Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pretty Ugly

Sun Bathing

When two calico's showed up at the same time, I figured that they had to be related. Especially whenever you saw one the other was close by. The two of them were always together, when I would let one in the other one would follow. One was more hesitant and shy, but if her sister came in she would soon follow. I referred to them as the twins. As you can see the one has a richer more vibrant coloring of her coat. While the other cats coat looks duller almost sun faded. They played together, sunned together and walked over each other just like kittens would, inseparable.

Over time one of them would stay in longer, eventually hanging around more. I started to develop a fondness for her, being the duller looking of the two. When you look at her face she has a mark that reminded me of a mole. Some would call this a beauty mark, similar to the ones that women used to wear. Now a days moles are not considered very attractive, (usually found only on witches and such) so I named her Ugly. Being fond of her though I refer to her as “My Uglys”, we had developed a bond.


I have been taking care of all the strays in my neighborhood, providing water and food for the last several years. I also have been getting them all spayed and neutered. Being short of funds when 3 of them showed up pregnant at the same time, I did not have much choice but to take them into the Humane Society and drop them off. My neighbor “M” helped me to pay the fees, and take them in. So I had to quickly come up with names for the other two. They shy one with the richer colored coat became “Pretty”. The third one being solid black got named “Blackie” after “Boston Blackie”. A series of 40's movies starring Chester Morris, as a jewel thief turned private eye, that I enjoy watching.


We took them in on a Saturday, on the following Thursday all three showed up at my back door again, looking to get fed. That is when I found out that they belonged to a neighbor out back. Although I did not about all her cats nor exactly who she was until a couple months later when TJ got sick. Her 5 cats still come around regularly, with TJ and Ugly spending a lot of their time here.

For the last couple of months Ugly will sleep with me. If she has been out she will show up at night in time to go to bed. Usually she is already in (She spends 80% or more of her time in my house) she will soon join me in bed. I will look around the house before going to bed and not be able to find her. But before I can even pull the covers up she is right next to me in bed ready for sleep.

Pretty still comes around most every day but she just comes in to eat then right back out again. I feel somewhat sad that they seem to have broken their bond. I wonder if somehow I am to blame for it. I do try encourage her to hang around more, but it might be because so many other cats are in the house that she won't stick around longer. She still is shy around me as well as the other cats.

That is the story behind Pretty and Ugly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Chores:

Buying Kitty Food

Click on GIF to see animation.

I buy all of their food at Pet Smart, normally getting several cases of wet and a couple of bags of dry at one time. (I find it is cheaper this way, buying it on sale) I use old plastic buckets, that their litter came in to store their dry food. I washed them out with a mild dish soap before using them. When I go to fill them everyone comes by to supervise and get a little taste test. I think they are checking up on me to make sure I bought them the good stuff. The first pic shows them helping me and getting a little taste. That is Lil' Bit reaching deep in to grab some (Click on pic to animate gif: Lil' Bit it the gray one). As you can see it is quite the crowd pleaser, everyone gathers around. How many cats can you count?

This is even better than using catnip to get their attention. Sometimes it is kinda of hard to walk around without tripping over a cat or three. This is a grand ceremony for them with everyone in the house showing up except Girl, who is usually as far away from the others as she can get. Once everything settles down they will all decide that it is time for a nap and lay down around the bucket.

Click on GIF to see animation.

Putting away the canned cat food is even more fun, once I get around to it that is. In the second photo I decided to eat before putting it away. Mittens and Lil' Bit decided to remind me it was time to put their food away. I will open each case and then stack the cans alternating between all the flavors in each stack. Once I spread the cases out on the floor the cats will go back and forth between cases checking out which flavors I bought this time. Then Squirrel will get in the cupboard making sure there is a place to put it all. Very helpful this, as she is normally standing right where I am trying to work.

Click on GIF to see animation.

What to do once it is all put away??? Make forts of course! You can see in this picture I can make a couple of forts for them . Which they will quickly camp out in, and use to attack each other from. Soon there are pieces of fort all over the kitchen. I will rebuild them several times, until I get tired. They never seem to get tired of it. After a couple of hours of boxes all over the house I will pick them up and put them away. I do keep a couple around the house as the cats will use them as beds.

Lets not forgot about cleaning the litter box, I know Mittens won't let me. If she thinks that I have neglected it she has a subtle way to remind me. She will walk up to me and be very loving, then walk away back and forth until I get up to see what she wants. If she walks past the food and into the bathroom I know it is time to clean the litter box. (When she wants fed she will go to the food) I have four litter-boxes, the extra large one is in the spare bathroom. I use scoop-able litter cleaning them out everyday filling as needed with a complete change every so often. Mittens will stand by the door watching me, supervising unless it is urgent then she is right next to the box. Once I finish she will test it out, making sure I did a good job. If it is not her testing it out as soon as it is cleaned then it is Squirrel. It doesn't matter if they had just went before I started, they still have to try it out.

