Tag Archives: cats

Things the cats are fascinated by, a partial list

The basement stairs, which are way more exciting than the regular stairs.

The process of scooping and disposing of their poop, which they have to run over and supervise whenever I do it (where supervising = getting in the way).

Pens, especially if on the table. A pen’s proper place is on the floor, of course.

What the humans are eating and/or drinking. Best examined from the vantage point of the table.

Human feet, under a duvet, at 5am. Pounceable deliciousness.

My hair.

Tails, which are a constant mystery, in spite of having one each.

A piece of dry cat food that has accidentally skittered across the kitchen floor and is much more alluring than all the rest of the cat food in the bowl.

The breeze coming through an opened window.

The bath, empty (for playing in) or occupied (utterly flabbergasting).

The toilet, ditto; they must come over and inquire into exactly what I might be doing if sitting there.

The inside of the dishwasher.

The inside of the clothes dryer.

Drawers – how they work, what’s inside them, what might be behind them.

The freezer, on the bottom of the fridge, the most mysterious drawer of all.

The sliding closet doors. They clearly operate by witchcraft and must be stopped at all costs.

Empty tissue boxes, to be examined closely, from within, at a cat’s peril.

Shopping bags: enemies, to be defeated.

Napping. More investigation required. Haven’t got to the bottom of this yet. Will get back to you with our results.

Snow-day thoughts in March

Last night it was cold, so we lit the fire, which is a wood-burning stove. Then one of the cats jumped up on top of the stove and hurt his paw and I spent the rest of the evening stressing out in case the other one did the same, now that it was even hotter and would probably burn all the flesh off his little pads. Of course, since they’re not used to there being a fire there, they’ve come to think that the stove is just a fun place to jump up and play on, and have no idea why it should be any different just because there’s a bright orange light behind the glass. So I guess we can never light a fire again. Oh well. I’ll just drink wine to keep warm.

Because. This entire winter has been a damp squib, more like a practice for winter than actual winter, where it got chilly for a few days and then stopped. We’ve had no snow days and only the barest sprinkling of snow. Social flakes, I think they call them, because it’s enough to chat about but nothing further. Now that it’s mid March, though, we’re expecting a doozie and we’ve forgotten how to deal with that. I’ve been thinking about sandals – I am not up for a snow day.

Snow on road under lamplight

There appears to be snow.


Now it’s Tuesday and here I am making snow-day French toast for lunch. It’s a snow day, though the snow is mostly ice and not much fun for playing in. Dash is still in pyjamas and hasn’t been outside at all – but he did utter the immortal words “You’re right, Mom” a little while ago when he finally agreed with me that his ipad game would never end and he’d have to just stop playing it. It only took about two hours for him to come around to my opinion, so those were two hours well spent (by me alternately nagging/not nagging).

You can’t hurry French toast, as Phil Collins always says. I think it’s done now though.


Then some friends called for us and we ended up going out to sled on the big hill behind the school for an hour, which was much better than staying at home all day.

Did I have a point? Was it about the cats? So one cat now has a sore paw (he’s not limping at all but it looks nasty) and his brother looks like he’s gone five rounds with Mike Tyson because he has scrapes around his eye and something weird going on with his nose. And one of his ears has seen better days. We should’ve called him Rocky.

Life with cats goes like this: they sleep on the end of our bed, unless we kick them out. And it’s so sweet to have them there, purring away like little happy engines, a comforting weight by your feet, that we leave them there. Then halfway through the night I find that there are two cats right where my legs want to be, and I have to put my legs somewhere else. And at 5 am or so they wake up and think it’s time to play, or to climb on my head or knead their paws on my hair or pounce on my toes under the blanket, and then I lie there waiting for them to run off and thunder through the house instead, until 6:30 when they decide it’s breakfast time and someone has to feed them. (They were quite delighted with the time change that moved feeding time up an hour. They won’t be so happy in the autumn when we’re an hour late one day.)

Drops of ice on the washing line

Icy


After a glass or two of wine my fingers fairly fly over the keyboard; but they fly up to the delete button twice as often too. Still, as a method for getting my thoughts directly to paper, I have nothing but good things to say about typing. I really wish Dash would practice his keyboarding more because I think once he can type his writing will take flight. Also, his spelling will improve.

