Saturday, December 31, 2005

Cats In The News

Caturday is always interested in Cats in the New Stories. Email us

Cat to the Rescue
An elderly is man in Maine is thankful for an alert feline.

What do we do to people like this?

And this.

And you think you're allergic?

This fellow definetly has nine lives, eight left.

Bridget's story, another eight lifer.

Another rescued from cruelty story.

And lastly, be careful when you take the little darlings for a drive.

What's for Dinner?

I think our understanding of cat health and diet has come a long way since my first cat, Gandolf, about thirty years ago. I didn't grow up with cats, I had a cocker spaniel and a duck and way too many mice. But when O and I had this house framed up and a wood stove installed the first thing we did was go to the shelter and adopt a kitten. There are more stories to come about this one, he was a memorable character.

Anyway, Gandolf was a large, sturdy cat and he loved food. He lived on something like Friskies and Alpo and whatever he could catch. When he was a kitten I would whistle when I opened up a can and when he was an adult all I had to do was open the door and whistle and he would come tearing through the woods as my grandmother would say , "a bat out of hell". He loved that canned food so much he would purr to his bowl, "food, I love you, food, how I love you, yumm oh food, how I adore you." It was, I suppose his way of saying grace.

I then had a short lived and angelic kitten we still mourn and then we got Brendan and Finnegan. It wasn't until Finnegan died of kidney failure that I started researching kitty diet. You would think this subject would have interested me earlier since I am fairly aware of decent human diet. But no, I just took it for granted that those nice people who market cat food were giving us the best possible diet for my beloved companions.

But with Finnegan gone I took a good look at Brendan who was then 14 and 1/2. We wanted a long life for him and a good one. I started reading about cat nutrition and I threw out the Iams. I went down to our local specialty shop which I had not ever shopped in and came home with a bag of Wellness Senior and wellness cans. Shortly after, Brendan's fur changed. He had had a ridge of oily feeling fur along his spine which I read was caused by not being able to get rid of unhealthy things in his food. Now his fur became soft and fluffy. "Fluff city!" one person said on a health and behavior group I had joined.

Then I got the two little guys and I wanted to start off right with them from the beginning. I thought about going raw. A real au natural kitty diet. Yeah, well, I tried it and didn't get far. I tried some frozen pre-made raw stuff, I tried cooking chicken for them with rice and vegetables ( that went over ok sometimes). I had also been giving them Wellness kitten wet and dry.

But Silas was having runny poop and it turns out that Wellness is rather a complicated food, full of things that sound good to people but maybe cats don't really need. So I got a chicken and rice dry food from Sensible Choice that helped.

When he got better I went to Innova dry and that was a big hit all around. But Fergus was doing this worrisome thing where he would groom himself and then chomp on his skin. I asked our vet and she suggested the new Innova Evo with no grain. She said Fergus was probably allergic to grain and after all, cats are not grain eaters. So I went to Innova Evo for dry, which everyone loves. The dry food is available in small quantities during the day because I have two dainty eaters who like to have a small bite now and then but if I put a huge amount down Silas will finish it off and we can see where that is going.

For wet food they like a variety though no one eats huge amounts of it. I buy Wellness ( their favorite is the Chicken and Herring and no one will eat the seafood one that comes in the yellow can). I buy a Tuna from I think, Solid Gold and there is a new company making food with names like "New England Boil" ( a big hit) and Grammie's Pot Pie (not such a hit). The company is called Merrick Pet Care from Texas. I did once get some of Paul Newman's new cat food and that was well received but no one carries it locally yet.

Unfortunately, all three simply adore Fancy Feast which has too many things I don't understand for me to trust it. However, especially with the teenagers I consider a little junk food won't hurt them so I dole out Fancy Feast Tuna on occasional days. However, it will give them very stinky poops.

