Pretty Patches is Looking for a New Home

long-haired calico cat

Patches is looking for a home where she can work her special magic.

A friend put out this message about a cat her family had adopted for her mother in a time of need. Now the beautiful long-haired calico Patches needs to find a new home where she can bring comfort to her people. No one in the family can adopt her so they hope to find a good home with someone who will love her just as much. Patches is young and has many years to spend with a new family.

She writes:

calico cat

Patches brought comfort to her person.

Patches is a petite, sweet-tempered lap cat. We rescued her from Animal Friends for my mother 2 years ago when my mother was fighting cancer.

Since losing my mom last summer, Patches is a little lost and my dad can’t take care of her. We are hoping to find her a good home. She is a little shy at first, but snuggles with my children and myself whenever we visit. She is a bit of a puffball, and she has amazing markings. She has only been an indoor cat and she is about 3 to 4 years old.  She will make a great addition to any family.

Patches is in Zelienople, north of Pittsburgh, PA. Please call 724-719-2229.

Animals helping people heal

What a wonderful idea for the family to choose a feline companion for a family member fighting illness, and to choose a rescue kitty as well. Often when illness strikes people are advised to or choose to give up their pets because their care is too much on top of the illness. There are times when this is very true, as we’ve seen with a few rescue stories here on The Creative Cat, such as Dorothy’s Pets. But this family knew that a feline companion could help this woman by providing the companionship and unconditional love that is the gift of any animal companion. Read about actual studies into this in Pet Therapy: How Animals And Humans Heal Each Other and Research says cats have healing powers.

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Images used in this article were provided by Patches’ family.

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Born Free

sleeping lion

One of the lionesses at the Pittsburgh Zoo sleeping on a hot August afternoon.

A short while ago I posted on Facebook that I’d been enjoying the music from the 1966 movie Born Free and was remembering the movie, which always made me cry, in fact, even just hearing the music made me cry (as it does right now this minute).

That touched a chord with many others who remembered and felt the same about the movie wherein British game warden in Kenya George Adamson shoots and kills a charging lioness, finds her cubs, and raises them along with his wife, Joy. Two of the cubs are sent to a Rotterdam zoo as they grow, but Elsa stays with them as more or less a pet. When she causes elephants to stampede a village, they are told she must be sent to a zoo or rehabilitated into the wild.

It would have been far easier and perhaps less painful for them to simply send Elsa off to a zoo, and the months of teaching her to hunt and kill and to become part of a pride were frustrating and disappointing by turn, yet they were determined they would see her live her life as a free member of her own species in her own homeland. Elsa’s is the first known rehabilitation and reintroduction to her wild nature, the first time anyone had made contact again with an animal they had reintroduced into the wild, and the first to successfully reproduce.

So why do so many pull out the tissues when the music starts? Because the Adamsons had that same bond with her that any of us does with the animals in our lives, and for whatever reason it happens, it’s still painful to see that bond severed.

Read the rest of this entry »


Not Throwaways, and Definitely Worth the Effort

gray cat on bricks

Moses, a nearly starved feral cat, was not a good candidate for survival, but lived happily to 19.

In the last few months stories of heroic efforts to save the lives of abused and critically injured cats and kittens have filled my reading and viewing list. Kitties like Bernice, who was apparently set on fire and left for dead on a sidewalk in Oshkosh, Wisconsin but lives and thrives at the veterinary hospital just being a regular cat despite her injuries; Dexter, who was beaten with a baseball bat along with his brother but survived long enough to be adopted before being overcome by his increasing seizures, and, recently, Tabitha, a kitten found in a plastic bag in a dumpster, her body crushed and in extreme pain but alive enough to call for help and is currently recovering, may have at one time been euthanized as an act of “mercy”. Instead, every effort at great expense was made to both ease their pain and heal their wounds so that they could have a chance at life.

Medical care for animals has advanced at a blinding rate in the past few years, giving animals the chance at life they didn’t have even only a few years ago.

But medical care isn’t the only thing that’s changed at a blinding rate in the past few years. Respect for animals and their needs and their sentience, as well as their relationships with we humans and ours with them, is readily accepted, even expected, when caring for animals.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Special Needs Stray Needs a Special Home

orange kitty

Parker, a sweet stray kitty who needs a home!

