Inquiry

Saturday was a busy day, even IF Tucker wasn’t feeling 100%.

See, we got a new cat. Her name is Delilah and she looks like a short-haired version of our Maine Coon, Lillith, who passed away about 3 years ago. Delilah was the only cat at the Animal Humane Adoption Center near us. It was fate, or whatever.

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We’ve been slowly acclimating Delilah to her new home and the “resident cats.” It’s a process.

Sunday, Tucker decided that he wanted to learn more about cats. So he pulled out his little “puter” and set to work doing “research.” Alas, his inquiries and investigation resulted in the respelling of the word, CAT, and that was about it.

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While we were amused and proud of Tucker’s initiative, we wanted to support his curiosity. So, we found an interesting documentary on domestic cats. If you are at all inquiry-minded, “The Lion in Your Living Room” is a cool one. It’s only a few years old, and goes into detail about the history and science of the domestic cat.

 

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Another Obligatory Cat Blog

I feel the need to write about something other than being pregnant, so this is my foray into just that.

I suppose I’m not technically a cat lady because I live in a pretty nice sized house and am married… although I could be considered for the title because there are four little animals running around this house. In all fairness, however, the hubby is a cat man (if such a term exists), and has had family cats and cats of his own longer than I have.

I like to think of my self as a cat AND dog person. While I don’t get all fanatical about my animals, I do enjoy dropping some coin for them when I can. My family’s dogs are still living with my parents. Every now and again I like to pop into this cute patisserie and pick up a few treats for Copper and Nikki.

And para los gatos? Since they actually live with us, Jason and I do tend to visit our local Petsmart often (about monthly) to get big things like scratching posts and kitty litter when we’re desperate (otherwise we try to buy bulk from Costco…there are FOUR cats, remember). Last December, after the holidays, we hit up Target and scored a ton of holiday-inspired cat toys… they’ll get them in their stockings this year.

Speaking of toys and treats for the cats, our last venture to Petsmart resulted in a new litter box (one for four cats wasn’t cutting it and we needed something to tide us over until we got around to ordering this one) and few toys.

Abner–the BIG boy–is prone to chewing on anything plush, so in order to save our baby toys and our own sentimental stuffies, we packed everything with stuffing away in the baby-room closet. This also meant that the cats had a limited supply of items they could actually play with. The result was our afore-mentioned trip to Petsmart. Random, cat-friendly items were purchased. We also picked up one of those feather-duster looking things to get the cats really active. A well-exercised cat is a calm, non-neurotic cat.

The day before yesterday, I was playing with the feather-duster toy. Ebenezer and Lillith LOVE LOVE LOVE this thing. They are very into movement and hunting. Millie also has taken a bit of interest (although she tends to enjoy tossing stuffed / rubber mice into the air for herself and amuses herself that way). But Ebenezer and Lillith go nuts with this thing. They can get some serious height…like two feet!

During this particular play time, Ebenezer was flipping and flopping for the feathers when he inadvertently landed too close to Lillith who is a definite Prima Donna. Needless to say, Lillith got P.O.ed and Ebenezer got a face full of massive Maine Coon paw. His poor little face was swollen for about 24 hours.

After checking out the area around his eye, I wasn’t able to detect any cuts or wounds, so luckily for all of us, it really was just a good wallop and not something more serious. He was walking around all that night and most of the next day pretty pathetic looking. But he was a real trooper and still more alert than his brother–by this I mean that Ebenezer is decidedly more active than Abner, even on a bad day.

As for Abner… he’s not at all that interested in the feather-duster. He responds to the jingle of the attached bell, but he doesn’t go after it at all. He’s more of an observer. Perhaps he’s rebelling since we took away all his toys. I’m not exactly sure how to get a chubby kitty to exercise if he’s not interested in anything cat-related. Although he did used to run with me in Korea when I would run around the apartment… food for thought.

Lillith & Millie
Ebenezer & Abner

Introducing Baby to the Lumpkins

Both Jason and I are animal lovers. He had cats, and I had cats and dogs. When we were dating in college, he had three cats and I had my two. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t live together back then, because all three of his kittehs were outdoor cats. I was a staunch supporter of keeping mine inside.

