I have video evidence of a miracle!
On my other blog, I am participating in NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month – write a poem a day for the month of April), and today, I wrote a poem about Yuan, so I thought I would share it here, too. ‘Cuz he’s my man. As the saying goes, there is someone out there for everyone – and my someone happens to be three cats.
So in my ever-expanding quest to catify the apartment to a) make them happy and b) help ease tensions, I re-did a corner of the living room again, all new and kitteh-like. I moved the stairstep scratcher into the bedroom (its intended purchase was to provide steps to go up to the bed, though it has never been used that way), moved a litter box into that corner, added another wall shelf, cut the Cardboard House of Awesome in half, and added a sky chair.
Wait, why did I cut the Cardboard House of Awesome in half? It has four stories inside made of super industrial cardboard. Well, one of those stories went bye-bye after it was peed upon. Two more have buckled and been clawed to death (btw, yes – considering I’ve had the House for I think a couple of years, that’s durable for them to have lasted this long). They could no longer hop through all the stories up to the rooftop. So I took the inner floor that was still intact and one of the buckling ones that was the least damaged (it wouldn’t matter if it was buckling if it was upside down and on the ground level), and made it a two-story House of Awesome instead. I added a basket with the warming blanket I made them on top, and now they have a salvaged Cardboard House of Awesome!
Now, the sky chair. Have you ever seen those beds that are pillows hung from the ceiling with cloth, like this? I’ve long wanted to get one for my kitties, but I am, alas, but a poor blogger and funds are tight. So, I made a makeshift one of my own!
All I did really was take one of their pillows that my grandmother had made them years ago, and suspended it in a macrame plant hanger. Voilà! Instant kitty sky chair!
So this is what the new-and-improved cat corner looks like:
I hope they like the changes. Yuan has already been in the cup on the stairstep scratcher in the bedroom (I’m hoping its proximity to my pillows will facilitate two – or three – cats sharing bedtime with me with less of an issue, though it has been getting better already anyway). But so far the corner has not been claimed (I just put up the sky chair this afternoon, and was modifying the Cardboard House of Awesome at about three this morning). Maybe I’ll put out some catnip to signal that construction is complete.
Now if only I could mount a sky chair for *me* from the ceiling…
Deidre and Maggie have a heated discussion about exactly who can sit where on the papasan, and when.
And now it’s time for some cute Deidre photos:
Meanwhile, little brother was on the other side of the door, wanting to play:
Aaaaaand, the territory has shifted again.
They may not be snuggling with each other yet, but at least they share!
Maggie loves to hang out on top of the toilet lid. I’m not sure why, but that is one of her favorite spots. Maybe that shaggy cover is really comfy…
PS – Maggie has lost .4 pounds! Woohoo! The new noms strategy is working! ^.^
So first I must share the amazing news: not only are Maggie and Yuan sniffing noses now, but Deidre has reclaimed a bunch of territory and has been super brave! She has joined me on the bed again, including when Yuan was also on the bed, and though a couple of times there were growls and hisses, there were also a couple of times where absolutely nothing happened. The other day, she not only joined Yuan and I on the bed, but she climbed over me to be on the same side where he was, growled at him a little, he gave her kitty kisses/blinky eyes, and she calmed down. Her nose was less than two inches from his foot and both of them were chill. And to boot, she had to cross within inches of Maggie, who has taken to curling up on the floor next to the bed, to hop up and join us in the first place.
So on that note, I give you the latest addition of Things That Have Helped With The Peace Process: Spirit Essences by Jackson Galaxy.
Spirit Essences are holistic remedies that you can give either in food or water, or topically (may I just say I love the topical option? Especially if your kitties are sharing dishes, and/or you’ve got food bullies (*cough*Yuan*cough*), it can be hard to separate who gets what in food sometimes if they need different things. So I can put Peacemaker (which is for everybody) in the water dishes/fountains which everyone drinks out of, and apply the Bully Remedy to Yuan and the Self Esteem to Deidre on their fur).
First of all, I have to say that they must not taste funny, because I’ve been putting Peacemaker in their water for a while now and no one seems to mind in the slightest. At first I tried it in the gravity waterer and not the fountain, figuring if they were going to turn their noses up at the taste, they’d at least have an alternative and not go thirsty – but no one avoided it, so now it’s in both. So that’s a plus from the get-go.
Secondly, the topical option, which not only is great for getting everyone their different needs, is *so easy*. I just drop some drops into my hand, rub it across my palms, and pet them. Especially Yuan, who loves the thorough, full-body pets will get into this, but I think he actually enjoys the essence itself, because he seems to get excited when I say, “It’s good juju stuff time!” …which is what I call Spirit Essences. They are Good Juju Stuff.
But most importantly, they seem to be helping! We’ve made so much progress lately, which sure, you could say is a cumulative process, but the most dramatic changes have aligned pretty nicely with the continued use of Good Juju Stuff.
So – all three kitties and a human agree – Spirit Essences get two paws up!
