Tag Archives: kitties

Homecoming

One of the best parts about coming home from a trip is that we have two kitties who, even though they detest one another, both love us very much. Or, at least, Loki loves us both. Princess Robin loves Dan and thinks I’m just OK. Anyhow, we got home this afternoon after being gone for six days and we’ve both been sat upon, used as bathing platforms, gotten kitty kisses and snuggles and head butts, and listened to them each tell us all about what we missed. Last night, where we stayed, there were two very friendly kitties, and being around them just made me that much happier that we’d get to see our kitties today.

On dogs, briefly

Dan’s home for four days and brought us a new router, so our own network is functional again. Hooray! This evening, we watched a Nova special about the evolution, genetics, and behavior of dogs, and while we don’t have a dog I found myself saying “aww” every time I saw a cute dog on the screen. Which was a lot of times. I realized a few minutes into the program (and about 45 minutes before they actually said it ON the program) that there are many traits about dogs that are akin to human babies, and probably partly why we find them so lovable. I grew up always having a dog in the family, and always having cats, yet I consider myself more of a cat person than a dog person.

When the show was over, I turned to Dan and said “Having a dog is more like having a baby, and having a cat is more like having a teenager.” Which I think is pretty accurate, and I wonder what that will mean for my future hypothetical parenting techniques and interests. You can leave a cat for a few days as long as it has a litter box, food, and water, and when you come home the cat will either ignore you or berate you for having been gone. You can’t leave a dog for more than about 10 hours because it needs to be walked, access to outdoors so it can pee and poop, and it needs human attention or it will fail to thrive. I like that cats are more independent and that they mostly have “personalities” that don’t necessarily involve loving their human companions unconditionally. But I bet when I have a dog again, I’ll love that dog to pieces.

What can happen in 90 seconds

Some time several months ago, Dan and I were at the feed store where we buy our cats’ food and litter when we came across a rainbow-striped cat harness with leash. Since for the first time we’re living in a house with a big fenced yard, we had started to talk about the possibility of trying each cat, one at a time, on the harness outside for a couple of minutes to see how they liked it. Both cats are avid watchers of what we call the Kitty Show (aka watching out the various windows and sliding glass doors and looking at all the wildlife that traipses through the yard) so we thought they might like to try some (brief, supervised) time outside.

Neither cat seemed to enjoy the experience overly much during the couple of initial outings, so we kind of forgot about it for a while. Then, January happened, and it was warm-ish and sunny and didn’t rain for nearly a month. We thought it might be fun to see if either of the cats was interested in outside time again. One day in mid-January, Dan put the harness on Loki and brought him outside the back door. Somehow, the cat managed to wriggle out of the harness, knock over several yard tools, run through a leaf pile, and hightail it back in the house, seemingly within the blink of an eye. All told, he was probably outside for about a minute and a half.

A few days later, Loki started scratching.

He scratched, and he bit himself, and he started pulling fur out of his back. He was acting like he had fleas, though I couldn’t see how he could possibly have them, since we’d been in the house for months with nary a sign of fleas anywhere. I checked him for flea poop and monitored Robin but I couldn’t find any sign other than Loki’s obvious discomfort. I found one flea in our bed early on, but neither Dan and I nor Robin seemed to be getting bitten at all. We realized that he must have picked up a flea during that 90 second jaunt outside (in January) (in barely 60 degree weather). We’d never had to worry about fleas at all in Denver, since there aren’t really fleas in Denver, and the cats were always indoor-only there. But squirrels and neighborhood cats run through our yard all the time, so I guess somehow there was a flea that managed to get on Loki during that minute and a half. Eventually, we decided that we’d just treat them both for fleas and be done with it, so we got some of that Advantage stuff and dosed both felines, washed the bedding and the rugs and vacuumed the carpets, thinking that would be the end of it.

It wasn’t the end of it. He kept scratching and digging. I didn’t see more flea poop on Loki, so I brought him in to the vet thinking maybe he had a flea allergy and he’d need a steroid shot to feel better. The vet found flea poop that hadn’t been there when I’d checked, gave him the shot, and told us to give him another dose of Advantage and flea powder the carpets in the house. So we did.