Brendan, in his elderhood, likes his food like stew or soup, mixed with bathtub warm water and served a little higher. He has a small table for downstairs dining or I will sit with him and hold it. Hey, he is sixteen, he deserves comfort. He will let me know if he wants breakfast, but his general routine is some bites of Innova and then a warm soup in the evening, served with attention. He also gets some Dr. Goodpet vitamins and arthritis mix. Some days he simply doesn't want anything but some times, if something is new and very tasty, he will lick his bowl clean. He has a healthy cat figure with a waist. Brendan has one very important dining rule, "Do NOT touch the cat with a food implement!" This implies that the cat is food. O was told this very emphatically.

Fergus is so excited at life that he doesn't think about food unless I ask him. So I hold out a can and he'll say "Give it to me!" If he has suddenly realized he is starving then he will squawk with sudden awareness of his empty belly. But he is a teenager and he will turn his nose up at what I consider the good stuff and then I will add a spoonful of FF. He is a fish eater, anything that spent it's life in water is fine with him. Fergus is as skinny as a rail and doesn't walk anywhere he can run.

Silas, our Mr. No Trouble To Anybody, will quite happily nosh on Innova. He will also happily finish up anything else lying around so I serve him a small portion of whatever anyone else is getting if he shows up and I limit the amounts of dry available. Of course, this means he can go around and clean up the dry if he wants to and there won't be any left for the skinny ones. Silas is our "full bodied" boy. It's a good thing Fergus keeps him going on explorations in the woods because otherwise he would be larger than he is. Silas also, always leaves a tip in the food bowl, a toy or a bottle cap. Like I said, he's a polite guy.

One other thing that is a big hit is I put a small Midnight Munchie bowl and a bowl of fresh water in the bedroom. This is so popular that everyone takes a bite before going to bed. I don't know why the same munchies that are downstairs are more desirable upstairs, but so it is. I guess it's like getting a hamburger at Top of the Sixes. It's still a hamburger but it's in a special place.

Fergus just came in the kitty door (Whomp!) squawking for food. I let him have some FF Fish and Shrimp. He scoffed down about a spoonful and that did it. At least he doesn't eat a lot of it! And he usually finishes up with a desert of Evo.

So that's the menu here at Caturday. And everyone is healthy with beautiful fur.

Friday, December 30, 2005

I am really very shy

I love this photo of Silas. It really shows his personality shy and sweet. He also has the deepest and loudest purr I have ever heard. You can hear him over the phone. Sometime I'll record him and put up a Silas podcast.
Feline Friday today at the Modulator.
I have some good cat stories to write down as soon as I get some time this weekend!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lost? Sad? Lonely?

I found this photo on the web, taken by a girl somewhere across the water from Singapore. I find it haunting and well, it makes me think of all the cats out there who are either homeless or not well taken care of.
One of our local vets made a third trip to New Orleans and came back with fifteen puppies which she has in her house while she looks for homes for them. She said there are hundreds of cats running around there, starving.
I'll see if I can find the story and post it here.
Meanwhile I emailed the girl who posted this photo. It would be good if she could do something for this one. She said it appeared to be owned by a family near the dock where she caught the ferry. She would have taken it but it is against the law to smuggle animals into Singapore or take them on the ferry.
What a story. Multiply it by millions or more and you see why cat overpopulation is such an issue. I know one of our shelters here was so full a while back they had a sign out saying they couldn't take any animals.
My little guys have been happily playing games in and out the cat door on this windy New Hampshire morning. They are so joyful they make me laugh.
I'd gladly take in this little orange guy if I could. And find him a loving home.

Update: I got a reply from the girl who posted the photo. She said the kitten was in Malaysia and it did appear to be owned by a family near the ferry she was taking to Singapore. She also said there are lots of stray cats in the area which seem to survive by getting food from restaurant garbage or kind humans.

This one just looks so sad.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Peace on the Lap, Good Will To Cats

Sometimes it feels like a game of Musical Laps around my house. There are three cats. Two laps. In general, Silas (our Gentleman Cat In Residence) generally opts for his cozy well padded bed by the wood stove. That leaves two laps and two cats. All should be well in TV Land. Except that somehow my lap has become the Primo Most Desired Real Estate.

