Expect the unexpected, so say many, auspicious and otherwise. Change is the only constant in life. They are tropes in our lives, these sayings. I had no idea they were attributed to Greek philosophers and Oscar Wilde, and many comedians and politicians since, I am sure.
But to be tropes, they must have a seed of truth and as we trod through I find this is oh, so, true.
I feel an odd sense of repetition and triteness since last holiday season I waxed on about how our winter celebrations are always so different from the one before. How growing up, it was always the same: the same metallic glass ornaments and red tinsel garland, the same trip to choose a tree, the same candied orange peels and shortbread, the same excitement over gifts and the same innocent sadness when it was all over. And how in this adult life with my own family we are fostering mindful traditions but there is always a difference: a different place, a different day, and different mix of people. And it is okay. Because the comfort is in the love and the family and the celebration of the change of the season.
Well there it is. Change.
Our plans this year had Cat Dad departing with Mu in early December and the rest of us following soon after to be with family over Christmas. Cat Dad would stay behind for a little while we went on to visit other family. Then we would all reunite for Yukon Christmas and resume trodding through winter and skiing and onward, as before.
I had plans of taking festive photos of cats and dog and sharing the wintry joy. There would be snuggling, or at least peace. And shortbread.
But Oscar Wilde and Heraclitus are wiser than I, and the days dissolved into weeks, and Cat Dad and Mu stayed behind because that is where they were needed most.
The minxes welcomed our return happily, and were showered with treats and toys and love. I am sure they were also delighted that Monster did not in fact return with us. We had at last given up on the ridiculous dog experiment, so they thought, despite our persistent reminders that Monster is coming home, eventually, and showing them on Skype.
The days and the weeks and the months piled up. Here we are. It is March. Our stockings and snowflakes and some gifts still waiting for Yukon Christmas. A birthday celebrated over Skype. Valentines in the mail. Cat Dad still very much needed where he is.
I have reflected a great deal on my gratitude for a loving and equal partner, for the comfort of animals, for a lot of things. I have fussed over the difficulty of being a far way away from aging family and how hard it can actually be to get out (or back) when you need to, even though we don't seem so very remote. I have so much respect for single parents, for people who care for elderly people every day, for family members that uproot their lives to take care of aging parents, for people who live in truly remote places, far away from family.
Yesterday we committed to Cat Dad and Mu coming home. At least for a little bit. We will be overjoyed to see them (we plugged in the Feliway Diffusers). We will do our very best to savour every moment. Because it can all change. And as we grow, and change, as a family, I am finding that our seasonal patterns: paper snowflakes, dyed easter eggs, planting seedlings, messy birthday carrot cakes, garden (but not the root maggots), catching butterflies, fall camping, shoveling around Oslo's tree stump, spring snow dogs ... all of it is the scaffolding that holds us up when the changeable things, life, crumbles around us.
I have been mulling this story for a long time. What story I would tell was the question that has stalled me for so long. Finding the answer is complicated by the depth of my sorrow and grief over the loss of our departed pets. And as I write this I am not really sure where it will take me. Nor where our little journey as a family will go. For there is so much more bigness in the world outside of my little one that bears more weight. Yet, it is these little things, the hearts we share our lives with, that ultimately shape us.
We have been looking for quite some time for a new heart to join us, specifically one belonging to a dog. We were certain and particular that it needed to be a rescue dog, and of a certain profile: medium size, youngish, herding type because we like the energy and temperament, safe with cats and kids of course. We searched and searched, our hearts sad and crying for our dear lost dogs. Rescue dogs would turn up here and there, not quite right for some reason or another. We became very frustrated and disillusioned. Why so hard? Aren't we the perfect family? Are we being too particular? Does the dog we want just not exist? Surely they do - we had three after all. We asked a lot of questions. We reached out to contacts, and then more. We waited. There were tears.
And then, one day, a scruffy little fellow's picture appeared on a rescue website. Something about him called to us. And then, not so long later, he was here.