I think that covers all the chores, no matter what I do they are right there. Whether it is to help out or just to supervise, one or more of them will be close by, making sure I do it to their satisfaction. Even if they are a hindrance sometimes, at leas they believe that they are helping.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Helping with the Chores!!

Making the bed. Squirrel, Mittens, Lil' Bit helping.
A little help with the chores, or is it a little hindrance? I guess it all depends upon your point of view. Take making the bed for example, sometimes it can take 20 min or more. As I start to pull the old sheets off they can suddenly gain 15-20 pounds, two or three little helpers have joined in. Twelve eager paws ready to lend assistance, or at least have some fun. Usually one is there to take a “sleigh” ride, another will be chasing the sheet as it slides off the bed. Then I will shake out the fitted sheet, creating the perfect hiding spot, for one or two to run under. Of course they have to make sure I got all the corners on tight. If one is still hiding I will go do something else for a while. Checking back until they leave having left one of the corners loose so they can get out. Then comes the top sheet, paws flying everywhere trying to catch it and hold it down. This turns into a game of “chase the kitty under the sheet”. Again another wait until it's all clear. If I am also busy doing other chores I may forgot to check back for a while, sometimes they are still there 15 min later. Well finally the bed gets made. The first pic is one a took a while back, showing the three main culprits, I mean helpers.

Then comes grocery shopping. You know how when you bring in all the bags, you don't know what is in which bag. Problem solved, I just put them all up on the counter and go to the bath room to wash up. When I return Lil' Bit lets me know which one has the meat and other refrigerated items in it. It is the bag she is in. She will check to make sure the meat is fresh, maybe even take a taste test, if I take to long. Then the others join to see what I have bought, any kitty treats? They check the cupboards as I open the doors to make sure there is room to put things away.

I have some very brave cats when it comes to cleaning the house, no really. Girl, Squirrel, and Mizz Purzzzy will run and hide under my bed as soon as they see or hear the vacuum cleaner. Lil' Bit will keep playing but move to the other room (my front room and living room are one open room). She will keep an eye on the vacuum and if I get too close she will run past it to the other room, making a game of it. Ugly will do much the same thing except she does not play just crouches low and watches. Mittens is entirely driven by her stomach, as I started giving treats when they did not run away and hide. She now will get up on the curio cabinet, or piano and supervise me. When I first start it I give her one then when I get close to where she is I give her another, usually 4 or 5 each time I vacuum. The first time I vacuumed with her in the house, I had to physically move her, no fear. Later on she started to run. That was before I started giving treats, trying to quell the fears of the other cats. When I first started with the treats she would jump from the cabinet to the piano to get more treats, as that is the path I take, now she just picks one and will stay there the whole time. Now I walk right up to her with the vacuum in my hand right next to her. If I sweep first I will have a couple cats chasing dust bunnies around.

Mittens next to printer

Now that I am busy at the computer, trying to type this, they all are acting up and wanting attention (just like a little kid, daddy pay attention to me). Outdoor kitties wanting out/in others looking to be fed. TJ trying to pick a fight with the other males. Lil' Bit jumped into my lap for a few min till I ignored her. I often have a companion when I am typing, Mittens will jump up and lay down by the printer. We often fight over space on the table, as you can see she takes up a lot of room. (Sorry my desk is always messy). She watches what I do to make sure she approves.

Next time more chores: Buying Kitty Food. I will tell you about all the joy and pleasure that it will bring them, even if it doesn't help me much.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Martian Kitty

Today’s pic is the Martian. Another one named by my friend and neighbor ( who I will start calling M as that is the first initial of her first name) Well M though his growl and fighting voice sounded weird. When I would mention the stray she would say “you mean the Martian” Well he has been hanging around for a long time. I saw him off and on again for a couple of years. More recently he started hanging around more and more. I figure him as feral, because he would not net me get anywhere near him, and when I was able to sneak up on him he would hiss and swipe at me.

I started feeding him every time he was around, he started to come around more often. At first he would stay just past arms distance. I would sit down near him while he ate, each time I would put my hand out towards him he would back away. Over time I got closer and closer to the can of food I put out for him to eat. Then one day I was able to run my finger across the back of his head. He would growl at me kinda of like the way Squirrel did. This was after several months. A few months later I was able to pet him between the ears. Over time I took more and more liberties with him, getting closer along the way. He is now to the point that I can pet him and walk up to him with out him running away.

I got bit and scratched several times along the way trying to get him to this point. Now I can put my arm alongside him and pat his side and rear. He will eventually try to strike out at me, but does not mean it. He will bite me to let me know he does not want to be touched, but will not bite hard ( does not break skin) and will take a swipe at me. On occasion his swipe will draw blood, if he can catch me unaware. He is slow on the draw and I usually am able to pull my arm back before he can get me. I believe this shows he is getting use to me and does not really mean me any harm. He wants to still show his independence but does not want to harm me. He is a gentile giant.

