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ProfessorTomoe

Loudmouth's Journey Inside

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If you've kept up with one of the other threads on the Off Topic Forum, you'll have heard of a certain feral cat that sits outside our house and yowls for attention every night. Here's a picture of him:

large.Cats01a_20170602_01c.jpg

Due to the sheer volume his lungs can generate, as well as to his stamina (he can carry on for HOURS), Mrs. Prof and I long ago named him Loudmouth.

We've doubted if he's really a true feral cat or an abandoned house cat, because he enjoys being petted and brushed and will even let you pick him up. Mrs. Prof tried once letting him indoors, but he acted too much like an alpha cat and didn't exactly get along with our indoor cat, Baker. However, he didn't freak out about being inside. Instead, he seemed comfortable being indoors.

A few days ago, after Mrs. Prof went outside for the umpteenth time to pamper Loudmouth (who's even allowed her to treat him with Revolution), she broached the subject of bringing him inside. I didn't see any choice—it was either that, or live with the nightly yowling. She proceeded to spend this past weekend catifying one of the rooms of our house so that Loudmouth could be quarantined until properly introduced.

Yesterday, she'd set up an appointment for both Loudmouth and Baker to be seen by the vet. Of course, when the time came to leave, Loudmouth was nowhere to be found. (She took Baker, though, who got a clean bill of health.)

This morning, she went out back (see the above photo of our patio) to feed the ferals. Loudmouth was still a no-show. She checked the front door, which is where Loudmouth holds his nightly concerts. Bingo! Loudmouth was there, waiting for food and a brushing, She brushed him, and then went back inside and put food in the cat room, expecting to find Loudmouth still waiting out front. She then opened the front door.

No Loudmouth.

Just as a last chance, she checked the back again. Loudmouth had joined the ferals and was eating. She picked him up and brought him inside, saying to him, "Are you ready for your outdoor days to come to an end?" She then put Loudmouth in the cat room.

Mrs. Prof has occasionally gone in to check on Loudmouth during the day. He's eaten, used the litter box, and, when she's been back there, he's been "very loving." He's shown no tendency to start up one of his opera performances. Yet.

Outside the door, Baker has skulked around when Mrs. Prof has been in the room. He's a bit jealous and will need extra attention tonight, I think.

Loudmouth will be taken to the vet on Thursday (the earliest day available for Mrs. Prof) to check for diseases. If he's got anything communicable, he goes back out. Otherwise, he gets treated and/or vaccinated. Then the process of acclimating him to our household will begin.

Updates, possibly including Trail Cam photos from the cat room, will follow. This is going to be interesting.

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I'm trying to get Mrs. Prof to move one of Baker's many cat trees into the cat room with Loudmouth. He did start a brief yowl session about thirty minutes ago, until Baker went back to the door and sniffed around. That brought the operetta to an end. I'm hoping a cat tree will give Loudmouth something more to keep him occupied.

I've also asked her to try and get a good picture of him when she goes back there. Something where he's not doing yoga. ;)

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45 minutes ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

Mrs. Prof says there's no room in the cat room for a cat tree due to the presence of a bed. However, she was able to get a good picture of Loudmouth making use of said bed:

large.LoudmouthInside_20170704_01b.jpg

Ah, pretty kitty.

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25 minutes ago, mlooney said:

Ah, pretty kitty.

We're trying to figure out exactly what color coat he has. It's going to take some further investigation in a room with lighting that's less yellow.

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First night inside: no opera! Mrs. Prof and I heard some brief meowing, but that's about it. He really must have been domesticated at one time. He ate, drank, and used the litter box "neatly," as Mrs. Prof put it, meaning that he didn't scatter his litter all over the place. (He has a Booda Dome Cleanstep litter box with the cover off for now—Baker has one as well, but in the "Brushed Nickel" color instead.)

(Oh, and please, no debates about open vs. closed litter boxes—we're set in our ways, and that's for another time anyway.)

Baker has been acting respectably around Loudmouth's door. They can smell and touch paws under the door, and at no time has mayhem erupted. Right now, in fact, Baker's more interested in a fly that made it into the house.

We did try to get the two to eat on either side of the door last night, but a] I think we were rushing things, and b] I think we were doing it wrong. If we try the linked instructions, we're going to have a hell of a time, because I'm not well enough nor mobile enough to participate. We'll have to figure something out.

Of course, all of this is contingent upon Loudmouth's vet appointment tomorrow. If he passes, it's full steam ahead.

