The Coon Cat Times

So, Trooper (and Mozart, and Sprite; and Socks, and Hexapuma before them) hates to Travel In the Box.  Hates it.  He doesn’t growl or bite or claw, but he does run around the house like a crazed box-avoider who weighs upwards of 16 pounds, all of it muscle, and when you do finally catch him, he extracts his Other Eight Legs(tm) and flails them all around while you’re trying to get him into the box (see 16 pounds, muscle, above).  And then, once you do manage to get him into the box, and you’re exhausted and ready for nap, it takes two of you to carry the box out to the car (see 16 pounds &c…, above), whereupon Trooper commences in to moaning, and drooling, and asking in his quaint, quacky little voice what he’s done to deeeeesserrrrrrrrve tttttttttthhhissssssss.  And by the time you get him where he’s going, which is, yes, usually the vet, he’s a mess and so are you.

What I do for Mozart (and did for Socks and Hexapuma) is wrap him in a towel, carry him out to the car and hold him in my lap while Steve drives.  Even in his days as a young athlete, he was kind of a marshmallow, and I didn’t really worry about carrying him anywhere.

Trooper and Sprite are another matter.  Trooper’s big and strong and forceful; Sprite is big, squirmy, and scratchy.  So, I haven’t dared the towel.  However, we did have several cats who used to walk on a cat string.  Archie was the first (poor Archie had Much to endure, coming in as my first cat after I’d had a lifetime of dogs, but he actually liked to go outside in the grass and to visit his favorite flowers, and if the price of that was wearing the stupid blue string, and have Mom tag along, that was a bargain he was willing to strike).  We therefore bought a harness and a leash, and have been trying to reach an accommodation with the two newbies.

Sprite wants Nothing to Do with the project, even though I bought a pink glittery leash especially with her in mind (also, it was on sale).  She screams and rolls around and tries to kick the harness off, and, when that doesn’t work, she races around the house approximately three feet off the floor.  I think the plan here is to run so fast that she runs out of the harness.  This hasn’t worked so far, and I’ve needed to wait until she’s exhausted herself, then bribe her with cat treats so I can get close enough to take the harness off.

Trooper, however, allows me to put the harness on him, and will wear it for half-an-hour, 45 minutes at a time.  He doesn’t particularly care for the fact that it jingles (the loop that the leash snaps into is metal).  Granted, he clings to my side the entire time (so I know Exactly where he is when I get the notion to take the Stupid Thing off), and his demeanor is that of a cat Sorely Tried, but he doesn’t freak out, and he doesn’t hold a grudge.  I guess my next step is to snap on the leash and walk with him around the house; carry him with the equipage on.  And if that works, I’ll try to carry him outside and down to the car.  I’m pretty sure he won’t willingly walk down the stairs to the driveway, but will just do the belly-down-I-weigh-five-thousand-pounds-and-you-can’t-move-me thing that cats do.

So, anyway, this is why Trooper has my nomination to the Cat Hall of Fame for Most Patient Cat EVER.

In other cat news, Trooper and Sprite have apparently decided that it would be Much Better for Grandpa Mozart to have company, rather than being a grumpy old cat in the corner, and they’ve been taking Active Steps to impose a more comfortable social order.

Sprite has already been cleaning Mozart’s ears for him from time to time, which he accepts with a certain attitude of  bemusement.  The other day, when I was working on the couch, he came up and snugged next to me.  Usually, he will Not Allow another cat on the couch during such times; it’s Him and Me and nobody else.

But, Sprite came by, saw that there was half a couch untenanted, and jumped up. Mozart tensed, but she didn’t even look at him, just flopped over on her side, flipped her tail casually over his rump and stretched her back foot out until it touched his back foot.  She went to sleep.

Mozart looked up at me as if to ask, “What just happened?”  But he was already relaxing again, and finally sighed, put his chin on his front foot and went to sleep, toe-to-toe, and Sprite’s tail still covering him.

Trooper is also making an obvious effort to be with Mozart.  Yesterday, for instance, it was cold and rainy, and Mozart wanted to sleep in his Special Warm Corner in my office.  The problem being that it’s currently filled with books from the bedroom, which I moved in anticipation of the Return of the Contractor.  Mozart threw a temper tantrum, by which I mean that he started to yell, stomped under the desk, and instead of lying down on the nice, comfy towel down there, started whaling the hell out of various wires, yelling all the while.  Trooper, who had been sleeping in the red basket, jumped down, and went under the desk.  The whaling and the yelling stopped, and, when I looked down a couple minutes later, Trooper was lying on the towel and Mozart was next to him, up against the UPS, which was probably a much warmer situation than he would have had, even in His Corner.

