found cat companions

I did it! I became the proud human companion of two cats!

The first one, Freckles, is a sweet, grey, tiger-striped tabbycat. She is so little and agreeable, a real cuddlebunny that was born not too far from where I live. Parentage? Someone’s unspayed pet and a stray, unneutered tom. Only a DNA test can tell.

Several of Freckles’ litter were placed in homes before her humans decided they’d run out of options. The remaining two kittens went to the city pound. Or was it three? In the pound, where dogs barked noisily in the same room cats cowered in terror, I didn’t hear some of the details. All I saw was this little furball with these big sweet eyes. This is a cat I can enjoy! Oh yes, if I hadn’t chosen this kitten, she would have been euthanized the next day, as was her sibling….

I put Freckles into the carrier I bought that morning. She barely took up any space, she’d squeezed herself into such a tight ball. The poor creature was shell-shocked after listening to dogs bark almost three weeks of her young life. Fortunately for future found companion animals, a building permit posted on the door notes a remodelling is in the plans. The animal control officer says the two species will be separated by a wall. Whew!

The first day home, Freckles was clingy, a frightened little mouse of a cat. I made a tent of the blanket I had over my lap, and put the recliner all the way back. I stroked my little kitty pal and was rewarded with an endless purr! Later, she tasted my arm, then licked my beard until she’d licked the whole left side of my face. The bearded part I mean. She finds the beard facinating, usually dragging her claws through it several times before our bonding sessions end. A few times, I fell asleep, the little purr motor making an agreeable rumble on my chest!

The next day, I arranged to pick up the second cat, a large, orange,tiger-striped tabbycat. We’d made acquaintence the day before when I picked up Freckles. She appears in the attached video. What a personality this cat has! Her favorite napping spot is under my computer desk lamp. In fact, she’s sleeping with her head on my mouse hand as I type. She looked like a princess sitting in the carrier that worked so well the day before. Luckily, the animal control officer lent me a larger carrier to get her home, or I would lost her before I got her home.

It isn’t as easy as you might think to determine the sex of a cat in winter fur. Let’s say the “naughty parts” are pretty well covered. Lucy can only be a female or a neutered male. I don’t think, at age 61, I’ve mis-sexed her, but I once did make a mistake calling Woody, a neutered male, “Miss Kitty” until her humans told me he wasn’t a she. Hunh?!

Whereas Freckles is a quiet cat, Lucy is madly loquacious. The first day home, she about drove me nuts with her loud meowing. That came mostly to a stop by day two, after she found all of the apartment features of interest to a cat. I had her underfoot the whole time. I watched as she demonstrated how a cat can open a shower door. (Mental note to self: Don’t shower with Lucy in the bathroom. EVER!) Then…well, the cat can open everything from cabinet doors to folding closet doors. Give her a television remote and..!Freckles was as overwhelmed as I Lucy’s first day with us. Lucy walked up to Freckles and hissed. Later, Freckles tried to walk up to Lucy. Again Lucy hissed.

Freckles

Rats, I thought. I wanted Lucy to help little Freckles regain her cathood, show her the ropes, and this does not look good! I mean, little Freckles found and used the litter box right away, but she didn’t cover it. P.S. I can’t imagine how something that big came out of such a little cat. I mean to tell you!

The first night with Freckles was peaceful. The first night with Lucy! Meow-meow-meow! All night. I closed my bedroom door before I went to bed. More meowing until I got up and let her in. I sleep on a single bed. I am comfortable on it. Add a ten pound cat, and her constant shifting around to get a warmer or more comfortable spot…. I slept fitfully. Yes, little catnaps.

Day three for Freckles, and two for Lucy. Freckles, who had set up safe haven under a bureau with just enough clearance for a little cat, greeted the day by stalking and charging this scary strange cat! Lucy didn’t hiss. All is well. Kitties have adjusted well to their new home. Lucy still talks a lot, but I must be better trained as it isn’t all day long. Their personalities are showing up more and more. Freckles has a murderous love affair going on with a cat toy on a pole. The little mouse must have been killed fifty times or more by now. This is her favorite toy. She played so hard with it today that she’s asleep now under a SpongeBob SquarePants pillow my Seattle sister gave me. Lucy still is asleep under my desk lamp, cramping my style and my mouse arm. She just stretched, looked up at me to verify I was still there to cling to, and went back to sleep.