This means, when the TV goes on, there is a run for my lap.

So sometimes what we get is the scene in Caturday's Christmas picture.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Home for the Holidays

Caturday is happy to find stories like this one. From

Feline Navidad - It's a purrfect Christmas story for long-lost Lu-Lu and her family
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

Diana Syster, center, and her children Kaiam and Tristana hold their cat, Lu-Lu, Wednesday afternoon in the Stevensville antique shop where Diana recently discovered the cat living after it went missing about two years ago.
Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian
This is the story of the cat who came back for Christmas.

Lu-Lu was an old Manx cat, the beloved pet of Diana Syster and her children, Tristana and Kaiam. They lived east of Stevensville until about two years ago. While the family was building a new home, Lu-Lu disappeared.

"Lu-Lu came into our lives when I was pregnant with my daughter," Syster said. "She was there for both kids' births. She adopted them like they were her own kittens."

Tristana, 12, and Kaiam, 10, hunted everywhere for their missing pet. They called fellow ranchers with no luck. Finally, they resigned themselves to the loss, assuming Lu-Lu had run afoul of a coyote. Months turned into years.

Then, on Monday, Syster and her fiance, Jeff Chandor, were in downtown Stevensville running errands. Chandor saw a vest in Red Willow Dry Goods that he thought might make a good present for his son. They went in, and Syster noticed the shop cat, Mrs. Beasley.

"I went to pet it, and it just hit me like a bolt of lightning," Syster said. "I thought she was dead. This was like a resurrection."

The couple discussed the situation to Red Willow owner Janet Gronbach, and the story slowly came together. Lu-Lu had disappeared in the fall of 2003, during the construction. Syster now suspects Lu-Lu panicked around all the strangers and hid in someone's work truck. Then she took an unexpected 12-mile ride back to town.

About the same time, Gronbach noticed a sad-looking Manx cat in the alley behind her store. It was starved and skittish, but it slowly started to accept food she left by the alley door. After a few months of get-to-know-you, the cat finally entered the store.

"I think she was really traumatized," Gronbach said. "When it started getting cold last winter, she decided to come in and check us out."

A confessed animal lover herself, Gronbach already had three dogs, two cats and two fish at home. But she'd never had a shop cat. The name "Mrs. Beasley" just seemed to fit, although Gronbach's brother, Richard Browning, opted to call it "Murgatroid" just to be different.

"The window became Mrs. Beasley's favorite place,”"Gronbach said. "Everybody in town knew her. They'd ask about her if they didn't see her."

But when Syster explained Mrs. Beasley's former history, Gronbach understood.

"I've got 14 grandchildren," Gronbach said. "Where there's kids involved, they come first. It's a shame that too many animals are strays because people don't care about them. But when I saw how much they missed her, I knew this was meant to be."

But the story gets better.

On Tuesday, Gronbach got a message from a woman who lives across Main Street from her store. She had found a stray black-and-gray cat with a bobbed tail - had Red Willow lost its mascot?
"I said, well yes, but not in the way you're probably thinking," Gronbach recalled. The new cat is younger than Mrs. Beasley,, but has the same "M" marking over its eyes. Her grandson, Nicholas Riley, named it "Bobbie" for the bobbed tail. It now has its own blanket-covered chair in the middle of the store.

Meanwhile, Syster phoned ahead to tell Tristana and Kaiam that she was coming home with a surprise. Lu-Lu was welcomed home with her old kitty basket, a hunk of grilled salmon in the refrigerator and a new collar.

"If this were Christmas and this was all we had,""Syster said, "it would still be the best Christmas ever."

On the Road Again

That is Brendan above in his car seat taking a drive in his usual calm style. It takes about one and a half hours to get to O's parents house in Portland, Maine where the cats run wild. They love it once they get here, there is a huge basement and two staircases and Uncle Sid to get to know. But getting there is quite a production.

