Monday, March 22, 2010

Meet The Cats: Nikki

NAME: Nikki (technically "Shan-Su Nikki-Bunni", but nobody calls her that! :P)
DATE OF BIRTH: 29 October, 2001
SEX: Female (spayed)
ANCESTRY: Siamese (Traditional Chocolate Point).


Born in San Jose, CA, and adopted as a kitten into my parents' house in northern California. Primary human was my youngest sister Sara Kalyn (who is currently away at university). Nikki lived in her first home with my parents and younger siblings for eight years, and moved in early 2010 to her second home with me and Matt (as my parents were moving out of state, and figured Nikki wouldn't take to the move well; also, she and their dog had "issues" involving territory.).


Small/medium-sized (8 lbs fully grown) feline with cream-colored body and chocolate-brown face, ears, legs, and tail. Chocolate color on points fades gradually into body color. Some subtle milk-chocolate shading along her back. Compact and muscular (typical of Traditional Siamese). Moderate features (neither very sharp nor very rounded). Tail is thick, powerful, and highly expressive. Fur is short but very dense, somewhat fluffy on haunches. Very subtly elongated profile, slight down-turn at the tip of her nose. Pale ice-blue eyes.


Patrolling the house (she has a "circuit" she likes to follow around the kitchen and living room, and up and down the hallway). Climbing shelves (climbing everything, really -- she works hard at getting to whatever the highest point in the room is!). Getting into the middle of whatever the humans happen to be doing (she is VERY curious!). Trying to sneak into the garage (off-limits to kitties, too many potential hazards, i.e., sharp tools and clutter). Going on walks outside (she is actually very good on a leash and harness). Bossing the younger cats around. Operatic, multi-syllabic yowling (not just when she's annoyed; she just seems to like conversing!).


Sunny napping spots, high shelves and perches, being brushed (especially with the Furminator -- she LOVES that thing, and will purr and roll around like a kitten while being groomed with it), meddling, lap-sitting (seriously, she is like a lap-seeking missile in the evenings), acknowledgement.


Dogs, rowdiness (she gets very irked when the younger cats are racing around the house at top speed), surprises (she is very sensitive and startles easily), confinement, being ignored.


Meh. She mostly doesn't respond to it, or if she does, doesn't care for the effect. The most significant reaction I've seen from her to the stuff was when I tried giving her a fresh leaf, straight off the plant. In that case, she sniffed it, drooled on it a bit, but then seemed to get annoyed at it and actually whacked the leaf away from her with a paw!


If it were up to her, she'd probably choose to dine on whipped cream and cheese at every meal. However, that would obviously not be a nutritionally complete diet for a cat (and too much milk would likely cause digestive upset). So, most of the time (aside from very small treats of the aforementioned dairy delicacies) she has to put up with Cat Food.

It has been quite a trial finding food(s) all the cats will eat (Nikki is VERY picky) and that none of them are allergic to (Brodie can't tolerate corn, so most grocery-store brands are out). But at this point Nikki seems pretty happy with Innova dry cat & kitten formula, so I've been giving her that.

UPDATE: As of August 2010, Nikki is primarily on a diet of grain-free Fancy Feast (when she'll eat it...she goes through periodic phases of rejecting every manner of wet food, but eventually she comes back to it) and Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon dry food. She's been utterly disinclined to try raw meat of any kind, but (surprise, surprise) she apparently will eat canned salmon.


Nikki seems to be totally uninterested in cat toys (or other things cats frequently make their own toys from, e.g., plastic zip ties) that don't move, and she isn't the type to bat them around and make them move. On one occasion I saw her pick up a fuzzy toy mouse and give it the "killer neck-bite" but after that she had no interest in the thing (I guess she'd satisfied herself that it was "dead", or something).

So far she seems most interested in (a) dangling pieces of string or cord (like the hood-closure pulls on my jackets, which she will swat at if I lean over nearby her), (b) the Cat Dancer (a very simple toy consisting of a rolled bit of cardboard at the end of a wire coil; it takes very little human movement to make the thing on the end wiggle like a bug), and (c) Da Bird (a "fishing pole"-style toy with a little bunch of feathers at the end of the line that spins when you wave it in the air).

["Da Bird" is the hands-down favorite of these three; maybe because it moves most like something that's alive (and even makes cool whippy sounds when the feathers are pulled through the air).]

In any case, she is very clever, bores easily, and will let you know in no uncertain terms if she's feeling insufficiently entertained!


Previously, when she lived with my parents, Nikki got along quite well with Nutmeg (their senior boy-kitty, who was adopted by my sister Katie around the same time I adopted Nikki). However, she is definitely not a "loves all other cats automatically" sort of cat, and so far I'm considering it fortunate that most of the time she ignores the younger set.

She has some degree of territorial anxiety still, though I am guessing (as she's only been here three months) that's pretty normal as she is probably still gathering data to reassure herself that yes, she is still going to get her fair share of food / napping spots / attention despite the presence of three young ruffians.

I do hope she eventually makes friends with at least one of the others, as she seems to really need and want companionship, but of course I know you can't force cats to like each other and I am going to let her take things at her own pace. The kittens really are a handful and a half, and I expect once they grow up and settle down a bit she might find them less obnoxious and more companionable.


While wary of strangers, Nikki is extremely sociable, chatty, and affectionate with the humans she deems worthy. She is definitely the sort of cat that does better with grown-ups than, say, small, unruly children, though, as she severely dislikes being grabbed or chased (not that I blame her!). When she likes you, you will know it, and when she's mad at you, you'll know that too -- she's an excellent communicator and a quick learner when it comes to getting the message she wants to send across to the primates in her midst.

She will solicit head-scratches and grooming when she wants these things, and the intensity of her appreciation of these things is tremendous -- but at the same time, being as sensitive as she is, she tends to get overwhelmed easily and will (for instance) turn around and nip my hand if she decides she's had enough brushing. But even when she's not in a touching mood, she much prefers to have people around than be alone, and will YELL if she can't find me or Matt.

(Click the video below to see Nikki going for a walk outside!)

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