Coby is not your usual cat. He has many unusual quirks about him. He came to us as a feral cat in the summer about 4 years ago. He would lay in the fields and watch me pick produce his all black body keeping a wary eye on my where abouts. I would hear him long before I would see him. I would hear his cries and look in that direction and scan the horizon expecting to see him crouched down watching me but that was not the case. After weeks of this I finally figured out this cat could throw his voice and keep you guessing where he was. I finally learned if I heard his meows to the north then I needed to look to my far right in the South east direction and there he would be. As soon as he knew I had seen him he would run into the fence line or woods only to come out later and throw his voice in a different direction. After a couple months he finally decided he could no longer throw me off so he decided to just lay in wait quietly.
I continued all summer to talk to him as I picked produce glancing around periodically to see where he was watching from. I would leave food & water for him which he never touched while I was around but by the next day there would only be a few kernels left and I would see him slowly approach the bowls each morning to see if they had been refilled.
That fall Coby started going into the greenhouse each morning and falling asleep through the day only to awake just before dusk and eat his kibble then slink out for his night life. We would close the door down to just a crack at night just in case he needed a place to slumber or a safe place to get away from a stray dog, coyote or tom cat during the night. The next morning he would be back checking the bowls I now had in the greenhouse and finally falling fast asleep as he rested from his night life adventures.
Slowly but surely Coby let his guard down and would greet me every morning purring and meowing telling me of his adventures the night before. I would sit down and he would jump in my lap and I would pet him until he fell fast asleep then I would place him on his little cat bed we made for him and let him slumber all day. Coby spent his first winter with us with his residence in the greenhouse. He basked in the warmth of the sun all day and slept in a heated insulated container we fixed up for him at night. Only on the coldest nights would we lock him in the greenhouse so no draft would affect him. By spring he wasn’t even going out of the greenhouse or if he did he would peek out while in a crouched position as if he expected something or someone to attack him. He grew very leery of stepping outside the greenhouse. As spring progressed I spent more and more times in the fields much to Coby’s dismay. He would cry all day long from inside the greenhouse the doors were wide open through the day but he would not leave. When I would come in to replenish more flats of plants to take to the fields he would be curled up on one of the benches in the greenhouse sound asleep in the direct sun. I began to worry he would get over heated even with the fans on it could still get above a hundred degrees in the greenhouse.
All summer he rarely left the greenhouse even if I loaded him up on the gator to go to the fields with me he would spend a minute or two with me than run to the greenhouse. It was a lost cause he felt the safest curled up on a bench in the greenhouse or in my lap when I was working in there.
That fall we built him a bigger insulated house and placed it on a heated mat so he would be a comfortable 72 degrees all winter. One late November day Coby said his goodnights as I closed the greenhouse up for the evening leaving him his cracked door just in case. I was headed to the house to prepare supper and do the chores in the house that was waiting for me. As I approached the back door I noticed something move along the walkway behind me. I climbed the steps to the house and just as I opened the back door this little black cat meowed, it caught me off guard. As I looked down Coby looked at me and looked in door to the house. I asked him “what are you doing up here? You know you are not allowed to come this close to the road.” He meowed one more time than walked through the door as if he had done it all his life.
Most the time Coby was a very skittish cat he was young when he showed up here and pretty much everything scared him. He was probably dumped by some heartless idiot who had no regard for other living creatures, for Coby was very skinny and tiny when we noticed him in the fields. That day as Coby walked in the house he no longer appeared to be skittish. He walked in as though he owned this place. My fear were the dogs would not take kindly to an over grown squeak toy that moved but to my amazement he batted each one in the face with his paw no claws extended as if to say “there’s a new guy in town.” Although he had met the brawn our very large French mastiff and the little Lhaso Pom Pekinese mix. Coby hadn’t met Jackie the Jack Russell yet and I was very apprehensive of that meeting so I broke out the baby gates to try to keep some semblance of order between dog & cat. Jack Russells are not known for getting along with small animals very well heck she doesn’t get along with large animals very well so this I was preparing for a whole new pins & needles type of life.
Coby had decided he liked indoor life and he was obliging to using the litter box, going into his crate at night to sleep and he was learning the boundaries of no counter tops, furniture the word “no” and his allowable place his overstuffed comfy cat bed. He had plenty of toys and things that were his to do as he pleased. Dinner time for the dogs and cats were carefully orchestrated so no one would get their head chewed off, things were going great. Then one morning Jackie knowing something was not quite right decided she would make her move and check it out. Keep in mind Jackie is a very small JR her legs are all of 3.5 inches long her torso is maybe 17inches she is more like a torpedo low to the ground and her explosion every bit as destructive. Wherever her nose goes her body follows and this particular morning she noticed the slightest eighth of an inch gap in the baby gate leading to the kitchen where the food is portioned and rationed for each one. By the time both of us realized she had made her move and was in stalk mode, we could only arrive in time to clean up whatever chaos she would cause hoping it wouldn’t be pieces and parts of a small black feline. As we raced through the living room into and across the dining room we heard the commotion the blood curdling screams the pounding of paws across the kitchen floor only to be met half way through the dining room by a Jack Russell tail between her legs whimpering in fear and possibly pain as she retreated between my legs looking up at me with pleading eyes to fix it whatever it was. She was soon followed by a furry black shape that sent this fearless Jack Russell stub tail tucked covering her rump at Mach 5 speeds through the living room up the stairs and to her bed in the bedroom while whimpering all the way. The cat sat down in the dining room glanced around and proceeded to clean his paws licking each digit on each paw as if to say “Cat 1 dog 0 job well done.” We stood there in bewilderment nothing had ever survived the JR not even our French mastiff and he even stood there bewildered at the JR’s hasty retreat. As the French Mastiff watched the cat he lowered his head did a couple sideways glances or maybe they were winces then he tip toed past the cat and retired to his bed in the living room where he tried to make himself look as tiny as possible.
