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Thursday, September 29, 2011

They survived!

"Ashley sits here and pets me.  I like Ashley!"
Yes, the cats managed to survive while I was on vacation with Scotty & Lou.  Kay came twice a day to feed and Ashley came once a day to sit and read and pet.  Ashley reports Melon was very impressed by her ability to sit quietly and not move for long periods of time.  He likes that in a person.  The kittens _-they're now five years old, I suppose I should stop referring to them as "kittens"-- were skittish as I expected.  What I did not expect was that Ellen and Flora would indeed take up with Ashley. She reported that she was in the kitchen and decided she'd give Fred a treat:  deli turkey.  As soon as she opened the fridge door, it was as if Ellen and Flora had a revelation:  "SHE can produce turkey too!  What a human!!" They were devoted to her after that, as was Nuit.

"Yeah, you're swell.  Can I go out now??!"
Kay had a Sally Field moment when Fred suddenly did his Fred thing and leaped on her shoulders.  Her thought was, "He likes me!  He really likes me!"

Thank you, ladies, for taking such fabulous care of my fur-kids!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BeeGee update

Poor Beege. . . he really started to trust me a bit. I borrowed a trap from the Washington County Animal Defense League (a very fine organization, by the way) to trap him.  I realized I also needed a new cat carrier so I got one of those and left it near his feeding station for a couple of days so he could get used to it. Believe it or not, I was able to entice him part way inside the carrier, then gave him a push and in he went.  All went well from there:  he was taken to the Margaret B. Mitchell Spay and Neuter Clinic where he was neutered and given a rabies and distemper shot.  Sigrid of the WCADL was kind enough to keep him a few days before I took him back. (I'm in your debt, Sigrid!)   I was very worried at first because he refused to eat.  After a couple of days, he did eat but wouldn't interact with Sigrid.  I picked him up and turned him loose at the house.  He vanished for a day, then cautiously began returning.  For some reason, he's a bit suspicious of me now.  I wonder why. . . .
"Make one false move and I'm outta here!

That's wearing off a bit, though, as he is getting meals regularly.  He's been watching Fred and he is starting to twine about my legs just a bit, but he's not sure how to do it exactly.  And I'm not sure what he wants from it-- he's usually been fed already. Multiple times.
"What do I want?  I dunno, what do you have?"

He is beginning to challenge Fred and Flora a bit, and he really doesn't like JJ, who drops over for a snack.  We'll see how this goes.

If you want to make the acquaintance of the fine folks at the WCADL, visit their website!

Animal Defense League of Washington County

And another tip of the hat to the wonderful people at The Margaret B. Mitchell Spay and Neuter Clinic!  It's a wonderful organization.  Ms. Mitchell was an animal lover who really made a huge contribution for the good of our companion animals.  I see her the memorial for her White One at the Glenwood Pet Cemetery when I go visit the kitties I have there.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I think I know why. . .

the flowers in my planter have not done well this year.

"  So do you come here often?"

Friday, July 15, 2011

BG or BeeGee, Part 2

BeeGee makes himself at home in the flower bed.
I contacted the Animal Defense League of Washington County and they will loan me a humane trap.  I've decided BeeGee is a male.  He tends to keep his tail down and is long haired so it's been hard to tell; when he suddenly became a voracious eater I had flashbacks of Nuit, who shortly thereafter deposited her three four week old kittens on my porch (Elmer, Ellen & Flora Snicklefritz.)  However, when he finally let me pet his head a couple of weeks ago,  I felt that "tomcat neck," very thick and strong.

