Grumby; An Amazing Cat Story

(More photos down the page)

June 18, 2005:  This story actually begins in April of 2004 but I’m not going cover all that here. The background for this story is covered in the My Cat’s section, in the story of Cuddles. This story is about “Grumby” (“Grumbles“), Cuddles’ brother and the one remaining sibling still living behind the shop in the parking lot where I work. For just a quick update I will tell you that Grumby’s brother “Gray” was lost a month or two ago. My guess is that he ran out into the street, so Grumby has been all alone ever since. I have been feeding these cats and watching over them since they were born last year. Originally four, I adopted “Cuddles“ last July, and “Bumbles” was taken by another employee at about the same time, leaving only “Grumby” and “Gray”, now there was only Grumby. This is a story that I wouldn’t believe had not happened to me. I consider it a miracle and evidence that God looks after even the smallest of animals.

Last week I noticed a swelling above Grumby’s right eye indicating an infection. This was in addition to a small cut he had on the left side of his head just below the ear that didn’t seem to have gotten much better over the past two weeks. I have also been concerned about his weight which didn’t seem to be up to par for a tomcat. Thinking he may have a worm, and with these new problems, I felt I had no choice but to take Grumby to the vet. I have been the only person able to handle these cats because they know me and trust me, and I give them food. Grumby forgot all that when I tried to put him into a cardboard cat carrier last Wednesday. After three attempts, two escapes, and several deep scratches on my hand and arms, I finally got the lid closed and put it in my truck for delivery to the vet on my way to my first job of the day.

It wasn’t far to the vet’s office, I’d say about a mile. With about two blocks to go, Grumby got out of the box and made a mad dash for my open driver’s side window as I was traveling at about 30 MPH on a moderately busy four lane road with opposing traffic. Had I not grabbed the little tike right at the window sill and thrown him back, I don’t think he would have survived the jump. With my knee on the wheel and my right hand fighting to keep this wild maniac away, I rolled up the window with my left hand. Don’t think that stopped this cat in sheer panic. He bounced off every window he could find in his flying rage around the cab of my truck. I was amazed he didn’t knock himself out while crashing into the window glass. As I pulled into the vet’s parking lot, Grumby squeezed himself around and behind the seat.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get him out of the truck and into a carrier without help, so with arms and hand bleeding and a paper towel in my hand for wiping off the blood, I entered the vet’s office. The receptionists were a little shocked but provided me with an assistant and a professional cat cage to confine the little bugger. He held the cage open while I pulled the seatback forward and lifted Grumby out without a struggle. No struggle at least until he saw the cage and then it started all over again. I was able to stuff him in head first and we got the door closed. I was later told that this maniac cat got loose in the examination room and the attendants went through the same “flying cat” routine I had experienced in the truck.

Later that day I got the call from the vet saying Grumby was ready to be picked up. At my request, they gave him a bath and nail clipping, all of his shots, blood tests for any diseases, attended to his infections, and neutered him. He got the works except for a test for worms which they can’t do without a stool sample. The neutering was because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with him after the vet’s visit but was tending toward bringing him home for after vet care and maybe to stay with my females. I decided to take the rest of the day off, pick up Grumby, and take him home to see how it would work out. I paid the vet $285.00 for his service and he gave me a proper cat carrier saying that I couldn’t use that cardboard one I had anymore. When I tried to return the vet’s cat carrier the next day, I was told to keep it as a gift.

I took the sleeping Grumby home and set the carrier on the living room floor with the door open. Penny was curious but nothing more than that. On the other hand, Cuddles, as soon as she saw the carrier and smelled the medication, made a dash for the bedroom and hid in the bed, under the covers. She never came out, even for dinner, and I didn’t see her for the rest of the day. When I went to bed that night, Cuddles was under it and still very upset, very unfriendly, and very vocal about it. I have seen a strong sense of possessiveness develop in Cuddles and now she was showing it with a passion, she didn’t want another cat in the house other than Penny. Eventually, I took Grumby out of the carrier and put him on a towel on the loveseat where he just laid and slept. He wasn’t interested in food. I showed him where the food was as well as the cat box.

