Rockefeller came to us from our local humane society. We adopted him during one of their many adoption drives for cats and kittens. He wasn’t free, and you might even say he wasn’t cheap, totalling at the end just under $200 for him, his prescription diet (which he no longer eats), and a ‘starter kit’ including litter box, bowl, and cardboard scratcher. He was found with his littermate left in a carrier somewhere in the area. He was 7 months old when we brought him home, and on October 1st (his makeshift birthday but his definite birth month) he will hit the big 4. He is slightly cross-eyed.
Growing up, my cats were primarily outdoor cats. They’d leave for days, hunting in the woods and fields we lived around, and return bearing gifts of beheaded birds and disemboweled rodents. They were tough kitties, not cuddly lap cats. They also probably had other families when they weren’t with us, because that’s what outdoor cats do.
The change from a cat with such freedom and independence to an indoor cat that seemingly cannot stand to be more than ten feet from me is interesting and sometimes challenging. A lot of information has surfaced about feeding pets healthy, species-appropriate diets. My childhood cats were all very healthy, and most lived fairly long lives as well. We fed them kibble and wet food when they were indoors, and they hunted for themselves when they were out (when they weren’t likely hustling other homes for some dinner). As an adult human being in a developed country with full internet access, I have been able to learn a lot about feline nutrition and behaviour.
The first thing we did when we brought Rockefeller home was pay attention to how he reacted to the food we paid for. This prescription diet (Royal Canin Feline GI) he was on due to having gastrointestinal issues from a bad bout of worms as a kitten. After two weeks of runny, smelly poops, I was pretty much over it. I’d been studying raw feeding (both raw in the sense of raw meat and food, and raw as in unprocessed and without additives) for a few years, and had fed pets on it in the past with amazing success across the board. I got right to work. Around 3 years later, he has been fed primarily raw along with some various kibbles and wet foods that I have tried. Currently, we’re feeding a mix of The Honest Kitchen, Nature’s Variety Instinct, and raw organs, bones, and meat. Poop status? Odourless, small, and infrequent, just how I like it. He is also more energetic, has more muscle mass, a clean bill of health, and fur that would put the most valuable of cashmere sweaters to shame.
But Rock has his faults and quirks. He has separation anxiety (yeah! not just a dog thing!). He screams to get your attention, and when he has it, he screams some more. He talks more than anyone I know. He doesn’t respond to catnip (just a little disappointing after seeing how fun catnip can be for them).
We’ve come a long way with his separation anxiety. He is much better about not screaming at the top of his tiny (though seemingly disproportionately giant) lungs when we leave or come home; now he usually just approaches us, tail held high, eyes and ears pointed right towards us, trotting happily and ready to smell and detect what adventures he wasn’t invited to go on.
People often talk about heart dogs. I think Rockefeller is my heart cat. The past few years have been less than spectacular for us. Through anxiety, depression, stress, and sickness, my little dude has entertained me endlessly and even comforted me when he saw fit and necessary. He has turned me into a crazy cat lady, but one with just one cat. He pushed me to want to expand my studies from dogs and into cats; feline behaviour, training, health, and nutrition have become incredibly important to me. Even cooler, he seems to change the perceptions of people who claim they hate cats; with the little bit of training I’ve done with him, and his general floppy-yet-friendly personality, I’m told he is a bit more like a dog than most cats. Also, he’ll roll in front of you and present his tummy, and he totally lets you rub it without risk of claw and fang!
So here’s to you, buddy. You’re a pretty cool cat. We’re really lucky to have ended up with you. Thanks for reaching through the bars of your kennel and grabbing our pants legs as we passed by; you chose us.