Friday, December 7, 2012

Zulu!


Zulu is a sweetheart looking for love. Her foster mom sent us this wonderful note about Zulu, and we know that she will make the most wonderful pet for her future family. Stop by this Saturday and Sunday from 11am-5pm to visit Zulu and see how wonderful she really is!

Zulu came to stay with me as my foster cat in August, 2012. She was surrendered by her guardian who became ill and was no longer able to care for the cat she had adopted as a kitten and loved for 10 years. I know how hard it must have been to give up this magnificent cat because when I think of Zou going to her forever home I know how hard it will be for me to let her go.

Zulu when she first came to us in August
Back in August, Zulu was 2 pounds heavier than she is today. She had real trouble getting around because of her weight. She continues to be on a strict diet since she is still weighing in at 19 pounds and that's just too heavy.  Her future family will have to remain firm about measuring out her food every day. She really is not a begger so it's pretty easy to keep her on track and she has made so much progress. Just 2 pounds has made a world of difference.  Her coat was kind of a mess when I got her but after just two months on her special diet food and daily brushing, she is now like black silk and since I tell her every day how beautiful she is, her confidence is much improved. Weight loss in cats must be slow and steady so this is a long term project but seeing the results of what's happened so far, it is easy to keep at it.

Enjoying playtime
She was brave about moving to my house. She came right out and got right into her bed. She is a cat that loves to sleep, especially during the day. In the evening, she loves to be brushed and play with her peacock feather, catnip cigar or a wand toy; with the wand toy she likes the wand part, not the feather part. Her favorite game is for me to push the wand under the little rug she likes to sit on. She is constantly amazed that there is something under the rug and she delights in pulling the rug back, grabbing and biting the plastic wand. We do this over and over again and she never tires of it.  Her way of playing is to lie on her side and grab with her front paws. It is still an effort for her to move much and I suspect she was never really a runner, jumper, wild play kind of girl once she left her kitten days behind.

She is a talkative cat - when you talk to her, she will talk back to you. Her voice is funny, quite gravelly and hoarse sounding which I love. She has many vocalizations - short chirpy sounds, more urgent meows when I'm preparing her food, greeting meows when I come in the door, and sort of 'under her breath' kind of grunt when she is happy in her bed.  You really know you have a companion in the room with you. She is very focused on me while we are interacting and that actually seems to take her mind of food - she really loves the attention.

She is an adult cat which means she likes her routines and has certain ways of doing things. In the morning after she's had breakfast, she retires to her bed and isn't the least bit interested in play or much interaction. That may be because I go off to work in the morning and she knows after all this time, that I'm not going to be around and she is fine with that. Her evening routine is also set - dinner, a short nap, and then I brush her and play the rug/wand game for as long as she wants to do that. She lets me know when she's ready for bed, which means she is going to get her tiny bedtime snack. Then she gets into her bed and falls asleep. Her routine is in sync with my routine and I think it's wonderful that she has adapted to her life here so quickly.

As the months have passed she has become more and more responsive to me. I think this increase in responsiveness also has to do with how much better she feels, physically and mentally. She now rubs against my legs while I'm fixing her food, sits closer to me on the floor, which is where I sit when we play, head butts me for more petting, stretches out full length for brushing; she just more relaxed and has really come to love her life. From the beginning she was gentle and sweet but kept to herself and didn't pay much attention to me except when I was fixing her food. Typical cat!



She'll be able to give herself a full bath once she loses a little more weight!
She has some special needs - all related to her weight, so these may disappear as she gets slimmer: she is not able to jump up on furniture so if there is a place up off the floor that she wants to sit, I make her a 'staircase' to get up on things. There are actual pet stairs but I haven't invested in them because she's not really that curious or interested in getting up on everything. Her bed is on the floor and that's where she likes it. She is not a lap sitting cat - again, I think it's uncomfortable for her to sit on a lap, but she likes to sit near me, close enough that I can reach out and pet her or brush her. She has a calming way about her and she is wonderful to be with. Another special need - she needs help grooming her rear end. She still can't reach back there to clean herself and after using the litter box, which she does perfectly and without fail, a baby wipe cleaning is a big help to her. She tries desperately to clean herself but she just can't get past that round belly. She is very good about my cleaning her although she grumbles and complains. She needs this cleaning on a daily basis to avoid getting any bacterial infections. Again, once she loses more weight, she'll be able to take care of her own cleaning and she'll be very happy about that!  She eats a special food, available from vets or from Pet Vet Pet Food in Oakland or El Cerrito. This is a canned food and it is more expensive than the less healthy brands of cat food but because she's on a diet she only eats one 5.5oz can a day so it lasts. She also gets a very small amount of the same brand of dry food. It is critical that she eat primarily the wet food to keep the weight coming off. Her diet is really the most important thing  to keep her healthy and happy. She loves the food. She also needs a laxative twice a day. This is available from vets and is just mixed into her food. This condition may also clear up with further weight loss.  Keeping her regular has also made a huge difference in her feeling well and happy.

Zulu now! Sleeker, healthier, and happier!
Zulu is a cat that you fall in love with as time passes. Because she's not particularly active, is overweight, has a loving but opinionated personality, likes her routines, and is not initially very responsive to a new person, she does not attract a lot of attention in a shelter setting. We've been developing our relationship for the past 4 months and have now really come to enjoy each other's company and love has blossomed.  To me it's very much like people - some are so easy to meet and make such a great first impression but for me those aren't usually the people that end up being my long term, dearest friends. It takes some effort to make a relationship work but when you pick the right relationship, you are happy to work at making it the best relationship it can be. That's how it is with Zulu - she doesn't throw herself at you in the beginning, she wants to get to know you and because of the great cat she is, I wanted to get to know her too. She is a cat and that's how cats are. Zulu is a cat that will win your heart and give your hers in return. She is a companion for life.

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