Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Week for Cupid under the Tree

It is one of the smallest Christmas Trees I have had for years, based on finances and other practical considerations, but at least it is safe from Puttikins mischief, perched high above the floor.

Cupid has become very lethargic lately and spends most of his time when he is in the kitchen idling on one of the chairs. He even learned how to avoid total disaster when he uses the broken chair. At first, he would send the entire seat crashing to the ground as it no longer is affixed at all to the base. Now, however, he is able to land very lightly on it and he appears to prefer it to the others.

Meanwhile, the two photographs above that of Cupid are of St. Nick in his new home in Texas, where he is pampered by all. Here you see him introducing himself to the bird in the family... (He may not be able to spend too much time in close companionship with the budgie ultimately. Although my Puttikins tend to be the most awful cowards, a potential hunter could lurk somewhere within every cat's breast.)

Many thanks to Cherie and her family for giving St. Nick a home and for sharing the photographs with me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Puttikins, Plastic and Paper

What is the extraordinary attraction that plastic has for cats? All the Puttkins without exception love to chew on plastic bags. If the bags are hidden, which is the way I keep them now, they unearth them somehow, with unerring ability, so that they can chew on them. Plastic being inedible and indestructable, the result always is a nasty little mess that they chuck up in a corner somewhere.

Keep plastic bags away from your cats! There has to be some awful chemical in the plastic that attracts felines.

The other irresistable items for the Puttikins are paper hankies, paper towels, toilet tissue and anything else that falls into the general category of disposable paper products. They love to pull them out of my pockets and spirit them away. They will tear any paper hankie into tiny strips and wisps, but whatever they eat inadvertently in the process does not have any ill effects ordinarily, unlike plastic.

Finally, a temporary toy that always gives them delight is any little piece of cardboard taken from a box. Cereal boxes are perfect. If I cut or tear a tab from the top, any and all Puttikins will be ecstatic. They love to chase these little bits of cardboard across the floor or spin them. Lighter than an ordinary cardboard box, a piece of cardboard from a food product box is the perfect light weight for feline entertainment. Although I have bought them countless real toys, a tab from a cardboard box remains a special treat!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Puttikin's Grand Adventure, a Yuletide Miracle

Yesterday, one of my Flame Point Himalayans flew to his new home in Texas, accompanied by the husband of a very dear Harvest Moon friend of mine. This turn of events is almost a Miracle.

Many Harvest Moon/Rune Factory players are aware of the fact that I have Himalayan Kittens in need of good homes. My good friend Cherie remarked that she wished she could take one. What I expected to be nothing more than a fantasy became fact when her husband took a business trip here and pronounced that he was willing to take a Putti home with him!

He came bearing Yuletide Gifts from Cherie and we bought a beautiful little carrier for the Putti, complete with all mod cons, including an aromatherapy compartment that could be filled with a scent that allegedly would calm any cat. His ticket was issued by Delta Airlines and they declared that they would accept a cat onboard in a carrier that would fit under a human passenger's seat. The cost was less actually than shipping the cat in the cargo hold! I had hesitated to send a cat anywhere in the cold cargo hold of an aeroplane and was thrilled to discover that Delta would allow onboard flight for the kitten.

Cherie's husband truly is a prince among men. Whatever he had thought of this plan initially, he was more than willing to make his own wishes subordinate to the needs of the little Putti. He had purchased the carrier on the day prior to his departure, so I placed it with my Cats overnight. They appeared to enjoy their explorations of the new carrier. Ironically, it was only Leo II, the kitten who was destined to travel in it, who did not appear that intersted in it!

At 2.00 p.m. yesterday, I bade my little Leo II farewell, praying fervently for a safe, uneventful trip that would not distress or traumatise either the feline or his human guardian.

Cherie's husband rang me from the aeroport to tell me that they had passed through security without any dramatic escape by the Puttikins. (He had to be removed temporarily from the carrier and we both were a bit anxious about that.) Cherie conveyed a message from the next leg of the journey to the effect that:

Puttikins is people watching and the people watching the cat walk away with smiles. And Dave? "yeh, yeh, this is my cat."

That message put a smile on my face as well... but the best communication ultimately was a telephone call from Cherie in the wee hours of the morning to let me know that both Putti and Dave had arrived home safely.

When Beauty had her first litter last Yuletide, it was a magical, blessed event. I was as excited as she was to see each new little life emerge and I showered as much love and attention upon them as she did. She was a natural mother, and although I have had a lot of experience with Cats and their offspring, I never knew a Queen who was more suited to her role.

Unfortunately, to my shock and horror, she became pregnant while still nursing her first litter and to my consternation, I presided at another delivery as the May flowers were blooming...

The first litter had been christened collectively as The Puttikins. There were four boys. Three of them were Flame Points but one was pure Flame like their Mum. Her second litter consisted of FIVE kittens, three males and two female. Two of the three Males were Flame Points and the third was Flame. The two females both were Tortoiseshell Persians, very unusual and striking in their colouring, and a throwback to one of their grandparents.

Poor Beauty had not recovered physically from the first litter, however, and within ten days, I found myself assuming all the duties of a Mother. I used KMR and feeding syringes to keep the second litter alive. Beauty simply hadn't the strength. In fact, I had to coax her to drink KMR regularly as well.

Consequently, I developed a very special bond with the second litter. They were known quite simply at that point as 'The Tiny Babies'. I did not wish to name them or become too attached to ANY OF THEM, because I had all the Puttikins still as well as the original Father and Mother of the Tribe. I had not even attempted to find homes for any of the Puttikins, incidentally, because it was impossible to single out one for export to another home.

The care of the Tiny Babies was extremely exhausting. With five of them, I spent most of my time feeding some one. They all responded to me instantly, though, and would expect their sustenance from me rather than going to their Mother for nursing during this period.

It was only after a fortnight at least that Beauty began to show an interest in nursing again. From that point, we shared the duty.

Lest any one think that I did absolutely nothing in terms of finding homes for the Tinies, this was NOT the case. A friend of mine told me that her neighbour wanted two boys, so I knew that at least two of the three had homes when they were weaned.
Unfortunately, my friend's father became seriously ill and the prospective parents adopted two kittens from a local shelter unbeknownst to me.

The Tiny Babies began to grow larger and I began to realise that my situation was utterly impossible. I could not keep ALL of them!

Each of my cats is special and unique but with the same two parents, there are physical similarities between the Puttikins and the Tiny Babies, now not Tiny in any sense of the word. Of the two Tiny Baby Flame Points, one resembled Leo and the other looked quite a lot like Cupid. I did not wish to name them as I knew he needed and deserved another home, but my little traveler was known here often as Leo II.

