Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Feral no More

So... much has happened the last few weeks.
Watching little Zazi grow and blossom into the fearless little cat she has become is both rewarding and emotional.
We made sure to get a really good kitten food for her, with lots of protein and no fillers. We give her wet and dry food and are trying to add some meat to her now when we pet her we dont feel every single vertebrae of her spine and her hips dont protrude.
And as she has gotten over her fear of humans, Zazi has let her personality shine. She is a darling little curious cat....who especially delights in finding things that jingle, jangle, boom, bonkers and rattle as she rolls them around. At three am. Of course.
She has doubled in size and had really bonded with our male neuter cat Mikie. They wrestle and roll and play a seemingly endless game of Chase up and down the stairs.
Just a quick post to update.... a little more a little later to come!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Growing Up

Since she came to stay with us, we've kept Zazi separate from the rest of the house and in her own space (the bathroom). We've let her out into different rooms, and each time she got a little more used to life with humans in a house.
This week was a big deal - we've let her have the run of the house.
She has been having a ball exploring... we sometimes don't see her; but boy do we hear her.
Rattles, shakes, the occasional fa-DUMPH and every now and then, we'll look up and she'll be peering over the side of the staircase at us.
She's done so well, we're very proud parents! Laugh. She discovered the giant ottoman in the living room, and the fact that she fits perfectly under there. 
And oh boy, does she LOVE following Mr J. all around. She loves that he plays string with her and she will follow him as he goes from room to room. It's adorable.
Still working on the other cats accepting her; there's still the hissing and occasional food stealing - but for the most part, we're not afraid to leave them be together.

And... I think she's starting to grow. With a really good diet, peaceful quiet spots to sleep and the safety of our home....I think this little lady is going to grow into her paws and have the softest silkiest fur coat ever.

She's coming along so well. The trust is still coming....but I can tell this little darling is well on her way.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Escape Artist

Friday we had a LOT of progress!
There was much petting, and brushing - oh boy does Zazi love to be brushed - and we worked through of lot of the little tangles on her back.
Also got her ears all cleaned up; she had had some sort of tar on her little ears and inside a bit, too. Zazi was SO good throughout all this ! I was so proud of her.
And, for the first time, she let me put her on my lap. At first, she wasn't sure, and was looking up at me as if to say, "what fresh hell is this?!?" but with some soothing words and lots and lots of calming pets, she relaxed and stretched out for a short bit.
And when she'd had enough of that, I put her into her pink pink bed, and she stretched out allllll the way....I think she's grown an inch just this week! She had a little nap in her bed, until I moved of course, and then she watched me as I left the room.
She didn't eat much at all, but she will take small kibble bits out of my hand, if I put it on the tips of my fingers. She has had no problem at all accepting food from me, and this morning (Saturday) she ate an entire plateful of her wet food. About 3 tbsp worth - I was worried she'd chug it down and throw it up, ( Jay reminded me she used to guzzle down an entire cat tin's worth)but there were no accidents and she even chowed down on some more dry kibble.
Saturday morning was a fun adventure. Jay and Zazi played String (her favourite game) for quite some time. She gets so excited about chasing the string she comes right out into the middle of the floor.
Later on, after she'd had her breakfast and a bit of a pet, we were heading out to work on trapping the last two ferals still in the colony. We were already out in the car when I remembered I hadn't closed the window all the I ran back inside to close it.
Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd that's when it happened. I opened the door, and a little grey streak ZOOMED past me. GAH!!!!  She must have been right beside the door watching underneath it, or ...who knows. But she was out. Thank goodness, she ducked into the first open door she came to and did NOT head down the stairs. She dove into the sewing room and under the desk. Then the ironing board. Then behind the folded up table. I dashed around trying to catch her, but I realized that it was probably futile and scaring her even more. So I stopped, grabbed her toys, bed, litterbox and food from the bathroom, and put them in the sewing room. I saw her scoot under the bed, and knew that she would be safe and nothing could hurt her in the sewing room (even though, okay, so it's not the tidyest room in the house), and we headed out to trap.
We had only a few hours to go try and trap, and I won't bore you with the details, but our day was not fruitful. (We almost caught an overly curious seagull, but nope. In the nick of time he changed his mind and did NOT go in the trap. Laugh.)
Coming home, we went up into the sewing room. Zazi was still under the bed - and we didn't want to leave her in that big room, as hiding under things is counter productive to our end goal. After a lot of moving things around and taking the mattress off the bed, we eventually caught her under my sewing machine. She was fine, and I think relieved to be back in 'her' room. I had held her closely under my chin and there was not a peep or a claw in sight. She snuggled right in and was perfectly calm. I put her back into her pink bed and pet and calmed her for a few minutes. I left her half asleep in her bed, to have some quiet time after her ordeal.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sharing the Credit