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Loudmouth's vet appointment has been moved up to 4:30 p.m. CDT today. Mrs. Prof decided to swap her "work from the office" day for the week from today to tomorrow due to a lady who needed transport for a TNR cat (for surgery tomorrow). She figured she'd take advantage of the situation and get Loudmouth checked afterward. So, today is Loudmouth's day of reckoning—if he gets a clean bill of health (or a manageable one that's not communicable), he stays inside.

Let's hope for the best.

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18 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

I'm trying to get Mrs. Prof to move one of Baker's many cat trees into the cat room with Loudmouth. He did start a brief yowl session about thirty minutes ago, until Baker went back to the door and sniffed around. That brought the operetta to an end. I'm hoping a cat tree will give Loudmouth something more to keep him occupied.

The cat tree would also be another way of exchanging scents.  You could try one of those cardboard box scratch pads, the sort you can hang from the doorknob.  Let one cat scratch-mark it for a while, then move it to the other cat's turf, etc.

6 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

(Oh, and please, no debates about open vs. closed litter boxes—we're set in our ways, and that's for another time anyway.)

Hey, what counts is what works!  Just keep in mind that sometimes, the cat's preference is strong enough to make the difference.

6 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

We did try to get the two to eat on either side of the door last night, but a] I think we were rushing things, and b] I think we were doing it wrong. If we try the linked instructions, we're going to have a hell of a time, because I'm not well enough nor mobile enough to participate. We'll have to figure something out.

Don't sweat the details.  I've made successful introductions with only one of me.  She can put the food on one side, then the other, and alternate which side she ends up on and thus which cat she ends up petting, and can praise the other through the door if they don't get confused and jealous about their names.

4 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

Loudmouth's vet appointment has been moved up to 4:30 p.m. CDT today. Mrs. Prof decided to swap her "work from the office" day for the week from today to tomorrow due to a lady who needed transport for a TNR cat (for surgery tomorrow). She figured she'd take advantage of the situation and get Loudmouth checked afterward. So, today is Loudmouth's day of reckoning—if he gets a clean bill of health (or a manageable one that's not communicable), he stays inside.

Let's hope for the best.

Fingers crossed!  If he does turn out to be FIV or FeLV positive, you may be able to find a rescue that specifically works with that, finding homes that already have a positive cat and would like another.  But it sounds like she's really got her heart set on him joining your family, and I get the impression Loudmouth is winning you over too.  (Shh, don't worry, I won't tell her! ;-)

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1 hour ago, CritterKeeper said:

You could try one of those cardboard box scratch pads, the sort you can hang from the doorknob.

She found a flat scratch pad with feathers on it. Baker played with and scratched on it for a while before she moved it into Loudmouth's room. I gather she'll reverse the process tonight.

1 hour ago, CritterKeeper said:

She can put the food on one side, then the other, and alternate which side she ends up on and thus which cat she ends up petting, and can praise the other through the door if they don't get confused and jealous about their names.

She might get her wires crossed over this, but I'll pass it along. Thanks!

1 hour ago, CritterKeeper said:

But it sounds like she's really got her heart set on him joining your family, and I get the impression Loudmouth is winning you over too.  (Shh, don't worry, I won't tell her! ;-)

No need to worry. I'm interested to see what'll happen as well. BTW, she's very grateful for your support and wants me to thank you very much!

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Mrs. Prof is back from the vet, and the news is not good. Loudmouth is Feline Leukemia positive. Possibly worse than that, Mrs. Prof still wants to keep him.

Our first cat, Baker, is vaccinated against FeLV for 3 years. For some reason, the doctor gave Loudmouth a 3 year FeLV vaccine as well. Because of the vaccines, Mrs. Prof asked about the possibility of the two living together. Here is a direct quote from the notes sent home by the doctor:

Quote

IF OTHER CAT HAS BEEN VACCINATED THEN THEY ARE OKAY TO BE AROUND EACH OTHER.

I'm sure the doctor used more fluid language when conveying the information to Mrs. Prof. To continue, aside from a "tremendous" amount of tartar on Loudmouth's teeth (understandable for an outdoor semi-feral and which was removed) and some hair loss on the ears due to a mosquito allergy, Loudmouth got an otherwise clean bill of health.

Which makes this decision all the more difficult.

