Loving and Losing Beijing

It’s been a surreal week of highs and lows. My oldest son turned 17 on Wednesday. The same day Beijing stopped eating. She moved from spot to spot, unresponsive to any attention we paid. I was so afraid she would die on his birthday, but she survived the night. My husband hoped that it was only an infection, and that a trip to the vet could heal her. She’s been on four medications for a year treating her heart and thyroid, but she was happy, ravenous, cantankerous…in short, her wonderful self.

Alas, the news wasn’t good. Her body is shutting down, and they’ve added probable cancer to the list. I’m going to see her now, and will be there with her as she eases out of this world. My youngest son graduates 8th grade in a few hours. I’m hoping to keep this news at bay till then.

Thank you for gracing our lives, Beijing.

Beijing, October 2010

Sunning herself in the garden bed

mike and Beijing

Her favorite place in the house

beijing on the swing

Keeping me company on the garden swing


The ‘Look”

Beijing on the sill

A favorite spot


Please hold all my calls.

mac with beijing

In the arms of my youngest son

Nature’s Costumes: All Set for Halloween

Our kitties are all set for Halloween. They’ve gone the simple route with their costumes, unlike yours truly who likes to complicate things. I managed to alter a pattern and cut the pieces to my dress this weekend, but with my husband traveling out of the country and my busier-than-usual work schedule, I’m down to the wire.  And speaking of wire, our wireless connection went down as soon as he left town.  Nothing makes me feel dumber than trying to trouble shoot modems, routers, wireless connections and the like.

I studied theater arts in college, with an emphasis in costume design, so it’s fun to dust off my sewing skills once a year.  Halloween is the perfect time of year.  So, I’m sticking to the things I do know (sewing and gardening) and through the magic of mobile phones, our internet is finally up and running.

With that wireless business behind me, I’m back to focusing on costumes.

First up, Mouse the Mighty. I know, I know, he’s not even my cat but try telling him that.  Here he is sporting his Inspector Clouseau costume.

My sweet Lindy is taking the softer approach. Here she dons a head full of strawberry plants for that special Strawberry Shortcake look.

Slinky Malinki is all dressed in black. She’s emulating the children’s story book of the same name: Slinky Malinki…

Beijing is a teenager, and a tired one at that. She’s sitting out the whole costume thing this year, preferring instead to monitor the treats. She’s a natural.

Beijing on the sill

Beijing, the teenager

What’s in a name:

Mighty Mouse: He’s named by our neighbor’s daughter.
Lindy: She came home from the Humane Society already named. We also call her Lindy-Lu.
Slinky Malinki:  Once a stray. We named her after a slinky black cat in a children’s story book of the same name.
Beijing:  Also once a stray.  My son named her Beijing, because she’s neither white nor orange, but beige.

Halloween Countdown:

chocolate pumpkin

Chocolate pumpkin. This tasty morsel was a gift from my Pilates instructor. Yes, I do see the irony in this.

Kitty in Search of a Play Date

Our three kitties love the time we spend in the garden. One by one they join us outdoors.  We installed a cat fence-in system over 16 years ago to keep them safe, so they have the run of the garden without the dangers of street-life. It’s been the best of both worlds.

lindy in the grass

Lindy in repose

When we first installed the system, we monitored carefully for possible escape routes.  Our fab felines quickly settled in and we let out a collective sigh.

Beijing in the grass

Beijing enjoying her solitude

Then…Mighty Mouse came along. Mouse belongs to a neighbor, but he prefers life at our place. He’s also the Harry Houdini of the cat world.  He knows the ins and outs of our house and garden, and makes himself at home wherever his little paws carry him.  Mouse navigates his way into our yard by crossing the neighbors gate along the top of the shared fence. From there he weaves through the Jasmin vine, over the netting and across one of the broken standards we keep meaning to fix.

This weekend he joined us in search of a play date.

mouse under the orange tree

Mouse looking up

bird on the fence

Our furry friend listened to the birds rustling in the orange tree for a while, but lost interest when Lindy came outside.  He circled her for a game of patty-cake, but she was not amused.  Her bent ears sent a clear message of annoyance.  Mouse wised up and moved on.

Mouse and Lindy play

Fun and games

Next up, he tried to engage Beijing.  She was busy snoozing, pressed against the warm rock wall, when Mouse slyly meandered nearby.  He inched closer and closer, sitting down each time in the dirt.  Before he could dangle an inquisitive paw, Beijing stood up, braced her shoulders and vocalized her first warning.  Unperturbed, he held the higher ground.  ‘I have no time for this nonsense,’ she seemed to say, as she turned her back and returned inside in what I can only imagine was disgust.  I found her sphinx like in the entry way, wondering when the intruder would be heading home.

