Wednesday, November 13, 2019

7 Weeks Today

The 6 kitties are 7 weeks old today. They have figured out how to climb up on the bed and are happy to share what previously was Mama Kitty's one refuge from her constantly hungry brood.  Although it looks like a "copy paste" crew, there are three who have a gray classic marble coat and three that have soft gray stripes.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A New Chapter Begins

How did we go from having 1 cat in the house to 11 – in less than a month? Our house is now over run with 10 new faces – all tabby in various shades of grey. Our lone whitester is feeling outnumbered – and is wondering what happened to those quiet retirement years he was looking forward to as the only king of the castle.

So let us start at the beginning…..

It started 3 years ago when we kept seeing a white cat with tabby markings showing up at our front step the occasional evening.  She looked hungry so we put a little dry food out for her. For several months, we would see that the food had disappeared overnight and we would catch glimpses of her coming and going.  We would try to get close but she was wary of us and would back away. We assumed that she was either an underfed house cat or she was a stray.

The following summer we saw more of her – she seemed more hungry than usual.  It was not long after thus that we started to see two additional young cats coming through our yard at various times. One looked very much like Mama cat so we assumed these were her kittens. One was mainly tabby with some white markings, longer fur and beautiful green eyes.  It was braver and would come closer to the front step when it thought there would be food. We called it Sabi (from Sabrina the witch who had green eyes…and silly as it seems, Sabi the Tabby seemed a suitable call name).  The other young cat had long black fur with a goofy white patch on its face so that one became Cricket.

As fall closed in we saw more of the young cats and less of Mama Cat. My hubby decided to build a cat shelter in our back yard so the young cats would have a warm place in winter. At this point we knew Mama Cat and these young ones were strays.  As we spoke to other neighbours we found out there were more cats roaming the neighbourhood who did not seem to belong to anyone. Being at the end of the city, right by the highway, there is a good chance some of these cats were simply dumped off at the approach to the highway. 

 Then one day we saw Sabi accompanied by several kittens.  We made sure there was always food left at night time and would often see one, two or three kittens playing around our truck or under the large Colorado spruce in the front yard.  We thought there were about four kittens altogether.  Our neighbour was able to entice one kitty inside so they adopted her.  Two kitties stayed in the general vicinity of our house and throughout the winter we would open a door and see two tabbies waiting for food.  To distinguish them we decided to call one “Chair kitty” since it was always sitting on one of the chairs on our front step and the other one was “Hisser” since anytime we even took a step towards it, it would hiss loudly. We assume Chair Kitty was a she, given her timidity and Hisser was a he, given his attitude towards us.

With a cold winter in play, we decided to purchase a heated kitty house for the front of the house.  Chair kitty had disappeared but Hisser was a regular visitor and was getting more comfortable with us so we wanted to make sure he had an option if it became too cold wherever he spent the night.  Hisser decided that the heated house was just right for him and he took up residence there. He seemed content with the circumstances and he would even let us pat him under the chin every once in awhile.

Fast forward to spring.  Hisser was looking surprisingly fat for a feral cat. It turns out Hisser was a she and pregnant. She would appear at the front door early mornings and evening, wolfing down any wet food we would bring out to her.  We quickly renamed her to Mama Kitty to reflect her new role.
Two and a half months later, in summer, we spotted her walking along the back retaining wall, with a kitten in her mouth. Once she deposited the kitten in a safe spot in the back yard, she brought two more. 

Out the back window, we would see the little kittens jumping up on the concrete sidewalk blocks and trying to climb up the poplar tree.  We couldn’t get close to them but we could certainly see the exuberance of kitten youthfulness when we retreated to a safe distance. 

As they grew to about three months they became braver and would come to the front door with Mama Kitty to be fed alongside her. The largest of the three kittens was a soft grey classic tabby (mottled markings like a marble cake).  The other two had the mackerel tabby stripes in a darker color. For ease of identification, the grey one became Smokie. The other two were named for their personalities, Braveheart and Scaredy Cat.

