Hissing and Screaming

I don’t know anything about Callie’s past when she was a kitten. I rescued her at the age of 3, lost and frightened and I told her I would prefer it if she would act more like a dog because I had just lost my Jack Russel of 13 years to cancer. She has done her very best to fulfill my request and walks on a leash, rides in a bike basket and can hike in a backpack.

What I don’t understand though, is why she absolutely despises her own kind and practically goes crazy when she spots another cat or smells their markings. She loves dogs and would march right up to one to say hello if she weren’t on a leash. The dog’s, on the other hand, go nuts when they see a cat being walked on a leash. So confusion reigns for all and I just have to make sure there isn’t a confrontation of sorts and someone gets hurt.

Last night at 9:00 pm, Michael and I went for a walk with Callie tethered to the leash and we didn’t go down one block before she let out a shriek and a growl and hunkered down by a parked car. She looks up at me and then back again at the car, and I have to gently coax her to continue walking. We turned around and headed back and to my dismay, a sweet-natured ginger tomcat came out to greet Callie and welcome her to the neighborhood. He had a cute little Calico sister also! But Callie was so upset, growling and hissing, that I had to have Michael go over to the cat and ask him to return to his house. Once he turned around, I carefully picked her up and carried her back to the RV. Callie was so tense as she growled and shrieked, that she is actually quite dangerous to handle because she is beside herself with a mixture of fear and outrage.

Once we got her back and safely inside, she relaxed and wanted to stare out the window for hours. She literally has a tomcat and a beautiful calico right next door at our new space and she is going to have to come to terms with her PTSD. Watching them from the safety of her bed may help. She was so exhausted this morning, that she is now going to sleep past dawn. I will work on her social skills and see what I can accomplish this week. We are staying at the Riviera Mobile and RV Park for one week more and then we are heading for Montana.

Day 4 of Callie’s Diet

I can’t believe how easy this has been for Callie. Monitoring her food consumption means that she has to ask for food, which she does frequently, but all I give her is about 10 kibble pieces and when she finishes them, I put the rest back in the freezer. She loves frozen kibble on a hot, sunny day and would rather I feed her often and with small portions anyway!

Her allergies have been terrible though at the coast, with sneezing and itchy ears but her asthmatic cough is better. I think she must be allergic to grass because for a while her 2 ingredients-Venison and Pea Diet was helping her. Now we are back to square one again and increasing the steroid use until we can get back up to Morro Bay and her wonderful veterinarian. If anyone has any suggestions for itchy ears, please feel free to offer up some advice. I am going to swab them with Sea Breeze, an astringent that burns but soothes itchiness. I have used this before and at least it prevents her from getting an ear infection. She has nowhere to hide in the RV and when she smells the astringent she wants to run under a bed. The bed is up in the loft!

So, Callie will get up on the table when she is hungry while I am reading and writing and capture my attention by lying down and patting me with her paws in a very friendly manner. She is polite about begging for a handout.

Day 3 of Callie’s Diet

I was right in the middle of chowing down on a Hagen-Daz chocolate and almond covered ice-cream bar when I remembered that I was going to give up chocolate to show my solidarity with Callie when it came to her diet. She is on steroids because of asthma and her weight has gone up because her appetite has been stimulated. It isn’t fair, and I feel bad for her because I absolutely despise dieting, but Callie can’t get enough exercise and has to cut down on her caloric intake instead. So I didn’t even make it to day 3 before I inadvertently screwed up, but Callie is doing better than I expected and isn’t showing any signs of distress.

We went on a long walk this morning and she picked up a young suitor. He is gray and white, long and lean and followed us back to the RV to check out this new and cute arrival to the Riviera Mobile Home and RV Park in Encinitas, California. There are in fact, quite a few cats that run free, and when Callie gets a whiff of their scent, she hisses at imaginary shadows and bushes in anticipation of a fight. She hates other cats and prefers dogs. This handsome boy doesn’t know it though.

Callie is doing well, has more discipline than me on the 3rd day of her diet, resting comfortably in the RV while I write and work on my photography, and Michael works on his research. It is a quiet day with a marine layer muffling the sounds of the nearby coastal train. Encinitas has a train station and it is really an awesome beach town. We are so appreciative to be out of the desert heat in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park and back home again to our favorite city. We had to move away from here about 3 years ago and love the desert 9 months out of the year. The summer is truly an inferno though and I feel so bad for the plants, animals, and humans that are forced to endure the brutality of the heat!

I Know it Sounds Cruel

I know it sounds cruel, but I have to put Callie on a diet! The steroid cream that is rubbed in her ear for her asthma attacks is causing her appetite to be stimulated and she is gaining too much weight. Hanging around in the confines of the RV is not enough room for her to run around in, and the walks we go on are not long enough to keep her weight down. I feel terrible about doing it, but the vet has told me she can’t gain any more weight.

She has always done very well with self-control and her figure has held at a svelt, 8 pounds for years. I could leave a bowl of dry food out for her and she would nibble a few here and there every couple of hours or so. But now she is up to about 9.5 pounds, which is a pound and a half too much for her size. She has a small head and her tail is not her best feature. I have always joked that Callie needs a tail extension to really put her in the category of BEAUTIFUL instead of just an adorable, cute, cat.

