Category Archives: Cats

Entries where I mention or talk about my cats.

Adventure Time!

Last Saturday, Sherman got sick. After a normal morning of running around, picking fights with Ingrid, and generally getting into trouble, he started crying, then threw up. Then we noticed that he was straining and crying when he was in the litterbox. Jennifer told me, “Something’s wrong with Sherman,” and we decided that she would take him to the emergency vet while I went down to my parents’ house to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

The vet couldn’t find anything wrong with Sherman, even though it was obvious he was in a lot of pain. Cats are not good at telling us humans exactly what’s wrong with them or where, exactly, the pain is, so Sherman was not forthcoming. Finally, the vet sent Jennifer home with some pain meds and instructions to feed Sherman a bland diet and keep him isolated for a few days.

Sherman’s a pretty rambunctious little cat, so being holed up in the library for a few days sounded risky. Would he go stir-crazy and start ripping apart all the books? Cry nonstop, keeping us awake at night and triggering our guilt feelings?

Fortunately he did not do any of those things. He was quiet the whole time. We went in to visit and play with him several times a day, and we fed him baby food for the first couple of days. Tuesday we reintroduced him to canned cat food, which he wolfed down, having gotten bored of the baby food, and yesterday we let him have some kibble, which was OH MY GOD THE BEST THING!

Today we let him out of the library. I was worried that the first thing he’d do was go charging at Ingrid but nope. He took a few tentative steps through the library door, then wandered around upstairs for a bit.

But the real proof that he’s better came this morning. Usually when we open the front door we have to make sure Sherman’s nowhere near since he has a documented history of trying to run outside. This morning, I didn’t see him when I opened the front door, so I figured it was safe to open the door. But the moment I did, Sherman charged out of nowhere and shot through the door.

I shouted after him, of course, but that never does any good with a cat. Usually when he goes outside he gets distracted by something — a neighborhood cat, a stranger jogging by, or (once) the gravel in the neighbor’s yard, which, for some reason, really confused him.

But nope. Today Sherman was intent on having an Adventure. I chased him for half an hour, around the block and around several houses. I thought I had him for sure when he ran into a shed in someone’s back yard, but he crouched low and ran on his belly when I tried to grab him.

Fortunately, he ran under someone’s truck, and that’s when he stopped. For some reason, cars frighten him, even if he does invariably run underneath them when he gets outside. He sat, hunkered down and crying, like he always does, and I managed to grab him by the tail and pull him out. I know you’re not supposed to grab cats by the tail, but I figured in this case any handle would do.

I carried the squirming and fussing cat home (did I mention that we call him “Squirmin’ Sherman”?) and tossed him atop the cat tree in the living room, where he immediately settled in and started bathing himself. Stupid cat.

So I was a bit late to work, and I only now just realized that I was going to take the trash can to the curb, but completely forgot because of the stupid cat.

At least he’s feeling better now.


‘Tis the season for Holidailies. Check it out.

[A-Z] S is for Short and Sweet

I got nothin’ for you tonight just because I’m tired, I have a headache, and am beset by kobolds.

So here’s a picture of Rufus, one of the kittens we’re fostering. Notice he has eyes. This picture is a couple of days old, so those eyes are wider now, and he is more exploratory. He’s gonna be a handful when he gets older.

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This brief entry brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

[A-Z] F is for Fuzz!

fuzz

Our friends L and G seem to have the ability to attract stray and feral cats in the neighborhood. This is through no fault of their own; they just happen to have huge neon “SUCKER” signs attached to their heads

So while L and G went off to visit family back east a couple of weeks ago, one of the strays in the neighborhood, a chunky young she-cat that they hadn’t gotten around to naming, gave birth to six tiny kittens.

“Kittens!” Jennifer squealed at me. “They have kittens! We have to visit the kittens!” I figured this was a good idea, not just because I happen to like kittens as well, but also it would help get my mind off of Rosemary.

Then this morning L was talking to Jennifer about how fostering another six kittens would be a serious chore. Jennifer turned to me and said “It’s too bad you’re not interested in fostering kittens, you know.”

So I thought about it and realized that it might not be so bad. “Why not?” I said. “Let’s do it.”