At that time, we did find out what happened to Chair Kitty. He, not she, became a beloved pet in the house right behind us. He had escaped and his owner climbed over our fence looking for him! All ended well and he was back in his home within a day.

Back to our story….

We decided we would try to capture the three kittens and look for homes for them.  They were more friendly than any of the ferals we had been feeding so we anticipated that it would be easier to socialize them for moving to a loving family. Mama kitty seemed comfortable outside so we weren’t looking to change her situation.

Once we made that decision we quickly realized we had to change course.  Mama kitty was looking suspiciously chubby and we realized she was pregnant again.  Doing the math we realized her brood would be born at the beginning of winter, which meant they would only be a few weeks old when the snow came. The plan now became to capture all four.

The first step of the capture happened more by chance than by design. Hubby had opened the back patio door to look out at the bird feeder when Smokie and Braveheart simply walked inside.  Hubby shut the door right away and the capture commenced. Smokie was the easiest since I picked him up and took him to his new bedroom upstairs.  Braveheart did not come so easily.  She scratched wildly when picked up and then she ran under the stereo unit.  It took a day of hubby cajoling her out with a cat toy before he was able to get her in a box and bring her upstairs to her brother. 

Mama Kitty was next.  We put some food inside the front door and she willingly came in. However, once I closed the door she realized something was up and she did her best to escape.  Fortunately I was able to grab her when she started to climb up the coats on the coat rack and she was quickly moved up to her own bedroom.   

 One kitten left to go.  We had a couple of failed attempts trying to capture Scaredy cat. At night we would hear her plaintive meows, calling out for her siblings.  We could see her sitting at the end of the yard looking for her family.  On the third night, hubby went out to the store to buy a variety of toys that he thought might persuade her to come in. Surprisingly, the winner was the laser pointer. In she came.  We thought we would have a difficult time once she was in but she stayed hunched against the wall, so hubby easily picked her up and took her to reunite with her siblings.

Oh yes….three weeks later Mama Kitty had six kittens and that is how we became a household with eleven felines.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My Sweet Angel

Angel has been an inside cat ever since he came to live with us 12 years ago. He had a love of the outside but we knew he would not stay close by if he was ever let to have the run of the yard. He had to content himself with sniffs of fresh spring air from an open window or the breeze on his fur when I tucked him into my dressing gown and took him out into the chilly evenings.

Today, we realized he was closer to the end than we had hoped and we knew we would have to take him into the vet. He spent his last hours today being cuddled with us and with some time outside sitting in the yard he always enjoyed watching from the window. He seemed content to simply sit there and feel the grass underneath him.

We will miss Angel in many ways - and will feel the holes he has left each day.  He won't be hopping into my chair when I leave it and curling up, daring me to even think about disturbing him.  He won't be jumping onto the bed to snuggle up beside a warm leg or two.  He won't be biting the leg that moved and disturbed his sleep. And the dogs will no longer be puzzled by a small furry being that constantly walks by them or around them without fear and drinks out of the double dog bowl right beside whichever dog is already there.

But we will always remember a loving cat who came to us as the only pet in the household and transitioned through several feline and canine additions to become the true "elder" of the household. This was his home and he knew that he never needed to worry about losing his special place in our hearts.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

sleeping Angel

Angel, the elder, is slowing down these days.  He is in his 17th year, 12 of which he has been with us.  His favorite pastime is to sleep in a nice warm spot.  If my husband is sitting in the living room, then that nice warm spot is my hubby's lap. We do have a special cat bed on the coffee table which he also often enjoys.

Today, with the blowing snow outside and minus 20 degree weather, we had an electric throw plugged in ready to use.  Angel found it and has stretched out along the heated spine.  And he was not in a mood to share that with anyone!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Last Footprint

Tomorrow, it will be one year since we lost Max,our German Shepherd.  It did not seem real that day - coming home from the final visit to the vet and opening the front door, it seemed as if Max was just around the corner.  Except for his absence by my chair, life felt like it was going on around us as if nothing had happened.  The other dogs were milling around, looking for their dinner. The cats were curled in their regular places, opening an eye to see what was happening and then slowly going back to sleep again.

