When is a Cat a Bird?

This story is about love found in an odd place, fate bringing together faithfulness, and a chance to be appreciated and loved back by a grateful friend. It is about a cat rescued from sure loss or death, a hard life, and pain. It is about a family that benefits from the gratefulness of a youngster that comes to love and appreciate the ones that saved him from a predicament. It is about betrayal and treachery, neighbors, death, and the start of a dynasty. It is about the return to each other and mutual love. It is the conversion of a dog lover to a cat lover.

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.” — George Carlin (comedian)

It was about 12 years ago. I remember the events clearly, but a bit foggy on the dates. I was a freelance merchandiser, working for companies that need someone that goes to various locations to set up their products. I was assigned a job at a “warehouse” sport supply store behind McChessney Field, the San Luis Obispo airport. This was in a business park, a small facility with pleated metal siding, in a light greenish tone. It was a warm sunny day, with a slight breeze, and quiet. I parked my green Caravan along the sidewalk on the street, a few feet from the side of the building.

I usually worked alone, but my younger daughter, about 10 years old, was with me that day because there was no school. We went around to the front of the building, and stepped inside to do the work. I was supposed to switch out some graphics and make sure the product was properly displayed according to the plan of the manufacturer.

My daughter helped steady things and put things away. She was keeping busy but had a chance to look around, as well. I was glad she was not getting bored. You know how they can be at that age. I was to take a picture of the completed modifications to forward to the merchandise company. I went out to my van along the street, to  get my camera.

Meow, Help Me!

Bird yelling

Bird can be heard when he wants

As I got closer to the van, I heard a young meow. I could tell it sounded panicked or distressed from the urgent sound. You know you can tell what a cat wants by the “voice” and emphasis. This one was calling out for attention repeatedly, kind of a “MAOW!” I looked at the nearby ground cover shrubbery that was tall enough to hide a cat. I thought perhaps one was caught in a bush and I could help free it. I started toward the bushes and it stopped. “That was it,” I thought. I figured it was okay now and went back to the van, got the camera, and went back in to take pictures.

I came back out after I found out the camera batteries were dead. I needed to get some new batteries out of the van to be able to take my pictures. Once again I went to the van, and once again I heard the troubled calls. I turned and went toward the low shrubbery again, and once again the meowing stopped. I put batteries into the camera and went back inside, sure that the cat had found some satisfaction or it’s mother.

I went in and took the pictures, gathered up my supplies and cleaned up my area. I took a load of stuff out to the van while she kept an eye on my stuff that was still inside. I heard the meows again and started searching through the bushes. This time the meowing didn’t stop right away and I got to get closer to it. Once it did stop, I started looking in the immediate area, thinking I was next to it.

I spotted a small spindly eucalyptus tree about 25 feet tall and happened to look up in it. There it was, a gold and white hairy kitten, looking scared, obviously distressed and wanting help from it’s mother which was nowhere to be found. He was perched on a limb that shot out the side of the tree, about 8 or 9 feet up. It was a perfect place to look down on the shrubbery and sidewalk. He had been watching me look for him from there.

Bird on Cat Tree asleep

Bird Loves High Places

It was on a thick branch that was about a foot higher than I could reach, and it would not come down to me. It was scared and shaking. I went in and got my daughter and the remaining items. I brought her over to the tree and showed her the kitten. I boosted her up so she could grab him and bring him down. She did, and held on to him when she got down. He didn’t try to get away.

I took him around to the other businesses and warehouses to see if he belonged to anyone there, or if they knew of a litter of kittens that might have been in the area. Nobody new about it, and I couldn’t leave him there. It was just way too young. I figured it was just a few weeks old, maybe 4 or 5. One thing was sure, he loved trees and climbing. Specifically, he loved climbing trees. Another thing was for sure. He needed love and help to survive.

We decided to take him home and keep him. There were ranches in the area, but not close enough for this to be someone’s pet. He would have had to be brought across a couple acres of land, which meant his mother was likely feral. He was so loaded with fleas, he had been in the wild all his life, and would grow to be another wild cat and I couldn’t see that life for him, especially with the rest of the litter being wild.

The Cat Became a Clean Bird

Since we rescued him from a tree, it was decided (well, I decided and my daughter agreed) that the best name for him was Bird. Imagine a cat as a bird?