We, too, have bright neon SUCKER signs on our foreheads.

So, basically, we have acquired seven new cats: a young mama cat (we have no idea how old she really is, and cats are notoriously reticent about giving out their age when asked) and six babies — five orange, and one tuxedo. We’ve decided to dub them the Supernatural Kitties, and name them after various characters from the show Supernatural. And hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a LiveStream account and a webcam so that we can peek in on the kittens any time we want.

Right now the kittens are incredibly young, a week or two at the most. Their ears have popped up, but their eyes have yet to open. The mama cat — Ruby — is still very protective of them. She’s also a bit shy and nervous with us, and we haven’t been able to coax her out of her box to eat or drink water or use the litter box. We’re confident, though, that she’ll come around. She’s not feral, and must have been exposed to people at some point in her life.

The other cats are somewhat perturbed by this state of affairs, but only because the new kittens are currently being kept in the spare room where we used to feed Rosie. Azzie and Rupert are still convinced that yummy wet food lies just beyond the closed door, even though Rosie isn’t in there any more.

Brand new kittens. New fuzz in the house.

Yeah. This makes me happy.


This fuzzy wuzzy blog post brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

[A-Z] G is for Goodbye (RIP Rosemary, 1999-2015)

Rosie-closeup

I remember losing my one of my first childhood pets: Herman the mouse. I woke up that morning and went straight into the den where he lived to check in on him, and found him utterly unresponsive. I tapped on the side of his cage, said his name, and so on, but nothing happened.

That day I couldn’t concentrate at school, and probably started crying at one point because my teacher, Mr. Walsh, took my into the hallway to ask me what was going on. “Herman d-d-d-d-died,” I sobbed. Mr. Walsh was very understanding and went easy on me in class that day.

It doesn’t ever get easier; losing a furry member of our family is always hard. And today I’m still having trouble processing that last night we lost Rosie. I’m sitting here at work (well, technically on break at the moment), unable to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

Rosie was a good kitty, one of the original seven that came into the marriage with Jennifer. I liked her, and had a pretty good relationship with her. She never sat on my lap or anything like that, but she often did sit on the cat tree in our office, purring and occasionally meowing at me. Sometimes I had treats for her: cream cheese from my bagel, bits of turkey from my sandwich, or French fries, which she loved (she would even sneak a fry from a pile of them).

Last night, knowing it was time, I gave her lots and lots of cream cheese before we took her to the emergency veterinary clinic. This resulted in her farting the entire trip, making the car smell like cat poop. It was kind of funny — because, admit it, cat farts are funny — but I couldn’t laugh.

At the hospital, Jennifer had to do all the talking, because I just couldn’t say anything. I tried to be all cool and manly, etc., but I suck at that sort of thing. We didn’t even bother asking for an emergency vet to look at her. We knew what was happening. The vet tech at the counter was very understanding, said they were going to do a “code seven” instead.

They took us into a small examination room, then took her away to put in the catheter. She was gone for half an hour while they did this, and Jennifer and I fretted that Rosie would get stressed feeling sick and away from us for so long, and Jennifer went to the front counter to ask what was taking so long.

When the vet came in with Rosie wrapped up in a blanket, we were relieved to see it was the same vet who had identified the fistula before. It meant that she could see personally how far the tumor and bone infection had progressed. She was impressed by Rosie’s halitosis, brought on by the infection in her mouth.

Rosie purred the entire time. It was her way. The whole time Jennifer held her wrapped in the blanket. She purred a lot. She was generally a happy kitty.

Purr.

Breath.

Purr.

Breath.

Silence.


A-Z Blogging Challenge

[A-Z] C is for Cats

tangerinecloseup

This post is a day late, and for that I apologize. I’ll catch up tonight.

Currently, we have six: Rosemary, Azzie (which is short for Azrael), Nutmeg, Ingrid, Rupert, and Sherman. Originally, we had seven when we got married. They were all Jennifer’s, which, I suppose, made them my step-cats. That particular pack consisted of Allegra, Azzie, Rosie, Sebastian, Zucchini, Rebecca, and, of course, Tangerine (pictured here). Over the years, our feline family has changed and reshaped and mutated and so on. Of the original pack of seven, only Azzie and Rosie are left.

