Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happiness is a Best Friend

Pepper loves chasing a laser light, some cats don't. A neighbor told me how his cat, Ollie, chased the laser until he figured out where it was from. The reason for this is the curiosity, for some they chase it to try to catch and study it, for others it's a toy. Pepper not only knows that I control it, she also knows what makes the little red dot.

She chases it purely for the fun, and if it vanishes when she still wants to chase it, she looks at me, then the pointer, then me again. It is her method of asking for more play time, and she knows I will almost always keep playing until she's bored. For Ollie it was more about not knowing what it was that made it fun.

I have been encouraging Pepper to be curious now, even helping her discover new things. She has learned to recognize what doors open in which ways, and what the handles look like and how they function. She will sit in front of a door she wants me to open, watch me open and close it over and over, then walk to a different door and do the same thing.

I had no idea what she wanted the first few times she sat in front of a door, but when she started exploring the hallway outside the apartment J soon figured it out. She explored the rooms I could gain access to, like laundry and trash bin, but was always more interested in the doors. It's not just doors, faucets and light switches too.

The one thing that seems to really interest her is the closet door, a double sliding door where they overlap in the center. She understands how they open on each side, sometimes she explores inside a little bit, but then she stands in the middle as if expecting it to open in the middle as well. Lately she shows less interest, perhaps she figured out it won't open like that.

She is learning which doors I can open, yet often gets persistent about doors I can't open, looking at me with that "come on, just do it" expression. It is so nice to see her curiosity blooming now, as it seems to overpower her fears. She is still very cautious of new animals, especially hairless apes.

I bought a deluxe grass garden for her too, I used a refill in a small container to see if she liked it. The grass seems to calm her when she's agitated and she enjoys rubbing her face in it and chewing on the individual blades. When she gets use to walking with me, she will love one of our local parks, for now I will keep her supply of live grass steady.

Her health is also improving. The Humane Society takes great care of the animals, but many become depressed or heart broken about being discarded. Pepper was a bit depressed, and she didn't do much, and ate only the food that the shelter gave me for the first couple of weeks. Now, with her playing and exploring more, and her mood improved a lot, she is looking much more fit.

Pepper's claws are powerful, she is shredding the cardboard scratching thing I got her, it is the only thing she uses her claws on. Seriously, I have never seen a cat this frightened of using their claws. She worries I'll punish her for kneading on her bed, won't use her claws to hold on when frightened, and never claws the carpet. I am worried that she won't use her claws to even defend herself.

I bought her some fancy, all white, porcelain dishes, she did not like the plastic bowls I got her originally. The new bowls only cost $1.50 each at Daiso, but they are fancy dishes, and she does prefer them. She use to take the food out of the plastic dishes before eating it, and would not drink water from plastic dishes at all.

One problem is that Pepper is a stoner cat, she loves her catnip and gets lazy when she sniffs it. At first I didn't notice a change, between getting sick from the stress of moving in and her being depressed there was almost no difference. Now that she is acting more alive and happy, it's pretty clear that the catnip makes her really relaxed.

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