Likes: getting to go outside (on a leash only!), bathrooms, water in a glass, watching critters, talking, looking out windows, me!
Pet-Peeves: having to wear a leash when he goes out, closed doors, not getting attention when asking for it, getting stuck somewhere because he snuck in
Favorite Toy: toy mice, dragging a string around for Forest to chase, cabinet doors, watching critters, catsitter DVD
Favorite Nap Spot: on the comforter on the bed, blanket in the bathroom, couch back, on bed with people
Favorite Food: FRESH dry cat food (if its been in the bowl 5 minutes its now old...), occasional wet food treats are OK
Skills: opening cabinets, opening closet doors, intentionally plays with other cats by dragging toys in front of them, hiding and recovering toys from cabinets, figuring out complicated things, seeming to respond logically to people talking to him
Arrival Story: I work at the Champaign County Humane Society, and he came in as a surrender from someone who had found him a year before as a stray, and kept him as an indoor outdoor cat, with no name, and little care given. They brought him in because "he's going through that spraying stage and I don't feel like dealing with it." He is a VERY hyper kitty and loves other cats, but few could put up with him, and people didn't really want to get such a crazy seeming cat. Forest DID put up with him, and he was a doll, so I took them home together about 6 months after he came in.
Bio: Stargazer is a super smart, and very talky kitty. After examining his voice, behavior, some of his markings, size, etc, it seemed very likely that he has some bengal mixed in there. He often seems to understand and respond to what people say, sometimes with a series of meows that are actually fairly easily translated in to sensible responses....he's a goof ball who likes to drink out of the toilet, or glasses on my nightstand, and insists on trying to open or demanding that we open any closed doors in his way. He also is very fond of bathrooms for some reason, and INSISTS on being in them any time we are, and many times we are not, and has been known to hang out in the sink or tub, or just lounge on a blanket on the floor (in addition to drinking from the toilet). He tends to get extra affectionate in the bathroom...its a little odd, but its one of his quirks!
UPDATE: October 12, 2007: Stargazer went in to get his annual vaccinations, and we ended up leaving with no shots and an appointment for the next week. The vet noticed an "irregular irregular heartbeat" - his heart is skipping beats randomly - not in any sort of pattern. This is new for him, and she was not comfortable vaccinating him yet. He'll be going in for a full cardiac workup (CBCs, X-rays, BP, ECG, etc) to look for potential health problems. Besides being an obsessive compulsive groomer when he gets stressed, he's been the super healthy kitty, so this is a bit concerning. Here's hoping all will go well.
UPDATE: October 22, 2007: Stargazer is at the vet right now, and they just called. The news is not good. There are significant abnormalities. X-rays showed an enlarged heart. The ECG was abnormal - there were premature ventricular beats, and increased t-wave, which means he's not getting enough oxygen to the tissue. His blood pressure showed an increased diastolic. No heart murmurs though. They suspect he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. They are doing an ultrasound this afternoon to verify this, and help us gauge the severity of the problem. Whatever the diagnosis, the findings are not good. He's still a very active and (from what I can see) he's asymtomatic, but heart problems can cause severe problems in a blink...updates will be added as more information occurs..
That was a strange place. There were LOTS of cats there, and dogs, and other interesting smelling things, some that were little fuzzy mouse looking things, and some with feathers....it was kinda spooky, but also interesting. When I first got there this human poked me with some sharp things she called "vaccines" and then told me my name was going to be "Stargazer" like one of her favorite flowers. I never had been given a human name before! Progress? Well, hard to say at that time....The cats were all in small boxes with bars that are called cages. They put me in one too. THAT was a REALLY boring place to spend most of the day. There was food, and a litterbox, and they gave me toys and stuff too, but it still was such a small place!
I started not feeling so well, my mouth kinda hurt, and I felt under the weather. They moved me to a smaller room where not many humans came in, and there were cats in separated cages with solid walls and only bars on the doors. The humans said something about "calici-virus" and started squirting some yucky liquid in my mouth regularly for a while and giving me canned food. The canned food was yummy and didn't hurt as much. After a while my mouth even stopped hurting!They poked me some more with another of those "vaccine" things, then they moved me back to the bigger room with lots of cats. Shortly after they took me into another room that smelled of cleaning things and other stuff, and poked me with something else. I fell asleep and woke up feeling kinda groggy later, and was somewhat uncomfortable under my tail. I realized as I woke up that they had stolen my...well, my ability to make kittens...listening to them I heard one say I had been neutered so that I couldn't make kittens. It also was supposed to make me not want to spray to mark stuff anymore, and not want to wander as much. Nonsense, I still wanted out of this cage!!! It did stop hurting after a while though, and I found that I didn't even miss them that much - I wasn't so interested in trying to make kittens or spray stuff anymore - I could focus on trying to work with training humans more now.
Some of the cats got to be in with other cats...they let me play with some of the other cats, but the humans kept saying I was too rough and energetic, and annoyed the other cats. I didn't mean to be annoying, but I was just SOOOO excited to be out of that little cage, I don't understand why the other cats weren't as excited. So I ended up sitting by myself in the cage. Some humans would take me out to play now and then, but they all said I was too hyper and too much to deal with. Lazy humans...
