On the Prowl: From A Year Ago

cat with toy in bathtub

Stalking the wild crackle ball.

Mewsette is just waiting for that sparkly crackle ball to make one false move and it’s curtains! You can tell by the curl in her tail that it’s a tense moment.

Nearly everyone took some time to play a little tub hockey with the crackle ball which suddenly showed up out of nowhere after being AWOL for a few months. They like just about any ball, especially in the tub, but the crackle ball makes a really satisfying noise whenever it moves and even when they pick it up.

It also fits perfectly in the tub drain with just enough protruding to pull it back out and start all over again. Mewsette’s game of tub hockey turned into miniature golf as she scored several holes in one, and holes in several.

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On the Prowl

cat with toy in bathtub

Stalking the wild crackle ball.

Mewsette is just waiting for that sparkly crackle ball to make one false move and it’s curtains! You can tell by the curl in her tail that it’s a tense moment.

Nearly everyone took some time to play a little tub hockey with the crackle ball which suddenly showed up out of nowhere after being AWOL for a few months. They like just about any ball, especially in the tub, but the crackle ball makes a really satisfying noise whenever it moves and even when they pick it up.

It also fits perfectly in the tub drain with just enough protruding to pull it back out and start all over again. Mewsette’s game of tub hockey turned into miniature golf as she scored several holes in one, and holes in several.


Mimi Introduces Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine, Jelly Bean and Mewsette

black cat profile

Mimi's Profile

Mimi’s third and final installment of her Mother’s Day trilogy with an introduction to her last litter of kittens, and a little more about the FIP study.

Summer 2007

I loved all of my kittens, especially the four I currently live with, my last litter, who as adults are more my friends and playmates than anything like grown children still living with their mother. Funny what spaying will do for your outlook.

cats in bathtub

Everybody in the Pool

When I gave birth I thought I was going to be on the same little kitten treadmill as before, litter of four, all black, four weeks, in heat again before these were done, seeing these off while gestating the next litter to be born in late October. I’ve always kept things in order, but I didn’t mind the change in schedule for what happened next.

photo of black cat nursing kittens

Mimi With Her Babies

These kittens were born the last Thursday in July and we moved here the following Sunday. You can read about the reasons and the move in A Nice, Nice Kitty. We’ve been here ever since.

This litter had three boys and one girl, kind of unusual, and one of the boys is the little one while the girl is as big as the other two boys. Well, there’s no accounting for genetics. I can clearly see which of the studs is father to which of these kittens as well, though the little guy gets his more petite build from me. The most unusual feature about them is that they all have white hairs in their ears. I have no idea where they got this—I don’t have even one white hair in my ears and I don’t remember that in their fathers, but there’s genetics again.

four black kittens

A Four-kitten Pile-up

Somehow, mom tells them all apart, though she sometimes has to guess, but she can see details most people can’t. I sit by to check her accuracy and she’s almost as good as me. Now, my mom could go on and on and on…about these four, but I have a little more restraint when it comes to these cats, so let me give a little description about each one.

First, my human mom took all four of them into her paws as soon as they came into her house, and although she was a stranger and I should have tried to protect my newborns, I decided that not only did she need to do that, it would also be good for them. And so it has been—having been handled practically since birth they are relaxed and gentle with everyone, even the lady who pokes and prods and shoots us up.

Giuseppe

black cat in tub

Giuseppe

Giuseppe is the biggest and heaviest of all the four at 15 pounds, and he thinks he’s the ringleader but we don’t always pay attention to him. He trained with Namir in greeting people at the door and in the ways of getting a human’s attention, and he is long enough to stretch and reach above the waistline of most people, so people pay attention to him, but when it comes to being brave around a loud noise or the like, Giuseppe is gone. He is playful and talkative, but sometimes he tries to tackle mom by walking in front of her and grabbing her legs, considering this play. This is not a good idea. However, he cuddles and loves little Peaches and keeps her warm in the winter, and this is a very good idea. Even though he is silly and not very brave, he has a very good heart.

kittens nursing with colored ears

Kittens nursing with colored ears.

His name is derived from La Boheme in this way: when the kittens were babies, they looked identical except the one with the white spot. Mom was concerned about this FIP thing and about their health in general, so in order to be able to tell them apart she put a dab of tempera paint on their left ear, keeping the color consistent with the kitten. Giuseppe was the “green” kitty. Now, the composer of La Boheme is Giacomo Puccini, but Giuseppe Verdi, Joe Green to you Americans, is also a composer of opera, so mom decided to have a little joke on the name, which apparently only she understands. It takes a little too much explanation to be really funny. When he was young she called him Joey, but a big boy needs a big name.

Mr. Sunshine

mr sunshine

Mr. Sunshine

Mr. Sunshine is the man cat of the household and even when mom’s friend started whacking the tub with a sledgehammer at the beginning of our bathroom renovation and all normal cats found safe places to hide even after mom had locked us up, Mr. Sunshine escaped and strolled into the bathroom saying, “This man needs supervision.” He’s the next biggest at 13 pounds with very thick fur that makes him look even bigger, and while he could probably take on any intruder and is totally unafraid of any noise or circumstance, he is the biggest cuddler and regularly flips onto his back and kneads his paws in the air for a belly rub.

