It’s easy to enjoy the good days — the days when you only have the normal day-to-day cares of the world. But when things go wrong, sometimes it’s hard to escape the feelings of despair, and you wonder if you’ll ever be happy again.
In the great scheme of things, a couple of weeks ago’s event would not be considered monumental, but in my little world, it was important and somewhat earth shattering. We lost a very dear member of the family — a pet cat who was sixteen years old. She was wise beyond her cat facade and she knew how to communicate in ways that some adults don’t seem to ever do. My husband and I loved that cat. We will always hold a place in our hearts for the dear sweet Mia.
It seems this season is a time for rushing around and then waiting for something. Some, like me, are waiting for Christmas. That is when I’ll be able to share some precious time with family and friends.
And the cats … well, they are merely waiting for breakfast!
Cats don’t like to go on vacation; our cats always stay home while we are away. Cats also don’t like it if their caregivers go on vacation. Recently, when we were packing for a four-night trip, our male cat Pepe seemed to think if he continued to sit on my suitcase that just maybe we would give up and stay home!
The last few weeks have been quite an ordeal for Prissy, and really for the rest of us – my husband and me, and Prissy’s three siblings. One evening Prissy appeared to suddenly become very ill. When the other cats ran downstairs as they always did for the night, she stood alone on the stairs, almost like a statue, staring at me. At that point, I felt that something was really wrong. Since the vet’s office was already closed, we took her to the local animal emergency clinic. After initial x-rays showed her stomach was blown up like a balloon, which was indicative of a possible blockage, and after questioning the young vet as to how comfortable she felt in performing the exploratory surgery, we decided to go ahead with emergency surgery. At this point, my husband and I were very concerned for Prissy, but also very relieved that we had earlier decided to purchase pet insurance for all four cats, making the emotional decision not also a pricey one. Since the surgery was to be performed just after midnight, we reluctantly went home at the vet’s suggestion, and tried to get some sleep. The vet assured us she would call us after the surgery was completed. Shortly after 2:00 a.m. the home telephone rang. The tone of the vet’s voice immediately made me think that the surgery must have been a success. She proceeded to inform us that she had found a piece of a foam exercise mat in Prissy’s intestines. We had noticed that some of the cats were beginning to chew on the exercise mat a few weeks prior and had already thrown the mat away, but unfortunately our actions were too late to prevent Prissy’s problem. Apparently the foam mat had stayed inside her for a number of days and had finally lodged inside her intestines and ultimately causing her this immediately serious issue. Prissy had to continue her stay in the emergency clinic the following day and night. When we did bring her home, she had to be separated from the others because of her stitches and the fear that the others might try to bother them. She also wore an ‘Elizabethan collar’ in order to prevent any tampering of her own. For the next week Prissy was kept in a bathroom and had no contact with the others. We visited her several times a day to feed, medicate and give her some human affection, but she was basically in isolation for a week. After Prissy’s trip to the vet for removal of the stitches, we thought her ordeal was over — but not so fast. Once Prissy was home and we opened the door to the pet carrier, she was not greeted with an adoring welcome home by her siblings. Instead they hissed and growled and I honestly thought there was going to be a fight. How could it be that these loving cats who had been together since their birth now were treating Prissy like a stranger? Over the next few days, we tried many things, including the seemingly ridiculous suggestion of pouring tuna water on all their heads so they would all have the same scent. For several days Prissy continued to be partially isolated from her normal routine. She was able to see the others, but a windowed door kept her physically away from them. As time went by, it seemed that Pepe was going to be the best chance for some type of mediation. We began to divide Pepe’s time between Prissy and the other two. That was a success. Finding a way to transition Prissy back with the other two still presented quite a challenge. I’d like to say that the drama is all over, but it is not. There is still some hissing and slapping going on between the other two and Prissy. We still keep Prissy separated from them overnight. But things are getting better. At this point I do not believe there will be a serious fight between them. I had no idea that a week’s separation could have resulted in such a secondary issue, but I do believe the drama is almost over. As I finished this last sentence, I have just heard growling in the distance … oh the joys of cat ownership!
I don’t know what traumatic thing had happened to Prissy before she came to live with us, but my husband and I are sure something must have. She was only ten weeks old when we volunteered to foster her and the other remaining sibling along with the two kittens we were planning on adopting. The other kittens would scamper around the house, chasing each other and jumping on us. But Prissy … well Prissy just sat stiff and scared, always a safe distance away from us. After a few weeks, something traumatic really did happen to Prissy at our house. While she and Milo were chasing each other, she got spooked by a wire fence that had been placed next to the outer door to keep them safe until they learned the area. She then ran into the litter box room and wildly tore down a loosely constructed wall (which we did not realize was ‘loosely’ constructed until she tore it down). That did it for Prissy. Within minutes she had jumped on top of the Coke machine and would not come down the whole night. I worried whether she would eat, come down to use the litter box or ever be normal again.