If I am being honest, it wasn't that tidy. In June we were full of joy and great anticipation: we all traveled to meet and then bring home our new rescue dog! He was perfect! Smart, cute, affectionate, fun, intense but appropriate with the cats. We followed the book on cat introductions and managed things so he never made a mistake ... and then he melted down. As he settled in in the days after bringing him home, he began to show signs of fearfulness toward handling. The story is full of details, but, ultimately, he went back to his rescue, so that he could work through his fear in an environment where he and his family would be safe. In another time and place we would have been quite well placed to work through his issues, but not now, not with littles. We were heartbroken, again. Heartbroken and disheartened. How could this have happened? Should we just abandon rescue? It seems to not be the same as it was 20 years ago when I first adopted dogs. I had philosophical discussions aloud and in my head late at night, to exhaustion, about my tenacious grip on the concept of rescue in this age of social media and Kijiji.
The minxes weathered it all by offering their sleek selves for petting, and stealing our food. They just don't get this weird obsession with dogs. Why?
With the benefit of time and having a furry head at my feet I can now breathe and say it has worked out fine. But I am not a patient person and so the wait and the frustrations and the heartbreak were tortuous.
We would like to introduce you to Camus.
He is a 12 month old Australian Shepherd - Cattle Dog mix, probably, a Texas Heeler as they are known, and he comes from a lovely rescue in Colorado. He came home on October 1. He is smart, silly, affectionate, a little mouthy when excited, curious but respectful of the cats. He is learning all the things, but he is learning quickly. Including the vagaries of this cold white stuff, which arrived a few days after he did. He, and his foster family, have restored our dedication and belief in rescue, just when it was flagging. He is pretty perfect. Unless you ask the minxes.
The minxes think he is an alien. And they would like him to go back to his planet, please. He wonders why they are so anti-social.
I wanted to tell you that is is harmonious and melodious cello music is playing every time the three exchange sideways glances. But that would be wrong.
The minxes spent the first few days tentatively sniffing Alien when he wasn't looking, and making themselves HUGE when he was. There was hissing. And big eyes. And sneak attacks from under the couch or other low furniture that they insisted on lurking under.
The thing is, cat and dog body language isn't just so very different, it is contradictory. Swat to dog means "Let's Play!" Swat to cat means, well, you know.
Mostly Moo, as little Z calls him, is making very good choices. We are helping with all the arsenal behavioral science and veterinary medicine can offer us: counter conditioning, management, Feliway, physical barriers, lots of play and catnip and mental breaks when Moo is outside.
The minxes are adjusting their behavior a bit, spending less time lurking under the couch, and more up a little higher. The cat tree they almost never spend time in is now looking a little more attractive to them, and we made a comfy bed on top of the fridge. Our house is pretty cat friendly, with lots of high ledges and access points ground dwelling species can't get to, a cat door to the litter box spot, and our negligence in installing glass in our inside doors means cats can enter and exit, but Aliens can't, so L's room door is closed at night and cats come and go at will.
They are still eating (and how), using the litter box, grooming, and seeking out affection. They are still racing eachother on the ledge and watching out the window. All pretty normal minx stuff. And when Alien is sleeping they are still sniffing his floofy tail.
Our friends recently adopted an older cat from a rescue and a puppy from our local shelter, and report that within days they were snuggling. Hrrmph. I keep telling the minxes how Camus is very like them in a lot of ways, actually. The stair sitting, the sunshine naps, the tidy little cattle dog feet (very cat like), the fetching, the obsession with what we are having for dinner, the sitting on warm laps. He is a weird cat-dog, and they weird dog-cats. We can all find something we share even with those who seem so different from us.
I think, 6 weeks out, we might be turning a corner. Puff Puff of the North hasn't appeared for a while. There is still some hissing. The minxes seem to have decided to help teach Alien that the counter is NOT for dogs, and the other day when he was resting in his crate, with his floofy tail sticking out, Brie was playing with it (I had to intervene before it got out of hand).
During the day the ratties hide in their basket, but they come out at night. Both minxes had a major snuggle session at bedtime last night. And in all the Halloween excitement, some cookie cat tails may have been eaten while I turned a blind eye.
