Cutie and Lydia, Ella Too

Discussion in 'Pets & Critters' started by Ken Anderson, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I am about to go to bed so I'll probably say something about Ella on another post tomorrow. At this time, I just wanted to mention that I have two twin sisters, both black cats, who have been with me, and one another, their entire lives. This is substantial because they turned twenty-four last month.

    At that advanced age of twenty-four, I just had to break up a fight a few moments ago. They were in beds on a table near my desk, next to one another, when they began slapping at one another. I don't know what the squabble was about but it was quite a slap fight.

    I broke it up, moved the beds a foot apart, and turned them around so that they didn't have to look at one another. Then I spent a few moments petting each of them. When they both put their heads back on the side of the bed, as if to sleep, I went back to my computer. I hadn't typed more than a couple of lines before they were slapping at one another again.
     
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  2. Nikos Pine

    Nikos Pine New Member
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    Pesky little critters. I used to have cats that were sisters that would be best friends certain times of the day, and worst enemies the others. I spent many hours trying to keep those two apart! Right now I only have one cat. He is more like a dog really, he is a flame-point Siamese, 2 and a half years old. He is my best little friend. Your cats sound like a riot though! Great story.
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    For the most part, cats are adorable little psychopaths, concerned first and foremost with themselves, pretty much like very young children in that respect. There are moments, and particular cats, who seem to challenge that, however. While I was sick with the flu, and with whatever it was that had me down for another week later, our one year-old, Ella, hardly left me alone long enough to eat or use the litter box. Nearly every time I woke up, she was there. The couple of times when she wasn't, she was just over by the window, where she watches out for birds and squirrels. As soon as she noticed I was awake, she came back over to me. Yeah, it could well be that she simply enjoyed the excuse to lounge around all day, but it looked like empathy to me, so I'll give her the points. My other cats, who have been with me for twenty-four years, barely came up to visit.
     
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  4. Pat Baker

    Pat Baker Well-Known Member
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    The older cats said to themselves you would be okay sooner or later. The younger cat said I have never seen this let me make sure he is okay since he makes sure I get food. Glad you are feeling better.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Here's a nice photo of Ella (1 y/o), Cutie (24 y/o), and a squirrel of unknown age. I keep bird/squirrel food on my fire escape so that the cats have something to look at, and it seems that the squirrel is enjoying the view too. We have three squirrels that come around and they have learned that the window provides safety for them, so they sometimes come right up to the window to look in at the cats, which drives Ella mad. She's funny, because she gets so excited she starts scratching on the window and slapping it, to get their attention, especially when she thinks they are going to leave. It's as if she's saying, "Come back here!"

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Mal Campbell

    Mal Campbell Well-Known Member
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    Talking about squirrels on the other side of the glass. I had a Great Dane named Pinny (notice the spelling - my husband named her - it was short for Pin Head). One day she was looking out the window and just going nuts. She was wagging her tail, and whining and crying. She kept leaping toward the window and then back. She was making such a fuss, I had to go look. On the other side of the glass was my garden - with a huge rock, about 3 feet tall. Sitting up on the rock, looking in at Pinny was this squirrel eating an acorn. It would gnaw on the nut, then hold it out like it was offering it to Pinny. Pinny would go nuts, and I swear, the squirrel laughed, pulled the nut back and started eating it again.
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    This morning, we had a baby squirrel at the feeder. I didn't have a camera, but I have never seen a squirrel that small before and she was by herself.
     
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  8. Mal Campbell

    Mal Campbell Well-Known Member
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    When my husband and I first got married, we had a backyard that had a huge oak tree in it. One day we were outside when we heard this little "thump". We looked around and this tiny baby squirrel had fallen out of the tree. Looking up, we saw a nest about 15-20 feet off the ground. The baby looked unharmed, so we picked it up and tried to get it to climb the tree, but it was so small. It would climb a few feet, then fall. We'd place him a little higher and he'd take a few steps, and fall again. Finally, my husband went and got a ladder, and gently placed the squirrel in the nest. He climbed down, we put our arms around each other and turned to go back inside, when we heard another "thump". Needless to say, my husband climbed the ladder again. The second time was a charm. Or at least he stayed in the nest long enough for us to get inside.
     