There were also humans I saw almost every day, they cleaned my cage and let me out to play in the mornings before all the different humans came in all day...and they gave me fresh food.The human who gave me the first vaccines and my name was one of them. She liked to talk to me and said I was a funny kitty - apparently that means she liked me. It seems I was making some progress with these humans, however slow it was. If I could get them to accept me it would make the process of training them to serve me much easier.
There was another cat there too, who that human seemed to like alot as well. He had a funny eye so he couldn't be in with other cats either. He seemed to share my sentiment of cages being boring, and would often tear around the room and climb all over the place when he was out. She often spent extra time talking to him too. I understood from others that he has lived there his whole life, never been outside. Poor kid. He was about a year younger than me, but that was still a long time to spend in a cage. And with no one to play with. I sometimes managed to trick the humans into thinking I was a different cat, there were so many, and got put in a cage with another cat...it never lasted long, all these cats were such tattle-tales, they would throw such a fuss about me wanting to play and the humans would figure it out. The human who I first met there didn't seem to make that mistake much, I guess she could recongize me.
She brought another human in sometimes, and would bring him over to see the kitty with the funny eye and me, as well as a couple other kitties. She talked about kitties coming home with her at some point, and said the kitty with the funny eye needed a home, and a kitty friend, but was very hyper so needed a hyper friend. There were a few kitties that would probably do well with him, but they would have to see who was still here when he could come home.
The other human stopped by alot and said hi to all of us, and she was there every day too. It was getting very crowded though, because spring had come, so the girl cats were having kittens. They talked about having to combine cats into cages so that they had space, or the ones that had been around for a really long time and weren't going to find homes would have to be "put to sleep." I don't generally see a problem with sleeping, but the way the humans said it I could tell there was more to it than the word said. They always seemed worried and sad when they said it, and when they took animals in back to be "put to sleep" the animals didn't come back out. From what I heard and some of the other animals I determined that it meant that the animals had been made to pass over to the rainbow bridge. Definately not something I wanted yet, I still had to master human training!
Then something interesting happened, one of the other humans put me in with the kitty with the funny eye. They said his name was Forest, and that the other human who I first met there, named Beth, was going to take us home eventually anyways, so it was ok for us to be in together. That was fun! Forest and I played almost constantly for the first several days. The human named Beth, who had named be brought in fabric things with jingly, shiny things on them, and stuck them around our necks. She called them collars and ID tags, and said it was so we wouldn't get lost easily and could be found. I didn't like it so much, it made noise when I moved and made it harder to sneak. But it was a definate sign that this human was willing to accept me, now perhaps I could train it.
A few days after that she put us in a smaller, mobile cage and took us outside. Forest was very scared, he had never seen the outside, seen the grass or smelled outside air like that. I was just curious, we were apparently going somewhere - like when those other humans had brought me to the Humane Society about 6 months before!
Where they were bringing me was to the home where I am currently living. More to be continued at a later time.
The realm of human training is so complex, it seems practical for me to keep a journal so that I may keep track of the things that work well, as well as the failures and challenges. Humans are difficult to comprehend creatures at times, and their behavior must be examined if I am to completely master them.
I suppose I should start this with a summary of my past. I was born and grew up on the streets, where I roams wild and free as a kitten and adolecent. No one controlled me, and I did as I wished with no constraints. In many ways, a nice way to live - no one trying to control me, and no one for me to control. Of course, there were challenges - food could be difficult to come by, larger animals were a threat (there were bigger problems than dogs, like coyotes, foxes, etc to worry about where I lived), and then the human caused dangers - those noisy metal things they call cars for instance. And humans themselves. Wild humans are dangerous - their young sometimes will attack each other or other animals, with no real purpose seen. They don't seem to use it for food, or play, just for being mean. And the adults aren't always benevolent either, they sometimes throw rocks and stuff at us for no reason. I mean, I never did anything bad, neither did others that I knew...we patrolled our territory, caught food, consorted with the lady cats...why humans felt a need to disrupt us I don't understand.
Anyways, I digress. As an adolecent some slightly trained humans decided to take me in. Sort of...well, they left food for me most of the time. And I could go in or out of their house, though they mostly left me out when alone. So I still had my wild and carefree life, but with some more food. Not alot of attention though. They didn't really bother talking to me much, or interacting with me often. How can I possibly be expected to train humans if they won't interact??? Well, I tried for about a year, without much luck. I was let in their house more, but still didn't get much out of it. I decided this was going to be a very long training project, so I might as well settle in and make myself comfortable. So back to marking and patrolling my territory. The house of course was now mine, so I had to mark that too. The humans didn't seem to like that for some reason - I mean, shouldn't they have been happy that I was showing I wanted to stay by marking their house as mine? Well, apparently they didn't really want me there, so they packed me up and took me out to a place called the Humane Society.
I will continue from there in my next entry.