Ever After

You would never guess what I did yesterday! We went to Toronto and visited our former fosters Jinx and Rogue.

If you remember, we fostered the Rascals and their mom Mattie at the end of 2012. When I got them, I began this blog and it was a wild ride! If you want to read more about them, begin in our archive on October 25, 2012. If you want a quick reminder of the cuteness, take a look at our photo journal.

It’s pretty unusual that I have the addresses of all the Rascals’ parents. This is the only time it’s happened with us – and the reason is that we fostered these little guys ‘outside the system’. There were no rescues who could take them, and two great women from two agencies (Toronto Cat Rescue & Annex Cat Rescue) teamed with me to save them. I fostered. They vetted and used their agency system to promote them. So in the end, I had final approvals of each family and adopted them straight from my home.

You hear of the nightmares of cats given or sold on Craig’s or kijiji. However, these are great resources for rescues, and I personally use them with all our foster kittens. I advertise them to show them off. And that is how we met the wonderful family who adopted Jinx and Rogue.

H had wanted to give her two girls two kittens for Christmas. I remember sending her a long e-mail about why I don’t do Christmas adoptions and also lots of info for someone looking to adopt. She was really genuine about thinking that this was a great idea and the girls were at good ages and ready for responsibility. We e-mailed back and forth and when I spoke to her (and asked that she go through the agency screening) I knew that she would be a great cat owner.

To prepare the girls for their kittens, they came to meet them and see if they truly loved them. Sort-of for Christmas, but with weeks notice and building up supplies, and plans, and excitement for their new friends’ arrival. We saw how they were with the kittens and how they wanted to learn about caring for their kitties.

Thirteen months ago Jinx (Georgia Jinx now) and Rogue (King James now) left our home. They are all grown up. James is a very regal cat with silky fur and the most laid back disposition. He has retained his daring, go-for-broke determination. You’ll remember him as the little guy… with lots of catching up to do. Georgia is a gorgeous, pudgy food-hound. She’s retained her shy and fiercely loyal personality. They are beautiful!

Their home is filled with window perches with cat-cushions, scratching posts, sunny spots to look over their yard. And most of all, they are so loved.

I was so honoured… the girls remembered that I had cupcakes for each week of the kitten’s birthdays, and they had gone to a fab bakery to get celebratory cupcakes for our visit!

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Our Rascals – Georgia & King James – are now uptown royalty and very loved. It suits them! Don’t you love happy ever-afters?

Zat You Santa Claws? (Kitty Gift Guide)

 Whoo hooo! The season is merry and bright and … it’s time to play Santa Claws to our kitties. We rarely splurge, but try to give them interactive, fun toys that can be used for a long time. Here’s our family’s Kitty Gift Guide. Ready?  (Music to read by: Zat You Santa Claws)

Before you jump in – will you consider buying one of these toys to donate to a cat shelter? When you buy your next bag of cat food, will you buy a second (same brand) and donate it to the shelter near you? Many pet stores have a donation box right there for you. It’s giving from your heart, and you will know that your gift is feeding the neediest of kitties. Thank you!