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  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I think this one was old enough to be out of the nest because was getting around okay, and had managed to find the feeder, which is on a second floor fire escape. He have have come up with one of the older ones another time, or followed them up. When he left, he jumped from the railing of the fire escape to the branch of one of our trees. I'm not sure where they nest, but I think they nest in the eaves of our neighbor's house because there are always tracks in the snow on his roof.
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Lydia has not been doing well lately. Keeping in mind that she is 24 years old, some problems can be anticipated, but she has had trouble keeping food down lately, and has been getting very thin. Whenever she is able to avoid vomiting for a couple of days, she starts to fill out again, but she isn't often able to do that. When I buy the blander, grain-free foods that she should have an easier time with, she won't eat them. Otherwise, she is always hungry but not very successful with whatever she eats. She is thin and also seems to be having trouble curling up naturally in her bed, and sits there in a position that doesn't look comfortable.

    We have an appointment with the vet this afternoon. At twenty-four, of course, my expectations are lessened but I am praying that I'll be able to bring her home again, and that there might be something that can be done to make her more comfortable for whatever amount of time she has left. She has been with me her whole life, and her mother and grandmother before her, and I took her great-grandmother in when she was just a kitten, so I have had cats from that family with me for more than half my life, and I'm sixty-three. Lydia and Cutie are the last of them. We do have Ella, but she's from another family.
     
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  11. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    How did the vet visit with Lydia go, Ken ? I noticed that you didn't post any good news, so I hope that it didn't turn out that she had to be put to sleep. Even when an animal has lived a good long life, and we know that they are not doing well, it is still such a hard decision to make .
    Sometimes, it is the last way that we are able to show our love for them, and we have to give them up ; but it is always heartbreaking.
     
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  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    She will still be with us for a while yet, I believe. She has hyperthyroidism and there's medication for that, so long as I can get to to take it. It's harder to mix it in with her food, since I have two other cats, and they often trade bowls at the last minute. Hyperthyroidism sometimes masks signs of kidney disorder so there is a chance that, once treated, the signs of kidney disease will appear, but the vet doesn't think so. So yes, for a 24 year-old cat, it's very good news.
     
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  13. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I am glad to hear that, Ken. Good luck with giving her the medication. If she won't eat it in her food, I have had reasonably good luck using one of those plastic eye-dropper things that they make for babies. Giving any kind of medicine to a cat (or dog) is often a struggle, and having two people to do it will help. I usually wrap them up in a large towel, say a prayer, and hope for the best as I try to squirt it down their throat.
     
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  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Cutie just amazes me. She's twenty-five years old and still pretty healthy, and able to learn new ways to manipulate me.

    I won't go into the whole story but I took in a feral cat that I had been feeding since she was a kitten. The feral cat was named Bird, and Cutie hated her. Bird was only a few months younger than Cutie, but about six years old before she graduated to house cat. Although she was with us, in the house, for more than fifteen years, Cutie and Lydia both treated her as if she didn't belong there. Yet, while Bird was still an outside cat, when she wanted to play, she would yell, usually while holding a toy in her mouth. The toy could be any piece of trash that she found and thought she might want to play with, and I sometimes brought her toys. Anyhow, a couple of other cats in the neighborhood would come running and they'd play.

    When Bird tried that in the house, both Cutie and Lydia ignored her. I would feel bad for her, so I would come and play with her. Cutie apparently noted, and filed away that this was a way of getting attention, but she never used it while Bird was with us.

    We lost Bird a year and a half ago (probably to a fox). Sometime after that, Cutie began carrying toys in to me, holding them in her mouth and yelling, as Bird once did. She didn't want to play, though. While she does sometimes play, that's not high on her list of demands. At first, what she would want would be for me to pick her up in her box. She has a cardboard box (that I change from time to time) that she likes to be dragged around the house in, or flown through the air in, or just held and petted while she is in her box. I have come to refer to that as box time. For over a year, I would know that when she carried a toy to me and yelled, she was wanting box time, and there were days when, five minutes after I had finished a box time, she was back with another toy. If I limited the number of toys available for her to "spend," she bring a pair of socks out of the laundry bag, a pen, or pretty much anything she could carry in her mouth.

    While she still likes her box time, she has carried this a few steps further. Once she could see that she had my attention (she stares directly into my eyes while meowing), she would ordinarily go into her box and sit down to wait. However, one day, instead of doing that, she trotted into the other room. Thinking she had changed her mind, I went back to the computer, soon she was back in my office, staring at me. I followed her, and she went to her food bowl, which was empty. She had learned that she could buy lunch with a toy. Now she uses that to let me know when she wants to go out or when anything else is amiss.