First of course I have to clean the whole house because I don't want to come back to a mess and you never know if someone else will have to come in. So I run the dishwasher, vacuum the floors, pick up everything, fold up the cat tunnel and paperbags, water the plants, let the fire go out in the stove, take out the trash. Then I pack. Clothes for the humans, food for the cats, computers, camera, sport clothes if taking any gear (bicycles, skis). Assemble everything on the kitchen rug. Get out the cat boxes and Brendan's car seat. Get the Fergus traveling kit. Bathroom, paper towels, poop scoop, water, a towel for my lap and one in his travel case, his harness just in case we have to stop and let him out for a walk. Then everything goes in the car except the cat boxes.

Then we catch Silas (who of course knows exactly what is going on and is hoping it doesn't involve him). He goes fairly easily into his large box and into the back of the Durango where he can keep an eye on us up front (and vice versa). Then I pick up Fergus and attempt to slide him gently into his extra nice, snug traveling bag with towel covering the luxurious fleece bottom and screened side windows and shoulder strap. Fergus does not appreciate the purchase and all four legs go out as he protests, No! No! NO, I said NO!

I feel bad but I squish him in there anyway and he gives out some plaintive, hopeless mious. He has an especially pathetic and effective way of just looking at you and silently opening his mouth as if to say, I am too overcome with your heartlessness to even make a sound here.

Then O gets Brendan and puts him in his car seat. Brendan likes road trips. He looks out the window, knows where we are going, and if we take a detour he lets us know we have made a mistake.

About 45 minutes into the trip I let Fergus out and he sits on my lap. I check for lip licking and drool, signs that he is nauseated. We have had some unpleasant and unforgettable experiences in the car together.

I have tried everything to make car travel easier on Fergus. In a box, out of the box. Tried Bonnine (on my vet's advice), tried not feeding him and going in the afternoon (more drool, less puke). Nothing helped.

And then, on this latest trip, I discovered.....

Rescue Remedy to the Rescue!

I'm still in shock (and so is Fergus). This just may be it. I am crossing my fingers. (And Fergus is crossing his paws). I was sorting out the vitamins and found the unopened bottle of Rescue Remedy I had bought after reading about it. Just for the heck of it (I figured it couldn't hurt but I wasn't expecting anything) I put four drops on the Wild One's favorite snack ( liver jerky) and he gobbled it up after making a face at the odd smell. Then we hopped in the car. Of course, after the usual fuss and moan.

But this time nothing happened. Fergus moaned a little, "I'm gonna puke, I'm gonna puke." I took him out of the case at around 45 minutes. No drool. He sat on my lap and looked around. I think he was surprised that he seemed to feel ok in spite of himself. And we spent the rest of the trip in peace and awe.

I do hope this is the way it is going to be. We'll see tomorrow when we head back.

We've got our paws crossed.

Friday, December 23, 2005

There's No Kitty Like Snow Kitty

Our Caturday photographer got this great shot of Fergus in action for Feline Friday. The Caturday clan has been on the road for Christmas and has plenty of great shots and something to blog about. Fergus made a road trip without puking! Three cheers for Rescue Remedy! I don't know how it works but he sat on my lap and didn't even drool. Wow. Paris is next. Actually, we have been invited to a private tour of the Sistine Chapel next New Year's. Do you think they would let a cat in? A very small cat? A cat who loves art and is very spiritual?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Story of Silas

Visit the Carnival of the Cats at Music and Cats

As I have written earlier, it wasn't long after bringing Fergus home that we realized he needed a buddy his own size. The fuzzy multi ounce dynamo we had brought into our home had the energy of a tornado. He would relentlessly tiger attack Brendan, get flung across the room and come back for more. I would spend hours playing with him but it wasn't enough. Brendan deserved peace in his old age and Fergus, well Fergus was wrecking havoc. So we decided to become a three cat family and we went to the Conway Humane Society's new facility in dire need of a kitten.

Your instincts really come into play when choosing a kitten. We had thought about a girl ( a first for us) and I played with a grey kitten in the play room for a while. But something about her reminded me of a bratty kid in sixth grade. The orange kitten I was drawn to was spoken for. So O suggested we look at a handsome tuxedo fellow napping away in a double cage. I took him out and he half awoke, looked up at me and purred. We thought it would be nice to have another black and white face around the place so we asked for him.