Leo II is a wonderful boy. He is extremely responsive emotionally and would groom me almost every day. He loved to be cradled like a baby in my arms and would lick my face affectionately and nuzzle me beneath the neck. He loved it when I unzipped my old down vest because he could burrow inside it while being held.

Some cats are either playful or affectionate but Leo II is both. He can play very energetically by himself, although he usually would persuade his siblings to join him. Unfortunately, they live in rather a small space and practically would bounce from wall to wall chasing a ball or scrap of paper. The most amusing part of Leo II's antics was the vocal commentary that would accompany his games. I never heard a cat TALK with such animation and enthusiasm during a game. He has dozens of different 'words' as well.

Dear little Putti, I miss you and your family misses you, but we are delighted to know that you belong now to a wonderful family who will adore you and treat you like the little Prince that you are.

For Cherie:

My care of my Himalayans includes:

A comb with very narrow teeth. Although my cats definitely do NOT have fleas, I like to use a flea comb, because they are small and the teeth are narrow. At this time of year, I comb each of them at least once each week, because they are going through the transition from their summer coats of fur to their winter coats and combing helps to minimise shedding. Moreover, they never cough up furballs because I keep them combed. When they groom themselves, they do not have to deal with handfuls of loose fur!

Himalayans and Persians often have sensitive eyes and need to have their eyes wiped or cleared a little. You can use a damp cotton swab or hanky or you can use your finger, if you are very careful. It is not necessary to do this, but they don't like having little sleep sand in the corners of their eyes and they are more beautiful without it. It is the white cats or colourpoints who show it the most. My tortoiseshell females and the Flame Persians do not have as much trouble as the Flame Points with their silky white fur and crystal blue eyes.


I use a type of litter that is completely natural. It is made from corn husks by a firm named Arm & Hammer (famed for their baking soda I believe). It smells wonderful and does not cause the sort of breathing problems and allergies that sand, chemical litter or other 'clumping litter' causes. I believe the name of this litter is Essentials. You should be able to find it at any decent supermarket. It is more costly than sand, BUT it lasts far longer. If you clean the box daily, you should be able to use a single bag of the litter for at least a month unless you have more than two cats. If I had two cats, I would reserve some of the litter when I first fill the box, and then 'freshen' it each week with a little more litter, even if no more were needed, simply to release some of the scent into the air again.

None of my cats ever failed to use their litter box. No nasty accidents anywhere... but they do expect to use a CLEAN box! I have spoiled them a little in that respect.


I have dry food out all the time and feed the tinned food once each day. Little Leo II in particular is an avid drinker of water. I give them bottled water because the water here has lead in it. If you have decent source of water, the bottled water is not needed.

What always amused me about Leo II was the way he drank water. He laps at it furiously, almost like a DOG. It's very entertaining.

Last but not least, Love and Affection:

Leo II is accustomed to being held and loves it. He will watch the telly with me, quite content to snuggle into my arms. He will sit on my knees as well if I am in a chair, but his favourite position, I believe, is to be cradled like a baby. He loves to be petted and he loves to have his ears and neck scratched. When he stretches out, you can pet his tummy as well.

I cut his nails the day before yesterday so that they would not resemble razor blades. He should be given a decent scratching post or scratching pad if you are not good at clipping the nails. I've been doing it forever, and I use a simple nail clipper that works for felines and humans alike.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Needing Good Homes...


These are two of the erstwhile 'Tiny Babies' who now are five months old and desperately need the best of homes. They are loving, intelligent and lively, combining the best of the Persian traits with the best of the Siamese, as do most of the Himalayan breed.

Persians tend to be very indolent albeit loving. Siamese tend to be hyperkinetic, very vocal and constantly filled with a sense of mischief. The Himalayan Breed was created by marriage between Siamese and Persian and my Himmys exemplify the traits that are characteristic of the best of the Himalayans.

These kittens do not have the pushed-in faces caused by deliberate overbreeding that lead to all sorts of health problems for poor Persians and Himalayans. They have classical bone structures and little heart-shaped faces. Both parents are pedigreed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Summer Colds and the Puttikins

When a pet becomes ill or is uncomfortable, the emotional response of the owner is very similar to a parent's emotional response to the illness of a small child. A small child or infant cannot understand what is wrong, or why he/she is so miserable. Cats do not understand either. They tend to go into hiding or curl up in a corner somewhere, losing interest in EVERYTHING.

I have been struggling with poor Apollodoro for about five days now. This is the Puttikins who was thought to be a girl originally, not only because of his breathtaking beauty but because no signs of manhood appeared for months. He was given the nickname of 'Dora the Explorer' because he was so curious as a young kitten and utterly intrepid. That changed over the months. Ironically, when evidence of his manhood appeared, his personality underwent a sea change and he became timid and fearful. I do hope that his father had no paw in this!

I tried to think of a name that would include 'Dora' and yet be masculine. Apollodoro was my solution. Yes, it is a mouthful but Cats do not object to long names. In fact, they love it when their owners converse with them, even if the 'conversation' is nothing more really than a very long monologue about nothing in particular.

I found beautiful Apollodoro about five days ago in an obviously listless state. The Puttikins always become hyperactive when I enter with their food but on this occasion, poor Adoro simply continued to sit on his perch, his eyes barely open. I knew something was amiss at once.

When I picked him up, it was evident that he had a fever. He radiated heat. He needed liquids desperately to bring down the fever but he refused to drink. When he coughed, I knew why he did not wish to eat or drink. To him, eating and drinking brought on the cough.

That day, I kept him with me constantly, forcing water down his throat with the syringe I had used for the Tiny Babies when Beauty was too weak to nurse them for a few days. He fought me a little but I managed to force him to take the liquids and by the next morning, the fever had broken.

He still had the cough, however. I isolated him from the other Puttikins as much as possible and kept him with me. He would not drink water from the plastic dish but when I placed it in a glass ice cream dish (rather like the crystal dish beloved of the Fancy Feast cat!), he drank, after licking the outside of the dish a little.

On Saturday, I decided to try some medication for the cough and congestion. I bought an inhaler that always helped me when I was a child a cold suffering from severe congestion. As it involves no internal ingestion of medications and simply requires that the afflicted individual simply BREATHE. I decided that I would give him a tiny sniff of it first, to see if it had any negative side-effects. I was delighted to discover that it did not harm him in the least and even more delighted when it was evident that the inhaler helped his congestion.

I followed the dosage given for a young child. Now a couple of days later, he is eating and drinking properly and even purring again. He still coughs occasionally but 'occasionally' is about once in eight hours, a single cough that must be an attempt to clear his body of the congestion.

