The Assimilation of Muffin
As a cat socializer, many times I thought of adopting many of the cats residing at HAHS, but never did, until I met Coriander in the Diamond room (she is now known as Muffin). Besides being a cute little ball of fur, this little girl was blind. I have a 6 year old male cat, Simba, at home so I knew there would be some work involved introducing her into our home. I filled out the application on Saturday May 18, then went home to search the internet for ways to accomplish this successfully for both of my felines.
Protecting a new blind kitty without overprotecting, and making it feel comfortable can seem like a big challenge, but after doing some home work on the internet I discovered it's relatively simple. Suggestions I gleaned from the internet were, put bubble wrap around sharp edges of furniture so the kitty doesn't get hurt when exploring, keep pathways free of odd items like shoes and don't reposition furniture so the kitty isn't thrown off track when “mind mapping” it's way around, tape electrical cords to the wall up as high as possible to avoid the blind kitty from accidentally biting or stumbling over them or knocking a lamp down on it's head. If there is an existing animal, provide a crate with litter, food, water and a box to feel safe in and give them time to get used to each others sent. A good thing too is let the blind kitty smell your hand before trying to touch it too much. Talking in a soft soft voice, and gentle touching once the kitty gets accustomed to your scent will go a long way to help your sight challenged feline feel comfortable. It's important to make your existing pet/pets feel visible. Keeping all that in mind this is how I assimilated Muffin into my home.
I purchased a large crate and outfitted it with a litter box, food and water dishes and a box for her to crawl into and on top of. I set them up in the crate in the same manner she was accustomed to at HAHS to ease her transition into my home. The crate was also to protect her from my 6 year old male cat while they sniffed becoming familiar with each others scent. I put bubble wrap around anything with sharp corners to keep her safe while learning the “lay of the land” as well as taped all electrical cords to the wall.
Saturday, May 20 Muffin arrived at her new home, scared and wanted to be left alone. I set her in the crate, shut the door and let her get used to her new surroundings, and her new brother's scent and mine. A few hours after arriving in her new home I opened the door to the crate, spoke her name softly several times, said she could come out and she did just that. Muffin's world of exploration was just beginning. The first thing I did was let her sniff my hand and told her it was mommy. I've done that several times a day so she will associate my smell with the sound mommy.
Simba was so curious about this new little creature, and as he approached to check her out she gave a little hiss. Blindness didn't stop my little girl from letting him know his place LOL. Since part of the assimilation process is to keep the existing cat from feeling left out, I immediately pet him when she hissed, talked softly, told him he was a good boy and gave him a couple of his favorite treats. Future episodes of her hissing at him were met with soft tones from me telling her it was ok, he was her big brother and petting her. After a couple weeks they uneventfully passed each other in the hall.
That first Saturday night Muffin slept in her crate, but once the door opened on Sunday May 21, it was independence day for my blind little girl. I just sat back and watch as she explored her new surroundings becoming an independent handicapable cat.
Muffin is a relentless scientist. If one path doesn't work she just goes in a new direction. It didn't take long for her to find the water fountain, even though water and food were still in her crate. She quickly found the wet food feeding station in the kitchen and within two weeks has fallen nicely into the work week morning routine, sitting in the kitchen with her big brother waiting for their mushy morsels.
Muffin was, and still is, a bit hesitant about being held. I always let her sniff my hand first, then gently pick her up, hold her close and scratch behind her ears. At the first sign she wants down, I let her go.
I was amazed on day 3 to find her on the sofa, then on the love seat. Couldn't imagine how she got up there or down. A couple days later I was treated to the maneuver. The back of the love seat is a favorite sleeping spot. After 2 weeks she managed to find her way to my bed for a nap, and she and Simba pass each other without her hissing at him.
At the end of week 1 I removed the crate, left the litter box and her food dish in close proximity to where she was used to finding them and she uses the water fountain all the time. At this point she had free run of my home.
Muffin seems to be adjusting well to her surroundings, she loves feather toys, running through the crinkle tunnel and just generally bebops around til she's ready to take a nap. I especially like it when I get home from work she finds her way to me so I can pet her.
It takes some patience, lots of love and understanding, but assimilating my blind kitty into my home has been my pleasure and gaining her trust is the reward she has given me.
We are currently in need of soft training treats (made in USA), Busy Bones, sensitive stomach cat food, peanut butter, unscented bleach, liquid laundry detergent, Dawn dishwashing detergent, Clorox wipes, waterless shampoo, kitten milk replacer, and paper towels. If you'd like to help out, please drop some off at the shelter!
Check out HSHA's Amazon Wish List for more specific needs.
We have several dogs and cats that are looking for a foster home. If you think you may be able to help, please visit our Fosters Needed page.
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