I have reminded Mrs. Prof of our joint, 50/50 agreement about what we would do if he had a communicable disease—let him back outside. (She did try and put that on me for a brief moment, but I nipped her attempt in the bud.) I also mentioned @CritterKeeper's suggestion of FeLV-positive rescue organizations, but she said the last FeLV-positive cat the adoption center tried to place stayed a year-and-a-half before they could find someone who would take it. Add to that the fact that the vet's judgement that Loudmouth is an "older" cat, and you've got a cat that possibly no one else is going to want to rescue.

@CritterKeeper, Mrs. Prof is torn to the bone on this. She's not showing it, but I can feel it. She asked me to ask for your advice. If we keep Baker's vaccinations up-to-the-minute current, would he be safe around Loudmouth? Is our vet speaking the truth, or are we playing a game of life-and-death with our primary cat?

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1 hour ago, mlooney said:

I would love to have Loudmouth.  If it comes to rescue in him let's keep that in mind.

Duly noted, and thanks. I'll pass it along. Mrs. Prof is still trying, though. She's fed the cats near the cat room door again. Don't know what kind of success she'll get, since there's a thunderstorm in the area.

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I'll look into it today, let you know what I find out.  It's transmitted through close contact, most often bite wounds, but I believe it's a little easier to catch than FIV; it might depend on how well they get along.

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The good news is, immunity to FeLV gets better with age.  It's mostly cats under 1-2 years that catch it.  If Baker has been vaccinated, that makes it even less likely he'd catch it.  Hard to find numbers; I did find mention of a study that said unvaccinated cats in the same household as a positive cat had a 10-15% chance of catching it eventually, but I don't know how much that drops with vaccination, or whether "infected" means caught it at all, even if they fought it off and didn't become carriers, or if they only meant going on to shed virus themselves.  They do require that a vaccine prove that it works before they'll approve it, but nothing is 100%, so although I can't say absolutely that Baker won't eventually catch FeLV from Loudmouth, it does sound like the odds are pretty low.

Speaking of "nothing is 100%," the in-office snap tests for FeLV are pretty darn sensitive and specific, but they do recommend checking again a few weeks later, preferably by another test called IFA, to confirm whether the positive cat is really positive and staying positive.  Cats that fight off the virus and test negative after the initial viremia are *not* shedding virus and can't give it to anyone else.  So, if he *is* one of those rare cats that catches it as an adult, it's just possible he'd be negative in a few weeks, and you'd have no problems.  The caveat I'd have there is, if the result of the test isn't going to change what you do, then you should consider whether to spend the money on the test.  If it's going to affect either your decision whether to keep him, or your peace of mind, then do it; otherwise save the money for other things.

The bad news is, cats that are positive on the tests tend to be shedding virus, and also are the ones who might get sick or get cancer secondary to the virus.  Cats that don't shed don't test positive either.  If he caught it when young, and has made it to be an older cat, then maybe he's one of the lucky ones, but if he tests positive again, he *is* likely shedding virus in his saliva and is among those who are at higher risk for a wide variety of things.

They recommend positive cats get a CBC twice a year and a chemistry with it once a year, as well as anti-heartworm/anti-parasite treatments monthly (the Revolution she already applied is good for most of that).  Avoid steroids or anything else immunosuppressive whenever possible and he'll need antibiotics started ahead of time if he gets a dental or surgery.  So, a bit more expensive than your average cat, but not too bad.

Really, it's not that different from adopting a cat you know is eighteen years old would be, you can expect he might not live too many years with you and he's more likely to get various bad things than a young cat would be, but if you choose to give him a happy, loving home for whatever time he does have, and accept the likelihood he'll get something (from being older as well as being FeLV+) eventually, then he can be as wonderful a pet as any other.  Moreso, really, if you already know he has such a great personality!

So, risk to Baker isn't zero, can't ever say it's zero, but it's pretty darn small!

 

Looney, thank you so much for offering to take Loudmouth if they can't keep him, I'm glad to know he's got options!

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@CritterKeeper, thank you very much for your research and other help with Loudmouth's situation! Mrs. Prof and I appreciate it, and it has helped us make up our minds as to how we're going to proceed.

A bit of background first: Baker came into the house around the age of six months (after having been TNR-ed at four months). When we brought him in, we had him tested and dual-vaccinated over a period of about six weeks back in early 2015. He isn't due for another FeLV vaccine until February 2019, according to the vet's paperwork. As the vet said yesterday, as long as the vaccine is kept up to date, she thinks Baker will be okay. In any case, Baker wouldn't have caught FeLV as a kitten or a young cat, so that further reduces his chances of contracting FeLV.