Brie's Paw of Doom reached out from our jack o'lantern to remind Mr. Moo that minxes are pointy and don't want to play. At least for now. I have an inkling of a sense, or maybe it is just hopefulness, that inside the minxes is a curiosity and a seed of something like affection for Alien, and they will find common ground eventually.
Last night my role in meal preparation consisted of standing by the counter tossing bits of food for cats who chose to sit politely on the floor. Because these are not regular cats. These are voracious knife-dancing everything-eating ninja cats. Many theories have been tossed about in recent days to explain why meal preparation has become a comedic scene of leaping cats and flying cucumbers and purloined entire bricks of cheddar. We have settled on the hypothesis that these are wild happy forest cats: unlike "regular" cats, these cats have parents that in order to survive had to eat ANYTHING and furthermore had to enact stunning feats of gravity defiance to get it, and had to have hyena-like persistence.
We used to believe that Leroy was the hungriest cat in the world. Indeed, Leroy ate all kinds of un-catlike things which provided mostly amusement and the occasional exasperated astonishment from guests: mushrooms, kale, broccoli ... He would trail our dog Anais around when she had a buster cube so he could thieve kibbles, and was once found in a large bag of cat food with his belly very full of the stuff. His adorable grey paws would frequently appear at the edge of the table, a clever distraction before the swift swipe to claim some for himself. As a wee kitten many moons ago, in desperation, I stopped feeding Leroy and his sister Nora canned food because trying to feed them canned food was too stressful (imagine swirling flying meowing madness as I attempt to spoon out liquid meatiness into two bowls).
He mellowed somewhat as he aged and we fed him entirely wet food, several times a day, leaving him a frozen puck of food out at night so that he would eat the thawed meal in the wee hours so I could sleep until 6 AM before he woke me by throwing books on my head. We trained Leroy to target his food bowl (so he wasn't diving into the can of cat food as I was serving it up), to sit on command, to go to a mat during meal times. As a food motivated fellow, he was quite easy to train, in fact. The mechanics of meal times changed over the years as we balanced babies throwing food to the floor and bold lurchers who also had to sit on mats while we ate. Some meal times were strange and chaotic scenes of bits of food flying overhead, scattering cats and dog noses appearing and retreating, and two hungry pets competing for tossed bits of my supper. Sometimes it was all a little much and Leroy and Anais waited in a crate while I breathed and ate my meal in peace.
Leroy was involved. Every birthday cake photo features Leroy, and almost every other family occasion: he was there. We called him Alfred Hitchcock for his propensity to appear in every photo. His favorite meal was nachos with refried beans.
The minxes have a little bit of Leroy in them. And in a synergistic reaction with the Happy Forest genome, the minxy madness has led to two more cats in the world being trained to target their food bowls and sit on mats while we eat.
They were quick studies. Fontina got the bowl target in very few repetitions, and Brie continues to wait until Fontina targets her bowl, then thieve the food out from under her nose rather than targeting her own bowl. I have strategies to deal with this, but I am fully aware of the likelihood she will outwit me.
Conversely, Brie dives acrobatically (and noisily) for every tossed morsel, leaving Fontina who is less aggressive in the dust. I have taken to tossing food far afield for Brie, then a smaller toss in a different direction so Fontina can get it before the Paw Of Doom comes back and snatches it. Luckily they'll eat anything.
We have also been acclimating them to their harnesses. L cannot wait until the process is complete. I think she has grand plans of hiking with them. I have suggested (perhaps foolishly) we could train them in agility. I think they would excel. I think I will make this L's project.
Other than the food chronicles, we've been busy: busy in the garden, catching frogs and butterflies, playing in the sandbox and various outdoor adventures. They weather has been lovely which means the windows are wide open most days and the minxes spend many hours feeling the breeze, watching bugs, eating bugs, and plotting their escape so they can catch those pesky ravens that taunt them (Brie is convinced she could take Kyla Raven down if she could just get OUT).
We've had a little indoor time, too. Fontina and the littlest, Z, still adore one another. Fontina's paw steps on her have always made Z laugh, but Z has the persistence of Happy Forest cats, and doggedly pursues them for snuggles. She is getting better at enticing them to play!