So, that’s the State of the Cats here at the Cat Farm, as of Saturday, June 14.

Here, have some cat spam:

Mozart, June 13, 2014 Photo by Sharon Lee
Mozart, June 13, 2014
Photo by Sharon Lee
Mozart and Trooper: two cats on a box Photo by Sharon Lee
Mozart and Trooper: two cats on a box
Photo by Sharon Lee

6 thoughts on “The Coon Cat Times”

  1. Having a houseful of red and therefore especially feisty Maine Coons and living in tornado alley, running around in circles after cats when it’s time to crate them in a hallway with tornado imminent isn’t an option. One thing that has worked excellently well for every cat so far (and there are/were many over the years) is to feed them treats (Gerber meat-only baby food) or specially beloved canned food inside a carrier every so often. This means that my cats come running when they hear me open a carrier door.

    Makes trips to the vet so much easier (although it probably won’t help with Trooper’s carsickness; there are great bibs – I can get you a link if you want). I’ve found transporting them in the carrier to and from the car and then having them sit on my lap has helped with some carsick cats but not all (Dawn is the producer of what I call the Vampire drool of doom…).

    Harnesses are fun. My cats think their legs have fallen off when I put it on them, but the second they hear the vacuum lid pop off the Gerber baby food or the carrier door, it’s amazing to see how fast the legs work again. I’d caution about depending on the harness to stay on once outside if a cat becomes really spooked. I’ve seen a cat levitate out of even a figure-8 harness. On the positive side, I personally know several Maine Coons who love walking on a leash. So, there’s hope. 🙂

  2. I’d love a link to the bibs, thanks.

    Hadn’t thought of feeding treats in the carrier; I will try that, since I’m pretty sure that Sprite, at least, isn’t going to get on board with the harness. She does love her treats, though…

  3. It takes a while to train them. At first, I just had a carrier with door open in the living area for a while. Eventually somebody would get curious and just hang out in it, then I started feeding our regular canned near it and put one bowl inside, with whichever cat inside getting locked in for the duration of the meal. They realize fast that nobody can steal their food, if they are in the box. 🙂 It’s a process but, knock on wood, it even worked for the 18lbs ‘Chicken Little’ Mimo who is afraid of his own shadow (and it’s a big one 🙂 and who hated carriers with the passion of a true phobe.

    I know this lady from cat shows. Persians tend to get their fronts wet when they drink in the show hall so most Persian breeders put bibs on them between rings. If you mention that you have a large Maine Coon male neuter, I’m sure she could make you a bigger/rectangular one that would compensate for the longer/deeper chest and, if needed, neck. 🙂

    Hope this helps. Good luck (oh, I also clip claws a day or two before an anticipated vet trip if it wasn’t close to the normal bi-weekly clipping. That helps with accidental injuries).

  4. We have left the carriers out in the living room since the New Cats moved in. I read about crate training for cats and that was step one. They now regard the crates as superior even to sofas for warm naps in the winter (we put them where a vent blows into them.) Of course, as noted above , this would not help for stress if travel. We’re also trying a thindercoat on our formerly feral girl. It works with varying degrees of success on different cats but is worth a try IMO.

    Glad the kids are buddying up to Motzart and he is accepting it. Our longtime resident still wants not much to do with Those Kids.

  5. Wow. I thought putting a harness on and taking my bunny out to munch grass was bad! She’d stick her Very Strong Hind Legs up against the doorframe in an effort to avoid going out the door.
    She liked grazing once she was out, though.

    Thank you for the lovely cat porn and the amusing stories. Have you ever noticed the best stories come from the most challenging pets?

    PS I picture Mozart howling, “Get offa my LAN…”

  6. Giggling out loud at work again; so familiar with these types of antics. I was just thinking it’s high time to deal with carrier-induced hysteria. Though the house terrier does mean the bribing-with-food will have to be handled with care. But once he can be gotten to be in the carrier calmly, I might try just taking the cat out to the car, giving a treat, and then back in the house. And then maybe short, non-destination rides.
    I should give the harness another go, too. It was not a success in the past, but it would be awfully nice to have some options in the event of emergency evacuations, that didn’t involve chasing an angry and hysterical cat all over the house.

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