Things They Never Forget

In just over a month, Nuala will turn 6.

I can’t really believe that. She’s still a kitten in my eyes. I have known her from the first hours of her life. She was born in the house she lives in. She’s faced so little change since she was a kitten. The hardest part was losing two moms – her own mother’s passing when she was just 9 weeks old, and then Mouci’s passing 2 years later. Mouci was every bit a mom to Nuala though Mouci had never had kittens of her own. Theirs was an easy and beautiful bonding.

But like seasons, little things change in our homes and lives. I try to keep the kitties out of our bedroom – not only to keep fur off the work clothes but to ease the burden of dander on J’s sudden diagnosis of asthma that requires a daily puffer.

This doors-closed policy has not sat well with Nuala. 5 times a day she will go to the bedroom door and scratch on it. Wanting in. Wanting in even if we are not there. Wanting in especially if  we are there.

Recently it’s occurred to me that she is bonded with the place. Our master bedroom and bathroom (in all it’s craptasic builder-basic simplicity) is hers in a deep sense I think she feels. She was born there. The weeks she knew her mother were all there. The weeks she played with her siblings were all there. Does she feel all that – that connection to her birth family?

When she comes into the bathroom, she runs and plays along the side of the tub even when she’s alone. The way they used to pay when they were young.

In our bed, she still wants to walk on us and lick us awake and play with our sleeping forms as she did when the 6 kittens had been reduced to 3 with the adoptions of Cayenne, Chili and Nutmeg.  Ginger, Paprika and Saffron (aka Nuala) were given wider house-rights and used to play on us.

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And you  just can’t put down an empty laundry basket. She loves them… she must jump into it to play or sleep. I’ve been thinking of how I carried them from our master bath to the front room to train them to new spaces before they met their future adopters. Every day (2x a day often) – I’d carry kittens in a laundry basket across the home. Did her love and ease of baskets start then and remain with her?

To this day she ‘captures and kills’ the ‘snake’ and brings it to us – the same long white shoelace she played with as a kitten when all the others were adopted and gone. Does she remember? Or does it just resonate in her somewhere?

Nuala was the one left behind. The one who stayed. I often wonder about the others. Are they happy? Safe? Cared for and loved? Would they remember these things if they encountered them again? The shape of the tub that they played in, the feel of that bathroom where they spent their earliest weeks, the smell of each other, the love that was given to them there – by us and by their mom.

I always instinctively knew that the first weeks of life for kittens shape them forever. Forge how they choose to interact with other cats and with humans – forever. How they build trust and connect. But I have never been sure about memories. Nuala is showing me that there is a connection.

So… with a glad heart… and just a bit of melancholy… our bedroom door stays open. Like an open door to Nuala’s past and the days we shared with her family

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Our bathroom (kitty nursery) with nuala and family

 

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Out of the Closet

I have thought of a dozen kitty-moments to share with you and failed to sit down to write. I think part of me is sad and guilty that I’m not helping kitties – other than my own. Not directly anyway. The situation with our 3 is precarious and I don’t dare tip things.

Anyway… we just had a little adventure. And as cat lovers I’m sure you will relate.

I was sitting on the couch and toggling through my phone messages when I heard a ‘squeek’ in the background. The lightbulb hadn’t gone on yet… I looked over my right shoulder down the hall and to the dining room and I saw a mouse!

I have not had a mouse in our home since the summer about 12 years ago when Nikita the Brave carried one inside to play with. I mean, I’ve said it often: no sane mouse would ever enter our doors. After all, they would pick up the kitty pheromones and sense that danger. And I’m a little germ/bug phobic and don’t have windows open without intact screens and never leave doors open more than a minute walking into the house – even with groceries.

But good judgment and logic be damned, there he was running along the baseboard towards the front hall. And in a picture my still-befuddled brain managed to register, I saw Nuala, Cooper and Shadow in pursuit. Not hot pursuit – but curious and surprised following. Not really knowing what to do. Even Shadow was too curious to let her scardy-cat heart rule the moment. Pure happy discovery, if not killer instinct.