He was so full of fleas, that I stopped at the store to get some flea shampoo, litter, a box, and food. If nothing else, at least he would be clean and have a home. I didn’t expect anything in return, just being kind to an animal in need. I was not really a cat person at that point, although I had positive experiences in the past. I would rather have had a dog, showing love whether they wanted to or not. With a cat, you are lucky to get shows of affection.

Bird is getting a bath

Bird Getting Clean

I took him into the shower to wash him. He didn’t know what it was so he wasn’t scared. I was afraid that maybe he had difficulty or damage mentally. I started wetting him and he didn’t seem to mind, as I was holding him still. I then shampooed him, to get rid of the smell and fleas. There were so many fleas that they came off by the dozen. It was almost a flow of fleas.It was so bad that I did a second wash. He still didn’t mind. I then figured maybe he was thankful to get rid of the pests. That time, more fleas came off, as well as flea dirt and some old scabs. One more wash would do it. When there were no more fleas and a little blood washed out from where they were biting, I knew he had enough. I dried him off and held him close. He purred and tucked his head into my chest. I melted.

He was just so fluffy and cute once he dried off. For about the next 3 months, whenever he noticed I was in the shower, he would sit outside the shower and meow at me. It took a few times, but I finally picked him up to bring him in the shower thinking he just wanted to see what I was doing. He didn’t seem to mind at all, so I grabbed the cat shampoo from the shower shelf and washed him. HE LOVED IT! I guess he was so happy with the relief he got that first time that it was special to him for us to shower. I had to try to shower when he was asleep so I could do it alone.

I fed him some kitten chow wet with water to soften it for him. I felt he might be too young for just solid food, so I made a quick trip to get some kitten formula to feed him. He didn’t drink much of it and was doing okay with solid food, so it was a quick transition. I set up the litter box and set him in it so he would know what and where it was. I was pleased when he used it the first time. I figured he would be easy to take care of.

I Need a Revolving Door

Bird on the porch with a raccoon

Bird Loves Outdoors

He fit right in and was happy with us. The only issue was that he wanted to go outdoors. I could not let him out because I was afraid he might wander off and get lost, so I kept him inside for a month or so to get used to being in his home. This worked for the most part, but he kept trying to get out. Any time we were not at home, he would head into the bathroom and try to get out the window there. It is low enough that he could hop up and try to slide it open. I have a habit of leaving a window slightly open in the home for airflow. He is a strong boy so he pushed his way out a few times. This led to problems later on in our life together.

That first night, he slept on top of my daughter. She had fallen asleep and he made his way up to sleep right by her face. It was even funnier because he had a habit of drooling. He drooled all over her neck and chin. I wish I had a picture of the drool, but just him on top of her. I will see if I can find that one again and post it here. It is on my other computer and it will take a bit of time to get it.

The two of them fell in love. He was now “her” kitten. He would keep tabs on her, be forlorn when she was gone, and I think he also had some separation anxiety when he was left alone. A few times when I would come home I could hear him meowing inside. I got him more toys and blankets and made sure he had our scent, and I think it helped a bit. He was still persistent, though, and would push his way out the window.

After he got out a couple times and was returned to me by neighbors, I was a bit perturbed at him because I found what I thought was feces on the floor under my computer. In retrospect, it turns out it was a giant hairball, or actually a trail of hair and such that had been caught in his system and was coughed back up. He is a long hair  cat and is prone to such things.

I have tried hair ball prevention items, and he still has them. Unless he has some blockage, there is nothing that can really be done. He has no trouble eating and keeping food down, so I think it is just because he licks himself and I see him swallow the hair before I can get it from him lol.

I even brush him with one of those special “haircut” brushes, but he gets mad when I try to brush him sometimes. He used to relax and purr, but now I think he just wants me to let him handle it himself. Either that or I have to mount a barber pole at my door. The advantage is that if he is doing something or laying someplace he shouldn’t be, I just start brushing him and he doesn’t realize I am getting him to move. You have to think outside the box with cats. Especially if you have a multiple cat household.

Bird sleeping on top of me

Bird will sleep on top of me

As the story continues, he got out again, and ran up another neighbor’s tree. I would let him out every now and then and he would climb the tree in my yard and get stuck. I would have to get up the ladder and rescue him. This was a recurring theme, so when he got stuck in the neighbor’s tree I got my ladder and headed there. They were outside so I told them I just wanted to get my cat out of the tree. They would not allow me on their spot because their daughter liked watching the cat. What could I do? I just hoped he would come back, but he did what he wanted.