Before I go any further; I should point out that Jay & I aren't in this alone.

There are dozens of people behind the scenes that made our TNR mission a success.

Sandy at S&J Cat Rescue - she boards as well as fosters ferals and adopts out rehabbed kitties
Pet Valu Kingspoint Plaza - Where one day, we hope to see Zazi adopted out from

Heather with AVA - loaner of cages, dispenser of advice and solid all around stellar lady. She is
                                 currently fostering Jumper and her kittens.

Last summer when we first saw Rosie & her kittens (Rosie, as she lived behind the Rose Theatre) we weren't sure who to contact for help. We reached several dead ends with local Humane Society & Animal Welfare Services - they don't do any rehab with ferals, basically they'll come take them and the entire family would have been euthanized. No. NO way. That was Not going to happen.

So we went down to our local awesome pet store; Pet Valu. They always had cages of animals to adopt out, we figured they'd have some contacts. And they did. We called "S & J Cat Rescue" and that's how we met Sandy. This wonderful lady who runs a cat boarding business and also manages several feral colonies, and rehabs good candidates for adoption.

As you know, this is full on kitten season and Sandy has her hands full right she introduced us to Heather, a volunteer who does amazing work. She loaned us the traps, we caught our kitties, and Heather works with several Veterinarians to fix/vaccinate and check over all ferals brought in. They also do a quick assessment if kitties would be good candidates for socialization & adoption.

But here's the thing. Volunteers  and organizations can only do so much. They are always strapped for time, money and volunteers. So, that's where we came in.

Jumper. Sitting BESIDE the trap. For almost an hour.
Jay built shelters. He maintained them all winter and fed the kitties, earning their trust.

Hours spent staring at traps in the car. Waiting and waiting and hoping. That bright spark of hope and excitement when you saw that little face pop up in the long scraggly grass.
Willing that kitty with every fiber of your being to JUST step IN THE DAMN TRAP......
and then...ELATION!! When they finally were in and the lid snapped down.
Yes, they were terrified but a calm voice and a dark towel over the top usually did the trick.
Zazi went with Sandy to be spayed and vaccinated, and then spent awhile there while she recovered from her surgery. Sandy also took time to work with Zazi, even though she is crazy busy this time of year. And then Miss Zazi came to us.

Wanna help out? What can YOU do?
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day four with Zazi

We had some amazing breakthroughs yesterday. And today....