When I left for Korea, I left my two cats (Millie and Lillith) with my family. It was hard for me to leave them since I’d had them both (they are 4 years apart) since they were each kittens. When I came back after my initial trip to Korea in the summer of 2009, I was distraught: they essentially forgot who I was. This made it hard to leave again when I actually moved to Korea a few weeks later.

While in Korea, Jason and I decided to get ourselves a kitten. We figured that it would be fine getting the new cat back to the States when we moved home and my cats would adjust eventually. Well, we didn’t get a kitten; we got two. Two little boy Siamese cats (Abner and Ebeneezer). And we did get them home fairly easily–they actually seemed to have had better in-flight accommodations than we did. They’ve even been to more countries than I have! And the girls did eventually adjust to them. Although Millie (she’s 11) would pick on Ebeneezer (the smaller Siamese) mercilessly up until we moved into our new house last November. Now, everyone gets along and plays cat-tag and cat-chase and cat mock-fight. It’s been great. A real catopia.

When we first started trying to get pregnant, I was sort of hoping it would happen ASAP so I wouldn’t have to clean the kitty-litter (that’s not the ONLY reason I wanted it to happen ASAP, but one of a list of things). I was more concerned with the fumes of ammonia than the threat of toxoplasmosis. And I really never bought into that whole “cats steal baby’s breath” myth. If you have / have had cats, you know what I mean when I say I really hate the litter box. And lo, a month and a half after first ‘trying,’ I’m pregnant and Jason is the official and for-now cleaner of the cat box.

Since moving into the house, we’ve tried to keep the cats out of the intended baby room. My girl, Millie, sheds a lot. The boys do too. And Lillith, being a Maine Coon, gets hairballs you don’t even want to know about. So, we try to keep them out of the room. We don’t want baby to be having tummy time, grab a bunch of cat hair, and get it in his mouth. That would suck. I think we’ll have to get a roll out rug or something for him, but we will figure that out when he’s at that stage.

I have been trying to find source literature, you know–RELIABLE INFORMATION–about how my cats are going to interact with the new baby. But a lot of what I find are more for dogs. A lot.

Here I am, 5 months pregnant, and I’m STILL wondering why my cats don’t seem to get the fact that I’m pregnant. And why they insist on not only laying on my belly, but climbing on it, jumping off it, jumping on it (that one hurt, but the cat was pretty high on my chest really…freaked me out though), and don’t seem to get that I DON’T WANT YOU THERE. All of my cats are mamma’s cats and very clingy. At any given moment, I have 2-3 of them within arms reach. I enjoy their affection, I really do. I think it’s adorable and somehow a metaphor for world peace when I have all four of them stretched out in some precarious fashion on my person.

So Millie, Lillith, Abner, and Ebeneezer aren’t so quick about my being pregnant. What about with having a new baby in the house? Lillith was sitting on the top of my wing-back chair I use in the office, gently swishing her tail into my face when I decided to do more research. Google is my friend, and it lead me almost immediately to this gem of information courtesy of the ASPCA.

Now, I’ve done research on the taxoplasmosis before, and by all account we’re pretty safe. All our cats are indoor cats. We don’t feed them raw meat, and they don’t hunt and catch rodents. Growing up, I had a cat from the age of eleven to fifteen. When my family moved to Albuquerque and I eventually got a job in a veterinarian’s clinic while in college (a short-lived job as the doctor’s lovely rottweiler tried to bite my face when I was putting down food for it), I got Millie. And the rest is history. . . meaning that my exposure to any toxoplasmosis has been such that even if my cats did have it, I’ve had THEM for so long that I’m immune. It also means that the baby is immune.

The ASPCA recommends allowing the cats to get used to the idea of the impending new person by introducing baby furniture and letting the cats investigate. By allowing the cats to get used to their new surroundings BEFORE the baby is here, the cats will be less likely to be terrified of those things after the baby arrives. They offer a way to dissuade the cats from getting too comfortable by placing cardboard, covered with double-sided tape on top of the crib mattress and changing pad. Apparently cats HATE sticky.