Unbelievably we feel a little chill in the air at night now, and school is just around the corner. We're not ready to say good bye to summer yet! We never are. Indeed there will be more summer outdoor adventures to be had yet. But, maybe we best finish the harness training before the frost comes!
We had a strange - early - spring. And then cold and snow until May. And now, as it goes, in a burst, the crocuses are almost done, the bugs are back (much to the amusement and predatory delight of the minxes), and the forest is alive with bird song.
And, as it goes, the work to get the garden ready for the plants that wait on the windowsill is slow going. This weekend they will get their outdoor homes, I hope.
Meanwhile the minxes have delighted and vexed us with their shenanigans. Perhaps they wished to grow, too.
But more likely nibble plants and bask in the tropical warmth.
The Leroy Screen of Exclusion was no match for Fontina. She scaled it in one leap, bent the frame beyond repair and would have happily munched and mashed her way through the little seedlings.
So I bought covers, which deterred them for a while until I bought grow lights.
So then, we built the Minx Screen of Exclusion, with a nod to Leroy. So far only feeble attempts have been made to chew their way through, which actually made me feel a flash of disappointment.
With the sun rising in the sky and the garden needing our attention and the freedom of going outside in just our shirts and bare feet, we have been outside more than in some afternoons. We have discovered that this makes the Minxes very sad. They want to be with us ... perhaps some catio construction is in our future so they can be closer. Or more secure harnesses. These cats are sleek and wiggly.
As the sun rises higher in the sky, the light pulls through into the evening and greets us earlier in the morning. Yet, ironically, it seems the hours pass more quickly, and we find ourselves rushing to finish up our projects to get babies and little girls fed and tubbed and into bed. It is a phenomenon I have heard others in the north express, too, children have more energy, they seem to need less sleep, they find themselves looking at watches at 9 and 10 PM and exclaiming, "Oh, dear! We have to make supper!"
The kittens (we still call them kittens) seem to feel the extra energy too, as they have been engaging in eyebrow raising chase circuits at all hours and leaping on sleeping feet in the wee hours. And other mischief.
They have also taken advantage of the Purple Chair's spot in the sun (we move it seasonally for optimal cat naps) and have had many adorable snuggle bitey face sessions in the last days.
Babies have discovered that kittens don't really care for rocking, but they do like toys delivered and gentle hands. The pull of a sleepy cat in the sunshine is nearly irresistible to toddlers, I think. The pull of outside gives them some reprieve.
As the spring sunshine is energizing us, it is also bringing many new kittens to TinyKittens. We are thinking of all of them, as we celebrated cat and human and all kinds of mamas last week, and celebrated a whole year since the extraordinary Chloe, Ramona, and Rula brought their last litters of kittens into the world. We are so grateful for these silly, wonderful, mischievous kittens and all the work all the people in rescue do.
We are so excited to discover what joy and laughter and love the minxes' second year will bring!
As I worked at the computer the other morning, Brie came and put a rattie at my feet then meowed and pawed at me until I threw it for her. We did this many times, and I thought how magical my tiny fierce cat-dog is, and how these cats have occupied a very large space in our hearts. (I feel this way about Fontina when I wake up covered in springs and ratties and when the weight of her paw on a baby illicits a little giggle, every time.)
We spent several hours today at our local animal shelter playing with cats and walking dogs, and I hope some of the warmth and heart of the spring sunshine stayed with them when we had to go; it is always so hard to go.
It's been so long. No need to explain. The usual stuff. Life. School. Caring for eachother. Keeping our belly fluff pristine. Wood chopping. Napping in spring sunshine. Making supper. Brushing kitten teeth. Repairing Mushroom Man for the fifth time.
We are looking over the edge of Winter, peeking down into Spring, with all it's light and activity and colour. Here in Yukon, it is still winter. The wood stove is still warm, but so is the sun, there are seeds starting in the window, our skis are cutting through the snow which gets more icy day by day, and we are dreaming of prairie crocuses and shedding coats and toques and spinach that tastes like sunshine.
The minxes of course involve themselves in all of it. Like, making belated Christmas cookies. Doesn't everyone make cookies in their pets' image for Christmas? In the middle of January?