I should add that it’s after dinner now so my mentioning of wine is entirely appropriate. Merely mentioning. It came to mind for no particular reason.


Now we are waiting to see if the schools are opening on time tomorrow, since I’ve made a vet appointment for Birchyboo (not Oakiepokes – you can see how their full names are coming along) in the morning and I suspect I’ll have to bring at least one child along to it. It’s the child who wants to be a vet, so that’s okay.

I just read The Long Winter to Mabel, being the sixth of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I know I’ve mentioned these before, because we’ve been reading the series since I happened on the first one when Mabel was four or five. I love going through it slowly like this – I just pick up the next book at the thrift store or the book sale, but we don’t rush to get it from the library to dash through the the way we do with other series. This means that it’s a slower process but much more part of her childhood instead of a momentary blip. And as I’ve never read this series before I’m enjoying it too.

Anyway, The Long Winter, as you might surmise, is about a particularly hard winter for the pioneer family, who have finally settled in De Smet, Dakota Territory, where the Little Town on the Prairie actually is. There are blizzards from October to April that year, they have to burn sticks of twisted hay and sit around the stove in the tiny kitchen all day, they have nothing left to eat but bread made from wheat they grind in a coffee grinder – and Ma still cares about getting the laundry done. I would fail Pioneer 101 instantly.

Happily, our one paltry snow day of the year comes with wine, Girl Scout cookies, and a fireplace we can’t light because of the cats but we still have central heating. I think we’ll survive.

Snowy sidewalk by road, child with sled

Coming back from sledding

Furbabies

On the kittens’ first or second night here, I was a little wound up. I tried to identify the feeling – that sense of stress and weight was vaguely familiar. I didn’t like to admit it, but it was a milder version of the way you feel when you bring the new baby home, plus a little sense of put-upon-ness that now I was responsible for two more lives, in a way that I hadn’t really mentally prepared for because when assembling the feeding dishes and cat litter and various objects that we’d need, I had forgotten to account for that.

Two children bending heads over a cat on one of their laps

We‘ll do everything, the kids said. We’ll empty the litter tray. We’ll feed them. No, I said; you say that now, but I’ll be the one in the house with them all day. I’ll end up doing it. As I raked the litter tray for about the seventh time on that first day I thought of it again, a tad resentfully. Then I went and ordered a bigger tray from Amazon, because I already felt confident in knowing more about the sort of thing we needed. Higher sides because they like to power-drill down in the litter. More space because they’re not teeny weeny kittens, they’re more like demi-cats.

The first two nights, we put them back in the carrier and closed them into the larger cage (with food and water and the small litter tray) to sleep. I thought they’d want to get out, that they’d wake up multiple times, like babies, and yowl. They didn’t. They were cosily snuggled up together when we came down in the morning.

On the third night they were hard to catch to put away, so we left them out. They were fine. Nothing went bump in the night. I woke up a few times, alert, waiting. But nothing happened. They’re not babies after all.

Two cats snuggled up together on a chair

Catswirl

I put them back in their carrier and took them to the vet yesterday, for their introductory checkup. I put the carrier on the front seat turned sidways so they could see me, and strapped it in with the seatbelt. I felt a little silly, but I didn’t want them to freak out, and I felt sorry for them because every other time they’ve gone somewhere in a cat carrier they’ve arrived at a new home. They had no way of knowing that this time they’d be coming back here in an hour or two, that I wasn’t just passing them on.

Sometimes I ascribe human emotions to animals. I probably shouldn’t do that so much.

As I pulled out of the driveway, trying to minimize bumps and take corners gently, I was irresistibly reminded of coming home from the hospital with newborn baby Dash, in deepest Texas, when B said he drove more carefully than he ever had before.

Here I am, adulting, I thought. Now we have a vet, as well as a pediatrician and a dentist and an orthodontist and an ophthalmologist and a dermatologist and a pediatric dermatologist and a psychologist and a chiropractor. (And we’re very healthy people.)

