"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Zombie Kitteh Update

Life with a tripod cat continues to be interesting. We brought Zombie home on the assumption that he would eventually learn to ambulate as close to a four-legged cat as possible. I have met a variety of tripod cats in practice, some of them later-life amputees who have adapted to life without a leg without missing a beat. So you would think that a cat whose leg was amputated as a kitten would have it even easier, right? Not necessarily.

Watching him move around, even from the time he was a very small kitten shortly after his amputation + death (for those of you who missed Zombie's story, go here. There is a very real reason why his name is Zombie!) and well before he was ours, one of my concerns was how normal his remaining hind leg would be as he grew up. He had this tendency to bow out the leg so that his stifle was completely perpendicular to his body while hunching and twisting his back. I couldn't imagine that to be comfortable. He was still doing this when we brought him home at 4 months of age. I watched him and worried about him developing into a sort of three-legged Quasimodo cat as a result of assuming these awkward positions while his body was still growing.

I figured we would deal with it if that happened but in the meantime I started to do little things to try to straighten him out. A sort of physical therapy if you will.

I don't think I would have adopted him if we had not had another young cat for him to play with because I believe it has been vital in his development. The only time when his back was straight was when he was in full flight running around the house with Aengus. He might be missing a leg, but even in the beginning he was FAST! He could actually outrun four-legged Aengus! We gradually let them interact longer and longer to allow Zombie to build up strength, until they were together all the time. Playtime occurred in the morning when Charles and I woke up ("They're awake! BREAKFAST TIME! YAAAAAY!!!"), in the late afternoon around dusk, and later in the evening close to midnight (because of our work schedules, Charles and I tend to be up later than most even on our days off.) Play involved chasing in a sort of game of tag, and some rambunctious wrestling where the two would grapple at each other and kick one another's heads with their feet. Initially I supervised these wrestling matches, fearful they would turn into fights, and I sometimes scolded Aengus if he got too carried away...but Zombie would always go jump on Aengus begging for more. So I started just letting them do what they wanted. (Boys I tell you. Even kitty boys...For example, Zombie has an unending fascination with the toilet bowl which has meant that since his arrival in the house, we keep the toilet lid DOWN at all times. The toilet gets cleaned regularly but still...Only a boy cat!) Aengus would win at wrestling because 4 legs, but Zombie would win at tag.

Do you think cats are weird? Oh boy, you have no idea! Cats love what we call the butt pat or spanking. Examples:

Check out what she does every time her owner stops the pats!

It gets even better:

Owner is using foam paddles. They make a lot of noise but he is not spanking this cat hard. And NO, you certainly cannot train a cat to like anything. This kitty genuinely loves this!

I have yet to meet a cat that didn't like this kind of patting. One of the ways I introduce myself to cats in the hospital is by letting them sniff my hands, then I scratch their ears and chins, and if they are receptive to being loved on, I'll lightly pat them over their rump right in front of their tails or around their hips. A relaxed kitty will slowly straighten their hind legs until they are on their tippy toes. Some cats like it so much that they get overstimulated to the point of gently nipping you. Yes, cats will nip you with affection. Yes, cats are weird!

Back to my own cats. Astarte loves butt pats so much that she will do a little dance with her hind feet. It's hilarious.

She doesn't do her tippy-toe dance with her hind feet in this video, but you get the idea.

When Aengus was a kitten, he didn't quite know what to make of it when I started patting his rump. I'd pat him simultaneously while patting Astarte and he'd get this confused expression, "Ummmm...I think I like this?" Then he'd look over at her who was obviously enjoying it and he'd relax, "Okay, I think I like this." He'll raise his rump so high that he'll eventually just topple over.

Zombie liked it but would fall over because of his missing leg. So I would just place a hand under his nub and pat his rump. Result? He'd straighten his back and lift his tail. I showed Charles and we started doing this several times a day, whenever we thought about it.

And he started surprising us. By eating like a normal cat:

And being able to climb on things:

Just because the toilet lid is down doesn't mean that his endless fascination with the toilet has ceased...
But we were still impressed that he was able to climb up there!
And being able to pounce on things:

Cats walk and trot as their default gaits:

But they can also run or basically canter/gallop:

The difference between a galloping cat and a horse is that cats have these crazy elastic spines that allow them to WAAY overtrack. Definitely would not want to ride a cat!
Same phase of gallop in a horse.
To trot, an animal needs to have diagonal pairs of legs, right? So obviously since Zombie did NOT have diagonal pairs of legs, he would gallop/canter around the house on his three legs. Or rather gallumph.

Last week, he trotted up to me for breakfast. I have no idea how and I was not able to catch it on video with my phone. But he trotted.

On three legs.

He is also now able to jump up with his one hind leg:

And he is also able to stand for his rump pats with no assistance. Of which I have no video because cats.

So I think our original assumptions ended up being correct. :)

His neuter occurred last week at about 6-7 months of age. We (vets, foster mom and I) had all agreed that it was best to wait as long as possible for his neuter. The vets and his foster mom wanted him to weigh more than 6 lbs before his neuter and I personally wanted him to get full advantage of all of that testosterone to make him as strong as possible. I think it worked: he went into his neuter weighing 8 lbs of rippling muscle.