At first I thought he was totally feral, what with the way he would run away and hiss and growl at me. He would not let any near him, but instead would run away. He was very aggressive and vocal. The sounds he made when another cat got near and he was ready to fight is why M called him the Martian. It is a very strange and unusual sound for a cat to make. Not at all like the normal growl and hissing you would expect. He still sounds like this so I have named him Martian.

` I found out from the father of my neighbors who live behind me ( I will call him R as his first name starts with it) that his neighbor had a couple of cats. Then R tells me the owner moved away leaving his cats behind. R asked if the Martian was female knowing that the guy had a cat that was Grey with black stripes, I figure that this was Squirrel (who has been with me a couple of years) as the date he said his neighbor moved is close to the date I acquired Squirrel. But I think Martian is his second cat because he is very wild but knows the sound of a can being opened and will approach when he hears it. So this cat has been out on his own and getting wild a couple of years longer than Squirrel who was pretty wild when she first showed up.

I have been able to tame him enough to let me pet him and rub his ears while he is eating. I can also put my arm along side of him while petting him. He will still sometimes get mad an strike out at me but usually is slow and I have time to pull away. However he has gotten me on occasion leaving his mark on my arm, where he will nip at me or take a swipe at me. Over all he has calmed down a lot from when he first showed up.

Today is Wednesday, on Saturday I let him in for the first time. I can pick him up while he is eating but not have tried to hold him, he still is somewhat wild. I have pulled him up enough to get his paws off of the ground and then let go. No swipe growl or bite when doing this, so I figured he was ready to come in. I am hoping his previous relationship with Squirrel will help. That is why I let him in so he can see her and realize it is OK.

This only worked so so, Squirrel growled at him, and he went into fight mode. He came in an wondered around for about 10-15 min before Squirrel started in. This was his second time in and after about 15 min.. They got serious and ready to fight so of course all of the other cats in house wanted to join in. I ran into the kitchen and there was Mizz Purzzy squaring off ready to fight Squirrel along with 6 other cats. I had to spray them all with water to keep from having a major cat fight on my hands. ( I keep a spray bottle filled with water on hand) The Martian went out as he was nearest to the door.

I let him in several times a day now and it is funny as the other cats will run to see what is going on and will make a circle around him watching to see what he does. He still takes a swipe at me with his paw. But I hope to rid him of that soon by letting him in, thinking he will see how the other kitties will act. Each time he is in between 30 min and an hour. He surprised me by playing with a string that I use with the other kitties. So step by step I am getting him to calm down. I expect within a couple months more he will be like the other cats and will let me pick him up with out him trying to attack.

He is a BIG Kitty, he look malnourished when I took him to get nurtured. But they weighed him at 14 pounds. My bowling ball kitty Mittens, who is fat and overweight(round like a bowling ball), still only weighs just over 12 pounds. He is my Big Boy because he is so tall and weighs to much. He reminds me of a bobcat or a lynx because of his size. When they neutered him they treated him for worms, I believed this helped as he no longer looks malnourished. I bet he weighs close to 16 pounds now. He is almost as tall as my knee and is very long as cats go. It is odd to see him play with a string, which I use to entice him to stay inside. That helps him do more than just come in and eat.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More updates: Cat # 5

Momma and her kittens.
A few more updates on the cats. As I mentioned just before letting this blog go on hiatus, I had a litter of kittens show up. (Their pic with momma cat is today’s pic) One of the cats that rarely came around showed up with 3 kittens. They looked to be a couple of months old, already weened. I would see them in my back yard eating regularly along with their momma. That was around Oct '09, they were starting to go feral. I sat next to them to feed them, until I got close enough to grab them and put them inside. That was a bit wild 7 cats in the house full time, with these 3 not letting me get to near. I wanted to socialize them so when I took them in to the Humane Society they would not get put down as UN-adoptable.

After about three months, they were still a little wild, but I needed to get them out of the house. So I took them in, the Humane Society took them in as they could handle them getting them out of the carrier. I never did see a pic of the kittens on their website under the list of adoptable cats. Not sure what happened to them, it can take a month or so to get posted and hopefully they were adopted out before their pics were posted.

Momma cat disappeared after I took them in, only saw her once every two or three weeks. Then about March she started hanging around more. I thought she looked pregnant again, belly getting big , nipples visible, etc. So I scraped up the money to take her in, they said she did not have a litter. I was hoping that she did not just have one, because it had been a few days, they would not have survived. I grabbed her on a Saturday when she showed up and kept her inside so she would not disappear before I could get her spayed. It was Monday morning before I could set up an appointment to get her in, they took her the next day. That’s three days right there she was away if she had any.