Sleep. Tonight bodes well for sleep. I’m going to try it. Lucy! I’m going to bed! Little Freckles is asleep under SpongeBob on the couch now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I wake up with two cats tomorrow morning. Need to get a bigger bed!

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katzenjammer

Katzenjammer” is German for (roughly) wailing cats, which, as anyone who sleeps in summer with open windows knows is a dreadful, piercing, yammering yowl from Hell – or two cats in “love”.

The product of the Katzenjammer frequently is a litter of kittens.

Did you know that the female and male cats mate frequently when the female is in estruous? That each kitten in a litter can have a different father? That a female can become pregnant as young as five months old, bear up to five litters a year? That cats don’t go through menopause, but can reproduce up to death? That if you keep kittens past sexual maturity, they will bred with any available cat of the opposite sex, including each other or one of their parents?


Zack Scott recently posted this important video on adoption of found pets.

You’ve seen the cat hoarder on “Animal Planet” with a house so polluted with cat urine and feces from an over-population of cats that the house has to be demolished. One cat hoarder, one pregnant cat, sufficient time- as little as a year -and that’s all it takes! Most of the cats from these houses are either sick or have to be euthanized.

There’s a mistaken notion that letting your female cat have one litter before spaying results in a better-adjusted, healthier cat for the long term. Veterinarians dispute this notion. Nor will your cat companion get fat in consequence- unless you over-feed it!

In a world where half of the cats and dogs ending up in pounds are euthanized as humanely as possible (which is killed nonetheless), it does not make any sense to allow your pets to reproduce on your whim or by accident. Again: male pets should be neutered, females should be spayed.

Most of you reading this are, I hope, people who do neuter or spay your pet, do take the necessary steps to assure your pet is happy and safe, do get all the required shots at the required time, do license your pet if required by the jurisdiction where you live, do love and provide for your pet’s physical and emotional needs. The Lord bless you people!

The ones who most need to read this probably still don’t get it, if they read this far. More’s the shame.

Zack Scott’s excellent appeal to adopt found animals focused me on a long-time need. I’ve considered all changes adopting a found cat will cause me, not to mention will cause the cat. I’m not the easiest fellow to live with! Ha!

I thought I'd test-drive a used cat resting on my shoulders. Looks pretty good!
Here’s a prototype cat resting on my shoulders. Looks pretty danged good!

The big question is: Am I ready to have a cat companion? What do I need to have in place before I even bring a kitten or cat home? Do I need to cat-proof (ha!) my apartment first? I know Dieffenbachias can poison cats, so I need to find a home for that plant at least. Do I have any other plants that can harm a cat? Am I financially able to take care of a cat? Pay for spaying or neutering? Provide adequate toys, attention, and amusements for the cat? At my age and with my health issues, am I likely to outlive the cat? I mean, what needs to happen in my life to make cat adoption a bad idea?

I think I can do better with a mature or very mellow young cat that likes to be cuddled. I knew a cat like that, a neutered cat that belonged to my neighbors. We got along very well indeed, and he established in my mind that I am not only a dog person but a cat person as well.

Naturally, then, I e-mailed my sister in Seattle because she has a tuxedo cat (Sox), and knowledge of what I need to consider before adopting a cat. This is a big step! Her response helps me feel positive about going ahead with the adoption.

I’m almost through assembling the necessities for happy cathood. Mine will be an indoor cat, spayed or neutered, that may be allowed supervised trips outdoors on a harness leash. Maybe.

Next time- I hope!- a blog entry about a new found cat.

toilet talk

It’s Global Handwashing Day! Well, it was yesterday!

That’s a big deal for an immuno-suppressed person like me or my fellow weggies around the world. Can I state it any more clearly: people who don’t wash their hands after using toilets touch surfaces you can’t imagine, leaving a little bit of- what’s the technical term?- shit on each of those surfaces. Maybe not so much as anyone can see, but enough that anyone touching surfaces the “dirty handers” touched better beware!