Our friends at FosterCat tell us that Parker still needs a home! Not only is he a special needs kitty, with just a slight tremor to his head, he’s also being fed and cared for outdoors in a colony of stray cats. Let’s get Parker inside for the winter!

From the time he was a kitten, Parker has had some neurological problems, really just amounting to a tremor in his head.

Problem is, Parker lives in a managed stray and feral colony, and according to the manager the area is not entirely safe since neighbors have been trapping cats and taking them to be euthanized. While they protect the colony from this, Parker is at special risk.

He is neutered and given basic veterinary care. The veterinarian said he may outgrow the condition, and in fact it seems to be getting better as he gets older. Being a stray they did not pursue the exact cause, but the colony manager doesn’t want to see him outside over winter because of his condition.

Parker is about a year old, is a sweet, friendly little guy who’s had all his vaccinations and will be FeLV tested if someone agrees to adopt him.

If you know of anyone who would be willing to give this little guy a home, please call Denise Charmillo on 412-421-7534.

Photo courtesy FosterCat.


A Special Needs Stray Needs a Special Home

orange kitty

Parker, a sweet stray kitty who needs a home!

From the time he was a kitten, Parker has had some neurological problems, really just amounting to a tremor in his head.

Problem is, Parker lives in a managed stray and feral colony, and according to the manager the area is not entirely safe since neighbors have been trapping cats and taking them to be euthanized. While they protect the colony from this, Parker is at special risk.

He was recently neutered and given basic veterinary care where the veterinarian said he may outgrow it, and in fact it seems to be getting better as he gets older. Being a stray they did not pursue the exact cause, but the colony manager doesn’t want to see him outside over winter because of his condition.

Parker is about a year old, is a sweet, friendly little guy who’s had all his vaccinations and will be FeLV tested if someone agrees to adopt him.

If you know of anyone who would be willing to give this little guy a home, please call Denise Charmillo on 412-421-7534.

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If you enjoy the articles, photos and artwork you find on The Creative Cat, please nominate me in the Petties 2011, Dogtime’s Pet Blog Awards. You can nominate for more than one category, but The Creative Cat seems to fit in the Best Designed Blog because there is no life without images, all those photos and artwork and visual ideas I love to share. You could also nominate me for Best Blog Post if there is a particular blog post you find memorable. I would send any award money to FosterCat for all they do in finding foster homes and permanent homes for cats who have no other chance. Here is the information you need for nomination:
Name: The Creative Cat
Nominee URL: https://portraitsofanimals.wordpress.com/
Nominee e-mail: bernadette@bernadette-k.com
Click here to go to Dogtime’s Petties 2011.


Cookie and Me, Our 18th Anniversary!

me and cookie on the steps

Cookie and me, 2010, photo compliments Green Tree Times

Looking back in my records it’s not clear if the big day was December 6 or December 9, 1992, but no matter. Cookie is my main tortie and she’s been with me the longest of any cat currently in my household, and she has many stories to tell. She’s also been a very special friend of mine all these years for reasons you’ll read in her story.

It’s not hard to get “old”, really it just happens. What is more interesting is how you get there. And you have to have a good human who will take care of the important things for you.

photo of cat and flowered dress

Cookie and I have lunch al fresco.

I have lived my life in service to my mom, and I have let no other living thing, human, feline or otherwise, come before her. To me, and to the rest of us, she is like Freya, goddess of just about everything that is worth living for, and I have happily served as one of her chariot cats all my life.

tortoiseshell cat in forget me nots

Cookie in forget-me-nots

Most people don’t know that tri-color cats have an excellent memory, and can recall everything we’ve experienced through our lives. It’s one of the reasons tri-color cats have been considered good luck through history, though most humans think it’s only because of our unique coloring. That extra gene that gives us our tri-color coat also gives us an extra ability both to remember and to perceive. Sometimes, we can be a little irritable, but it’s only because we’re processing an awful lot of information.