All the way home he looked at us calmly from the back seat in the cat box. A car ride was nothing to get excited about.

You know how people say you should introduce cats gradually to each other? That was our plan except as soon as Fergus saw him he squealed with joy. " You brought me a toy!" Then he promptly leapt on him and wrestled him to the ground. Silas hadn't taken Kitten Wrestling 101 at the shelter so he was taken aback. We pulled the tiger off him and offered up food so he'd feel secure knowing that food was available here. The boys ate happily side by each.

Over the next couple of weeks Silas learned to kitten wrestle real good. He also learned to race up the cat tree and claim the top perch for King of the Mountain, batting at Fergus below. Fergus was happy and calmer, he had someone who wanted to play and snuggle with him. The two of them could be found in one basket, paws around each other when the games were over. Peace descended on our animal family. Brendan never even hissed at the easy going new comer. I think he knew Silas brought him relief from the tiger attacks.

It's a year later now and they are still best buddies and I hope they will be for the rest of their lives. They're a little like Laurel and Hardy. Fergus is skinny, agile and clever. Silas is the sweetest, nicest good natured guy you ever met anywhere. He's a Gentleman Cat, an After You Cat, a For Me, Really? Cat without a mean bone in his body. He is the family comedian, for months he would remove the stopper from the bathroom sink nightly and hide it. Then I bought him a rubber one he could have for his own and he carries it up and down the stairs. He is proud of his substantial collection of bottle caps which he enjoys hiding under the rugs. And he loves his large collection of toy, carrying them from place to place and dropping them in food and water bowls.

He's a bit shy but getting more confident all the time. When he feels insecure he has a drawer he can climb into with a blanket in it where he can hide. When Fergus misses him, he climbs in there too. Silas always pays for his dinner by dropping a bottle cap in the bowl.

We call him Farm Boy because he seems like the kind of cat who would be very happy hanging out in the barn. He likes to watch O work and follow him around the yard. He's a garage and woodshop kind of guy, nothing fem about him.

Silas has a very sweet way of looking up at you when you call him and waving his tail. He's a happy boy, content to sleep in his chosen bed by the wood stove. And he good naturedly lets Fergus wrestle with him but he figured out how to win that game.

He outweighs the little fellow by at least four pounds.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sleepy Baby Fergus

For Feline Friday at The Friday Ark
Fergus sleeps in his little basket on the kitchen counter. He felt very safe and cozy there and could keep an eye on me in the kitchen. Tomorrow is Caturday for this animal family. Extra games and something special for dinner. And on Sunday we'll tell the Story of Silas for The Carnival of the Cats at Music and Cats

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Does My Cat Think I'm Mommy?

I always thought I knew the answer to that question. My first cat, Gandolf (more about him at some later date) would never ever have thought I was his Mommy. Gandolf didn't need a Mommy. Gandolf was King of the Outdoors and Studly Manhood to boot. I don't know about Seamus, our sweet and short lived kitten, maybe I was Mommy to him and didn't know it at the time. To Finnegan I was more like She Who I Adore And Provider Of Delicious Sustenance. To Brendan I am probably Giver of Comfort Whose Lap I Demand and Deserve. But to Fergus and Silas....I might just be Mommy. It's a bit embarrassing to tell you the truth. I've never thought of myself as the Mommy type.

We had changed vets after Finnegan died. Not because of anything our vet had done. For years and years we had the one vet that everyone in our small town had. He was a rather gruff straightforward type who would never have referred to you as your pet's Mommy. He retired and sold his practice and shortly after the new vets moved in, Finnegan became ill with kidney failure and I had to decide to put him to sleep. It was an intensely traumatic experience for both me and O and four months later, when I adopted Fergus and needed a vet, I realized I couldn't go back to the room Finnegan had died in. Never. So I asked around and everyone recommended a group of vets 45 minutes from our home with a lovely new facility. That's where I took Fergus for his first check up the day after I adopted him and he had the upper respiratory infection. The vet took his temperature, admired his outgoing personality and handed him back to me saying, "Here's Mommy."