The shot, which wasn’t cheap (and neither was the vet visit) didn’t seem to give the cat any relief. He was starting to look all manky and bald on his back. We dutifully flea powdered all the carpets. Then one day I had gone into the bedroom to fold laundry on the bed, and I watched in horror as three adult fleas emerged from the fluffy, down-filled spread we had on the bed, the one thing that we hadn’t washed when we washed everything else because of the down filling. ARGH. It was disgusting, to watch the fleas come out to try and feed on me. I killed them all and immediately dragged all of our bedding outside and threw up in my mouth and then I threw the spread into the washing machine and washed it on hot. I’m sure the fluffiness will never be the same, but I’ll never be the same after seeing those fleas pop out from between the fibers of the fabric cover.

All of the bedding got washed again, and we vacuumed and flea-sprayed down our mattress and the bedroom rug again and the furniture in the living room. And Loki went after Robin.

We’ve had Robin now for over 14 months. During that time, we’ve had periods of time where the cats ignored each other or seemed to have interest in one another but generally left one another alone. We’ve also had times during which Loki goes after Robin ever chance he gets. Those times seem to coincide with stress, and I think the stress of having fleas for the first time in his life must have been more than his poor little walnut brain could handle, because since the flea problem started, Loki has been more vicious in his attacks. We’ve tried the things we’d learned second-hand from an animal behaviorist – praising him when she walks through the room and he doesn’t chase her; squirting him with a water bottle when he’s considering going after her; isolating him in a room when he does chase or attack her. Until the flea problem began, Loki seemed to be getting it through his head that his predatory behavior toward the other cat was unacceptable. But once that began, all bets were off.

The day we washed and vacuumed and sprayed everything again, it was sunny outside and I’d gone out to pull some weeds when I heard the telltale yowls and screams of a catfight. I ran back in the house to find that Loki had cornered Robin behind the bed in the spare room and was going at her singlemindedly. She managed to get away; he chased her. I had to throw a book at him to distract his attention enough to get him away from her and I shut him in the laundry room. She seemed rattled as usual but we didn’t notice anything amiss until the next day when she hissed and cried anytime she was picked up, and started obsessively licking a spot on her side. Of course, it was a Sunday, so no vets were open and we decided we’d watch it to see if it abscessed because we didn’t want to have to bring her in for another expensive trip to the vet if we could help it. We went online and ordered a plug-in Feliway diffuser to see if that would help with the aggression, thinking at the very least it couldn’t hurt.

Days passed, and her sore spot, a tooth puncture, didn’t seem to bother her anymore. But it developed a lump, so we knew she needed antibiotics. The vet scolded us for not bringing her in sooner, shaved the area, removed the scab, and flushed the abscess, telling us to keep an eye on it. That was on Thursday last week. By Sunday, the weird spot on her skin that we’d thought was just dark skin (she is, after all, a spotted/striped cat) opened up to be a large draining sore and of course, it being Sunday again, no vets were open. We called an emergency vet service in Santa Rosa asking for advice, and the lady told us to keep her from licking the spot using some sort of a cone collar. We put the cat in her carrier and drove her with us to Santa Rosa to keep her mind off the sore spot (instead, she protested the injustice of her confinement in the carrier and her transportation in the car) while we looked for a place that would sell us a cone. Instead, we found a donut-style inflatable collar at PetCo and when we got her home we put the thing on her.

She has never looked so pathetic.

Sunday night, after wobble-walking around and learning she couldn’t eat or drink out of her normal containers, Robin bravely emerged from her perch on the refrigerator to hang out with us on the couch. Loki was resting on the back of the couch behind us. When he saw her coming at him with that giant thing around her neck, he instantly attacked, and it was all we could do to get them apart as he chased her through the house. The poor thing couldn’t jump up to her normal safe places or protect or defend herself with that inflatable donut around her neck, and he managed to get a ton of fur off her.