Young Sunshine

Young Sunshine

How did a black cat get a name like Mr. Sunshine? Well, it was like this. He was supposed to be named “Marcello” after the second male lead in the opera, but mom noticed that his eyes were just like his half-sister Lucy’s, just like them, so mom decided to name him Luciano after the great tenor Pavarotti, who famously sang the lead role in La Boheme. We’re not done yet. Mom noticed that she was singing “You Are My Sunshine” to the little guy, just as she had to Lucy when Lucy was a baby, and Lucy actually is derived from the word for “light”…it’s just another one of those things that only mom understands.

Jelly Bean

black cat looking in mirror

God, I'm Cute

He’s the little guy at only 11 lbs., and is distringushed by his smeared little white collar and large white triangular Speedo on his belly, plus the few white hairs in his armpits. He’s just like the goofy little brother, but he purrs professionally. Mom noticed that he would toddle to the cage door and purr before his eyes were even open when she walked in the room and greeted the kittens. He is very playful and the most congenial, but he is also the most friendly with other cats. When Fromage, the neonatal foster kitten, entered the house, he would sit by the bathroom door where she lived and purr. When mom decided Fromage needed the company of other cats despite some risk of disease, she opened the bathroom door to Jelly Bean who sat and purred and blinked his eyes happily as little Fromage tried to take him down; following his example, the other three siblings also adopted her, though I think Mewsette thought she was a little toy. But later when Dickie entered the house, Dickie was frightened by the advances of four large black cats, though Dickie is larger than even Giuseppe, but Jelly Bean squinted and purred and walked right up to him with his tail straight in the air and rubbed noses with him. He is the most charming little kitty, and he is the biggest proponent of drinking out of the bathroom sink faucet.

black cat with mouse toy in tub

Toys are better in the tub.

Okay, “Jelly Bean” appears nowhere in any opera, but his nose looks like a black jelly bean, and he needed a silly name, so there you are. He was originally Rodolfo because he was so completely charming, even as a newborn, but he was just too silly and became Little Guy when he was a little guy, the Jelly Bean, and it stuck.

Mewsette

photo of black cat with plant

Mewsette considers the Christmas Cactus © B.E. Kazmarski

Mewsette is the only girl, and she’s a big girl at 12 lbs. with thick lovely slightly longish fur that makes her look very big, plus a very round face and round eyes and big paws. While the boys fall all over you for attention, Mewsette is off in her own little world, having spent a good bit of her childhood in the basement training to be Basement Cat. But she is fiercely affectionate in her own good time and likes to tenderize mom’s arm or shoulder with all four paws at once, purring vigorously. She is always paired off with one of her brothers or with me for the long afternoon naps because she likes best to use another cat for a pillow. She has been working as an understudy with Cookie to learn to be the female lead in the household and to be her mom’s lady in waiting.

photo of cats on bed

Mewsette questions Cookie

Now, there really is a Musetta in La Boheme, but my little girl thought that name was a little too fussy for her, so when our mom called her Musette instead she answered. Our mom of course changed the spelling on the first syllable to resemble our little kitty sounds, though none of us currently says “mew”, but why not?

How the FIP figures in

Lucy, Pink and Gray

I know that several people were interested in my perfect black kittens and in me, but from overhearing conversations with my mom and the lady who comes to poke and prod and shoot us up once in a while I learned about the FIP. I am a tiny cat, as I mentioned, but my kittens were also a little small for their age and that was a concern. Apparently, not much is known about this disease and there is no test or vaccination, but if a cat is carrying FIP it’s likely the symptoms will begin to show in the first year, as they did with Lucy after she was spayed. Mom and the lady decided to keep us all together for the entire first year just to be sure; my mom said over and over that she wouldn’t want anyone to adopt a kitten and then lose the kitten as she had lost Lucy.

Well, my kittens were born at the end of July. One year later those who had been interested had adopted other kittens, and the shelters and rescue organizations were full of little kittens, not a good time to start marketing a family of five adult cats. By the time the shelters were emptying out, it was October, not a good time to be adopting out black cats.

five black cats at basement door

We do many things together.

And of course, we are especially gorgeous, especially when seen all together, so, of course, my human mom began photographing and sketching us, and before we knew it she became “our” human mom. Any feline mother would want the best home for her kittens, and why not the one she preferred herself?

Note from human: We’ll keep you updated on the FIP study, and everyone will be writing again soon.

Mimi’s Mother’s Day Trilogy

Mimi, on “Mother’s Day”

Mimi’s 2006 Children: Lucy, Charlotte, Angus and Donal

Mimi Introduces Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine, Jelly Bean and Mewsette


Mewsette’s 10 Best Uses for the Bathtub No. 2: Playing With Toys

Mewsette keeps her toy in the tub where it can't get away.

Mewsette plays with her toy in the tub where it can't get away.

Mewsette checks on the toy she left in the tub earlier in the day; it's still there.