I was just fed up with his attitude and thought he was pooping the floor, so the next time he got out I just let him do what he wanted. I would open the door so he could come in and eat and drink, but he started hanging out in the other yard so much that he would only come by to say hi. One time I was frustrated with him so I told him to just go away until he was ready to be a house cat, and he did. I didn’t get to have a house cat.

Eenie Meenie Minie Mo…

The neighbor had started feeding him. Bird is a pig, so of course he loved that. I call him a pig in a loving way. He was and is my little piggy. Sometimes I oink at him when he pushes his way to the food and starts to eat before the others. It is the pecking order in our home. I should actually call it “their” home. I am just a guest here now. The neighbor grew fond of him and spoiled him to the point that he liked hanging out there. They treated him like he was theirs, even though he would come back and hang out here, too.

I had a little chat with him. I told him that he did not have two homes and that he had to choose. He liked his freedom so he did not want to be penned up in my place, so he just hung out outside and I rather ignored him when he cruised through. This went on for several years with the neighbor treating him like theirs. when I think back, perhaps he did not really understand what I told him.

A few years later, I got married and when Bird popped over to check things out she saw him. I explained the story to her, and she was determined to have him come in often. I was sure he would not do it, so I let her try. I found one of his old toys and teased him with it. He came inside somewhat timidly, but he remembered his toy and finally walked around inside. He made his way back to the bathroom, where I am sure he remembered the shower. I didn’t follow because I did not want to spook him. He came back out.

The neighbors had given him a different name, and I don’t know if he answered to it well, but when he started coming back to us, he definitely knew his name was Bird. He was never going to forget, and I was not going to forget him, either.

c Bird Blanket

What Is a Life Worth?

By then, the neighbor had been given another cat from her other son. It was a small, pretty, calico female with spots of gold and black on a coat of white. I’m not sure what they (including the granddaughter) were doing to or with that cat, but it was very skittish and leery. It finally started to come in with Bird, coaxed with treats and a gentle voice. She turned out to be a sweet girl, and a good friend to Bird.

Bird has a habit of waking up in a fit. It is like he is sleepwalking and finds another cat to grab. He will climb on top of the cat and grab it by the scruff. He keeps holding until the other cat calls out. When I hear this, I come out and get him to leave the other cat alone. Calling his name sharply two or three times usually does it. He had a good relationship with this calico, but I caught him doing this to her a few times. I called out to him to discourage it, and all would be okay. They were good pals.

The elderly woman that owned it was moved to her son’s home in the Los Angeles area to be taken care of. She then “sold” her home to a nephew who was about to move in. In her absence, I started feeding the calico to take care of the friend of Bird. A different neighbor had been putting food out for her, but ran out. I think raccoons had been eating the food she left out at night.

The elderly woman wanted to bring the cats down to where she was living. I had some problems with that. First, Bird was my cat. That is what people say, but cats decide who and where they are going to live and who “owns” them. That is a fact that cannot be changed, but it was obvious that Bird was comfortable living with us again, and it was not right for them to take him from the only home he had ever known. He also does not like travel and yowls like he is in pain when you take him for a ride in the car. There was no way he would be comfortable on a 3 hour drive.

One dcat eyes soulay, I noticed the calico had a difficult time walking. One of her back legs seemed to have been injured and I was concerned. A friend helped me catch her and put her in a cage to keep her from moving too much to make the injury worse. Since the nephew had not moved in yet, I got word to her through another neighbor and they had another son come pick her up. I also left word that if the cat needed vet work or surgery, they could let me have the cat and I would take care of it so it could live with Bird. They had her put to sleep. That was not acceptable in my book and I was going to be sure they were not going to get Bird if they don’t value the life of a companion and love.

I started keeping Bird inside more, and when he went outside he would call out meowing for his friend, his little love and companion. It broke my heart to see him in such pain over this. They had no idea because they were not here any more. Their answer was to still try to get Bird to come with them, and they would try to nab him. I was warned by another neighbor when they were coming back up here so I could keep him protected.