How can you be aware of someone who didn’t wash their hands after using the toilet? Unless you observe them directly, you can’t! So…

People with normal immune system might suffer a mild case of diarrhea from transferring “toilet” germs to their mouths (eating without washing their hands). A person with a suppressed immune system, on the other hand, may well develop a more severe form of the same disease. Even an immuno-suppressed person can forget to wash hands before eating a mid-day treat!

If you are around an immuno-suppressed person or are one, they and you know that you can’t count on people taking reasonable, ordinary steps to prevent transfer of disease to others. For that reason alone, immuno-suppressed people get in the habit of what may seem to be compulsive hand washing.

So what? Because reasonable courtesy, your health, and the health of others depends upon all people washing their hands after using the toilet. People who spread colds and flu are another category, but we’ll stick with toilet training for now. Ha!

The videos (above) are ones that Sangye, a weggie friend, posted on the Wegener’s Granulomatosis Support Forum today. If it seems aimed at children, consider the possibility that people of any age who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet may be mental first graders.

I know that writing this, I felt like I was revisiting my first grade orientation. The Superintendent of Schools isolated us boys from the girls and gave what I came to call the Annual Toilet Talk! This blog, I’m sorry to say, duplicates some of the message and a lot of the language of those talks. Wash yer dang hands, blinketydangblastit!

*** Aside from the toilet talk, I want to note that Sangye writes and manages one of the better blogs I am aware of, particularly in matters of national health reform. I highly recommend her blog for its compassion, humor, intelligence, informativeness, even spirituality. Here’s the link:

http://sweetnotalways.blogspot.com/

end abuse

This entry has a religious content that may be offensive to non-Christians or non-believers. That’s fair warning, I think. More than any other entry I’ve written, this one touches on matters of my faith. As such, I hope it burns brightly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit

I have strong feelings about what should be done to people who abuse spouses or children, their own or not. I suppose it is rooted in my Christian faith, the Golden Rule, yet people from other backgrounds and faiths stand with me: spousal and child abuse must end, and the perpetrators must be dealt with severely. Death? No, that they be removed from decent society. Forever.

I am concerned that that statement has an internal contradiction. Shouldn’t I love the sinner, if not the crime? As a Christian, that’s the path I am committed to, yet…!

I pray for the victims I know of, of course, adult or child. Those that appear in the paper, at any rate, as part of the summary of District Court proceedings, I pray for. I pray for those I learn of because a victim comes to ask for prayers of my Prayer Team partner and me after church. I pray that I always remember to ask the right questions before that victim leaves the prayer room: Have you talked with the pastor about this? If not, will you? And so on. Abuse is a complex issue that needs a gentle, accurate, and sensitive course of action.

How can prayer help? To those without faith or a different sense of prayer, the answer may be it doesn’t help, it can’t help, it’s a waste of time.

To those of faith, the answer is prayer is a living conversation with Our Heavenly Father, that He hears our prayers, and those prayers are answered in ways with many times we miss if our ability to discern the answer is clouded by doubt, non-belief, naysayers in the victim’s circle of support. Or discerned in changes in the way people respond to the situation that brought about the prayer. Just as we don’t always get what we want on this plane, we think we know what’s best for us when we approach the Lord in prayer, ignoring the possibility that He has a different direction in mind for our lives. If we can discern it.

Another way prayer helps is to unload a terrible burden Our Lord, on the shoulders of others, if only for a few quiet moments in the prayer room. Typically, those on the Prayer Team assignment for any given week continue to offer support and prayers for those who sought prayer from them. It’s the humane and Christian thing to do. It’s a way of restoring some small corner of a victim’s life, one where people offer hope, not destroy self-worth and offer nothing but despair. It’s a light touch on the shoulder, a hug, a reassurance that the victim isn’t the cause of the abuse.

In all this prayer, too often, in my anger, I forget the most important prayer: for the abusers. It also is the most difficult because of my williness to judge, not forgive, to hate, to fall outside of Christian love and forgiveness.

But I try.

And I ask God to forgive me, too, for my hard heart, to guide me toward acceptance of His wisdom and ultimate judgement of us each, including the abusers in this life.