Friday, June 10, 2011

Back. . . After a Hiatus

    Sorry, Everyone.  I didn't mean to leave off for so long, especially on that maudlin note.  Turns out the past few months have been very difficult.  I have been plagued by repeated sinus infections - No sooner do I shake one, and just when I start to feel like myself, it comes back with a vengeance.  Then I got hit with what I thought  was the flu (103 fever, aches, etc.) After being on and off antibiotics so long, I decided to try to tough it out.  After 4 days, flu symptoms receded, but my asthma flared.  After having been cooped up all week, I decided to accompany Nate to a school function.  Big mistake.  Stuck behind a woman who was wearing a ton of perfume, my asthma took a particularly nasty turn.  Long story short, I ended up in the hospital for several weeks, the better part of a month.

     Now I am back home, with computer access!!  And weighing 26 pounds less.  Turns out that when you can't breathe, you also can't eat . . . But in this case you don't get the benefit of looking good because IV steroids make you look bloated and pimply.  I didn't EVER have that many zits, even as a teenager.  And I got a taste of Mag Sulfate - something I know many of you Ladies have dealt with. Lovely stuff.   Recovery has been slow and wobbly, but at least there has been progress.  I'll keep busy catching up on all the blogs I've missed. . .

     So, where was I . . . yes, I had intended to tell you about Buster:
 BusterOur "Live Wire"

     Turns out he had been rescued, along with his brother (who was grey), by two town police officers, who found them when they were about a week old, and brought them to our vet (interesting that they didn't bring them to the town shelter, isn't it?)  His brother had been adopted fairly quickly, but Buster had been left there for quite a while.  He was six months old when Nate and I came into the picture, and while his every physical need had been taken care of and he was perfectly healthy, he had spent almost all of his life in a cage.  
     When we brought him home, we placed him by himself in the back room, to give him and the other cats a chance to get used to each other.  As you know from reading Callie's story,  we were not anticipating getting another pet when we had gone to our vet that night.  At first, Buster couldn't believe that the world was bigger that a 2 foot cage.  He wouldn't leave the corner. When he tentatively explored the room and found it bigger, he literally went nuts.  He would race across the room, and up one wall, as high as he could get before gravity kicked in and he crashed back down to the floor.  Then he would get up, race across the room to the next wall, and do the same thing.  For hours. Then he would collapse in an exhausted heap. 

     After we had gotten Buster settled and comfortable, we came out of the room to find Boo at the door waiting for us.  Boo bent down to sniff under the door.  Because I wanted him to associate Buster's smell with good things, I put a few treats on the floor for him.  Boo then did something I have never seen a cat do before.  He deliberately separated three treats, one at a time, then he pushed each one under the door for Buster.  I was stunned.  And my heart swelled. 

 Still, we wanted to take things slow with the cats.  We hadn't when we had brought Boo home, and had paid the price for it.  So we let them interact under the door for a few days, then progressed to baby gates between them, so they could see each other.  At one point over the weekend, we allowed Boo into the room.  There was no gentle greeting, sniffing of noses and bottoms for them.  No, Buster greeted Boo with a flying tackle, absolutely flattening him. Boo was stunned, dazed.  Then he looked at Buster with absolute awe - there really was a cat who wanted to play with him???  Then he tackled Buster back.

     We had to go to work, and although things had gone well between Buster and Boo (Holly was simply pretending they didn't exist) we didn't want to leave them alone, unsupervised.  And because Boo is unbelievably smart and can open any doorknob, we closed the door, and put the baby gates up in the door frame over the door knob.  I left a few inches of space on the bottom so they could interact under the door, and left for work.  When we came home from work, we found the baby gates in place, but the door ajar.  Sitting in the rocking chair, curled up together, were Buster and Boo.  Boo, who is about 14 pounds, had somehow flattened himself to squeeze under the baby gate, and climbed in the 2 - 3 inches between the baby gate and the door, turned the doorknob, pushed the door open, and trotted inside.  

     Once they were together, they saw no reason why they should ever be separated.  So we put a baby gate (which Boo could jump over, but not Buster) across the top of the stairs, and let the two of them have the run of the upstairs.  Holly stayed downstairs and pretended she was an only cat.  Boo was in heaven, as was Buster - they were soul-mates and they were inseparable.  Buster could not believe the world was this big, and raced frenetically around the upstairs.  There was a desperate quality to his running - he ran as if he feared that at any moment he might be locked back up and might never run again. 
     It took Holly about a week, but she came around.  She took to perching next to the gate and watching the other two.  I eventually took the gate away, and Buster, who had no idea what stairs were, or that anything existed beyond the upper level, stayed up there.  Gradually, his frenetic racing lost that desperate quality, and he ran just with sheer joy and exuberance. And gradually, all 3 cats came together as a family. 
Boo and Buster, partners in crime

     Buster was a game-changer.  With any addition family dynamics are altered.  Buster has two speeds: flat-out racing around, in to everything, and flat-out exhausted.  And when I say in to everything, I mean everything. He HAS to know what I'm doing at all times, and will let nothing stand in the way of his finding out.  If that means sending a carefully organized collection of pill bottles scattering in every direction, or jumping smack into your plate of pasta, then running off, leaving a trail of tomato sauce paw prints along a white couch in his wake, so be it.  But he also has a softer side, a gentler side.   He is a cuddler.  And while I adore all the cats, I am delighting in having a snuggler.  At least once a day, he climbs confidently up into my arms, rubbing his cheek along my nose or chin; he loves to be kissed on the forehead.  I say there are two adjectives to describe Buster:utterly exasperating, and utterly enchanting. 

Oh, and did I mention he is blind? 

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