He's a little uncertain about being touched but seems to really like being petted and headbutts.  I suspect he's had a family at some point.  The downside is that he is beginning to "claim" me.  He was challenging Fred this morning.  I tried to explain to him that I'm Fred's human and that trying to pick a fight with Fred is not a good way to endear himself to me. He's also been after JJ, the cute little orange kitty who lives next door and who tries to take BeeGee's food.  (JJ is fed at home, it's just the "Mount Everest" principle:  he wants the food because it's there. Elmer operates on the same principle.  The corollary is "Everybody else's food is better than the food I'm given."  This is especially true of any food given to Bonnie. Elmer takes hers, then eats his own.) The good news is that he seems more interested in just establishing the hierarchy than in causing real damage to the other cats.

We'll see how this goes. . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

BGB: The latest stray


I've been seeing this guy for months, all through the bad winter we had.  The first time I saw him outside I nearly freaked, because his color pattern is similar to Bonnie Kate's and I thought for a couple of seconds that she had somehow managed to escape. 
Bonnie Kate
 Since Bonnie is deaf and very very naive, I have nightmares of her somehow getting out and being hurt or killed. She's a true innocent, bless her heart.

So I started to referring to this latest stray as "Bonnie Gone Bad"-- if Bonnie had been a tougher character and had to live outside, this is what she might look like.  I expanded on the premise and decided that she'd joined a biker gang-- look at that "treadmark" on the stray's face.  "Bonnie Gone Bad" does have a certain rhythm to it but it can also be confusing so my friend Doris suggested calling him BGB or BG.  I especially like the latter as it also evokes BeeGees and "Stayin' Alive"-- which is what a stray has to work to do. 

He's people-shy, Melon, Elmer & Co. definitely do not like him, Fred tolerates him, and JJ (a neighbor's young cat) tries to take his food, so they don't quite get along. I don't think I could integrate him into the household, but I'm going to see if I can borrow a humane trap and at least get him his shots and have him neutered.

Yes, I have "Sucker!" across my forehead in letters only cats can read.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

"You are getting sleepy, veeerrry sleeeeepy...."  
"You will grill an extra large cheeseburger. . . leave off the pickles and onions. . . the cheeseburger is getting heavy, very heavy. . . you will put the cheeseburger on the ground . . . no, on the ground close to me. . .  "

Have a very happy and safe Independence Day, and beware of cats who read books on hypnotism.
"Now you will get ice cream and put it in my bowl . . . "

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rupert My Love

On May 16, 2008, at about 2:30 pm, I had Rupert put to sleep. I don't know if it was the right thing to do or not. I wonder; he wanted back in his carrier. Would a few more days have been worth it? He didn't have good days any more; he would have a good hour or two, then less good.

He had a squamous cell tumor that had closed one eye and was working on the other. It had invaded his nasal passages to the point where where was breathing mainly through his mouth. I had been assist feeding with some success, but the last day he choked and gagged the food back up. I think it was because he was trying to breathe and swallow at the same time. He was alert. I had given him the last of the pain meds I'd been given after they biopsied his face. He was increasingly unwilling to have me touch his face, whether from all the feeding and dosing or from the pain of the tumor, I don't know. I groomed him and took him outside to sit in the sun. He slipped under the fence and went to his house on the porch where he lived as a stray for months until he decided to come inside. I left him there awhile before taking him to the vet's.

The vet said he could tell a difference in the five days since he'd seen him last. He was a little dehydrated. The remaining eye was gooier. My vet told me that he would just decline a little more each day. It was my decision. I have to live with that. I wonder: I won his trust, but did I betray him in the end?

Listening to him breathe was hard. My mother had emphysema the two years of her life and her breathing was like that. I'd listen to it at night and it would tear my heart out. It was the same lying by Rupert at night, waking up every couple of hours when he'd wheeze or choke. I can't help but feel that influenced me, though with hindsight I think he might have gone on a few more days had I given him sub-qs and maybe tried more times to assist feed. . . he'd choked the last time I'd tried and gagged up all I'd tried to give him. Maybe I just went too fast; but since he was primarily breathing through his mouth then, it was trickier to try to get food down him. Still, I look at the last photos of him and think, "He was enjoying the sun. I should have let him have a few more days." I don't know how much he could see by then: the one eye was sightless, and the other was only a slit with discharge but he found his way around the yard and even found his hole to slip out and go to the box on the porch that served as his home the first winter when he was afraid and wouldn't come in the house. It remained his place of refuge all his life.