During the night, as Cuddles was still under the bed, I was awakened several times by a commotion between Penny and Grumby which had moved to the kitchen. I got up a couple of time to settle things down and one time, had to remove Grumby from the upper pane of the kitchen window behind the blinds as Penny sat growling on the kitchen table by the window. I placed Grumby back on the loveseat and told Penny to knock it off and leave him alone. I went back to bed and things were pretty quite for the rest of the night.

In the morning, Grumby was nowhere to be found. I looked in every possible hiding place he could be in but no Grumby. I checked the windows and even though one of the kitchen windows was open a few inches, the screen was still secured. I spent so much time looking for him that I was late to work, but just before I left, I checked the kitchen window screen a second time. When I pushed on the screen I discovered that one of the two latches was not latched and I was able to push that side of the screen out. That had to be the answer, Grumby got out during the night and is gone.

I looked all over the building on my way to the car for any sign of him but he was nowhere to be seen, I left for work with a sadness for Grumby who was now lost in an unfamiliar area and still recovering from surgery. How would he find food? I have always fed him at the shop. Could he survive outside on his own? Would he end up meeting the same fate as his brother? Knowing he would recognize the backup alarm on my truck, I came back by home later in the morning and backed the truck into the driveway and up to the carport. I got out and called for him but still, there was no sign of Grumby. I went back to work and again looked for him when I got home for the day without success. I kept the back door open with only the security screen closed until I went to bed that night just in case he would show up and make his presence known.

By the next day, and still no sign of Grumby, I had to resign myself to the fact that he was gone and I could only hope that he would either find a good home or be able to take care of himself living as a Ferrell cat. I decided the best thing for me to do was to try to forget about him. Besides, Cuddles was showing that she was much happier and being more loving without the worry about Grumby being in the apartment. By today, Saturday, the sadness was leaving me and I wasn’t thinking too much about little Grumby.

Earlier this evening, it was dinner time for Penny and Cuddles. Cuddles was napping on the bed at the time but Penny was hungry and followed me into the kitchen. At the instant we entered the kitchen, we both heard a scampering noise coming from inside the workspace cabinet next to the stove. I asked Penny “what was that?”… “there’s a rat in there!”. The cupboard door was open by a few inches so I opened it wide and looked inside. There was nothing to see except the few pans and trays and other miscellaneous items I keep in there. I took out the larger things but still nothing unusual was there to see. I figured that rat had escaped through a hole, but there was no hole. I thought then that it had scrambled to the other side of the cabinet where the drawers are and may be under or in the drawers. I got down on my hands and knees and pulled out the large bottom drawer. There, in back of the drawer was Grumby. He had been hiding in that cabinet without food or water for nearly three days and nights and not even Penny or Cuddles knew he was there. Needless to say, I was shocked, to say the least. I just looked at him and he looked at me and we both sat there looking at each other trying to comprehend what we were seeing.

“Grumby?” I said. I wasn’t even sure it was him, and because he looks almost identical to Cuddles, I had to look over and see her standing there in the kitchen door to be sure it wasn’t her. I talked to him and tried to coax him out but he didn't want to come out, especially with Penny standing there looking at him too. I locked Penny out of the kitchen and removed the other drawers. I offered him a can of food in one of the little dishes I use for feeding the cats but had no takers so I reached in and pushed him out. He didn't fight me and was very calm but he wanted to get back into the cupboard and I struggled to keep him out. I moved the food to the other side of the stove and put him there with it while I closed the cabinet and drawers back up. Grumby withdrew under the kitchen table while Cuddles withdrew to the bedroom and under the bed.

Grumby has been eating well and has been coming around bit by bit for the past few hours. He knows me but has been through a very traumatic experience. To keep them separated for a while, I moved Penny and Cuddles’ food and water out of the kitchen and gave Grumby a separate set of dishes with water and food and made him a cat box for use in the kitchen. Surprisingly, there has been no conflicts between the cats so far but they are staying in separate rooms with the doors open. Grumby gets more and more friendly with me every time I visit him in the kitchen. He comes to me for petting, rubs up against me, and makes it clearly known that that dish of dry cat food is his and his alone. He finished off a can of Fancy Feast during the first hour of his freedom from the cabinet and has gone through half of a second can in addition to the dry he‘s been eating. It’s the same food and kind of dish he’s been used to at the shop.

