Merry Christmas from the Family Felines

It’s hard to time a holiday blog for two hemispheres. Further, not everyone celebrates Christmas.

If you’re celebrating today, or perhaps you’re reading this on Boxing Day, I hope your season is merry.

And if today is just a random Tuesday (or Wednesday), I hope your days are merry, too.

Tessa in a box near Mickey Mouse stocking

Tessa just took a nibble from Mickey’s ear which is part of my son’s Christmas stocking from many years ago.

Lindy sporting Santa hat

Lindy, 16, sporting the miniature Santa hat. She looks sullen, but mostly because I’m blocking the stream of sun keeping her warm.

Lindy the cat sunbathing

Another one of Lindy sunbathing

Mouse the cat on a jigsaw puzzle

We usually have a jigsaw puzzle going this time of year. It’s a popular place to nap as well. That’s Mouse.

Tessa smelling Christmas greens

Who’s misbehaving? Tessa jumped up on the kitchen counter to smell the fresh Christmas greens.

Tessa under the sheets

“…and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.” – Clement Clarke Moore

Wishing you all good things in the coming year.

Love, Alys and the family felines.

Sleeping Under a Tree

It’s been years since I napped in public. It was much more common in my youth.  I could fall asleep anywhere: curled up in a chair at the college student union, at the beach with friends or on a wide swath of lawn with a boring textbook close at hand.

The idea of sleeping under a tree seems idyllic, but in reality you get twigs in your hair and bugs in the wrong places. Unless of course you’re a cat.

slinky under the maple tree

An afternoon snooze on a warm spring day

Though her senses remain muddled, Slinky Malinki, my shiny black kitty is still with us. She found her way out the back door into the garden this weekend, and settled herself in a cool spot of green under the maple tree.  She spends most of her time sleeping, but her appetite remains good. She grooms her coat to a lovely shine.

slinky under the tree eyes closed

Slinky’s cozy little nest

She’s the grand dame of the house, keeping Lindy and Mouse in their place, even with her limited vision. If either one of them gets too close, she  takes a random swing in their direction. They’ve learned to give her a wide berth, even though they are more than twice her size.

mouse near the sweet peas

Mighty Mouse in the garden

lindy near garden bench

Lindy keeping a respectful distance

Living with Slinky reminds me a lot of the toddler years. She wants in until she’s out; then she immediately wants back in. I close the door, leave the room and she starts howling to go out again. She walks out the back door, takes a few steps, and then she wants to come in. I can hear her howling at me now to open the door once again. I’m outwardly patient, but weary as well. She’ll be ready for another nap soon.

slinky under the tree sun on her back

Nature’s pillow

We have a cat fountain indoors along with a small water bowl near Slinky’s favorite sleeping spot. No matter.  She wants to go outside and drink from the cold water in the bowl on the steps. She relieves herself in the garden, even though she has a litter box. She uses that too…or the floor when the mood strikes. She’s officially crossed over into high-maintenance territory, leaving me feeling weary when the day is through.

Whoever said “dogs have owners, cats have staff” knew what they were talking about.

slinky under the tree

Yes, Slinky…I’ll be right there.

A Surreal Week

One of the definitions of surreal is “very strange or unusual”. That pretty much sums up last week.

Monday I received an email from the Santa Clara University provost where my son attends college. They hospitalized one of his classmates with a suspected case of meningitis. Yikes! On Tuesday a second student entered the hospital, then a third. By mid-week we were pretty nervous. I pulled out my son’s immunization records which shows he’s been vaccinated, but a quick call to our pediatrician indicated otherwise. He’s not covered for this particular strain of meningococcal bacteria, common on many college campuses.

waiting for vaccines

Waiting in line for meningitis vaccine

His university handled the details swiftly and impressively, coordinating a free vaccination clinic on campus for all 5,000 undergraduates. My son waited in line for two and a half hours to get his shot, along with everyone else. They were not allowed to return to class without a “vaccine pass.” They have to get a booster shot in thirty days, so they’ll be waiting in line again in early March.

The hospital released two of the three students from the hospital but a third remains under medical care. I can’t imagine what his parents are going through.

Last week also coincided with the lead up to the Super Bowl 50, hosted in Santa Clara, California. My husband works a few blocks away. The city set up detours early in the week, and by Friday all of his co-workers worked remotely to avoid the chaos. What is surely a sign of the times, but disquieting nonetheless, is the level of security for this sort of event. Outside Mike’s office window he could see army tanks, helicopters and security personnel practicing drills in case of an attack. It’s one thing to see this on the news, but surreal when it’s happening in your own back yard. The Super Bowl came and went this weekend without incident, and we’re all relieved to have things returning to normal.

super bowl parking lot photos

Super Bowl 50 Security Maneuvers in Santa Clara

My sweet Slinky, who’s been my constant companion throughout my recovery, started hiding under my son’s bed. We were finishing up a medication for a bladder infection and thought she was simply avoiding us. Then I saw her walk into a wall, retreat, then step over one of the other cats lounging in the hallway. I thought she’d suddenly lost her eyesight. I got her into the vet the following day for a thorough exam and asked them to test for things that might be causing this, anything we might be able to treat. Apparently a spike in blood pressure can temporarily rob them of sight. Dr. Shanker said there was nothing wrong with her eyes and believes there is something systemic causing a dulling of all her senses. He said a blind cat can get around just fine, and can find their food hidden in another room while at the same time easily negotiating furniture. So, my sweet Slinky has now retreated to one room in the house, where she sleeps on a pile of blankets on the floor. She’s eating well and purrs when I pet her, but she’ll also swat at me if she’s not sure that I’m in front of her.

slinky 2016

Slinky

It’s hard not knowing what’s going on. She’s eating, using her litter box…most of the time, and purrs when she finally relaxes and lets me sit next to her on my son’s bed. The few time she ventures out of his room, we find her staring at walls. If I pick her up and bring her to the couch, she gets upset and goes back into hiding. Our vet always says it comes down to quality of life. If she’s not in pain, responds to touch, eats and purrs, then her life is still pretty good.  I have a heavy heart.

