Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dandelions, Cotton Wool Drumsticks and Sweetie Wrappers

There are all sorts of names for the three little colourpoint kittens, but the marmalade or flame male is more difficult. I thought of naming him Firestar in homage to the 'Warriors' series but I am not certain it suits him. I was watching a rather twisted British television series entitled 'Trinity' with a nasty secret society called the 'Dandelion Club'. The name naturally was a play on the word 'Dandy', as the members dressed in old-fashioned splendour of tails and top hats, but... I suddenly thought Dandelion might be a wonderful name for the marmalade kitten... Will think upon it and see if he responds to it at all.

Meanwhile, any thought that adult Cats might be more responsible than their young offspring has shot right out of the window with the events of the past twenty-four hours.

Beauty always has been fascinated with 'Q-tips', little drumsticks with cotton wool on either end, used primarily to clean ears. The 'sticks' appear to be made of cardboard or something similar rather than real wood. I use them to clean the Cats' ears and each time I have done so, Beauty has tried to take them from me. Not being successful, she then searches for the pile of used sticks and while I am busy with her brother's ears, carries one off triumphantly. I always have taken her trophy from her before anything dangerous could occur, but yesterday, while cleaning the ears of all the kittens, Beauty managed to steal one and before I could wrest it from her, bit it in half and swallowed her half!

A few hours later, she suffered from the most dire indigestion. I almost thought I would be forced to take her to a veterinarian for prohibitively expensive emergency weekend treatment. Fortunately, the pains abated. Alas, she has not learned her lesson. This morning, while resuming my cleaning session with her kittens, she attempted to find the pile of discarded sticks. I am more wary now and throw each one into a locked receptacle immediately after use.

Meanwhile, while I was concentrating on the kittens, Ashleigh found the wrapper from a sweetie in one of my pockets and bore it off with great satisfaction. Before I could reach him, he had begun the process of eating it. Chewing away busily, I yet was able to insert my finger in his mouth and find it halfway down his throat. God only knows what THAT would have done to his internal system.

Cats are able to process many foreign objects. Their ability to cough up enormous hairballs proves that their systems are ingenious, to say the least. On the other hand, I am too bound to my Cats emotionally to deal with the anxiety these peculiar snacks create.

Beauty's bizarre behaviour in leaping onto my back so that she can perch on the back of my neck to paw through and lick my hair has not ceased either. It is most uncomfortable but it is something she has done from our first meeting. I have tried to discourage the practice in vain. Yesterday, however, while she was breathing heavily and obviously in some distress, I found myself vowing to myself, that should she recover properly, I would allow her to sit on my head again!

I did not expect her recovery to be so quick, though. This morning, she had recovered to the point where she leapt from the floor onto my back and then to her favourite spot at the base of my neck to burrow into my hair. I suppose if she is displaying a keen interest both in the cotton wool sticks and high places, she IS recovered from whatever ailed her yesterday afternoon. I really do think that swallowing half a stick with cotton wool at the end has to have been the cause. It brings to mind the old adage that: 'Curiosity killed the Cat.' I hope to God it never will, but certainly there are some narrow escapes from time to time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kittens on Display

Here is a current photograph of the Kittens as they appear when I interrupt their afternoon nap simply by entering the room. They are so attuned to me that they instantly awaken.

I had forgotten how extreme the behaviour of children (both human and feline) can be, how they swing wildly from frenetic activity to total exhaustion. Usually, my entrance is the cue for them to begin playing. They do nothing halfway. WHen they play, their energy is boundless. They tend to try to do things that are beyond their capacity, like climbing the walls (literally). They are endlessly entertaining but they leave a trail of destruction in their wake. They play and I have to tidy up after they race through their food dishes, splash through their water and overturn anything that they can manage to tip over.

The kitten stretching on the far left is the only female in the litter. The kitten to the right of her is the smaller male. The flamepoint on the far right in the northeast corner is the one who has been dubbed 'Leo.' He is the fluffiest in the litter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It is Time to Name the Kittens

A name can have sacred powers. It can refer to character, to the circumstances of birth or simply be a favourite on the part of the person who bestows the name. In many ancient cultures, individuals have at least two names. One was a 'public' name, known to all and the other was secret, known only to a few greatly trusted individuals.

At 6 weeks of age, the Kittens have developed their own appearance and their own individual personalities. It is time to name them. Even if a couple of them go to other homes, they should do so with names that have been bestowed by me. Their new owners can give them new names, of course, but I feel it would be wrong for them to remain nameless until then.

Here are their descriptions:

The largest, fluffiest flamepoint kitten is a male and I intended to name him Attila, as he fit that name far better than his father, who was given the name originally. Some one else saw him and instantly gave him the name Leonardo. As the short form of Leonardo is Leo, signifying Lion, it seems apt, so perhaps he HAS a name now or two names if he is to inherit Attila as well.

His female littermate is the most adventurous of the four and some one who met her at the same time she met Leo declared she should be named Dora for the popular character in 'Dora the Explorer'. I wouldn't mind the name if an 'A' were affixed to the beginning to change it to Adora, as she is a lover as well as an intrepid explorer. She takes after Ash in that way, licking my face whenever I hold her. Should she be Adora or Adorata?

The third kitten resembles Leo but his points are lighter. Rather than being a definite flamepoint, his points almost are peach-colourerd. He is a little less aggressive than his brother, Leo, but not as 'watchful' as Firestar. His claim to fame at the moment is being the first kitten to catch the 'mouse' toy! He is very good at it and obviously enjoys playing with the toy, as he goes to it repeatedly to toss it into the air, then carry it off to a hiding place.