Mouse and Beijing play

Let’s play!!!

Beijing stalks

“I’ve had it!”

Slinky avoided Mouse altogether, staying hidden in the side yard till the coast was clear.

I think it might be time to place an ad in the personals: Handsome young kitty, in search of a play date.

Do they have eHarmony for cats?

Beijing in the Garden

It’s been a rough couple of days.  Our aging, arthritic kitty Beijing suffered a ‘collapsing episode.’  I drove her to the emergency animal hospital Sunday night where they immediately placed her in an oxygen tank.  In addition to the arthritis and mild kidney disease we knew about, it turns out she has an enlarged heart, known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy along with an irregular heart rhythm.  Our poor, sweet kitty.

The vet weaned her off of the oxygen and stabilized her overnight.  I moved her to our regular vet Monday morning.

The better news is that all three conditions are manageable with medications.  She gets to come home in a few days.

I’ve had two sad boys on my hands since sharing the bad news.  It will be nice to let them know she’s coming home.  The goal is a simple one:  keep her feeling good.

Here are a few favorite pics of our ‘Beige’ enjoying life in the garden.  I can’t wait to see her lounging there again soon.


Beijing Warms Up: Half in, half out

Flame Point Cat

My Bowl Appears to be Empty

Beijing sleeping in the garden

Trying to stay cool

Beijing in the flower bed

Now that those pesky pumpkins are gone, I can finally take a nap in the vegetable bed.


According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, kitty-corner means

“in a diagonal or oblique position” <the house stood kitty–corner across the square>

Silly me!  All this time I thought it meant the garden corner where kitties congregate.
Our kitty corner saw a lot of activity this week. One morning, a stunning Siamese cat appeared, staying just long enough for a picture. I’ve not seen her before but what a lovely.  She has a chocolate-brown face and brilliant blue eyes.  I wonder what she’s looking at?
Handsome Kitty

Handsome Kitty Drops By

An hour later our neighbor’s cat showed up in the same spot. Kitty should be on the other side of her own cat fencing.  She’s found a way to escape the yard, but they never see her do it so they don’t know how. We keep hoping we’ll discover her escape route. So far, no luck.  She’s got that “I’m not supposed to be here” look on her face, doesn’t she?


Flash Looking Sheepish

Flash on the Move

Flash on the Move

There she goes.
In the inside corner pocket of the garden, Beijing likes to drape herself on both sides of the door.  She keeps her torso outside for maximum sun, while resting her head on the threshold.  This sends a less than subtle message to the resident felines that they’ll have to go around.

Beijing Warms Up

Taking Sun

Lindy and Beijing taking sun (Sorry, Lindy, this corner’s taken)

We love our garden’s kitty-corners. Perhaps I should send a note to Merriam Webster to suggest an additional dictionary entry: where cats congregate. What do you think?

Cats in the Garden: The Holiday Addition

Our afternoon temps were in the mid-sixties (F) this weekend, with skies bright and clear. What a perfect, late-autumn day. I planted tulips, raked leaves and swept the patio, happy to have the time outdoors One by one the cats joined me in the garden. They vie for my attention, while avoiding each others wrath.

Over the years I’ve had a few cats that got along, but mostly my feline companions merely tolerate each other. The current pecking order is as follows: Lindy is ten, and has lived here the longest. She mostly gets her way. Sadly, she’s been terrorizing Slinky, who backs down every time. I’m convinced that if Slinky “stood up to her” things would improve. Before Slinky, Lindy got along with all cats, including the visitors.


Lindy-Lu, we love you

Lindy spies Slinky behind the trellis

Lindy spies Slinky behind the trellis

Top Cat

Top Cat

Beijing, once a stray, joined us three years ago. She’s an aging cat with arthritis and kidney troubles, but she behaves like a brute and takes no prisoners. She makes us laugh. Beige is always looking for a lap and will settle into one the moment anyone sits down. She’s in love with my husband, and I think she wonders where he goes all day.


Beijing or ‘Beige’…cause she’s neither white nor orange

Slinky is young, semi-feral and just now spending most of her time indoors. It’s been a long process, with a few setbacks. She enjoyed the late afternoon in the garden as well, hiding from Lindy but keeping her eye on me. By evening she came indoors where she is enjoying her new digs.

Slinky takes a bath

Slinky takes a bath

Slinky Keeps Watch

Slinky Keeps Watch

I can’t begin to imagine a world without animals, nor my life without felines.  Their (mostly) serene presence soothes the soul.