    In her twenties, she has learned to communicate. Get my attention with the toy, which she uses purely as a prop, then lead me to whatever it is that she wants. There are times when I can't figure out what it is that she wants, and I can see the frustration in her face. She's doing her part to communicate, but I'm too damned stupid to understand plain feline. She also gets frustrated when I don't let her out, because I don't let them out unsupervised anymore, and sometimes it's raining. When that happens, she doesn't seem to realize that the answer was no -- instead, she assumes that I am too stupid to figure out what she wants. I have been carrying her outside, hoping she will realize that I do understand her.

    When I go to bed, she tries to get me to get back up and come back downstairs by bringing me toys. At first, thinking she needed something, I would get up and follow her but she would just lead me back into my office, which is where she usually hangs out with me. When I stay in bed, she eventually settles into bed next to me, but when I get up, there will often be a trail of toys leading to the stairs, and sometimes all the way into the office, so that if I were inclined to follow the trail, it would lead me to where she wanted me to be.

    I sure am going to miss her. She is pretty healthy right now but, at twenty-five, I know that she can't go on forever. Her sister, Lydia, is very feeble and thin now. She doesn't eat as much as she should, and throws up a lot, and they are the same age.
     
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  15. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Ella likes ten-cent toys. Literally. Ella is the baby of the family, being about a year and a half old. For some reason, she is always batting dimes around the floor. If we leave change on our desks or on the table, she will pick out the dimes. I have never seen he with a penny, a nickel, or a quarter, but I find dimes on the floor all the time. She doesn't just slide them across the floor, but she bounces them down the steps too, and then carries them back up so that she can do it all over again. When she comes up against an obstruction, she will carry the dime in her mouth. When my wife makes the bed in the morning, she often finds dimes that Ella has brought up with her. When I was cleaning the cat tree, I found a dime on the top platform, which is near the ceiling. I don't know what it is about dimes, but she loves them.
     
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  16. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Cutie has her own song, by the way. Every cat should have a song. With my apologies to the The Kinks, it's sung to the tune of "A Well Respected Man." It goes like this.

    Cutie Kitty is oh, so good;
    Cutie Kitty is oh, so fine;
    Cutie Kitty is oh, so healthy
    in her body and her mind;
    She's a well respected cat about town;
    Doing the right thing so intuitively.
     
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  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    At about a year and a half, Ella is at the age where so many things are new to her and she is so excited about new experiences. She doesn't go outside regularly, but I let her out sometimes when I can be out there with her. Usually, she's pretty good about it but sometimes she doesn't want to come in when I'm ready to bring her in, and will go under the shed and refuse to come out, or cross the fence to the neighbor's yard. She knows she's wrong when she does that because she goes into her submissive stance, but cause and effect thinking doesn't come naturally to a cat.

    Today, I had all three of the cats outside. Lydia, one of the older ones, wanted to go back in the old way, up the fire escape and in through an upstairs window that I used to have a cat door in. Cutie was grazing on grass, and Ella was around the shed, where I know there are mice and voles, and who knows what else, although she hasn't caught any yet. Then I didn't see Ella. I called for her, and she didn't appear, as she sometimes (usually) does. So I bought Cutie back in the house, which she was okay with, and went to look for Ella. I was on my hands and knees trying to find her under the shed, but I didn't see her. I walked down the tracks calling for her, as there is an unused railroad track behind the house. Back to the shed, I thought I heard a meow but I couldn't tell where it was coming from. She sometimes believes that if she replies to my call verbally, she is fulfilling her part of the bargain. I called her again and she replied.

    Eventually, I realized that the meow was coming from above, and found her way up high in maple tree. She looked helpless. I'm 63, and it's been a few years since I've tried to climb a tree. So I called for her. She started climbing down backwards, which was working but, since she couldn't see where she was going, she was nervous about it. Then she came to a branch, where she could turn around, and then she didn't want to return to climbing down backwards. After a few attempts at coming down head first, she was back at the branch. She started to go back up, since that was easier, then returned to the branch. She started looking around, as if judging the distance for jumping to the ground, or to another tree, then decided against that.

    Finally, I had to get a ladder. Now, this was a solid metal ladder that I bought fifteen years ago when I could still carry the thing. Today, it was quite a chore but I managed to drag it over to the tree and, with even more difficulty, lift it up onto the tree. It was a high tree, but not a terribly thick one, so it didn't rest firmly on the tree. Nevertheless, I climbed that wobbly ladder. Once I got closer to Ella, she started to panic for some reason. Maybe she thought I looked pretty scary on a ladder or perhaps she thought her chances were better on her own. She climbed up to the next higher branch. Going up is easy for a cat but the curvature of their claws don't allow them to descend as easily. Fortunately, the ladder went higher, which meant that I had to go higher too, and I was able to get her.

