Yesterday, July 25 was my birthday. It was a nice day. Last year, around the same time, I celebrated my birthday as well. It was my very first birthday as a married lady, and my husband went all out and completely spoiled me in a way that made me ask yesterday, “Hey, wait a minute. Today is my birthday. Where are all my amazing gifts?” It is not that I am spoiled… ok, maybe a little… the thing is that last year I received two of the most amazing gifts I have ever been given.
My carbon-fiber bike that weighs nothing.
And my cat, Crème de Menthe, my birthday baby.
I was really excited about the bike, but the kitten was the best present of all. Douglas did not want to get a cat, despite the fact that he picks up and snuggles every cat that crosses his path. He even stalks the ones that do not cross his path and gives them love too. Therefore, I knew that regardless of how much he protested, he would love any beast that we brought into the house, and quite a little beast she was.
We picked her out at the local animal shelter. Actually, to be honest, she seduced Douglas, and he convinced me that she was the one that we needed to bring home. We knew that we wanted a black cat. First of all, black cats are less likely to be adopted, and it was important to us to take one that might not otherwise find a home. Also, we already had a black dog and matching animals means fewer colors of fur on furniture and clothing. Lastly, I have had some special black cats in my life, so I have a soft spot in my heart for black cats. Crème fit that criteria, although as a kitten she had tiger stripes that were just adorable.
We also wanted a young kitten. Young cats are easier to socialize, and we needed to make sure that she would get along with Kahlua. Kahlua had already had enough trauma in her life (story here) and did not need to suffer any more. Crème was only about two months old when we adopted her; no one knows for sure how old she was since she was found as a stray. However, she was just a little nugget that fit easily in the palm of your hand, so her age was perfect for us.
We, meaning I, wanted a male cat. While I have loved many female cats, all of my favorites have been males. Female cats are the hunters. Males, when spayed, tend to be big lazy cuddle lumps. I wanted a snuggler. My husband and dog hate to cuddle. I was determined to have at least one being in the house that would enjoy snuggling me. I wanted a male. I was only looking at the black male kittens. Then, Crème started to climb up the cage to get our attention. “Let’s look at that one.” said Douglas, “It looks like she wants to come home with us.” “That one is a female.” I responded, “I want a male.” He convinced me that we should at least take her out, but he made me do it. I held her for about three seconds before she climbed out of my arms and jumped on his shoulder. She then started sucking on his ear. “We should take this one.” Douglas stated. I told you that she seduced him; he is a big sucker. That is how we ended up with a female cat.
Because we adopted her in the summer while we were not working, we were able to give her lots of attention for the first month. It is important to hold at cat or kitten as much as possible when they are new to your home so that they get used to being touched. I carried her everywhere. Douglas held her upside down and in positions that would make many cats furious, but she tolerated it all.
The best way to socialize a cat is to give it as many new experiences as possible while keeping it safe and not feeling threatened. We introduced her to lots of dogs, some of which played with her like she was a chew toy, other cats and children. We traveled with her in the car to get her used to it. Nothing bothered her unless we ignored her. When she was not getting the attention she desired, she often attacked legs with her claws to get it. Thankfully, she has outgrown that trait.
She still loves the attention, however. If you have read other posts on this blog, you know that she tries to get in every picture and inspect every project.
The first time we took her to the vet for a check-up he could not get her to stop purring. He needed to listen to her heart and could not hear it through the purrs. He flicked her on the nose. She did not care and kept purring away. “This is the most easy-going cat I have ever met,” he told us. I guess most cats get annoyed and stop purring when their noses are assaulted. Crème was not bothered in the least, and that is how she is to this day. She will put up with most anything, as long as you are giving her attention. This makes it very easy to clip her claws, give her medicine or anything else that cats normally hate.
Few cats are as well-traveled as she. She has made two car trips to Michigan and three trips to Ithaca, NY. She has been out to Long Island to visit my mother more times than I can count. She does not love the car, but she does not put up much of a fight. Usually, she let out a mew every hour or so, just to remind you that she is there. For most of the trips, she just sleeps.
Crème loved Kahlua from the moment she met her. Kahlua tolerated Crème, never showing any love for her until we visited my brother and sister-in-law. When their large male cat Emmit hissed at Crème, Kahlua sprang into action. She jumped in between the two and barked at the Emmit. Since Kahlua rarely barks and never seemed to care about Crème, it shocked everyone. Now, no one believes Kahlua when she says she does not like Crème, big faker.
As for Douglas, he still complains bitterly about Crème, especially when she wakes him up by licking his chin. No one believes him either. We all know he would not trade her for the world. Besides, you cannot really complain about a cat licking your chin when you picked her out because she sucked on your ear, can you?
So, if you are looking for a social cat, pick a young one that seems interested in people. Then, give it as much attention as possible. Hold it, carry it around, expose it to as many people, kids and other animals as possible. Touch its mouth and ears and eyes, so that if you ever have to give it medicine or clean an appendage, it is not a new experience for it. Does any one else have any tips for socializing a cat?