They also suggest playing baby noises prior to bringing the new baby home. Let me set up this situation for you. Upon reading the article, I searched “baby noises” and found this page. At the same time, Millie is on the floor beside my chair, Lillith is on the back of it, Ebeneezer is on the floor somewhere in the vicinity of my desk, and Abner is at my feet. I find a WAV and press play. New born. Holy Kitteh Crap! Lillith is standing up, her eyes wide and looking super freaked out. Ebeneezer has bolted down the hall. Millie is scooching further under the desk. Abner is chill–for the time being.

Jason comes bounding into the office, super excited to listen. And see the cats’ reactions. As I play a few more variations of baby noises, Abner is done being chill and has gone to find his brother (both cower in the doorway of our bedroom just outside the office). Millie and Lillith are looking for the source–Millie HATES loud noises, when I talk on speaker phone, she attacks the phone. . . has for as long as I can remember. But, after a while, the girls perch themselves on my desk and go with it. The boys are still unsure. This whole thing was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in a LONG time.

I’ll have to do this several more times in the coming months, but I’m doing it out of love for my baby and my Lumpkins. It’s still pretty damn funny.

My Cat Smells Like Coffee

“Mom. Mom. Mom.” Abner peers out the window of our breakfast nook which looks out to the backyard. He looks at me. He looks back out the window. “Mom. Mom. Mom.” He looks back at me.

I’ve just come into the kitchen, bringing in dishes from the night before that Jason and I had left in the office. My steps echo slightly due to the lack of furniture. We’re just starting out, and this place is bigger than we know what to do with yet.

Lilith is running back up the hall; she’s a tad neurotic, did you know? Uptight, and a stickler for schedules. She’s bossy too. But Abner is still at the window. His chocolate fore-paws resting on the low windowsill. It always amuses me how human-like a cat looks when they stand on their hind legs. From behind, they look like a mini-person. Of course the tail just adds to the amusement.

Abner looks out the window. I watch his head go from one image to another in quick, fluid movements. If he could speak, he’d say, “Mom. Mom. Mom.” in detached staccato.

Outside, a team of workers are efficiently hacking down branches of a tree in our neighbor’s yard. It’s very exciting.

I move to the couch, or rather the love seat. I’m not entirely sure the difference because both have only two cushions on which to sit. I guess the couch is a tad longer.  I take up position on our love seat and had I started counting, I wouldn’t have reached seven before Millie climbs on my lap. Can you say “princess”? Apparently I am Millie’s personal lap. It’s the sole reason for my existence. Just ask her.

Lucky for me, I have already wrapped up in my blanket and have access to the iPhone and remote. We like to watch things like People’s Court and Judge Judy purely for the social commentary. It’s how we roll.

Millie adjusts herself, practically crawling up my chest so her paws can burrow into my long, disheveled hair. All my gatos do this. What’s that about?

The closer she gets, the stronger the scent of coffee floats into my nose. Does my cat smell like coffee? Why does she smell like coffee? Sniff. This elicits another nuzzle of her head. We’re being affectionate. And she smells like coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great smell. But Millie sometimes smells of kitty litter and cat food, so I have to wonder. “Millie, why do you smell?” I ask, half expecting an answer as I always do. Yes, I talk to them all and while they don’t ever answer, I swear they know what I’m talking about and WOULD, in fact, answer me if they had the appropriate larynx or fingers to sign with.

My gaze drifts to our coffee hutch, the selling point of the house for me, quickly checking that the pot hasn’t shattered and coffee isn’t seeping through the counter top or rolling down it to the terracotta floor. Nope. The little green light is on, silently letting me know that should I like another cup, the deep brown coffee is warm and ready. It’s as deep brown as it is because we still don’t have a coffee scoop and use a regular spoon, resulting in a strong, robust flavor. And smell.

