Sunday, January 22, 2017

Yes, please

58 and partly cloudy, on January 21st? What shall I do? I think I shall take some time for me and sit on the deck with my latest cross-stitch project.

Yes, the kids came outside for a bit. Hamlet still doesn't know to stay on the deck. It's going to take a lot of, "Deck! Now!" and sticking him in the bedroom for 20 minutes to get the point across that we do not leave the deck.

I put up the bird feeders. The picture window is a good place.

I'm going to try moving it to the right on the window which should make it harder for squirrels to jump into.

I don't own a step ladder so I had to bring the full ladder to the front to mount this. I won't fill it completely. Let's see if this works. Now to put up the north window feeder.

This one had been hanging very tight to the glass so, obviously, the squirrels knocked it down. It took a bit to find all the suction cups in the winter debris. I washed the thing out and repositioned it.

This is more off to the right than it had been before. I think it might have been too close to the pine tree. We'll see how long it takes them to find it.

When I came in, after being outside for a couple of hours, stitching, this was the living room window.

I'm fairly certain this wasn't squirrels.

As much as I like this concept, I don't think this feeder is working anymore. I thought the suction cups had a good seal, but I'm not convinced they do. I've had this feeder for a long time. I think I should just add it to the give away bag and get a new one for this area. Maybe a pole with a hanging feeder would be better. I have plans for this flower bed. A pole would work better.

The temperatures go down from here to the next weekend when we're back to what would be considered 'normal' for us. I enjoyed my day out and so did the kids.

Beverage:  La Croix Berry Seltzer


How Was Your Summer, Part 7

Mija and Pilchard were very unhappy through August and into September, as Hamlet learned the house. I've talked about how I know when I'm being "yelled at". The tone of the meow changes. I heard that alot.

The three of us were not prepared for a kitten's energy. He ran everywhere. He pounced. He jumped. He attacked. I felt, on some days, that all I did was break up fights. Pilchard, especially, was not happy.

I spent a lot of time saying, "Hamlet! No!" Sometimes I wonder if he thinks that's his full name. He took over Mija's spot in the recliner...

...which angered her to the point that she followed me around one day, for a full hour, meowing angrily. I sometimes felt I wasn't giving the girls enough attention. It's hard to spread myself equally when I see a belly just ripe for rubbing.

We had an issue with sneezing at the beginning of fall. The girls didn't catch anything so we considered he had some kind of allergic reaction to something.

He learned, by the end of September, what time I came home and I would see him in the window of the office, waiting.

Or he'd be by the back door.

This was very poignant for me because Rascal, who looks a lot like Hamlet, used to do this, too. Having been outside, he tends to try to sneak out, but he knows his name and he goes inside after my getting really mad at him for leaving the deck.

He follows me downstairs when I do the laundry, but when I say, "Hamlet, upstairs," he goes. He discovered the laundry chute and that's the best thing in the world. He goes down the chute and onto the top of the furnace where it's warm. He follows me into the bathroom and will come running from anywhere in the house if he hears me go into the bathroom. He likes to sit on the edge of the tub when I shower which can result, as it did yesterday, in him falling into the tub during the shower. I had to get another toothbrush because he chewed on the one in the holder. That's now his and I keep mine in the medicine chest.

Any food, ANY food, I have, he needs to see, smell, taste, touch.

I was worried because I caught him lapping down some of my room temperature tea. The vet said that's okay. He's also stuck his nose in my Godiva liqueur-laced hot cocoa, which is less good than tea. He doesn't get that cats don't eat a lot of things people do. If I'm eating it, kitten needs to investigate.

Things have slowly, slowly, settled down. During football season, when I'm streaming games on the computer or watching them on TV, he learned that mom gets excited and the best place was not the living room. It was really quiet one afternoon so I went into the bedroom at half-time and found this.

I was shocked as the girls appeared to not want anything to do with Hamlet. Two weeks later, I caught them doing the same thing. It's not all the time and usually when there are clean clothes, but this is still done.

And we all co-existed when we were all outside on the deck in those last warm days of fall.

