Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Australia Day

It's Australia Day! Greetings to my 2 blog visitors from down under - MmeBenaut and Kas. I have this postcard hanging in my office all the time, and each afternoon I listen to ABC's breakfast programme with Emma Ayres - I just love it! In celebration, I'll have some Wallaroo Trail wine tonight :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

Last September at the time of Tiny Tim's passing, I mentioned a song called "Three Babies" by Sinead O'Connor. "The face on you, the smell of you, will always be with me..." Let me to explain. Back in the mid-80’s we rescued a pregnant black cat that would result in a litter of 4 kittens. The mother had extreme "issues" with the queen of the household Mishka, a fiery and quixotic tortoiseshell, so once the kittens were old enough to be parted from mum, mum was given to another home. I had never had a kitten experience before – I saw them only hours old, and watched them grow and play, and of course fell totally in love with them – and we kept them - all. In a photo of the time (bottom picture), Mishka can be seen actually sleeping with the kittens (“jeez, I must have had these during one of my blackouts!”) The look on her face is priceless.


But looking back, this litter was cursed/doomed:
Popeye, a gorgeous tabby, was the first to die a tragic sudden death, and it was on that occasion I played the song "Three Babies" – referring to the three that were left. I played it over and over again like a dirge. So many tears.

Paboo was next to leave us soon after – he was soft and black and very beautiful – and one day he just vanished. That is the worst, I think – not knowing what has happened. Despite the pain of a sudden death or imminent death from disease, not knowing is agony.

Bijou, a tiny elegant tabby, was endlessly persecuted and hunted by the queen Mishka. This is no exaggeration, and it was sad and disturbing to watch her cower in corners as Mishka stalked her like prey. We were powerless to stop it, no matter how we tried. And so one day Bijou just left. I suppose she simply couldn’t tolerate the relentless assaults anymore. But, after three weeks, she reappeared at our backdoor – looking quite well and not starving at all. She had come for my birthday and she stayed for around 24 hours before leaving, never to be seen again. Perhaps she came back to say goodbye – a final goodbye. I would like to think she found a peaceful forever home, where she was the only one – but of course I’ll never know.

And that left our Sammy, who outlived them all. Sammy was a large black cat, but also a bit of a timid fellow. He was the only one that lived long enough to see us all move into a house with a very large garden, just across the street. The poor fellow didn’t know how to handle a staircase in the new place – it took him a whole month to figure it out, but boy was he proud when he finally did - a feat accomplished on his birthday no less! Sadly, within 7-8 years he succumbed to an awful condition called megacolon.


Our Sam (sorry for repeat pic from Christmas).


But Sammy was never alone with Mishka. Throughout all this, there were others that came into our lives: suddenly, sometimes gradually, but always mysteriously. And they would leave again, usually due to illness, but for now, I will remember them without that final cloud - remember them for their unique and special ways:

Sheena, a gorgeous gentle grey (seeing this picture after so long, I was stunned just how much like Timmy she looked) – we often thought Timmy was a reincarnation as both of these grey cats were very difficult to “capture” – they both were very scared of humans and it was a real campaign to win their trust. Sheena was my little "Honey-Bunches"....

Buster, a solid spotted tabby, the refined “lodger”, Bustopher Jones (“not too close, PLEASE!”) – he used to run when he’d see me coming, and I’m sure when he sees me at The Rainbow Bridge, he’ll groan, “oh no, it’s HER – she’ll want to pick me up and do all that other stuff - ugh! - maybe I’ll say hello later…” . And he'll wander off in his inimitable elegant manner....

Smudge, the precocious wide-eyed grey and white prankster – I’ll never forget the time he edged a ceramic bowl of peppermints off a high shelf (while I was watching and saying “don’t you dare!”), and as he watched the dish smash and the mints roll and scatter across the floor, the look on his face was sheer delight, as if he was saying: “wow, cool – did you see that?” How could I be angry?? Or the time he lost his footing off the second floor railing, landed unharmed at the bottom, then looked up at me as if to say “ hey, that was fun, can I try it again?” What a Smudgeroo he was! Chaiyka has much of that same spirit in him....