  1. Da Bird: ImageTo say that Nuala loves this is the understatement of the year. Picture a fishing pole with a spinner made of feathers. As you pull this through the air, the feathers spin and create a bird’s flight-like motion. Cats go nuts for it. Nuala goes for broke with it, and ends up doing some crazy aerial flips to get it… and it leaves her panting. This means I must not let her over-exert. Even 17.5 yr old Mouci is very attentive and will attempt a swat at it. Rated 5 Paws – Irresistible, simple, fun to play with (for cats and their people) and inexpensive (About $10).
  2. The Wave Scratcher: ImageTried and tested, the wave scratching post is a favourite! It’s a necessary accessory – but also a removable toy with a spring under it. If you have kittens in the house, this is a perfect first scratcher – they love playing on, under, over it. Three litters of kittens in our home can attest to it – the Mousketeers, Spice Rack and Rascals each got one of these. They last quite long (until claws rip the natural scratching surface to shreds). The interesting thing is that both cats and kittens like sleeping on it too. Rated 5 Paws – great for home use (try rubbing a bit of catnip on it), effective, and long lasting (This was about $34 but since it’s both toy and essential equipment, it’s on our list!)
  3. Catit Senses Play Circuit:Image Originally bought for Nuala’s litter, the kittens played with this every single day. Then the Rascals played with it. Nuala still plays with it, and sometimes sleeps in the center. It’s loved and never put away. You can also buy more than one (we got our second last Christmas) and the pieces can interconnect to make long waves or circles… it keeps it changing and interesting. This circuit contains a ball which moves in ways that create irregular motion and cats can poke and push the ball around. Rated 5 Paws – Inexpensive, durable, washable, easy to adjust and seems to hold interest for a long time. (About $20)
  4. Squeaky Mouse on a Stick:Image If you find this please let me know where! Picture a hard plastic fishing pole with a string and an electronic squeaking mouse on the end. This was originally bought for Nuala when she was young. She loved it to death… literally. She not only chased it everywhere every time, but she’d drag it around the house and bring it to us so we’d play with it. She washed the mouse in her water bowl once too many times. Long after it’s final squeak, she continued playing with it until it was threadbare. Failing to find this toy again, we bought squeaky mouse (available everywhere for about $5) which cats like the sound of. The original was more fun since you could drag it around and it would squeak when it bumped into anything. Rated 5 Paws – fun, quirky, interactive  (about $15)
  5. Mousey Mouse: np102Okay that is not the toy’s name: it’s simply a plush mouse from Ikea. It’s precisely $1 and it’s soft, cute, stands up to chewing, pawing, and laundry machines. It is better made than the stuffed mice I’ve bought before. There is no built-in interactive play with this, but it’s just SO cute! I have a couple – one is put into the catnip container to soak up the ‘yummy smells’ – then a week or so later, I pull it out and Nuala goes nuts for it. She sometimes spontaneously plays fetch with this mouse and it’s adorably cute. This is my choice of catnip toy for Oscar and he holds it down with one paw and licks it to death. So sweet! Rated 5 Paws – ridiculously cheap, well made, oh so cute.
  6. Krazy Kitty Catnip Bed:Image I can’t remember when our house didn’t have these! They are cotton pads with a little batting in the centre. There is a hole to pour in some catnip … and then just give it a rub and give it to kitty. They roll, chew, and otherwise krazy-enjoy this pad. I have used one on our sofa, on our cat’s window stool, or even just on the ground. They come with funny cat fabric designs… and stand up to washing and drying. Just re-fill the catnip every so often. Rated 5 Paws – Easy to use, locally made, lasts years, and the kitties love it. It also can be used to train kitty to sit on particular places (About $20)
  7. Catnip Dancer:Image Tried and tested by Nuala, Catnip Dancer is a winner! It’s very simple, but the bouncy movement is really irresistible. Something about those little bits of paper really entices kitties to pounce, chase and swat. The green mouse end smells like catnip and offers two toys in one. 4 of 4 cats we tested it with found it aMEWSing – even Oscar gave it a swat. Rated 5 Paws – inexpensive (about $6), interactive, effective, and long lasting

What’s not on our list? The red dot (laser pointers) and the i-pad games don’t make our list since they actually frustrate the kitty after a while because they are not chasing a ‘thing’. There is no satisfaction of the ‘win’ or ‘capture’. They are fun and easy, but don’t make up for the actual tactile interaction a tangible toy offers. Just our opinion.

What’s YOUR pick for great toy for kitty?

Spice Rack II

I just received the word on who’s a boy and who’s a girl in the Spice Rack II: we’ve got a girl and boy tuxie, an orangie boy, and a tabby-striped girl. Of course, we suspected that little Sage was a girl, and she didn’t disappoint.

So without further delay, meet the little spices of the Spice Rack II ~


BAYE (A Girl!): http://spices.biodiversityexhibition.com/en/card/bay-leaf

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BASIL (A Boy!): http://spices.biodiversityexhibition.com/en/card/basil
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CASSIA (A Girl!): http://spices.biodiversityexhibition.com/en/card/cassia
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JUNIPER (A Boy!): http://spices.biodiversityexhibition.com/en/card/juniper
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SAGE (A Girl!): http://spices.biodiversityexhibition.com/en/card/sage

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Mom Angelica is cleaning up really nicely. She’s lost the green paint, and her fur is showing what a little love can do. She’s getting good nutrition as well.
ANGELICA:
http://spices.biodiversityexhibition.com/en/card/angelica

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Meet Spice Rack 2

Could you think of a cuter sequel? The Spice Rack 2 – The Ottawa Connection.

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image from 123rf.com

The little ones are too young to be certain of their gender … so I can’t tell you their names though I have a few fun possibilities.