You never know how cats will react. Nikita – a seasoned hunter, allowed indoor/outdoor, and savvy of the world – would play with a mouse for amusement. Picking it up as gently as a kitten, and put it in the center of the room for it to run and then she could chase and bring her ‘toy’ back to restart the game. Mouci, the most wonderfully sweet cat who got along with everyone, would immediately shake the mouse killing it. We would do all we could to rescue them. We love wildlife.

Don’t get me wrong: I am girly and don’t want to touch mice or have them in my abode. I also don’t want them to die. So this means that I call (quite calmly) to J who arrives on the scene and devises a plan.

Lucky for mr mouse, he ran into my front hall closet. I made sure to follow the chase before I called for J… and saw mr mouse disappear under the door.

Nuala and Cooper were dazed, confused, and a little resentful as they were corralled into the only room that has a door. Then we blocked exits from the closet and my ‘bird rescue’ shoebox was pressed into use – as every shoe was thrown out of the closet in search of a terrified little mouse. It took a while but J managed to get him into the box.

It was only about 3 steps to the door and freedom but he didn’t know it. We let him go in our garden. He just sat there … stunned. And entirely unhurt.

Oh how I wish I had a photo of all three of our kitties coming together to follow – even herd – this poor little mouse. Luckily he didn’t die of shock and fear.

And while Nuala and Cooper are still sniffing every inch of the closet, that ends the adventure of da mouse in da house.

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Not our mouse – but very similiar. Field mice are common since we live near a forest

Embracing The Krazy

You think I’m going to tell you more about Cooper’s hijinx – but surprise! – I’m not.

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‘why youz wavin likes a fool? I waz jus gettin sweepy’

This past weekend I went to the big One of A Kind Show and Sale. I love this show because it’s filled with immensely creative people who make the most beautiful things. Artisans – in wood, paint, glass… and catnip. What?!?

I visited a homey booth that feels like an old friend – a small Peterborough company called Krazy Kitty. In fact, the friend I was at the show with was adamant that this was a booth she had to visit.

Krazy Kitty came into our lives about 17 years ago – when I bought two cat pads for our fab calicos Nikita and Mouci (rip babies). They were an instant hit. They loved them and used them for years. It was one of the best Christmas presents ever for them – and I’ve had the pads on our ‘fave cat gifts list‘ ever since.

Their cat blankets (I call them pads) are rectangular simple fabric on both sides – though more recently one side is fleece for extra cushy-ness. I often chuckle at the bright and lively fabrics because they are cat-themes, whimsical and funny. Inside is a light layer of batting and a helping of their proprietary catnip. Enough for months of enjoyment. This well-constructed cat pad lives up to gentle-cycle washing and the dryer. After washing, you use the small hole in one side to refill the catnip since the wash/dry gets rid of the potent scents.

Their organic catnip is the best I’ve ever used. Even better than my own which I grow and dry myself. Cats go crazy for it – hence the company name.

Ironically, our new vet gives one of their little catnip squares for each check-up visit. When she offered me one, I turned it down initially saying I grow my own. She said it was excellent catnip and organic – so I took one – and only when I got home did I see the little label and grin.

I have 4 cat-pads; now old, thinner and faded with use but still usable. New cats are often happily trained to sit in the spot where these pads are placed. My very old pads are great for lining cat-beds, carriers, or for window-seat places. Happy de-stressed cats.

I bought Cooper his first, new cat pad (that makes 5). My friend came away with their refillable snuggle sticks. I treated each of us to a package of their wonderful catnip. Frankly if I had the money, I’d send you each a kitty pad for your fab feline.

Don’t you love it when a product is really good and the thing lasts?

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My friend barely got in the door before Oscar (19) was demanding his new snuggle stick. I love this fishy design

**No paid endorsements here. Though frankly if they gave me free stuff for a write up, I’d totally do it and you would too! LOL

**No cats were coerced in the making of this blog post – the purring, chewing, drooling love is real

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Like Cooper needs any more krazy!

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Witching Hour

I slept on the couch.

Don’t read drama into this – I wasn’t in the proverbial dog-house and neither was there any domestic dispute. I just like sleeping on the couch sometimes – and trust me the pillows and blankets are already there. You could say I prize comfort and my living room is for ‘living’.

So last night, after a good police show I slept happily. Shadow usually joins me when I’m sleeping the couch. She loves the quiet time with either of us – and cherishes any time she can join us for a sleep.