He spent the night in the laundry room with his litter box and his food and water, while we cried and petted poor Robin in her donut and tried to figure out what to do next. We can’t let him keep attacking her (it’s not fair to her to have to always be afraid of being attacked) and we can’t stand the idea of giving up either of the cats (though honestly, we’re more likely to find a home for Robin if necessary; she’s sweet and loving toward people and she’s less than two years old. Loki is seven, great with people, obviously very aggressive and territorial toward other animals, and he’s already bitten a human once (me).) Sunday night was mostly sleepless, as pathetic donut Robin slept between us in the bed while I woke up every time she moved, afraid she’d be able to maneuver around the leaking donut (it had sprung a leak during the fight) and lick the open sore on her side.

Monday we brought her back in to the vet. They shaved more of the area, washed out the open sore, and gave us more antibiotics. And we talked to the vet about what we might do with Loki. He gave us a prescription for kitty antidepressants, saying that a couple of months on the pills might help change his brain chemistry so he’s less likely to see Robin as a threat or prey or something to be aggressive toward. And supposedly, they work best in conjunction with the Feliway diffuser. Meanwhile, during the time Robin’s open sore is healing and she’s wearing the donut collar, we’re going to keep them separated 24 hours a day like we always have when we’ve not been in the house. We’re trading off keeping her in the back of the house (with food/water/box and a bed and toys) while he’s in the main part of the house with us, and keeping him in the kitchen/laundry room (with food/water/box and a bed and tons of Kitty Show to watch) while she gets to have time with the humans. Maybe after she’s healed up and she’s had a full week on antibiotics, we can try heavily supervised time when both cats are in the same physical space. And by that time he’ll have been on the antidepressants for several days.

I don’t feel great about medicating Loki, not only because we’re messing with his brain chemistry (urgh) but because getting him to take a pill is not easy. And he has to take them every day. While he’s taking the antidepressants, we can’t be away for more than 24 hours because if we have a hard time pilling him, anybody he doesn’t know as well is going to have a BITCH of a time doing it. He bit me bad enough to give me nasty scars on my hand back in December during one of their fights, and I feel like approaching his mouth is just asking for trouble, but so far it’s gone OK as we’ve caught him sleeping and he’s not aware enough to put up that much of a protest. I’m hoping to find some pill pocket treats that might make things easier for giving him the daily pill, but that’s more money spent. And if giving him a pill every day for two months makes it so both cats can live in relative harmony without having to rehome one of them, it will be worth it.

Feline, culinary

When it's this cold out, Loki sits on each of us and gives us claws-extended rubs wherever his paws hit

LARGE SCARY KITTY MIGHT EAT ME

Rugs are good places to hide

Sadly, Princess Robin is too big to be stealthy

Today, we both tried a completely-new-to-us fruit. Other than the one time I know I ate an unripe one off a tree in someone’s yard when I was very small, today is the first time I ever tried a persimmon.

 

Hachiya on left, Fuyu on right

It was Dan’s first time too. I decided to capture it for posterity.

Totally different colors and texture inside

While pretty inside, the Hachiya persimmon was sweet but felt very puckery in my mouth, making me feel like I had just licked cotton. Obviously it wasn’t ripe enough. The parts that were squishy and very ripe were just sweet, kind of reminding me of mangoes, and didn’t seem to have much flavor other than cloying.

Cross-section of Hachiya persimmon

The fuyu didn’t have as much ascerbic tannin in the flesh (meaning, it was probably more ripe) but the texture was quite a big different; it was significantly more firm, and the flavor was somewhat deeper and a little more complex. It was still kind of puckery.

Cross section of fuyu persimmon

Neither of us opted to eat more than a couple of bites. From now on, we’ll only eat very very ripe persimmons…or just not bother at all. Maybe I’ll try making persimmon cookies or something someday, but the fruit itself just doesn’t seem worth bothering with. What am I missing?

This is progress

Two kitties, one human, one bed. After said human got up from his nap, the kitties stayed on the bed. They were at least three feet apart, but there was no fighting for the couple of hours both of them were on the bed.

Fluids

Or, Dan and Emily’s Excellent Adventure, part the first

Last week, Dan got a cold. It was right after we’d done a big hike on Mount Bierstadt and I’d chalked up his difficulty with the altitude to just that, but on Monday he informed me he was getting sick.

“Great,” I thought, but luckily it wasn’t too bad a cold so we figured he’d feel better by the time we left on our trip. Many times, when Dan gets sick I don’t (luck? I’ve already had it? Who knows?) but unfortunately, this time, I had no such luck. Late on Thursday I started to feel the telltale throat tickle, and I cursed my immune system. Or at the very least, I shook my tiny fist at it in impotent rage.