When Rupert first showed up on our porch, starving, dirty, and obviously ill, I never thought that scrawny orange cat would be anything but a passerby. I fed him grudgingly, not wanting him around our other cats, but his calm intelligence gradually won me over. He would go from door to door, watching us carefully, but never allowing us to touch him. As the nutrition began to bring back his health, he started to groom himself again and one day to my surprise I saw he had a white bib or dickie and little white spats. He looked for all the world like once well-to-do person who was down on his luck but who still polished his worn shoes and patched his jacket to make himself formally presentable. That's how he became my "shabby little gentleman."

We had to trap him to get him to the vet's for an exam, shots and neutering. It took several nights of trapping opossums before Rupert entered the trap. I worried all day about him and when the vet called, her first question was, "What happened to his teeth?" He had only one tooth and it was rotten so she had pulled it. No wonder he was starving. I was guilt striken, as I'd been giving him dry food after he'd eat the bowls of wet. (That didn't last too long, however, as one day I heard someone over at the food bowl and found Rupert happily crunching some dry food by preference. He'd toss a piece up into his mouth and crunch away.)

We brought him back home, not knowing if he'd let us ever touch him again. He ran from us but immediately resumed watching us, living in the covered litter box we'd stuffed with rugs and towels and covered with plastic to keep dry. We heated snuggle disks in winter to keep him cozy.

We tried various names on him but the only one he seemed to respond to was "Rumplestilskin," so we worked on R names. We kept adding and experimenting, and he gradually became "Prince Rupert Rufus Hubert Herbert Hobert Rumplestilskin Rasputin Crookshanks Cockleburr of Bavaria and the Rhine." Rupert was for Rupert Giles of Buffy the Vampire Slayer-- because he was a Watcher. We've named several cats after royalty as a joke-- Tzar Nicholas, Prince Michael, Emperor Maxmillan-- so when I found Rupert of Barvaria, I added it. Then a British friend pointed out Prince Rupert of the Rhine and that was added, even though that Rupert was a noted dog lover. Cockleburr because after he accepted us he clung right by our legs. I was reading Harry Potter at the time and threw in Crookshanks for good measure. My mother had trouble with Rupert, often calling him Rasputin (and then being horrified as he was not that sort of personality!) or reverting to more familar similar names, Hobart, etc.
He was also known as "Pigeon" because of his preferred vocalizing, a cooing sound that we mistook for the doves and vice versa.

At first he'd only allow us to touch him if we stuck a hand through the door to scratch his head. Any further movement and he'd flee. He was fascinated by our Himmie, Mocha.  In fact, I believe it was because of Mocha that he hung around.  He'd get very excited every time he caught a glimpse of Mocha, purring and rubbing against the door.  One day he finally couldn't stand it any more and rushed inside  and began washing Mocha as if he were an old friend. Mocha was horrified and ran. Mikey,our Ragdoll cat at the time and a vague soul as a rule, rushed to Mocha's aid and slapped Rupert. (Mikey was in the early stages of CRF then, and died a few months later.) Rupert hid in the house awhile, then gradually allowed us to touch him. He apparently knew what a litter box; he was afraid to leave the kitchen but found a cardboard box we kept a few tools in under a counter and relieved himself there.

He was wary of us for the first couple of years, then became more trusting of us-- inside at least. Outside, we might be enemies. He'd follow me as I worked in the yard, though, and again finally accepted us. He extended his trust to anyone we invited inside. He was extremely affectionate and loving.  In fact, he seemed to feel he couldn't get enough affection.  Mocha continued to rebuff him, which seemed to hurt his feelings.  He finally stopped trying, though every now and then he'd give Mocha a little cuff born out of frustration.