Those are the bare facts of Adoro's Summer Cold but not the reason I am writing this post. It was my consciousness of the poor creature's utter helplessness and his lack of comprehension as to what was going on that struck me as being identical to that of any human infant. A baby who is ill simply howls, not knowing why he/she has been visited with torment. There is no way to explain it either, nor to make the child aware of the transient nature of the misery. In the end, it is a matter of love and trust. You have to show love to the afflicted one, in an effort to combat misery with the warmth of affection and the knowledge at least that he/she is the centre of YOUR attention. That is where trust is critical. The sufferer has to feel that you are taking care of the problem, fighting the battle for him/her and that you ultimately will be victorious.

Perhaps if Adoro had been an abandoned or feral Cat, he would have recovered by himself. I may have helped him to recover but perhaps I simply eased his misery a little. All that really matters is that he is recovering.

The comprehension of causes and effects increases as any human child matures. Animals do learn through experience if not through academic education. I have seen Cats who suffered from ongoing physical ailments learn how to deal with them and mitigate their effects over the course of time.

Most important, though, for both humans and animals, is the will to survive. I think that is where love can make a difference. I have seen people and animals who have lost a loved one lose the will to live. If they continue to feel abandoned, they actually can die, even if they suffer from no life-threatening illness. Some one claimed that 'no one ever died of a broken heart', but that is false. I have seen humans and animals die precisely from that. The best medicine in such a situation is the knowledge that they are not alone, that there are others who love them and need them. This can persuade them to continue the fight for survival.

In any case, it is useful to know that Vick's Inhaler can help a Cat with congestion when he/she has a cold. The veterinary profession has become increasingly aware of the number of different types of upper respiratory infections that affect cats. As with humans, there are almost countless varieties of colds and infections. In my view, the most important treatment almost always is to make certain that the animal does not become dehydrated. Water is critical. If a cat has trouble breathing, he/she may not wish to eat or drink. Decreasing the congestion therefore can help the animal because it will allow him/her to drink water. It may be simplistic, but I think it is valid. I have kept more than one animal alive after a member of the veterinary profession declared he/she was certain there was virtually no chance of survival. I did it with love and liquids...

I only hope that Adoro will shake off this cough completely. He is one of the most beautiful creatures I ever saw but, in all honesty, he is not the most loveable. Other people have compared him to Cupid and found him less appealing. Cupid, as his name suggests, is a Lover. He is one of the most affectionate Cats I ever had, always open-hearted and giving. Adoro, on the other hand, is a little aloof. Nonetheless, in the past couple of days, he has become far more affectionate with me than usual. He will come to me, leap onto my lap and purr. I always invited his affection, but it is only now, after his illness, that he has become more open in his behaviour towards me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When the Owner's Away, the Cats will Play

There is an old saying known to every one to the effect that: 'When the Cat's away, the Mice will play.' I always felt that it was a statement that referred to an abatement of the natural and very logical cowardice and consequent dampening of the spirits of the mice in the presence of their predators. When the Cat no longer is sensed, the Mice can run amok or celebrate, dance and sing or do whatever it is that Mice long to do but seldom can.

The owner of the house in which I live is gone for a couple of days and I therefore have unrestricted access to the spacious kitchen on the upper floor. The prospect excited me most for the sake of the Puttikins who usually are forced to live in a rather small and shabby space with me on the ground floor.

The Puttikins' Holiday has not been an unqualified success. They say that prisoners become comfortable in their cells and often cannot stand the prospect of freedom. Those who are accustomed to small, enclosed spaces often are distressed when confronted with wide, unrestricted places or open skies. It is a sad fact and one that can be applied to Cats as well as human beings.

I have been able to do very little work of any kind or even eat a proper meal since I began 'Operation Air-Lift Puttikins'. I bring them up the stairs one by one to deposit them in the kitchen. I cannot carry more than one at a time. Inevitably, the first one to arrive cries piteously and loudly, standing at the door, poised to hurtle out of the room, until the next one arrives.

Even with two or three of them in the room, the response is not positive at first. They agitate one another, crying and pacing. Even the one that was introduced to the kitchen previously on a few occasions finds the atmosphere of general paranoia contagious.

They wail and rant at me, begging to be taken back into their 'cell' with their comrades. It does not matter how I respond. I can talk to them until I am blue in the face and they do not become more resigned to their temporary freedom. I can set out any number of delicacies and they will spurn or ignore them completely. Even the addition of one of their old litter boxes has not given them any sense of security.

The worst offender has been Pumpkin, oddly enough. I had no idea that he had become such a coward. When brought here alone, he wailed horribly even though I held him and caressed him constantly. Any noise at all, whether the firing up of the air conditioner in the wall or a tiny sound when the house shifted sent him into a paroxym of terror.

After an hour of complete and unrelenting agony for both of us, I surrendered to his stubborn fears and took him downstairs again.

This morning, I had to clean one of the Tiny Babies in the half-bath on the same floor as the kitchen. After doing so, I left her here while I fetched Ash, her father. Ash, who once was so paranoid that he feared his own newborn offspring, now demonstrates far more calmness than most of my feline family. He was one of the first to be brought to the kitchen as well when the door closed behind the owner. Yet, when little Iseult of the White Paw began to wail, he joined her in a duet.

The entire day has been spent with this sort of nonsense. After importing Apollodoro once Iseult and Ash became inured to the new space, I decided to bring Pumpkin back for an encore. Once again, his piteous wails rose to the heavens...

I took him into the little half-bath for a combing and while on my lap there, he became still at last. When I began to carry him back to the kitchen, he leapt from my arms to race back into the bathroom. The three other Cats followed with lightning speed.

The half-bath is far smaller than the ordinary space in which they live. There is no room in there even to swing the proverbial cat. All four Cats packed themselves into the room like sardines and for the first time in two days, they looked utterly content.

I surrendered and left them there. I think part of the struggle, apart from the terror, was due to the natural stubborn nature of the Cat. They are not obedient. They do things in their own way, in their own time.

Here comes Ash at last, sauntering out of the tiny water closet to leapt onto the chair next to mine. He is licking my hand now... No doubt the others, discovering that they have won a great victory against me, will follow sooner or later. By that time, however, I shall be obliged to take them downstairs again so we all can go to bed for the night.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Leo's Little Shadow

Time moves too quickly sometimes. The Tiny Babies, born on 24 April, are three months old. It is time for them to go to new homes, to embark upon the great adventure of life.

They have reached an age where they are filled with energy and a sense of boundless curiosity. They investigate everything, using all of their senses. Sniffing, batting, biting and licking every new object encountered, they still are very dependent emotionally on their older siblings and their mother, Beauty.

It amazes me how much a Kitten from one litter may resemble a brother or sister from another litter. This little one looks so much like Leo when he was the same age. They have the same almost cross-eyed Siamese gaze which none of the other Kittens have.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Little Dauphin and the power of Genetics


I have talked to parents who have more than one child and inevitably, they admit that there usually is one who is the real favourite, however much the best parents strive mightily to conceal it or repress it. Certainly, where my Cats are concerned, i have loved all of them, but in any litter, one or two will touch the heart to elicit a deeper or more poignant response.