And I thought, isn't that silly. I'm not his Mommy. He's a cat.

That first week I couldn't put him down without him peeping and peeping like a baby bird. One time I had to run out to the studio and when I got back he was cowering under the bed. So I just put him in a little basket or in a pocket and took him with me or left him with O when I had to shop. The third night after he had come home with us I was getting worried because he hadn't pooped at all. I had put a tiny litter box in the bedroom so he wouldn't have to go far in the night. Pee was coming out alright but nothing else. I realized he was constipated from the change in diet when I heard him in the litter box making a fuss and peeping in distress. It was night and I was worried. So I thought about what a mother cat would do and I took him into the bathroom and with a warm wet washcloth I rubbed his little butt with it.

Shortly afterwards as I lay in bed, he climbed down the vast mountain of the bed, hopped up into the depths of the litter box and found relief. I knew things came out ok because he climbed back up on the bed peeping with pride and joy. He settled down on my neck with a heartfelt satisfied sigh.

The next time we were at the vets Fergus was having a rather violent double ender and I was afraid that being so tiny, things could go wrong quickly. The vet said he was dehyrdrated and they should give him fluids under the skin and I needed to leave him for at least the day. Six uneasy hours later they called and said I could come get him and when the assistant brought him out he squealed with joy and indignation. The girl said, " Here you are, back to Mommy." I wondered if all the vet's employees were told to refer to the pet's owners as Mommy and Daddy. Had things changed in the pet world since Gandolf's time? Obviously.

Lately it seems to me that Fergus just might think of me as Mommy. He greets me in the cat fashion, rubbing his nose on my face. He sleeps cuddled up close as he would with another cat and he comes running full speed when I call him. Last night after Brendan had claimed my lap Fergus sat on the table next to me making big sad eyes, communicating his great need for me and refusing to settle down on O's perfectly fine lap. I provide food and warmth and control access to the outside world. I am in fact, the source of security, food and comfort. When I remember that Fergus was found along a road side and brought to the shelter at four weeks of age and then given to me at eight weeks it's quite possible that Fergus has decided I am Mommy.

So I could be the Mommy type after all, even if it's just in the eyes of my cat.

Zuleme would like to hear from Caturday readers on this important issue. Please comment with your experience. How do you think your cat sees you? As a meal ticket? A pillow? A big cat? A big lug? Or Mommy and Daddy?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cats Are Graceful

I am Tiger, graceful and strong. See me climb big tree.


Friday, December 09, 2005

The Battle of the Bed

Anyone with more than one cat knows that territory is divided up. One cat's favorite chair is off limits to the others. And cats will time share, for instance for a while Brendan would get my lap from 6PM until 8PM, then Fergus would arrive and Brendan would move over. But then they started both wanting my lap, which meant I ended up with two. It was a bit crowded so Brendan moved back to O's lap. Silas only comes up for a pat around 9:30 and that's it. But then, he's Mr. No Trouble To Anybody and doesn't have the stomach for status disputes.

We've been getting cold weather lately and today the snow is coming down. The house gets pretty cold at night since we are using just the wood stove and the monitor heater set to 50 at night. Like everyone else, we are going to avoid turning on the gas furnace which burns dollar bills, as long as we can. This means the warmest spot at night is....on top of me. O is actually bigger and warmer but he's taller and I think he turns over in his sleep so the cats all prefer my side of the bed.

At the moment this is how it goes.

The contestants:
Fergus, the lightweight at 8 pounds but the most determined to be Alpha Cat. Agile and smart.
Brendan, 10 pounds, wisdom and status on his side. Brendan can chill out a kitten with a scornful stare. Brendan prefers to avoid confrontation since it is below his dignity.
Silas, our heavyweight champion wrestler is at least 12 pounds. However the big guy is the gentle giant and the scaredy cat of the family. He's the one who hides in the drawer when anyone shows up.