Back to Loudmouth: we've decided not to release him back outside. We're going to do whatever we can to get him to coexist with Baker. However, we are going to have a second snap test run in a few weeks, per our vet, and if it comes back positive, we'll have the IFA test run, just so we'll know what to expect—will we have a relatively healthy Loudmouth for a relatively long time, or will we essentially be offering him hospice care? We want to know.

Now, the only thing that would prevent us from adopting Loudmouth is if he is incompatible with Baker. Baker is a bit of a scaredy cat and has some odd behaviors, like wanting to cover his food. He's also been the only cat in the house for several years. Loudmouth is "older" (not "elderly," thank goodness) and a bit more set in his ways, I guess. If the two can't get along together, no matter what we try, then @mlooney, we might have to take you up on your offer of adopting Loudmouth.

This is going to be a saga, any way you look at it. I don't want this thread to be another journal—I'm looking for input from everyone, experts and fans alike. Loudmouth is in a bedroom-sized cat room, and will be there for some while. Please help us as we take him through the long journey out of it and into the rest of the house!

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I expect plenty of pictures of Loudmouth, and hopefully of him and Baker snuggling someday!  You did say Mrs Prof would be putting the trail camera in with him at some point, didn't you?

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5 hours ago, CritterKeeper said:

I expect plenty of pictures of Loudmouth, and hopefully of him and Baker snuggling someday!  You did say Mrs Prof would be putting the trail camera in with him at some point, didn't you?

I think she did last night.

Interesting note: shortly after 4:30 a.m., Loudmouth launched into a brief yowling solo. Baker, who was asleep in his "Scratch Lounge Classic" next to me, went to investigate. No sooner did Baker go out of sight than did Loudmouth cease and desist. Baker's now guarding the hallway leading to the cat room (the same hallway where I did my Superman impression when I fell and broke my toe), doing his "regal" pose (head up, haunches down, tail wrapped around his front paws) as if he's the one who determines the ones who go near Loudmouth.

Oh, now he's decided that things have calmed down enough that he can go off and get some food & water.

That's another thing Mrs. Prof and I had a discussion about last night. She comes from a family where you put things together first and read the instructions later. That won't do here. I'm going by instructions found here, which cover food changes. She has been pretty adamant that she's doing "okay." I disagreed. She had me read the article out loud, which I did. Here's the salient point:

Quote

Feeding time will happen at the door of base camp until introduction is complete. If the resident cat is not on a scheduled feeding diet, it might be best to put him or her on one for now. Or, if you leave dry food out and supplement with wet food, greatly decrease the amount of dry so that wet feeding time is looked forward to more. Remember that the only time either cat gets wet food is during these “meet and greets” at the base camp door, which can be divided into two daily sessions.

She hasn't decreased Baker's dry food. She skipped over steps A and B and went straight to C, in other words. We're going to work on getting Baker down to a small pile of dry, maybe an eighth of a cup or less, over the next few days. Wet food time will only take place at the door. She's going to have to get up earlier on "go into the office" days in order to do that. I hope she realizes that.

To change the subject a bit, I should say something about Loudmouth's voice. It isn't pretty, Seriously. Unlike Baker, who was neutered as a kitten and retains a kitten voice when he deems it necessary to speak, Loudmouth must not have been neutered until later. He'd been neutered before Mrs. Prof trapped him at approximately age two, but he's got a post-pubescent voice. It's the epitome of scratchy. How to put it into letters ... REEOW comes close, with emphasis on the E, but you can't translate the sandpaper-like edge. He speaks in short bursts when people are around, and in medium-long yowls when he wants attention.

One other thing you're going to notice about this entire affair is my lack of participation in it. Blame my broken toe, my back, my hip, and everything else for that. If I were to open the cat room door, Loudmouth would run out and I wouldn't be able to catch him in a million years.

It's now 5:29 a.m. (I don't type fast when dragging thoughts straight from my brain), and all remains well. Baker's buggered off somewhere, Loudmouth has settled down, and I'm up at a nasty hour of the day. I may go raid the fridge.

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Hmm, I've often heard Siamese cats described as sounding like a rusty door.  He doesn't look like he's got any sign of points (the darker color on ears, feet, tail, etc.) but there's something about his face shape that reminds me of certain Siamese I've known.  Wonder if the face shape is closely related to those particular vocal qualities?