And, sadly, Rosie isn’t doing well right now. She’s an old lady cat at sixteen years old, and we don’t really long how much longer she’ll be with us.

Azzie, on the other hand, is also sixteen, and is still going strong. He whines a lot (and I mean a LOT), but he appears healthy and happy. Mostly happy, at least. He’s certainly the dumbest cat (Jennifer says we should say he’s “dim”, not “dumb”, because “dim” sounds cuter). He’s the cat who got lost behind a see-through shower curtain once. It was kind of pathetic.

At any rate, when Azzie and Rosie are both gone, it will be the end of a particular era: the era of the marriage cats. It won’t be the end of the marriage, because all the cats we have acquired since then are cats we’ve chosen together. How can the choosing of new cats NOT strengthen the bond between a couple?


This post brought to you by the letter C, a bunch of nearly normal cats, and the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

O Tannenbaum (mit Katzen)

Last night we put up our Christmas tree. As you can see, we had supervision (click on the pictures to embiggen).

Sherman&Rupert Investigating

Sherman and Rupert had to investigate the tree before it was out of the box. For quality control, of course.

SomeAssemblyRequired

Sherman made it to the top before we even finished assembling the tree.

BranchInspector

Nutmeg checks to make sure the branches are all in order. She’s a useful cat.

IngridIsUnimpressed

And Ingrid, of course, is unimpressed.

It’s a fake tree, of course. Years ago, when we lived in Dixon, we would go to the Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm every year, hunt down an unsuspecting tree, cut it down, net it, and bring it back to our house, like mighty hunters. The last year we went to the tree farm, though, we just kind of sat in the parking lot and looked at a tree that was already cut down and netted and leaning against the fence. We asked the elf about it and were told that it had been cut down, purchased, and taken home, only to cause sneezing and hives to the family. So it was brought back.

“We’ll take it,” we said. For some reason, we just didn’t feel the urge or even the desire to cut down our own tree that year. The next year, we just decided to go with an artificial tree and be done with it. So we went to Target and bought the nicest one we could find. Nowadays, we just take the tree down from the attic and assemble it (with supervision, of course).

What about you? Fake or real?

‘Tis the season for Holidailies

So, this happened…

So, over the weekend we went to the animal shelter in Sacramento, and adopted this fuzzbutt:

Another picture of Sherman

Of course we dithered over names for awhile. He’s part Russian Blue, we think, so we tossed around variations of Russian names like Boris and Ivan, then more colorful names like Blueberry. But now I think we’ve settled on Sherman as his name.

Sherman the cat

So far the other cats seem to be unimpressed. Rosemary hissed at him and Ingrid growled (brave kitty!), but the others are pretty mellow about the new interloper. Rupert wants to be his buddy. Nutmeg isn’t too sure. And Azzie couldn’t care less.

This brings our household up to six cats. I think we’ve reached our limit.

Checkers: 2003 – 2011

We got Checkers when she was three years old, and she was a small bundle of nerves. She hid in a box in her foster home’s spare bedroom, and we had to chase her to get her into the carrier we’d brought with us. We knew going into this that she was a neurotic cat, but we were used to cats with issues.

When we got her home, we put her carrier into the library and she immediately ran and hid behind the books. For days we barely saw her, though we have pictures of her peering out at us between books of Lovecraft stories (I really wanted to make a lolcat with one of these pictures and caption it, “Lovecraftian Cat Lurks In The Library”, but we figured not many people would get the joke).

For weeks, she stayed in the library. Then she moved to the linen closet, and that became her new lurking spot. It was a good spot for her, because it was unmolested by the other cats, and it was easy for us to play with her. She didn’t play much at that point, but she did enjoy catching her claws on a dangled shoestring.

Eventually, she moved on from the linen closet to the office. It was here that she and I connected, as much as we did. She hid on one of the shelves, behind one of our miniature gargoyles. I’d throw small toys at her — sparkle balls were her favorites — and she would bap them back at me. This game could go on for hours. And every now and then, when I would walk into the office, she would throw one of her toys at me to get my attention for another round. We were becoming buddies. But then she started to pee on my desk, and the time I caught her doing it — I picked her up quickly and darted to the litter box — more or less marked the end of our relationship. She didn’t throw the toys at me anymore after that, and she became less enthusiastic about the toy bapping game.