So I remember all the way back to my beginning, which was pretty grim.

closeup of tortoiseshell cat

Cookie Closeup

There were four of us kittens with our mother and we were pretty happy and warm in our little box in a house until someone in the house decided we should be raised outdoors “like real cats” and put us outside. I was very young and still nursing, only tasting real food now and then.

Our mom moved us to a safe place then went off to get some food since she was told to “fend for herself”. We never saw her again, though we called and called for her.

Other little humans heard us, though, and led some other big humans to where our mom had hidden us. We were so hungry all we could do was cry. Unfortunately by that time two of my sisters were silent and we knew we’d never hear them again.

One of the big humans picked up my sister and one of the little humans picked up me and the big human told the little one that we needed special food and it might be a lot of work, but that we were probably old enough to survive if we got enough food.

So I went off with the little human, but not to live happily ever after. It seems his mom wanted no parts of me, even though he already had another feline in the house. He brought me inside overnight because she didn’t notice, but the next day she would put me outside. I really don’t understand some humans.

But he fed me and he played with me and I understood that he really loved me, so I stayed close to his house and when he came outside to look for me it made him so happy when I’d magically appear from under a bush or around the side of the house.

He always managed to feed me something, but there were times when there wasn’t much. Then the weather got colder and colder, and I heard him and all the other humans talking about how we hadn’t had “snow”, that icky cold wet stuff that gets on everything when it’s cold outside, “that early in winter”. When there wasn’t snow it was just cold, and it really hurt my paws.

pastel painting of snow in morning

Morning Snow 1, a painting from that winter, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

One day I had had enough. Cold wet snow was falling fast and I just started walking. I found a spot where warm air was flowing out of a little window and I settled underneath it, since it was somewhat dry there. I heard the boy calling and when he got close enough I came out and he picked me up and began to carry me back to where we lived.

We stopped on the way to talk to a big human in a little house I had passed. While he held me and proudly told her “this is my kitty”, I could see there were other cats in the house looking out the windows. They looked so warm and happy I could only wish, but I knew my future was in this icky outdoors. Still, I heard her say, “If your mom puts her back outside, just bring her here.”

And later that day his mom came home and literally tossed me out the door into the snow, which was really deep and wet by then. He brought me back in, and I heard them on the phone, her saying, “I don’t care if that cat dies it’s not coming in here, he already has one…”

Then he put me in his coat and in a minute we were back at the lady’s house. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll take care of her, and you can visit.”

painting of cat looking out door

The Little Sunflower, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

So we went inside and she put me in a nice warm room by myself then left. There was a bowl of food and a bowl of water but I was so tired and confused after my awful day that I ignored it at first and just curled up on a nice soft bed and fell asleep.

The lady came back in and picked me up to take me to another room with bright lights. She sat on the floor and put me on her lap and talked to me while she gently ran her hands all over me, pulled on my ears, lifted my face and looked right into my eyes, lifted each of my paws and felt all my toes. Any other time I’d have given her a piece of my mind at treatment like this, but it wasn’t like the kids outside would do, and besides I was kind of in a stupor in the warmth with food and gentle petting.

I curled myself up on her lap really tightly and started on the second toe on my left hind foot. “Hmmm…” she said, picked me up and looked at my foot, pulling my toes apart and looking really closely. Then she let my paw go and I went back to it with my toe, feeling a big profound purr begin deep inside me, but again she took my foot and inspected it and let it go. This time she just petted me while I worked on my toe and after a while I heard her say, “Oh, little kitty, you’re nursing on your toe…” Well, when I lost my mom and then my sister and I was alone a lot, I needed something for comfort. What could it hurt?

cat in basket

Cookie in the basket several years ago.

I stayed in the warm, quiet room with the food bowl and the lady came to visit a few times a day with food in a little can—yum! I heard the other cats outside and we sniffed under the door at each other. She petted me and talked to me and called me “Chocolate”, but I was still wary and usually kept my distance when she came in, acting unconcerned, except when she sat down and then I could curl up on her lap and work on my toe. I just knew this had to end, and I wasn’t going to get too accustomed to the room or to her since I had loved the little boy too, and had to leave there. I had lost my mother and all my sisters, and I wasn’t taking any chances anymore.