He sleeps with me, usually next to my legs. Sometimes, he will climb on me, lie down and start purring. That lasts for about 20 minutes and he wanders away. He will also lick my chin which isn't all that appreciated at 2:30 in the morning.

We have made our peace. He recognizes Pilchard is top cat. He has a tendency to jump Mija, something I am trying very hard to break him of. I have caught both girls chasing him, Pilchard moreso than Mija. We've reached the point where he will see Pilchard in the hall and I'll hear that little trill cats make to communicate with each other. He'll lie down and the two will wrestle.

It's been trying. There is no question about that. I was unprepared for kitten energy. His nickname is "Kitten Britches" or "Britches" for short, but mostly I use "Hamlet" as I don't want him confused. My house looks like a pet store's toy department exploded. He started to bring balls back when I tossed them, but he hasn't in some time. I guess I need to work with him. They all did well when I went to Virginia in November. The guy I hired said they all came out to see him when he came to feed them. Hamlet is into big cat food now. I have to feed him in the bedroom because he will shove the girls off their dishes. I'm hoping he'll grow out of that.

I know I did right by this guy. For all the "Hamlet! No!", the boops on the nose, the chasing, the growling, the extra expense for food and vet bills, my life is much more with him in it. Thanks go to Becky for recognizing a plaintive meow and rescuing him. When he wants to snuggle, which the girls have never wanted to do, any and all stress I could have melts.

He's something of a celebrity within my World of Warcraft guild, too. "ARG! Life with kitten britches!" "What did he do now?" How could anyone resist that face? I sure couldn't.

Beverage:  Water


Saturday, January 21, 2017

How Was Your Summer, Part 6

I might have had a lot on my mind at the end of June, beginning of July. But helping Becky find a forever home for the waif in the bathroom was never far away. I posted and reposted the photos. I sent inquiries to no-kill shelters in the east and southeast Virginia area. All were full of kittens. They empathized, but no one was willing to take a kitten. Then a co-worker of Becky's came forward.

She would provide the kitten with a home. Her son had seen the photos and was in love. They would come get the girl the week before I was slated to come to Virginia on vacation. I was thrilled. Then it all fell apart.

I'm not privy to why it fell apart; it just did. We were back to square one. Becky was devastated. "I don't know what to do. It can't live in my bathroom. At some point, Zia (one of her dogs), is going to figure out how to get the door open and I fear Zia will kill her. And there's the whole allergy thing." I looked around my house. I have two girls I adore. Was my house and my heart and life big enough for a kitten? I decided it was and I offered to take the kitten if no one came forward.

Becky pushed everyone at the hospital where she worked. She showed countless people the photos. No one wanted her. So, the day after I arrived, she and Jon came to Carole and Larry's to play games and to bring this little gal, who I was taking home with me. I couldn't come up with a girl's name. I struggled and struggled. I always told myself that if I ever got to name a female cat again, she would be called "Rosalind", after the main character in Shakespeare's As You Like It, one of my favorite plays. But, as I drove east, it just didn't sit right. I finally settled on "Esme", for "Esme Weatherwax", a character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. I don't really like Esme, but nothing seemed quite right.

"The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn't just one of your holiday games." --T.S. Eliot; Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. 

We put the kitten in my bedroom with food, water and her litter box. The bedroom was about twice the size of the bathroom, plus, there were windows she could look out. She warmed up to me almost instantly and spent half of the night sleeping either on or next to me. We let her come out of the room, supervised, the next day. Carole's cats were unimpressed, except for Jacen and Jaina. Jaina was upset and hissed, growled and spit at the kitten when it came out of the room. Jacen, on the other hand, was really excited to meet Esme and the two of them chased each other, tumbling around on the carpet under the bed. Becky had done a very good job of socialization. There was one problem. This was not a girl. This was a boy.

We had a huge laugh. In Becky's defense, she'd never cared for kittens so had no idea what to look for, shall we say. Well, that changes the naming convention, doesn't it. Esme Weatherwax went right out the window. Immediately, I knew what his name would be, "Hamlet". I don't know why; I just knew. My first cat had been named "Shakespeare". This felt right.