Friday, it was still mostly just a throat tickle and I felt kind of run down, but had no problems working an entire day or having lunch with my friend and her now 9-month-old (I was careful about breathing on him or swapping secretions). But Saturday morning, the day before we were supposed to leave, I felt like cold fried shit. We spent the day sorting and folding laundry, packing, prepping the house to leave for three weeks, packing the car, and, finally, shoving the kitties in their carriers for a trip up to the Dan’rents abode. Loki’s an old hat at this visiting thing, but it was Robin’s first trip, and boy did she voice her displeasure.

YOWL YOWL YOWL. YOWL. YOWL YOWL.

We were serenaded for a goodly chunk of the voyage by Robin letting us know in no uncertain terms that she Did Not Approve of riding in a car in a kitty carrier. Loki, on the other hand, made absolutely no noise. I was keeping one eye on him, though, since he has a tendency to be car sick, and he was looking as though he didn’t feel well. It was hot, in the high 80s, and our car has no air conditioning, so in between Robins Yowls of Displeasure she panted, so finally I tossed the one thing I had in the main part of the car that could keep the sun off her over her carrier. And then, I smelled it.

“Did you fart?” I asked Dan.

“No…” he responded, with a look of growing horror on his face.

I turned around once more to see Loki moving away from a giant log of poop he’d deposited all over the front part of the carrier. I guess I was somewhat lucky to be congested from the cold, because the smell was not nearly as pungent as it would otherwise have been. Dan rolled down his window and I manipulated things to be open the carrier, shoved Loki out of the way, and used a good supply of car tissues to wrap up and mop up his fecal mess. It was totally disgusting.

Not two minutes later, Loki peeped his “I’m gonna yak” peep and horked up his last meal. The car smelled of cat shit and cat barf, and once again Dan moved his seat forward while I used the towel in the bottom of the carrier and some tissues to clean up the cat barf as best I could while we hurtled up I25 at 75 miles per hour. I’d nearly finished my work when suddenly Loki decided that two emissions weren’t enough, and he peed all over the back of the carrier, looking miserable.

That’s right. Cat shit, cat puke, and cat piss, all in less than five minutes. And I got to clean it all up, or at least do the best I could, while Robin yowled away in the carrier above Loki’s. He’s never peed in his carrier before, so I don’t know if it was just a coincidence, or if his system decided it needed to purge itself in every possible way.

The pee was really the last straw, as I didn’t want to use any more of the tissues and the towel was already covered in poop and puke and I just couldn’t get it all, so I asked Dan to pull off the road to a gas station at the next available opportunity. I got out of the car, depositing all of the soiled tissues in a garbage can and going inside to wash my hands while Dan used some of the paper towels they supply for windshield cleaning to finish mopping up the pee out of the back of the carrier. I cleaned as much puke as I could off the towel and wadded it up, soiled bits on the inside. The funny thing was that after we got going again, Robin didn’t make a single noise for the entire rest of the trip north. And thankfully, Loki had nothing left in his system after his three-orifice extravaganza, and the rest of the way was peaceful.

* * * * * *

Dan and I left bright and early on Sunday morning, after I’d hardly slept at all Saturday night what with the being sick and the Robin climbing all over me and the anticipation of getting up so much earlier than usual. I felt absolutely miserable for the first several hours of the drive through Colorado and Nebraska. About eight hours into the trip, just inside Iowa, we pulled off into a campground Dan had found online and we staked out a spot for our tent. Tent camping wasn’t super-formal, so we paid our fee and set up the tent in a nice area under a tree and near the water. There were fire pits and picnic tables aplenty, plus a volleyball court and a basketball court and a kickass awesome jungle gym/big toy-type thing that got quite a bit of use over the course of the afternoon and evening, but there was absolutely no running water, potable or otherwise, unless one had a hose or some other sort of hookup in the RV area. I’d really hoped to at least rinse off my head after such a long, hot day in the car and all the humidity we’d encountered, but no dice. So I pouted and read a book in the shade and felt like ass, and later Dan and I played on the playground and reminisced about the playgrounds our elementary schools had had (and how much less pinchy swing chains coated in plastic paint are, and how much safer playground equipment is now). Eventually we made some dinner sandwiches, played our customary hands of gin, and watched the fireflies get eaten by bats and evening birds. As we went to bed, grass around us damp, we listened to the horny cows and the bull frogs and the cicadas and all of the other creatures that lived next to the stagnant lake.

