To look at this sweet, tubby little guy, that now rolls around for tummy rubs and purrs with his deep, throaty sound, chases a laser pointer with reckless kitten like abandon, never gets into fights with other cats, and sometimes even sleeps in bed with us, its hard to believe what a pain in the butt he has been.
Xander's story with us started in March, 2000. He was a featured cat in our Millenial Adventures. He was a refugee from Fort Armstead Park, MD, a notoriously bad place for cats and kittens. He was named as part of our famed "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series of cats. (We also had a Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, Giles, Angel, and Faith. Than we ran out of time to watch the show and ran out of charactors). Anyway, Xander came in as a 4 month old feral kitten and promptly tore Bob and I up, many times. Eventually we worked out an agreement, we would leave him alone and he wouldn't try to shred us.
Xander's first Picture
Every now and then you hear a story about how a cat or dog traveled back to its original home after the family moved miles away? Well with Xander it was a matter of traveling back downstairs to "his" room. After a few weeks in the new room, we started noticing whenever we tried to open the door he would be right there, ready to shoot out on us. Usually he would make it too far and he would be "herded" back into the room. Then he caught a lucky break..... the door knob broke. The part that actually goes into the door frame that holds the shut, stopped going into the door frame. People coming and going from this room did not know this and Xander siezed his chance. The door would drift open a little, a paw would go into the open crack and open the door the rest of the way. Most of the time, the cats in this room would be too frightened to explore too far, and as soon as they heard someone would run back into the room. But not Xander. He would take off for the old room downstairs. If he didn't think he could make it into that room, he would head for cover under the couch in the family room. About this time we had two other semi feral kittens, Bob and NB (Non Boots) aka "the beezer" that kept escaping from the kitten area. What usually ended up happening was that Xander and the kittens would meet up and tag team Bob and I while we were trying to get them back to thier respective areas.
Everytime we put Xander back in "his" room he became more determined to get out. However, one time he got out of his room and tried to make it down stairs to the old room... at least we think that was his game plan. Instead I headed him off at the stairs and he ended up running into the master bedroom. This was completely new territory for Xander. He didn't know quite what to do and stopped cold in the middle of the room. We think he was going to turn around and go back, but he now had another problem... Billie Jo, the enforcer. Billie wasn't exactly going to let him by without some discomfort on Xander's part. So he decided to run further into the room. The only problem was that Ashley, the bully was waiting for him. (Many people don't know this, but Ashley and BillieJo would make a great tag team wrestlers.) At this point Xander decided that under the bed was his best bet for survival.
Thus began what has become known as the summer of catching Xander.... we saw him everyday. He became best friends with Buffy. He eventually worked out an agreement with Ashley and BillieJo. Tia (the queen) gave him the once over and deemed him beneath her, but grudgingly let him live. We just couldn't catch him to put him back in his room. He eventually settled into our closet without too many problems.
Soon it came to pass that Ceasar came to live with us. Ceasar arrived with impeccable manners: he was crate trained, he didn't pee or poop in the house, he came when called, he wasn't food agressive. Although we knew it wouldn't take long for Bruno and Boomer to teach Ceasar otherwise, Bob and I figured that we would break Ceasar in slowly and he spent his first few nights in a crate in our bedroom. (We did eventually let him out overnight. After he decided to jump in bed with us at 3 am in the morning and landed in the middle of a bunch of cats is when we decided he could spend the night with Boomer and Bruno). The point of all of this was that we now had an empty, unused dog crate in our bedroom and we thought that rather than take it apart and put it in the garage, we would use it to work with Xander. After all this time, Xander now felt he was better than the other cats in the feral room. The cats in the feral room felt that he was no longer worthy of them, so it seemed like a good idea.
One night we decided it was now or never, and set out to get Xander in the dog crate. We started out good, he was sited in our bathroom, so we quickly shut the bedroom doors and went to work. First we flushed him from under the bed. (Yes, I could still fit under the bed then) then we flushed (not literally) from behind the toilet. Then we thought we had him... he went in the closet. At this point Bob was in the lead. He had a grip on him, but Xander would have none of it and was putting up a fight. Bob wasn't going to get him bare-handed. So being the level headed kind of guy, he improvised. He grabbed my robe and wrapped it around Xander and triumphantly started carrying him out of the closet. There was only one problem: there was one part of Xander that Bob left uncovered and that part was shooting a pretty steady stream of pee across my clothes (you know, the work clothes) as Bob was bringing him out.
Four loads of laundry later, Xander was almost resting comfortably in his crate. He was a bit worried though, Bones was teaching all the other cats how to reach into the crate and steal his food. He was also a bit worried about the way that BillieJo was on top of the crate staring down at him the way a cat would stare down at a hamster.
We were now ready to start working with Xander. The first day went well. He hissed a little, but wasn't really thrilled with us. The second day he escaped from the crate when we fed him his dinner. He went back into the closet. I told Bob that if the same thing happened again, I was going to run him through the washer 4 times. At least I got my robe back.
The rest of the summer progressed in a similar manner, we would get Xander into the crate, he would stay for a few days, get freaked out by BillieJo stalking him from above, then when we would open the crate for something, he would shoot out again. Eventually, he started trusting me a little.... he started playing with the feline flyer. Then he discovered the laser pointer. He became so obsessed with the laser pointer that he didn't care who saw him. He would happily play with the moving red dot no matter what. Soon he would let me scratch his ears while he was waiting for his beloved red dot to reappear. From there we moved onto tummy rubs
Still waiting for the little red dot... Busted with Bob and a bag of catnip
Now Xander playfully "helps" me get ready for work every morning. He still loves his laser pointer and is still a little leary of Billie Jo. He is still a little uneasy when Bob pets him. Maybe he hasn't quite forgiven him for the whole laundry incident either......