But one morning when she came in and cheerily said, “Good morning, Chocolate!” I impulsively turned and walked over to her, put my tail up and asked her a question with just my eyes, “I’m staying here, aren’t I?”

“Oh, little kitty, I’m so glad you’re happy to be here!” Humans can be very intuitive too. I knew I was right. And I knew that I’d be devoted to this person for all my life. Eighteen years later, I still am. In fact, right now I’m properly draped across her lap, right paw extended and my chin resting on her right wrist as she types, and just a little purr is intended to massage her wrist and to relax me. Mom is working and I am attentive as her kitty in waiting. We are very happy.

photo of two tortie cats

Cookie and Kelly at the computer

I have seen many changes since the day she let me out of that room and I officially joined the household (and I had no idea until some time later that I nearly left with someone who was looking to adopt a tri-color kitty who ended up with Sunshine, a calico who had been wandering the neighborhood as well as me). I was the youngest then; now I’m the oldest, I’ve been here the longest. I grew to love all the cats who were here when I came for what they taught me, even those who came for a while then left, and all the others who came and stayed and are still here. I even managed to get over my pique when my mom took in another tortie, that scrawny, noisy Kelly who is so un-tortie in so many ways, and now it’s hard to believe that Kelly is a senior cat too.

photo of tortie cat in the sun

Cookie-patra

I knew some day I’d hold this position of honor as the lead cat in the household. I was instructed by the best cats in the world just exactly how to take care of my mom and how to be a leader among cats so that you earned respect without having to lift a paw, though sometimes you need to say something. Usually, a stern look will do.

Cookie and Sophie

Cookie and Sophie

But mostly I’ve loved being one of my mom’s guard cats. I knew this was my place and learned the position from my sister Sophie, who was here when I came in and who became my closest friend in the household, though she could be a little strange at times. Still, whenever our mom settled down, we would take our positions on either side of her, either curled in vigilance on either side of her on her desk or literally leaning against her ankles, either just being vigilant or giving her the strength and support she needed in the moment.

Recently, I started helping her in her shop where I greet and supervise customers, and of course you know I am on the sign to let people know where to find good cat art—with me as a subject, how could it be otherwise?

We lost Sophie a few years ago, and it hurt as badly as losing my mother and sisters did all those years ago. I couldn’t even be there for my mom, or she for me, until one day we looked at each other and noticed we’d each quit eating and were losing weight and just feeling sick all the time. We curled up together and gave each other the strength to go on.

photo of two cats in the grass

Cookie and Namir relax in the yard.

We’ve lost others too. We lost Namir; even though I wasn’t as close with him as I was with Sophie, and he used to run up behind me and swat my butt then trot away giggling, we had great times out in the back yard helping mom with her garden and just enjoying being cats out there and it’s just not the same out there without him.

Peaches and Cookie are exhausted with all the new information.

Peaches and Cookie are exhausted with all the new information.

And we lost Peaches, who I still miss even though I thought it was rude of her to “cut in line” coming in the house at age 15 and not working her way to her senior position the hard way, as I did, getting tossed around by the older cats and finally getting my mom’s full attention. Peaches was one of the nicest kitties to come into the house, though, and I miss curling up with her on mom’s desk; I even miss keeping an eye on her all those months when she was ill.

There has been so much more in my eighteen years here with my mom, and I am looking forward to many, many more. Our Stanley lived to be really, really old, several years older than I am now, and I don’t see any reason I can’t do the same.

photo of cats on bed

Mewsette questions Cookie

Besides, who would look after our mom if I wasn’t here? The only kitty I’ve seen with any potential all these years is Mewsette, who has been hanging out near me and asking questions. I have to put her in her place now and then because she’s a little too friendly for me, but even though she’s not a tortie she is big and strong and solid black and though she’s young and silly I think she may be able to be the next kitty in waiting.