Deidre, the eldest of my three kittehs, is considered a senior (she’s 13). Though she still looks and acts young most of the time, a recent discussion with a Facebook friend about litter box issues had me remembering some of the modifications that have helped her, and before her, my cat Butterscotch, who passed over the Rainbow Bridge several years ago.
So I decided to do a post about simple little modifications that may make life easier for your senior kittehs. ^_^
Ah yes, it’s our old friend the litterbox again! Sometimes seniors may have a hard time climbing into a high-walled litterbox. When we discovered that Butterscotch was having this issue, we got a paint roller tray (you know – like what you would find at Home Depot or Lowe’s when you are painting walls with a roller instead of a brush. The tray that you would pour the paint in to refill your roller). Think about it: a plastic tray that is very shallow on one end for easy entry, and gets deeper toward the back to keep the litter in. It worked like a charm. We also changed up his litter type. What you change it to may depend on your kitty’s needs, but for Butter, who was declawed in the front and arthritic, we were recommended (by the vet, as I recall) to try Yesterday’s News (the recycled newspaper kind). It’s not clumping (or at least, at the time they didn’t have a clumping version), but it was much easier on his paws. The texture was smooth little rolled up pellets – kinda like rabbit food pellets. Nothing sharp or small enough to wedge into his paws. There are other senior-friendly varieties of litter (as previously mentioned, I tried CatAttract senior, which Maggie did appreciate, but it got the human veto for the amount of dust it kicked up. As I am once again experimenting with litter types for entirely different reasons, I may try other silicone-type litters and see if they aren’t quite so dusty – reviews to come) which you may want to try, dependent on your kitties’ needs.
There are now litterboxes that have ramps going up into them, which may also be worth a try if your kitteh is having difficulties getting into the box. Even if it doesn’t seem like they are in pain, if they are going outside the box, there’s usually a reason. Of course take them to the vet to make sure they aren’t sick, but it could just be that it hurts!
Access is very important to a senior kitteh who may have a more difficult time jumping as high as they used to, or climbing onto unstable or awkward things. Deidre can jump, but not very high; since my bed is on its highest setting so I can store things beneath it, this means when she makes the jump, she *just* makes it onto the corner edge of the mattress, and scrambles the rest of the way up. So, I got her a scratcher that has, essentially, stairs, and put it next to the bed (*side note: that is not currently where it is thanks to the latest furniture arrangement, but that is soon to change again, thanks to the territory shift the kitties have recently undergone. Yes, I rearrange furniture based on the territory arrangement to try and make peace. It helps!). I thought, that was the perfect way for her to climb up without stressing herself. Funnily enough, she climbs up the stairs to curl up in the cup at the top of the scratcher, but has never used it as a stairstep to my bed. Silly human!
Still though, there are lots of stairstep options, and not just in cat tree form. There are regular, pet-sized stairs made out of all sorts of materials (cloth-covered foam, carpet-covered wood, even some with storage for toys and whatnot within the stairs!), or, of course, you could make your own. There are also ramps (though if the issue is an arthritic senior, I would only go the ramp route if you can keep the angle gentle enough that they don’t have to claw their way up it). If your senior has a favorite spot that they no longer frequent, try giving them a hand getting to it and see if they don’t return to it.
Check with your vet first on this one, of course, but Butter was very much helped by a supplement for his joints as he got older (and I recently asked the vet about starting Deidre on it, so perhaps she’ll have an easier time making that crazy bed-jump if she still chooses to not use the stair steps when they go back next to the bed). There are lots of options here, too – chewables, capsules that you can open up and mix in canned food (that’s how Butterscotch took them), etc.
The Weight Issue
Finally, and I know this is a tough one as two of my three are overweight as well, but there is the weight issue. Just like in humans, a kitteh carrying around extra weight can sometimes have a harder time moving around because of it – both in the jumping/running/climbing sense, and also in the grooming themselves sense. Ironically, Deidre is the only one who is not overweight. Between Yuan the food bully and Maggie who is just now learning that toys are fun and not evil, they BOTH clock in at 17 pounds (Deidre is a svelte 12.8 pounds in comparison). And yes, they have all been on a diet. But now we have been making a point to get more playtime in – both to tire out Mr. Man so he doesn’t take out his exuberance on his sisters, and also to give them all fun and exercise – and hopefully, that will help the weight come off. Find the right toys that your kittehs respond to (Da Bird is often an agreed upon favorite) and make play a part of your day. And if they need a diet, put them on a diet. You may even need to change their food type. Also to consider: Butterscotch had food allergies that we never realized when he was younger (he didn’t exhibit any symptoms like itching or rashes), but once we found out and started getting him special allergy food from the vet (with certain proteins, such as duck and venison), the weight finally came off. I know Yuan is overweight because he’s a food bully (we’re working on that), and Maggie came to me overweight and uninterested in play (we’re also working on that), so I don’t think it’s an allergy issue for them. But if your cat is active and eating a normal amount and STILL won’t lose weight, check with the vet to see if it might be allergies. We couldn’t believe the difference once we changed Butter’s diet!
So there are a few ideas to help your senior kittehs. If you have any others, please leave them in the comments below!