When I first found Grumby in my kitchen, I didn’t know what to do with him. I had already decided that we (my cats and I) were better off without him here but now here he is again. I have given some consideration to taking him back to the shop but I really don’t want to do that. I would still feel responsible for him and he would just get all dirty and suffer more infections and occasional bad weather outdoors. As I write this, I now have high hopes that he will be able to stay here without conflicts with my other cats. I have no other choice but to try to make it work out. So far, the signs are looking good and I don’t think God would have preformed this miracle if he didn’t intend for Grumby to stay here. I think Penny and Cuddles will come around with a little time. It just takes a little getting used to.

UPDATE 07-03-2005: The decision was made that Grumby would stay. For the first week, he spent most of his time hiding under the bed to avoid conflicts with Penny and Cuddles. By the end of the first week I decided that no progress would be made with them unless they were forced to interact with each other. Grumby would have to be kept out of the bedroom, at least while I'm home and can watch them. I decided it was time to vacuum the bedroom and that was all it took for him to be out the door like a streak of lightning. In the following days I found the easiest way to get Grumby out from under the bed and out of the bedroom is with the use of a blow hair dryer set for air only. Just one or two seconds aimed under the head of the bed and he goes shooting out the bedroom doorway. Then I just shut the door for the rest of the day forcing him to share space with Penny and Cuddles. At first, he would tend to stay in a corner under an end table but with each passing day, he would come out into the room more and more and interact with the other cats very cautiously.

There has been much progress over the past week between Grumby and Penny & Cuddles. He has come out of his shell and become much more one of the family now. He is not nearly so timid as he was before and is willing to defend himself when necessary. Cuddles was his biggest obstacle but now is becoming his playmate. They will taunt each other and chase each other around and no longer afraid to get close to one another. Last night, along with playing games with Cuddles, he also began playing with the cat toys and checking out the cat pole. He hasn't actually climbed up it yet, but that's usually because Cuddles runs up there first and defends the top. I suspect I will see Grumby up there sometime this weekend. As the next photo shows, the twins, Cuddles and Grumby, are no longer afraid to get close to each other. Of course, Cuddles just had to turn her attention away just as the picture was being taken.

I have to watch their feeding closely because Cuddles ("Miss Piggy") has been trying to eat all the canned food before Grumby gets to it. She's getting fat and Grumby is still thin, but I do think Grumby may have put on some weight since being here. He always eats all of the dry food at night and seems to like it.  I have begun rationing the canned food to Cuddles and since she ("Miss Piggy") is always is the first one at the feeding dish and will eat it all if Grumby is standing by, I have started giving her only half a small can, then when she leaves I dish up the rest of it and usually a second can a little later when Grumby is nearby.  Grumby has gained weight in the past few days.

With Grumby coming out of his shell and interacting more with the girls now, they have become so entertaining and fun to watch, when they're not sleeping. In just two weeks now, all three cats have accepted each other and the girls no longer look at Grumby as a stranger. Penny (Mama Top Cat) is very helpful in keeping the peace. When Cuddles gets out of line with Grumby, Penny scolds her and sets her straight. Penny doesn't get too involved in play with Grumby but just sits and watches him and Cuddles like a referee.

I'll never forget the day about a week ago when Cuddles got all upset with Grumby in the kitchen. Cuddles came slinking out into the living room just whining and complaining at the top of her lungs. As she passed by Penny sitting by the coffee table, Penny reached out and smacked her on the head, knocking her into submission on the floor. She then just stood over Cuddles staring her in the eyes as if to say "Shut the hell up!". And Cuddles did as she was told.

Grumby and the girls are now showing interest in each other and a desire to play together but cautious too, and not quite ready to fully trust each other. All three are establishing their positions of dominance and testing each other. Cuddles is so funny when she feels real brave and will sneak up on Grumby and smack him on the back, then runs for her life. She is such a "baby", but she's my baby. Grumby is my little buddy and it's a pleasure to see him becoming playful now and interacting with the two girls.

This story has been written over the period of two weeks. As of now, Grumby no longer finds it necessary to hide under the end table and is comfortable playing and sleeping out in the room and feeling like one of the family. All three cats have now almost completely adapted to their new family members.