Tuesday, February 28, 2006


There are also photos of Ferg telling Silas to get out of his tree so this one may be the prelude to a bossy wap. But still...

It's been very, very cold up here. Normal, in fact. Last night Brendan slept in a cozy polar fleece nest between the two of us and Silas came for an under the blankets cuddle around six. Then he wanted to go out and was quite vocal about it. He says things like Errph? Waap? Mior? It was about ten degrees and windy so I didn't let him out right away. Then we went down stairs and I opened the kitty door. He was out for about ten seconds.

Yesterday morning both of them wanted out even though it was cold and I couldn't see why they were so anxious. Then, as I was getting some kindling on our back porch I spied a tiger striped rear end and two white paws making a beeline from under the porch. There's a space there we call the Clubhouse because Fergus and Silas spent hours under there last summer chasing mice. The vanishing tiger butt is our neighbor's barn cat, Jakey.

Then this morning it hit me.

I wonder if Silas thinks Jakey is Fergus. And if so, is he wondering what happened to his buddy and why he is suddenly living outside and not wanting to play?

Oh yikes.

It's been about six weeks since we lost Ferg. The only distance I have achieved is a sort of film over the actual events of the day. But I can't really think about it for too long so I try to keep wrapped up in work. That distracts me. But when you have had something bad happen that there is no way to understand, no way to make better, there is really nothing you can do but go on living and hope time will soften things. There is no "getting over it" there is only living with it.

We were driving back from down south yesterday. I was exhausted from not sleeping well (I always do that when I have someplace I have to be at early the next day, I have an internal alarm clock but it means waking at midnight, 2 and 4 and not going back to sleep after 4 AM) so I fell soundly asleep while Olof drove. And I had a wonderful dream.

I dreamed that I went down to our shelter and Roz had brought back a mother and a kitten from Louisiana. I looked at the kitten and it was Fergus. He looked at me and said "Peep! Peep! Peep! I picked him up and he kissed my face and we were so happy to be together.

The thing is, I have never been so close to an animal as I was with Fergus. Nothing bothered me when I had him, crappy weather, too much housework, the many little annoyances and problems of being human. I would sit with him and feel complete and content. He was special. So even though all cats are wonderful, all I really want is Fergus.

Losing someone you love really shakes up your world view, especially if you've been lulled into thinking you were going to be allowed to be perfectly happy for a while. What I don't know is whether two spirits who loved each other so much are ever allowed to meet up again. Wish I did.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Low Climb

Ferg practicing for the Olympic Low Climb. I am sitting in a mall at the Apple store. I need a new keyboard for my powerbook because everytime I type an a, I get three of them. K's too.
Bacl to wrirint later today or tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Busy Caturday

A photo from last winter, Olof and the boys relaxing on the couch.

A busy weekend and tomorrow will be filled with errands in the southern part of the state. We did our first video shoot at the shelter and I will edit Pawprints for our local channel on Tuesday. Maybe I'll even make it into a purrcast. There is a lovely four year old half Siamese girl there named Willow. She is soft grey with blue eyes and very shy. I found myself wondering if she would fit in here with our old fella and our big kitten Silas. But then, there are kittens to consider and the search for a Fergus.

We have one Katrina cat and three more arriving tomorrow with a truckload of puppies. I will try to get some video shots of them too.

I'll be back writing by Tuesday.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Bachelor Number One?

Ok Readers, will it be Bachelor Number One, Bachelor Number Two, Bachelor Number Three or MomCat or any combo of the above. They are 22 days old and in foster care with their loving mommy who is half Siamese.

Number One

Number Two

Number Three

Mom Lacey loves her babies. Isn't it great that they are in a safe foster home? The fosters might keep Lacey. If they do I will bring my adoptee to visit Mom. I would like to have a world when they were never separated. But they will stay with her for as long as possible.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wild Thing

Wild thing
You make my heart sing
you make everything

You have to be pretty old to remember where those lines came from. A big Silas purr to anyone who knows. ( Yes, I do and I probably had the record)

I remember the first day I took Fergus outside. It was a mild day in November and he was maybe ten weeks old. He sat in my lap wrapped up in a blanket on the swing in our backyard and looked around with big eyes. I know he had been outside before since he was rescued as a tiny stray. But kitten days probably have short memories and it seemed new and exciting and scary to him, he didn't want to get off my lap and we went inside soon.