Bird was fine with this arrangement, but we had to go out of town for a holiday weekend. We had a commitment to set up and sell at an event and did not believe we could take him out there. Instead, I made arrangements with a local groomer that dealt with cats and occasionally boards a few animals overnight. We vsited him every day he was there, but he wasn’t too happy about it when it was busy. Apparently Bird was a bit of a challenge for her. When we were done, he seemed happy to be back home.

Is a Cat Just Property?

The son and daughter-in-law came back up here to get Bird and more of her stuff to take back with them. They came to my door to ask for Bird. I told them he was my cat from the start and they were not going to take him. He was angry about this, but I am a big guy so he didn’t take a chance to do anything. Instead, he went back to getting things together and called the police to come get Bird.

When I saw the police show up, I put Bird in the back bedroom so he would not dash out the front door. When they came to my door, they asked to see Bird. I confirmed that I had him but refused to bring him up. She said she wanted to check on the welfare of the cat. I assured her that Bird was fine, but that since the law considers pets as personal property, they do not have a right to demand to see him. I told her that I would not bring Bird up, but if they want to come back with a warrant, I would comply. Of course, I never challenge law enforcement and respect them totally, but I knew it would be a civil mater and they would not do it. I told her to tell them it is a civil matter and they are welcome to sue me for him.

Of course, I knew that would not happen because it would be work and cost they would not want to spend. I was confident that the issue had been handled, when they left town to go home.

What a Lulu

Bird and Lulu together

Bird & Lulu were best friends

In the meantime, we knew Bird was lonely and needed a companion. He would cry out, yowling and crying. He missed her so much that it was painful to hear his moans and calls.

I checked on Craigslist and found a kitten that was available along Highway 58 past Santa Margarita. We took Bird up there with us to see if they would get along before we took her. You should always do this when selecting a new animal to join your household. Do not ever bring one home until you see how they would react to another cat. Check my blog entries about this and my experiences.

They got along nicely, and it was obvious this kitten had a hard time being feral. She was loving, small, and cute, and we were happy to take her. She had apparently been dumped there and had been in some fights. She had a scratch on her face, was scarring on her ear, and had some missing whiskers. We named her Lulu. Look for the blog and video on “Lulu the Wonder Kitty” or click on the keywords to see more about her.

The next holiday we were also going to the sale again. This time, we had two cats to take. We decided to take them with us and I rigged up some wire mesh fencing to put in windows and doors so we could leave them open for full venting and airflow. We also took a litter box, food and water dishes we kept full, and leashes for the cats. Yes, I leash trained the cats. I will deal with that in another blog entry and video. They got along fine and seemed to like being with us camping. They did not show any distress or concern.

Bird Lulu and Yuki on the couch

The Original 3

Abandoned Cayucos

In the meantime, an abandoned cat came from the creek and there is a whole story about that. Look for “Raptor, Cayucos Style (Yuki)” or click on the keyword to see more about him and his close call with an owl attack. We introduced them to each other in the van and they just had a few rough spots. Now as you can see in this picture, they are the best of friends and spend time together, even without the other cats around. His story is very interesting, but here I will just say we brought everyone home and all seemed to be good.

The Cat Police

I thought all was good, but we were to have another episode with the police. You would think people would realize that the police have better things to do. They are not Cat Police. The son was back. He came to my door and insisted on having Bird. He said they had a receipt for Bird and wanted him back. I again made him leave, and again he called the police. They came to the door and told me the son had a receipt for the cat. I asked to see this fake receipt. They told me they had not seen it. This time I had a call from his wife saying she had the receipt. I told her to text a picture to me but she refused. Of course, I knew the receipt was not for Bird.

I told the police the receipt was for a calico cat they had put to sleep and they were trying to present a false document to them. I told them she refused to send me a picture of it, and suggested they have her fax the receipt to the Police Department so they would see it was not for Bird. They went back to him and presented the problem to him. The officer came back over to talk again, imploring me to hand over the cat. I pointed out that these people were trying to lie and provide false documents to them, so I asked how they could trust him.

I spoke with the officer and found out that she also had a couple cats. She started asking me about my medical care for the cats. She tried to tell me that if I was not having regular checkups for the cats, then I would be negligent. I then pointed out that these people could not produce vet receipts because they didn’t do anything other than have him fixed without asking me. I also let her know that Bird was chipped and she could have someone come out to scan him to confirm he was mine.