All was literally dreamy…

Until the Witching Hour. In our home the witching hour is at dawn. Just after the first bits of light are up in the sky. Something deep and evil hits the ‘ON’ switch in Cooper and he runs around and acts like a demon for about 1.5 hours.

He goes nuclear. He harasses the other cats. He runs back and forth across the house like his tail was on fire. He breaks the house rules – like jumping up on the bar counter, walking across my fancy-schmancy plastic-topped washer and dryer (paw print proof, my friends!), ripping into couches, knocking things over, cat food goes flying and everyone in the house is disturbed.

This is an every-morning nightmare. I hate the witching hour – when Cooper becomes a cat possessed!

I was so groggy this morning, that I tried to sleep though it and failed. That is saying a lot (those who know me know that I love me some sleep!). I was only semi-conscious when I got up, took about 2 steps, and flung my blanket in the general direction of the fabric-ripping commotion. I saw a cat fly in the dim light and things quieted down.

It did start back up a little later, but I groggily ignored it. Only when I woke fully this morning did I realize that when I flung the blanket I may have thrown it on Nuala who loves to sit nearby and watch me sleep. Or Shadow who found a quiet comfy place on the couch beside mine.

Oh no! The Witching Hour strikes again. Only this morning I guess I was the witch.

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Crashing after the Witching Hour

Yeah Yeah. I know. Cats as a species are most active in the dawn and dusk times so Cooper is genetically wired to be most active, efficient, predatory at this time. Knowing the science is poor consolation.

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What’s He Up To?

“Cooper, NO!”

Yep -after a long absence from keeping you up to date on our furries, that is still the refrain ringing through the house. Cooper is 1.5 years old. He’s still very much the wide eyed kitten – with naughtiness galore. He’s loving, sweet-natured and far too naughty. I keep waiting for him to ‘calm down’.

Despite his very loving nature, he will purposely bother the living daylights out of Nuala and Shadow trying to get them to play with him. (I mentioned how much better it is to adopt 2 kittens together, right?) He wants to wrestle and chase – he’s all boy. So much for getting a gentle docile kitten – he’s big and very playful. He wasn’t calm and passive – he was just cooped up for his young life before us and just waiting for an opportunity to run free. And run he does. He loves running!

We love Cooper – and J would grudgingly admit that he loves having another boy in the house. Team Blue. Sometimes found lounging together on the ‘boy couch’. I love all he adds to the house – despite the challenges.

Cooper has many things he loves in life… he loves sleeping. He’s either getting in trouble or in a deep blissful slumber. When he sleeps, he’s pliable like play-do. He loves burds. All sorts – but especially woodpeckers who come to my suet. He’s so lucky – there are about 5 bird-feeders and there is almost always a flurry of activity to keep him interested.

This year, I put a couple of feeders right on the wall of the house and he loses his furry little mind when the birds are so close to his nose through the window. He will bonk his head nearly every day in an over-zealous rush at one.

Challenge 1: Poor Us. Cooper will STILL go up on the bar/counter when he thinks we’re not noticing. Not often… but even once is too much. This is our fault – we have not been as vigilant with him as with our other kitties. He also loves to be upside down on the ground and drag himself along the couch. Arrrrrg. He’s also very resistant to training. NO is his middle name.

Challenge 2: Poor Shadow. He loves her. He wants to sit beside her (or on her). He wants to see what she’s doing. What she’s eating. She has always wanted to be away from cats and people for a lot of the day – and he’s too much for her. She’s licked the fur off one part of her leg (stress cleaning) – but we’re very happy that that is the extent of anxiety behaviour in our little stress-bunny. We make sure she feels as ‘safe’ as possible – and she knows that Coop has no mean bones in his body – just a bunch of naughty ones.

Challenge 3: Poor Nuala. Cooper (researched and bought as a ‘sweet docile rescue kitten’) is really here because of her. She needed him for company and love – and wasn’t getting any younger. She loves him – and cleans him – but he still wants to play fight and chase and tackle her. She gets the brunt of his inexhaustible energy and wants to hide. We had long months of behavior incidents with her – when she was peeing outside the box. She was perfect before so we knew it was either stress or illness. Knock on wood, I think we’ve addressed this now. Well, he does keep her interested in fun, engaged, and svelte!