Mitzi – petite, black and fluffy, she must have had some bad times before she came to us - as handling her was always a tricky affair due to her sudden and inexplicable bouts of aggression, indeed she seemed half-wild at times. Poor little Skitzi-Mitzi…but I like to remember her at the peak of health, running at top speed diagonally across the huge lawn at the new house...

PeeBee (aka Schnagglepuss) and Smudge.....

Buster and Smudge - very often together. Who knows, maybe they were brothers...

Buster and Smudge - in blissful sleep...

All these precious ones are what I consider “pre-blog”, and I do not mean to exclude Pumpkin, PeeBee (aka Schagglepuss), and of course Mishka, who have all been featured on Cat Whisperer, and who are no longer with us.

Enter – exit…always too soon. They are never with us long enough.


There is more to see and read over at The Friday Ark and then Carnival of the Cats on Sunday.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Winter Visitors

This is not Chaiyka!

Over the past couple of months or so, we have been visited by a very sweet fellow we have dubbed “Chauncey” – (as in “Chauncey Gardener” – he likes “being here” – as opposed to "Being There" - wink wink). Chaiyka has been bringing him over for snacks and a quick warm-up, and we have therefore suspected he lives nearby. As you can see here, he spent some time visiting over the holidays, and was mainly interested in watching the others and having a little nap here and there (so many places to chose from!).


But Wednesday morning as I was heading out to work, he was huddled on our porch, on a few old pillows we have available to whoever may need them, looking very cold indeed. This was very unusual for this time of day.

Note the Great Manitou of the Townships of the East standing guard!.

When I came home from work, I was told by the resident cat wrangler that Chauncey had spent the whole day inside our house! He tried to shoo him out a couple times, but didn’t seem to have any interest in going back outdoors, and who could blame him! As we were discussing what to do, the door-bell rang, and opening the door we saw a somewhat distraught looking young girl, with boyfriend in tow, clutching a bag of kitty treats (we all know that shaking a bag of those often produces positive results when searching for a cat). As we are pretty much known in the neighborhood for having a few felines (yes, a few – less than a dozen, ok ;), it was logical to check at our place for their missing kitty! Oh my goodness, what a wave of relief came upon her face when we informed her he was indeed inside. Alas, we could not produce him instantly to give to them as he was “hiding” in the basement, and so we took their phone number and promised to call upon Chauncey’s reappearance. Sure enough, up he eventually came, probably lured by the smell of kitty dinnertime, and before long, Chauncey, whose real name is Noomi, was lovingly and happily reunited with his Mom. Apparently it had been quite an ordeal for all concerned, as he had been outside all the previous night, hence his rather desperate demeanor on our porch that morning. We are surmising that perhaps the large snowfall caused him to lose his bearings, and our house was the first familiar looking place and he decided to stay put. Poor little guy – cold and hungry – how could we not let him in! As Laura in Alaska says, and I paraphrase, when someone comes to your door in the cold of winter, you let them in.

A funny thing though, when Noomi’s Mom came to collect him, she spotted Chaiyka and told us that HE has been at HER house for snacks! Luckily, her place is just a short jaunt across to the back of the garden and around the fence, which in winter of course becomes a bit more tricky to navigate. Some crazy cat people have been known to shovel little kitty paths around the yard, so the little darlings can romp around a bit in the dreary winter months when it’s not too dreadfully cold. As if we don’t have enough to shovel for the human traffic!!


And then there’s Rascal. We still don’t know what his status is. He appeared several times over the holidays very VERY hungry, but still furtive. We think he may have some sort of a home, but probably not a very good one. The kind that whether the cat is in or out is of no concern. Certainly not the type of owners that shovel kitty paths! Here he is visiting the inside of our house for the very first time – but he really didn’t seem to want to stay. Gee, I wonder if Mr. Poole’s steady glare might have had something to do with his urge to vacate the premises! The picture below is a bit dark, but if you look closely, you can see he is climbing the drapes as if to say “Let me outta here!!!!”

(Please excuse messy kitchen!)

It’s Friday, so take a look at what else is going on over at The Friday Ark.