The next day was not much better; in fact, it may have been a little worse. She had moved completely away from the others and spent her time on top of one of the two litter boxes in the litter box room. Poor Milo felt so badly that he sat on top of the second litter box, being such a supporting (and I believe worried) sibling. Prissy did eventually get off the litter box that evening, but several months went by and she still would swat at us if we tried to rub or even get near her. Despite, and partially because of these actions, we decided to adopt Prissy and the other female kitten, Misty, in addition to the two we had already adopted. We had somehow developed an affection for Prissy. She was a beautiful kitten, and we felt that if another family adopted her, they might assume that she was a sweet kitten. If she were to lash out at someone, it might be to her detriment. So we were determined to love that kitten and treat her well even if she never reciprocated our affection as the other kittens were doing. We were determined to do the best for that kitten and take care of her just as we did for the others no matter how she reacted to us. Months passed. Then at about seven months of age, Prissy made a dramatic transformation that we still cannot believe. She started slowly, moving closer to us, then eventually stepping onto our laps. That led to actually sitting on my husband’s lap. She learned to jump into a chair and look at us with longing eyes, with an arched back that just begged to be rubbed. Today at ten months, she is no longer timid or traumatized, Prissy never gives up on what she wants. She is the one who pulls the wooden plugs out of the furniture and hangs on to the play toys with her teeth so tightly that the other kittens hardly have a chance. Instead of looking like a scared cat, she now holds her tail up proudly and confidently. We would have cared for that cat anyway, but it sure is more pleasant that she’s decided to really be a happy part of the family!
Kittens are a joy to watch. Today when I presented our four with a new 2 ½ yard twill ‘string’, they seemed so delighted. What fun they had with it. It brought them all together — connecting them in a pleasant experience. As I continued to watch them play, I realized that most of us could probably learn something from their behavior. Joy does not come from the value of what we have, but with how we come together and experience the fun things in life with simple things. During this holiday season, with all its commercialism, expectations, and yes, even disappointments, may you and yours find some joy in the simple things!
OK, first of all let me say that this was certainly not the plan. We lost our two beloved cats over the last couple years and reached a point where we were ready for another kitten — really two kittens. A friend who volunteers at a local no-kill shelter told me of a pregnant cat. She informed me when the kittens were born and the shelter’s website displayed pictures of the newborns’ faces. We studied the pictures and decided there were a couple of the kittens that somehow pulled at us. When we first visited them at only a few weeks of age, we again zeroed in on the two we had identified in the website’s pictures. We told the shelter we wanted to adopt those two and started visiting the shelter on a weekly basis. We would hold all four of the kittens, but basically “oohed” and “ahhed” over the two we had selected, taking plenty of pictures along the way. At twelve weeks of age, we highly anticipated arriving at the shelter to retrieve the two male kittens, now already named Milo and Pepe. Before we walked inside the cat cottage that day, the shelter’s director met us in the parking lot and informed us that the kittens were very sick with a respiratory virus. We were still determined to take those two chosen kittens home and treat them. Seeing them that day was not easy. Their eyes were so infected and they were all huddled together in their cage. Nevertheless we got the two male kittens into their little carriers as their mother intently watched. Just as soon as we got them to their new home, an amazing sight was in store for us. Those ‘sick’ kittens ran and ran and ran. It was a joy to see. Within an hour, we had made the decision to foster the other two. If the two we had were this happy, then the other two needed attention also, and we wanted to also give them a chance. The shelter’s director was very appreciative of the offer, and we went back to get the other two the same day. After the two girls arrived home, we were determined to give them the best of care, BUT we did not want to get attached to those two fur balls. So we gave them temporary names of #1 and #2. That would keep it just a little more impersonal, or so we thought. And so the treatments began. Twice and sometimes three times daily, we cleaned and medicated their eyes, along with giving them additional medication. We gave them the best of food and clean water, and they had plenty of room to run and play. And run and play they did! These kittens loved it here. We soon realized the kittens were not acting according to the “plan”. The plan was for the girls to stick together so they could be returned to the shelter after they were better and ready to be adopted. But that didn’t really happen. The kittens weren’t pairing off that way. And we were falling for the girls too despite telling ourselves four kittens just could not be. As the weeks went by, seeing all four of them together and the joy they gave each other, not to mention the joy they were giving us, just melted our hearts. #1 and #2 were given names – Eden and Misty. This was getting serious. There was no turning back now. They were “in”. So today I happily announce that these four kittens will stay together! Welcome to the family — Eden, Misty, Pepe and Milo!!!
As promised earlier, following are pictures of the four kittens we currently are adopting and fostering. We plan to adopt Pepe and Milo. The other two we are fostering at this point — the jury is still out as to whether they will also be adopted. (Four kittens is one thing, but four cats — oh my!!!) The females sure are trying to win over our hearts!
Pepe is the most independent of the four. He doesn’t mind finding a cozy area and relaxing while the other kittens are playing. He seems to be in control at all times. He’s got very large paws, and we call him the “gentle giant”. He is already becoming quite a lap cat.
Milo is small but mighty. He seems to be the most athletic and has no problem jumping across, up or over in order to get where he wants to go. He is a joy to watch!
Here are the sweet females. The names are our attempt to keep them a little distance away from our hearts. The fact that we’ve been thinking of more permanent names may be telling — not sure yet.
There will be much more on these kittens in coming weeks!