So we go to bed and take Brendan and place him on his special polar fleece blanket at the foot of the bed. He purrs. I lie down. Fergus hops up and cuddles behind my knees. Brendan moves up to my chest.
I go to sleep surrounded by fur. It's a nice cozy feeling.
Silas arrives, purrs in my ears ( and he has a purr like a double bass). He climbs over me. I try to get him to stay near my shoulders away from Fergus. But no, he wants to be next to Fergus.
Fergus won't have that. He leaps on Silas and does Tiger At The Water Hole, getting a hold on Silas at the throat. Silas pounds off to hide.
I go to sleep again.
In the morning Brendan has moved to his private room. Fergus is cuddled up close to me in Brendan's favorite spot and is the only cat on the bed.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Story of Fergus

Driving back from the rescue shelter last November 4th, I knew I was in trouble. In the back seat, in the cat carrier was a multi ounce bundle of fuzzy brown fur with enormous eyes staring at us and it was love at first sight. I'd been chosen.

I'd been despondent after the sudden death of my long time companion, the handsome and rascally Finnegan. Four months had gone by with a lot of distracting travel but winter was coming and where we live winters are serious business. After the election things looked even more gloomy and O announced It Was Time To Get Another Cat. Our senior, Brendan, was going to get a surprise.

I'd called the shelter to be sure they had kittens. And did they have any black and white male kittens? I'd had three and loved them all. I knew once I got to the shelter I wouldn't leave without a kitten and I was hoping for a perfect match. Yes, they had some in that model. So we packed the carrier and went.

The shelter had been completely rebuilt since Finnegan and his brother Brendan had come home with us 15 years ago. No longer shabby and sad, it was bright and cozy with plenty of light and warmth. I walked right up to the kitten cage feeling a little guilty passing by the older cats. Someday I would adopt older cats the way my mother does but for now, I needed the joy a kitten brings.

There were at least a dozen small kittens tumbling around in the kitten group. The assistant opened the door and they all ran out (the corridor could be blocked off for that purpose). Kitten energy exploded around us. They ran up and down the corridors, tails up, peeping with excitement.

But one made a beeline for my lap and looked at me and purred. Then he ran off to see what the others were seeing, then ran back, climbed up again, looked at me and peeped. I picked him up and he purred. We laughed. The kitten ran off again and I called him. He ran back. It was a done deal.

That night he slept on my neck and he developed an Upper Respiratory Infection. I lay awake all night listening to his tortured breathing and we made his first trip to the vet the next day. The vet said leaving the shelter is very traumatic for a kitten. They are going from a place they know, often with companions, to a strange new home and in Fergus's situation, to an angry older cat who would not play Mommy. Fergus recovered from the cold but I could not put him down or he would peep with distress. I didn't want him to be scared in his new home so I carried him everywhere with me for the first week or left him in a little basket with O where Fergus would feel safe and secure.

By the second week we had a tiny tiger on our hands.

He could bound up the stairs to the second floor and he was learning to climb the tree I had installed. He was pestering Brendan with demands to play or be attacked. I would play with him for hours and it wasn't enough. And he charmed everyone, one night providing the sole entertainment for a dinner party of ten adults. My mother in law said I looked ten years younger. Fergus peeped at my father in law to pick him up and slept in my mother in law's pocket. He wrapped everyone about that perfect little white paw effortlessly.

We learned he had been found along the side of a road in Maine when he was maybe four weeks old and brought to the shelter. I think it's possible he is part Siamese. He has the thin build and possibly the personality of a Siamese and he has the softest fur I have ever felt on a cat. He chirps, chortles, meows and purrs, but mostly when he's happy with you he breathes heavy, a funny sound like pushing air through your teeth. When I call him he comes running full speed and I love the way four white feet look flying through the air.

Last night I lay down in bed and moments after I felt Fergus hop up and snuggle up behind my knees. And I thought how, In this difficult business of life, the love of cat is such a sweet consolation. I had spent the day working on my computer projects and house cleaning. Fergus had had a busy day patrolling his territory, chasing moles in the garden, running in and out the cat door, napping in the drawer with Silas and keeping an eye on me.