Cookie, "The Goddess" block print © B.E. Kazmarski

About Cookie’s name…tortie cats can look very brown when they are young, before their markings develop clarity on a slightly larger body, and Cookie was the first tortie I encountered. I called her “Chocolate” because of her coloring and because she was sweet. Because she was small I called her “Chocolate Chip”. One day I called, “Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Cookie, Cookie and she ran out from under the bed with big round eyes as if to say, ‘How did you know my name?’ ” She’s been Cookie from then on, but her full name is Semi-Sweet Butterscotch Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. You know how these things develop.

This article originally ran as “Cookie Reminisces” as we celebrated Peaches’ 100th Birthday in April 2010.


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.


Cookie Reminisces

Even though Cookie doesn’t want to admit it, this is another article celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday. Cookie is my main tortie, and though she’s two years younger than Peaches she’s been with me the longest of any cat currently in my household, and she has many stories to tell. She’s also been a very special friend of mine all these years for reasons you’ll read in her story.

photo of tortie cat

Cookie Ponders

I just don’t understand all this fuss about Peaches. I mean, I know she’s an old cat, but so am I, except that I’m “mature” where Peaches is just “old”.

It’s not hard to get “old”, really it just happens. What is more interesting is how you get there. And you have to have a good human who will take care of the important things for you.

I have lived my life in service to my mom, and I have let no other living thing, human, feline or otherwise, come before her. To me, and to the rest of us, she is like Freya, goddess of just about everything that is worth living for, and I have happily served as one of her chariot cats all my life.

Most people don’t know that tri-color cats have an excellent memory, and can recall everything we’ve experienced through our lives. It’s one of the reasons tri-color cats have been considered good luck through history, though most humans think it’s only because of our unique coloring. That extra gene that gives us our tri-color coat also gives us an extra ability both to remember and to perceive. Sometimes, we can be a little irritable, but it’s only because we’re processing an awful lot of information.

So I remember all the way back to my beginning, which was pretty grim.

There were four of us kittens with our mother and we were pretty happy and warm in our little box in a house until someone in the house decided we should be raised outdoors “like real cats” and put us outside. I was very young and still nursing, only tasting real food now and then.

Our mom moved us to a safe place then went off to get some food since she was told to “fend for herself”. We never saw her again, though we called and called for her.

Other little humans heard us, though, and led some other big humans to where our mom had hidden us. We were so hungry all we could do was cry. Unfortunately by that time two of my sisters were silent and we knew we’d never hear them again.

One of the big humans picked up my sister and one of the little humans picked up me and the big human told the little one that we needed special food and it might be a lot of work, but that we were probably old enough to survive if we got enough food.

So I went off with the little human, but not to live happily ever after. It seems his mom wanted no parts of me, even though he already had another feline in the house. He brought me inside overnight because she didn’t notice, but the next day she would put me outside. I really don’t understand some humans.

But he fed me and he played with me and I understood that he really loved me, so I stayed close to his house and when he came outside to look for me it made him so happy when I’d magically appear from under a bush or around the side of the house.

He always managed to feed me something, but there were times when there wasn’t much. Then the weather got colder and colder, and I heard him and all the other humans talking about how we hadn’t had “snow”, that icky cold wet stuff that gets on everything when it’s cold outside, “that early in winter”. When there wasn’t snow it was just cold, and it really hurt my paws.

pastel painting of snow in morning

Morning Snow 1, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

One day I had had enough. Cold wet snow was falling fast and I just started walking. I found a spot where warm air was flowing out of a little window and I settled underneath it, since it was somewhat dry there. I heard the boy calling and when he got close enough I came out and he picked me up and began to carry me back to where we lived.

We stopped on the way to talk to a big human in a little house I had passed. While he held me and proudly told her “this is my kitty”, I could see there were other cats in the house looking out the windows. They looked so warm and happy I could only wish, but I knew my future was in this icky outdoors. Still, I heard her say, “If your mom puts her back outside, just bring her here.”

And later that day his mom came home and literally tossed me out the door into the snow, which was really deep and wet by then. He brought me back in, and I heard them on the phone, her saying, “I don’t care if that cat dies it’s not coming in here, he already has one…”

Then he put me in his coat and in a minute we were back at the lady’s house. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll take care of her, and you can visit.”

