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Her second kittenhood

September 20th, 2006, 02:19 PM
My parents' cat, Phantom, is not what you'd call playful. I used to try to get her to play by dragging a string back and forth and she'd just sit there, looking at it with a bored expression. Or I'd roll a ball . . . and she'd watch it roll . . . and do nothing. (She was VERY interested if you ran back and forth after the ball trying to show her how to chase it, though. Interested in a "Are you crazy??" kind of way.) I tried a kitty wand once . . . Well, that got a reaction. She decided the feather toy on the end was a hostile animals and poofed up and hissed at it.

So imagine my surprise when yesterday I saw her batting an old shoelace around. Pawing it! Tossing it! PLAYING! I rolled a ping pong ball and she chased it! Gasp! According to my mom, she's started playing with a little plush, cat-nip filled toy I left after one of my visits. I'm just amazed, but very, very happy for her. Phantom is ten years old or so . . . I thought she was set in her ways for good.

September 20th, 2006, 06:36 PM
What's Phantom's story? Have your parents had her since she was a kitten or did they just recently rescue her?

September 20th, 2006, 08:57 PM
Phantom is an interesting character. ;) We got her from the Humane Society as a young kitten. (I say "we" because I was about fourteen at the time and living at home.) She was very skittish and uber-cautious from the start. She got her name from her habit of disappearing behind or under furniture like a ghost.

I'd had Ebony for a few years at that point and the fact that she bounced with excitement whenever she saw the kitten probably didn't help. (But she never bounced on the kitten or chased her . . . Ebony had been taught respect by our previous cat, Muffy. She just sort of jumped up and down from a few feet away.) Phantom and Ebony did come to terms with each other . . . They never cuddled, but they lived in respectful harmony. But Phantom never outgrew her skittishness of other things. She would inexplicably become afraid of the oddest things. Mops. Rugs. Doorframes. Not doors--just empty doorframes! :confused:

Also, my brother's room. I know how that got started, at least. Phantom was sniffing a box in there when I nudged it with my foot without thinking about it. Poor Phantom! She leapt straight into the air, bounced from my brother's bed to his desk, rebounded from his guitar case, and leapt out the door. And from that day forth, she would not set foot in his room. She was particularly afraid of the carpeting in there. My mom tried to reintroduce her to it a few times with treats, petting, and a calm voice . . . It didn't make any difference.

She was NEVER a playful cat after she became an adult. She did/does have a toy seal that she sometimes totes around at night and bodyslams, but not very much. She wasn't/isn't a cuddler, either, but if you watch her body language you can tell when she wants to be petted. She also hates strangers--we didn't socialize her enough when she was a kitten.

Phantom has mellowed out somewhat and usually isn't (very) afraid of doorframes and rugs anymore, although she had a hard time after Ebony died. She's a special needs cat . . . no doubt partly of our own making, because we'd never raised a kitten before and made lots of mistakes (like letting the dog bounce around too much.) But I think she also had a skittish nature to begin with. I've often wondered if she was from a feral litter . . . or maybe it's just genetics. I do remember that her sister, an orange tabby, kept play-biting me very, very hard at the Humane Society.

We still love her, though. And aside from her moments of paranoia she enjoys life, sitting under the mock orange tree or watching TV with my parents. :)