And on the subject of cats, last night Mouse figured out how to open the screen door so he could bring in a dead rodent. What a way to round out the week

I have the beginnings of a head cold, I lost my prescription sunglasses and I fell off the sugar-free eating plan I’ve been committed to since January. The Girl Scouts came to the door, Mike bought a few boxes of cookies, and I helped myself to a “sleeve of them”. The scale didn’t go down this week. Coincidence?

Stress eating once again rears its ugly head. I’m back on plan and hope this week is mind-numbingly mundane.

I’m sure you’ve had weeks where you were  happy to draw the curtain on the whole thing. Do you ever stress eat as a result? Do you have any tips for keeping it in check?

National Cat Day

A few of my friends let me know that today is National Cat Day.  Of course every day is cat day around here. We currently reside with three delightful felines. On occasion, that number has swelled to six. It never drops below two. Once we went to the Humane Society and adopted a cat, but most of the time the cats find us. They’re all former strays, or occasionally kitties that decide we offer better care, kibble and karma than they’re finding at home. Everyone is welcome.

I love all animals but I’ve always had a strong affinity for cats, probably because it’s what we grew up with.

Here is the current lineup:

Slinky is our senior cat, or so we think. She arrived as a somewhat feral stray. It took a long, long time to gain her trust, but she’s made remarkable strides over the years. She’s a tiny thing at only six pounds (3 kilos), with shiny silky black fur that shines in the sun and beautiful, albeit weary, green eyes.

slinky looking leery

Slinky looking leery

Lindy came home with us from the Humane Society on our son’s 8th birthday. She was around three then, putting her at 13 today. My husband says she’s part dog, because she comes when called, displays all the mellower characteristics of a dog and at 16 pounds (7 kilos), she’s bigger than some of the pooches on our street.

lindy with catnip

Lindy with my son

Mighty Mouse (named by the family that adopted him) pretty much lives at our house. He’s about five years old, full of energy and makes us smile with all his antics. It’s hard for me to understand why he’s allowed to roam, but we do our best to keep him safe, warm and fed. He spends his nights in a cozy bed in our garage or in my son’s room. He eats here, sleeps here and likes to play and “box” with Lindy. She puts up with him, and keeps him in line when necessary.

mouse on my back

This photo exemplifies Mouse’s personality

We adore them one and all.

Do you live with a cat? A dog? Perhaps birds, fish or reptiles? I can’t imagine life without animals. They make my world go round.

Happy National Cat Day!

My Cat Hero:

Alicia Snelen Koberstein has spent most of this year promoting understanding about, and support for, a colony of feral cats who live on the shores of “Cat” Harbor on Catalina Island. She’s coordinated volunteers to help trap, neuter and return this colony of cats, in addition to providing medical care where needed. She’s arranged boats, coordinated flights to relocate a few of the high-risk cats to a sanctuary, while raising funds for food, shelter and veterinary care. She’s my hero.

If you’re interested in supporting this colony of cats, you can make a tax-deductible financial contribution, go to http://www.aprl-socal.org/ and click “Donate”. When you reach the page to confirm the amount, look for the link that says “add special instructions to recipient”. Click on that, then type “Cat Harbor Cats” so that your donation will be directed to them instead of going into the general fund.

 

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?

Mr. Mischievous: Mighty Mouse Mayhem

cat in the garden

Secret Garden: Under Construction

Though gardening can be a solitary activity it’s rare that I’m alone in the dirt. Mr. Mischievous, aka the neighbor’s cat is always along on the journey.

Mouse finds it irresistible when I’m down on all fours in the garden. Apparently it’s equally irresistible causing trouble.

Kitty rolls at my feet, nibbles on the swaying grass and chases clods of dirt at the end of a weed. Unfortunately, he’s also a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop.’  Last week, while I had my back turned, he made himself comfortable on top of the City Picker.  I’ve done plenty of reading on mulching tomatoes and cat mulch wasn’t on the list.

keeping the seedlings warm

Mouse keeping the tomato seedlings warm

My fairy garden is under (re) construction after he sent the entire pot, heal over castors on to the deck.  It gave us both quite the start, and sadly snapped off the tiny leg of my treasured Boomdeeadda deer.  My husband worked his magic with a few drops of super glue, but that deer now looks askance when he sees Mouse headed his way.

Fairy Garden Kerfuffle

Fairy Garden Kerfuffle

This week I started a second miniature garden, tucked between a few plants at the base of our Magnolia tree.  The garden is at ground level so nothing can fall and break.  That’s not to say that a curious cat can’t wedge himself into the same tiny space, confident that the new little clearing is just for him.

Mighty Mouse in the Secret Garden

Mighty Mouse in the Secret Garden

cat and deer

Help me!!!

Once he tires of making mischief, he’ll demand I pick him up. On several occasions, he simply climbs on my stooped back and curls himself in to a ball.  It’s hard not to admire that level of confidence.

cat named mouse

It’s all about me!

If you’re in the neighborhood and you see me down on all fours with a white kitty napping on my back, be sure to wave hello.  More likely than not, Mr. Mischievous will trot out to the curb to say hello.

mouse in the garden

I’m trying to get some shut-eye here.

Be sure to check back for the Secret Garden debut later this week.