When the pretty fish patterned harness with the turquoise green bow tie is velcroed on snugly around her rib cage, poor Callie has quite a rotund tummy and it is only getting bigger by the day. This makes her tail seem even more pathetic and her head teeny tiny! I am not one to judge, I am about 10 pounds heavier than I should be myself, but in order to keep Callie healthy, she has to bite the bullet and reduce her caloric intake and it is up to me to see that she does.

My daughter suggested that I measure out the amount that is required for her ideal weight, (which should be 8 pounds) and found out that Callie can only have 1/2 cup of dry cat food per day! That seems really cruel to me. She is also on a restricted ingredient diet because of her itchy ears and Science Diet, Venison and Peas is all she can eat. And to restrict the amount she can eat at this time in her life seems unnecessarily cruel. But I am determined to keep her healthy, so I measured out the cat food and placed it in the freezer and have been giving her 15 kibble pieces every time she begs for food. At night, I will leave out whatever is left over from the day and allow her to finish up as much as she wants out of the original 1/2 cup.

Today she hardly put a dent in the food bowl, so I am very relieved that her first day on the diet went so well. I don’t think she missed it that much and seems just fine with the new plan. I was leaving her bowl filled to capacity whenever we left the RV just to make her feel better, actually it was to make me feel better, and now I know it was a big mistake. Callie was eating out of boredom and I was feeding her to appease my own emotions and the guilt of leaving her in the RV all alone.

So I am very pleased to inform you that her first-day of dieting went better than I had imagined it would be, and she has close to a 1/2 cup of food left over to pig out on while we sleep. I will keep everyone updated on her and my success and will even consider giving up chocolate during her weight loss days. We must be a unified front at such difficult times. I for one hate dieting, love to eat, and my solution is to exercise more. Callie can’t do that, so a reduction of calories will have to suffice!

Night Owl, Morning Dove, and Crowing Rooster

When 3 adults and one very frisky kitty are co-existing in a 24ft RV, the chances of all 4 of us having the same internal time clock is next to nil. It just so happens that Callie is the first one up in the morning to sound the alarm that she has been polite all night because she is nocturnal. But once the sky is barely light, she has the right to awaken the rest of us lazy-ass, people.

On the trips when it is just Michael and me traveling with her, it is I, Crowing Rooster who will climb out of bed to feed, pet, groom, walk and entertain her for a while before she can retire peacefully for the rest of the day. Michael, or better yet, Night Owl, is left to sleep for a little while longer because he is up very late working on his research paper and takes the job of petting Callie for hours at a time during the late night hours as she rests fitfully by his side, quite seriously. The reason for Callie’s unease is because I am in bed up above her in the loft, and I cannot look down and catch her with Michael; she views this as being unfaithful to me and will jump up immediately and pretend it was just a coincidence that she was on her back with her eyes blissfully closed, getting a tummy rub next to Michael’s thigh.

Lara came to visit on Monday, where the dynamics changed completely because it is important for Callie to test everyone’s limits and find a way to not only sleep in Lara’s bed if she can get away with it but to also get her up first thing in the morning. I can hear Callie purring at dawn because she is right below me on the driver’s seat in her own bed and when the thought crosses her mind that she is going to go visit Lara at the first hint of light, I hear the explosive purr of pleasure and delight as the idea begins to unfold in her mind. I then hear the sound of her paws hitting the ground as she jumps up on Lara’s bed. Callie will meow and tap Lara on the face so that she will wake up with a moan and the ritual of being asked to get up first is passed on to her as I smile to myself high up in the loft.

So we have jokingly given each other each a new nickname- Crowing Rooster for me because I am already a morning person who absolutely loves the dawn. Morning Dove for Lara, as she too is a morning person, but does not want to get up quite as early as Callie would prefer. Morning Dove is actually spelled Mourning Dove due to the sad call that these lovely dove’s make and Lara has to reluctantly be woken up with a moan that is similar to a dove. That is the one drawback to sleeping down below where the kitchen table turns into a bed right across from the sofa because Callie’s bed is below on the driver’s seat. Why climb up to the loft and wake me up when Lara is right there? Michael has been named- Night Owl and it fits his time clock perfectly. He is able to stay up quite late with headphones blasting as he works on his laptop and I can sleep high above him in the loft with one earplug in my ear.

We have all adapted quite well to living in the small confines of this RV and are quite pleased with the lifestyle. It is like pretending to manage a household. The smallness keeps the stress levels down for me because I am somewhat of a neat freak and like my affairs in order. Michael brings a lot of chaos and excitement to my life, so we have reached a happy middle ground with retirement and over 40 years of being together. He has the thrill of travel and seeing new sights, Callie gets an adventure every single day, I have a darling little house on wheels that is easy to maintain, and Lara can come visit and join us on the Travels with Callie tour every once in a while. I can’t ask for anything better to have happened to my family and for that, I am grateful.

Since no one else wanted their photo taken this morning, and I can’t blame them, Callie is the only one that will be represented in my photo blog post of the day. The rest of us look too disheveled and aren’t quite as photogenic!