shannon’s house for a little over a week. Each day he made progress, and since last week’s update he’s actually begun spending more time outside his crate, looking out the window, and even sitting near Shannon while she works at the desk in that room. Inch by inch he’s explored the room, rubbed his face on things and scratched the scratchers Shannon has in there. He has climbed onto the furniture and sat here and there, sits in a bed on top of his crate to look out the window, where a bird visits every day, and even discovered himself in the dresser mirror and talked to himself.

Shannon has observed more and more about his personality and reactions to his space, and learned he likes catnip and chasing the red dot, but also still loves his food and toy puzzles.

He’s given up the hangry desperation for food, and even eats less than he did before, back to a normal two cans a day. He still loves his treats, though; because we knew we’d be using a lot of them and he had had little opportunity for real exercise we only got him freeze-dried meats and he loves them.

First time out, after the red dot.
First time out, after the red dot.

A little virus

Over the weekend Shannon called concerned because he wasn’t eating, and was actually hiding in his carrier, under the bed that was in there. By that time he rarely went into the carrier, much preferring his hammock. It was similar enough to how he’d hidden earlier in the week when we discovered he was frightened by the unknown sounds coming in the window. She said she wasn’t sure what she’d done to scare him. But I pictured that and knew it wasn’t the activity of a frightened cat, I felt he was ill. He hadn’t vomited, but that sort of lethargy and especially the hiding is typical. Smokey can be a drama queen with hiding just as he was with his overdone greetings while he was still in the basement. He was under the bed but with his nose pointed toward the door of his carrier, so Shannon could just see it. He wouldn’t take treats from her, but when she left them in there he ate them after she’d left the room. I contacted Margo just in case he’d have to go for treatment, but since he had eaten the treats, not vomited or produced diarrhea, he could go a day before we had to make a decision. As it turned out he was a little more active the next morning, then ate in the afternoon and came out of his crate by evening. It was likely a little virus and he had a fever. It’s impossible to figure out where little viruses like this come from and how they get to a cat who’s been primarily in a crate indoors for three months, but we are glad it came out okay for him.

Red dot is flying around the room.
Red dot is flying around the room.

Friendly with Shannon

Shannon described how he got up on the printer and on the table next to the desk, and also on the desk itself while she was working, looking out the other window, walking around the computer monitor, just like a regular cat. While he sat on the table next to the desk she could easily touch him and rubbed his nose, which he loves. We’ve been trying to figure out when to break the ice with more petting, like rubbing his cheeks, and he now seems he’d be amenable to it.

Second time out, he stops and looks at Shannon.
Second time out, he stops and looks at Shannon.

Getting to know me again

I hadn’t seen him since last week, letting him settle into a nice regular schedule (and enjoying the return of the time it took to visit him each day), and I wondered how he would react today. He was a little strange with me, hiding when I came in the room. He was hiding on top of the carrier under his hammock, and I offered treats, even touching his nose with them, but he wouldn’t take them unless I set them down and got out of his crate.

Shannon said it wasn’t unusual for him to hide when he heard someone come in the door downstairs, so we gave him some time, and then at her suggestion I coaxed him out with catnip and then the red dot. He came down to the door of his crate, nibbled some catnip on a scratcher, then went into his carrier and looked at me through the grid on the side. More treats, catnip, and finally the red dot, and he slowly came out and enjoyed the catnip, scratched his scratchers, then chased the red dot for a bit.

Second time out, after the red dot.
Second time out, after the red dot.

I was about to sit down on the floor because I knew my standing made him uncomfortable, but with my hip still a little out of place I am awkward getting onto the floor and that can be a little frightening for a cat when I’m angling myself this way and that to keep from hurting my hip. But he decided to go back into his crate and into his carrier, even climbing under the bed in there. I explained to Shannon how he was a little overstimulated by my presence, though I was sure by that time he remembered me, but by the activity and my standing up, and he needed to take a break. It’s a normal thing for a cat who wasn’t accustomed to something to be okay with it for a while, then not be okay; stress builds up with new things and they have to take a break from it.

I did get down on the floor, and in 10 minutes or so he got out from under the bed in the carrier, then looked at me through the side of the carrier, ears up and eyes round. I offered him more catnip and this time he came all the way out, followed the catnip and scratched on the scratchers, then walked right over to me and sniffed the edge of my skirt on the floor.

Blurry, but this was when he walked right up to me and sniffed my skirt.
Blurry, but this was when he walked right up to me and sniffed my skirt.

I pinched up some catnip and sprinkled it on one of the scratchers near, and then held it up against his nose and he had a good sniff. After another 10 minutes or so of play he went back in his crate, ate a little bit and went into the carrier. At that point Shannon had to leave for an appointment and she closed the door on his crate.

Shannon said she now recognized his doing that activity while she was in there too, going back into his crate for a while where he wouldn’t see her, then coming back out and resuming what he’d been doing.

Moving Smokey along

Over the next few days she’ll leave the door of his crate open for him to come and go as he pleases, and also ask her boyfriend if he’ll feed Smokey so Smokey can experience more people. I will start going over every other day to spend time and keep him accustomed to me, and to several people coming into his room.

Smokey is able to find his way around and get accustomed to people at his own pace, and so far he’s kept moving forward. At this point he’s ready to be actually petted, and to meet other people. Send him purrs for this next test!

Would you like to help?

As always, I love being able to help cats. My goal is not just to go out and trap or accept cats, but also to help people resolve issues or help find affordable services, and be a good example to others who are following. I write my articles to give lots of information so that others learn how to do this too, and if they find a cat in a similar circumstance they have an idea what’s entailed, whether it’s TNR or fostering to adopt. Even more than fostering, bringing a cat in from a perilous life outdoors is so rewarding. Helping a person with their cats, even if it means taking some of them to be adopted by someone else, is difficult but often necessary, and I try to be as kind and compassionate as possible.

Of course, it’s also time-consuming and has its expenses, and I’m on a tight budget. Thanks to those of you who have sent donations that paid for spays and neuters and food for Smokey and the ferals we TNRd. If any of my readers would like to help me with the spays and neuters for these cats, or gas money, no small amount when running back and forth to fosters and transporting to surgery and to surrender appointments, I would really appreciate it. You can always buy something from my website including the Pittsburgh CAT calendar, below. I’m always working on new items for cat lovers to give as gifts to others or to themselves. Donations can go to my Paypal address bernadette (at) bernadette-k (dot) com, or you can go to Portraits of Animals and purchase a gift certificate in amounts of $5.00 or more and let me know it’s for me, or whatever else you’d like to do.

Thanks for following me, and thanks for reading!

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Bella! Tote Bag Gray Kitty

Bella! tote bag gray kitty design
Bella! tote bag gray kitty design

Gray kitty design even has round eyes just like Smokey! O.M.Geeeee! It’s Bella! On a bag with green button eyes just like her big round eyes! Bella, in silhouette, is stenciled at the bottom of a bag and with just big blue-green eyes that are two-hole buttons sewn on with black thread. Others don’t live in a house full of housepanthers, so I added the white, gray and ginger kitties who are her foster friends. Read more and purchase.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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