silly as it sounds, it’s adopting Mao and having him come out of his shell.
If you’ve read my earlier posts (here and here) on what he was like when we first got him, you’ll understand how incredibly hard it was for us and him for the first couple of months. We barely got any sleep, melvin lost a tooth and no one was happy. And then you have him now, 2.5 yrs later, less fearful (less but he’s still a fraidy cat) and asking for attention, demanding for food, cuddling with me or jet and even playing with melvin when it suits him (he is, at the end of a day, a cat).
This year, he’s started to hang out with me more and just chill with me in the mornings while I do work in the living room and even occasionally giving me a head bump to ask for attention.
And just two nights ago, I had some friends come over and he didn’t immediately run off which is such a big milestone for us. he hissed but he stayed where he was. And even after he walked off (not ran), he came back to observe us. It’s been almost 3 years since we’ve adopted him and I am so proud of how far he’s come.
This is part of my on-going mini project to answer all 36 questions that would apparently accelerate intimacy between two strangers by asking a specific series of personal questions. I’m just doing this as a writing exercise and answering one each Sunday.
After we said yes to Mao coming, we started the standard cat arrival prep. set aside litter box in his room, beds, mats, water bowl, food etc and kept telling melvin he was to expect an older brother soon.
We did everything you were supposed to do, when mao finally arrived, we had them bring him in directly to the room and shut the door. While melvin was thrown into another room so he wouldn’t see him coming in. His old family passed over his old bed, carrier, some toys and food / litter etc and just like that, we became parents to another cat.
Now the introducing of Mao to Melvin and vice versa was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. First couple of days, we kept Mao in his room so he could just get used to his new home. In fact, I spent most of the first week just sitting in the room with him, reading, sleeping and just ignoring him to get him used to our smell. During this time, Mao was still afraid of everything including us and would constantly run from us to hide or hiss.
Unfortunately, Melvin was also not the least bit happy that there was a new cat in the house and kept posturing outside the room and meowing. I’ve never heard him get so mad at anything before and kept having to reassure him.
After Mao seemed somewhat less afraid of us, we moved on to site swopping in weeks 2 and 3. What this means is that you swop cats and play with them in each other’s area. So Melvin got to into Mao’s room and Mao got the run of the house for a while. It did not really go well, cause Mao kept trying to hide. and Melvin was just distracted by the fact that there was a cat outside the room. During the first week, there was still almost no improvement. Between the meowing, hissing and worrying about both cats, it almost felt like we had a newborn in the house as we were getting up constantly to hush Melvin and got very little sleep.
In week three, there seemed to be some improvement. Melvin stopped trying to attack Mao and Mao was hissing less. In our sleep deprived state, we thought this was the breakthrough we were looking for and decided to let the cats have the run of the house for one night.
WE THOUGHT WRONG. We woke up to screaming cat sounds and a loud THUD sound and Melvin looking like this.
YAR MY STUPID BOY LOST A TOOTH. And you know what, he was probably the one lunging at Mao and either due to clumsiness ran into a wall or just Mao’s sheer size couldn’t actually bite him and lost his tooth in the process [I swear that cat is built like a truck with elephant or hippo hide].
The morning ended in tears on my end and apologising to Mel for not realising he wasn’t ready for it and calling the vet & my good friend Jenny, who came readily at 7 plus to pick the cats up to go to the vets for a check up.
True enough, Melvin had to go for dental surgery to remove the tooth but Mao was perferctly fine. 700 bucks later, everyone was back to at home shaken up but ok.
If you’re a raw feeder like me, you’ll know that a lot of forums recommend feeding the food at mouse temp rather than cold from the fridge. Here’s how I do it.
into a metal bowl
Hot water into another bowl
Meat bowl over hot water. I add tap water into the metal bowl so that the meat warms up evenly, remember we want to warm up the meat not cook it. Also, notice someone is lurking underneath.