There is one little flame kitten, who is smaller than the others, more thoughtful and watchful. He exploded into action during the past two days, but before then, he was the one who simply gazed up at me and watched me, who sat still while the others explored and watched THEM. Now he is as active as his littermates, training in battle moves and exploring every source of food, drink or amusement. I tentatively named him Firestar after the Leader of the Thundercats in the Warriors series by Erin Hunter as he LOOKS like Firestar. Moreover, Firestar began his life as a kittypet and only slowly learned how to fight and fend for his Clan.

If any one has suggestions, please feel free to post them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mayor Breakthrough! A Proud Mother Applauds!

The Warriors series by Erin Hunter is a major tour de force in the world of children's literature. The 'Warriors' are cats and the series describes the life of cats who belong to various clans. The perspective is strictly feline. Humans are called 'Twolegs' and cats that do not belong to any of the Clans are referred to as 'rogues'. The euphemism employed for cats who perform the normal function of elimination is called 'making dirt. Well, this morning, two of my kittens 'made dirt' for the first time in the litter box! Oh happy day! Perhaps I no longer will be treated to the discovery of little hidden 'treasures' in their bedding. Actually, I do not expect instant compliance with the regulations of civilisation by all four kittens, but I was thrilled by the quick comprehension of the two I monitored.

Beauty had nothing whatsoever to do with THIS. My morning ritual with the Cats has changed radically now that all four escape from their playpen immediately when I arrive. They are willing to eat and drink ANYTHING, and are as happy to sample the water bowl and food bowl of their parents as they are to drink or eat from their own dishes, even though the 'adult' feeding station is too high for them to reach. They simply find a way to climb and then eat while their little back legs dangle! It is such an amusing sight.

In any case, after the usual pandemonium of kittens tracking food and Catmilk all over the floor, combining early warrior training with their breakfast, I returned all four to the playpen/bed, hoping they would settle with their mother. I suppose I should not have been surprised when two of the kittens instantly ran to the eastern boundary of the bed, designated by them as their 'dirt place'. Seeing this, I promptly deposited one in the smallest litter box, where I had placed some of their little 'treasures' previously in order to show them its function.

The little kitten promptly 'made dirt' in the box without any preliminaries. His sibling was scratching in the eastern border of the bed, so I transferred her to the litter box. She had a completely different ritual. Like an adult cat, she scratched and created a deep hole in the litter before she 'made dirt'. No parent could have been prouder (and more relieved!). Now it remains to teach the other two.

It is amazing how kittens from the same litter can be so different even from birth. Two girls who met them immediately named the two most adventurous kittens Leonardo and Dora, but as I did not name them, those names are not official. The reason for the name of 'Dora' was 'Dora the Explorer'. I probably will affix an 'A' to it to make the name a bit more elegant and she will be Adora, although I daresay Dora will stick as a nickname. 'Leo' seems apt for the largest cat, although I had intended to give him the name of Attila, as he fits it far better than his father, Ashleigh Attila.

In any case, it was this pair who first mastered the art of eating solid food, of drinking from a bowl and now, of 'making dirt' in a litter box. In fact, they were the first to make dirt without help from their mother. My personal favourite, as usual, is the 'runt' of the litter, the flame-coloured male who is slightly smaller and more docile than his littermates. He is not too far behind the others, however, as he now can escape from the playpen, and I found him hanging from the adult feeding station yesterday.

All in all, a morning feeding ritual that once took half an hour at most now can occupy almost two hours. There is the Greeting ritual, where I must have each of the parents in turn on my lap, followed by each of the Kittens. Then there is the Setting of the Tables, where I must use ingenuity and every dish I can find to dispense wet food, adult dry food, kitten dry food (thanks, Mars!), Catmilk and Water in various locations, so that the more aggressive diners cannot monopolise the food or Milk. I have to supervise this now, as Kittens tend to romp OVER the plates, tracking milk and food everywhere...

Once the breakfast is somewhat concluded, I have to tidy up both kittens and floor before rounding them all up and depositing them again in the playpen/bed. This morning, the litter box ritual was added. I now will have to spend more time waiting for the Kittens to decide they wish to make dirt, so that I can make certain they go to the litter box instead of the eastern border of the bedding!

Sadly, I did not have my camera when I saw two of the Kittens hanging perilously from the adult feeding station this morning, sampling their parent's dry food, but I did manage to take a photograph of Beauty with her little son as he sampled the same food, eschewing the kitten dish and kitten food in favour of his parents' fare.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Den of Kittens

The Kittens, born on 2 December 2009, now are almost six weeks old and suddenly have exploded into action. They are curious about everything. They leap and run, try to eat anything and everything within reach, groom themselves (rather poorly but it's a valiant effort) and train with their siblings.

What amazes me is the affection that they appear to have for me. As soon as they see me, they begin to clamour for my attention. Basically, it is neither food nor drink that they seek from me, but the simple act of being held. It is very gratifying. If Beauty were a negligent mother, I might expect them to have a strong emotional bond with me, but she has been an exemplary mother. I therefore perceive their affection for me as a bonus, something unearned but much treasured. It is now that I actually begin to EARN it, hwoever, as I am forced to clean their little messes, change their bedding and otherwise guide them towards independence.

Monday, January 4, 2010


At the start of a new year, the four Kittens have developed new awareness and a heightened sense of adventure.

They were born on 2 December and thus are a month old now. There is such an enormous difference between newborn kittens and kittens who have reached a month's age.

Their hearing and vision now is keen. As soon as I enter the room, they begin to clamour for me. They attempt to leap out of their box and today, one succeeded in doing so. It is only when I place all four of them on my lap that they stop crying, but they do not settle down by any means. Instead, they engage in wrestling bouts and bite and scratch their siblings playfully. Today, Beauty actually leapt onto my lap as well with the Kittens and one attempted to nurse despite the awkward position!

They are so very beautiful, so perfectly formed, so filled with life. Every day with them is a joy.