Yes, if you're giving extra canned, you really should cut back on dry food to compensate, if nothing else to keep Baker from gaining a bunch of weight!  There's a lot of cat experts who recommend more wet food these days anyway, both to give their kidneys more water to work with day to day, and because canned food tends to be lower carb than dry (lots of jokes about putting them on Catkins diets), lower carb being more what their whole digestive system is designed for.

Hard not being able to participate in the addition of a new family member.  Once Loudmouth is allowed out, you'll get your chance to bond with him!  A nice warm human to sit on and be petted by.  Cat toys within easy reach, maybe a laser pointer, and maybe feeding next to *you* for a while to create good associations. :-)

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Mrs. Prof put the Trail Camera in the cat room last night, but she left it on video mode (grumble). Also, for some reason, it took infrared pictures. She took a couple of screencaps, so here they are:

large.LoudmouthInside_20170707_01.jpglarge.LoudmouthInside_20170707_02.jpg

Not very thrilling, I agree. I think I've talked her into turning on another light in the room so the camera won't go into infrared mode. I've also convinced her to go back to still mode (I think).

3 hours ago, CritterKeeper said:

Yes, if you're giving extra canned, you really should cut back on dry food to compensate, if nothing else to keep Baker from gaining a bunch of weight!

Mrs. Prof was giving Baker "a taste" of what she was giving the outdoor ferals: a mix of wet and dry. Baker got mostly dry, but he'd get a spoonful of wet. Now, we're going to have to reverse the process—transition toward giving him a small mound of dry for through the day, with twice-daily servings of wet at the door.

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Serendipity can be a fun thing. Very much so. Case in point: Baker came into the living room after I woke up from a pain-medicine-induced sleep. He followed me into the kitchen, where I was getting tea, expecting to find his bowl of food. It wasn't there. You see, Mrs. Prof took the step of moving his feeding station—except for water—next to the cat room door this morning. Well, I had Baker on a psychological leash, so I figured I'd try and use it.

I went back toward the living room. Baker followed, expecting me to turn right toward the laptop. Instead, I turned left, down the hall toward his bowl of dry food. I stopped at the edge of the hall and waited to see what he'd do. He looked at the food, hesitated, then inched forward toward it and finally took a couple of bites! I praised him with "Good kitty!" calls, then went one step too far by petting him. He backed off. No big deal, we can still do this.

I repositioned myself farther down the hall, directly across from the food this time. After a lot of quiet urging and anticipation, he finally went back to the food and continued eating. This time I restrained my praise to the vocal type. He ate a halfway decent amount (even with Loudmouth softly meowing on the other side) before deciding he couldn't do it anymore. I praised him heartily.

I don't know if this did any good whatsoever for Loudmouth's journey inside, but I think it may have helped with Baker's acceptance of him. Let's hope it's progress, at least.

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Mrs. Prof finally got home from her Friday night gallivanting and tried to get Baker and Loudmouth to eat wet food. Loudmouth has no problem eating at any time, per Mrs.Prof. Baker, that's a different story. He wouldn't touch his wet food. We're leaving their wet food out for a little longer before taking it up for the night.

In other news, Mrs. Prof finally got Loudmouth to play with a toy! Previous attempts have been unsuccessful, although he did play with the feathers on a scratching pad earlier. Tonight, though, he played with a toy on a string. Baker even played with the same toy for a couple of seconds after Mrs. Prof left the cat room, but he stopped after he got a good sniff of it. He did resume playing with it a bit later, though.

I think I've finally got Mrs. Prof convinced to set up the Trail Camera in still mode for color pictures (hopefully). She hasn't done the actual setup, so I'm on pins & needles to see if she remembers to actually do it.

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One step forward, two barfs back. Baker threw up twice. Probably from stress. Here's the deal.

I finally went in with Mrs. Prof to see Loudmouth for an extended period of time. He was an ideal kitty-cat. He'd let you pet him just about anywhere, and he ate it up like it was going out of town. I couldn't stand for long, so it was a short session (during which I verified that the Trail Camera is on).

On the way out, I let Baker get a good sniff of my hand. However, Mrs. Prof was trying to tell me (unbeknownst to my failing ears) that Baker had barfed. Twice. Both were green bile, from an empty stomach.

Back to square one.

She started to set out more wet food for Baker. (WTF?) I stopped her. We've since worked out a new possible routine, which I'll go into detail later. Meanwhile, Baker's feeding station is back to its normal place until we figure out what's going on.

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