    If she could talk, she'd probably say that the squirrels made it look so easy.
     
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  18. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    As I have mentioned earlier, Lydia has been pretty thin and feeble lately, and I have been concerned about her. I spoke to a veterinarian online, who suggest hypothyroidism as a possible cause of her trouble. However, the testing itself was going to cost $600, and that wouldn't include any treatment for the problem. Please understand that it's not the Lydia isn't worth it to me, as I love her very much. but she is twenty-five and I am looking at what might a bill in excess of a thousand dollars, which I don't have.

    She would go through periods where she was first in line waiting to eat, and would eat quite a bit in one sitting, then throw it all up over the next couple of hours. Then she would spend a few days turning down pretty much everything unless, for whatever reason, something really caught her attention.

    Looking for alternatives that were realistic, as far as my budget goes, I began looking for foods that she would both eat and not throw up. As thin as she is, she needs calories.

    She has started to beg for food while I am eating, which was previously her sister's domain, so I started preparing some cat-friendly versions of what I was eating, without all of the salt and peppers and stuff that I might add to it. I found that if I put a plate of chicken on the floor for her, she would eat very little of it, but if I fed it to her one small piece at a time, she could eat a lot of it, and she didn't seem to throw it up.

    She has been especially insistent on begging for cheese, which is not something that I would ordinarily feed to a cat, and still wouldn't want a younger cat to get hooked on eating cheese. But, as old and thin as she is, I am willing to give her anything that will add calories and energy, so I've given her a small amount of cheese every now and then.

    I've been paying attention to which cat foods she would eat, and which she wouldn't, and I've found that there is no consistency in that. Foods that she loved one day she would turn down another, and vice versa. However, she does seem to do better with the canned foods that have the most moisture content, so I've been looking for those. Still, she's not eating as much cat food as she had in the past.

    Doing these things, I have found that she has been vomiting less and when I pet her, I can see that she's not as bony as she was before, although she's not nearly as filled out as I'd like her to be.

    I spoke to a lady at a premium pet store in Portland, Maine, and she recommended a food additive that uses slippery elm and psyllium seed. Although intended as a hairball aid, she said that it often helps as a digestive aid. I started crumbling that into her food. and it seems to have helped, although at least half the time she doesn't eat it. Still, she has vomited only once in the last few days, and that was after eating grass outside.

    I ordered a can of CatSure, which is like Ensure for cats, on Amazon.com. I ordered just a single can, as an add-on item, because I wasn't sure that she would even drink it. I had tried it with her mom after her mom got cancer and was having trouble eating, but her mom wouldn't drink it.

    Over the next week, Amazon.com kept extending the shipping date, so I would gather that they were having trouble fulfilling the single-can offer. Then, because they couldn't send the $3.69 single-can order that I had placed, they sent me a case of CatSure at the same price, which ordinarily costs $47.88. That's one of the things I like most about Amazon.com. When something goes wrong, they seem to go out of their way to make it up. The CatSure arrived this morning, and Lydia liked it.

    Hopefully, with the combination of things that I am trying, she will be able to put some weight on. Already, she's put some on and, just this morning, she decided to leap up to the first shelf on the cat tree rather than using the stairs that she has been using lately, so I'm thinking she's feeling better.
     
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  19. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Ella caught her first bird today, and hopefully the last. I know how some of you may feel about cats killing birds, and I don't disagree with you really, except that I have to acknowledge that this is what cats were made to do. So, by definition, when she caught the bird, she was being a good kitty.

    She had caught a couple of mice in the house, which I had no quarrel with at all, and that was more than any of my other two cats have done in their lifetimes. I don't believe Cutie ever killed anything bigger than a bug, and I'm not sure about that. Lydia caught a bird once, held it for a few moments, then let it flay away, holding to catch and release principles.

    I don't let my cats outside alone anymore. Rather, I take them out with me for an hour or two on nice days. Meanwhile, Ella sits in the window watching the birds at the feeder, in full predatory stance, building up an ulcer while she fantasizes about catching one of them.

    Ella is just under a year and a half. We adopted her as a kitten when we were living up north, then took her with us when we moved back to Millinocket. Since our Millinocket house had been largely vacant for over a year, some mice had moved in. Only a few months old at the time, Ella caught one of them the first day, and another a couple of weeks later. She still stalks out parts of the house, so she probably detects others in the walls or somewhere.

