We’ve had Serenade for a while now, and we do love her quite a bit. Things have been really rough with her though, and we went to the vet to see if they had any ideas. Serenade is very, very aggressive. The aggression is so bad and no one really seems to believe us because it is completely crazy behavior, even for a cat. Shortly after Master Pravus lost his job when we were packing like mad, I neglected to blog about it but Serenade bit him really badly. It’s been a couple months and he still has scabs on his leg from where he is healing.
Serenade’s biting has been an issue from the get-go, with us trying all sorts of things to get her under control. Problem is, her biting is entirely unprovoked. When she bit Master a couple months ago? Master Pravus and me were watching a movie, and she came over out of nowhere and bit him. She wasn’t even on the same floor as us. She was upstairs and we were downstairs, she ran down, bit him, and ran back up. We’re talking really bizarre behavior.
We called the shelter to see what could be done. We didn’t want to give her up but we did want her to stop biting us. It was a constant source of stress for us both. We had no idea how to help Serenade. We tried using a cat laser to tire her out as well as other toys. We were using a squirt bottle but were advised against that from our vet who said that can tend to make them more aggressive.
The shelter we got her from told us they would be happy to set up an appointment to receive a phone call from the cat behavior specialist they have at the shelter to try to help us. We were thrilled. I repeat: we’re not giving up on Serenade. She may be stressing us out, but she’s family. There’s always a chance things will eventually come to a head, but we’re hoping we can figure this out before then. we won’t give up until we’ve tried everything.
The specialist had some really good advice. One thing we were told not to do anymore was to not use the laser. For some cats, the laser only makes them more upset because they can’t actually catch it ever. Some cats really need to be able to bite and claw at a toy to simulate the type of play that they would be getting in the wild. We were also told that after she was done playing with the toy that we needed to feed her a quality protein not a treat. She needs something like an actual bite of turkey slices, or chicken or turkey baby food.
We were also told to play with her on a specific schedule each day, and to try to pick a time of day that we know we will always (or almost always) be able to play with her. So, happily, we went to the store to try to get a better toy to play with her with (she does still have several scattered around the house, but we also wanted something specific for playtime). Master Pravus picked out a dragonfly on a stick. We both felt really, really stupid, because this is where it hit us.
Serenade likes to attack flying things!
No wonder she almost never wanted to play with her other ground toys. She wants to jump and fly! We chose a time of day and set about with her new schedule, and it worked. Serenade’s biting has been minimal and she doesn’t break skin much anymore. Yay!
Thing is, now that we had Serenade all figured out, we decided we wanted another cat. I know that sounds a bit weird, but we are used to having three or four cats at a time. Our new house would be a nightmare with that many cats, but one more seemed like a fine amount. This weekend there was a “sale” on cats down at the shelter. The fee was waived for buying a kitty so we figured it was as good a time as any.
Going in, we knew that we wanted to get a cat who was either a little older, or around Serenade’s age. We knew Serenade doesn’t like older cats, because she was always bullying Sabrina when we first introduced them. We originally thought that we might get another kitten, because we thought she would probably take well to a kitten and sort of adopt it as her own.
We got to the shelter and filled out a card with four or five cats we were interested in visiting with. Then you have a counselor who takes you back to a room, tells you what she/he knows about the cat you were interested in, so you can rule out cats before you bring them back in to visit.
We saw four cats, and to be honest, we thought we were going to leave empty handed. The first cat was just hissing and snarling at us. The second cat was okay, but uninterested in us. The third cat was beautiful, but they weren’t sure about whether or not she would be okay with another cat, and we definitely don’t/did not want Serenade to feel threatened. The woman we were working with was just giving us the speech about how we don’t need to worry. If the final cat wasn’t the right cat they get new cats in all the time, and we can always come back. We figured it was worth at least looking at her.
The shelter had named her Lychee, and oh my gosh you guys she was gorgeous! I don’t have any good pictures of her gorgeous eyes, but I’ll try to get one soon. Problem is, she squints when she’s super duper happy, and she’s super duper happy a lot. She crawled up into my lap and purred, purred, purred, and didn’t want to be put down. I cried. Master Pravus smiled. We knew that this kitty was the right kitty. She’s not a kitten, she’s four years old, but that’s close to Serenade’s age range and we’re excited to introduce them. It’ll be a two week minimum wait though, because the shelter says your best bet for getting two cats to get along is to keep them alone for a minimum two weeks. No problem, we can do it.
Lychee, though? I mean, it’s a nice name, but it doesn’t follow Master Pravus’ rule for naming cats. Girl kitties must have “s” names. We packed Lychee up in her kitty crate, and we took her home. On the way home I kept sticking my fingers in the crate and patting her. She’s such a love! All she wants is constant attention and rubbies. We were going back and fourth about a couple of names for her.
“How about naming her Styx?” Master asked me.
“Sticks? That’s so weird. If that’s what you want, she’s Sticks, though.”
“No, Styx. Like the mythological river between Earth and the Underworld.”
“Oooh! Clever! I like it!”
So she became Styx. We call her Styxxie and Styx-a-doodle a lot, too.
Poor little dear had eleven (did you read that right?? Yes, I said eleven) teeth removed at the shelter. The shelter thinks she was someone’s kitty pet but then her old owners moved and just left her behind. Awful! She was found and brought into the shelter where she had all those teeth pulled, poor thing. That is a lot of teeth! But she’s a good little girl and we’re so happy to have her. Here is hoping she gets along well with Serenade when we put them together.