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My Golden Puss Max died recently at eight years old, quite a bit younger than I expected. My last two cat rescues were kittens, always fun, but everybody loves kittens while there's some more-mature cat sitting in the shelter because nobody wants to adopt an older animal. Her name is Miss Pris, she's twelve years old, and now she's my cat in my home. (Based on the years, months, and days of her age in her rescue-cat, her birthday is 2010 March 11. I figure it's close enough.)
2022 May 24, Tuesday. I looked around for older rescue cats and found Miss Pris at Halo cat rescue. The interview went well, I liked the people there, I liked Miss Pris, and she seemed to like me, at least in the comfort of the room she called home. She clearly didn't enjoy the ride home in the carrier in my car, but she didn't spend the whole trip yowling and complaining like all my other cats during car ride (including Max, by the way). I weighed her, 3 Kg, 6.6 pounds. I put Miss Pris into the downstairs bathroom with food, water, and kitty litter for a few hours, I introduced her to my friends visiting for dinner, and then I opened the door and let her roam.
2022 May 25, Wednesday. I found Miss Pris in my upstairs middle bedroom under the bed. I closed the door and got her out from under the bed, she tried to climb the walls, and then she managed to get herself atop the blinds over my head. I pried her loose from the blinds and petted her for a while. Then Miss Pris disappeared.
2022 May 26, Thursday. I didn't see my new cat all day.
2022 May 27, Friday. After all day without seeing Miss Pris, my friend Anthony, "the guy who can find anything," didn't find her. When we got back from dinner I heard a crash from the kitchen. Miss Pris was heading back to her new hiding spot in the small space behind the refrigerator.
2022 May 28 and 29, Saturday and Sunday. No sign of Miss Pris.
2022 May 30, Monday. Miss Pris is under the sofa in the hifi room. I know where she is, I can see her, and she can see me, so she knows I know where she is. I "borrowed" my security camera to watch under the couch, a Miss-Pris kitty-cam. I ordered more cameras from Chewy.
2022 June 6, Monday. After a week of hiding in plain sight under the sofa Miss Pris took her first bold steps into my hifi room. It did not go well. My cats Devin and Jane confronted her, partly in fun I expect, and partly because she's the new cat in the house. They're larger and younger than Miss Pris and she got upset enough to run up the stairs into the middle upstairs bathroom. I brought water and food and a litter box and I've kept her confined in that bathroom since then. I watch her on the Chewy kitty cam to see how she's doing.
2022 June 7, Tuesday. So now we have Miss Pris locked in a room. This morning I brought my cats Devin and Jane in for a few supervised minutes each. They meowed and moaned a bit but there was no growling or hissing. I have been keeping my eye on her and she's doing okay, still afraid when I come in the room, but she's getting a little stronger every day. Baby steps.
2022 June 8, Wednesday. More than baby steps today. Miss Pris met peaceably with my cats Devin and Jane separately, she purred when I petted her in the morning, she's eating and washing herself comfortably in the bathroom, and she purred during face smooches and tummy rubs this afternoon. (Okay, it was her face and her tummy with my fingers, but that's a major accomplishment in her journey.) My just-before-bed, lights-out visit with Miss Pris was considerably more affectionate and warm and cuddly with her enjoying me petting back and front and both sides and purring and rubbing her nose against my face. Max used to do nose-to-nose rubs with me, very sweet.
2022 June 9, Thursday. Today proved more exciting in MissPrisLand than I hoped. I bought a harness with the plan being to walk her around her new home and still be able to put her back in her safe place. She managed to escape the harness, she hid under the sofa, my friend and I got her out, she wriggled lose, and she settled back under the refrigerator. Then, about two hours later, I heard some noise and now she's atop the 'fridge. Rather than try dragging her out and putting her back in the safe bathroom with food, water, litterbox, and towels, I'm going to leave her overnight to see how it goes. She feels safe up there now and I want her to continue to feel safe. (There was some scuffling when my cat Devin climbed up to the same refrigerator top to see what was going on and who was up there. He came down after about one minute.)
2022 June 10, Friday. Miss Pris continued her vigil behind the 'fridge. My concern is that any time she spends back there reinforces her tendency to hide all the time and to turn into another basket case like Penny.
2022 June 11, Saturday. Three friends came by and we made it a mission to move Miss Pris from her behind-the-refrigerator vigil to her upstairs-middle-bathroom safe space. I closed all the upstairs doors except the bathroom where I wanted her to go. The 'fridge moved out and we got her out only to have her scurry to the hifi room in and around my fragile loudspeakers where she's hard to chase. She ended up in her other hiding spot under the hifi-room couch. Okay, we got her out from there, she went back to the kitchen, I picked her up and talked soothingly to her as I walked up the stairs. Her comfort in me that came from all the cuddling so far worked to my advantage because she wriggled a little but didn't do the frantic-cat thing she has done before and I got her into the bathroom.