He gently took over the household, looking after Fred and Bonnie as kittens, playing with them, grooming them, and disciplining Fred when he'd play too roughly with Bonnie. He acted as intermediary when other felines joined the household. We adopted Fred from the vet's about two weeks before we got Bonnie and kept Fred in a guest bedroom.  Rupert would go in and play with the rambunctious kitten until he was worn out, then would ask to be let out of the room.  He'd rest a few minutes and then come back for more.

Bonnie Kate came from a breeder because after Mikey we wanted another Ragdoll.  She was frightened and cried all night the first night.  Fred was too rough with her, Rupert tried to give comfort but she hissed at him.  The only one she'd go to was Mocha.  She'd run to him and bury her face in his coat apparently believing he was a relative since he looked like a form of Ragdoll... then she'd smell him and realize she didn't know him and would hiss.  Mocha wasn't thrilled with this turn of events either but he gradually came to put up with her.  And Rupert gradually won her over and would groom and cuddle with her.

Rupert loved to be combed and petted and liked to sleep with his head in my hand. He loved to help me plant flowers and would follow from bed to bed. He enjoyed television, his favorite movie being "March of the Penguins." He watched the entire film, and was still watching the credits when we left the room. He walked out on a second showing, but when we ran the companion "Making of March of the Penguins" he returned and watched that film. I guess he didn't like reruns.

I never knew how old he was, but he played up until the last few weeks of his life. He played like an adult, intelligently, knowing how the toys worked and where the strings were. He did it simply because he enjoyed it.

Scotty and Lou gave him a battery operated mouse that was motion and sound activated. The other cats didn't know what to make of it, but Rupert figured it out quickly. He'd pat it and then sit back and watch it go through its paces. As soon as it stopped, he'd activate it again and watch. This went on a good part of the day until we finally shut the toy off. I got it out some months later and Rupert remembered it: he immediately activated it again, but its allure had worn off and he stopped after a mere three or four repetitions.

I have other cats whom I love, but I find I don't take as much joy in them as I did when Rupert was alive. Rupert took joy with him.  

(This was edited from a piece I wrote not long after Rupert died.  I've had him on my mind a lot lately.  I still miss him.  He was my equal; it was like having another human adult in the house when he was here. Rest in peace, my sweet one.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Three Bags Full.

I belong to DorothyL, a mystery listserv where folks discuss, among other things, mystery novels.  Recently some have read Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann, a sheep mystery.  I'm not kidding.  The sheep try to solve the mystery.  Of course, they don't quite understand the mystery--they're sheep, after all, and therein lies the delight.  Their shepherd has met with foul play and they really aren't sure what will become of them but he was a rather nice shepherd who read aloud to the sheep, which is why they had some grasp of human doings.  One sheep, the cleverest, was Miss Maple and while there was an explanation of how she got her name (involving syrup) I am fairly sure the resemblance to Miss Marple was not unintentional.  My favorite sheep was Mopple the Whale, who was very large and while he was not terribly bright, he never forgot anything.  He reminded me of someone.  I can't think who.

Anyway, if you like offbleat--er, offbeat-- mysteries, give this one a try.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stray Cat Strut

Yes, there is another stray hanging around.  This one I was calling "Bonnie Gone Bad" because she or he looks a bit like my Bonnie had she been hanging out with biker gangs or pirates.  Doris suggested the easier "BGB" which I've shortened to BG.  Or BeeGee.  Or Beeje.Maybe she or he does have some Saturday Night Fever going on.  Anyway, very suspicious and standoffish.  Fred rather ignores him/her, but Melon will lumber across the street to show BeeGee who's boss.  BeeGee was raiding the catnip growing in the yard and Mel considers that HIS catnip, so that may be part of the reason.  Anyway, during the Very Bad Winter I started giving BeeGee some food.  He or she started coming onto the porch as a signal it was time for dinner to be served.  He or she wouldn't let me get closer than about ten feet.  I'd like to trap, neuter & release, plus get shots.  We'll see.  As summer came in (we skipped spring this year), he or she disappeared for awhile but now is back and even meowed at me for food.  Ate like a pig.  Which brings me to the question of gender.  I had decided it was a he but the disappearance, then return with voracious eating habits leads me to suspect kittens.  Just what we need.  Anyway, I can now get within three feet providing I then stay very still and don't make any moves.  I tried to touch once and got a hiss. 