So we went inside and she put me in a nice warm room by myself then left. There was a bowl of food and a bowl of water but I was so tired and confused after my awful day that I ignored it at first and just curled up on a nice soft bed and fell asleep.

The lady came back in and picked me up to take me to another room with bright lights. She sat on the floor and put me on her lap and talked to me while she gently ran her hands all over me, pulled on my ears, lifted my face and looked right into my eyes, lifted each of my paws and felt all my toes. Any other time I’d have given her a piece of my mind at treatment like this, but it wasn’t like the kids outside would do, and besides I was kind of in a stupor in the warmth with food and gentle petting.

I curled myself up on her lap really tightly and started on the second toe on my left hind foot. “Hmmm…” she said, picked me up and looked at my foot, pulling my toes apart and looking really closely. Then she let my paw go and I went back to it with my toe, feeling a big profound purr begin deep inside me, but again she took my foot and inspected it and let it go. This time she just petted me while I worked on my toe and after a while I heard her say, “Oh, little kitty, you’re nursing on your toe…” Well, when I lost my mom and then my sister and I was alone a lot, I needed something for comfort. What could it hurt?

photo of tortie cat in basket

Cookie in the basket.

I stayed in the warm, quiet room with the food bowl and the lady came to visit a few times a day with food in a little can—yum! I heard the other cats outside and we sniffed under the door at each other. She petted me and talked to me and called me “Chocolate”, but I was still wary and usually kept my distance when she came in, acting unconcerned, except when she sat down and then I could curl up on her lap and work on my toe. I just knew this had to end, and I wasn’t going to get too accustomed to the room or to her since I had loved the little boy too, and had to leave there. I had lost my mother and all my sisters, and I wasn’t taking any chances anymore.

But one morning when she came in and cheerily said, “Good morning, Chocolate!” I impulsively turned and walked over to her, put my tail up and asked her a question with just my eyes, “I’m staying here, aren’t I?”

“Oh, little kitty, I’m so glad you’re happy to be here!” Humans can be very intuitive too. I knew I was right. And I knew that I’d be devoted to this person for all my life. Eighteen years later, I still am. In fact, right now I’m properly draped across her lap, right paw extended and my chin resting on her right wrist as she types, and just a little purr is intended to massage her wrist and to relax me. Mom is working and I am attentive as her kitty in waiting. We are very happy.

photo of two tortie cats

Cookie and Kelly at the computer

I have seen many changes since the day she let me out of that room and I officially joined the household (and I had no idea until some time later that I nearly left with someone who was looking to adopt a tri-color kitty who ended up with Sunshine, a calico who had been wandering the neighborhood as well as me). I was the youngest then; now I’m the second oldest, but I’ve been here the longest. I grew to love all the cats who were here when I came for what they taught me, even those who came for a while then left, and all the others who came and stayed and are still here. I even managed to get over my pique when my mom took in another tortie, that scrawny, noisy Kelly who is so un-tortie in so many ways, and now it’s hard to believe that Kelly is a senior cat too.

photo of tortie cat in the sun

Cookie-patra

I knew some day I’d hold this position of honor as the lead cat in the household. I was instructed by the best cats in the world just exactly how to take care of my mom and how to be a leader among cats so that you earned respect without having to lift a paw, though sometimes you need to say something. Usually, a stern look will do.

Cookie and Sophie

Cookie and Sophie

But mostly I’ve loved being one of my mom’s guard cats. I knew this was my place and learned the position from my sister Sophie, who was here when I came in and who became my closest friend in the household, though she could be a little strange at times. Still, whenever our mom settled down, we would take our positions on either side of her, either curled in vigilance on either side of her on her desk or literally leaning against her ankles, either just being vigilant or giving her the strength and support she needed in the moment.

We lost Sophie a few years ago, and it hurt as badly as losing my mother and sisters did all those years ago. I couldn’t even be there for my mom, or she for me, until one day we looked at each other and noticed we’d each quit eating and were losing weight and just feeling sick all the time. We curled up together and gave each other the strength to go on.

photo of two cats in a garden

Namir and Cookie inspect my gardening.

