We left the computer room door open last night for the cats. Holly reported speed trials down the hallway at 3AM. I was awakened to Riker playing with my toes through the covers. I spotted Mara sitting in our bedroom doorway, and approached the bed several times, and and one point jumped up on the bed with us. When I said hello, she bolted.
Progress. Mara decided to join Riker in playing with us this morning.
So it’s been a week. Riker is pretty much integrated into the family: not afraid of much, goes where he pleases, and demands play time. Mara is still pretty shy and keeps to herself.
We finally gave up on Mara hiding constantly, so all the books on the shelves were pushed back to the wall, cutting her hiding places to just a couple. She let me pick her up yesterday and I was able to hold her for a bit. After a slightly traumatic fall from the top level of a bookshelf, she’s a little shy of heights at the moment.
We took a page from a cat training website that suggested you spend time in the room you’re keeping the cats in to get used to their new home. After getting home, I spent some time on the computer, then moved to the recliner to lounge. Riker discovered my computer keyboard and a few unfortunate paw-presses later my Minecraft character was swimming in lava. After tiring him out with some stick play, he joined me on the recliner and took a nap.
Later that evening, I was on the floor giving Riker another workout with a stick toy. Mara emerged slowly from her hiding place behind some books and headed to the litter box. Instead of hiding, Mara sat down to watch Riker play. I started to wave the toy near Mara and she slowly started to react, reaching for the toy and laying on her back. She’s still running away when approached, but she’s definitely starting to settle down.
Riker, on the other hand, wants out of the room and access to the rest of the apartment.
I woke up late by my standards Sunday morning, and went to the computer to surf and write my day three post. After 45 minutes there was no sign of either cat. I did some chores in the kitchen, and wondered if they had returned to Mara’s drawer overnight.
Sure enough, I rolled out the drawer and both were sleeping together inside. I immediately closed the drawer, but Riker was awakened and immediately proceeded to the bedroom for morning love. Mara at some point left the drawer and came to the bedroom, but found a hiding place behind a dresser.
We went out for errands, and returned home a couple of hours later. Riker popped out of wherever he was hiding to play and help with laundry, while Mara stuck to her hiding place in the bedroom.
While they had free reign of the apartment Saturday night, we have decided to move them both back into the computer room starting tonight. Mara seems comfortable enough if we’re not in the same room. We placed a plate of wet food out for them before going to bed, and both ate together shortly after we closed the door.
Riker and Mara was semi-active while we were both at work Saturday. I tried playing some music for them remotely at one point, but apparently it was the wrong genre or volume level as both returned to under the recliner immediately upon hearing it. Holly came home and opened the computer room door and left it open. I came home shortly afterwards, but neither cat wanted to come out.
A couple of hours later Holly went to the computer with wet food in hand to entice them out. Riker took to feeding immediately, and stayed out afterwards. I gave him a workout with a stick toy, and throughout the evening his shyness melted away. He was running between the computer room and bedroom with ease, and discovered the top of our bed, which he loves playing on. He also allowed us to pet him for the first time, and got rather demanding as the night continued, wanting face rubs and butting his head up against us looking for more contact. His purring engine was in high gear.
Mara on the other hand continued her hiding ways. At one point we could not physically find her for over an hour. I had swept the apartment at least three times looking for her.
It was on the third sweep that I found Mara. I was checking our couch to see if Mara had crawled under one of the sections, and discovered something I hadn’t known about. Our couch has three sections, and the center section has a hideaway drawer at ground level for storage. I slid it open and Mara was tucked into a ball in one corner. She didn’t leave easily, and bolted for the computer room when I tried to pick her up.
Bed time found Riker on our bed, checking us out and playing with my toes though the covers.
After dinner Holly was determined to get some kitten time in, however Mara was having none of that and went into hiding behind the bookshelf. An attempt to extract her from her hiding place didn’t last long, and Holly got the cartoon look of horror from Mara before she bolted.
Riker also took refuge behind the bookshelf at another height level, but we were able to lead him around the shelves with a stick toy. He eventually made his way to other, more open shelves, and then back down to the ground. I was able to get him to play for a good 30-40 minutes, and slowly got him closer and closer during play.
I went to bed, but Holly kept an eye on them for a couple more hours. Both cats came out to eat, use the facilities, and play with each other several times overnight. When I got up at 6am, I found the remnants of a party: water empty/splashed out, food decimated, and the litter box destroyed.
Both went into hiding instantly. Riker claimed the area under a recliner, while Mara bolted for a spot behind books on a shelf at ground level.
We checked in on both a few hours after moving in, and Riker decided to make a break for the bookshelf as well, then both cats moved into the corner where the shelves meet, somewhat exposed. We got out a can of wet food and Riker did take some off a spoon. Mara wasn’t interested, and her body language was screaming “scared”.
I set up a webcam connected to my workstation in the room, and fired up a program to stream the video, and send screenshots when motion was detected to e-mail. Just before we left, I was able to coax Riker out with a laser pointer. However, it appeared he was more interested in returning to the recliner. We left the cats alone and closed the door. Mara eventually joined Riker under the recliner a few minutes later, evidenced by the webcam stream.
At first I thought I had the motion detection configured wrong. We didn’t get any notifications all night. I went to work Friday and had the video stream on a monitor all day. No sign of either cat. All quiet.
On the way home around 4:30, I got a notification. Movement. Riker decided to crawl out, and Mara joined him a couple minutes later. Both checked out the food and water, the litter box, and did some investigating of the surroundings. This lasted for about half an hour, until I got home. They both heard me come in the front door and immediately returned to the recliner to hide.
Vinni, our cat of nineteen years, had to be put down last month. She stopped eating suddenly, and a trip to the vet confirmed our worst thoughts: she had some abnormal growths in her abdomen. Holly said she had been preparing for the day, but it obviously wasn’t easy on either of us. Vinni was a pretty wonderful cat, although she’d slowed down the last year or two, and the last few months were pretty much sleep and eat.
Whether or not new felines were to be introduced into our family was not a question of if but when. Holly did some searching and located a pair of cats that were available for adoption from a “spay and stay” organization. These groups take in wild or feral cats, get them fixed, and see if they’re interested in being domesticated. Ours were caught at the critical time where they could be socialized. Last Sunday we visited the Petco in Vernon Hills, where the Grayslake-based group had an adoption event, and we got to meet Riker and Minuet in person. Minuet spent most of the time in the cage, sometimes trying to sleep, where Riker was out the cage and wanted to run. The decision to bring them into our family was pretty much sealed at that point.
Flash forward to Thursday, and the foster mom brought Riker and Minuet to their new home. We put them up in our “computer room”, which is a second bedroom that has bookshelves and a workstation on two walls of the room. Litter box in the corner, a scratch-bed, basket bed, dry food and water bowls, and some toys were placed in the room. Both cats disappeared instantly, Riker hiding under a recliner in the room, while Mara (name change!) took up residence behind books on a floor-level shelf.