weather and haircuts for the boys

The boys have a trip to the cat groomer coming up on Wednesday the 18th. I may have to ask for a longer final length on their hair than usual now that Fall is almost here on the High Plains.

This is how cool it was at 6:48 AM today. Fall is around the corner!

This is how cool it was at 6:48 AM today. Fall is around the corner!

Actually, other than the problematic butt hair (poop balls) and armpit hair (mats), both Dougy and Andy seem to handle longer hair better than they used to. They are cuter and more Persian cat-esque with longer hair, too! Persians have that “owl face” thing about them that I find especially appealing.

Their hair takes on some very attractive qualities when it’s longer, too. You see more of the characteristic “smoke Persian” pelage qualities, something you can see in yesterday’s photo of Dougy in the box that I used for my Christmas stamp and card illustration. Those highlights on his coat actually are the effect of how light hits it.

Smoke Persian qualities show on the boys when their hair is longer.

Smoke Persian qualities show on the boys when their hair is longer.

Though the boys seem to be black cats, they are more multi-colored, with soft shades of grays ranging to darker grays, then black on their legs, shoulder, faces, and hindquarters, depending on how light hits them. They are very dramatic cats when in motion!

Better grooming is a big part of the reduced hair issues. Andy doesn’t need much brushing because he has less undercoat than Dougy, but neither has had a problem with bad hair mats since I started taking them to Sarah, their groomer. She’s a cat-grooming goddess! I like Sarah! More importantly, the boys are good boys for her: They like Sarah, too!

Speaking of Sarah, who regards Andy and Dougy as her favorites, I intend to start tipping her. Until my Seattle sister mentioned she tipped her boy’s groomer, it hadn’t occurred to me to do the same. Sarah’s excellent care of my boys means they are cleaner, I don’t have to watch out for poop balls or wash poop (“poop baths”) out of their hair.

Sox the tuxedo cat, Andy and Dougy's Seattle cat cousin.

Sox the tuxedo cat, Andy and Dougy’s Seattle cat cousin.

I don’t know what a reasonable tip for a pet groomer might be, but I’m starting out with a generous one that is the sum of what I would have tipped Sarah from the first session till the one on the 18th.

I can’t emphasize how much difference her excellent work’s made in the lives of the boys, or, for that matter, mine! I was close to finding a new home for them, the poop issue was so bad. I would have missed out on a lot of joy in my life….

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spring has…almost…sprung!

I am a spring time person. I love the cold nights and the cool days, the soft rains and the raging thunderstorms, the smell of loam after a storm, the plants sending out new shoots of life I will enjoy into autumn. It’s hard to be cynical and sour when everything comes together, new.

Those who read this blog from time to time know that last year at this time I did a series of walks with my handsome ginger tabby, Louie. Louie and I had small adventures each time I followed him on his walks. They always were concerned with, from Louie’s perspective, “What’s new in my territory?!” Then, August 1, 2011, Louie died suddenly of lymphoma. I didn’t know until the very night he died that he was ill. To this day, I grieve that fact because I had medical insurance on Louie. He could have had a couple more years if we’d caught it in time. Yeah.

But it is spring time, time to put away the sorrows and travails of the previous years, and enjoy the resurgence of life.

This year I have Louie’s successors, the kitten brothers. Full of life and the dickens, Andy and Dougy aren’t Louie, but they are a new adventure for me. Louie I rescued from the pound when the veterinarian estimated him to be five. The kitten brothers come to me when they were a bit older than two months, last September.

The kitten brothers. Cynical Andy, just now starting to accept things as they are and enjoying them a little. He was the sicker of the two kittens, and had to put up with more than a life time of baths to wash the diarrhea out of his fur. Ugh! Goofy Dougy, always ready for a good time. He and Andy play well together, and I think Andy benefits from Andy’s goofiness, his “come on, Andy, let’s chase each other all over the apartment and hunt each other down” way of keeping Andy occupied with what’s necessary for kittens: A good time, all the time, thank you!

Spring. The kittens are eight months old, as of March 1st. They make me laugh. They make me look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. They behave badly but are good, little kittens by and large. Explorers of their realm, little predators learning how to do it by hunting each other -and me sometimes – they are spring spirits, young, reckless, adventuresome, rough around the edges, but holding the full promise of a renewal of the cat presence I liked about Louie in my life. They enter spring as kitten teenagers. That should be interesting!

I’m in a spring mood today. The remains of last year remind me of the cycle of life that ends in death for all living things, but there always is that little sprout poking up through the dead leaves, impossibly small now, but just waiting to spring forth as rhubarb, the first chives for a light oniony touch in an omelette, or maybe mint for some tea.

Spring. My season!

kitten toys

Is there a pet or child alive that doesn’t love the box the toy came in better than the toy? Or just any box for that matter?

The kitten brothers are no exception. The photo shows a three-box construction that got the boys through their early kittenhood. They play outside it now since they are too big to enter it comfortably, but there was a time…!

