And then I gave up work for the day…

four black cats on desk

Maybe she’ll notice us now.

The above photo is from 2009, but I like to call it back up each year. Some things never change.

2011: Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been busy, but do you guys like to eat?! Then you’ll keep doing things like this as inspiration.

For now, enjoy somewhat over 50 pounds of black cat on one desk.

2009: They are always doing something unique, that whimsical quartet of siblings, but sometimes they have the right idea. I really was tired, my eyes were strained, I was losing focus at the end of a long day, and one by one the three boys piled up trying to get their point across (we need dinner, you need to stop working), hence the multiple nap. First Giuseppe front and center, paws draped on my keyboard, then Jelly Bean on the left and Mr. Sunshine on the right. Then Mewsette, the big sister, piled on top of all of them and began bathing them all in turn, causing things to start falling off my desk. Still, I could pile papers on top of them and keep working. When the paws and tails expanded onto my keyboard, I decided to take their advice and quit working for the day.

Below is a version from 2012, today in fact, and the only difference is that Mimi is part of the group on the far left so it isn’t quite 50 pounds of black cat, and the other three are Giuseppe, Mewsette and Mr. Sunshine, just continuing yesterday’s heat-induced laziness.

four black cats sleeping on desk.

Four cats on my desk.

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Mimi, on “Mother’s Day”

photo of black cat in the sun

Mimi on Mother's Day

Mimi’s annual Mother’s Day address

Sì, Mi chiamano Mimì, …

That’s my famous self-introduction, “Yes, they always call me Mimi…” Or, rather, that of the character after whom my rescue mom named me, the female lead in the Puccini opera La Boheme, the day I entered her household, forever.

Note that the accent is on the second syllable, in the French way.

Ha! I knew nothing of Puccini or opera before I came to this house, though I did lead quite the Bohemian lifestyle with many boyfriends and many adventures and assignations, inspiring my name, resulting in something like 24 kittens…hence the topic of my article today. I not only celebrate my own motherhood, but my adoption by my human mom, an event that changed both of our lives as motherhood will do even without the act of giving birth.

Participating in a university study…for Mother’s Day?

photo of black cat in bed covers

Lucy Helps to Make the Bed, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

First, she and I are going to embark on a very special Mother’s Day project including myself and all my kittens we’ve kept in touch with. We’ll all be participating in a study!

My human mom wrote an article about how she came to know me and ultimately adopt me in an article, A Nice, Nice Kitty. In that article you’ll read about a kitten named Lucy* from my second or third litter of kittens who my mom ended up adopting after finding good homes for the other kittens in that litter.

I didn’t live here yet, but Lucy was the kitten who was responsible for me joining this household. Lucy unfortunately had a disease called feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, and no matter how much my mom loved her and cared for her, Lucy died at only 15 months old. My mom saw me carrying another litter of kittens in my belly—in fact, my last litter—and for many good reasons you can read about in the article mentioned above decided to take me into her house.

And for the sake of Lucy, who died so young, and for moms like my human mom, who suffer such sadness at the loss of kittens and cats of any age to this disease, we’ll be participating in a study of FIP at the University of California at Davis. We’ve just downloaded our forms and contacted the other kittens’ people, and we’ll write more about this as all of us do our cheek swabs and fill out our forms. (I’m still researching other kittens and family members before I send in the entire family tree, and discovered that the little clip of Lucy’s fur didn’t provide the right DNA for the test.~Bernadette)

I loved being a mother, but I’m such a lucky kitty now

I can’t believe I’ve gone from a loose little street cat to a happy, healthy and socially-conscious kitty participating in a university study! Unlike Mimi from La Boheme, I have gone on to live happily ever after, as should every kitty, and dog and bunny and bird and all the other animals who love to live with humans.

photo of black cat on sidewalk

Big Daddy comes for Mimi (actually coming to the door)!

But as for motherhood…I can’t deny it, I loved having kittens. I carefully chose the fathers, usually the two handsome black cats from Fifth Avenue, one tall and slender and silly and the other stockier and serious despite the little white spot on his chest, ensuring that all my children would be the same lustrous black as their parents with a mix of other physical and personality traits, and most were. Unfortunately, I loved my children so much that I also didn’t realize the world didn’t need more perfect little black kittens.

Motherhood is not for every kitty—not for most kitties!

close up photo of a black cat

Mimi tells her story

I’ve written an article listing 30 reasons why cats like me should be spayed—in fact, why all cats should be spayed except perhaps those lucky few whose people will monitor their activity and prepare for the proper adoption of the offspring.