The next day we took the Shelties for their regular early morning walk.  It was light enough to see Max's footprints from his last walk with us.  I kept looking at the prints in the snow, feeling the pain of knowing he was no longer with us.  One day ...there...the next ..gone.

The weather held for several days and each time I looked at the footprints I would remember my big goofy boy and how he loved to be out walking with the pack every day.  I decided I should take a photo with my cell phone ...and the next day, the weather changed and the prints faded from sight.  But he will never fade from my heart.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Today ....sadness

Today, we lost our girl, Sadie.  She had shown some signs of muscle problems in her back legs in the last few weeks but seemed to recover quite quickly so we just assumed it  was perhaps from sleeping on them for too long.  She did like to sleep - as you will see by the following photos.

Last week she started to sleep in a dog bed under the living room end table and spent much of her day there. We noticed she was losing some fur and was not interested in eating much.  We didn't know how old she was but the symptoms looked like old age and we prepared ourselves for the eventual good bye.

Then in the last few days she went downhill very quickly. We made a vet appointment for yesterday afternoon, thinking we would not be coming back with her. We cuddled as much as we could during the day and wrapped her in her little pink blanket,fully expecting to hold her close as she was put to sleep. When the vet saw her, he recognized she was in bad shape but he decided to do some blood tests and take an X-ray. Our hearts hurt when we heard her cries of pain while she was being X rayed but it was a small bit of hope. Initial thoughts were that perhaps she had been infected by some sort of bacteria so he decided to keep her overnight.  We were so excited to think there was a chance to save her and we walked out of the clinic with much lighter hearts - so happy to know we'd have more time with her.

The next day, the happiness bubble burst.  The blood tests had been sent out and the vet said Sadie had to be sedated in the morning since her little heart was racing.  Three hours later the phone rang - and we heard our little girl had passed away in early afternoon, before the blood tests had come back.

We are left with so many questions now.  Did she think we had abandoned her and she just let go?  Was there anything we could have done to help her earlier?  Should we have asked the vet to put her to sleep while we were there to cuddle her so her last thoughts were of the humans who loved her so much?

But now I will turn to thinking about how she was so much a part of our family and how we treasured her unique qualities.  Our sweet little deaf cat - who always knew when food was being served and who found so many places in the house to put her furry print on. She would sit by side with our dogs - never worried about any one biting her.  Her short legs made it tough for her to jump on on most things - but she certainly would keep trying.  And her favorite place of all - was to climb up on my hubby until she was stretched out on his chest - and then she would close her eyes and knead her paws.

I have pulled out some of my favorite photos of Sadie - the often sleeping gal - who would claim a sleeping place for a couple of weeks and then look for another to lay claim to. The last photo is from a couple of months ago - when she actually made it up "Mount Everest" - the couch which she has often struggled to get up onto.  When we found her at the very top we were so surprised - and we figured it must have taken her quite some time to get all the way.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Never Gets any Easier to say Goodbye

This is a photo of Max back in July 2015when he had just been with us a few months after my Dad's death.  We knew he was old already and wanted to give him a loving home for what ever years he had left. He fit into the household from the first day with us...and in the last few months he often had a little white companion (Angel or Sadie) sitting beside him.  Even Sebastian, our"scaredy cat", had learned that Max was more bark than bite and he would gingerly walk close to where Max was laying down.

This last week he had not seemed well - and was walking more slowly than usual on our morning walks. We had an appointment this morning with our vet and fully expected to be leaving with some medicine to help Max feel better.  Unfortunately the vet found a mass in the lower part of Max's stomach. An X ray also showed a large cancerous growth further up in Max's lungs.  He had been having a little trouble breathing a few times but it quickly passed.  He was a strong dog and gave little sign of what must have been going on inside.

We said goodbye to Max at the vet clinic, in the same room we had seen our beloved Spike pass on over a year ago. It doesn't get any easier losing another member of our furry family  - but we will always treasure the memories and the unique characteristics each one brought along with them.