pets and travel

Andre the Giant, the cat we got for our cat

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Andre first day home


Susa has been a good sport through our travels. She joined us about 6 months after we started traveling and is now a 3 year old, spoiled, fussy, sassy pants cat. It’s my own fault she’s so spoiled. I always spoil my pets and it’s hard not to when you are literally around them 24/7 365 and have to take them out on a leash if they want to go out. She learned to trust us, depend on us, and other things cat’s usually protest. She liked to pretend she is independent but she is a very needy little cat.

She’s also very disruptive during the day when we’re trying to work. I have spent the last couple years standing up to play with her, entertain her or take her outside for a walk every 20-40 minutes, unless we are somewhere where we can tie her outside with us.

She really enjoyed the cabin last winter in Colorado though she still didn’t get as much freedom as she wanted till the spring before we left. We literally had foxes in the yard and coyotes surrounding us every night. I wasn’t about to take the chance that her “sheltered cat ignorance” would backfire. We let her outside under supervision or, usually, it was too cold to go outside anyway.

This summer was hard on her, especially with my broken ankle. While Ross was working I couldn’t exactly get up and take her outside. In Libby we let her run around outside a bit, though after the RV park owner’s rottweiler chased her up a tree, she was cautious to wander too far.

Now we are at another cabin outside of flagstaff. It’s nowhere near as secluded as the last cabin, on a street with only a couple other occupied houses, and it’s also nowhere near as nice, drafty and neglected, but Susa has a lot more freedom to roam outside. There are still coyotes nearby and I once saw an eagle about 200 yards away checking out our yard, but I’ve let her fly the coop a bit, as it were. When it’s cold though she either doesn’t want to go out or not for very long and she still ends up driving us nuts yowling with frustrations and boredom. The only solution we could come up with was to get her a friend.

It took us a long time to decide because we still don’t know if or when we’re leaving the country, when we will stop traveling around in the trailer and what we would do with one, let alone 2 cats if we went to the UK for a while to visit Ross’s family, but we ended up deciding that we would just deal with those things when they came up. Susa needed something she wasn’t getting and it seemed that a friend might fix her feline dilemmas.

Andre first day home

Andre the Giant – first day home

We went to get groceries and cat food in town last Friday and wandered into the Pet Smart next to our Safeway for some Fancy Feast. We have never been able to resist looking at the cats up for adoption so we wandered over, knowing we would probably leave with someone this time. Every cage was filled, mostly with younger cats, but at least 3 cages had adult cats that seemed rather mellow. One of them was a giant tiger tabby with super seduction skills and after looking at a could of the younger cats, that we suspected would be just as crazy as Susa was to raise (destroy, climb, yowl etc.), we gave into the seduction and picked out “Tiger Toes” – who we promptly decided needed a new name.

Andre first day home

Andre first day home on his new bed

We brought him home and put him in the space/office bedroom with everything he needed, including a new bed large enough for him to spread out on. Susa figured out pretty quickly that he was in there and began hissing and raging around the house like a spoiled single child. We had read that keeping a new cat in a room for 2 weeks, then introducing the cats through the door was the “way to do it” but you try and say “no” to an adorable cat who doesn’t understand why he’s being locked in a room and not allowed to join everyone. It wasn’t fair and Susa wasn’t going to be the reason our new cat hated us, and her. We managed to keep him separate for 2 days before we let him poke around the house while Susa safely watched from her cat tower, hissing and growling pointlessly.  “Tiger Toes” who we had by then renamed “Andre the Giant” cautiously nosed around the house, although seeming disappointed that it wasn’t larger.

He stayed that night in the spare bedroom again, Susa satisfied that things were going to stay mostly normal, then let him out again in the morning. Repeating again till we finally left the door open all night and he sneaked himself onto the other side of our bed, to Susa’s annoyance but eventual compromise.

Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant

After days of Susa yowling with annoyance and hissing whenever Andre was in the same room, they actually smelled eachother’s faces today with little to no hissing. And since Susa HATED other cats previously, she is basically the worst case scenario for a “new cat introduction” and it still seems to be working out. Maybe it’s the fact that she is so spoiled and somewhat trusts us more than the average cat would trust their owner. I tell her constantly that “it’s ok” whenever he’s around and I think she’s starting to believe me.

They will be friends and Susa will be more a normal cat than she ever has before, rather than a maladjusted, spoiled, attention seeking,  “single child” cat. Maybe the more she feels like a cat, the less she’ll act out.

With the adoption we got a free vet visit. Andre the Giant is prone to pee crystals so he’s on a special diet but seemed otherwise to be the healthiest cat ever. One of the first things I asked at Pet Smart was whether or not he has his Leukemia shot, since it’s pretty transmittable and horrible, and I’m not worried about rabies as much. The manager told us he did have it but in fact the vet could find no evidence of that in his records (grrr) so we got a blood test done for Leukemia and FIV. While waiting for the test, the vet came back in and did a short check up on him, saying how healthy he looked and talking about his prescription food. She picked up the test that was finally done, a little white piece of plastic with color coded death sentences on it, and uncomfortably told us that he tested positive  (for I believe Leukemia but either way, aghhh!!!). She flustered a bit and walked out of the room to double check something. It was an excruciating 3 minutes, thinking we had just got a new cat that we liked a lot, who would soon get very, very sick – not to mention that Susa was as risk. The vet came back in and proclaimed her misreading of the test – perhaps a new product, something about “if it shows positive then you have to compare two other colors match on the device” – however it worked, she said he was OK and gave him his Leukemia vaccine.

Andre at the vet hiding from the lady who just told him he has Leukemia.

Andre at the vet hiding from the lady who just told him he has Leukemia.

Susa and Andre almost getting along.

Susa and Andre almost getting along.

We are now sort of convinced both cats are identical in pattern, in different colors, we will apply Photoshop soon to find this out. 🙂

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