(West Allis, Wisconsin)
Monty on his new scratching post
Since Monty's page has been very popular, I thought readers of this site might enjoy an update on his progress. I don't think anyone meeting Monty would ever guess that he started life as a wild animal. He is such a wonderful pet-- an intelligent, lively, affectionate animal. He is everything a person could ask for in a cat. I'm so glad that I was able to catch and adopt him. He's really become a part of our family, his presence creating new daily routines for us.
Monty sleeps in his own room at night with his litter, food, toys and scratching post in there. He gets "put to bed" about eight every night. One night I fell asleep only to be awakened by a loud meow at 10:30. I went into Monty's room and he was on his bed looking quite distressed because the light was on and the door was open. He knew I should have come at 8:00 to turn out the lights and shut the door. Instead of enjoying his later bed time he was upset that the routine was disturbed. He gets let out of his room at 5:00 in the morning. He meows loudly if he isn't let out by at least 6:00. Monty does not understand Saturdays.
Monty still retrieves toys. My husband says we must be the only people who wake up and have to play fetch with our cat. In the morning Monty waits for my husband to come out of our bedroom and pet him with his foot. My husband was too lazy to bend down and pet Monty one morning, so he held onto the door frame and lightly stroked the cat with his toes. Now Monty expects that. If Jeff picks Monty up he meows to be put down, stretches out full length and waits for my husband to stroke his belly with his foot. Jeff says we have such a weird cat, but I don't think Monty is the weird one here.
Monty now has a new vet. The old vet was not bad really, but it was a very busy office on a busy street-- like Grand Central Station in there, and this stressed Monty out. His new veterinarian only sees cats, in a very quiet office. I was motivated to seek a new vet because I felt Monty and I were being rushed through appointments and then the girl at the front desk would try to sell me things. I've since found out that the type of vaccines the old vet was using can cause tumors in cats. The new vet uses a superior type of vaccine, so I'm happy about that for Monty's sake. Monty can also travel to the new vet in his harness only instead of being shoved into his carrier-- I just ran the seat belt through the handle of the leash. He just sat on the seat and seemed quite content to ride in the car. Once inside the vet's office he hopped right up on one of their chairs like he owned the place, and they weren't even worried about his claws on the furniture.
Unfortunately, Monty's old vet is probably one of the most pro-claw vets in the area, although they do perform the procedure. In searching for a new pro-claw vet for Monty I found that the places doing declawing with the laser instead of the scalpel are actually more aggressive about doing the procedure-- probably because of the need to pay for the laser equipment. Declawing with the laser is not better for the cat-- when something is amputated it doesn't really matter how it was cut off-- the damage is still done. However, I have to do what's best for Monty, and the less busy office with no dogs and a vet who uses the best vaccines are all good reasons to take Monty there despite the fact that they do use the laser to declaw cats. I tried to find a vet in my area who does not declaw, and there weren't any who refuse to perform the procedure. At one place the receptionist hung up on me when I stated that I believe declawing should be illegal.
I have also been trying to buy the best food for Monty, looking for brands in which chicken is the first ingredient. I try to avoid products with a lot of by-products and fillers. He gets people food sometimes too. He and I recently shared my left over chicken from House of Embers in Lake Delton-- a really fancy (expensive) restaurant. He is one spoiled cat, I know.
I splurged and bought Monty a huge scratching post with little perches on it and a bed on top. It cost over $100 and it barely fit into my Chevy. After 15 minutes I was able to extricate it from the back seat. Monty climbs it like a tree, which is nice when the weather gets too cold for him to climb the real thing. He goes out every day (pretty much) with his leash and harness. One day he climbed higher in a tree than usual. He kept pulling against the leash as if to say, "It's o.k. Mom, I can do it." He got up there, took one look down and got scared. The next thing I knew he was hurtling down toward me claws extended-- a little seven pound bomb crashing into me. His thinking was, "Mom will catch me!" I did, but his claw caught my lip. Lest the crowd who defends declawing try to use that incident, let me state that it was my fault-- I shouldn't have let him get so high up and I was talking on my cell phone at the time. My neighbor, Kitty, said that Monty must really trust me, because usually cats won't jump down-- they just stay up there if they're scared. Monty hasn't gone higher than I can reach since that incident. It must have scared him as much as it did me!
Monty's siblings, a gray kitten and a striped one, are living outside still. They hang out in my neighbor's back yard just under her bird feeder, hiding in the ornamental grasses. They have been able to bring down a few birds. I talked to Kitty (the lady with the bird feeder) about TNR programs. Despite the fact that they are illegal in our area, she said she would be willing to be the caretaker of those cats if I could manage to trap them and take them in to be altered.
How can TNR be illegal when it is the best way to deal with feral cats? If you release a spayed feral cat in Milwaukee County, the powers that be consider it abandoning a pet. If you feed your feral cat colony you are feeding wild animals. The only legal option is to trap those cats and take them to animal control where they will most likely be found unsuitable for adoption and killed. Since most people can't bring themselves to do that the animals breed, perpetuating the problem.
I still have the trap we were using to get squirrels out of our attic a few years ago. One of these days I'll use it to try to trap those cats and take them to the Humane Society to be neutered. Once neutered Kitty can put food out for them and provide shelter without just causing them to be able to more easily breed and multiply. I'll write more about that situation as it unfolds. The sad thing is that those cats are just as special as Monty and probably would also have made some really nice pets for someone.
It breaks my heart to see those cats out there-- so much like Monty, but not Monty. One day I left for work, saying good-bye to Monty as he sat with his back to me staring out the back door. I walked out the side door to my car and there he was again! How did Monty get outside? He didn't-- it was his little brother or sister-- that black kitten from the day I caught Monty. She's slightly smaller than Monty, but otherwise almost exactly the same-- except that she's feral and he's a beloved pet.