The minxes are ever so helpful. They also assisted with making of Valentines, garden plans, and breakfast. Though they prefer supper. And thwarting my repeated attempts to roll a ball of wool in preparation for making a new little girl sweater.
We took a fourth and final stab at cat grass. I took a page from the Eight Years Old book and went big, a lesson I keep relearning. We planted a veritable mountain of seeds in a huge pot and watered and watered and watered Lo, lovely cheerful oat grass sprung up, spewed dirt out of the pot everywhere and called to the kittens to come racing every time the boot room door opened. We haven't been brave enough to leave the pot accessible full time for fear of minxey shenanigans resulting in pots being upturned in the night. We have already had an ... incident ... resulting in a broken pot and much spilled dirt and pulling a blur of kitten out of the winter potatoes. Not to mention the pizza crumbs I found all over the floor this morning, or being woken up to the hot water running in the bathroom yesterday morning. Maybe the kittens have Spring Fever.
After our Christmas travel, we renewed our commitment to brush the minxes teeth. A prickly endeavour with cats, it is best to start early. To our dismay, I found that Brie had a very sore looking premolar and red gingiva, and Fontina had some alarming tartar and gingivitis as well.
Especially given the history of stomatitis and other related issues in the Happy Forest, we called our vet right away. Mouth exams and bloodwork later, we ruled out kidney or viral issues, and are treating them for juvenile gingivitis for now. We learned that true juvenile gingivitis is usually genetic or triggered with viral exposure, and often subsides with aggressive home care, but if left untreated can progress to stomatitis.
So despite their not so tiny fierce protests, they are getting daily tooth brushing and a new product added to their water, Healthy Mouth. It seems to be working, their mouths are looking much happier (but I haven't been very successful photographing them - they are a little suspicious when I come near their mouths now ...)
We are also keeping close watch on caloric intake. Brie is ... assertive ... in obtaining nutriment. We were offering some dry food in food puzzles and foraging toys at night. But as time went on we discovered that Brie was more masterful at hoarding all of it by way of the Paw of Doom than Fontina. And as her little kitten belly grew we have had to adjust and change and crack down on the tyranny. It's a work in progress to offer them foraging opportunities but make sure there is equal opportunity. Fontina's strategy is to silently will the treats out, so as not to draw attention.
Brie is alternatingly disappointed in me over all this nonsense and considering eating me. Last night someone pulled a plate of leftover pizza out of the slot between the microwave and the cabinet, requiring some very flexible maneuvering, and sent it to the floor whereupon this someone munched the tops off said pizza and left crumbs scattered throughout. Mushroom Man was in the middle of it all.
Our lives are so full, and I am grateful to say that when winter or the minutia of everyday is getting to me the minxes make me laugh and bring colour to our days.
I hope wherever you are that you too find time to play, to enjoy eachother, to feel the sun on your face. It's still a little while here until prairie crocuses bloom and butterflies are back but the light is warm and our dreams are in colour.
Last night we opened stockings. Our family has a tradition of non-tradition when it comes to Christmas. We are far-flung from our extended families, and so each holiday season is met with a situational approach to see them and celebrate in a meaningful way together. It seems we never do it the same way twice. Yet, there are some sweet and simple traditions showing through all the travel and transitions.
In my modest 8 years in this parenthood job, I have found myself learning repeatedly and especially at this time of year that fostering the magic and wonder of childhood requires less physical stuff and effort, more mindfulness and heart. Simple and sweet. I have also learned that I will get far less done than I ever expect, and my plans are usually thrown to the wind especially if I have help. So my reams of lists of gifts and special things for everyone quickly got triaged as plane day approached. My ambitious list of things we could do on the plane grew longer and more hilarious: make cat toys, knit a hat, write a book (yes, actually)... and my carefully crafted image of first Christmas at home before we left was becoming increasingly tattered.
But, it was fine. It might have even been magical and special. When we breathed out, and looked around (and blew our noses because we all came down with colds the night before our plane left), some things were missing. But other things, familiar things, were there. With the delightful addition of kitten teeth and curiosity.