Currently, I am sitting by the door, legs crossed and typing, deliberately not watching her. I can see her, watching me from alongside the toilet. 
I brought in her food this morning, and instead of leaving it beside her, today I moved it across the room, to a safe place under the plant. It is a good spot, under the little table with the plant on it so she will feel safe. This is where I have been setting her dry food and the water dish so it's not really a new spot. But it is for her wet food.
A short while ago, Zazi came right out from behind the toilet and sat closer to me, on the edge of the rug.
She truly is a little beauty. Her soft, grey coat isn't as solid as we first thought. You can see the faint darker grey tabby markings across her chest and tail. Her huge leaf green eyes don't miss a thing.
Earlier, I had brought her food in, and of course, one of my cats was hot on my heels. I hadn't noticed Vamp behind me...we often joke she is our ninja cat, you don't see her or hear or until she is suddenly, RIGHT THERE.
We have three rescue cats. Mikie was a street cat, rescued at ten months; Muffin was in the shelter for FOUR YEARS, and Vamp had been in the shelter for three years; after coming in from a feral colony. Now, our cats are all mature adults (in their life span anyway, they're adorable goofballs)  and all fixed and vaccinations up to date. Zazi has also had her first round of shots, but hasn't been tested for some other things, so we are keeping our kitties separate.
Mikie in his bed, Muffin the fatsocatso and Vamp the ninjacat
They sniff under the door, because they know something is in here and they smell the food.
But today, I hadn't seen Vamp until it was too late.  She followed me in and didn't notice Zazi (who noticed her straight away) but sniffed around at the toys and the food. I wouldn't let her get too close, I was right beside her the entire time. That's when she did notice the tiny cat hiding behind the toilet. 
Zazi held her ground, and Vamp slowly and carefully extended her head and they were sniffing from a distance. Zazi took the more submissive posture,  and Vamp hissed, but didn't move. Since I was right there, I don't think either one knew what to do. I petted Vamp and slid her over to my lap, to show Zazi it was okay to trust, and as Vamp clearly enjoyed the attention, it was ..okay. It would be okay.  I shooed Vamp out and closed the door. 

And then I returned to sitting by the door, where I am typing.
And Zazi watches me from the safety of the toilet...peeping around the edge at me. A few times she has gone over to her bed, and sniffed, but then remembers I am here and goes back to her spot.
Every now and then I hear her little purr, which is actually quite loud, and it makes me smile.

I didn't see fear in her eyes today. Just confusion. Her whole world has been shifted upside down. No longer does she have to spend every moment of her day just surviving. Scrounging for food, and water, and safety from the elements. Suddenly for the first time in her little life, she is safe, and warm. She can play, and relax.....and not in fear every moment. Here there is safety, water and food. Shelter, a warm heat vent she spends her days lying in front of. And catnip. Let's not forget the catnip.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Wednesday afternoon, there was Much string played, building trust.
By the afternoon Zazi was allowing me to pet her all over, with the exception of tummy and tail. Very quick also to let me know when enough was enough.i introduced a lot of toys to her, brought in some catnip ones, and those were great in her books.

The afternoon was all about string, and the ribbon on a zip tie. Over and over and over.  She forgot herself a few times and even came out from behind the toilet, her Favourite hiding spot. 
After a lot of that, I leaned over the edge of the toilet, cautiously and let her sniff my hand. To my happiness, she started purring immediately and licking my hand. She out her head up tilted  just so so that I could better reach her spot by the ears....the Good Spot.

  I had felt a few matted spots on her back as I petted, so I had gotten out the fine toothed comb to see if she would allow me to brush some tangles out. And she did, for awhile. Zazi is a very gentle cat by nature I think, she didn't bite or lash out, she just bent her head and gave me The Look. So I stopped and let her sniff the comb, which she then bit of course, but gently. She is however seemingly flea free which is a very good thing.
Her mats are easy to get out, maybe later on she'll let me use a damp washcloth to easily get them out. No idea what they are , but we'll get her clean ...eventually.

Last night we also took away her bin, (that she never used anyway) and we introduced a big pink cat bed. I put a whole bunch of catnip in it and spread her new toys around in it. She watched me, but did not approach, even though he r little nose was twitching like ...well... A cat after catnip. Laugh.

Later on, when we were downstairs watching TV, we could hear Miss Zazi having a ball above our heads. We could hear the familiar sounds of 'fadumph' and the jingling and the carefree scratching of cat toys being flung about. Just before bed when I went to check on Zazi, the toys were everywhere, no catnip left in the bed, and all the rugs were askew. And in true cat fashion, there she was sitting in the middle, calmly staring at me, as if to say, me? Make a mess?

She also started vocalizing yesterday, more than just hissing.
I have been playing the Mozart radio station for her, which in between sings has a calming female voice. For its member drive services. She seems to like it, and I have to say, it's been far too long since I also enjoyed Mozart.
I got a few meows out of her, and a sort of garbled meow when I moved her so I could sweep up the catnip . She still goes to her safe spot behind the toilet.