Our live-in alien is Pete, the cat.
He may not have come from outer space, but when he came home from the veterinary clinic wearing his cone collar, our other house pets reacted like he had just landed in a spaceship.
Sunny the dog barked - which is extreme for Sunny who is a very quiet dog especially since Booker isn't here to egg him on. After one woof at Pete, Sunny was silent, but that didn't mean he thought cat looked normal.
Often I see him watching Pete from across the room, trying to figure him out.
Othello, Pete's brother, and Cruella, our third house cat, have shunned Pete. When our alien is wearing his cone, they avoid him. If Pete walks toward either of the cats, they scurry away, giving him dirty looks,
Poor Pete. He has no four-footed friends.
It has been 10 days since the accident and tail-ectomy. This morning the stitches were removed, but not the alien cone collar. The tail continues to be trouble for our big black cat so the collar will remain for now.
Multiple times during the day, I take Pete's cone off so he can eat and drink. During these feedings, even if I toss treats to Pete on the floor, the other two cats are still stand-offish - I wonder how long it will take them to accept him back into the family after the cone is gone.
While Pete is cone-less, I have him locked in the kitchen with me. I don't trust him. The other day, when I was thinking Pete could be done with his cone, he turned on his tail and tried biting it.
Good thing I was there. Everything would have taken a step backwards if he had chomped down. Pete would need more healing time, meaning more cone time. Poor Pete.
Poor me, too. A lot of juggling goes on while Pete is handicapped by that collar. As I said, when he's eating, I have to stay close so he doesn't take a bite out of his tail. He's so fast. The last time I turned my back for an instant and he had reinjured himself.
Pete also can't use our covered cat box. The cone won't fit, so he has an open litter box. After the cat uses it, Sunny acts like Pete gave him a treat. Oh no, we can't have that. I don't want the dog getting used to dining in the cat box, so I put it in places the dog can't go.
This change depends on the time. The dog is fenced off from going upstairs during the day. That's where the litter box is kept, but at night we make a switch so Sunny can come upstairs with us - okay, it's complicated.
The cone does cause problems for Pete, too. He tends to misjudge openings. Many times, Pete's trying to walk into another room, but the wall is in the way. Bump. He hits the edge of the collar and bounces back. Good thing Pete doesn't blame me for the tail accident. He'd have a long list of gripes against me by now.
To use the litter box, Pete has to scoot under the cat-gate to get upstairs without Sunny. It's a tricky maneuver. The cone often catches on a metal strip where the two floors meet in the doorway. Pete has gotten to be an expert at this operation - as long as the gate hasn't slipped too low, then he and his head gear can't fit.
At first, I didn't think Pete could manage the stairs wearing that cone, and to begin with he couldn't. He'd try and bump against a stair, which limited him to life on the first floor. Eventually, he figured a way to go up, so the plastic collar doesn't hit the stairs, he lifts his head and leaps up.
It's not natural for him to move this way, with his head held high, but it works and that's all he seems to care about.
Bob thought Pete wouldn't be able to get down the stairs. He figured the cat would catch his collar and tumble all the way down, but Pete was getting a handle on wearing the cone. He lifted it just enough so it would clear the stairs and bounded down safely. This amazed my husband.
I can hear Pete coming now. (Tick. Tick. Tick) There's the sound of plastic hitting the floor each time he moves. Soon he'll find me, and start begging for something he can't reach - mostly he comes looking for food or to be scratched - he's used to nibbling dry cat food any time he feels like it, but these days he's on a schedule (food/water, medicine) morning and evening.
We are all hoping the collar will be off Pete for good soon and the alien will turn back into a normal cat. It looks like that will take a while. This morning Pete demonstrated that he thinks his own tail is an alien and he's ready for a fight - I think I need a vacation from pets.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net;