Then the long snowy ( usually) winter set in and the animal family retreated to the fireside. Silas joined us and the two kittens had a grand time wrecking the house every night. Fergus learned to climb on the carpet covered trees.

In early spring the sun warms up a spot in the back yard and we shovel it out and sit at our picnic table. Fergus was ecstatic. The whole world was coming to life and it was all his. I watched nervously as the kittens expanded their territory as the snow melted. We supervised all "uter" periods.

When spring was finally here I began to walk Fergus on a leash which he didn't mind at all as long as he got to go out. Silas just seemed more like a sensible, ambling kind of guy while Fergus was wild eyed, full speed ahead and over confident. I was spending about two hours a day walking Fergus. It was the highlight of his day. We have three Olof made ponds here and they were hopping with frogs. And it's so much fun to make them say Yikes! (if you are a kitten)

I would walk Fergus around and around the ponds. Sometimes I would let him off the leash still wearing the harness and sometimes he would disappear and I would worry.

We have a very nice place here for cats. We are below the road in a valley that has our house and studio on hilly land. The river is below us and you can see the mountains. Our land has a steep bank and a wet forest with a brook that flows to the river. I would take both kittens down there and walk along the brook. You can walk all the way to the river and we used to do that with Finnegan and Brendan following us. The older guys were cautious in the big woods and they would stick close by us, but the kittens were off in both directions and it got a little nerve wracking.

But it became obvious as summer arrived that a couple of hours on a leash wasn't enough for Fergus. Olof kept telling me I was going to have to let go. And then one day I came in the house and Fergus was in his chair. Brendan was out enjoying the sunshine. And Fergus raised his head and looked at me so sadly. I knew I was going to have to handle my fears.

I opened the door and let him out. No leash. He ran around like a puppy and for the first time explored where he wanted to on his own. I tried not to panic.

Olof and I were watching out on the lawn and Fergus came running up to us joyfully.

"I got my license!" he said.

After that I let him out every morning and he was so happy. He would have a thrilling time hunting mice, tormenting frogs, exploring the neighbors barn and climbing trees. By three in the afternoon he would be happily exhausted and at peace, sleeping in his chair.

I know I could have lost him on the road or he could have had a heart attack in the woods and I would never have known what happened to him. But I took that risk and I had a happy little cat. Now I am glad I did. He loved the outside world and he let us know how much he loved it. He had fufilled his inner tiger.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Fergus Connection

Here is a closeup of a kiss. I love Fergus's face in this one, eyes closed.

It is really nice to post a new Caturday and immediately get two or three comments. You folks must have us on RSS. It reminds me to be kind and leave comments on the blogs I visit everyday. The blog world expands my community around the world and I find I have cat friends across the States, Europe and the East.

I often wonder how our love for these creatures changes them. I know Fergus understood he was loved, he had a warm secure den to return to, he had wise Brendan to look up to and a buddy all his own to play with. His only experience of hunger and cruelty happened when he was four weeks old and ended up on the side of a road in Maine. He was taken to a shelter, received care and was adopted by us four weeks later.

Some nights he would come upstairs to get on my lap and see Brendan had grabbed it. He would give me this heartrending look and sometimes.... I would gently pick Brendan up and move him to Olof. ( Now I am glad I performed this possibly rude act since Fergus's time was so short) and sometimes Fergus would hop on Olof's lap for a few minutes and then decide damm it she belongs to me and he would join Brendan in what we call a zwei-noodle ( two cat lap sit). Since neither of them would give it ended up a peaceful albeit crowded situation. Not ideal, but workable.