I hope he calms down by 2yrs old! We love him and he adds so many laughs and antics to our days. But with all the work blending these personalities, we don’t dare bring in a batch of kittens to look after. I’d love to foster and help some kittens – but between the potential for disease and starting up the whole stress-behaviour problems again, I don’t dare.

Cooper is a kook!

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Off the ‘Nice List’

AAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGG!

Cooper has been chewing behind my back … and he chewed right through the wires of my fave Christmas lights. There are 5 strands on one string and (you guessed it!) he chewed through the main wire that gets plugged in. Luckily for him I had it on a timer and while it was plugged in, it was not on. J says he will try to splice together the wires – but I won’t hold my breath. I don’t know where I can get these lights any more… but they are (were) just magical!

BAD, NAUGHTY CAT!! Stop sucking up and acting all cute and loving!

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Pulled this photo off pinterest – these are our exact light set and how I use them.  Used – past tense.

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Naughty & Nice

It’s been a whole year that you’ve been our favourite little grey blur, Cooper.

This year Santa knows him much better and knows if he’s been naughty or nice. Mostly naughty. No wait – nice. Um… more naughty. But don’t worry – despite his dodgy record he’s still getting a few treats.

Cooper learned that he can jump to the end of the kitchen counter (no!), then leap to the top of the cabinets (NO!!), walk along the top of the cabinets and then drop down onto the 2in ledge of the part of the fridge that sticks out from under the cabinetry (no!!). Why would he even dream of doing this? – you might ask. Because that’s where da bird and the bug toys are kept away from him. He’s obviously seen us put them there after play and devised a way to get to them.

Da bird was found chewed to bits under the table after one of the nights when we didn’t know how he was getting them. We searched for the bug toy for a couple of days before we found it… with all the little paper bits gone.

Despite regular training, I know he’s been up on the dining room table. The secret is that the special little placeholders don’t really jump off the table on their own.

The sticky-side up tape doesn’t work with him as it has with other cats… he has his own technique of playing with it (while we’re asleep – he won’t dare going to the ‘tape places’ when we’re awake) so that it’s a toy for him. A tape ball is a fave treat.

‘Tape places’ that have been violated at least once include the fireplace mantle, the kitchen counter, the kitchen bar ledge, the fridge top, the dining table and the ledge going to the basement.

The plants (including my loved orchids) get dug into regularly. Sometimes the  big floor plant gets knocked over. He gets the water gun for that – and that’s when NO becomes his middle name. He also loves to swat at and destroy the leaves of these poor plants – endless frustration for me.

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Cooper doesn’t nap much during the day. He’s go-go-go. And unlike other cats who play until they pant and then crash after, when he’s playing and you stop, he’s riled up and will charge around the house looking for other active play.

Today Cooper played so hard with the bird toy, that he ripped the feathers right out of the holder. I’m not sure how… I think he put his full 15lbs behind the bite as I was dragging it along (he’s more a mouser than a birder… not a good jumper but a great chaser!).

He’s been better of late since he’s watching Bird TV for a good 8 hours a day – I have 3 winter bird feeders almost at the window and the birds are literally 5 feet from his nose at the best of times. He finds it fascinating (as does Nuala).

Bird TV has been a welcome reprieve to both Nuala and Shadow who are tired of him sneaking up and giving them a gentle swat before jumping on them to get them to play with him. He loves his sisters… not a mean bone in his body… but that body is 15 pounds of muscle and tackle when their slight frames least expect it.

Miraculously, he has been virtually an angel with the tree. He and Nuala will wrestle under it sometimes (presents are not kept under the tree… that’s cat space), and he has knocked a ball or two off with his ‘tail in the air like he just don’t care’ style as he prances by. But overall, an angel. He is a very gentle and loving cat -a big baby who loves being cuddled- so we just have to forgive all the naughty moments.

And yes, luckily Santa bought a new ‘da bird’ toy for Christmas. Just in time.

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His First Real KissMouse

We are just 2 weeks away from Cooper’s 1-year anniversary of arriving in our home. I can’t believe it – but I also can’t say that time flies.