In both of her litters, Beauty had one Marmalade Kitten. In the first, it was Pumpkin, aka Dandelion. In the second, it was the little Dauphin Soleil, so called because his older sibling would have seniority. Pumpkin's colour changed completely as the months passed. His fur now is tawny rather than orange, with only the faintest trace of any markings. Little Dauphin at three months still is fiercely orange.

It is not for their colour, however, that I felt a particular love for these kittens, but for their personalities. Mind you, although the other kittens quickened different emotional responses in me, those responses were no less profound.

The two Marmalade Kittens are very different in personality. Pumpkin was a watchful kitten, even when he was a month old. He would look up at me, head slightly tilted and watch me thoughtfully, even when his siblings would greet me boisterously, clamouring for attention and food. Pumpkin never ignored me, but he would remain wherever he had been when I entered the room and yet, head tilted a little, look up at me searchingly, fixing his entire attention upon me. As soon as I touched him, he would begin to purr...

When I lived in Manhattan, a close friend of many years adopted a couple of my Cats and he called one of them his Shaman for exhibiting similar characteristics. For whatever reason, Pumpkin no longer fixes his gaze upon me as completely, possibly because of the atmosphere of utter chaos that reigns with the five Tiny Babies underfoot. He still is the only Cat who does not clamour for food or attention, preferring to watch from a distance, to trust me to deliver whatever he needs and he still will purr as soon as he feels my hand upon him.

The Tiny Baby who resembles him most physically shares the same sweet trusting disposition. He is far more athletic than his older brother, but he shares the trait of purring as soon as I touch him. He is utterly perfect physically and emotionally and utterly lovable. Of all the Tiny Babies, apart from his little sister, Iseult of the White Paw, he is the one who will be most difficult to surrender to the care of another.

Iseult of the White Paw and her sister are the two Tiny Babies who differ physically from all the Puttikins. They have the most extraordinary markings. I originally thought they would be Blue-Cream Persians, which would be a throwback to one of their grandparents. Instead, they have red as well as white in their fur and are more like Calico Cats. It is little Iseult, the 'runt' of the litter, who pulls at my heartstrings. Her sister, very similar in appearance, may hold slightly more promise of extraordinary beauty, but is far more certain of herself and far more aggressive. Tiny Iseult looks up at me as though begging me to care for her.

The most incredible thrill in the world is that of watching the wonders of Nature unfold. Although I would not have wished for another litter of kittens, still, experiencing the birth of new life is one of the great joys in existence, and especially when every new life is a kitten. Physically exquisite, emotionally responsive, filled with curiosity and love: how could a person NOT respond to these tiny creatures?

When I think of the people who could drown a litter of newborn kittens, throwing them into a sack and letting their lives be snuffed out without a moment's hesitation, it makes my blood run cold. I have studied humankind and I have studied felines and between the two, Cats are more deserving of life and our protection, in all honesty. The sort of perverted, hothouse sadism and selfishness that is exhibited again and again by humans is seldom found among Cats. Even when neglected or treated badly by a former owner, a Cat usually will come to respond to kindness and love in time...

When a Cat is feral, moreover, that is no more than the cat's natural instincts for self-preservation and not a desire to interfere in the lives of humans in any way.

But enough of these gloomy musings! The photographs here show little Dauphin Soleil playing with Osiris' favourite toy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cat Lady Award


While working on a little Guide for Farmville, a very popular Facebook game or 'app' as they refer to them, I won an Award for brushing my virtual Cat a specific number of times. Any act performed with respect to an Animal in Farmville, whether it is that of collecting Eggs from a Chicken, Calming a Bull or Brushing a Cat or Llama, is 'harvesting'.

In any case, having received the Award, I felt it might be appropriate to post it here, as I quickly have become a 'Cat Lady' in reality, with Beauty's incredible fertility...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Gala Morning Ballet

In response to every one's questions, sadly the answer is: 'No.' No, I have not sold off any of the Tiny Babies yet. I need to create an actual 'selling page' I expect, where they are shown in all of their beauty, with their pedigrees displayed. My own photographs are less than satisfactory and I await another photographer who has made a number of dates she yet has to keep.

In any case, the first visit of the morning to the Cats' bathroom always is somewhat of an ordeal for me as I never know how much havoc will have resulted from my very few 'off-duty' hours in the wee hours of the morning when I finally catch a little sleep.

I suppose I should not have been surprised when the heady odours of the litter boxes attracted a fly this morning. He must have entered the chamber when I did, but I had not seen nor heard any evidence of his existence until then.

As I began my seemingly endless (and often thankless) task of clearing out the litter boxes, I suddenly realised that the attention of every single Cat, young, younger and older, was fixed upon a single object. At the same time, I became conscious of a loud buzzing. In the small room, the sound of the buzzing was amplified a hundredfold. Every head was turned towards the same small object, a Fly that careened from wall to wall, obviously aware of the terrible error of judgement it had made when it followed me into the feline chambre de toilette.

What followed then was one of the most entertaining examples of performance theatre I have ever experienced. While the Fly performed increasingly desperate and wild manoeuvres to escape its fate, 11 heads continued to follow its movements. Cats are not like humans in this respect. When their eyes follow a moving object, their heads follow it as well. I would have to research the reason for this. It seems that they COULD watch an object simply by moving their eyes from side to side. After all, their eyes are similar to ours in that they both face the front, unlike the eyes of a cow, horse or bird. In any case, the eleven heads turned, the Fly's movements became increasingly drunken as it crashed from wall to wall while its buzzing became more hypnotic, rather like the vuvuzela horns that are so much a constant counterpoint to the 2010 World Cup games.

By the time I realised that I ought to capture the performance on video, it had ended abruptly and rather mysteriously. Did one particularly dexterous and intrepid Putti catch the Fly? Was it devoured in an instant? Did it die of sheer fatigue and, having perished, no longer interest the Cats? Or, horrible thought, did it somehow find an escape route through a crack in the door or dilapidated wainscoting?
I missed the last act of this particular drama...

When the buzzing ceased and the Dance of the Fly ended, the audience broke up and, like any audience at a performance, its members went their separate ways. The Tiny Babies with their insatiable taste for entertainment, attempted to find a substitute, but the little gaily-coloured plastic balls containing small bells that usually delighted and excited them, failed to move them now. They batted a couple of them about in a desultory manner before abandoning them in the middle of the floor...

I suspect that their toys never again will have the allure they once possessed. Having witnessed a live performance, nothing ever will be quite equal to THAT.