I suggested that she as well as anyone should know that a cat chooses where he wants to live and that Bird chose us. I insisted that the son just accept that Bird wants to be with us, and that the son would have to go to court where he would have to present the receipt which I would disprove.

I also asked her to tell him that I had pictures of the first month we got Bird and they were dated files. I told her all I had to do was show these with proof of the date they were taken and it would put it all to rest. She went back to him and informed him. I never heard another thing about it. I felt we were past it all and we started letting the cats do their thing outside. This was not to be the end of it.

Who Had Bird?

This next event is shameful on their part. The nephew moved in and watched for Bird. I went over to say hi to him and he spit chewing tobacco toward me. He told me the first chance he got, he was going to grab Bird and personally take him down to his grandmother. Apparently, he claims he had caught Bird. The police came to my door once more claiming I broke into his place and stole Bird. I insisted Bird escaped on his own.

The officer asked how I got Bird. I told her he came when I called him. She insisted that cats do not come when you call them. I told her that I use a bag of treats to rattle when I call, and they would come to me. She still doubted me so I came back in and got a bag of treats. I stepped out and called to the other cats as I shook it and they both came running right up to me and in the door. That put a rest to that issue, and I have never heard anything about it since. They realized it wasn’t going to happen.

I just want to add here that I had a sense of satisfaction when they came running to me and the officer saw she was wrong. I do respect officers and the work they do, but was happy to be proven right so easily. I am proud of my cats and the way they respond to me and respect me as well. Coming when you call is a training issue. You can also find my post on training by clicking on that keyword.

 

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They tried to make me feel bad about denying an old woman her cat, but I still maintained that it was wrong to take Bird from his home. I look at it this way. She was elderly and I had already lost my mother at the age of 87. My father got Alzheimer’s and sun-downers which made him not aware of reality and he died at 85. She was getting close to that age, so there were a couple scenarios I saw.

This is sad, but I felt there was a high probability that she would be passing away and/or would not know Bird anyway. After that, Bird would be with someone that did not care about life because the brother killed the other cat. I’m not sure they even took that cat to a vet. Maybe they just killed it themselves.

What is Bird?

Bird has been a model citizen, even with the expansion of love and community with more cats. Look for blog entries with tags for Miggie, Ollie, Lily, and Sweat Pea. They get along and love going outside to explore and play. They are so happy here that they bring me presents, come home all the time in and out, and spend time close to me. They follow me around like a pied piper, and on walks.

One thing that I like is trying to identify the breed of each cat. The go-to name is either Domestic Short Hair, Domestic Medium Hair, or Domestic Long Hair. Mutt cats, aka Moggy, may be called by description like tiger, or calico. Moggy is Mutt in cat language. Of course, there are the regular breeds if you know their heritage. You can also get a DNA test to determine the breed. I am not that crazy about it, though. I have simply done identification by comparison of breeds with looks, characteristics, personality, etc. I do not claim any of my cats are purebred, but are rather mixes of the breed.

That brings us to identification of Bird. The closest I have come to guessing his breed is the Norwegian Forest Cat. This picture is a sample of a purebred Norwegian Forest cat. They come in variations of color and build, some being similar to Maine Coons (See blog on Ollie or click on the Maine Coon tag). You can see great similarities between this cat and Bird. There are certain characteristics for the breed as well.

Norwegian Forest Cat (Skogkatt) (aka Wegie)

Red White Norwegian Forest Cat
Sample Norwegian ForestLet me share some information adapted from the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAT BREEDS by J. Anne Helgren.

Let me share some information adapted from the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAT BREEDS by J. Anne Helgren.

History

In Norway, this breed is called the Skogkatt, translated as “Forest Cat” in English. It’s affectionate nickname is Wegie. It looks feral, but is a natural breed, not a hybrid of wild cats. It is thought their roots originally came from Europe as descendants of short haired cats Romans obtained mostly in Egypt.  These cats developed adaptations for the cold dark conditions in Norway. After prowling Norwegian forests, they developed long, dense, water-resistant coats, hardy constitutions, quick wits, and survival instincts.

It is believed to be the cat mentioned in Norse mythology from between about 800 to 1200 AD in Edda poems. Viking explorers took them to keep ships rodent free, as they had done in barns in Norway. It is thought that they also came over with Leif Erickson and others of that period.

