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Miskin - 6 Weeks Later


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(Jump to Part III - One Year Later)
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December 5, 2013

It has now been 6 weeks since we picked up our new/old cat Miskin at the local Humane Society, and about a month since I wrote Part I of his story. A month ago, he was just beginning to come into the main part of the house that we've shared with our cats Tejitu and Tilahun for the past 16 years. And we learned some interesting things during his first few visits to the kitchen (which is the room next to the stairs to the basement, which is where he was staying while the other cats got used to the idea there was a third cat around).

The first thing we learned was that he was curious - but not aggressive. We started the introduction process by putting harnesses on both Tejitu and Miskin, and then Charlie stayed with Teji at the far side of the kitchen, while I let Miskin out of the basement. We weren't sure what either would do - which is why we had harnesses on both of them. Teji has always been the defender of the household - and bold enough about it that he once chased a half-grown labrador retriever under the long flowing skirt I was wearing for summer - which was quite the challenge to sort out as the young gentleman who had been walking the dog didn't feel it would be appropriate to help get the dog and cat out from under my billowing skirts! But Teji is getting older now, and hasn't bothered to chase even a squirrel for several years (though she still chases Tilahun regularly - but not as fast or as far as before). And Miskin was an unknown quantity - we hadn't seen him with other cats since the big spat 11 years ago. As it turned out, Teji was a bit worried about this "thing" in his kitchen - and Miskin headed over to say "hi" with every friendly cue displayed. Teji wasn't ready for that, so we didn't let Miskin get too close - but were reassured that neither was straining at their harness, trying to get to the other one.

After that initial introduction, we started feeding the two of them at opposite corners of the kitchen - and when Tilahun wandered out to see what was happening, she immediately got a bowl of food in a third corner (she and Teji have never been best friends, but have figured out how to share the house with a minimum of bats and hisses). And then we let Miskin explore the house when we were home, so we could referee if there was a dispute - which there never was, at least while we were watching. We also discovered that Miskin likes our little electric heaters. We have an old house, and rather than trying to keep it at a temperature I find comfortable, we have a little heater by my chair in the kitchen, and another one in the bathroom. They blow hot air - and Teji and Tilahun both make wide circuits around them, not liking the sensation. But as you see - Miskin thought it was great, and happily curled up right in front of it. He is a short-haired cat, and seems to have some arthritis - so perhaps it eases his weary joints. And once we saw how much he enjoyed sleeping there during meals - we got him a little rug, because the floor looked awfully hard. (I do feel compelled to note that he did not have an accident on his little rug - he is very nicely house-broken; the yellow is a trick of the lighting.)

I think seeing how much he loves being in front of the heater also encouraged us to move the process forward a little faster than we might have otherwise. As a bit of background, the stairs from the basement open into the kitchen - but if you turn in the other direction, you'll be in the bedroom - and little explorer Miskin discovered that fact very quickly - and even though his back legs seem to be a bit stiff - he figured out how to get up on the bed.

We'd planned to return him to the basement after his first evening with the family - everything had gone well, but cats are nocturnal, and we didn't want to wake up to a major commotion. But seeing how much he liked the heat, I couldn't bring myself to take him off the fleece throw at the foot of our bed and put him in his little cat bed in the basement. It worked out OK - Teji sometimes sleeps there - so we knew there was a chance we'd wake up to a bit of a row if Teji jumped up and discovered Miskin there - but apparently Teji took a look at the bed, and chose to sleep on the blanket chest at the foot of the bed - where she also sleeps frequently. And after a few more days, we decided to move Miskin's litter box up from the basement to the kitchen, and close the basement door - acknowledging both the fact that it was getting chilly leaving the basement door open - and that Miskin only went back there to use his litter box. We showed him where the litter box was, and closed the door - and everything worked! He does occasionally sit by the basement door - and we let him down for a few minutes so he can check it out - but it doesn't take long before he's back up where it's warm, and where there are people.

And while he and the other cats aren't friends, they do seem comfortable sharing the apartment, at least most of the time. I didn't get a picture (Miskin came running when I approached with camera in hand), but Teji is getting fairly comfortable sitting in Charlie's lap on the bed to watch the news, even if Miskin is curled up elsewhere on the bed. And Tilahun hisses at Miskin from time to time - but she also hisses at everyone else, and he's begun to ignore it, the same as the rest of us do. Several of our friends had told us from experience that this would work - and I had my doubts - but it is looking as if they were right!

One other thing we found interesting. As Miskin began to explore the apartment, we began opening doors - he'd been limited to a couple of rooms initially. And any new door - he was right there, eager to see what was on the other side. With one really big - and really fortunate - exception. Tejitu and Tilahun have both been allowed to go outside for most of their 16 years. I do know that's a potentially controversial choice on our part - but if they hadn't been allowed out, we would never have met Gashay or Miskin. They have a cat door to get back in - but both prefer to go out the "people" door if someone is around to open it for them. And Miskin has never dashed over to see what's on the other side of the door to the porch - and as far as we know, has never hopped up on the platform to look out through the cat door. I think he likes being inside. ♡