This is our first Christmas with no dogs, a first I do not relish, but whose bitterness was dulled by the addition of our silly and sweet kittens. My heart was glad to share it with them.
For First Christmas, the minxes received some new toys, a new food puzzle, and a liberal dose of catnip. In the morning, we hugged them and reluctantly snuck out of the house, knowing our wonderful catsitter would come and dote on them while we were away.
She reported the kittens dutifully increased her productivity by standing in front of her computer screen and batting at it. We debated if we should demand daily photos of the minxes, but decided that might be overdoing it. I am certain they brought her many ratties for tossing, and I was delighted to find one, just one, coveted spring for Fontina just before we left. Mushroom Man was around though Brie's favorite small felt mouse has been missing for a while.
We returned to a cold snap and warm happy kittens, and more Christmas festivities. Including tackling them for photo ops with festive bows around their necks. Of the hundred or so photos I took of this adventure, most were blurry bitey faced fight scenes. Like what is about to happen here.
So I enlisted help.
For second Christmas the minxes got more toys and love notes from their girl. And on our return they have been generous with their kneading, early morning foot attacks, and a new trick Fontina has been developing: leaping on sleepy me from behind, then scaling up my back and riding around on my shoulder while I get her breakfast. I wonder if she did this to the catsitter. It makes me laugh, which results it its perpetuation.
What, oh what, will 2019 hold for the minxes and us? Simplicity, sweetness, magic. We are starting with full hearts, which is a good way to begin things.
Leroy was a plastic eater. Actually, Leroy was an everything eater. He was a supremely hungry cat. I once found him, and his sister, Nora, fully in a giant bag of cat food, their tiny kitten tummies all bloated, continuing to munch their way through the bag like pac men.
He continued to show poor judgement by eating a toxic plant at 5 months old, then all the other plants until my house was bereft, also known as "cat proof". Many years later when I took up growing food, Leroy took delight in decimating all the little sprouts waiting to go outside. Leroy would thieve kale and broccoli from our plates at supper, peanut butter from the jar if left open, cheese, bread, all the usual culprits. He'd stalk around on the counter as we made meals waiting for a morsel to make off with. There seemed no limit to all the weird and uncatlike things he would eat. In one famous incident he stole an entire loaf of bread cooling on the counter and mantled over it with a ferocious growl to all who dared come near. His favorite was nachos and beans. His menace progressed to the point where we trained him to wait on a mat to receive treats (which deteriorated into a chaotic whirlwind of dogs and cat diving for treats, and a very unrelaxing but admittedly hilarious meal for me. So we phased that out). On nacho night, Leroy would still wait by the door for tiny nachos with refried beans.
In contrast, Fruitcake was repulsed by bananas (but liked mushrooms), The Little One disdained all such foolish behavior all together, and Nora, in her short time, except for being caught half way down a 20 pound bag of kibble with her brother, exercised reasonable control.
Leroy paid for his indiscretionary ways. All pet care scenarios had to be prefixed by strict warnings of his penchant for eating things. Rarely we would meet other cat owners who would commiserate, sharing that their cat, too, ate plastic. A moment of jubilation (this is a strange feeling of community when you find a fellow pet owner who shares the experience of whatever malign behaviors your own pet exhibits) would soon be followed by the depression of realizing they meant their cat licks plastic or even chews holes in it, but doesn't maniacally ingest it then relentlessly puke on your computer or white knitting project.
On the positive side, Leroy was not picky, he readily accepted all and any foods, which made feeding him rather easy most of his life. Picky eaters take years off my life.
So it was with some relief and honor to Leroy that we discovered that the minxes are exploratory and curious eaters, open to trying new things. They enjoy a munch of spinach here, a purloined bite of leftover lunch there, floor food courtesy of the delighted baby, and bizarrely, licks of peppers, cucumbers, tomatos, apples, STOP!
I was greatly relieved to discover that though they like to *play* in plastic bags (strongly discouraged of course), no eating of plastic bags ensued. And we have already discussed the cat grass episode, resultant banishing of plants to the boot room, and subsequent installment of the Leroy screen for round two of cat grass. Since I started writing this, Fontina has, with some delight and defeat on my part, squarely vanquished the Leroy Screen and the plants are re-banished for now until we devise a new system. I feel like my animals keep me clever.