I woke up when the sky started dripping on me. We’d opted not to put the rain fly on the tent because of how warm it was, but some time in the middle of the night it started to rain so I threw on the fly in my sleep stupor and hoped it would keep us from getting soaked. The tent was pelted with rain for the rest of the night, and in the morning what had been damp grass was sodden with rain. It was warm and humid, and my feet didn’t feel dry for nearly an hour after we got going.

Pincushion

It’s been so long since we had a kitten that I had kind of forgotten about some of the downsides. Things like kittens who get very excited about playing in the bed when it’s 3 AM. Things like kittens who like to climb, all the way up to your shoulder, even when they’re getting really big and heavy and they use your various parts as assists to get to where they’re going, regardless of how squishy they are or how painful it is for you. Things like how freaking sharp kitten claws can be. I currently have a series of scratches in various states of healing on my hands, arms, shoulders, upper back, and chest (and by chest I mean BOOBS). My right nipple is still a little sore from when Robin used me as a way to get from the couch to the chair; my boob just happened to be in her way and it provided a stepping stone, I presume, though for me it felt like a very unwanted free piercing.

Robin is still freaked out by Loki. It’s understandable, considering he’ll go a week ignoring her or, when noticing her, jumping up just to sniff her or look menacing, but then (like last night) he’ll get some sort of bad idea in his head and attack her. The squirt bottle is getting a workout for the first time in years, and sometimes he’s so vicious I have to physically pull him off her. I don’t understand why he does this. We think it’s better and he’s gotten over having a Strange New Kitty In His House. They’ll even sleep within inches of one another, Robin on Dan’s lap and Loki on mine. They’ll play with the same toy at the same time. But whenever Robin’s stationary and Loki comes near, she’ll hiss and growl at him, ears back, and I’m sure he finds it terribly rude because he’ll go from minding his own business to fight mode in 3 seconds. 90-95% of the time, all he does is bluster and show how big he is, but that 5-10% I can’t blame her for the hissing and the growling.

Anyhow, because Loki is Big Scary Kitteh, Robin uses us as conveyances from one room to another, from chair to bathroom counter to bed. She still goes in her room every night with the baby gates up, and most nights she comes into our bed at some point. She stays at the head of the bed while Loki sleeps, as always, between Dan’s knees. I’m sure part of Loki’s problem is that he never ever had to share any high up spaces (backs of chairs, counters) or the bed before, because Petra couldn’t jump and was scared of our room and especially our bed. So not only is there Strange Kitteh, there’s Strange Kitteh who Hangs Out In His Spots. I’m sure she keeps to high places in order to keep an eye out for him, but he finds it pretty offensive I think. As Robin gets bigger (and oh, how bigger she is getting!) we have taken to putting her down on the dreaded floor from time to time and it takes her at least 2 or 3 seconds to get up on the nearest safe high surface.

Loki, meanwhile, has claimed my lap as his own. Any time I’m sitting on the couch he is on my lap, regardless of whether the laptop’s there too, or whether I’m knitting, or whether I’m even in a configuration that promotes lap-sitting on his part. It doesn’t matter how many times I get up and sit back down; he is ever vigilant and must be On Me. Of course, because it’s winter and it’s cold I’m usually wearing comfy yoga pants. And Loki, being a Very Large Heavy Strong Kitty, has sharp, strong claws, because we can’t clip them. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but when he decides to give me a kneading in the soft part of my upper inner thigh, it HURTS. And when he’s sitting in my lap and I’m cross legged and the claws on his back feet poke into me, it HURTS. And sometimes his claws get stuck in the material of my pants and I have HOLES in them now.

So here I am, battered and covered in cat scratches, with my holey pants, and 2 cats who must be supervised together at all times, but it’ll get better eventually, right?