29 November, 2010

Introducing Sebastian Blue, Our New Maine Coon

We brought our new cat home on Saturday. He's a 16-month-old Maine Coon we've named Sebastian Blue. (And if anyone out there notices that our cats' names are now Bella and Sebastian, it was not inspired by indie Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, although we do like their music). He does remind me some of his brother, Seamus, but his face looks more feral. I hope to get a good picture of him this week.

I forgot how stressful it is (for me) to introduce a new critter into the house. I worry about the fact that he's been hiding for most of the last two days, has barely eaten, and seems really scared. Even though these are all normal symptoms for a cat in transition, I worry that he'll always be nervous.

We've set up the bedroom off the kitchen and the kitchen itself as "his" area, and put up a fence to keep Bella and the dog out. Sebastian spent most of Saturday under the bed, but sometime Saturday during the night decided to do a bit of exploring. We found him under the ice box in the morning. He didn't want us to scritch or pet him, it made him really nervous, so we pretty much left him there on Sunday, although I did set up the laptop in the bedroom and read to him out loud from the book I was reading so he could get used to my voice.

Sebastian under the ice box.

Later on Sunday he was back under the bed, still wanting to be left alone, although he did poke his head into the kitchen at one point when he heard Bella chirping. However, he was a little surprised to also see Maggie, his first dog, on the other side of the fence.

Sebastian sees Maggie for the first time.

Maggie and Bella, for their part, have not been happy with being left out.

Bella and Maggie look at me with disapproval.

Bella eventually said the heck with this fence nonsense, and came to see what the fuss was about. She jumped to the top of the refrigerator so she could watch Sebastian, who was in the doorway to the bedroom. The cats have been curious about each other, but aside from a little bit of growling in the first few minutes, have just been staring at each other. Last night, they had a fifteen-minute staring contest. I'm not sure who won.

Bella is up and over the fence in no time.

Bella, watching from the top of the fridge, wonders who the new stranger is.
Sebastian eventually went to the top of the refrigerator himself after having seen Bella do it, and from there, somehow managed to cram himself into the narrow space about the cabinet. At this point, I think he became overwhelmed, because we were all in there cooking dinner and Bella was hanging out. From what we can tell, he didn't come down at all during the night and didn't want us to go up there.

Sebastian hunkering down so we won't see him hiding on the cabinet.

I was pretty much worried about him all day today, and had placed his food and water dishes up there with him. Still, he hasn't wanted to eat, and I don't want him getting dehydrated. So I went to PetSmart and picked up some Catsip, which every cat I've had in recent years just loves. I also got a tube of GNC Ultra Mega Relax for Cats, which has chamomile and other relaxing herbs in it. I asked the store vet about it, and was told chamomile will work to calm some animals.

It is a gel; you squeeze out a strip up to an inch long and put it on the cat's paw. He'll lick it off. I figured if it didn't calm him, maybe it would at least stimulate his appetite. It tastes like chicken. Sort of.

I then left him alone for a while. When I checked 10 minutes later, it was still on his paw, but after half an hour I could tell he had eaten it. Fifteen minutes after that, I climbed up to the top of the refrigerator myself and sat down on it (we have high ceilings). This time, Sebastian let me reach up and scritch his ears and head, leaning into it. I did that for about 15 minutes, talking softly to him and stroking his head, and then went back to my computer where he could see me. Maybe the stuff does work to calm him. It only took him a few minutes after that to jump down and follow me into the bedroom.

So that's where we're at now. I've decided to cut his two rooms down to this one, until he's more comfortable with me and more confident overall. Perhaps the two rooms, with the view of the rest of the house, was too much for him. As I type this, he is slowly exploring the room, looking back at me to see what I'm up to. He keeps coming by for a finger sniff and a brief scritch, but it's all on his terms. If I approach him, he goes back under the bed, even if just for a minute, before he's off exploring again. He's sniffing at his food, so hopefully he'll eat soon.

I think I'll keep him in here another day or so at least, banning the others so he can chill; thank goodness I get to work from home, and can just drag the laptop around with me.

The stare down.


Rae said...

Oh, what a sweet sounding boy.

I am sure he will do well in your home once he adjusts.

I love the picture of him where he looks like a lion! Or is that Bella?

Joanne said...

Our sweet boy is going to give me a heart attack. All has been calm for the last hour--he was looking out the bedroom window while I worked--and then I heard a thud, spun around, and saw that he had managed to open the access panel to the tub and climbed quickly inside the wall before I could even stand up all the way. He's now waaaaaaay out of my reach. I don't think (crosses fingers) he can get any further into the wall, but now I realize that (after he gets out) I'm going to have to somehow latch the panel shut.

Soooo...how do I lure a cat out of the wall?

(That was Bella on the fridge; I'll have to better ID the pics.)

Kate R said...

OMG, I admire your patience. He's so cute I'd want to be hugging him til I squished him. I'd also forgotten how stressful it is introducing a new pet when there are others in the house until I read your post. I don't envy you in the least.

Karen Anne said...

Luring out - how about tuna?

When I had a terminally ill cat who was not eating well, I put some Gerber's baby food, either the chicken with chicken gravy or the turkey with turkey gravy on my finger and put it on his lips. He would lick it off. Often I could then finger feed him half a jar or more. (No baby food with onions or garlic, one is harmful to cats and I can never remember which one.)

You probably know if a cat doesn't eat for even a few days he can get fatty liver disease. My vet told me that getting even a modest amount of food into him each day would prevent that.

It was not unusual for it to take two weeks for things to calm down when I introduced a new cat into my house. After I moved, my one long term cat spent about two weeks mostly under the dresser.

It really is stressful on everyone, take some deep breaths :-) It will; get better.

Karen Anne said...

p.s. Bella looks like a lion in that photo.

Joanne said...

Sebastian made it out of the wall early this morning. He's dirty, but no worse for wear. I have a pile of boxes in front of the access panel now until I have time to get a latch or something for it.

He still wasn't eating, but trusts me enough to crawl under the bed with him, so I ended up finger feeding him a few mouthfuls this afternoon. That seemed to stimulate his appetite, and he ate dinner, drank a ton of water, and used the litter box. Yay! He still is very nervous, but under the bed we can play and he goes belly up and purrs. Progress!

Karen Anne said...

Great news! :-)

Kate R said...

YAY! Progress indeed!

I once adopted a cat that spent the first month under a utility sink in the basement of my old house. He eventually became the most affectionate cat I've ever owned.

Kate R said...

PS. Forgot to tell you, the cat I just posted about, his name was Sebastian. The gal I adopted him from had 2 little kids that were Ariel the Mermaid fans.

Joanne said...

Kate--A month? Poor sweetie. I wish we could just tell them everything is going to be okay, but they need to discover it for themselves.

Sebastian is an awesome name, isn't it?

Kate R said...

Yes, it is an awesome name. Funny, because it was not a name I would have ever thought to pick but it was just so perfect that I couldn't change it.