For the girls, I’ll pick from Rosemary, Sage, Cassia, Baye and Cicely. I loved the name Anise (as in star anise) but I used it. I personally love Lavender (and I’m even trying to grow it this year) but it just seems a bit too old fashioned for a modern kitty.

For the boys, I’ve only got Juniper and Basil for sure. Ones I’m currently wavering on are Dill, Fresno (a type of chilli pepper), Licorice and Wasabi. *insert a giggle here* Why are boys always harder to name?

Call me crazy, but I put lots of time and effort into naming kittens. I just feel that it starts them off in a good direction. In some cultures, a child could not leave the house until it was named, as the name protected it from the evil of the world. Names (even ones which may be changed by the adoptive parents) have power and substance somehow. Do you think that the ‘first names’ matter?

Ready? Meet the yet un-named newborns of the Spice Rack 2:

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The Spice of Life

Is variety the spice of life? I think so. If our similarities make us human, then it’s our differences that make us interesting. Life without spice would be bland.

Admittedly, I didn’t have this in mind when I named my foster litter 1.5 years ago. I had already decided to name their beautiful, marmalade-tinged mom ‘Cinnamon’. When she gave birth to 6 almost identical orange kittens, it was such serendipity that we could name them all tawny spice names! That is how the Spice Rack was named – Saffron, Cayenne, Ginger, Paprika, Chili, and Nutmeg.

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We bid and won a naming auction. (What a great idea for a money-raiser for a rescue!)  Now we can name a whole new spice rack… Spice Rack 2 (or spice rack too!). The idea is that this is in honour of our foster Cinnamon who never made it to her happy ending. While she is gone and we could not bring her the life she deserved, her memory will live on in 6 gorgeous redheads… and now a whole new litter.

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The story started at Christmas when Nuala and I decided to forego presents and win the naming auction at a deserving little rescue in Ottawa (Canada). The rescue would let the winning bid name a mommy-cat and her kittens. We did win and we named the pregnant cat Anise. Well Anise never did give birth, so we’ve been waiting for a litter to name. That moment is NOW!

The trick is to NOT use the Spice Rack names or the ‘spice names’ the rescue has used in the past! They actually didn’t want me to use the ‘spice theme’ since they had used it before, but they did concede. So, I’ve named this skinny disheveled mom cat Angelica – and I’m working on the kitten names. They are asking for the names before the kittens are sexed… I hope I can delay a bit…

PS Anise was in very rough shape (uri and eye infections) but she blossomed under the foster’s care. She is now adopted… and by her foster family, I think!

Serendipity

Sometimes things just fall into place. Innumerable variables somehow sort themselves out in a optimal way that you couldn’t have anticipated or planned. Right now, I’m there. In that perfect space. Serendipity.

I got the happy news that Mattie will have that foster home saved for her. In fact, she will be with me for this week coming and then she will go there – it’s a longer term foster for her. (Please – if you know of anyone who wants a gentle, charming, elegant, young calico, please tell them about Mattie at Annex Cat Rescue)

This is perfect because Mattie is beginning to get a bit restless and want a little more freedom and time away from the kittens. They are 7 weeks old and getting more independent. More and more this week the littlest ones are catching up. One more week of mother’s milk and training and they should be just fine! The timing of the separation will be great.

Beginning a couple of days ago, the kittens have been making a mad dash for the door every time it’s opened. They are getting steadier on their feet and faster! They are getting good at sprinting, and caught unaware, I suddenly had 4 explorers in my bedroom as I tried to bring them breakfast.

Everyone got taken inside and the morning frenzy of trying to climb my pj’s while I filled the bowls began.

Their curiosity about new spaces and expansion of their skill levels make it a perfect time to take them to a new room for visits. This development coincides with the timing of me dropping the temperature of their room to normal home temperatures (22C) since they no longer need an extra warm space for their health.

The kittens will begin visiting our ‘office’ regularly. It’s our front room and the place where potential adopters will meet them. They are physically ready to try out this room at the exact time as the rescue will start screening potential adopters. So they will feel confident and happy in the room where they meet people.

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Do you know who’s who yet? I’m the one in the jeans.

 

 

 

 

Top: Rogue                                                  Middle: (LtoR) Minx, Maverick, Scamp                                                         Bottom: Gypsy

The Buffet is Open

There are a number of costs involved in rescuing kittens. Next to the vet costs, food is the big one. Knowing that the costs of fostering can also add up, our kittens’ rescuer brought a care package of donations from the rescue she works with – quality kitten food (wet and dry- what I really needed!), some treats, and even a few soft toys. Yes: she’s a certified angel. We’ve been feeding these foods to the Rascals and Mattie.