Much as I loved being a mother I’m glad I’m spayed and can’t have any more kittens because I never realized how simply fun and enjoyable every day could be for a cat who was spayed and in a good home. Humans really recognize the royal nature of cats and enjoy indulging our every whim and we should really give them the opportunity to do that!

kittens in cat bed

The best I could do!

I’d like to tell you about the kittens I gave birth to in April 2006 including Lucy, Charlotte, Angus and Donal, and their humans, and the July 2007 litter—the Big Four, who most people who’ve been reading this blog know all too well. What mother doesn’t like to see her children become famous and successful?

Of course Lucy stayed here, and is gone but never forgotten. I see by reading mom’s e-mails that Charlotte, Angus and Donal, wish me a happy Mother’s Day, and I was so glad to see the happy photos of them come over.

She had helped to find homes for them, and she kept in touch with the people who adopted them, before she even really knew me. I like that about her, as much as I like the fact that she took me to be spayed.

blakc cat with rainbows

Lucy with rainbows in doorway.

*Bernadette says: I was very surprised, when I researched the libretto for La Boheme, that the next line in Mimi’s aria is, but my real name is Lucia.” The kitten I lost to FIP, and as Mimi tells you, the reason she came here, was named “Lucy”. As I moved Mimi and her babies from the box into the cage in the spare bedroom, I felt the strongest sense that Lucy was in the room with us, in fact turning around to look at the door, which was closed, but I had pictured it open with Lucy standing in the doorway, silhouetted by the sun on the landing. She had only been gone three weeks, it wouldn’t be unusual that I would forget she was gone in a distracted moment, but the way Mimi settled in, and the way she looked at me in that moment, I knew it wasn’t because I had forgotten. I never sensed Lucy again after that, nor felt that deep pang of loss, though those poor kittens and Mimi had to endure frequent hugs and kisses for months until I felt secure again. You’ll learn a little more about Lucy in upcoming articles, especially as we discuss FIP.


And then I gave up work for the day…

four black cats on desk

Maybe she'll notice us now.

Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been busy, but do you guys like to eat?! Then you’ll keep doing things like this as inspiration.

I also admit I posted this nearly two years ago, but it’s still appropriate today, as is the text below. The one thing I’d add is two torties on my lap, and Mimi on my keyboard shelf. I have been busy, and I’ve missed sharing a lot of photos.

For now, enjoy somewhat over 50 pounds of black cat on one desk.

They are always doing something unique, that whimsical quartet of siblings, but sometimes they have the right idea. I really was tired, my eyes were strained, I was losing focus at the end of a long day, and one by one the three boys piled up trying to get their point across (we need dinner, you need to stop working), hence the multiple nap. Then Mewsette, the big sister, piled on top of all of them and began bathing them all in turn, causing things to start falling off my desk. Still, I could pile papers on top of them and keep working. When the paws and tails expanded onto my keyboard, I decided to take their advice and quit working for the day.


You’re Ugly and Your Mother Dresses You Funny

two black cats beginning a fight

Mewsette and Giuseppe have a slight disagreement on something.

The joke being that they have the same mother and look nearly alike.

Mewsette actually started it, though here it looks as if Giuseppe is the aggressor. He has the bigger ego, though, and seems to be easily set off by signals that I can’t see. I presume Mewsette insulted him.

I also liked the shadows on the floor; it looks more like he’s blessing her.

It took me nearly an hour to scoop the basement litterboxes this morning because they were all being so photogenic.


Woo-whee, We’re Three!

four black cats on bed

We're relaxing on our third birthday!

Happy Birthday to us!
Mom is making a fuss
With salmon and catnip!
Happy Birthday to us!

We’ve decided to stay in bed and let mom do all the work since it’s our birthday. It’s been hot, but today it’s rainy, dark and cool today, a great day to lay on the bed and have an all-day nap.

Wait a minute–isn’t that what we do all the time?

Well, if there was ever a day we should nap on the bed all day, it’s our birthday!


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


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

black cat on windowsill

Mimi on the Windowsill

Mimi continues her Mother’s Day article with an introduction to one of her litters of kittens.