Maybe my cat doesn’t smell like coffee, but I do. Perhaps we all do. I wonder if, when we leave to go shopping, people can detect the scent. What a horrifying thought, considering that I used to appall the smell. The smell used to make me nauseous. But, no. My cat smells like coffee. I don’t understand it.

Through it all, Ebeneezer is chill. He makes his way down the hall to the office. Before he goes in, he takes a seat. He is just so ready for his close up.

Left Behind

When I moved out to Seoul in the summer of 2009, I knew what I was leaving behind. I was leaving my family and friends who happen to be the most valuable and important people in my life. I was leaving my car (don’t judge me, it’s a Ford) and the roads of my high desert home for the public transportation dominated streets and rails of the “land of morning calm” (sounds kinda like a coffee ad). I was also leaving behind my two cats, Millie and Lillith, and my two dogs, Copper and Nikki.

You all already know (or if not, you will know by the time you finish this sentence) that Jason and I just sent our two Siamese boys back home. They just turned a year old on the 9th, and have been gone for almost a month. 3.5 months without them will be…quiet, to say the least.

This morning, I got an email from my mom (I got three actually, but one of them inspired this post) about my oldest cat, Millie.

Millie is my baby. I’ve had her since she was a kitten. She’s just over 10 years old.

For a few weeks, in 2000, I worked at a local vet. My job was to clean cages and feed animals. Far from glamorous. The vet was holding two kittens, both had been abandoned by their owners. Because of their age, the two were put into the same cage. One was all white (but for a few black hairs on the forehead) and the other was an orange tiger. Obviously, the white one was Millie. The orange one, the most friendly lil’ guy, was Stanley. I adopted them both.

To save time, I won’t go too much into the details. Stanley had been severely injured by his previous owner’s young child, so he only had the use of his two front legs. One of his hind legs had been amputated, and the other (because of nerve damage) was useless. Regardless of this, he had an amazing spirit and LOVED to be held. Unfortunately, several months after getting them home, Stanley took a turn for the worse, and I had to say goodbye to him.

After that, Millie became exceedingly attached to me. I am pretty attached to her too!

And she is waiting patiently, apparently in my bedroom window, for my return.

Millie listens to 93.3
Snuggled

Have Kittehs, Will Travel

As the countdown to departure for Jason and I continues, Abner and Ebenezer will be making their trip home sooner. Temperatures in Albuquerque are getting warmer, and that means airlines are less and less willing to accept pets (or any animal I would imagine) on their flights. In fact, United, which is the airline we’re hoping to have fly our babies home, won’t accept them if the departure or arrival destinations are 75°F or above.

If you’re in a more temperate location, that’s fine, it’s February and no big deal, right? Well, we’re not from a temperate location, we’re from the desert, and that means that 75°F comes early and it comes fast. Like April. SO, to avoid all that drama, we’re shipping them home sooner.

Months and months ago we started looking for information on shipping the boys home. After adopting them nine months ago, we knew what we were getting into.

Abner and Ebenezer (2.5 Mo)

 At first, we looked at the airlines, and it was ridiculously difficult to decipher what the real rules were. On top of that, try finding the right crate for the cats in a foreign country. Not so easy. We had to find other means of transport. Aside from the boys, we also have to ship home three bikes, some art, clothes, two computers, and our collection of coffee mugs. We decided against shipping our furniture and will be trying to off load all that and our wired for Korea electronics.

After some research, we finally found an impressive international organization with the only function being the shipping of pets. This organization puts the pet owner in contact with a myriad of companies who have years of experience in the organizing of pet shipment. The companies are endorsed by this organization, which also means the companies are good. The company we’re going with is Pet Airline, so far, they have been infinitely helpful. Since they are here in Korea, they are able to even help us talk to our vet to get the boys their Rabies Certificates. We pick them up on Saturday.

So, once that is taken care of, I think we will be saying “see you soon” to our boys. They will be met by my wonderful aunt and promptly taken home where the rest of our menagerie awaits.

Abner and Ebenezer
Niki and Copper
 
Lillith
Millie