When we moved to our house in Sacramento, she quickly marked out the lower level as hers. We never saw her upstairs. She didn’t interact with the other cats, and we joked that she would have preferred to be an only child. She was happy like this, living downstairs, spending most of her time on top of one of the cat trees, occasionally (and only half-heartedly) playing the toy bapping game with me.

Jennifer noticed that Checkers was losing weight and becoming lethargic, so we took the cat to the vet, who found tumors in her intestines and diagnosed her with lymphoma. She wasn’t in pain, the vet said, and there were some pills that might hopefully shrink the tumors. We tried the pills — or, rather, Jennifer tried, because there was no way Checkers would let me near enough to pop a pill down her throat. Soon Jennifer was unable to administer the pills either, so she took Checkers back in for a shot that would hopefully do the same thing.

It didn’t work.

We came home from a play late Saturday night, and Jennifer found Checkers lying under the bed. She’d thrown up, and was struggling to breathe. We bundled her up in a thick towel and headed off to the emergency veterinary hospital so that they could administer the last relief, but it was too late. Checkers died in Jennifer’s arms. Tearfully we left her body at the vet’s for disposal — there simply isn’t room in our back yard at this point.

Checkers’s death was a milestone of sorts for me. She wasn’t the first of our cats to die, but she was the first of the cats that Jennifer and I chose together after our marriage. So even though she and I did not get along that well (aside from that brief time in the office in our old house), I miss her. She used to yell at us from downstairs whenever we put out wet food for the cats, and now that hollering has been silenced, and it’s hard. It’s strange to go downstairs, look at the cat tree where she used to lurk, and not see her there.

So long, Checkers. I’ll miss you.

Tangerine: April 1995 to September 2009

Tangerine: April 1995 to September 2009

Here’s all I can really say about Tangerine.

She was a beautiful cat. She really was my favorite. I bonded with her in a way I’d never bonded with another cat. We both had respiratory issues; I have asthma and allergies, and Tangerine was permanently sniffly due to some upper respiratory issues she had as a kitten. We described her funny little noises as “snorfles”, and we could always tell when she was coming by her snorfles and sniffs. She was not a stealhy cat. And every now and then she would seem to get “oversnorfed” and would end up in a sneezing and sniffing fit that we could hear all over the house. Because of her breathing problems, she had a very loud and squeaky purr that we could hear from just about everywhere in the house.

Most mornings after waking up I spend half an hour or so puttering around on my computer. Tangerine would often jump onto my lap when I was doing that, and sometimes she would crawl onto my chest and lay ther purring, which would prevent me from sitting upright or standing up; she was a great excuse for avoiding my morning chores. If she didn’t jump up on me, she’d rear up and put her front paws on my leg, or just wander around the office, making her silly snorfs and squacking noises. Feeling her settle in on my chest and curling up and purring was one of my favorite parts of the morning, and it never failed to cheer me up.

She wasn’t much for playing or overt affection; she liked being on me, but she wasn’t too keen on being carried around or held. She hated being on her back, but sometimes she liked being on her side. Let’s say she liked affection but it had to be on her own terms. And even though she came with Jennifer to our marriage, Tangerine and I really bonded to the point where it was clear that she was really my cat more than she was Jennifer’s.

When she had her first seizure on Tuesday morning, we both panicked. I called the vet and brought her in as soon as I could; it was an hour until they opened, and during the entire time I worried. I took the day off work so that I could take care of her when she came home, and check in with the vet for the half day that she was there. When I went to the vet, the vet informed me that Tangerine’s heart was enlarged and she had some fluid buildup in her lungs, as well as a significant heart murmur. But we thought maybe it was something that could be managed at home, so Tangerine came home with me.

That night, while Jennifer was at her class, Tangerine had another seizure. Panicked, I call an emergency veterinary hospital. I took Tangerine in and let the ER techs take care of her while a vet took a complete history (every vet who’s examined Tangerine needed assurance that her “snorfles” and sniffles were normal for her). We worried and waited all day Wednesday while the hospital staff examined her and tried to figure out what was wrong.