I’d like to tell you about the kittens I gave birth to in April 2006 including Lucy, Charlotte, Angus and Donal, and their humans. Of course Lucy stayed here, and is gone but never forgotten. Charlotte was adopted by one family, Angus and Donal by another, and I am always happy to hear news of them because they are in excellent, loving homes. Before I even came here my current human mom had helped to find homes for them which is how we know where they are, and she kept in touch with the people who adopted them because they are friends of hers.

Meet some of my children

Now, though, I’d like to introduce you to some of the kittens we’ve been able to keep in touch with. I see by reading mom’s e-mails that the three who were born in Lucy’s litter, Charlotte, Angus and Donal, wish me a happy Mother’s Day, and I was so glad to see the happy photos of them come over. She had helped to find homes for them, and she kept in touch with the people who adopted them, before she even really knew me. I like that about her, as much as I like the fact that she took me to be spayed.

I might add that I am quite petite for an adult cat, recently reaching all of seven pounds and no saggy belly, even after all those kittens. In this household, even though little Peaches weighs less at 5.5 pounds, she is still larger than me in height and length. My paws barely cover a quarter. When people see me, they think I’m the kitten!

Spring 2006 litter

kittens in cat bed

The best I could do!

This litter was special because one of the kittens was not black—in fact, she was a crazy calico! Her father happened to be an unneutered gray and white male living in the household with us who had been the kitten to yet another unspayed dilute calico female…yes, you read that right, we had a big problem over there, but it’s all “fixed” now.

Anyway, this litter had three typically perfect black kittens, two boys and one girl, and then a kitten who was fully half black if you put all her black parts together, then half…orange tabby? Where the heck did that come from? That dilute calico grandma, I guess. Aren’t genetics amazing? And isn’t she lovely? When you look at her from the front she looks like two cats were put together.

Charlotte the crazy calico

calico cat under christmas tree

Charlotte's first Christmas

When my human mom sent out the e-mail to friends that kittens were available, one of her customers (my mom is self-employed and apparently all her customers are cat lovers), immediately said he’d like to adopt the calico girl for his son who had one cat and traveled.

calico cat

Charlotte all grown up.

Her name became Charlotte and she went off to spend the night with her new human grandparents. She proceeded to run behind and underneath the gas stove necessitating a delicate shutoff of the gas, disconnect and moving of the stove, at which point she ran into the basement and was lost for hours. She appeared in the middle of the family room later bouncing on her toes and covered with cobwebs to be installed in the bathroom until morning.

She went on to her forever home and immediately dominated the placid and sleepy Joey, a nice orange boy who gets his exercise by watching her bounce off the walls—still. She’s a moderately big girl, a little larger than average.

Angus and Donal

two black cats on bed

Angus and Donal with "sister" Molly.

Yes, little Scotscats, so don’t worry, the name is spelled correctly. My human mom has many, many friends who love kitties as well, including people who have adopted from her in the past. The couple who adopted the two boys had, years ago, adopted two other boys born to a momcat she had taken in and they adopted the momcat as well.

This time they called my mom, each on a separate phone extension in the house, and said they’d like to adopt the two brothers because they had several older cats and the brothers could torture each other while they enjoyed watching kittens grow up.

Angus and Donal’s names harken back to their human mom’s Scots heritage, but that doesn’t help in telling them apart! These two apparently had a good bit of my looks and apparently one of the black studs was father to both because they are very, very similar—I even had trouble telling them apart.

Now, at four years old, slight differences in eye color and hair coverage in the ears as well as their vocabulary and singing style (remember, I have opera singing in my heritage) are a few quick ways to distinguish one from the other. Of course, like all kitties, they have distinctive habits, like where on their mom they sleep. As a last resort, you can upend them and check for the small gathering of white hairs near the bottom of Angus’ belly.

Tomorrow: the July 2007 litter—the Big Four!

Read Mimi’s address on Mother’s Day

Note from human mom:

These three cats are direct siblings to Lucy and will be of most interest to the Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) study. FIP enters the host’s body as Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV) but must mutate into FIP, and infection may not be evident until years after the infection; FIP can also affect the cat in various forms and show various symptoms, so the whole thing is a puzzle. I’m not sure where Lucy may have come in contact with FIP, but if her mother and all her siblings did and only she contracted the disease, their genetics may show where the difference lies among them all.

I need to look for other photos of this litter of kittens! I must have taken more photos of the kittens on film, but I just can’t find any more.