A final thought: The fact that the flight of the Fly continued for about ten minutes does not reflect positively upon the hunting abilities of the De Conde Cats. My Cats never, never have been heroes where the world of Nature is concerned. When Leo first was confronted by the sight of Kiffle, a little trembling Chinchilla, he exhibited a degree of terror suited more to the sight of a Monster in a horror film than a small, caged rodent. (In fact, he soiled himself! I hesitate to publish the humiliating fact, but it is so unbelievable...)

In another stunning example of the cowardice of the De Conde Cats, the patriarch of the family, Ashleigh Attila lived in abject terror of his own offspring for two and a half months! So deep was his fear that he actually lost weight because he was too terrified to move past them to his food. I had to hand-feed him...

Like all Cats who cohabit with human beings, mine trust me to exhibit the powers of a god or goddess and no doubt they believe that I could organise a repeat performance by the Acrobatic Fly. In all honesty, I actually am rather surprised that this was the first example of the species they ever encountered. It has to be a tribute to my unrelenting menial service in clearing the litter boxes. No wonder I am exhausted all the time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Beauty's Mothering Instincts with a Fox

It annoys me when toys are marketed as pet-specific and especially in the case of a group of toys called Skinneeez. They are plush toys without any stuffing, making them flat and lightweight. They are advertised as toys for dogs, but when I first clapped eyes on a flat plush fox hanging from a peg in the local market, I knew that my cats would love it. In fact, it is their favourite toy and has been carried about by cats of every age and size, from the patriarch Ashleigh to the Tiny Babies. It is twice the size of a Tiny Baby and yet I have seen them dragging it about in their teeth.

The Fox has two squeakers, one in his head and one in his tail but this aspect of the toy must be more attractive to Dogs as my cats never have squeezed the toy in the manner required to make it squeak. They do enjoy it immensely when I produce a solo performance from the Fox by squeezing it and waving it in the air.

This brief tale, however, is not about the Fox as a toy but about my sweet Beauty, who has been struggling to regain her strength after having two litters of Kittens within the space of five months.

About a month ago, when the Tiny Babies were only a month old, she became too weak to nurse them, so I took over the task, using KMR and Cat Milk. It was exhausting but very satisfying as the little babies began to view me as a mother, and to look up to me literally when I entered, their tiny little heart-shaped faces both trusting and demanding, clamouring loudly for food until I met their needs.

Within the last week, however, Beauty has regained enough strength apparently to WANT to nurse her babies again. They have moved on, however, at this point, to water and dry food, although I continue to supplement their meals with a bit of Cat Milk and KMR. Most of the time, I give that to Beauty now.

In any case, Beauty would call to them with that wonderfully poignant mother's voice and wait for them to come to her. Sometimes they all would respond. Sometimes, only one or two would respond. Annoyingly, the Puttikins were as likely to respond as the tiny kittens! More than once, I had to scold a Puttkin, now far larger than his mother, for nursing contentedly at poor Beauty's breast. I understand that it is comforting BUT...

Yesterday, though, I was witness to a rather heart-wrenching event. Beauty began to call out to her babies, but they all ignored her, as they were quite involved with their own version of the World Cup. She then found the Fox and, taking it in her mouth gently as though it were a kitten, she bore it off to the little cat carrier that I transformed into a nursery when the kittens were newborns. She then lay with it inside the carrier, grooming it and talking to it, making those throaty little maternal sounds that she makes when her real kittens are nursing. It was very touching, rather bizarre and kind of sad. I never saw anything like it before, although I have been midwife and caretaker (shan't use the word 'owner') to many queens in the past. Poor darling Beauty. She loves being a mother but I cannot allow it to occur again. It would kill her and possibly kill me as well!

P.S. I highly recommend the Fox Skinneeez as a gift for any Cat, but must warn that they are not inexpensive. Nonetheless, they are extremely durable and ours has lasted through more abuse than any other cat toy in the house. Toys with stuffing tend to break open at some point, losing bits of their innards. Where cats are concerned, they often devour the bits that come out of the 'animal' and then bring it up later. This is not pleasant for any one. The Skinneeez toys obviously are a solution to this problem as they have no stuffing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Majestic Cupid

My pride and joy, Majestic Cupid, who rather fancies his position beneath the curtains.

Below, the two tiny Girls, whom I had thought would be Blue Cream Persians like their grandmother. In fact, they promise to be rather unique, as there is red and gold in their colouring as well as the cream and blue. They will be absolutely gorgeous. The larger female will have very long hair and be very fluffy, like Cupid. The smaller female may be more like her mother, Beauty, with long sleek hair.

I only realised this after I gave the smallest female a bath, thinking that the darker colouring on her forehead was dried milk... but it did not wash out and when I brought her into the light, I realised it was the same colour as the 'points' on her two colourpoint male Himalayan brothers. They will be Flamepoints like their older siblings, Cupid, Leo and Adoro. Hence the addition of a portrait of Cupid above. The colour of his ears, face masque, tail and feet makes him a Flamepoint.

The smallest female is the tiniest kitten in the litter, but the most intrepid. It appears that, in this, the feline world resembles human society, where the smallest, most delicate creature compensate for their size with enormous heart and courage. She has absolutely no fear of anything. When I set her on the table for a photograph, she leapt off the table instantly, while her sister sat rather demurely in perfect position. She then proceeded to dash round the room a few times. The kitchen is not large in human terms, but for a kitten of her size, has to be tantamount to Grand Central Station. Yet, she had no qualms whatsoever and set forth into the unknown without hesitation.

I am very excited now to see how the little girls develop in the next couple of weeks. I never have encountered this colouring before. I daresay there will be some white but what appears rather dirty white at the moment will darken into reddish-gold or true red.

I named the tiniest girl Iseult because she has one white paw and that brings to mind 'Iseult of the White Hands' from the legend of Tristan and Iseult. I only hope her life will be a happier one. Tristan never loved the 'second' Iseult, remaining hopelessly enchanted by the original Iseult who was the wife of his liege Mark. Poor Iseult of the White Hands loved him truly and loyally stood by him. On his deathbed, he called for the other Iseult...

I have called the larger girl Lyonesse for her wonderful lion's mane, even though female lions or lionesses do not have manes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Enormous Accomplishment: The Puttikins are LEASHED!!!

It made me sad every time I looked at the harness and leash that I bought for Lionheart and which he never once used. Lionheart was rather feral, although he actually had been born in the house. I had persuaded his Mum to come inside to have her litter, but she was rather wild herself and broke the screen to get out, rather than using the litter box after her babies were born. I found homes for the others but kept little Lionheart, little knowing his spirit never would be tamed.

I loved Lionheart dearly but he fought me literally tooth and nail and often for no apparent reason. I had to refuse emergency treatment for a deep bite once because they wouldn't treat me unless I surrendered the address of the cat who bit me, to 'put him down'. Obviously I was not about to place Lionheart's life in the balance over a bite, however nasty. I purchased otc antibiotics and ultimately the swelling subsided and the hand healed.