Lately Coby has been back to his night life around the house. When the clock strikes midnight he comes out and sets his sights on terrorizing the JR as she sleeps upstairs. Coby has this aerial combat down pretty good but he is pressing his luck with the JR. She is ever so silently watching in wait for her time to strike. Jackie never forgets a wrong done to her, oh she may not get you back right away but rest assured she is planning her coupe and the exact moment she plans to strike. The cat on the other hand watches her just as closely, wherever she leaves her toy his night life leads him to find it and remove it from her life. He has quite a collection and she has not found it yet. Coby sits in the window sills and watches her every move and just as she is about to sneak up and start barking at him in the window sill he has disappeared leaving her looking around in bewilderment as to where the enemy has disappeared. Coby is at another perch watching and laughing at her as she tries to find his scent and hunt him down.
I have noticed Coby acting a bit funny the past month or so. I thought maybe the JR had somehow found a way to get to him and thus his reason for limping and most recently staggering as though he is injured or intoxicated. The veterinary visits have turned up nothing. I have been observing the two in their battle of wits. The other day I noticed Coby up on a dresser top going after one of my plants. I make sure that any of my houseplants that could be toxic are locked in a room that is off limits to our pets so no one is harmed. Only the plants that are safe reside in the bay window and various areas of the dining room. My vining Ipomea sits atop our lawyer’s bookcase high enough to be out of reach of the dogs and cat. However this is the first time in 3 years that I ever noticed Coby going after that plant. I told him “No” to which he just looked at me rather than the obligatory proper behavior of stopping what I have just told him not to do. He proceeded to go back at the plant trying unsuccessfully to remove some leaves. I got the fly swatter and smacked it on the chair and he knew he better jump down. A few minutes later he was back at it, to which I walked over and removed him and gave him a love pat on his rump and said “no, bad cat.” He replied with yelling “MEEEEEEOOOOOOOW” at me and swatted at my face. Why he had never ever done this. Coby what has gotten in to you? Soon after he lay down in his cat bed and was soon sound asleep. A few minutes later he was back at the plant and this time I removed his temptation and moved the plant out of his jurisdiction. As I was dusting the wood floors I found several leaves on the floor from the Ipomea plant and quickly picked them up and tossed in the trash.
A bit later Coby was asking to be fed so I made sure all the baby gates were in place and proceeded to put his food down in the kitchen. Then I decided to double check the Jack Russell and set my mind at peace knowing that the gate to the stairway was tightly closed avoiding any combat zone between cat & dog.
As I went back to the kitchen I found Coby curled up around the feeder head turned as though he was possessed by something from the exorcist. I looked at him and remarked you can’t eat if you play with your food boy. To which he started dragging his body across the floor then tried to get up and walk only to stagger and fall over. He did this several times then looked up at me with a wild but pleased look with himself and meowed followed by a hiss. What on earth is wrong with you? Then he passed out. As I snatched him up and checked his breathing he gurgled a bit, rolled his head than opened his extremely dilated eyes and began to purr. I set him down to see if he could walk. He got up staggered as though extremely intoxicated than held his right hind leg up as though he could not use it. Then he promptly plopped down and with bright dilated eyes began to purr than gurgle then purr than gurgle with the strangest smile on his face. I yelled for hubby and told him to get the car we were going to the vets immediately. With that Coby was up and running around as though nothing was ever wrong. I decided to observe him a while. I checked the color of his gums they were normal cherry pink but eyes were still dilated. I retrieved his feather toy down from its perch to see if he could follow that with his eyes and his head spun around like he was possessed again. Then he let out a very loud burp, sneezes and meow all in one and had that look of being pleased with himself again. That’s it, what had he done different today? I go over a check list in my mind then it dawned on me the Ipomea plant. I ran for my veterinary training books to look up poisonous plants. I knew Ipomea Morning Glory was toxic to cats but never had I ever heard of Ipomea Sweet potato being toxic. I went to my veterinary site on the internet and scoured the pages of plants when all of a sudden there it was Ipomea Sweet Potato contains a chemical that is LSD. My cat was high and hallucinating. Although the root of the sweet potato vine is non-toxic and it is even edible, the leaves and stem of the sweet potato vine contain LSD. The psychedelic drug, LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide, is well-known for its psychological effects. LSD is not addictive but will cause the feline to experience hallucinations and anxiety. I had no idea. I had not seen Coby ingest any of the plant he was just playing with it and clawing at it. Afterwards as he cleaned his paws he ingested what was on them and his claws. No wonder my cat has been acting strangely the past few weeks.
Needless to say Coby is in re-hab now and my plant is locked in another room away from our cat who by all indications has an addiction problem. Really a cat of all creatures I sure hope he doesn’t rub off on the dogs. Oh my goodness what will the neighbors think?