The first Forest Cat was exhibited at a show in Oslo, Norway. With World War II, the breed came close to extinction. Interbreeding with Norway’s short haired domestic cat (the Hauskatt) threatened it. It wasn’t until the 1970s that cat fanciers of Norway started a serious breeding program to preserve the Norwegian Forest Cat. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s when they were actually recognized as a breed in the US.

Physical Characteristics &  General Attributes

The Norwegian Forest Cat has an insulated or waterproof double coat varying in length depending on the time of year. They have longer, coarse guard hairs over a dense undercoat. The cat has spring ‘molting,’ and fall shedding. Thorough combing is necessary or their hair gets on everything. I can personally attest to this. That includes your food and mouth. Just think about the weather in Norway. How would this cat adapt to it?

The “bib” begins with a short collar at the neck, “mutton chops” on the side and a  full frontal ruff, bushy tail, rear britches covering the hind legs, and tufted paws for the region bordering the Arctic. Bird has been thinning out hair over the years, but he was very much a fine specimen of hair for quite some time. They come in many colors, from pure white to deepest coal black, with every possible coat pattern and color combination in between, with the exception of the color-point colors as seen in the Siamese or Persian-Himalayan, such as seal point or chocolate point.

The head has an inverted triangle shape, pointed at the chin and then widening on each side up toward the medium to large ears, which are heavily tufted. Large, almond-shaped eyes are green, gold or copper, although white cats may have blue eyes or odd eyes (one blue eye and one eye of another color). The head from brow to end of nose is straight as seen  from the side. The moderately long body looks powerful, with its broad chest and heavily muscled thighs. Large round paws have tufts of fur between the toes. The bushy tail is as long as the body.

Personality and Activities

Bird on an office chair pillow

Bird loving the pillow

Wegies are homebodies and enjoy the company of other pets and their people family. Bird follows me all over, as well as a friend he likes that walks over here sometimes. Bird will walk almost all the way to his home. He is also what I call a brat, because Wegies set the terms of their interaction. They decide when they will be on your lap or even just go on their own way. Bird also insists on being near me or on me, on my chair, bed, or computer keys. He insists on being a bull and getting his way.

Be sure you have a scratching post and are ready for some bursts of energy. Bird is funny because when he is done using the litter box, he gets a funny expression on his face then starts running. He will run from the bathroom into the living room, then grab another cat or toy to play with. It is like a celebration. He will do this at random times and will just decide to roll around for no reason then jump up and run again. Since his hip has been bugging him, he does not get too rambunctious any more. They are not, however, real active cats. They will also nap a lot when and where they want to. Bird loves to go out back and find a spot with grass and weeds to lay down and nap.

They are fine indoors as long as they have plenty of toys, plenty of personal contact, and views of the outdoors. Bird will sit in a window or at the screen door and watch outside intently. Sometimes he will sit just outside the door and stare inside or out toward the roadway. I can open the door and he will just sit there, or stare at me. They are also somewhat sensitive and respond to being chastised, so take it easy with them. I know that a firm voice will make Bird pay attention and know he is in trouble for something.  They are very intelligent and adapt very well to most situations. This also means Bird will find a workaround for anything he wants but is restricted from.

They are athletic, and explore. They want to know what everything is. Bird even runs to see what I am eating and has to smell everything. He may even taste it to be sure what it is. They like high places, such as when Bird got stuck in trees. Be sure you have a very tall cat tree inside. They remain playful as they get older. Bird is sweet and friendly, and loyal. When he doesn’t have something pressing taking his attention, he has to climb up on me and have attention until he falls asleep.

They don’t have much reaction to things, as they are ready to serve. Bird adapts well to people that come in and out here, and is very quiet. When he wants something, though, he can be a pest. He doesn’t get loud, just persistent. He also knows how to knock (yes, knock) on the door to go in or out. They purr a lot and easily. All I have to do is give him some attention and here comes the boat motor. He can be outgoing when he wants to, but is also friendly. They love everyone unconditionally, not just one. This explains why he forgave me for not paying attention to him for so long. It is as if that never happened.

The Norwegian Forest Cat  is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. They love attention they receive from children who treat them politely and with respect, and won’t mind playing dress-up or going for a ride in a baby buggy. I believe this is why the neighbor wanted him for the granddaughter. Wegies can live with other cats (as Bird does here) and cat-friendly dogs, thanks to his amiable disposition.