Near the end of his life, I was able to keep him on my lap for half an hour sometimes, but when I attempted to give him the harness, he literally climbed the walls in a panic.

The Puttikins, on the other hand, are quite different. Himalayans and Persians tend to be very relaxed cats for a start. Even so, I had expected a little recalcitrance
from them when I first introduced the harness today... but there was none whatsoever from any of the four, even Mish Mish, who was a little terrified.

Cupid was the first to try the harness and leash and the first to walk on the deck outside the kitchen. He loved it! Actually, he was not much of a walker at all. He stretched out on the deck and played with the leash, a fallen leaf and a broken branch. It was scruffy little Leo who surprised me with his adventurous nature. He was everywhere, up the ladder, onto the deck chairs. He put his head outside the deck railing and I almost feared he would leap off the deck at one point. He had absolutely no fear. Tail waving proudly, he exhausted me quickly with his perambulations.

Mish Mish, my little Pumpkin (I don't know how one can be both a Pumpkin and an Apricot, but perhaps Louis who invented the Tranformer 3 in HoLV could demonstrate)did not enjoy his outing at all. It was he who surprised me with his terror. He is the most mischievous of cats in the nursery on his own home turf, but when I took him onto the deck, he began to tremble violently and wail piteously. I tried to encourage him but to no avail, so I gave his 'slot' to Adoro.

Adoro loves to sit in my lap on the deck. He has been outside in that fashion more often than any other Cat but never allowed to touch his paws to the deck floor. Although he rather enjoyed a desultory ramble, he was not that bothered. Secretly, I was pleased, as I have to have ONE lap cat!

The harness is very clever and I would recommend it to any one who, like me, never would allow a cat outdoors freely because of the dangers of traffic and so on. It is adjustable and although it fits snugly, distributes the weight along the back and stomach rather than the neck. Cats tend to want to take charge and they basically have YOU on the leash rather than the other way round, but you always simply can scoop them up into your arms if they won't be persuaded to take the direction you want them to take.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Time Flies... the Tiny Babies Explore their World

Born on 24 April, the weeks have flown by so quickly that I did not realise the new Kittens actually were annoyed by the restraints under which they lived. My greatest concern had been Beauty, who appeared weakened by the constant demands that her children made upon her. I therefore plied her with Cat Milk and KMR... and fed it to the smallest of the kittens as well.

When all the Kittens howled angrily at me whenever I entered their universe, I thought it was hunger that motivated them. Little did I realise that they ALL were ready for big changes.

I removed the box that had been their nest a few days ago, after a struggle with Beauty... she kept taking ONE kitten out of the box and stashing it in the tiny cat carrier that had been her second nest for them. It is interesting to realise now that the kitten she chose was the largest one, not the smallest. In fact, she was trying to acknowledge his need for independence rather than attempting to find another nest.

At the point when I removed the box, I was feeding the smallest kittens a couple of times each day with a feeding syringe. After all the kittens showed signs of interest in the Cat Milk, I began to try to teach them to drink from a bowl. Some were quicker to grasp the system than others. A couple of them continued to try to bite the edge of the bowl, vainly attempting to find a nipple where none existed and becoming quite cross when none materialised.

I had placed another large box behind the scratching post some time ago. Ash liked it and tended to crawl into it when the antics of the Puttikins proved too much for him. I did not realise that the tiny kittens were using it as a secret lavatory until yesterday. I cleaned it out and placed fresh cardboard on the bottom of it last night. This morning, however, Mish-Mish, one of the Puttikins, SAT in it. Utterly insane and quite disgusting. I immediately demolished THAT box and seeing that the tiny kittens had some notion of the purpose of a litter box, filled the small litter box and placed it there instead.

As all the Cat Milk was gone, I had to make an emergency run for supplies. I decided to buy Kitten Chow as well. About half of the kittens immediately began to eat it. No grace nor elegance, but what a fabulous accomplishment! Unfortunately, as I had predicted, the Puttikins went for it as well. It reminds me of older children who decide that THEY want a bottle when a younger sibling arrives on the scene. Actually, I have found Adoro more than once ensconced between two of his tiny siblings, happily nursing... I had to scold him firmly as Beauty certainly does not have milk nor strength to spare for a five month old kitten!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tiny Version of Beauty


It may be a Boy, but he is a perfect tiny version of his mother, Beauty. The two Girls resemble Ashleigh's grandmother, I believe. In fact, when I brought Ash and Beauty home, I left behind a Blue Cream Persian who was Ash's sister, I think. I have their pedigree papers somewhere.

Genetics is fascinating. With the same set of parents, the Puttikins all were either Flame Points or Marmalade with no Blue Creams, but now, in this litter, there are two Blue Cream females. Males dominate in both litters. In fact, despite my most fervent wish, Adoro is male and not the female I once thought him to be.

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, I heard the most desperate piercing wails for help from a tiny kitten. When I investigated, I discovered that Beauty FINALLY had decided to use the large box I had introduced into the nursery for her Kittens but which she had disdained for over a week. The first to go into it was the largest white male. I daresay he had escaped again from his blanket and prompted Beauty to make the move. He was the ONLY kitten in the box, which is why he was howling with loneliness and terror. I imagine she would have moved the others, but scooping them up into my arms and dumping them all into the box was the work of a moment. Beauty looked at me then as though to say, 'Well done. I knew you would do it for me if I waited...'

A brief period of spirited verbal exchanges followed. The tiny babies scrabbled about in the box, while Beauty arranged herself for their convenience and, within five minutes or so, they all were nursing happily and rather loudly.

What never ceases to amuse me but sometimes frustrates me as well, even though it really is NONE of my business, is the way two kittens will fight over the same nipple. Cats have EIGHT, don't they? And yet, over and over, two kittens will bat wildly at one another, often protesting vocally as well, determined to win one specific spot, rather than moving a little to find a free nipple. It is the two largest kittens, both of whom resemble the Puttikins and will be Flamepoints, I daresay, who jockey for position on a daily basis. The 'runt' of the litter is one of the Grey Blue Persians. She is very docile, even timid, and I find her asleep sometimes when the others are exploring their environment on their stubby little legs. I study them daily to make certain they all are eating and even she eats properly, but she still lags behind the others a little. I suppose I shouldn't worry too much. Little Mish-Mish (formerly Pumpkin) was like that once upon a time, and now he is one of the most adventurous of the Putti.

