She’s quite the young lady, slender and affectionate while waving her fantastical tail.
The little charcoal gray fuzzball with the stubby tail and legs and Hello Kitty head is shaped quite differently these days! She is no less active and imaginative, though, and has each a feline “brother” and “sister”.
And an absolutely adoring person from whom I hear regular updates on Fromage’s personality and antics.
Who doesn’t like to hear great returns about the kitty they fostered! I guessed Fromage at two weeks when she came here, hazy eyes, unsteady gait and ears hardly lifted up on her head. I hadn’t had a neonatal kitten for so long I had nothing approaching formula on hand much less little bottles. We made do until I got the right stuff, though she never liked the bottles, preferring to first lick what had dripped on my arm, then pooled into the crook of my elbow.
For a little bit of background and some baby pictures, please read A Little Baby Foster Kitten and A Little Life Saved. Though it’s also in the first story, I’ve posted my favorite photo of Fromage here because it’s one of my favorite kitten photos, ever.
I have fostered dozens of cats and kittens, mostly years ago before my household had grown into a group of older cats needing extra attention, and especially not need annoying kittens around. I had always relied on those cats to welcome and teach the little fosters, but I was starting over with most of a new household when Fromage joined us. The Fantastic Four were just past two, and I learned a few important details about each of their personalities, notably that Jelly Bean will be a great nanny to anything and that they are all open-minded enough to hiss once or twice, then get down to making the new cat find its place.
And below is Maggie’s story of how Fromage came into her life and, hence, to mine.
My daughter found Fromage when she was visiting from NY in September, cooking for G-20 protestors. My little anarchist kitty.
I got a tearful phone call, went out in the night to pick her up, utterly unprepared for the fact that she was truly a newborn. Tried dipping bread in milk for her to suckle. No luck, but she latched on to the little piece of brie cheese I offered her. Hence her name. She’s still partial to cheeses.
Fortunately, Bernadette, an important part of my life, answered my tearful call for help, and took Fromage into her extraordinary care.
I was not to be the “forever home” but as each week elapsed, I felt Fromage had come into my life for a reason.
Has she ever. She’s still intrepid — rules the roost with large, orange 10-year-old Mister Peach, and elegant, awkward 4-year-old Cranberry, a loving Siamese I inherited when my mother died in May. I had not had a kitten in many years. Forgot the energy — those wooden shoes Fromage wears as she tears around the hardwood floors — the needle claws and teeth, the insatiable curiosity, and the gentle sweetness.
So Fromage has a household to run! Mr. Peach is decidedly not a leader, and Cranberry, while acting superior, is actually quite conciliatory. Bring an inquisitive and capable kitten into this group and she attempts to run roughshod over them both, but she took her knocks and went on playing.
She really did hit the ground running, literally, when she went to Maggie’s house. She had her own room but time to be out to explore. First I heard reports of her being friendly and affectionate, then reports of her interacting with Mr. Peach and Cranberry, but no serious disputes coming from it all. She has continued conquering the house, annoying and making friends with her feline siblings.
This is what the former foster wants to hear! You never know with kittens who have been orphaned young how they will respond to leaving their foster home and settling into their new home. Often they remember humans as sources of comfort and affection, but because they missed the opportunity to grow and socialize with other kittens they can be timid and unaffectionate. I did my part with feeding and cuddling, but the Big Four did the more important part of giving her an identity and nurturing her as one of the gang, albeit the size of one of their heads.
She has a very long tail and she knows how to wave it around. This is not the best photo of her tail, but it shows the proportion of it to her slender body, and she curls and coils it as she walks.
What a girly girl! I love it when cats reach this age, nearly as big as adult cats but still lean and ready to show off their attributes. I hear all the time about how cute and charming she is, and when she’s not busy exploring or playing she’s loving up her mom, sleeping on the bed, something she never had the chance to do here.
Who knows where she came from or how she came to be where she was? She was not going to be left behind, and that was that. After initially thinking all the food was hers, she now waits her turn and thanks her mom when her bowl arrives on the floor, rubbing against the cabinet and looking up with loving eyes before digging in.
Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
Nearly everyone has heard this quote, though not perhaps in its full context, but it certainly clearly states Twain’s opinion of felines. It doesn’t appear in any published writing, but in his notebooks (Notebook 33, typescript pp. 56–57).
Though Twain clearly likes cats and lived with quite a number—up to 19 at one time—he also wrote fondly of other animals in his novels, short stories, essays and notebooks. Animals often symbolized or outright bespoke his opinions about current politics, social issues or people in general.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
~The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, chap. 16.
While Twain’s animals led him or his fictional characters to conclusions, or he might ponder and consider just what they were thinking as they laid in the sun or grazed on grass or trotted purposefully into town, they rarely ever spoke themselves, talking to humans or each other. Just a few stories allow this, as in A Horse’s Tale, when one horse answers another’s question of whether or not he is educated:
Well, no, I can’t claim it. I can take down bars, I can distinguish oats from shoe-pegs, I can blaspheme a saddle-boil with the college-bred, and I know a few other things—not many; I have had no chance, I have always had to work; besides, I am of low birth and no family…
That horse is as smart as he needs to be, though he’s never had any formal education, and that was Twain’s opinion of education, that it needed to come from life as well as books and that you did as well as you could with what you were given.
And then there is “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man”. You can just imagine what the dogs have to say. I’ll tell you later where to find that one and others so you can sit and have a good read and a good laugh.
Perhaps it’s partly because America was still largely a rural agricultural society that animals appear all over Twain’s writings, but I’ve read authors from the same times and places and they might mention harnessing the cart horse and nothing else. It’s clear that Twain really loved and respected animals, and in the day when animals were largely kept for their use to humans, first his mother then he and his wife Olivia were advocates for humane treatment of animals.
Twain was writing primarily between 1850 and 1910. The first SPCA in the US was founded in 1866 in New York; American Humane, founded to help both animals and children, was founded in 1877. Clearly animal welfare was in its infancy, yet he was writing directly about how animals should be treated, and also dispensing advice to persons about how to treat animals and incorporating that into his notebooks and letters.
While I find anything by Twain to be a good read, to focus on his writings about animals look for a 2010 book entitled Mark Twain’s Book of Animals, a compilation edited by Shelley Fisher Fishkin with expressive wood engravings by Barry Moser that show incredible animal personality. Fishkin compiled all of Twain’s writings about (and by) animals into this one volume including many works, some only a brief paragraph in length, that had never before been published. His writings are divided by decades beginning with 1850 with a full table of contents in front and title and content indices in the back. The 30-plus wood engraving illustrations in the book and on the covers were created for this book, not pulled from other sources, and many are humorous in their own right; I can tell you I’m going to explore wood engravings very soon. I checked my copy out of my local public library, but this may be one I need to own.
Specifically for cat lovers is a children’s book Twain “wrote” that was actually derived from his bedtime stories to his daughters about two cats named Cattaraugus and Catiline who fight often and have different goals for their day, just like the two sisters. A Cat-tale was written down by Twain from the favorites of the stories and also illustrated with line drawing by Twain as well.
Find these two books, and enjoy yourself!
I had seen in several places photos of one group of Twain’s cats, and I found them on a website with quotes from Twain about cats as well as a portrait of him sitting in a chair with a cat tucked in by his hip and some other really wonderful illustrations plus lots of quotes and stories. This is at www.twainquotes.com, and his cat quotes are specifically on www.twainquotes.com/Cats.html.
So now I’ll close with another Twain quote many cat lovers are familiar with:
A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
~The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, chap. 1
I’m so excited—it’s just days away! Peaches is doing well in her kidney failure treatment and I’m looking forward to a little travel and getting away from the computer.
The BlogPaws Committee was generous enough to organize an art exhibit and auction/sale during the conference. Here are the three pieces I’ll be taking:
Each sale will be split 50/50 between the artist and the fund BlogPaws is collecting to donate to animal shelters and organizations. So if you’re going, bid high, not just for the animals but for me as well!
I’m thrilled to have these pieces in the exhibit, if only for the fact that I share my cats with the world in this special way.