…but they found a good place to sleep…

Five black cats sleeping in a heap

A 3-D Five-Cat Puzzle

…so we’re not moving. All FIVE of the family, including mom this time, took a nap while I was trying to figure out the new blog system and lost interest in moving. They just can’t understand why mom spend so much time staring at the computer and saying bad words—just when they’ve completely cuddled and dropped back to sleep, she makes some loud remark that wakes everyone up and they all have to mill around and settle down again. It takes time to fit five cats together like that! Stay tuned.

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A Little Life Saved

Fromage at eight weeks

Fromage at eight weeks

This is my “little baby foster kitty”, six weeks later. Quite the big girl compared to the little uncoordinated fuzzball who arrived (read “A Little Baby Foster Kitten” for the beginning of this story).

She went to her forever home over the weekend, and while I miss her vibrant personality and the daily progress and development of a kitten I am also glad to hand over a happy, healthy kitten to an excellent home, and the Festive Four are happy to have their bathroom back.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had one this young, but I’ve fostered a few dozen cats and kittens in the 20-plus years I’ve been fostering, and while I hope to give them a good beginning I never feel the need to keep every one of them unless a good home just isn’t available. I’d prefer to share the love of a wonderful kitty, and if I know a forever home is available I can love them all the more knowing I won’t need to worry about the expenses of another cat in the household, since I’m already pretty full for a house this size.

Six weeks passed so quickly in my life, but in terms of her development during those weeks she went from toddler to second-grader, perhaps third-grader, in physical ability, judgment, social skills—and consuming food!

I remember when Fromage first arrived and I initially tried to bottle feed her. She wanted no parts of the plastic nipple, but was very attracted to and comforted by the warmth of my forearm. Some of the formula dripped on my arm and she found it, licking it off right away and purring, then nibbling me looking for a nipple on my arm. I dripped a little more on my arm then filled in the little pool at the crook of my elbow where she lapped the formula, warmed by my skin, and kneaded, no doubt she could feel my pulse there, too.

The next day we began transitioning to a dish for her to lap from, and after a week added some canned food and quickly left the formula behind.

Wow, it's moving!

Wow, his tail—it's moving!

With neonatal rescues like Fromage, the danger of delayed physical or social development is common, so I studied her coordination, voice, apparent vision and hearing, eating habits, everything that was a clue to her progress. She was an early star with litterbox use, played with toys and with me, and was very affectionate with me. However, she didn’t play for very long when I wasn’t in the room, and she was very shy with other people, even a little hostile.

Social interaction with people is important, and if I had had the time to spend more hours with her I may have sufficed—plenty of others have done that with foster kittens. But she really needed the company of other cats to develop both physical agility and social skills. Kittens, puppies, and young of all species when they are born in litters, play all day long at her age, wrestling, chasing, stealing toys from each other and sharing toys with each other, eating together, bathing each other and sleeping in a pile together. Aside from eating, it’s the most important thing they do at that age.

Giuseppe is patient with this.

Giuseppe is patient with this.

Call in the Fostering Four. One night I was sorting laundry on my bed and had the four and several other of the adult cats in my bedroom. I put her on my bed among the piles of laundry and let her explore and, one by one, meet the other cats. There was a small amount of hissing, but no one left.

Now she has to learn a lesson.

Now she has to learn a lesson.

Jelly Bean had known what was expected of him right away, and was the only one never to utter a discouraging meow, but purred at the shrieking kitten the first night, sniffing at the door and asking to go into the bathroom from then on. Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine were a little doubtful at first, sitting and staring when possible, growling and swatting when necessary, for about a half day, then they began chasing her in play and swiping a little bath at her now and then. Mewsette was the only holdout, and as soon as she realized the irritating little thing could play was dancing on the top of the baby gate so the kitten could try to grab her toes.

I blocked the top of the stairs with a baby gate, closed the door to the spare bedroom and let Fromage run around the upstairs for an hour or so once or twice a day. While she could still be kept corralled by the baby gate, the adults could visit when they wanted and escape whenever they got tired of her then go back for more.

fromage-dickiepaw

Playing Paws Under the Door

She blossomed as she quickly developed greater coordination and learned to play with four adult cats in turn. And not only them, but in the meantime I took in another adult foster who is staying in the spare bedroom, and Fromage stopped to play paws under the door with him as well!

None of my other adult cats developed any interest in her, and Mimi’s reaction was almost funny—a hostile look and a big, long hissssss. I guess she’s had enough of kittens for one lifetime.