I am fortunate to have about 500 photos of him and many of us together. The reason for this is I live with the Man with the Cam who is under the delusion that I am the most beautiful woman in the world. You must pity him but the end result is many more photos of me than of him and in the end, plenty of wonderful photos to remember my Petit Garcon by.

This will be a busy week. Saturday, Roz, our shelter director, will be returning from the south with 15 Katrina dogs needing homes. We hope to video the arrival and then the next day do some more shooting at the shelter for the new Pawprints TV show. It also looks like Caturday will have a print edition focusing on shelter issues.

So stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Puppet Show

Me and Ferg practise our puppet act. First put your cat partner on your arm. Get comfortable.

Go over the script and make sure everyone knows their lines.

Smile for the audience.

Get a kiss.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Ferg in camouflage. Can you find the cat in this photo?

I am tried today after a full day in the studio. Work is picking up with video projects, the chidren's museum and getting ready for the writer's workshop. The weather here is still terrible as far as getting outdoors and having any snow to ski on. The yard is solid ice. A tough winter for us all around.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Feline Olympics

I really do think it is appalling how our hard working feline athletes don't get the television coverage and recognition they deserve. These shots are of Fergus, the US team's gold medal champion in the high climb.

Yes, he is way up there. And when he was little and got scared he would call for mommy and mommy would get him down. But then he turned pro.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Digging to China

Olof and I were talking about ritoileys after reading the comments and we remembered one, unusual ritoiley that belongs to Brendan, our very dignified senior, Mr. Everything in Moderation. I don't know how Olof discovered this but this is how it goes...

There is a newspaper on the kitchen island.

Brendan is also on the kitchen island, near said newspaper.

Olof winds Brendan up by running his hands rather intensly quickly down Brendan's back over and over until..

Brendan responds by digging into the newspaper and going at it just like a dog on the beach.

When the winding up winds down, he looks over at Olof saying, I ran down and Olof winds him up again.

And so it goes. We call it Digging to China.

We're going to have to try to get a photo sequence of this one.

Friday, February 17, 2006


A Ritoiley ( pronounced Ri-toy-ley) is something you and your cats invent that you do every day. Cats take a great comfort in schedule and rituals. They like security and routine and comfort and a ritoiley adds to that comfort.

Seamus had the ritoiley he invented which involved running to hide under the bed when he saw us getting ready for the night, trying to grab our toes and then hanging on the foot of the bed with a "Wild thing" face. Then he snuggled up to my neck for the night, dropping his head and then a paw with a great sigh.

Finnegan had ritoileys throughout the day, some of which only he found amusing. To begin with, he would wake us before dawn wanting to climb out the window. You would feel a paw on your cheek and if he got no response a tentative claw. Then more claws in your scalp. This was accompanied by a demanding yowl on a rhythm just enough so you couldn't ignore it. Sooner or later either he'd get to go out or, if I was really annoyed and it was really early (no outs before dawn) I would shut him out of the room and he would yowl at the shut door.

When I got up he loved to walk next to me down the stairs. When I cooked he wanted to sit on the counter and keep an eye on me. And at night he ran for my lap the minute I sat down in front of the TV and I would maneuver my plate around him. When I went to bed he would sit up on my side and wait, then he would let me pull him in close and rest my chin on him. As soon as he thought I was asleep he would move to the foot.

Fergus was very inventive in his ritoileys. He also loved to walk down stairs next to me. He and Silas would sit by the window patiently (no yowling) waiting for it to open,around 7 AM, then he would check in around 9am. If the weather was good he would run in and out the cat door until afternoon nap by 3PM, when the cat door closed. He loved it that I kept his favorite treat in a drawer in the kitchen and whenever the drawer opened he would fly onto the counter, give me three kisses on each side of my face and receive a treat. He also knew that the sound of the garage door meant I was coming home and he would usually be at the house door ( which is glass) waiting. As I drove in I would see him there.