I was trying really hard not to stress about it since Zombie had already died under anesthesia once. But he did not die during his neuter and he came back home to us alive and well. Not a zombie x2 cat. ;)

I caught him licking his surgical site once so he had to wear the Cone of Shame for 24 hours.
He was fine without it after that.
He adores Charles.
And our adoption application was approved! He is officially ours!

Yes, he knows his name!
This is one of the big reasons why I enjoy having cats so much: all three of ours talk back!

Because one Zombie-cat talking video isn't enough... :)


  1. Our cats love butt pats. Our cats all know their names. Siska will not shut up and Stazi will cuss out J for not sitting and petting her whenever she believes she should be loved upon.

    He is looking awesome and the rehab seems to have been very effective.

    And boys and toilets is not limited to cats. . . . just saying.

    1. Oh mine know their names and the 8 billion nicknames we have for each of them. They just choose when they want to come to you when you call them. Like most cats. Lol And some mares I know! Mine all talk back, though Aengus is the chattiest of the three. One of my favorite things about Aengus is that you can SEE him assessing your whole body language: his eyes asses your body position, your hands, your mouth and then your eyes. And his expression will change according to what I'm telling him without words: "PLAY! YAY!" "Food!" "Love!" If I just grin or laugh at him, he immediately chirps and plunks onto his side for belly rubs. He is SUCH a cool cat. I need to write a post about him. I find funny that the cat we specifically chose for Charles is the one that decided I belong to him, and the other two, who are supposed to be mine, decided that he's their favorite. Astarte and Zombie love me, but they adore Charles.

      I was laughing while I was typing the toilet bit, remembering the "10 Things Moms of Boys Must Do" I posted on Funder's FB, and your responses to it, thinking that yup, toilets are a boy thing in general...and it does NOT change when they grow up! *rolls eyes.* Lol

  2. I love hearing updates about Zombie, he's such a cutie and so very lucky to have a family like yours!

  3. I wrote a comment and blogger ate it. :(

    Little Boy will get chatty with butt rubs; Lizzie Borden circles; and Lili Leau gets overwhelmed, bites, and runs off. A cat at my old clinic, Matt, a rescued Persian who ran like a drunken sailor, would lick the air.

    And I didn't realize that toilet obsession was a boy cat trait! Little Boy is incredibly fascinated with our toilets!

    Zombie looks great! He's huge!

    1. Booo Blogger :(

      Love your kitties' quirks! :D

      Our three original girls in PR, Bastet, Shakti and Astarte, had a short-lived toilet fascination, until they each discovered it was water in the bowl. That was the end of the toilet fascination. Bastet decided she preferred to be obsessed with brushes (she would roll on a hair brush until my mom picked it up and brushed her), Shakti loved blow dryers (the second I turned the blow dryer on, she would run from wherever she was in the house to sit and stare at me while I dried my hair), and Astarte continues to be fascinated by boxes. Zombie's toilet obsession, however, has continued, despite now knowing that there is water in the bowl...lol

      My mom's cat, Bastet, would lick the air with butt rubs and my old lady Shakti would become overstimulated. She would nip and then ask to be petted on her head. Cats are such funny critters.

  4. Replies
    1. He still tries to scratch his left ear with his nub! So YES! lol

  5. Zombie is adorable. So glad he's thriving!

    My felines - Lucky Barnett, Alex and Seven - have all had a fascination with the toilet paper, rather than the toilet itself. The toilet is the stool upon which you unroll all the toilet paper from...

    We've learned to ring the bells on the door when needing out, so no litter boxes are necessary. This usually happens circa 4 am.

    The 24 toed polydactyl (Seven) likes the top of his head scratched where he had a huge abrasion when I found him on the side of the road. He'll go all drooly on you. Everyone here digs the butt patting, although if you don't know when to stop it leads to over-stimulation. :D

    1. Your cats sound AWESOME Calm, Forward, Straight! Aengus had a temporary fascination with the toilet paper that he thankfully outgrew! And I love polydactyls. Seven..what a great name for a cat with extra toes!

  6. Your cats have such personalities!:) And I don't think it's just cats that like the butt rubs - our dog is crazy for them and so is Nimo. He figures anyone just standing around should be scratching his butt instead and he'll not so subtlety sidle up to said person and present his hind end for scratching. Neither the dog nor the horse are as flexible as the cats though!

    1. Rhythm used to love the butt scratches too! And true about the dogs. My supervisor's Lab mix will back up into people so they scratch his butt. :)

  7. I am sitting here patting Shitner's butt right now as I type!

  8. Yes. Boy cats. Bathrooms. My bathroom troll is gonna get his rear end evicted however. Dead things in the bathroom is not okay! Blood smeared on the walls (WTF CAT?!) is not okay! Why do I have cats, again? Oh...wait...because he's so fuzzy and fluffy and lovey...

    1. I hope the lemon scent experiment worked!

  9. I am such a Zombie fan...and my cat has a fascination with the toilet too! What is with that?