Their Health and General Care

cat hair pillowNorwegian Forest Cats are generally healthy, with a long life span of 14 to 16 years. Watch for Glycogen Storage Disease IV, a rare heritable condition that affects metabolism of glucose.  Most kittens with the disease are stillborn or die within a few hours of birth, but occasionally a kitten will not show signs until about 5 months of age and usually die within a few months. A DNA test is available that can identify affected and carrier cats.

Also watch for Polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition that progressively destroys the kidneys. No DNA test for the disease is available for Norwegian Forest Cats, but the disease can be detected through ultrasound as early as 10 months of age. They can also be affected by Retinal dysplasia, an eye defect that causes spots on the retina but does not worsen the cat’s vision. I have noticed Bird has become a bit slow to acknowledge something he might see.

If you run across tangles while brushing him, work them out gently so you don’t hurt the cat. I found one on Bird’s stomach and he got mad when I tried to cut it out. Brush often enough to prevent those. A bath is rarely necessary, and with the Wegie’s practically waterproof coat, it can be very difficult to get him wet enough for a bath. You can see in the picture shown earlier that you need to really work to get him wet enough to wash.

Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Like all cats, Wegies are very particular about bathroom hygiene. A clean litter box will also help to keep their fur clean. Bird is very picky about the litter box. If I do not clean it morning and night, he will not use it. I also top it off with with a powdered deodorant that all my cats like. I have two that will wait for me to finish then I have to put the powder on before they get in it.

One thing I find often is that many people tell me what a gorgeous cat he is and that they wish they had one like that. That is also the problem I had with that neighbor. You should CHIP your cat, put identification on it, and better yet, keep him indoors. Because of his stubborn nature, he will get a habit that may include using a neighbor’s yard as a restroom. This can cause problems with them.

Bird is a character, a brat, a pig, a lovey, and a boss. He shows his love, and his needs. He is quiet but bullish and knows his name well. Every time I call him he looks at me and that makes my heart melt knowing that he respects me that way.

Lucky Cat, Lucky Me

how cat loves youOne thing that touches me about Bird is that he remembers both of my daughters well. When they come here, he is happy to greet them and wants to be near them. It is obviously love and recognition. My daughters get a kick out of his attention to them and love the fact that he greets them and shows them he cares.

The life of Bird would be one of pain and scavenging, sickness, injury, and loneliness. His life in the wild may have impacted the environment through capture of birds, lizards, and other beneficial critters. He probably would have had more kittens, adding to the feral community, and maybe succumb to predators such as a falcon or coyote. It is sure that he would not have had such a loving and warm life. He would have missed out on friendship, companions, family, and a blessed life. Even though he knew the pain of the loss of a friend, he has had so many positive experiences with his family of other cats.

On the other hand, I would have missed out on the love of a grateful soul, the fun and pleasure of his playful nature, smiles as a brat touched our souls. The attention and care he gives, wanting to show his pleasure and concern for my pain and needs. His insistence on touching, prodding, and nudging with his head, saying he loves me and wants to be with me. The comfort and ease he provides me in times of trouble and pain. He is a magical influence, an anchor for emotion, and unconditionally watching over me and protecting our home. He is a wonder, and fate brought us together. We are both so lucky to have each other.

The fact that I found Bird in such an unlikely place, it was fate and meant to be for both of us. His faithfulness, love, and friendship are awesome. I know he appreciates what I do for him, and wants to please me. He reacts to me, follows my cues, and is a good friend. He sleeps with me, on me, near me, and above me, all showing his devotion. I have to believe he knows he would have had a hard life, and that his opportunity here was a life saver. Thank you, Bird.

He has enriched the lives of myself and my family, as well as those around that love him as well and see him when they come. I have one neighbor that lost his cat and comes to play with Bird to get his “cat fix” when he is lonely. Bird loves him to pieces and tries to follow him home. We got through the problems of other neighbors and continue the good fight. His losses in life have certainly caused him pain, but he knows he is loved and has a true family.

He really did make me a lover of cats more than I was before. I always had to have dogs, but now I surround myself with wonderful cats with their love and attention that help me through my day. They help with my stress and life issues. They can make me feel good after anything, and lift my spirits when I need it. They know when I need them, and even give me so much even when things are going well.

I love my cats, my cats love me, and we are all lucky to have each other. Now you know when a Cat is a Bird.

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