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.