2022 June 12, Sunday. Miss Pris continues to stay in her safe space. For the first time she ate from her bowl while I was in the room, a new level of trust. I brought my cat Devin in for a few minutes close to her on the table and he behaved himself, later I brought my cat Jane in for a few minutes close to her on the table and she behaved herself, no growling or hissing, but still some meowing in protest. I let him back out and gave Miss Pris more attention to which she is responding very well with purring and face-to-face nose rubs.
2022 June 13, Monday, through 2022 June 15, Wednesday. All is quiet in MissPrisLand. She is enjoying her safe space, she is enjoying her petting, cuddling, tummy rubs, and nose-to-nose contact with me. I bring cats Devin and Jane in for a few minutes of supervised social time each day. When Devin hisses he gets the "Vulcan Death Grip" where I grip his head with my hand over his face and Jane still shows her disapproval with meowing, but I feel we're making progress. Miss Pris shows no desire to explore and I have no desire to force her out of her safe space, but she does eat tuna fish from a bowl I put in front of her. While Miss Pris continues to be a several-times-a-day task, she's certainly a pleasant chore and one I hope will go away as she joins Devin and Jane as a part of my household.
Ever the computer weenie, I put a laptop in Miss Pris's safe-space room and coaxed it to take a picture every minute so I could put links to all those pictures and their three-second-slideshow pages at the bottom of this page.
Along the way in Max's absence my cats Devin and Jane have stepped up their affection. When I open the bedroom door in the morning Jane has been first while Devin waits patiently and Devin has taken over Max's evening role just before bed. (One funny thing comes to mine. When my orange-tabby cat Max was around, all 8 Kg (18 pounds) of him, Devin and Jane at 4 Kg (9 pounds) seemed like small cats. With Miss Pris being smaller, 3 Kg (6½ pounds), Devin and Jane strike me as large.)
2022 June 16, Thursday. I tried a new tactic during Jane's most-recent supervised visit with Miss Pris. I put a small pile of salmon-flavored treats in front of Miss Pris and moved one of them closer to Jane. She grabbed it, pulled it closer, and gobbled it up while Miss Pris was eating them. I put another one not quite as close and Jane at it. Jane didn't quite get to eating from a pile right next to Miss Pris, but she got a lot closer.
2022 June 17, Friday. I tried the same treat-for-meet trick on my cat Devin and it didn't work. He ate a treat when further away from Miss Pris but gently hissed and growled when he got closer to her. She's cool about the whole thing and she enjoyed her treats. Maybe she will associate treats with time spent with my other cats and the effect will be positive. Only time will tell. For now, alone or with Devin in the room, she's affectionate with me. She's eating and drinking and using the litter box. (On the advice of two friends I switched Miss Pris to PrettyLitter and she is using it.)
2022 June 18, Saturday. My cat Jane continues to be hospitable with Miss Pris, especially when there are treats to be eaten. She meowed and growled very softly once or twice, but otherwise has been nice when she's in the room with Miss Pris and me. With or without cats Jane or Devin Miss Pris is lovey-dovey with me, sweet and nice and purring. I want her to be happy. When I leave the safe-space bathroom with her food and water and litter box I leave the door open for a few seconds. She's happy to stay there and I'm happy she's happy to stay.
2022 June 19, Sunday, through 2022 June 21, Tuesday. Things are pretty-much the same. Miss Pris continues to perch on her towel. She's eating and drinking and using the PrettyLitter box. She's snuggly and sweet when I pet here and rub noses but she still hisses when I put her down after picking her up. My cat Devin came in when the door was open, complained a bit when I closed the door, and then walked out as soon as I opened it. My cat Jane is better behaved than Devin but is still grumpy. Miss Pris has seen Devin and Jane through the open door. I'm looking forward to her joining them as a full-fledged member of my feline community.
2022 June 22, Wednesday, through 2022 June 27, Monday. Things have been noisy upstairs, outside Miss Pris's safe space. 2022 June 25, Saturday, we moved her downstairs to a new, quieter safe space with food, water, and litter boxes. I'm getting new paint and new floors. Alas, one of Max's foibles was peeing on things and the already-old carpet was badly damaged with olfactory issues. I'm having all of it taken out and replaced with laminate floors. Since much of the work of painting inside a house is protecting furniture and floors, it seems kind of silly to do that and not to repaint the ceilings and walls while there are no furniture and floors in the rooms. Miss Pris is surrounded by noise but her safe space is staying safe. When I come to visit she is more affectionate day by day and more immediately affectionate when I pet her, very nice. On my spy cameras I see her eating food and drinking water and in the PrettyLitter box I see evidence of her peeing and pooping. When I leave the room I stand in the hallway with the door open for ten or twenty seconds to show her the rest of the house is available when she wants to go there. Miss Pris has no desire to leave her safe space, better than fleeing in a frenzied panic, but short of our longer-term goal of having her be part of a household that welcomes her. Step by step we're getting there.