    This morning, I let her and Cutie out the upstairs window, as there is a fire escape leading to the ground. Then I came around through the door so that I could be out with her, and Ella already had a bird in her mouth, desperately trying to get back inside the window with it so that she could "take it home."

    When I play Da Bird or other capture toys with her, when she is able to grab the toy, she want to carry it somewhere, so I refer to that as bringing it home. That's what she wanted to do with the bird.

    It was dead. The mice were dead. She doesn't torture them, but kills them instantly, and she had no interest in playing with it. She just wanted to bring it home. Whether she would have eaten it, I don't know because once I was able to distract her, I disposed of it. Yeah, I know that it probably would have been healthy for her but there's something about letting a cat tear a bird apart that repulses my wife, for some reason.

    Anyhow, as it stands, although I would really rather she not kill birds, she was being a good kitty, and it would have really confused her if I let her believe otherwise.
     
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  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    The fact that so many people today do not want, or won't allow, their cats to kill and eat birds and smaller animals today must be confusing to the cats. Their skills as predators were the main reason why people took cats into their farms and houses, and it hasn't been very many generations since that was what people wanted from their cats. Indeed, people living on farms are still looking for that.

    So when a cat comes home with a bird or a mouse in its mouth, it rightfully expects to be praised for being such a good kitty, for having done its job. How confusing it must be when they are punished for having killed a bird or a rodent, or when the feedback they get is one of repulsion rather than delight.

    So when Ella comes home with a bird, I let her know that she is a good kitty since she is doing what a cat is supposed to do, and she did it well. At the same time, I will try to reduce her chances of doing it again without actually confining her to the house.
     
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  21. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    [​IMG]
    I've mentioned it before, that Cutie has developed a means of communicating by "buying" time from me by bringing me toys. She has since extended that to using a toy as a prop to ask me to go outside, for food, or for a treat. She also bring them upstairs to me while I am sleeping, but I'm not sure what she wants with that one. I set one of my wildlife cameras up on the stairs last year, and caught Cutie going back and forth with different toys. Here she is a five o'clock in the morning, bringing a toy.

    [​IMG]
    It is not unusual for us to get up to find a trail of toys leading from the bedroom to the stairs. The best I can figure out is that Cutie is trying to get me to get up and follow her to my office, or wherever it is that she thinks I should be. She probably doesn't understand that people sleep eight hours or more at a stretch, and that we can't necessarily just sleep wherever we are, as she can.
     
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  22. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    Gee, @Ken Anderson that photo of your cats with the squirrels at the background is one for National Geographic. For all you know, Ella might be treating that squirrel not as an intruder but as a friend. Ella is like our dog Barbie who gets agitated by intruders. Even lizards would bother her and she would play with it (but she does not harm the lizard). So I guess Ella is the same, she does the scratching so you would let her out... and play with that friendly squirrel.
     
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  23. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    If that were the case, I'm afraid she would be quite energetic in her play. On nice days, I take the cats out and let them play in the yard while I'm out there, and they are pretty good about that. However, Ella has already killed one bird, and chased a squirrel up into the trees a couple of times. Unless she surprises them, I don't think she'd be able to catch a squirrel since they are quite fast and amazingly acrobatic. Ella goes pretty high up into the tree but the squirrels can go into the tiniest branches and jump from one tree to another. The squirrels scold her from the safety of the trees. One even came down lower, to be sure that Ella could hear her better.
     
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  24. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Two my cats, Cutie and Ella, were outside today; Lydia isn't so interested in going outside anymore, as she's not doing so well. When I let them out, I am either out there with them or I check on them periodically, to discourage them from wandering too far. I leave the porch door open for them so that they have a semi-protected (and cooler) area to retreat to if they should need to, since the door isn't left open wide enough for a dog or larger animal to get through. My wife and I were going to the store. When we opened the door to the porch, Ella was lying there with a dead mouse alongside her. She doesn't eat them, and probably doesn't even realize they're edible, but she wanted to stick with it to be sure that she got the credit for it, and not Cutie, who has never caught anything so far as I am aware. Once we got the mouse, she went back outside, all proud of herself.
     
    #24
  25. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I have a few toys that I use to play with her that are basically toys on a string tied to a stick, like Da Bird, which is her favorite.

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    Ella woke me up this morning by tapping me on the my arm, which was near the end of the bed. When I looked down, she was standing there holding Da Bird in her mouth, and wanting me to play with her. Apparently, I had missed the first summons because she had brought another string toy up on the bed. She had to open my dresser drawer and rummage through my clothes in order to retrieve these toys, which were at the bottom.
     
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    Lara Moss and Rachel Rodarte like this.

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