Cat stretching out one paw

Reaching out

Now the kittens start to purr when I walk into the room. It’s like the baby smiling at you and making it all worthwhile. I felt an undeniable mini-glow of pride in the vet’s waiting room, when other pet-owners admired them and said how good they were and I agreed. I rooted for them to do well in their physical exam, and flinched when they got their shots, and snuggled them and talked to them as we drove home, back to the home that is theirs now, with the people who are theirs now.

They’re finding the places they like to hang out. They don’t hide under the sofa much any more. You’ll find them on the stairs, one on the top step and one halfway down looking through the bannister. On the IKEA chair in the sun. On the soft brown blanket on our bed. In the corner of the front-room sofa. Not, ever, in the cat bed or the box I prepared for them, of course. I knew that would happen. We’ve had them less than a week, but it feels right to have them here.

I have furbabies now. At least I don’t have to take them with me to the supermarket, though.

Animal house

We have kittens now. I’m going to have to update my About page.

Apparently this is what bloggers do when their kids get too old to blog about. I’ve already put one of the kittens in my Facebook profile pic. From now on you’ll only see my children in photos if they’re accompanied by cats.

They’re settling in quite nicely. They’ve certainly made themselves at home on the IKEA furniture.

They were a bit confused when everyone except me disappeared on Monday morning, but they got over it.

They enjoy boxes, pens, human fingers, and peeing fifteen times a day. They like to meow pitifully for no apparent reason even when they have plenty of food and water and snuggles and I’ve just raked the litter to the perfection of one of those zen sand gardens. They have sharp little claws that get hung up on everything (scratching post coming ASAP). They do full-body purrs as soon as you pick them up, and they fight like my children but then happily cuddle up together at night.

One of them is on my lap right now, biting my elbow and popping up every five seconds to see if he can help with the blogging. He’s very helpful.

In other news

Well, it’s been what, ten days? So obviously we’re all used to the new world order now and we’ll stop whining because our guy (girl) didn’t win and we’ll just go home quietly and go about our business.

Or we’ll keep calling our representatives and writing postcards and planning marches and keeping the channels of actual facts (not alternative ones) open, but we’ll also talk about the same old stuff because that’s the new normal and we’ll be here for as long as it takes.

So in other news that its not fake, Mabel and I took a trip to the county animal shelter last Saturday. We’d been down to the local shelter a few times since announcing the big cat decision, but while they have several adult cats and four (four!) bunnies right now, they don’t have any kittens. I know that the kitten stage is very brief compared to the cat stage, but I think we should get to have it. And I feel like they’ll be more ours if they start out with us. So off we went to the bigger shelter that’s about half an hour away instead of just down the road, and lo, they did in fact have kittens.

The place was buzzing with visitors, and one of the three littermate kittens we found there already had two applications, so I will admit that I did feel a little under pressure to act swiftly lest we lose out; but on the other hand, here were two perfectly dotey kittens and what else was I waiting for? We filled out an application and left it in the lap of the gods. (That is, the well-organized office system, I suppose.)

Have you ever stopped to appreciate the smoothness of your gums? I bet you haven’t. But if you ever have occasion to spend two weeks with stitches in your gums, you’ll really enjoy the feeling of unfettered tongue-running-over when they’re removed. Just by the by.

So then on Tuesday after school we went out there again for Dash to meet the kittens (a requirement of the adoption process is that all the kids in the house interact with the animals) and today they called me to say we can pick them up on Saturday. We have a big dog crate all ready for them so that they can be safely confined in the living space and get used to the environment before they get free rein. (This was a suggestion in the cat book I got from the library – it seemed like a better idea than shutting them into the spare room where nobody ever goes or the basement that’s full of junk.)

The kids fought over who got to clean the base of the borrowed crate once we set it up, and then they argued again over who would get to clean out the litter box first. I think I should have recorded that one. They are really, really excited about this.

 

Rooms of kittens

 

If you know Mabel at all, you’ll know that she’s wanted a pet for ever. She wants a dog, but has accepted, with some degree of maturity, that we are just not dog people and she’s not getting a dog until she’s old enough to move out and own it herself.