Cut the meat
let the meat warm up in the water.. I use my fingers to test how warm everything is.
transfer meat into food bowl
don’t forget the water / gravy
Ready to serve!
One hungry customer is waiting for his food
Dinner is served!
And this is why we have a placemat
A satisfied customer!
what do we have here?
Fresh Cat(ch).. mmmm
So Melvin has been on a steady diet of raw chicken meat, franken prey style which consists of 80% meat 10% organ and 10% bone. The idea behind this is to model what they would eat in the wild and if you think about say a mouse, the proportion of meat to bone to organ would be something similar.
After the last post on what to feed him, I thought more on the logic and the fact that as humans we also don’t, or at least shouldn’t eat that much canned / processed food. I also like the idea of knowing what exactly he is eating. The raw bit had me a little squeamish initially, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense, cats don’t eat cooked food in the wild.
I first started with just chicken fillets or boneless thigh meat mixed in his favourite canned food and slowly transitioned him to pure raw. It took him about a weekend to start eating raw and another month or do to fully get with the program. The tough part for me was to get him to finish his food within 30 mins cause bacteria multiplies rapidly after that.
After about 1 month I started adding liver to his meals. He loved that from the start. Then I started adding heart and kidneys. Again he didn’t seem to like it at first but I think he is starting to like it, or at least he finishes it.
After about 2 and a half months, I started adding bone to his diet. Took a while but he now attacks the bones most of the time. I’ve also started giving him bigger chunks of meat to force him to chew his food. This sometimes ends up with him throwing up his food immediately cause he was too lazy to chew, otherwise he seems to be adapting well.
Preparing his meals are relatively easy, I go to the wet market and get one whole Kampong (local free range?) chicken with some extra liver, kidney and hearts from the chicken seller. I get them to separate the breast meat, debone the thigh meat and chop the rest of chicken up into small parts. Here are the two bags of chicken, one filled with bony bits, one with meat.
When I get home, I rinse the meat and spilt it into daily portions for the meat and weekly portions for organs.
I am currently feeding him 100 grams of chicken a day, split into two meals. Each box you see is one meal. I will keep about 2 days worth of meals in the fridge and everything else, I freeze.
yes, melvin has one entire shelf for his food in my freezer. hahaha. The other plastic bags are full of random bones / chicken necks/ chicken feet which i sometimes give to him as a snack outside meal times.
His poop (yes I examiner his poop everyday) was initially wet, soft and loose but over time it got better as his stomach got used to dealing with raw meat. At one stage he would have blood and reddish mucous coating it. I panicked the first time and brought him to the vet who said he was fine. I have.since learned not to freak out so easily.
I’ve noticed some behavioral changes in Mel since switching to raw – he is more alert and spends less time sleeping. His fur is softer and his poop less stinky. All in all I’m glad I took the plunge to change his diet.
If you’re interested here are some links on raw diets which I found useful.
the week we were going to adopt melvin, there was the mad rush on our end to quickly go get the house ready for Melvin. The last thing we bought was a cat bed.
A bed that was never used cause SOMEONE doesn’t like it. GRR. Instead Melvin tends to go sleep at various other places such as
the washing machine
the ironing board
on the arm of the sofa facing the planter bed
my bed, including the headboard
on the box next to daddy’s computer
the dining room chair
our bedroom window ledge
Finally one day we decided to take the cushion out of the cat bed since he wasn’t using it. And guess what happened next..
yes the idiot boy immediately went to sit down in the the empty cat bed.
I don’t know what is it with Melvin that he’s always running towards our cupboards the moment he hears them open. One time he ran into Jet’s cupboard in the morning and was shut in cause Jet didn’t see him in it. Luckily I heard him meowing while I was getting ready for work and let the silly cat out.. I swear he’s searching for Narnia..
ah ha! mommy’s cupboard is open!
I’m not here!!
daddy’t won’t notice me here!
THE SPARE CLOSET IS MINE!