We’ve lost others too, and last year we lost Namir; even though I wasn’t as close with him as I was with Sophie, and he used to run up behind me and swat my butt then trot away giggling, we had great times out in the back yard helping mom with her garden and just enjoying being cats out there and it’s just not the same out there without him.

There has been so much more in my eighteen years here with my mom, and I am looking forward to many, many more. Our Stanley lived to be really, really old, several years older than I am now, and I don’t see any reason I can’t do the same.

photo of cats on bed

Mewsette questions Cookie

Besides, who would look after our mom if I wasn’t here? The only kitty I’ve seen with any potential all these years is Mewsette, who has been hanging out near me and asking questions. I have to put her in her place now and then because she’s a little too friendly for me, but even though she’s not a tortie she is big and strong and solid black and I think she may be able to be the next kitty in waiting.

About Cookie’s name…tortie cats can look very brown when they are young, before their markings develop clarity on a slightly larger body, and Cookie was the first tortie I encountered. I called her “Chocolate” because of her coloring and because she was sweet. Because she was small I called her “Chocolate Chip”. One day I called, “Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Cookie, Cookie and she ran out from under the bed with big round eyes as if to say, ‘How did you know my name?’ ” She’s been Cookie from then on, but her full name is Semi-Sweet Butterscotch Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. You know how these things develop.

Other articles celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday

Bid on this Print and Start Celebration Peaches’ 100th Birthday

How Peaches Stole My Heart

Old is Awesome!

Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, Part 1

Beyond Food and Water, Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, part 2

Other articles about Peaches

Peaches Applies for a Job

Get Well Wishes for Peaches

Peaches Says, “Thanks for All the Get Well Wishes, They Worked”

This is a short list—Peaches appears in many articles I’ve written on my household, on pet loss, and even some silly things I’ve written on my website before I had a blog! Search “peaches” in the search box for more articles.


Meet Peaches’ BFF, Eva, and Read a Miraculous Rescue

photo of Eva's face

Eva's expression

…and the story of a completely unique feline purrsonality—a strong and centered purrsonality that probably saved her life by giving her the strength to endure what she was dealt.

I first met Eva in the post you will read below, originally posted on The Conscious Cat in December 2009 . I was moved to tears of empathy for both Eva and Renee, her rescuer, because Eva was strong enough to hold on, and Renee was given an unexpected second chance to rescue her. I know what it is to see cats in the dark in the rain on a lonely back road, knowing their chances of survival are nearly non-existent, and many have either eluded me or I’ve not had the time or the means to go after them. How many Evas did I miss? I love Eva for the story that she tells.

However, even with her near-death and her many health issues, Eva is a vibrant and social cat—who even has her own blog and a Facebook page with 341 friends! Not to mention she looks like my Peaches…

Eva’s Journey – Second Chances and Lessons Learned
Guest post by Renee L. Austin

Second chances are hard to come by, especially when the crazy pace of life can cause us to miss the fact that there was an initial opportunity to begin with. And when there is a chance to change a life, one’s own or someone else’s, a second chance is even more precious – particularly when that life hangs in the balance…

I’d seen her at least a week, maybe two weeks earlier, climbing an embankment on the side of the road. Even though there were no houses or barns nearby, the collar she was wearing stood out, and with some degree of relief I gave her just a fleeting thought. I was in a bit of hurry and traveling the back dirt roads. Well, by December they’re usually treacherously slick and muddy narrow lanes flanked by the dull browns and grays of winter. I have no business using them when they are so bad, but haste often overcomes common sense.

The next time I came upon her was in an even more remote area. She was wandering ahead of me up the middle of the road through the freezing rain. She was so un-cat-like; helpless looking and forlorn, head down, shoulders slumped, plodding through mud the consistency of pudding. She seemed totally unconcerned with my car pulling up behind her and barely glanced over her shoulder before slightly quickening her pace. Dejection and misery radiated from the little body.