(Don’t hate on me for not being a dog person. I love dogs, I really do. I have opinions about what constitutes a proper dog (sheepdogs, retrievers) and what’s just ridiculous (chihuahuas, yorkies), but I’m nice to all dogs and they generally like me back. But I just can’t imagine having one as part of the family – probably because I didn’t grow up in a dog house, and because apparently I lack whatever gene my daughter has that makes that not matter.)

Dash wants a dog too, not to be outdone, but with him it’s more of a passing whim. With Mabel, it’s a vocation.

Anyway. Since she knows we’re not getting a dog, she opportunistically hops on whatever she thinks might be more likely. If she thought we’d get a lizard, or a turtle, or a budgerigar, she’d madly want one of those. (A while ago she nearly had me agreeing to a fish, out of desperation – and what on earth is the point of a fish? You can’t pet a fish.) Yesterday she saw a guinea pig on an episode of The Cat in the Hat and spent the next several hours chanting “guinea pig” at us in various tones from wheedling to demanding, culminating at bedtime when she sleepily told me that guineapig no sleepypig Daddypig. Indeed. I made an imaginary guinea pig with one hand and snuffled her neck with it. She called it Percy. Things were at a pretty pass.

This morning she had me googling guinea-pig care and habitats and looking up cages. I am, apparently, defenceless against her well-thought-out plans and also her incessant demands. Anyway, I found myself saying that we could maybe go to the animal shelter and see if they had any guinea pigs. I thought they probably wouldn’t, and that it would buy me some time. Or something. I don’t really know what my thought process was – mostly I was just agreeing with things to get her off my back.

This is often a problem I have in life and parenting.

Here’s the thing: we actually live in walking distance of our town’s animal shelter. This is a fact I have closely guarded from Mabel for several years now; all the more so since she learned to read and might some day notice it on the sign as we drove past. (If ever I need to drive up that way I usually accelerate wildly or try to point at something on the other side of the road.) She knows there is an animal shelter in town somewhere, and in the past we’ve vaguely discussed going to see the dogs and cats or whatever they have, but I’ve never gone through with it.

This morning I looked at their website, and oddly enough one of the few times they’re open to the public is Wednesday afternoons. The stars, apparently, were aligning. Four o’clock came and I’d done everything else I needed to do. The kids were fighting and I wanted to introduce a distraction. “Mabel, let’s go to the animal shelter,” I said, rashly. “We can walk there.”

Dash didn’t even want to come. See, no commitment. Fair-weather pet-wanter, that one.

The other reason I’d always resisted a trip to the animal shelter was because I was afraid I’d fall in love with a kitten and our no-pets stance would crumble where it stood. Cats, I can do. We got a kitten when I was ten – a skittish farm kitten that never really warmed to people much, but I loved her. I know how a cat belongs in a house.

So Mabel and I trotted down the hill and round the corner in the sultry afternoon heat and humidity to the animal shelter, where, I was careful to note beforehand, we would ONLY LOOK. There would be no choosing and bringing home of any animals. Not today, anyway.

People, they have ROOMS OF KITTENS at the animal shelter. Really. Two rooms of kittens and one of grown-up cats. There must have been a kittensplosion recently, because the first room had two big cages with six tiny tabbies in one and five tiny grey fuzzballs in the other, all squeaking and scrambling up on each other’s heads in an effort to be first to be petted. Plus sundry other cats of various ages in other cages. The second room had six marginally less tiny kittens roaming free and sleeping in a pile, who were not nearly as grumpy as I would have been when we woke them up to see if they wanted to play. The third room had some very friendly and well-fed elder statesmen of cats who were also happy to be petted. We had to do each room twice, Mabel insisted, first to say hello and then to say goodbye.

And of course she fell in love with a grey-and-white fuzzball, and I found myself quite taken with an elegant pale tabby kitten, and our walk home was filled with her exhortations that I should talk to Daddy very seriously about getting one. Or two. And I was … not unswayed, shall we say.

Dammit, I knew I should have stayed away. But on the plus side, she’s stopped talking about guinea pigs.

Mabel looking up at the camera

Mischief managed