We purred a little and drifted off to sleep together.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Emily Goes to France

I just read this story on a newsletter from France I get and then googled Emily, cat, France.
I can just see Fergus doing something like this, I better get him an id chip. Caturday is curious about all cats and their stories so if you have one or know one, please send it to Zuleme.

In Praise of Older Cats

Brendan is our beloved senior. Peaceful and benevolent, he rules the teenagers with his gentle, but forceful paw. From him, the two youngsters have learned some manners. They greet him respectfully, with a nose touch, and they steer around him carefully when he is lying on a bed or sofa. Fergus learned to respect the wrath of Brendan when he was tiny, Silas came with respect programmed in somehow.

Sixteen years ago Brendan selected my husband for his personal life partner at a shabby ( at the time) animal shelter in Maine. I had immediately chosen his brother, a lively tuxedo model I called Finnegan. A one cat family was the plan. But left in the sad little cage was this miniature tiger who tilted his head, aimed those huge loving eyes straight for O and beamed a message directly into his cat loving brain. " No one is ever going to take me," O heard and he was a goner.

Brendan rode home on O's shoulder. Purring all the way. Finnegan spun around the car like an out of control top.

That pretty much describes our cat family for the next fourteen and a half years.

Now Brendan is minus his brother, who honestly was a thorn in his side after the kitten play year. He is lord of the manor. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He goes to work with us and is a master at sending out calming vibes when we are editing a video or wrestling with code. He can send a request for a meal with having to make a sound. He likes his food wet and his bed peaceful and warm and that is exactly how he gets it. If you mention we will be leaving for Portland at 4PM, at 4PM he will descend from his private room (off limits to youngsters). He likes an occasional warm bath, he pads around in the water and has a drink. He sings us to sleep every evening and commands a lap at TV time.

He had a bad bout with Upper Respiratory Infection (brought to him by Fergus, I believe) and after careful nursing (including turning the bathroom into a steam bath), he recovered and told us of his joy at being well again and still with us.

Fergus just got wapped again for being rude. Brendan still rules this animal family.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fergus for Feline Friday

Here is Fergus, in the cutest kitten photo I ever saw.

Do Your Cats Get Along? Really? Part 2

After a week of watching Fergus attempt to play with Brendan we knew a playmate was needed. We went down to the local shelter and picked out a sleepy, lazy looking fellow with a funny black and white face that made me think of Finnegan. He sat in the carrier in the back seat looking calmly and sleepily at us, going for a car ride was nothing to get overly excited about.

As soon as we brought him in and opened the carrier Fergus sprang on to the table and greeted the newcomer with glee. Then he pounced on him and wrestled him to the ground ( still on top of the table). Silas looked at him in shock, since he hadn't experienced any kitten wrestling in the shelter. At least, that what he gave us to believe.

We served dinner side by each and then watched so Silas wasn't too overwhelmed by the rambunctious Fergus. By the evening the two of them were racing up and down the stairs and up the cat tree. Brendan was left in peace and has never had to swat Silas to keep him in line. I think that Brendan understood right away what we were doing bringing Silas home.

Now a year later, Silas is a big ( huge) gentle fellow with a sense of humor. He's just a plain old nice guy. I worry that Fergus will try to dominate him but I don't think Silas is afraid of him. Fergus is just a rascal, bossy and possessive. Silas keeps to himself more than the other two but he loves attention, playing games, and his vast collection of bottle caps which he keeps under the rugs. He has a hiding place in a drawer that I put a blanket in and he likes to get some privacy from Fergus, yet the two of them run around the yard together.

I think it has improved Brendan's life to have the teenagers around. He looks amused as he watches them play games and occasionally sticks a paw in. They treat him with respect as he had a chance to lay down the law when they were kittens. I think Silas would fit into any cat family that allowed him to live in peace. So I think that things are better for Brendan then when his brother was around. At this time, three works.