naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
naamah_darling ([personal profile] naamah_darling) wrote2017-03-09 07:35 pm

Smooch update! (Smoopdate?)

Good news!

First, thank you, everyone who sent us presents from the kitty wishlist!

We are set for lysine chews and other treats, and have at least two months' worth of the Feliway diffuser refills!

I've adjusted the list order and priorities to reflect what we most need right now (litter and Feliway are the things we go through FAST, and Etrigan needs new cardboard scratchers) but this has really taken the pressure off us this month.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  I will try to get individual thanks out to everyone, but I woke up to like six little packages on my doorstep this morning so it'll be a couple of days.

As far as The Man Himself, Smooch has been on the amitriptylene for about three weeks and we are seeing a noticeable, continual improvement in his levels of aggression and his marking behavior.  The screaming cat fights have gone from being once to several times a day to being once every few days.  I haven't seen him pee on anything in a week or so, and now that I know what triggers the behavior, I can try to interrupt it before it begins.  He is pacing and crying less -- he was doing a lot of that, and it was both upsetting for obvious reasons and also really obnoxious to deal with.

I've seen him walk away from a fight a few times now without going and marking immediately.  Something that literally never used to happen.  If we could get him to disengage, it was only to go and spray on something else.  Sometimes he would do both: complete the attack and then go to mark.  But I've seen him walk completely away on his own, without being prompted.  He just decided it wasn't that important, turned around, and fucked off.  I was honestly speechless.  And a couple of other times, I've reminded him not to be an asshole and he's left off.  And he's stopped lurking, trying to catch one of the others off-guard.

He does still have lapses where he pees on things or starts acting like a dick to everyone.  Expecting him never to slip up or backslide is just unreasonable.  I wouldn't expect it of a human on good meds and therapy, I certainly don't expect it from a cat.  So he's entitled to his Moments.

He does still have episodes where he gets het up and breathes hard and is all stiff and angry.  (You really need to feel him breathing like a bellows when he does this to believe just how unhappy he gets.)  I've started addressing these episodes differently.  Rather than removing him from the area, I will place Raleigh on his favorite perch, out of Smooch's reach.  This way Smooch's mind isn't occupied with returning to the same spot and finishing the aggression when he does because Raleigh is still there.  This way Raleigh simply magically disappears and Smooch is left with no-one to antagonize.  Since his attacks were not driven by boredom, but by the mere presence of another cat, this actually satisfies him, and the need to bully resolves on its own in a very short period of time.  It's also teaching Raleigh to retreat to higher ground.

At this point, I can honestly say that Raleigh "starts it" at least half the time by being the first one to hiss or swat or growl.  Once Raleigh starts acting defensive, that triggers Smooch's bully response and he will chase or attack, even if he wasn't going to before.  I understand where Raleigh is coming from so I don't blame him for this at all -- he's used to Smooch being a belligerent prick and is just trying to ward him off.  He doesn't understand that what is defensiveness to him is provocation to Smooch.  Hopefully this behavior will taper off as he realizes Smooch isn't out to get him.  Raleigh is a very easygoing, friendly cat, and not a great grudge-holder, so I have hope.

They are able to coexist peacefully most of the time.  They will sit next to each other totally calmly to look out the door or eat side by side, so they don't hate each other that much, at least.  If they can be calm for two hours looking out the screen door, they can learn to live with one another without fighting.

Smooch's biggest remaining challenge may be that he likes to enforce The Rules, so when one of the others is doing something and we have to tell them to stop, he will rush in and jump on the offender.  As an example, Raleigh will sometimes get it into his head to jump from the countertop to the top of the nearby bookshelf.  We don't want this, mostly because he is the clumsiest cat we have ever met and he for-real stands a very good chance of harming himself if he were to flub it, which is a standard outcome for him trying to do basically anything.  So if we see him about to make the jump, we have to call his name sharply and clap to get his attention (just saying his name calmly doesn't work, he will jump and then act sorry and not come down at all unless we get the spray bottle or poke him with something -- both things I don't want to have to do because they are so upsetting).  When we do that, he will jump off the counter to go do something else, at which point Smooch will sweep in and bowl him over.  Cue defensive response, cue squalling cat fight.  Raleigh is a screamer!

So Smooch does that whenever one of the others misbehaves.  It stresses him the heck out.  And he's not shown a lot of improvement in this area.  I will have to try to think of ways to work with him and not against him in this.  It's just hard.

Side effects have been minimal to nonexistent.  The meds make him sleepy but not too much so, and when he's awake, he's quite alert.  The first day or two it was a little alarming but he's acclimated and is tolerating it well.

It makes me sad to know that he may be feeling yucky side effects that he can't tell me about, but his behavior has improved so much that I think it's apparent that even if that's the case, he is overall feeling better enough to make it worth it.  I know that's how it is for me.  I'm glad I've been through all this personally, so that I know how shitty it is to be unmedicated, and how some side effects are worth it to have a good life back.

I'm going to talk to the vet in another two or three weeks and ask if she thinks we could raise his dose and see how he does then.  There is still room for improvement.  He's still not what I'd call stable, he's still easy to provoke.  We've just gotten really good at not doing that.  We may have gotten him close to stable.  I'd like to build some resilience next.

He is a sweet boy.  He is sleeping at my feet right now, like a hairy dumpling someone dropped on the floor.  I love him very much.

Hopefully his improvement will continue and the other cats will relax around him a little more.

Thank you all for your help with him.  I love him dearly.  I want to be the right person for him.  I want this to be a good home for him.  If I'm not, and it's not, then that's how it is and I'll do everything in my power to get him with a better person, but I am going to keep trying, because I think we on the way towards turning this thing around.