Above – the first 15 minutes he was in our home

Nuala has been sick or off-kilter in one way or another pretty much since his second week in our home. It’s not that they aren’t friends – they are wrestling buddies (so unfair that he’s about 2 weight classes higher than her), food buddies, and Nuala even cleans him. They are excellent company for each other – but it’s more other behaviour or health things with her.

Shadow has been exactly as we hoped with ‘da boy’: skittish but not truly worried or terrorized by his presence. She has known him from his young days, wasn’t threatened by his introduction as she would have with a mature kitty, and watched him grow. He sill wants her to play, but he gets hissed at many times a day when she tells him ‘lay off’. Of course he turned out to be much more rambunctious than we hoped for Shadow’s disposition.

Ah Cooper. Well, our little wrecking-ball (more about that in a later post) has gone from that little fuzzy kitten we brought home on December 22, 2015, to a cat who looks like he ate that kitten! Cooper is likely 15lbs of silky-furred muscle now. So much for the personality description of ‘quiet and calm’. He was only quiet because his vocal cords are broken and don’t work. He was only calm because he was cooped up (hence the name Cooper!) in cages and sick his entire young life. When he was allowed out and given tons of love, his little muscles developed, his balance developed, and he discovered he loved running. He dashes the length of the house at least 1-2x an hour. Quiet and docile, my butt!

The tree went up this past week… it was so easy to decide how to decorate it. Plastic Only! It’s still an 8-ft natural tree – with all the challenges that entails for a cat-home. We have a very steady base, don’t fill the water to the top (tree water becomes toxic), have less ‘temptation’ on the lower branches. Still I give J & I credit for being relatively fearless in putting up Christmas ‘like normal’. He has been nearly a saint with the tree so far (as close to a saint as he could get). So… the tree is up and holding.

All is merry and bright… pretty much. And it’s Coopers first real Christmas with us since he was in a separate room when he first arrived. It seems like it was so long ago… but he really is part of our family now. A big, kooky, sweet, wrecking-ball part.

Merry KissMouse, Coop!

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A year later; my fave basket-case

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Courses of Action

I’m exhausted from being worried about Nuala. I know you know what that is like: when you know something is not okay with your pet and she’s family, it wears you down. I’ve explained about months of bad litter behaviours. Of over-licking and biting her back toes and nails. Of chewing off the fur on the tip of her tail.

Before this all started she got a pretty bad dose of FHV (kitty-cold) from Cooper who brought it into our home. Two years before that, she caught a mild case of calicivirus from the Rascals foster kittens. A year before that she went through ringworm with her siblings at the age of 5 weeks.

She is a loving, sweet natured cat who is very people-focused and also emotional. She shows her love or dislike or worry. She is not a lap-sitter – never has been. I wish she would, but it’s just not her thing. She will however reach up to be picked up every single day and will snuggle into your shoulder and purr every time. That’s her thing.

So when she was ill, I really didn’t know what to do. Can’t spent a ton on a battery of tests. But I also won’t ‘let it slide’ just because there is no physical damage I can see. I KNEW something was wrong. But what? Was it behavioural? (A reaction to the new kitty Cooper?) Was it physical (an illness surfacing or re-surfacing?) Or was it a combination of multiple things? That’s the hard part. What if there were two separate physical ailments plus a behaviour originating from it or the stress of it? What if there was another factor – some unseen variable – that was creating part of the problem.

I’m exhausted from chasing my tail on this.

After switching to a vet who was actually listening to me (not just hearing the words), I’ve been working on this again:

  1. J bought an air-blow deterrent for the area she was soiling in the basement. I was not sure about this behavioural fix since it’s punitive. However, unlike the one we tried like this some time back, this one worked. No kitty is going into that area now. For any reason. I won’t remove this little egg-shaped machine, because cats love and respect routine and now this is part of the routine. I don’t want to change the rules (again) and it’s one hallway that they don’t need to use for any reason.
  2. We tried different litters, new litter containers, have 2 open and 2 closed litters. What I hadn’t tried was to put a litter in a new area of our home. I resisted this because there were no great logical places for it… and I didn’t want litter smells in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. In the end, the bedroom was the loser since we put a covered litter in the second little bathroom – beside our bedroom – the one we use when we give our big bathroom to the ‘fosters’. Immediately all three (I think!) cats wanted to use this convenient new spot. Great – they love this litter, and our bedroom sometimes smells.
  3. All three kitties went on Milbemax – a gentle and effective dewormer. I didn’t see any worms, but I had long suspected Cooper of some intestinal bug since his poop was eye-wateringly stinky and a little wet for his entire time with us. And if they share litters…. well you know. After the season of visiting the ‘Out’ was over, all three took milbemax (the vet listened and I appreciated her going with my plan despite not knowing me well, and not being fully convinced. Milbemax is gentle enough for young kittens – it would do no harm as a precautionary measure – I know because I’ve used it with every batch of foster kittens). It’s two weight-related doses… and there was no change after the first dose, but Cooper’s poop began to smell like regular cat poop just a couple of days after dose 2. Is this one of the variables?
  4. After the Milbemax, Nuala didn’t have any behavioural issues for a few days. I thought we were in the clear between the deworming and the new litter placement. Nope. She continued to bite her back toes and toe-nails. Dermatitis of some kind? Or infection (bladder, skin, or other residual secondary infection from her bout with FHV?). And she peed outside perfectly clean litters a couple of times.
  5. Next visit to the vet – the vet didn’t agree with me, but again she listened and understood why I wanted one round of precautionary antibiotics. I was trying to safely get rid of the ‘usual suspects’ before having to invest the considerable money in tests. Judge me for this frugality or not – there are limits to my budget.
  6. I don’t know how this will work. Nuala is on day 6 of 10 – using a 40mg dose of amoxicillin 2x each day. I am not looking forward to the common side effect of antibiotic-induced diarrhea, but it’s part of me being committed to helping Nuala. She’s still biting her toes and toe nails. She’s had no litter issues since day 2 of the antibiotic.

I will let you know how this goes – I wish I’d been able to do all this in June when I took her to our last vet. This course of action is my gut feeling – I feel good acting upon it. But I’m also learning as I go – for example I’d never considered cat’s sense of smell and cleanliness as an intervening variable – what if Nuala didn’t want to use the litters Cooper used since he was so darn stinky? What if she started holding her pee from not wanting to get into a stinky litter – and got a bladder infection? Behavior + medical linking variables.  This can be in any number – or permutations.

I’ll figure this out. At least Cooper has normal poop for the first time since we met him. That’s a step in the right direction – getting one thing fixed at a time. Please send good thoughts to our little orange kitty.

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In the middle of a slow-blink

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Christmas Came Early

I don’t do one single thing about Christmas until after Remembrance Day. It’s like a family rule and respect for those who served… so the days between Halloween and Remembrance Day are often cleaning and chores for me.

Today however, the kitties got their Christmas.

It wasn’t planned that way – a local pet store had their ‘friends and family discount day’… 15% off. It works out to just saving the tax, but hey, we’ll take it. We needed stuff! Our 3 wave scratching posts were shredded – the sisal part. The cardboard scratcher was okay… but only in the middle strip where cats can’t scratch it properly. Cooper spent last night chewing my silk flower buds in the vase (urrggg – I’m sure he’s eaten a piece or two) – always wants something to chew. (Did I tell you how much he loved the dog chew I got him?) We have toys. We still need to replace the damaged stuff.

So off we went…

There is no use waiting for Christmas morning to give these ‘gifts’ to them. They are some of the basics we keep for them. Just out of the car, a wash to get it clean (some toys)… and then they can have them.

Cooper is in heaven. Nuala is too … until Cooper comes to whatever toy she’s got. (Shadow is hiding out upstairs). They have a new wave stretching/scratching post- with a little catnip rubbed on the scratchy part. New ‘kong’ chew toy for Cooper (he’s seriously a puppy) but this one is for cats – can’t wait to see if this works. New ‘mouse on a stick’ toy – since Cooper has chewed the tail off the mouse of the last one and has pretty much chewed through the sturdy rope. (Yes – do laugh – I laugh but in a sad way since he’s such a wrecking ball).

Unfortunately the store didn’t have ‘da bird’ or the ‘bug’ toys that are our must-haves. We still need one of each… Cooper needs to keep expending that kinetic energy!

Do your kitties get Christmas gifts? What are they getting?

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Do you see one face… or two?

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