On Monday, July 18th, I left Virginia at 5 in the morning with a kitten under the passenger seat of the car. That's where he stayed the entire trip home, coming out only to use the litter box and to have food and water. When I stopped for food myself, I would check on him. He was quite the trooper. The next day, he went to the vet.

Becky had mentioned she supplemented the wet and dry food with milk supplement for kittens for the first couple of weeks he lived with her. My vet was impressed. He seemed healthy. She felt he was around 4 months old which would be consistent with his size and needing milk supplement when Becky found him. We drew blood to check for feline leukemia. He had ear mites, which was to be expected and he also had fleas. I wound up having to treat everyone for fleas from July through last month. But other than those issues, he's a healthy kitten.

He spent the rest of July and most of August living in the office. I would go in and play with him but contact with the girls was minimal. I would put him in my bedroom and leave the door open so the girls could go into that room and smell his scent. After being in the office for a month, I let him out when I was home. Over Labor Day, I let him out at night, too. No one was allowed into the basement through the month of September, something Pilchard was not pleased with. My rationale was that he needed to learn his name and to come when I called. There are so many hiding places in the basement. One step at a time. He was spayed in September, getting the rest of his shots at that time, too.

There was a lot of hissing, yowling and growling. I opened the basement up in mid-October and allowed Hamlet to go outside during the end of October, when we had some wonderfully warm afternoons and weekends.

But have I made the right decision? Mija and Pilchard are not happy.

Beverage:  Water


How Was Your Summer, Part 5

This story begins in May. My friend, Becky, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, came home one night during a rain storm. She parked and started to run into her house, but was stopped in her tracks by the most pitiful meow she's ever heard. Investigating, she found a kitten in the culvert near her house, trying to stay up out of the water. Angry that someone would dump a kitten in the first place and then double angry they would do that during heavy rains, she fished it out of the culvert and took it to her neighbor next door. This lady is, unfortunately, a cat hoarder. The woman was very dismissive and told Becky to leave the kitten, with food, in a cat carrier on her font porch. "Momma cat will come looking for it."

Becky checked in but it was clear that, after 2 days a) momma cat wasn't coming and b) the woman wasn't feeding the kitten. Outraged, Becky took it and the carrier into her spare bathroom. She gave it a warm towel and immediately ran to the pet store for food and litter.

When she got her settled in the bathroom, she posted the above photo on her Facebook page.

The poor thing was terrified.

It wouldn't eat and it clearly didn't want to have anything to do with Becky. She is allergic to cats, as is her husband, Jon. They have 3 rescue dogs and the dogs were going nuts over the smell of a cat in the house. She knew she needed to get this kitten socialized to have any chance of finding it a home.

It finally ate the day after it was brought into the bathroom. She came home and checked on it and the food was gone. She had used the litter box, too. But this whole idea of a human was not something she was excited about, particularly, as this human smelled like a dog. Becky persevered and, by day 6, she was coming out of the carrier when Becky was around, to eat.

There was initial interest in the kitten. People who know Becky know she is going to do right by an animal. She kept the carrier clean and she made sure there was fresh food and water daily. The big thing was socializing the kitten to humans. One of the dogs barged into the room and the kitten fled under a shelf unit.

It took 30 minutes to get her out.

Eventually, the kitten warmed up to Becky and to Jon, but he's much more allergic to cats than Becky is and he could only be with the kitten to play for 30 minutes once a day.

She was an inquisitive ball of fluff, friendly and active and clearly fond of exploring and of Becky. The first home fell through. A second one came forward, but it, too, fell through. Becky started calling humane societies and shelters in the Richmond area. There are no-kill shelters but they were at capacity with kittens and a friend told her not to take the kitten to the Richmond Animal Shelter. They may advertise as no-kill, but they will probably put the kitten down because they have no space. How could anyone resist such a face?

I thought about it. I did what I could from Illinois; reposting and offering to bring the kitten back to Illinois if someone was interested. Finally, a colleague of Becky's saw the post, showed her son who fell in love with this gal. She was going to have a "furr-ever" home.

Or so we thought.

Beverage:  Belhaven Oatmeal Stout