Animal Kingdom

pets 0719
Sorry about the backlighting and picture quality. It’s rare to get all  three of them in photo-frame range. Top to bottom: Na Ki’o, Marrakesh, Oz.

Last week Oz and I went to his overdue annual check-up, and yesterday Marrakesh and I went to his overdue every-other-year check-up. (Na Ki’o, who goes to a different clinic, went to his check-up, on-time, earlier this year.)

We received endless notices about Oz’s need for a check-up, but it wasn’t until I asked after his visit about Marrakesh that they decided he was overdue. Apparently there had been a glitch at some point with the computers, and he sort of fell out, although his limited record appears to be intact. And there’s some app I can sign up for that gives me access to their full records. Except that I don’t know how to use apps on my phone.

At both of these recent visits, Dr. Seward and I had conversations about how well our animals might transition to their new house. She is well aware of Oz’s nervous nature — in fact, while looking to see how long these animals have been with us, she reviewed Oz’s several early visits: “Got in the trash,” “got in the trash,” “got in the trash.” And then we recalled how he pulled the crockpot off the counter and helped himself to a full pound of slow-cooked meat.

Oz is the one I worry about the most, and he’s the one with the most acclimatization. He goes to the new location at least once every day; he gets included on trips to take items to the storage shed; he knows where to start sniffing out foxes as we walk through his new neighborhood.

Even if he loves his neighborhood, he’s not very fond of his house-in-progress. I don’t know if it’s the new lumber smells that I like so much, or the threat of construction noise, even if no constructors are anywhere nearby, or it’s just not familiar enough. He seems like he would rather be outside, where at his current house he generally prefers inside. (Really, he likes it best when he can lie in an open doorway, half in and half out.)

I have no doubt, even if everything we own is in the new house, that the first time we leave him home alone he’s liable to go berserk in a full-fledged panic attack. He does less well with change than I do.

The family member I simultaneously worry least about while being highly concerned is Marrakesh. He seems to roll with punches when it comes to life changes, moving from shed to animal shelter to our house — I was going to say, with no ill effects, but I’m forgetting that shortly after arriving here, he threw up so copiously that he shocked himself into immobility (a vasovagal episode, for those of you medically inclined).

Hopefully we don’t repeat that all over brand-new floors, and I’m hoping it was a reaction to a change of food rather than a change of location.

I figure he’ll do reasonably well moving into a new house, but I worry about his predilection for outdoor living. Since he checked in at 20 pounds yesterday, Dr. Seward is not worried about an owl carrying him off, although she does have a cat patient who twice has had an owl try to wrest mice from its mouth (once breaking the cat’s jaw), but she said — and this surprised me — that Marrekesh not too big for a fox. And we know at least one fox, who produced a littler of three pups earlier this year, lives nearby. But she’s not a fan of Oz, so perhaps she won’t come too close.

There have been several mountain lion sightings in the area, and last year Lynn apparently walked obliviously past a bear. (Dr. Seward was visiting a friend on the other side of the river when a bear ambled up to the patio and flopped down next to a deck chair. Her friend said, “Oh yes, she’s there all the time. We just take pictures.”) Plenty of opportunity for cat-as-snack.

But Dr. Seward allowed as how cats can be fairly savvy, and as long as hiding places exist, she’s feeling confident he will be all right. Other than perhaps under the deck, I’m not sure we offer a lot of hiding spots so far. But maybe as he gets older — Dr. Seward still doubts he’s as old as his record says (11) — he won’t feel as much need to roam as far, and he and Oz can spend their days half in and half out of doorways. Assuming the mosquito quotient allows for open doors.

Na Ki’o I figure will spend a few days trying to hide in his new house, but if that’s where the food is, that’s where he’ll go. There are very few things in life that scare Ki’o enough to put him off his feed. (I recently saw his weight on a vet invoice, but it was in kilograms — was it 7.5? — so you’ll have to do your own conversion. Suffice it to say, no one is going to accuse anyone in this house of malnutrition.)

Of us all, the only one who is going to miss the stairs is Na Ki’o. That’s his favorite game: Stair. Even though I’m a regular participant, I don’t understand all the rules, but he slides gelatinously down on his back or side as I rub his belly and he waps at me clawlessly and gnaws toothlessly on my wrist. The stairs have been the majority of his exercise regimen, too, as I deliver some of his food to a dish upstairs in a move designed to get him to move.

We can find a second location to put a dish in the house to facilitate movement, but I don’t know how much fun Stair will be without stairs to slide down. Maybe the belly-rubbing is more of a key to success than sliding down stairs. At least we’ll hope so.

And there won’t be forced air and there will be a steam shower to help combat asthma, so perhaps that will make him happy. Because that’s what we really want, isn’t it — happy animals?

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