We'll see how this goes....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Signs of Spring

Tulips. . . .

Catterflies. . .

And, of course, the Easter Melon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

at least Melon is more likely to bounce than break should he fall off this wall.

I started to entitle this
"Melon keeps an eye out for Spring
and also for stray cats who do not belong in Melon's yard."

Unfortunately, Melon thinks Fred and Flora qualify as strays, which makes getting cats in and out rather interesting.  There have been some real strays around:  adorable cat formerly known as Buster who in his new home is Bentley, adorable little orange baby who I see lurking at the edge of my yard and the rather pitiful long hair Siamese mix I call Bonnie Gone Bad, because s/he looks a great deal like my adored Bonster.  The last is shy of people and has had fights with Fred and Melon.  If I see it out, I do take it food across the street.  I feel sorry for it.  I don't quite know how it survived this last winter, but it managed.  It's a gorgeous cat. And no, I'm not looking to adopt another. 

Maybe I should leave it at Humpty Dumpty.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Will wear silly outfits for treats and attention. 

Actually, I was thinking more of corned beef and cabbage.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prayers for Japan

My sister in law Lou gave me these wonderful notecards for Christmas, maneki neko-- the beckoning cat.  It's supposed to be calling for good fortune for its owners.  It's based on the legend of a cat who helped its owner by calling to visitors.  The exact details vary, depending on the version. Now you can see umpteen versions.  Some come in non-cat colors, like pink or purple, and each has been assigned a meaning:  love, prosperity, ward off evil, etc.  This picture probably depicts a Japanese bobtail, a traditional breed.  Calico Japanese bobtails are considered the be the epitome of the breed.

Scotty and Lou were in Japan just before the major quake hit.  They missed it by hours.  I'm so thankful they left before the disaster.

My heart goes out to all those suffering in the devastation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ella the Exterminator

"Say, did you know your computer has a bug?"

"I'll catch you yet, you wascally wabbit--er bug!"

(Excuse for not posting #341:  too much help on the computer.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Cupid has nothing on Melon-- except perhaps a bow and arrows, but Melon's human discourages the use of weaponry around the house.  The Rotund One volunteers to polish off any leftover candy, cookies or other tasty declarations of love you might want to send his way.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Introducing. . . . me

I don't really have a name, not yet.  I was just cruising the neighborhood and found this neat house.  After a major charm offensive, I got a bed on a porch and ten square meals a day.  The lady is a real pushover.  There's this big fat pillow-like animal who howls at me.  We've tusseled a time or two.  I don't think he's really a cat, but I didn't know marshmallows had claws.  Whatever.  I've learned if I come to one door and tease the Marshmallow into throwing himself at the glass, I get fed again at the other door. 

The lady's saying something about getting me tutored, but I think I know enough already.

She's also talking about a Rebecca person to me.  I don't know anyone by that name, but if she's as much of a easy touch as this woman, I'm ready to make her acquaintance. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year on February 3!

So, what treats do we get for Chinese New Year?

Happy Year of the Rabbit
From Melon, Jeanne & the Horde

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Looking for the door into summer. . .

"Okay, the joke's over.  Turn the heat on out here!"

(Note:  Melon spends 90% of his time indoors, but occasionally likes to sit on the front porch and sidewalk.  With the advent of bad weather, he steps out and turns right around to come back inside without moving more than a few inches from the door.)