Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February Cat of the Month: Sasha!

Sasha the gorillacat.
Sasha was big and black and had a short thin little afterthought tail. 20 pounds of cat. He had bright yellow eyes that bugged out slightly, and canine teeth just a bit too long so they stuck out like little fangs from his fat jowls.
And he was a fraidy-cat.
He was so afraid of going to the vet, the day after we brought him home from Pet Pride, that he peed on me. He seemed to be really sorry about that. The poor darling - he was so worried we were taking him back to the shelter.
He was afraid of going outside. If we opened the sliding door to the porch, he wouldn’t cross the sill. He would just stand at the edge, craning his neck out and meowing his head off for Man O War to come back inside. Man O War, of course, was walzing back and forth on the railing and jumping down and jumping up and having a grand old time outside. If we left the door open to bring in groceries, Man would be out like a shot, and Sasha would hang at the doorway, leaning out, maybe putting a paw out, meowing for Man O War to come back in right now.
Sasha was afraid of getting on furniture. I guess his former owners really drilled him on that. If we put him on the bed he would get right down. It took months for him to be comfortable on the couch or the bed. It took him so long to feel welcome on the bed, in fact, I never dreamed that I would teach him this trick in a single go: my husband used to sleep with a pillow on top of his head. Total darkness, or silence, or whatever. We used Bonker cat treats to teach Sasha it was alright to be on the bed, and one time I put one on top of Tim’s pillow. That was instantly Sasha’s favorite place to sleep. Tim would wake up with 20 lbs of cat on his face. Hey, I thought it was pretty funny.
Our vet recommended we get our gentle bundle of fur down to 12 pounds, and we tried, but food was one thing that could make Sasha give up his fear of getting on furniture, he loved food that much. Because Man O War was not at all fat, we would feed him regular catfood, up on a countertop. No worry that Man would eat Sasha’s diet pellets on the floor (the diet may have been just to turn them off eating!). And Sasha was literally incapable of leaping up to the countertop for the good stuff. I figured if he could get at it, he could have some. But my Sasha was a smarty. He figured that if he got on a chair, and then on the dining table, he could just barely squeeze along the sideboard and over the microwave cart to the counter where real catfood was just sitting there. So we had to move the catfood again.
Once the couch became cat territory, both cats spent a lot of time there. They liked to groom each other, especially on the head. But it’s hard for two cats to lick each other’s heads simultaneously. So one would put a paw out to say ‘hey, hold still’, and the other would put a paw out too, ‘no, you hold still’, and then there would be wrestling.
One of the strange things Sasha did is what he didn’t do. We had to wash the cats fairly often and treat the house for fleas because of Man’s terrible flea allergy. We’d wash them, towel them off, and put them out on the balcony (we had moved to an upper apartment) while we went out the time it took for the flea bombs to do their stuff. A couple hours later, Man O War would be dry and fluffy, but Sasha would still be wet. He refused to groom himself after a bath.
This probably contributed to his getting sick with a cat virus, feline infectous peritonitis. The vaccine for FIP had just come out, but too late for Sasha (who likely had carried the virus from his Pet Pride days or even before). He was 12, and amused us greatly for two years. So take this advice and get your cats vaccinated against FIP!


Barry said...

Despite his fears, or maybe because of them, he seems to have been great fun. And to have had a fun life with you.

Ronda Laveen said...

He is one big and handsome cat! That picture is awesome.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. I'm writing this comment with my gorgeous black and white cat curled up in a ball, fast asleep on my bed. Jessica is her name, we got her from a pet sanctuary when she was 4 months old but it looked at though her tail had been damaged somehow. She's 8 this year and has the best farm cat life in the world!!! Mice and birds then a bowl of whiskas and the bed. But she is very timid, she won't go near Amy and doesn't seem to like children at all. We thought she may have been hurt by a child when she was a tiny kitten, which may explain the crooked tail also.

Also, thank you for your lovely comment on my blog.

CJ xx

Argent said...

What a lovely cat! It's amazing how resourceful they can be when they really want something. We had a cat that was afraid of height.

H said...

A lovely story, but be warned or comforted, the FIP vaccine doesn't work, except perhaps on very young kittens that have never been exposed to coronaviruses, and even that is debatable.

I love your blog btw, I love the poems, the pictures, and the science.