By the end of the day on Wednesday, we had an answer: endocarditis. Endocarditis is essentially a bacterial infection of the heart valves. Bacteria build up, and as the heart beats, bacteria can break off and enter the blood stream and end up establishing colonies elsewhere in the body. The best theory is that bacteria or a clot had entered Tangerine’s brain and was causing the seizures. They started giving her antibiotics and some other medications, but she showed no improvement. Despite two rounds in an oxygen tent and continued medications, Tangerine showed no improvement; in fact, she was declining pretty rapidly. And on Thursday morning I asked the vet what he would do if Tangerine were his cat; and he told me that he would honestly consider euthanasia. And I knew it was the right choice. Tangerine would not get better. And the time she had left would not be pleasant. So I asked the vet to just keep her comfortable until the evening when Jennifer and I could be there, and I spent almost the entire day in tears; I honestly don’t remember when the last time was that I cried so much in a single day.

Last night we went to the veterinary hospital. The vet let us have a few minutes with her before it was time. I held her on my chest the way she occasionally liked to be held. She didn’t purr. She couldn’t purr; it was too hard for her just to breathe. We stroked her and gave her pets and told her how much we loved her. The vet let me hold her on my lap while he gave her the injection, and it was almost like the mornings and evenings when she would sit on me and purr and accept friendly pets. We both gave her pets and strokes while the injection did its work, and I take some comfort knowing that she was being held and surrounded by people who loved her when it was time for her to go.

There’s so much more I wish I could write about Tangerine: the little games we played; the way she sat on a pillow in the middle of the couch, staring at the back of the couch for hours on end; the friendly way she engaged people whenever we had gatherings or parties by sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room; the way that everyone who met her seemed to want to take her home; how proud she seemed to be of her very fluffy tail; and so on. But writing this so far has been painful enough.

So long, my snerky and snorfly fuzzy friend. You’ll always be my fuzzy buddy, and words can’t express how much I miss you.

Sebastian: September 1991 to August 2009

Yesterday afternoon, we had to put our beloved cat Sebastian to sleep. He was eighteen years old, and was in the early stages of kidney failure; but in addition to the kidney issues he was anemic, which probably indicated that there was something more dire going on. He had stopped eating beyond a minimal amount of the special food that we prepared for him, and was losing weight. He was having trouble walking, and had taken to hiding in the closet when he wasn’t trying to eat; and we know from experience that when a cat hides in the closet, it is never a good sign. We took him to the vet yesterday to have him looked at one more time, and the vet told us that his prognosis was guarded at best, and definitely not good. We asked the vet what he would do if Sebastian were his cat, and the vet told us he would consider putting the cat to sleep. So that’s what we did. It was either that, or let him slowly and painfully starve to death.

Sebastian was a friendly cat. When I first met him a few years ago, just after Jennifer and I started dating, he clambered on my lap and crawled all over me, rubbing his face on my chin and so on. He liked strangers and would always investigate new people when they came by. Of course, once he got to know someone, he would become aloof to them.

But what really distinguished Sebastian from other cats was his vocalizations. For a cat, he had very impressive lungs, and would frequently wander around the house, yelling. He did this mostly while we were watching television, or when we had guests over for a party or to play a role-playing game. He was also adept at finding the best places in the house for the best acoustics, whether it was at the bottom of the stairs yelling upwards or yelling into the drain in the bathtub. Sometimes his yelling was loud enough for the neighbors to hear, though fortunately no one ever complained. Jennifer and I used to joke that he was part foghorn.

In his prime, Sebastian was a big cat, weighing upwards of seventeen pounds, and quite muscular. Though he was definitely a mama’s boy and hung out mostly with Jennifer there were times when he deigned to let me carry him around, though he would start to struggle after a few moments. And as an all white cat, of course, he shed everywhere. Sometimes, even after we’d brushed as much of his fur off of us as possible, people would still ask us in public if we owned a white cat.

So overall he was a good cat. Silly, loud, and friendly. Jennifer held him as he died, which he did quietly and without any yelling.

So long, big noisy cat. We’ll miss you terribly.