2022 June 28, Tuesday. Confronted with nose-to-nose contact, my cat Jane still hisses in spite of my strong, negative reaction.
2022 June 29, Wednesday, and 2022 June 30, Thursday. Miss Pris is getting more comfortable and her pupils are no longer in the dilated-scared state when I enter. My other cats Devin and Jane still don't like being in her safe-space room for supervised visits, but they seldom hiss, mostly just meow to get out. With all the noise upstairs I'll keep her here a while longer with water, food, litter box, treats, and frequent snuggles for a while longer. When I leave the door open for a few seconds after I leave her space, she stays put in her sink-and-towels bed rather than try to escape, so I figure she's feeling safe there. When things are quieter I plan to leave the door open and she'll likely find the courage to explore on her own.
2022 July 1, Friday, through 2022 July 7, Thursday. Miss Pris continues to be a pleasant chore. I keep her food and water full and there is plenty of automatic litter-box capacity in the bathroom safe space. There are snuggles with nose rubs and tongue washings several times a day with occasional supervised visits with my other cats Devin and Jane.
2022 July 8, Friday. The upstairs construction was finished last night so the time has come. I left the bathroom door open and walked away so Miss Pris can leave her safe space if she wants or she can stay there if she wants. So far, today, she stayed in her sink space. On the camera, this evening, I saw her wander to the doorway, but I didn't see her leave the room. That she feels her safe space is safe enough to stay is a good thing and she stayed there all day.
2022 July 9, Saturday, through 2022 July 15, Friday. Miss Pris continued to stay in her safe space. I believe my cats Devin and Jane came in and out a few times to use the litter box and I came in and out with my usual frequency. Her pupils have gone from wide-scared to narrow cat's-eye slits as her comfort increases.
2022 July 16, Saturday. Miss Pris was in her safe space in the downstairs bathroom at 5:35 and then, one minute later, at 5:36 the downstairs bathroom had no cat. I noticed the empty sink around 6:00 in my morning routine. Unless she was abducted by aliens, Miss Pris had sallied forth into the great unknown abyss of my home. She didn't travel far, I found her atop my reel-to-reel tape library a couple of meters from the door, but she was there and she got there on her own four feet. This is a Great Big Moment in her journey from new timid cat to being part of my household family. She moved around the small area above my tapes, but she stayed there all day as visitors came and went. That day I had a "deep clean" done to my house and she remained comfortable in her perch. In the evening my bold friend Isabel befriended Miss Pris and took her into my hifi room on the other side of the house where she has stayed. (I have to chuckle as my other cats Devin and Jane who tolorate almost everybody don't seem to like Isabel. Devin, the more gregarious one of the brother-sister pair, even went so far as to hiss at Isabel when I put them together.)
2022 July 17, Sunday. I showed Miss Pris the stovetop with food and water, I'll continue to leave food and water in the safe-space bathroom for a week or two, and she's perched on the windowsill cat space washing herself and enjoying the music, Stanley Clarke "Journey to Love" at the moment. Her journey is beginning rather than ending, but she's out and about, so I'm closing the book on Miss Pris the poor, sad, shy, scared rescue kitty from Halo Rescue. I'm hopeful, even confident, that she'll be wandering around, maybe sitting in a pile with Devin and Jane in my computer room as Max used to do. I believe she realizes she's home now and I plan for that to last a long time.
2022 July 17, Sunday afternoon. Alas, we're not there yet. Maybe Stanley Clarke was too much for her, but Miss Pris is back under the sofa. I'm not giving her food or water under there so she'll have to come out. I hope she's not another Penny who only came out when I wasn't around for her thirteen years living here. I put a bowl of tuna fish halfway between her and me, she likes tuna a lot, she wouldn't come out that far to eat it, so Jane came by and devoured it while Miss Pris watched.
2022 July 19, Tuesday evening. It wasn't easy, but my friends helped me get Miss Pris out from under the sofa and back into her downstairs-bathroom safe space. She has been there ever since and I'm happier with her there, with her food, water, and litterbox, than in some random hiding place like under the couch.
2022 September 24, Saturday morning. Miss Pris is in a better place. (My, that sounds ominous, but it's not.) The construction being long gone, on 2022 September 20, last Tuesday, I moved her back upstairs to the bathroom with a long counter so she doesn't have to sit in the sink. There are food, water, and litter box along with plenty of cuddles and attention. On the kitty cams I see her moving around the small room, eating, drinking, and not just cowering in the corner. When I come in, she'll let me pet her on the floor, eventually she'll jump up on the counter, and she'll stretch out like she didn't do when she was more afraid downstairs. We're back to rubbing noses and Miss Pris is just a happier cat.
8:19:55 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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