I am trying not to fall in love with this lot, as becoming so attached to all four of the Puttikins proved to be a fatal error of judgement. When Beauty delivered the two Blue Creams, I thought I would not be susceptible to them as I tend to gravitate towards cats and other creatures with symmetrical markings, although I had a Calico cat once whom I adored. I then told myself there was no need to fear the two whites as I had THREE Flamepoints in the Puttikins. That leaves the little flame male, who is far brighter and more distinctly marked than Mish Mish. It's all nonsense, of course. I'll love every one of them and want to keep every one of them but be required somehow to cut the apronstrings. It's much more difficult for me to do than it is for their REAL mother.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Honesty of Animals


(Photograph of the culprit, Adoro, originally nicknamed 'Dora the Explorer' when we thought he/she was a girl. He is much too pretty to be anything but a girl, but his gender is somewhat fixed by some little extras that appeared only recently below his tail. He still doesn't display as much evidence of masculinity in that respect as his brothers. And we WANTED a girl so badly... perhaps that was part of the problem. Anyway, Adoro is my little hermaphrodite, my Attis. And yes, his favourite place is a washbasin!)

Animals are so much more honest and unconstrained by appearance. A cat will lift her leg to clean her private parts with consummate grace and a fine lack of concern with social niceties.

The Puttikins are 5 months old now. Beauty rejected ALL of them in a very firm manner when she knew she was pregnant again. No more nursing for them! Like most children, they were almost too eager to grow up until the option to remain children was taken from them.

I think Beauty chose the tiny cat carrier as nursery for her new litter partly in order to keep the Puttikins away.

Last night, I found all her little kittens in a row nursing happily with BIG Adoro at the end of the row! When I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck to remove him, I did so with a little pang of empathy for the poor little boy. The problem is that Beauty is too weak to support HIS needs at this point in time. The idyll is ended for him and for his siblings.

Yet, that age-old desire lives within all of us, I suspect, however we choose to ignore it or sublimate it or transfer it to some act that is more 'socially acceptable'. Every Cat I ever had would revert to childhood nursing instincts at times. The Puttikins are fascinated with the buttons on one cardigan I have and go at them with enthusiasm. I know they are pretending they are nursing again. Even Beauty, two-time Mother, has moments when she wishes to curl up next to her mother and be a kitten again. As her mother is not here, she makes do with me, nudging me to try to find a way into the interior of a jacket or cardigan. She will leap onto my back and then knead the back of my neck, where the hair is thick, questing for something that does not exist.

I keep finding the largest white kitten halfway across the floor of the room. He somehow has the energy to climb over the barricade I erected in the form of a thick blanket and then to continue, slowly but methodically to an unknown destination. Only a fortnight old... where does he think he is going and what does he intend to do once he arrives? I think at this age, although their eyes are open, their vision remains poor. Yet, he is another explorer, like Adoro.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tiny Kitten goes Walkabout

The five kittens are a fortnight old now. They were more heard than seen, in opposition to the old Victorian adage as to a child's proper behaviour in the home. Recently, they had developed a wide range of vocal responses and cries and Beauty always would respond...

One Kitten in particular, the largest white one, is extremely vocal. In fact, more than once, I fancied him to be in terrible pain or danger because of the piercing, desperate quality of his cries. In fact, he simply was vocalising his need for his Mum's milk... and possibly his increasing boredom.

All five kittens were nesting in a small cat carrier which satisfied Beauty as she wanted to have total privacy. This morning, I found the large white kitten outside the little carrier, not simply next to it but on the other side of the room!

He obviously had crawled all the way across the bare floor, either on a little adventure or in search of Beauty. All the Puttikins were watching him with fascination. Beauty was ignoring him, oddly enough.

Well, I felt that was an indication that the carrier no longer served any purpose. Their eyes had opened and they now wished to see the world a little. Moreover, I wished to be able to see THEM.

I therefore moved the lot of them onto a soft blanket in a secluded corner. I then created a little wall or barricade with a heavy quilt to keep them from leaving the blanket completely.

Whether or not this will serve is questionable. So far, I have found Beauty with one baby in a couple of very cramped spaces, having abandoned the rest of the litter at least temporarily.

No space, no peace and no quiet... It has to be extremely frustrating for her.

As a litter, this second litter is very different in appearance to the Puttikins. The Puttikins consist of three Flamepoint Himalayans and one Marmalade or Tawny Persian. This litter probably will have two Flamepoints and one Flame Persian who will resemble Beauty, but the other two kittens will be Blue Cream Persians. It is amazing how the same parents can produce such a variety of children.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beauty's Hidden Treasures

With Beauty's four kittens stashed in a very small cat carrier, I do not have the ability to interact with them as I did with the Puttikins. Beauty is desperately jealous of her privacy, probably because of the incredible energy of her older children, and the best I can do without distressing her is to catch a stolen glimpse of the tiny babies from time to time.

Beauty still is very content to keep them in the small cat carrier I 'remodeled' for her. I have offered her larger areas, among them a very spacious box with comfortable bedding, but she continues to keep the little babies in the carrier.

Here is a photograph of them as they appear now, a fortnight old. I am dying to clean their little faces, but dare not interfere. Beauty kept the Puttikins immaculate, but she had more space...

The most magical part of this is to eavesdrop on her conversations with her babies. She speaks to them in so many different ways and they all respond, each with a different little voice.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

One Week Old

When Beauty had her first litter, I was very excited by the magic of it all. On 24 April, she had her second litter. Although I cannot help but love all cats and kittens, I was a little upset that she had become pregnant so quickly after the first litter.

It is a very different situation for her as well, with her first offspring racing about like juvenile delinquents. There is very little privacy. I could see that she was extremely uncomfortable but in a fairly limited amount of space, I had to be very inventive.

She had the first kitten near dawn, after I had fallen asleep. When I went into the room to feed the cats their breakfast, they behaved oddly. Usually they purr wildly when they see me, and focus on the food in my hands.

On 24 April, they were a bit distracted... I did not understand this until I heard a very high-pitched little cry. Beauty was out and about so I had to search a bit before I found the baby. She had stashed it in the back of a little carpeted 'cave' that I bought for the kittens. The tiny baby was in there with Adoro. Evidently, it seemed like the safest, most concealed spot as far as Beauty was concerned.

I tried to set up a large box but the Putti were too fascinated with that and transformed it instantly into a playpen. I finally took out an old carrier that had a steel barred door. I took the carrier to pieces, removing the metal door, then fastened it together again without the door.

As small and cramped as it appeared to be for Beauty, she is content there for the time being. She could not deliver her litter in that cramped space, but she nurses her five kittens there and they are safe from the wild romps of their older siblings.

Even though they have the same mother and father, two members of the new litter are completely different in appearance. There are two Blue-Cream Persians, one Flame kitten quite like Beauty herself and two colourpoints who resemble the Puttikins. I have had little opportunity to look at them properly as Beauty still is very protective of them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Puttikins Organise their own Egg Hunt

On Easter Sunday, I was relegated to the position of an adult who had to pretend not to be interested in the Egg Hunt for the other guests who were aged 10 and less. Easter is one of my favourite holidays and I love all of the traditional symbols of the festival, including the gaily painted eggs that are hidden throughout the garden.