In my bathrooms I have these little windows about five an a half feet off of the ground in the shower. Momma cat had been jumping up there wanting out. She would race from one window to the next, she did this while waiting to get spayed. Brought her home Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday afternoon she started up again, racing from window to window for about 15 min rest for a little while then do it again. She did not seem to be sore at all letting me touch her scar with no issues. On Thursday I finally let her out, before she could hurt herself. She showed back up on Saturday wanting in, I never say no to the cats. Let her in and fed her, letting her out shortly after. As far as I could tell for the next 5 days she never left my backyard. Every time I went out she was there, sleeping under the tree or under the lockers. I told her if she wanted to be my kitty she would not be able to go out again. She did not go crazy again, this time she would go to the door wanting out, not fussing much when I would not let her. I did let her out a couple of days later and a few other times. All she did was to hide under the lockers.

Now I am up to 5 indoor cats. I am willing to adopt her out if I can find a home for her, I have been trying. Just to many cats available in town right now, the Humane Society always has over 100 on their site (today 141) and a lot more on Craigslist. (Anyone in the Tucson area that wants a sweet cat that loves attention let me know.) Now to figure out a name other than just calling her Momma Kitty. Every time I go to pet one of the other four cats she will come up and try to get between us wanting attention. I go to play with another cat and she is there, if I talk to one she is there. It is like she is jealous of them. That is a name that suits her, but I did not want to call her Jealous all the time. I tried to find a name with that meaning, all I could find was one I could not pronounce, some ancient goddess or Morgan, King Arthur’s sister. Still it is a good name for her, Jealous.

The other thing about her is if you pick her up she purrs, scold her she purrs, etc. Knowing some male cats are called Sir Purrs-a-lot, I decided to name her “Mizz Purrzzzy” (pronounced pur-z, any one have a better spelling let me know) So that is the tail of how Mizz Purrzzzy became cat # 5.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm Back

Well it has been just about a year since I last updated this blog, I had pretty much given up on it. But my friend and neighbor keeps encouraging me to write a blog about my cats. She doesn't know that I had started one before. (I think she is tired of hearing me brag about my cats).
Around this time last year I was worrying about work and had some personal problems getting me down. I looked and could not tell that anyone had even visited my page, which didn't help. Being somewhat superstitious (which is how Girl got her name or lack there of) I stopped because my babies were getting sick, just shortly after starting the blog. I almost lost one, came close to having another go blind.
An URI (Upper Respiratory Infection) started going around, most of the strays I take care of and all my cats got infected. First Mittens started sneezing for a couple of days followed by Squirrel. After which Girl followed by Lil' Bit. In that order, after a few days Squirrel was not as active and I was worried that I might have to take her to the vet, most of the others got better in couple days. I was working only 15-20 hours a week and money was getting tight, so I kept a close eye on her. After the fourth or fifth day she started getting better (just as I was about ready to take her in) , Lil' Bit on the other hand was in her third or forth day and stopped eating and drinking. You always can tell when she is drinking as she makes a bell like ringing sound when she does. (One day I will post a sound clip, it is cute) For being the smallest and yet most active she will drink about twice as much as the others so I will constantly hear this through the day.
After 2 days of this I took her to the vet. They gave me some antibiotics and eye drops. I already was using a syringe to force some water down her, worried about kidney failure. That was on a Wednesday on Friday I took her back to have her stay over night so they could give her an IV. They gave me some special food to feed her when I brought her home the next day. For two days I forced her to eat and drink. On Monday she started eating and drinking on her own. I was very relived. The doc said that her kidneys should be fine, they checked while she was there overnight. I was concerned that I was not giving her enough, still it was another day before she went to the potty.
Just as she got better one of my stray kitties, (belongs to my neighbor across the ally) was in a somewhat bad way. He was keeping one of his eyes closed, the other half opened and not acting as normal. When I looked at his eye it scared me. The only way I could describe it is to look at a dead fish in the market, red, dry and sunken in the center like a volcano. So I kept him inside and used the rest of the medicine I had left on him. Three days later his owner came around looking for him, said she had some medicine for him. I gave him over to her, not sure if she had and medication for him or not. They let him run around outside though. They are the kind that will get a cat, let them run around and might put out some dry for them. He is better not but the lens in that eye is a bit cloudy. TJ (Tom Jones, named by my friend) can be a pest sometimes like right now, bugging me. Otherwise he seems to be OK.
That my dear readers brings you up to date on what happened and why I had stopped. Next post I will pick up where I left off. Giving you the back story on how I got each of my babies, and then from there keep you update on them. I plan to post at least once a week maybe twice a week while telling you the back story on each. Please forgive me as I am new at most of this and I am sure the site will change and I learn, and hopefully get better. For now here is a picture of Lil' Bit.