Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Crew - Jack

Jack is my first foster failure.  I started fostering in 2002, and he was in the third litter I had.  He came with three other kittens, and shortly afterwords one of them became very ill and needed to be put to sleep.  It was the first loss I had fostering, and it hurt.  I spent a lot of time with that group of kittens as a result.
Jack was a pretty unremarkable kitten. He came with the name Houdini, which fit him nicely because he was quite a little escape artist, but it wasn't an easy name to call a cat.  Jack has the ability to look like several different animals depending on his mood, and we picked Jack because he looked a bit like a jackal one day. He was a little fluffier then most short haired kittens, but wasn't quite long haired.  He was also quite gangly, and he almost seemed to be put together from several different kittens.  But he needed me.  He used to nurse on my ear and snuggle up tight.  I wasn't overly amused at the actual being nursed on, but his need out won my discomfort.  When the time came for the litter to go back and be put up for adoption I cried.  I had sworn to my husband when I started fostering that I wouldn't keep any of them (ha ha ha) but he was so special and unique, and I loved him for him - certainly not for his looks!!  I finally could not deal with it, and ran down to the shelter and scooped him up.

I was unemployed at the time, so I took Jack with me everywhere.  I fit him with a harness and leash, and we went to get ice cream, to visit friends and family, and many trips to the pet store - simply because I knew he would be welcomed there.  He basked in the attention and loved going out.  He would run to the door when ever someone would start getting ready to go out.  After a few months I found a job and he had to stay home.  He lost his love of going out, but he has not yet lost his love of being the center of attention.  When ever we have company he has to be right there.

He grew into his gangly looks.  He's now a very long sleek boy with medium length blue hair. He does have quite a bit of a belly hang though which waddles when he walks fast or runs, but it does not detract from his beauty.  He has a gorgeous mane as well which has a small white dot in the middle of it which developed after he became an adult.  Unfortunately he does NOT photograph well at all.  I think it is because you can't see him in three dimension and that is a pure shame.

Jack has had several medical issues, including a lump removed from his back when he was young.  He wasn't even a year old, and the vet was concerned that it might be a VAS because of it's location (near the scruff where the shelter vaccinates) but we were very fortunate it was a just a cyst. A couple of years ago he developed another cyst on his back leg, but we've chosen to ignore it until he needs to be sedated for something else. We also had the great FIP situation over the holidays of 2002.  As a result of some bad advice and true lack of knowledge I went through several months with a huge black cloud over our heads (but more of that with Muffin and Eli's profile) and in the end it turned out that Jack tested positive for FeLV.  I had him tested eight weeks later and he was still positive.  I started giving him Vitamin C, and when I had him tested a year later he came up negative.  I should probably have him tested again just to be sure, but I haven't.  THEN Jack started having urinary problems.  Eli had already gone through them, so I knew what I was looking at, but I still didn't get to him in time.  He blocked.  After going through the surgery and several round of "prescription" foods, he blocked again.  At this time I was facing problems with Em and her diabetes, so I was open to learning anything that would help, and I learned that diet is incredibly important in maintaining the right PH balance in a cat, and that the "premium" dry food he had been on was keeping him so dehydrated that the crystals were able to form a blockage.  I started making my own raw food, and while he ate it he didn't have any more problems.  Well making cat food for six cats was a stretch, but when the household got larger, I started buying it.  When we started buying Oma's Pride, it caused problems.  I didn't really notice until Jack got into quite a bit of dry one day and then ended up peeing in the bathtub.  I tried to work with the issues Oma's caused, but when just about all of the cats became ill on their food and they simply did not care, I then went to Bravo Raw.  Jack's issues pretty much cleared up, including his cruddy ears.  The only other issue with Jack so far is that he actually sprayed.  We had a foster cat who was not leaving, and this upset Jack.  I had seen him making spraying movements before, but he had never sprayed.  Fortunately he did it right in front of me, so I was able to make arrangements to get the foster re-situated, and I was able to work with Jack to ease his fears that other cats might be joining the household.  According to Jack, eight is enough!!!  A few medical things that are on the side of good, Jack has great teeth.  Even at 8 years (OMG he's eight??!?!) of age his teeth are still sparkling white.  He also had a strong heart murmur as a kit and young adult, but that closed up and is no longer around.

Jack is EXTREMELY food motivated.  He has never wanted for anything in his life, but you would have thought he spent many a moon starved and alone.  I jokingly call him and Muffin my garbage disposal and my dishwasher.  He also has this incredibly high pitched meow when he wants you to give him something... very much like nails on a chalk board. I don't doubt for a second if I could work with him alone, I could easily train him to do tricks.  He loves food and loves praise, but it is very hard with other cats distracting both of us.

He is also the Beta to Ollie's Alpha.  Ollie often feels the need to put Jack in his place, which is kind of interesting to watch because I do not see Jack competing for Ollie's status but my affection - which for the most part Ollie doesn't want.

Jack has outgrown his *need* for me, and stopped nursing on me a little after six months.  For the next six months he would nuzzle my ear, and give it a little lick from time to time, just to make sure he still could.  For the most part now that he is a "big boy" he acts very independent, but at night he is still curled up by my right side.  He loves it when I rub his chest and chin because he gets to sit up all regal like and accept praise.  My husband is able to give him full contact rub downs which include messing his fur all up so he looks like just came in from a hurricane.  Why it is OK for him to do that and not me I have no idea.  His fur is very fine, almost like a rabbit, and I think as a result of that Frontline does not work on him.  Fortunately Advantage does.

I love Jack very much.  I often whisper in his ear that he is my favorite.  I don't quite know about that anymore, but he is definitely the kitty of my soul.

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