For play ritoiley's he loved getting in his fabric tunnel and I would pick it up and swing it around with him in it. Then I would pick up a long slender applewood stick and whip it around the floor for him to chase ( this is Paw Over Paw). He would chase a ball under the furniture and get very happy when I would take a broom handle to fish it out for him. He would sit waiting for the ball to come flying out. He also loved to play with that ball in the wheel toy and he would bat it around with me.

In the evening he would come up for lap sit and when it was bedtime I would brush my teeth and he would hop up and I would brush his too. With kitty toothpaste and a Sesame Street brush. Then he would run up the kitty tree to the second landing and we'd play a little paw over paw. He slept behind my knees, or if it was cold he would crawl in under the blankets next to my chest.

Brendan often goes into the bathroom at night and watches Olof brush his teeth (Brendan won't let me brush his, I've tried). He loves the evening lap sit and he gets carried in style into the bedroom where he sleeps on a polar fleece covered blanket. Brendan's prayer is "Lord let all my days be normal". He likes to see the days unfold to a nice pattern, the beans sleep, drink coffee, sit quietly with those metal boxes on their laps, watch that thing that makes noise, offer food at regular times, keep life peaceful and good.

Silas amuses himself with his beer cap and milk bottle ring collection. He hides it under the rugs, he bats things around the floor. He likes to go out in the morning and then he is content to hang in his penthouse. Lately the two of them are peaceably sharing the bedroom during the day, Silas in his penthouse, Brendan on the bed. When Fergus was here all three would hang in the sunroom around the woodstove. Silas comes in for a pet and a greeting at about 9:30 PM every night, but he has not added lap cat to his ritoileys, though he tried it one night as if this might be amusing.

Ritoileys are how the animal family shapes the days. A comforting pattern of love and security.

What are yours?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Day No Cats Would Die

I believe this wonderful photo came from Cape Mews a great blog with stories and links to humane societies. There are many caring people across the globe working to end cruelty to animals and the horrific killing of unwanted cats and dogs and shelters. The more you read, the more you want to do something.

Our local shelter is a no kill. However, the issue then becomes having room for animals and not turning them away. There is now a waiting list. If seven cats are adopted, seven can come in.

Here is another rescue blog from New York I just found Tales and Tails of New York

And this one in NY State, Wild Run

I'll be adding a rescue section to my blog roll. Some of the stories on these blogs are very hard to read. If we could create a world humane to treat animals with respect and kindness just think of what that would do for people.

When I think of thiings like the kill rate in NY shelters being 50% and the stray cat issues in towns across America, even the stories from my local area not to mention the stories from the blogs in Singapore, the more I realize and am grateful for the happiness and love Fergus experienced in his short life. And he taught me to care about the lives of all cats. Once you know and love a truly special creature, they all become special.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Mysterious Paw

Yes, Caturday is the source of the mystery paw of the pawprints contest over at 2Carolina Cats. It was probably Fergus. We have a velux window in our sun room and one day we were sitting there, saw the cats on the roof and Olof took this photo.

Monday, February 13, 2006

In Search of

I was at the shelter yesterday. I dropped off a bag of food my household doesn't need right now. Inova dry (they have switched to the Evo no grain, cans of sensitive Choice and I/D ( good for cats with the runs) kitten food and a few brands my picky senior has turned his delicate nose up at. Silas is a straight shooting dry food guy, you know, Mr. No Trouble to Anybody, ( though he occasionally is interested in a little tuna)

There was a lovely tiger mom with three kits going to a foster home while they grow (they were about ten days old). One had possibilities, I'll check back when they come back to be adopted. I had thought about how much fun it would be to foster them but right now, it's probably not a good idea. I don't mind the commitment and it would be good for me, for the distraction. But I feel a little unsure of my kitten knowledge and experience and there was another fosterer lined up.

There was also a very sweet lively little girl kitten all by herself, rescued from a bad home up north with a few adults. A sad story, human kids removed to foster care etc, too many cats. She was a lovely golden buff with white paws. I had bought a new fuzzy, Fergus's favorite toy, just in case. I asked Sandy, the cat mom in charge if I could give it to her and with her permission, I pushed it through the bars and she went nuts. She just loved that little fuzzy toy, she pushed it through the bars and tossed it around and each time she pushed it out we picked it up and gave it back to her. Sandy assured me they would make sure she got to take it with her went she was adopted, which would be soon as she was a cutie.