Mewsette checks on the toy she left in the tub earlier in the day; it's still there.

Toys have an annoying habit of running under pieces of furniture where my long arms can’t reach them and simply sitting there and looking stupid, or rolling down a flight of steps and, frankly, they aren’t worth chasing.

However, a toy can’t climb the walls of a tub, so you can torture it to your heart’s content, then stop and rest or have a bath, knowing the toy can’t get away.

Mewsette Has Been Pestering Me…

No More Pictures!

No More Pictures!

“Stop taking pictures of me and type my messages!” she insists. I admit, I’ve been distracted by their antics in the new bathroom and otherwise, plus there’s plain old everyday life…

Yes, yes, Mewsette, and I have plenty of other messages to send out, too! Actually, I have been taking photos of them to post and to use for my own selfish artistic purposes—see my post about “new photo galleries”, just below this one, that features two new collections.

Because she has no thumbs, she says, she cannot type her own messages and is at the mercy of my whims to disseminate her information to other felines about her tips about using the tub. In the next few days, Mewsette and I will post #2 in her best uses for the tub.

Also, I’ve been tweaking my website for easier browsing, kind of like tinkering with an old car to keep it running smoothly…soon enough it will be completely indexed and databased, but really, I’d rather blog. I’ll be posting frequently enough in the next few days to catch up with a variety of things I’d like to make sure you are aware of—Top Ten Cat Cities, the plight of pets in this economy, a crochet project, various news articles, and I’d like to introduce you to a group of friends who’ve written about cats for years and the books they’ve written.

Until then, enjoy the photos!


New Photo Galleries

God, I'm Cute.

God, I'm Cute.

Welcome to “In the Bathroom” and “The Stinkbug: A Feline Drama in Eleven Acts“, just two of the fun activities we share in this exciting household!

The photos of Mimi’s Children (and Mimi) in the bathroom were so popular that I’ve posted a gallery of the black cats and their antics in the new mint-and-white bathroom—hanging out in the tub, wrestling on the floor, rolled up in the rug, sitting in the sink waiting for the faucet to drip (the new one doesn’t drip any more, to their great disappointment…).

In an effort to have all the photos be consistent in color and lighting and style, I’ve been washing and using the same towels and bath rug for the past month, and have delayed finishing the bathroom decorating so that other items wouldn’t be distracting in the background. I’ll be glad to put up my new towels and put away all my stuff! It’s always worth it to capture that moment, though, and the opportunity to find images of two or three or four or even five cats as a matched set all engaged in the same activity is really a beautiful thing that needs to be shared. Visit “In the Bathroom“.

The Stinkbug: A Drama in Eleven Acts” was just a lucky moment catching the fab four in a group effort, along with a clear wash of winter sunlight on the landing at the top of the stairs. Stinkbugs are harmless vegetarian plant plant pests that emit a foul smell when threatened or injured, and end up in my house when I take plants in for the winter; confused, they move around sluggishly looking for their natural habitat which does often include predators…it took all four of Mimi’s Children all thinking together to figure out what to do about the bug, which emitted its smell and played dead, and eventually they left it alone. Visit “The Stinkbug“.

Observing the Stinkbug

Observing the Stinkbug

I hope you enjoy the photos! I’ll also be publishing greeting cards featuring some of these images, and any of them is available as a print in various sizes.


Congratulations to Mewsette on Her New Column

Mewsette's 10 Best Uses for the Bathtub

Mewsette offers hints and advice for getting the most out of your bathtub.

Mewsette is a clever and creative girl, but very practical. As a kitten her nickname was “Dora the Explorer” as she was the first to get onto and into everything, as she removed all the tissues from the box and used it as a fort from which to attack her brothers, and later as she carefully explored the entire house, returning with cobwebs on her face; her brothers never had cobwebs on their faces, so I presume Mewsette was honestly exploring while her brothers were only hanging out somewhere waiting for her report.

So Mewsette has grown into an intelligent and reliable lady, though still no less active and creative, and she’d like to combine her best talents and share her conclusions with interested readers. She has demonstrated to me that her hints and advice for bathtub use ought to be published, but with big round fuzzy paws like Mewsette’s, typing is nearly impossible, not to mention editing photos. I am proud of Mewsette’s creative effort and only too happy to assist in getting her word out to the general public. Taking dictation from your cat? Don’t all we feline caretakers do that all day long?

Please join me in congratulating Mewsette on her accomplishment, and enjoy the first installment of “Mewsette’s 10 Best Uses for the Bathtub”, below.


Mewsette’s 10 Best Uses for the Bathtub, No. 1: Bathing

The tub works fine for bathing, even without water.

The tub works fine for bathing, even without water.

The tub is apparently intended for bathing, and I’ve found it to be an excellent place to enjoy even just a little face wash. Incidentally, the tub works fine for bathing without the water; I don’t understand why humans need total immersion. The tub is clean and smooth inside, so I don’t pick up any stray pieces of lint or dirt while I’m cleaning, and when I’m done I can leave behind all the loose hairs and debris I’ve pulled from my fur.