But what comes with being open and curious to new tastes and textures is trying out ... non-food items. Gwen innocently warned us on adoption day, but I naively dismissed her ominous words as generic advice: "be careful with the ribbons on those kickers, some cats chew them." Oh. We adopted some cats. But, no worries, I thought, we've always had some toys that are supervision only, so the kickers can come out for human play.
Then the bouncy ribbon wand had to go away as the string got severed -and repaired - and severed - and repaired - and severed.
Slowly the feathers Fontina is so fond of went away as she exercised poor judgement on drawing the line between play and ingestion.
Little girls bring their dream catcher home from school, first proud, then perplexed and sad as we contemplate where to hang it. "Outside?" I suggest.
Which brings me to how our charging cables have come to share a drawer with our forks and spoons, and how headphone wires must never see the light of day.
It started innocently enough. As I laid awake one morning, Fontina came to knead and snuggle, as she does. She spied my headphone cord, and gave it a bat or two, then a bite. "Hey!" I said, "Not for eating!" And I tucked it away under my pillow. Later that day, another set of headphones mysteriously "stopped working" and as I got a snack and unpacked school things I saw the new headphones sitting on the counter for approximately a millisecond as the packaging was carried to the recycling. I saw Fontina materialize on the counter. And then, faster than Aura ingesting a feeding tube, Fontina chewed and swallowed 9 cm of headphone cord.
Calls to our wonderful vet ensued. I was elected to Poop Watcher/Disector. The next morning Fontina charmed the vet staff and had a lovely picture of her abdomen taken. That afternoon, she eliminated the wire from her system. Dare I say she has been less enthusiastic about non food items since? Probably not, the minx.
I'll spare you the photo I took of the wire after it passed through a feline digestive tract (and was measured, just to be sure). Rest assured Fontina is quite well (and was 3.2 kg as of November 5). I tell this story aware that it might make us look like amateurs, which we are not, I assure you. But I do draw your intention to our very first blog post in which I shared our wish list for a new cat. And this, from my early communications with TinyKittens, "Generally we will do well with a snugly, social, somewhat mischievous personality." We got what we asked for! We're experimenting with food puzzles to keep them busy!
P.S. As as special bonus for waiting SOOOO LONG for this post, as sometimes these stories must ferment, you can now join us here for updates, too!
We try to keep Halloween magical and fallish rather than sugary and commercial around here. It is made ever so sweeter with our very own magical Halloween cats!
They added to the magic (and hilarity) by stealing parts of costumes and running away with them, then descending into bitey face wrestling. It made the impending panic of getting costumes done in time so much more fun!
I had to pause and make the minxes their very own koala tail, so I could get mine back. They were excited, and then subsequently ignored it in favour of the one attached to the costume.
I am certain they have more tricks up their furry sleeves for tonight. This morning Fontina brought a stuffed tiger down the stairs, as big as her. More bitey faced wrestling ensued.
We wish you all a very magical Halloween. And bitey faces.
It has been fall here for some time, but unseasonably warm. Usually our gardens are out by mid September, and it is folly to leave them in longer - a type I regularly engage in that sees me chopping frozen carrots out of the earth. A first light snow by mid October, and we watch the snow creeping down the mountains, coming for us, the frost driving into the dirt.
I attempted to bring the growth inside to ease the transition. With great intentions I planted cat grass and cat nip, as I have done in the past, as well as some herbs and small greens. Very shortly, the muddy cat foot prints tracked everywhere (because the minxes did not stop at just nibbling the grass, but rather preferred to enter and prance about in the dirt and rip out great wads of cat grass which they would then leave laying about on the floor). I relocated it all to the bootroom, where they are wilting for lack of light and heat. We built a "Leroy Screen" a few years ago to protect seedlings from Leroy the Plant Eater, but haven't accepted the need to re-install it yet. I may give the cat grass another chance.