Yes, I thought about taking her home. But the thing is,

I'm looking for a Fergus and he was something special. I may never find one but I need to give it a good chance that there is one out there. So let me tell you all about him just in case.

I think part of the secret to his personality and lean physique is that he was part Siamese. Siamese people will agree. Fergus was a people cat. If you came here he would want to meet you and make sure you acknowledged his specialness. He might take your pencil and toss it around or he might show off how agile and playful he was by dashing in and out of his tunnel or tossing a ball around. When he was about nine weeks old he provided the sole entertainment for a dinner party of ten adults ( crying until I let him out of the bedroom)

He had a beautiful and expressive face that I never tired of gazing at. When he slept he looked like a little old Japanese wise man. His nose was long, like a Siamese, but not as long as a purebred. His fur was as soft as a rabbit, not like your regular tabby. He was curious and excited about life and joyful. He was also not afraid of anything, as my vet said "he is full of himself". He interacted with everyone. He was also possessive of his places and determined to get my lap even if it meant sliding in next to Brendan.

He had a pink nose. And stripes and white mittens, a white belly and tigery stripes.

If you see him, tell him to phone home. I am waiting.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Life in Cats Part Two

Seamus. Out little angel kitty. He was about the sweetest little guy I have known. He died on the road above my house one morning when he was about a year old. I still miss him and wish I could have had him for fourteen or more years.

He was a neck sleeper. I think his favorite part of the day was when we were gettin ready for bed. He would get really happy when we got up and started brushing out teeth and he would run into the bedroom and hide under the foot of the bed. When one us got in he would leap up and try to grab a toe. Then he would hang over the edge with a "do not feed after midnight" face. We learned to take a flying leap onto the bed and protect our toes.

Then he would come up and if I was lying in the proper position , on my side, he would give a big happy purr and flop down behind me. HIs neck would land on mine and then a paw would follow, draping over me. Then he'd give a big, contented sigh and snuggle close.

He also loved the sink. He would come running down the stairs when we came home crying "You're home! You're home!"

So far I have identified five cat personalities. There is the Thinker (Brendan), Warrior (Gandolf), Lover ( Seamus, Fergus), Gentleman ( Silas), and I think there is also a Trickster (Finnegan).

Today is a month since I lost Fergus.

Friday, February 10, 2006

My Life in Cats Part One

The day O and I moved into our hand made hippie home in the mountains we went to the local shelter (then at our country vet's) and brought home a kitten. The kitten walked into out house, looked around and said "This will do." We named him Gandolf (so our spelling was a little off). He attained a weight of at least 16 pounds of muscle and he was an indoor, outdoor anytime cat and a personality to be reckoned with.

We were a bit wild and wooly ourselves back then. Our house was so cold that winter that Gandolf's water bowl would be frozen when I came downstairs. We had plastic in the windows and the world's longest outside stove pipe. The house had only wood heat, this in an area that can reach 25 below. But it was our house and we were going to live in it.

When Gandolf walked down the stairs you could hear him. Thump, thump thump. I taught him to come to a whistle, (easy enough, just whistle whenever you put down food) and he would come flying through the woods at that sound. He loved his food. He loved it so much he would purr over it before he ate, like a prayer, his jowls drooping.

You can see the size of his head in the photos. He was huge. One day when he was somewhere around 14 he just didn't come home and we knew he had gone to die in the woods he loved like the wise and independent soul he was.

I hope he's waiting for me at the bridge. We were young together in the back to the land days and he was an important part of the adventure. I'll scan the only photo of our house that year and you can all laugh.

Feline Friday is at the Modulator.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

We've been tagged.

We've been tagged by Les Trois Chats

Here are the rules:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Here is the 5th sentance from our 23rd post, The Story of Silas
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.

