Friday, April 9, 2010

Cats, Cats Everywhere, and Drinking Upside-Down

It's interesting to see Leia playing with the boys, chasing and wrestling with them. Luke and Han are not nearly as agile, as sure of their bodies, as physically able as Leia is, something that is perhaps left over from whatever neglect or abuse they may have suffered before they were rescued (You can see it in Luke's back legs particularly- they bow in a bit so he is knock-kneed at times). It's noticeable still in their personalities as well, that they were rescues- over the first few months with us, they had started to relax and calm down a little, to realize that we weren't going to hurt them or not take care of them. Since we got Leia, they've improved so much more than they did those first few months. Seeing a kitten, younger than they, who was so fearless, so sure of herself, taught them that perhaps there wasn't as much to fear as they thought, and that maybe they too could be less afraid. Since Leia, they don't immediately bolt when we approach (they still do run sometimes, but it's less of a knee-jerk reaction and more of them still being unsure), and they feel comfortable enough to let Elijah pet them sometimes (they wouldn't before) and to climb onto my lap when they want to instead of me having to pick them up every time.

Luke and Han still have a long way to go. They are still kittens, 11 months old (they'll have their one-year birthday at the end of this month, when Leia turns 7 months old), and we're hoping that maturity will bring them some measure of feeling that they are going to stay with us, not keep moving from place to place like they were before we got them, and can be comfortable with us. But the fact is, much as I love them, and Elijah does too, we don't know if we can keep cats who behave the way they do. We've set the deadline of... whenever we move, which keeps changing, that if they haven't calmed down enough, we're going to find them someone else to live with, someone who doesn't mind having cats who are at the same time needy and distant. I don't want to give them away, but I can't imaging moving cross-country with two cats who run and hide whenever they get scared or startled or someone moves the slightest bit in their direction. I'd rather have them be safe in someone else's house than lost in the middle of the country.

Leia still has a long way to go too, in terms of accepting that we're the parents and that she needs to listen to what we want of her. She's finally learning that "no" can apply to her, but doesn't always want to stop what she's doing. I'd never used a spray bottle on a cat before, not with the boys either, but with Leia, for months, it was the only way that we could get her to pay attention. We use it less now, as just the sight of it is usually enough to get her to listen, since she hates getting sprayed. She still doesn't really seem to believe that SHE, the adorable and precious Leia, can EVER actually do anything wrong... so disciplining her is a little tough, as she doesn't really apply being told "no" to a general rule, only to that one incident. "Oh, you want me to get off the kitchen table, Mom? Well, I will this time, but I'll go back onto it later. You couldn't possibly mean that I'm never supposed to get onto the table. I just love being up on top of things!"

Toilet training is so-so. The bowl technique I was using wasn't really working (actually, Leia was really getting it, but the boys weren't), so I bought a system- the Litter Kwitter, which is a seat that clips onto the bowl, with rings that sit inside it- the first, red ring is solid, the second, yellow ring has a hole in the middle, and the third, green ring has a large hole in the middle, and you put litter on the rings around the hole (there's a high ridge to help keep the litter out of the toilet, but we use paper litter, so a little bit should be fine if it gets flushed). With this system, the boys are doing really well, but Leia is picky about if she'll use it or not, and it's not just whether or not it's clean (Luke insists that it be clean, or he'll hold it until I clean it). She'll gladly go up on the toilet to eliminate, as I saw when I was using the bowl, but if it's not clean enough, or there's not the right amount of litter, or the planets aren't aligning in just the right way, she prefers to poop in the tub, or the sink, or on the bathroom scale, or pee on a towel, or her princess bed (which has been taken away until she's toilet trained- after two days in a row of having to wash it, I decided that she can just wait to get it back).

The boys are ready to progress to the next ring, yellow, but I don't know what to do about Leia. I had already tried moving to the yellow ring, and the boys (Han especially, surprisingly) were fantastic about it, but I moved back to the red ring in hopes of getting Leia on board with the whole thing. It's been over a week, I think, and I'm still having problems getting her to poop in the toilet. I think that she is using it to pee, but with three cats and one toilet, it's hard to tell who's doing what most of the time. I try to catch them in the bathroom when I'm home, but I've been working a lot, and most of the "accidents" happen at night anyway. I've been taking their food away at night (but making sure that they still eat plenty during the day) so that they need to use the toilet less at night and then in the morning after they eat (and I'm awake to supervise) they'll need to go. That helps somewhat, but I'm still having trouble getting Leia to use the toilet. I'm going to go look at the Litter Kwitter forums and see if I can find any advice.

Leia likes drinking from the fountain upside-down:


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