We did indeed get a first snow, on the 8th. But the lovely sun and uncharacteristic rains did it in, which is fine by us. We fall asleep to the sound of the rain and feel like we're in Vancouver.
The kittens were fascinated. And probably glad they were inside.
Other things have been falling, too. The minxes are sporting their big cat teeth. We had several days of obsessive checking, precarious teeth and little sore mouths, an one incident of me waking in the night with a sharp pain in my ankle (I was under attack, but I concluded it was completely unrelated to kitten teething). I only found one tooth. I am reasonably sure that the youngest human among us, who has taken to crawling about and eating whatever she finds on the floor, did not find any.
They now have as far as I can tell, all their adult teeth. So big and fierce! All the better to attack smore man and 8-year old's lunches with! And though they have been happy to sink them into all manners of things (cardboard boxes, kickers, my leg, eachothers' necks, ratties ...) they are being coy about big yawns so I can photograph them. We shall resume the kitten teeth brushing that we suspended during the great wiggly teeth episode.
We have also been trying to stay updated with the progress of the cheese siblings as we marked their 6 month birthday and the falling of teeth.
We are so happy to hear of Aura's successful surgery! We are thinking of her and sending bitey, sunshiney, minxey healing love. What a testament to the dedication and love of a human and a community; such a stark and heartening contrast to the misunderstanding and meanness we can encounter out there. We were so so happy, and it is such a balm to see Aura thriving.
We have been trying to get reconnected on social media, but keep getting foiled for one reason or another. Perhaps we don't fit the mold or something about tortoiseshell cats arouses suspicion. Nevertheless, we press on.
Meanwhile, we have costumes to make! Last year there was a Leroy costume (and in previous years, the dogs), and this year I have two little costumes to make. I hope next year I will tackle Eyebrows and Chestpatch, but this year we are honoring the Great Anais (the wirey dog eyeing the peppermint toy on our about page - a force of a dog) and Mama and baby shall be koalas, quite a departure, but appropriate. Wish me luck! My heart is glad that I have help again on the sewing table.
I thought I might write about my obsession with photographing cats yawning (almost as much as wrestling or shaking dogs), tiny nail trims, the intersection between babies and kittens, hair-raising stunts, or favorite cat toys repaired ....
But then life happened, and time passed, and then Brie's adult teeth appeared (yesterday! No big teeth for Fontina yet. And Aura? Soon, we guess!) And it was suddenly Thanksgiving weekend (here in Canada) and the Cheese Kittens will be six months old soon, and I started to think about our lively kittens and the progression of time, and different perspectives on pets as part of our families.
We love our animals beyond measure. We go to great lengths for them. And when we were looking for kittens to join our family, they needed to be rescued. So often I have had conversations with people about this choice. I try to make it clear that I do not judge others for acquiring animals from accidental litters or on kijiji or breeders or any other means, it is just not my choice. And when our animals age or require specialists or special care or exceptions (like coming with us everywhere because of separation anxiety) we do what we need to do, which is maybe different from what others might do. And that's okay, it's just our choice.
I have been occasionally saddened and frustrated having these conversations when they turn accusatory or hostile, because there is a gap in understanding. Why. Why would I do what I do?
And the answer is, because their lives matter to me. Anxious, or feral, or sick, or blind, or cleft palatte or congenital defect. People, dogs, cats, coyotes. They matter, and they deserve a chance.
And that is why I am so grateful that we found these kittens, that we could arrange to bring them home, that we have the means to help TinyKittens and other rescues, and to provide what our animals need, and that we have found a community of people who understand these choices.
I am grateful I have the means to share the hilarity and the cuteness and the joy. We are all doing our best, in the ways we can. I am grateful for the beautiful animal lives that have graced mine. Hopefully they made me a better person. They certainly filled me with love.
I hope I filled them with love, too. I hope they felt loved, and cared for, and safe, and accepted, no matter what.
We are grateful for these minxes, and for the TinyVillage, and grateful that we are a part of it. Minxes are grateful for high ledges, fallen baby food, sister's necks to bite, and sunny soft beds. Oh, and patient mamas and the collective love of the Tiny Kittens community.