When I stepped out and into the muck to call her, this suddenly animated creature whirled around and half ran to me chattering on and on in short rapid bursts. She leapt into the car without hesitation and proceeded to hug me; purring loudly and rubbing her face against mine as I settled back behind the wheel. Before I even got us turned around we were both covered in the mud she’d carried in with her. The inside of the car was a mess, too. And there I was, late-late-late, headed back to the house with a stray tortoiseshell cat loose in my car with cautionary thoughts churning of rabies, crazed tortie attacks, and wondering how I was going to explain this one to the folks at the emergency room. She rode standing in my lap, shivering and smelling of cold, wet earth and winter, front legs wrapped tightly around my neck, face pressed hard against my cheek. It turned out that my biggest concern was being able to keep the car on the road while trying to see around her head.

It was much later that night after I’d returned and had time to really study her, that I understood just how close she must have been to the end – that she already must have decided there would be no more chances. For however long she’d been on her own, and whatever had sustained her thus far, those resources and energy stores were gone. She was spent. Clearly there was no longer any expectation of help. Hope had faded and simply ceased to exist.

I remember looking down at her and thinking ‘no room at the inn’. We do have a full house, and I’d been waffling back and forth between frustration and acceptance over the rate and circumstances at which the fur-footed population was increasing here. Not only that, but I’ve been so slow to heal after losing my two special friends, each my heart and my soul. Sometimes it’s just too hard to find space for others amidst the broken pieces. In that moment I tried to close myself off even more, and then the little gray cat looked back up at me, stumbling and losing her balance in her weakened state. The drawn face filled with anxiety, showed all of the uncertainty and desperation she’d been carrying-for who knows how long.

It’s been a year now, and this cat that I was so reluctant to bring into the fold is a constant companion; always on my lap or at my feet, or greeting me at the door – when she’s not off raiding the kitchen. She could stand to lose a pound, maybe a bit more, but that’s something we’ll deal with much later. Her enthusiasm for all food is rooted, I’m certain, in her having been so near starvation when I picked her up.

photo of Eva

Eva

Eva walks with an awkward waddle as she follows me whenever I move throughout the house. Her back, neck, and hip problems are always apparent-even more so-when she first awakens and tries to work the stiffness from her sore joints and muscles. The chronic cough from a heartworm infection sometimes wakes us all in the night. These things don’t seem to prevent her from playing by herself in my office while I work, or from efficiently devouring the contents of my plate if I look away for even a moment, or from applying teeth and nails if I decide too soon that she needs to get down. She is a happy cat – as long as things go her way.

Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like out in the middle of nowhere with no food, no shelter, no hope. Just hunger and cold and loneliness, and a hopeless fading day by day. And then I marvel at how, with my crazy schedule and ever changing routes, there could have been the teensiest possibility in all of the minutes and hours and days and miles, of coming upon Eva a second time.

A couple weeks ago I was driving the back way through the rain and gloom and saw a gray form moving up an embankment. I kept going and then stopped, backing carefully until I was even with a little gray tortie cat. She wanted nothing to do with me, but as I drove away and worried that she might just simply be frightened and still in need, I realized that I had at least stopped for that first opportunity. I tucked my own concern away, and have not been back through there since. Some things are meant to be, some things are not. You can’t be sure until it happens, or doesn’t happen. The latter is the tricky part, isn’t it?

One thing I do know is that we have to be willing to stop and back up for a moment-and keep our hearts open, even if there’s only just a tiny bit of space among the pieces.

One year later, Eva has not only settled into Renee’s household, but she now has her own website! You can follow her day to day adventures at Conversations with Eva.

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I highly recommend signing up for Conversations With Eva—brief vignettes of Eva plotting on how to get Encheesladas and how to take over Renee’s computer, as well as her duties running a household of animals of varied ability and intelligence. What would Renee have done without her?

You can also begin at the beginning—Eva’s ad for an “office assistant” on her blog, which my Peaches read and replied in the comments and which began a correspondence between the two girls…Peaches replied with her own blog entry, Eva actually sent Peaches an “application“, to which Peaches replied with her qualifications!

You can also find Eva on Facebook.

Renee Austin is the owner of Whimsy Cats, Northern Virginia’s premiere cat sitting service. Whimsy Cats specializes in cats who need special care such as administration of medication, fluids or insulin, senior cats, post-surgical care, and more. For more information about Renee and Whimsy Cats, please visit her website at www.whimsycats.com.