Caturday is tagging: And then there were Four, eh?, Timothy Dickens , The Animal Family. Edsel/the Pooch,and Five Cat Flyer

On the Road

We're in Portland today. I went to the bookstore and bought books on kitten care. Will post tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Hopeful Announcement

There were two tiger kittens born in foster care. The mother almost didn't make it but she pulled through.

Two kittens born.
And a world to carry on.

Silas was extremely lively this morning, running up and down the stairs and playing some paw over paw. Does he know something? Don't miss his photo essay below.

Silas has a Penthouse

I am in my penthouse. It is about 8 feet up and is on top of a bookcase. Himself put a nice polar blankie up here and I can keep an eye on everyone in the bed. Sometimes I take a flying leap onto the bed and since I am a big fellow of fourteen pounds it makes quite an impression. I love my penthouse and I spend hours here every day dreaming of spring when I can go back to exploring the Land of Ilu. It isn't easy to get to my private spot but this is how I do it.

Three are three stages on this tree and none are easy for me but Herself says it is good it isn't easy because I need the exercise. This is one.

This is two.

The next one is really hard. I have to pull myself up onto the wooden beam that runs across the ceiling.

But I can do it.

I take a rest when I get up here.

Then it's just a stroll across the beam and I can hop into my private place ( not shown here for privacy reasons, however the first photo is of me in my penthouse).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I was working on our humane society web site the other day. It was pouring rain and all possibility of cross country skiing was being washed down the river. Seems like the rain started the day Fergus died and it hasn't let up since. It's been a lousy winter here, too warm.

Anyway, so we were cloistered around the computer making updates and figuring out the mystery of a site done in Fusebox and talking about the animals we loved. And my friend said how some animals come into your life like a comet. And too often, out of it too quickly.

And that's really the way it was with Fergus. I loved him the moment he picked me out on the shelters floor with a dozen other kittens running around. I loved him every minute he was tiny and we had to keep him with us because he was afraid of being left alone. I loved him and worried about him when I decided to let him be happy and explore the woods and the outside world he loved so much and part of me died with him in the oxygen tent.

Last night I woke up feeling a little paw on the bed next to me. It was so real I sat up and looked. No cat to be seen. Brendan was off somewhere and Silas was in his penthouse or with Brendan.

They are all lovable. But it's the extraordinary ones who really tear you apart.

This is the complete picture. I love Fergus, Silas loves Fergus and me.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cats in Black (and little green men)

I think they got the right idea with that movie but the wrong cast. It's not Men in Black protecting us from alien invaders, it's the Cats in Black. For thirty years I have had a Cat in Black in residence. A Cat in Black is always on duty (and always impeccably dressed).

Just imagine, for centuries aliens have been attempting to invade earth. We've known this and that is why so many science fiction writers and movie makers have been bringing us visions like War of the Worlds. But it wasn't until Men in Black that they almost got it right.

The aliens are very small.

In fact, they are about the size of mice and they have been trying to take over earth for as long as we have been here.

But your loyal Cat in Black is here to protect you. All night he is on vigil, with his hyper extended senses, watching out for the danger to you and your family. He keeps watch for midnight landings and he stares out the window at things you can't see. At dawn he will patrol the perimeter of his assigned territory, keeping it secure for the people. With his deadly weapons he swiftly dispatches any aliens who make a successful landing. And he does this crucial job in secret, asking little in return but a good meal and a friendly pat on the head. We get to live our lives in peace, never aware of this grave threat to our world, lives and security.

It is my theory that every kind of cat has an assigned job. There are companion cats who look after lonely people, there are ferals who are the spies and intelligence agents out there on the front lines sending out reports of alien landings, there are Siamese with their own plan for world domination and there are Zen Masters helping us attain enlightenment (if we were only smart enough to pay attention and make the world a better place) And then there are the Warriors, the brave, courageous cats guarding humanity from alien takeovers that no home should be without.

The Cats in Black.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Anatomy of a Yawn

Uncle Sid shows us how its done.