Then earlier tonight, when I arrived home, he was lying in wait for me on the back porch. I sat on the step and he instantly hopped up in my lap. After a few minutes of pets, he flopped on his side and asked to have his tummy rubbed, this time with no teeth involved!
This moment was so delightful. It appears his trust of me has gone to a new level. Of course my heart melted once again. I continue to be amazed at how the cats are always finding new ways to bring joy to my heart.
If you look close, you can see the cut just below his left eye. His eyes look funky because of the camera flash, thankfully, they both continue to look well. I keep looking over the wound and eye, looking for signs of infection. I'm not a vet, but from what I can tell, so far everything seems ok.
I just looked up how to treat cuts and lacerations in the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, but because this is so close to his eye, I'll have to take him next door to the vet if I decide it needs treating.
Thanks everyone for the encouragements and great suggestions on bettering my chances of a happy integration. My plan for Saturday will be to lock up all the inside kitties in an upstairs bedroom and then to let Oliver explore the entire downstairs. I currently have Feliway difusers going all over the house and I'll hose down important things with the Feliway spray. I'll also be supervising him closely to make sure he doesn't decide to mark with urine, as he has a tendency to do.
Depending on how that exploration goes, on Sunday, I might try repeating the same while letting Theo or Nahum out to interact with Oliver. There are many things that I have been considering before formal introductions occur.
- Exchanging scents is often one of the early steps in kitty integration. This can be easily done by using a sock or towel and rubbing the face and other gland areas of each cat and then allowing the other cats to smell those scents on the cloth. I haven't done this as formally, but considering every time I come in from holding Oliver, all the indoor cats take a thorough aromatic inventory of my clothes seems to accomplish the same thing. Oliver gets to smell the indoor cats every time I visit with him.
- The layout of the first floor of the house is all open space, so I don't really have rooms that I can work with to keep the space smaller. Ideally, I could do this in a bathroom or just the bathroom and kitchen. Of course the bathroom has a door, but it also houses both of the indoor cats' litter boxes, and I would rather Oliver not start by smelling those.
- I'm most worried about the possibility of a serious cat fight occurring. Oliver has shown himself willing to fight off intruder kitties from his yard. I have never seen any of the inside kitties truly fight, only play-fight. Oliver has very sharp claws, the inside cats do not. I really don't want anyone getting hurt. So, I want to allow Oliver to have the ability to run out the back door in case he gets freaked out but I don't want Theo or Nahum to be able to follow him. And I want Theo or Nahum to be able to run upstairs to escape Oliver if they so desire but without Oliver being able to follow. I'm thinking Laura and I will be standing at the ready with water pistols and loud sound makers in hand. If anything starts to get ugly, I sure hope these devices work to separate them.