Yeah! The kittens defended this fort to the death many a time, much kitten fur was lost, but I think this eyesore is just about ready for the trash bin.

“Just about ready for the trash bin” means it was trash weeks ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to toss part of the kitten brothers’ kittenhood! How ridiculous! They are boxes that are trash, having served a purpose or two.

That’s Andy, above. You can see those characteristics of a smoke Persian that makes them such a pretty cat: the silver hair in the black, the black points and band across the shoulders. Dougy’s pelage shows something of this Persian variation, but he is darker overall.

Speaking of pleasure, here’s another favorite Kat of mine, Kathleen Battle, singing a favorite Handel aria of mine.

call me crazy

Sometimes I forget about this blog. Months pass, I don’t update it. I wonder why but fail to type something in this block. I guess I don’t expect anyone to read it anyway, the classic blogger’s nagging doubt!

Hmm. So why haven’t I written since September? New kittens.

Andy was a sick with diarrhea, as were his litter mates. Apparently they got into a bad grasshopper or two, became infected with an amoebic disease that caused diarrhea (most distressingly!). He appeared better by the time I picked him up.

In the week or so after I first took Andy home, however, he lost ground. I called the lady who gave him to me, telling her about his continuing diarrhea and apparent decline. I was afraid I was going to lose another cat, a kitten, if he didn’t have medical care!

She took Andy that night, and put him in the veterinarian clinic for observation and determination of the specific cause of his illness. Probiotics and antibiotics helped. A week later, he seemed on the mend again, and was released to me.

I placed Andy in the carrier, a cathedral-sized one meant for a Louie-sized cat, and waited for the bill. The technician came out with another kitten, a kitten from Andy’s litter that’d become his best play buddy that previous week.

Would I be interested in another kitten, she wondered, noting Andy and this little guy’d played so well together. She knew my plan was to find a companion cat for Andy at the pound. The issues of finding a cat Andy liked and played with came up earlier, and this little brother looked like a good deal!

Yes! I’ll take the kitten, I told her.

These kittens are pedigreed or pure bred. I never can keep the distinction clear in my mind…one of the two! They were mostly black when I got them, and, at a little over five months in December, show the handsome coloration of smoke Persians. Andy in particular has the lovely silver and black combination, though Dougy shows the colors in a darker shade.

Oh! I hadn’t mentioned the new kitten’s name yet!

Andy is named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew, since I have significant Scottish ancestry. The second kitten, I felt, should have a good, Scottish name as well.

I posed the question on Daily Booth, where several people who follow me are Scottish. What should I name this second male kitten? Archibald. Angus. Murdoch. And so on. Then it occurred to me my own name, Douglas, is about as Scottish as you can get! To stave off suggestions I am egotistical, I settled for Doogie, the Scottish diminutive of Douglas.

I started out calling the new kitten Doogie. I no time, it gravitated toward the easier, friendlier Dougy. To hell with it. I named one of my kittens after me! The more ornery one, it turns out! Judge me if you wish, world! Ha!

Videos? Yeah, I made videos and posted them on YouTube. They are a hoot to watch.

Diarrhea and normal kitty problems managing to keep themselves cleaned up continued to plague the kittens and me. I never had to give Louie a bath, yet the kittens needed them practically daily! Whew! I called the veterinarian to determine if the kittens should go back in for further work.

Andy, in particular, seemed worse off, and I sent him to the clinic first. He was there eight days, then I took Dougy in. He wasn’t as bad off, but he just wasn’t right. I couldn’t see continuing with more of the same. If one was sicker, both were sick with the same thing. Dougy needed to be there for treatment, too.

I missed the hubbub of kittens, but I didn’t miss the diarrhea and the sense that the kittens were more than I could handle after the death of Louie. They, their health issues, definitely weren’t lightening my mood.

Kitten poop. Kitten baths. Long stays at the veterinarian’s and long examinations of whether it was crazy to keep the kittens or not: That’s the summation of three months past.

Someone said “There is no such thing as a free cat.” The two kittens given me, pet quality smoke Persians, can retail between $500-$1000, per one internet source. I don’t know. I’ve never had such fancy pets, let alone for nothing. I’ve never asked the lady at the clinic why she chose to give them to me. It seems if someone does something nice for you, you should graciously accept that good deed and not worry about motivation.

The veterinarian bills so far hover near $1000. That includes routine vaccinations, of course, but largely is for kenneling and treatment of the root cause of the diarrhea. The kittens are well-known to the staff, and have spent more time in the clinic than at home, I think, but that’s starting to turn around.

Now, the kittens and I are bonded for life. Often, when I fall asleep in my recliner, one or both will be sleeping on my lap when I wake up. I find one or both in bed with me when I wake up. I suspect it is so they can monitor me until it is time to wake me up to feed them.

Call me crazy, but I’m keeping them!