Well, I should not have envied the children. There is a saying to the effect that you should be very careful what you wish. I had my own Egg Hunt today.

I created a basket for the Puttikins for Easter, filling plastic eggs with Cat Treats and adding a soft toy and some soft balls. It was a great success, although this year's plastic eggs were superior to those of previous years and could not be opened by any of the Cats without human help.

The cats are not allowed in the kitchen ordinarily as it is shared with other people who would frown upon their presence and indeed their existence. Today, as I was the only person in the house, I took them into the Kitchen for an encore of the Egg Hunt, filling the eggs again with treats.

They always have boundless energy, but when they find themselves in a fairly large space like the kitchen, they become almost insanely hyperactive. When they finally exhausted themselves and overturned a music stand, scattering sheet music everywhere, exhumed every scrap of dust from every hidden nook and corner and dragged an old pair of shoes out from God knows where, I took them back to their own room.

When I returned to the kitchen to tidy up the mess, I could not see ANY of their Easter Eggs anywhere. As some of them still were filled with Cat Treats, I had to find them or else be forced potentially to explain the contents somehow. A cunning Easter Rabbit could not have hidden them more cleverly than the Puttikins. It took me half an hour to find all of them. No prize for doing so except that of not being obliged to worry about the consequences of a non-Putti finding a wayward treat-filled egg.

What is ironic is that, with a basket filled with plastic eggs that rolled beautifully, the Puttikins managed to find a small cap from a spray bottle somewhere in the kitchen and THAT became their favourite toy. Yes, they scattered the eggs everywhere and 'lost' each of them but the little plastic cap was the hit of the day.

When will parents ever learn the lesson that children, whether human or feline, do not require expensive playthings but can be perfectly content with a stick, a chunk of wood or a scrap of fabric? Imagination is the greatest gift of all and is the birthright of every child. (That... and the sense of mischief that is a dubious blessing for the adults who are 'in charge' of caring for the children.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Exquisite Adonis...


Originally nicknamed 'Dora the Explorer' for her sense of curiosity and willingness to explore any and every environment, the fourth Puttikin almost certainly is male, making this a litter entirely devoid of females.

I have given him a temporary name of Adonis, simply because he is the most exquisite kitten I ever have seen, held or owned. His fur is softer and silkier than that of his littermates. His eyes are almond-shaped and tilted slightly, making them more beautiful. He is utterly exceptional in physical appearance. In personality, he is not as winsome or loving as Leo and Cupid, nor as enigmatic as Pumpkin. He certainly has his own charm, however.

The little carpet-covered pillar has been extremely successful. I need another one. In a fairly small space, it is important to include interesting furniture at different levels. Cats are 'social' animals and love the company of their own family and loved ones, but they need peace and quiet sometimes as well. The little cave beneath the pillar and the rooftop circle both are used constantly. The other post is not quite as popular. The box in which it was packed is considered as desirable by the cats as the actual post.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Four Puttikins Caught for an Instant

It becomes increasingly difficult to capture the kittens in a decent photograph. Their energy always appeared to be boundless but now they are constantly in motion when I am in their presence.

They have developed extraordinary talents as pickpockets as well. Whenever I wear any garment that contains pockets, they slip a paw or two effortlessly into those pockets to remove the contents one by one. They dip into the pockets again and again until they have emptied them, bearing off their booty in the form of paper hankies, plastic wrappers from sweeties and bits of paper. No matter what the object, it is a toy in their hands and they explore it from every angle, nibbling at it, biting it, hurling it across the floor or into the air. In fact, they are so terribly disappointed when I wear clothing without pockets that I now am condemned to an eternal fate as a spurious 'bag lady', wearing four pairs of trousers to prevent injury when they climb my legs and old cardigans or jackets with capacious pockets so they can steal from me.

I was able to take one photograph of the four kittens as they paused for a moment before they prepared to mount a new assault on my pockets.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Typical Fine Disregard for Form and Function

Beauty has been rather poorly lately and I did not know if it were physiological or psychological or both. It seemed to me that her Kittens had become far too aggressive and active for her. She tended to look in vain for a hiding place from them and would discourage any playful attempts to involve her in rambunctious wrestling.

At the same time, I knew how she felt as my legs were used constantly as climbing poles and scratching posts. I realised I had to make some radical changes.

I began to search for a scratching post that would substitute for my legs. I found one that had a little platform on top, which I thought would be of additional benefit in expanding their small playroom.

The box, when it arrived, was enormous but not the least bit heavy. It proved to contain a vast amount of packing material cradling a fairly small box. The box was rather narrow as well, and obviously could not contain the same item I had seen in the photograph... of course, it contained all the pieces of the scratching post and I was supposed to assemble them.

Two long, fat screws were the main coupling devices. Without any tools, I managed somehow to put it all together. On the little platform, the exposed top of the screw was fitted with a little plastic button to prevent Cats from being injured on the rather hard metal surface.

Rather to my disappointment, the entire edifice was no more than 12 inches tall. Not much of a scratching post... but I could not have afforded anything more expensive in any event.

Initially, none of the cats displayed any interest in their new furniture. Instead, they concentrated on the narrow, empty box that had contained the pieces. This box was only four inches high at best, but before I could remove it from the room, 1 Cat and 3 Kittens had squeezed into it! Meanwhile, Ash and the remaining Kitten were teasing the inhabitants of the box. They were having such a jolly time of it that I decided to let them keep it. I picked up the box that still, amazingly, contained four felines and carried it to the place that the 'birthing box' had occupied. That original box was in such a tattered and battered state that its removal was long overdue in any case.

Sooner or later, I knew that some one would take an interest in the new platform. Leo was the first. Rather than exploring the carpeted platform or scratching post, he concentrated exclusively on the screw. After a moment, I realised he was chewing something with total abandon. I couldn't imagine what it was, but soon discovered he had removed the plastic button that covered the head of the screw and was busy devouring it. (No wonder these kittens have digestive problems!) I took it from him, naturally, and disposed of it permanently. So much for a device that was intended to make their environment safer!

He then began to attack the metal head of the screw... I have studied cats for a long time so I should not be surprised by any of this. They are the most independent, stubborn creatures, determined to do everything in their own fashion. How could I have imagined that they would have used the scratching post and platform as they were designed to be used??? Now they have transformed the platform into a sort of merry-go-round similar to those found on children's playgrounds. One kitten will take hold of one side with his claws and move it round in a circle, loosening the screw that holds it in place with each turn. Others may join him on the ride, lending the weight of their bodies to cause it to move faster. I can see that tightening the screw will be a daily task.

Finally, they still climb my legs. I really had hoped finally to be able to eschew the heavy old tattered velvet trousers that were my best protection from their claws, but no such luck...