Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Baby Changes Everything

            The popular saying is true.  I can’t say I understand what it is like to be a parent of a child, but I do know what it is like to be a parent of a pet and in some respect, it is quite the same.
            Similar to bringing a new baby home, bringing Valentine home is an adjustment and a learning experience for all of us.  For Zanzibar, there is a feeling of his territory being invaded by a newcomer, hostility toward Valentine, but also a sense of curiosity about her.  He has to learn what it means to share the space that he has known to be his.  For Valentine, it is learning about her environment and its creature comforts, learning about Zanzibar and which of his creature comforts he is willing to share (and not share), and learning about us.  For Chris and me, we are learning about Valentine and the relationship between her and Zanzibar, how to treat our babies with equal amounts of attention and love, and worrying about their health and safety.
            For the most part they seem to get along with only a few moments where we have to break them up and we have lost some sleep over it.  Last night, for example, Zanz and I slept in the living room while Val and Chris slept in the bedroom.  Even though we are restless, we are lucky.  According to PAWS, the “blanket” (or sock) method of introducing cats should be gradual and for most cats, friendships take eight to 12 months to develop.  For some, friendships never occur.  The cats simply live together, attempting to avoid each other at all times.  Because the introduction did not occur as planned, we cannot expect Zanzibar and Valentine to be immediate best friends, but I think that one day they will be.  What I’ve seen is that they can be in the same room and neither one is avoiding each other. 
            In fact, currently both are sleeping on the tower.  Zanz is in the lower cubby while Val is chilling on the top.  It’s peaceful in the apartment, where the only sounds that are heard are the humming of the heater and the computer keys being hit.  It’s quite nice.  My babies are safe, healthy, and happy.  That’s all that matters.  Isn’t that all that parents want for their children?  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The First Meeting

We had been researching how to introduce an old cat to a new cat and from what we have read is that we should do the sock method – bring in the new cat and isolate him/her to their own room, take a sock, rub it on the new cat’s back, let the old cat sniff at it, and vice versa, rubbing a sock on the old cat’s back and letting the new cat sniff at it.  This lets both cats know of each other’s scents.  If the old cat hisses at the sock then the owner(s) should continue to isolate the new cat until he/she no longer does this.
            Well, that is not how the first meeting of Zanzibar and Valentine went down.  When we arrived home, the game plan was for me to run up first and open the door while Chris carried Valentine in the box.  She did NOT like being put back in the box to the point where she was squirming so much that she broke the handle.  When Chris put the box down, Zanzibar was curious and sniffing at it.  All of a sudden, Valentine’s head popped up and surprised Zanzibar.  As we let her roam around the apartment to scope out the place, Zanzibar was hissing at her.
            I’ve never seen Zanzibar hiss at anyone, although I’ve been told that he has hissed at company that has come over and used the bathroom.  That is where his litter box is and he is very protective of it. 
            Now, he was hissing at Valentine because she is in his domain.  She didn’t seem to mind him, though.  When she was near Zanz, she would just run right by him.  Chris and I think it is because she has lived with other cats before.  Zanzibar has not.
            Eventually, they were separated and spent the day apart.  Valentine was in the room while Zanzibar was in the living room.  Occasionally, we would let Valentine out of the room but the minute Zanzibar hissed at her she would go right back in. 
            Because Zanz usually sleeps in our bed but Valentine is currently residing in the bedroom, Chris and I decided that we would take shifts sleeping with the cats.  That first night the girls (Val and I) took the bedroom while the boys (Chris and Zanz) took the living room.  We didn’t want Zanz to feel like he was getting downgraded to just the bedroom and we wanted to Val to feel like she would eventually be getting an upgrade.
            To say the least, it was a very emotional first day for everyone.  I want them to be best friends but I know it is going to take some time.  Zanzibar has to get used to the idea that there is another cat in the house that he has to share the space with, but I want him to know that we love him just the same.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine for my Valentine

I got my Valentine’s Day gift early because Chris said the place to pick up my present is not open on Mondays.  So yesterday after eating lunch at Subway, we drove around while I anxiously guessed where and what he was going to be getting me.  I had an inkling of what it was going to be because we were spending the day to celebrate his birthday (since it was the weekend and I have school on Tuesday) and when I asked him what he would like to do between picking up my gift and having his birthday dinner and playing pool with the guys, he said he just wants to hang out at the apartment.  I said, “Don’t you want to go somewhere?  Do something?”  He said, “No, not really.  I just want to hang out.  Plus, you’ll want to play with your gift.”
            This is what made me think that he was going to get me a kitty cat.  I was beyond excited and so surprised when we did pull up to PAWS.  Unfortunately, the Lynnwood shelter did not have any kittens.  Apparently, it is not kitten season.  That is in the spring and summertime.  I learned something new.
            We went to their sister organization, PAWS Cat City, in Seattle.  They also did not have any kittens because it was not kitten season, but they did have young, female cats that we thought would be good for Zanzibar.  We wanted a young, female cat because we have been researching that female cats and male cats get along.  We didn’t want another male because of territorial issues, but found out two males get along fine.  Two females, however, are extremely territorial.  Again, that was something new that I learned.
            Chris and I visited with Miss Sunshine and we instantly fell in love.  She was soaking up the sun, curled up in her pillow.  The minute we came up to pet her she was purrrrrrring like crazy.  She is very pretty too.  She has similar coloring to Zanzibar.  She is white and black, but with orangey-brown spots and green eyes. 
            We were able to adopt her and bring her home the same day and because they were running a Valentine’s Day deal, we got her for only $20!  I sat with her in the back of the car and opened up the box.  Who knew that cats liked car rides?  She loved it!  The two times that Zanz was in the car, he hated it. 
            During the ride back, we were thinking of new names for her.  I wanted a name that was as good as Zanzibar and that went well when it is being said, but what is a better name than Zanzibar?  I thought Zoë would be a good name.  We went to Fred Meyer to pick her up her own cat litter and toys.  I stayed in the back with her “Googling” African girl names.  Then, it just came to me.  What about Valentine?  She was, after all, my Valentine gift from Chris.  Best Valentine’s Day gift.  Ever.