My last two litters were fostered from rescues which provided food to the foster home. The first one had a sponsorship with Science Diet and they provided dry food. The second one had a deal with a food company (I think Science Diet) and food cost significantly less for them.  A big shout out to Science Diet – because they are helping and because they are smart enough to know that pet owners will be loyal to companies who do.

As the kittens grow and settle into eating solids, they consume lots. Do you blame them? They are growing and active. I just got back from the pet store up the street… I was out of wet food.

Mattie is still feeding them. When she offers them food, I dash out of the room as I find my presence is energizing rather than calming. Both mom and kittens are apt to get up and want attention if I am there. If I see Mattie lay down prone, I grab Rogue and Gypsy and put them to her and then run for the hills.

The other buffet consists of wet food, dry food, soggy kibble mush mixed with wet food  – with three refreshes each day. Certain combinations are more successful than others. Go figure. I was trying to keep tabs, but lost track yesterday when someone (no names mentioned, honey) mixed up dry foods which looked identical. We had 3 types of wet food, 3 types of dry… so lots of combinations.

Little Gypsy suddenly started getting her bounciness when we started finger-feeding her solid food 5 days ago. She picked up her energy as we suspected and then started eating full out. She will not only eat from the bowls now…but she happily eats with 1 or 2 siblings on the same bowl! Now that is progress! I wish I had a photo that really showed her round belly – it seemed to change almost overnight.

They love wet food, but I am not giving them what they want all the time. SO mean! For their own long-term health and their transition to a new home in the future, I need them to eat a number of different foods and be comfortable eating dry kibble by week 9. It’s a responsibility of the foster mom… and you know it will help them forever though you won’t be around to see it.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It’s Halloween
by Jack Prelutsky

It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can’t be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns
we haunt the street
And knock on doors
for trick or treat.

Tonight we are the king and queen,
For oh tonight it’s Halloween!

*No kittens were scared in the making of this post

Meet the Kittens

I know you want to know about Mattie’s kittens.

There are 6 of them and they are about 4 weeks old. They are at different stages of development. Some are eating food and that is giving them a head start. Others are not really there yet. They have little teeth and are teething. They are all learning litter training after about 24 hours at my place.

A day after they arrived I noticed that a couple are have sticky eyes. One couldn’t open her eye since it had a bit of puss on it. We are cleaning it 3x a day with an Epsom salt solution. I had not heard of this before, but I have not had kittens with this before either. I do know that Polysporin eye drops (for people) have a mild antibiotic in them and can be used on cats. I have done this before on my kitty when she scratched her eye mildly.

Please keep your fingers crossed! I really don’t want this to develop into anything else. We will watch them of course, but I have read that when kittens get sick, it can develop very quickly.

I am hoping that now that Mattie is getting good nutrition and will pass it on to the kittens through milk, the kittens have good food and fresh water, they have a very clean room to live in, and good care, the little ones will prosper.

Speaking of little ones… one tiger tabby and one tuxedo are quite smaller than the others. They are a little less steady on their feet and seem to need a bit more encouragement. I’m happy to say that I’m usually good with this… I am making sure they get to their feeding stations whenever mom is feeding. And the little tuxedo is eating food. My little tabby is more challenging… she is not interested in food. I’m working on it!

They are a bit early to eat on their own, but their early eating might be a survival instinct. I’m sure they had a challenging 1.5 weeks before they arrived at my place.

It’s strange, but the kittens are in pairs – two tuxedos, two calicos and two tiger tabbies.

Little things … we are picking them up and cuddling them often as part of socialization. There is a radio going about 7 hours each day… so they get used to sounds and voices. We are keeping their room at 25-26C since kittens can’t regulate their body temperatures. We have them very well separated from the rest of our home – so they have no external stresses. I’m here to offer any little support I can in their development.

Birthday Cake (No really – it’s for the kittens)

Tonight (Saturday) is a big night. I decided to set their birthday as October 6th. That would make today their 4th week birthday… and we celebrated with a cake and colour coded candles. Yes – you guessed it! We looked at each kitten and have made our best guess about their gender. And having accomplished this (quite a challenge believe me! I’ve been wrong many times before!!), we have named them.

What do you think of the names?

Our Rascals