Fromage makes it down the steps

Fromage makes it down the steps

Kittens never cease to amaze me at this stage in their development: one day Fromage got into the tub and couldn’t get out, but two days later she was hopping in and out often without touching the sides, the change comes that fast. She climbed the baby gate but couldn’t get to the top, then suddenly she was over it on the other side—where she shouldn’t be. I heard her tumble down the steps once and for a week she ignored the steps, but eventually it was too tempting and I turned around to find her crouching near the bottom studying the new room and trying to decide where to start her exploration. The next day she was running up and down the steps with a concerned Jelly Bean accompanying her; I guess he remembered those days when he and his siblings were only allowed down the steps under my supervision.

Fromage in Motion

Fromage in Motion

At eight weeks she can run and run and run and keep up a pace I can’t even match—and except for the fact that she’s about one-tenth their size and therefore has shorter legs, she can outrun the adult cats. As small as she is, she can outmaneuver them under the bed and around corners and if all else fails she can just run under their bellies and they have to spin around to see where she’s gone.

And she developed into a little sweetheart. Aside from leaping up my leg whenever she saw me, I would hold my hand out in front of her and she would stand on her hind legs with her front paws up then fall on my hand so I could scoop her up, holding her close to my face and cuddling. When I sat on the floor she would walk all over me, purring vigorously.

She also loved company. The first time her forever person, the person who had rescued her, came to visit, Fromage was less than social, not interacting with her at all—but that was before her socialization by the Communal Quartet. I marched every visitor to the house up the stairs to see her (and I had to twist very few arms to get people to visit with her—most people asked). The next time her forever person came to visit, Fromage strolled out of the bathroom and executed a luxurious cat stretch and furled and curled her tail and walked over to her.

Already those predator eyes

Already those predator eyes

But it’s the arrogance of a kitten that age that I love so much. They think they own the world, exploring fearlessly, challenging other cats and animals in their environment, playing with toys, climbing anything they can grasp, developing a vocabulary, yet they are so tiny and delicate, easily hurt, susceptible to so many diseases.

The night I took her to her new home, much larger than mine and with only two other cats, she cautiously explored the living room at first, finding a safe place behind the couch, then moving through the dining room with a little less fear all the time. She was at first a little startled at the sounds of so many voices, especially loud men’s voices, but after being around our conversation just began to ignore it. She’ll have her own room for some time to come, but run of the all but the basement whenever possible. She runs off to explore, then comes back to her person arching her back and rubbing herself against a leg with a vigorous purr, then she’s off to explore some more.

I was glad for my role in this, knowing how to handle a neonatal kitten. But it was really the people who rescued her who played the biggest role in Fromage’s life, and without them her future would be very different, if she had one at all.

If her strident shrieks hadn’t been heard that night, or if they had chosen to ignore her, chances were slim she would have lived a day or two more without her mother. If she somehow had, she should have ended up as another stray cat on the streets dodging cars and people and fighting off illnesses that cats with owners are vaccinated against. If she had survived the coming winter, next year she’d start producing kittens at two to four litters per year, and since she would have grown up without human interaction they would be considered feral, adding to the overpopulation already on the streets. Her life would likely be short and unpleasant as are the lives of most cats who live entirely on the streets with an average life span of three years, and kitten survival at less than 50%.

How much better that she has her own house and her own person and two cats to boss around, enough to eat, spaying at the right time, and she can live a good, long life with people enjoying her gregarious, affectionate personality and admiring her intelligence and beauty! I can’t wait to hear the progress reports.

Read the first article about Fromage: A Little Baby Foster Kitten


And then I gave up work for the day…

four black cats on desk

Maybe she'll notice us now.

Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been busy, but do you guys like to eat?! Then you’ll keep doing things like this as inspiration.

I also admit I posted this nearly two years ago, but it’s still appropriate today, as is the text below. The one thing I’d add is two torties on my lap, and Mimi on my keyboard shelf. I have been busy, and I’ve missed sharing a lot of photos.

For now, enjoy somewhat over 50 pounds of black cat on one desk.

They are always doing something unique, that whimsical quartet of siblings, but sometimes they have the right idea. I really was tired, my eyes were strained, I was losing focus at the end of a long day, and one by one the three boys piled up trying to get their point across (we need dinner, you need to stop working), hence the multiple nap. Then Mewsette, the big sister, piled on top of all of them and began bathing them all in turn, causing things to start falling off my desk. Still, I could pile papers on top of them and keep working. When the paws and tails expanded onto my keyboard, I decided to take their advice and quit working for the day.