Monthly Archives: March 2011

Two Kittens in the Night

Some days are rough on a Chief Executive Kitten. On those days it is all he can do to lay on the rug in the dining room and gaze at The Girl with his chin propped up on the cross-brace of a chair. Today was one of those days. I’d show you a picture but, when I went to my office to get the camera, he ran in and settled on the bed.

“Oh good, we’re blogging. I can get some sleep.”

"You will put down the camera. Yoooou wiiiiill puuuuuut doooooown the caaameeeeraaaa."

I didn’t sleep right away last night. In fact, I lay awake for many hours with things running through my mind. The bright side of this is that a question has been answered.

Obi, I have mentioned, is not much of a snuggler. At least not in the conventional ways. He’s all for having you pet his aura. He’ll snuggle my feet on the couch. At least once a day he feels the need…the need to knead. And he’ll knead the back of the couch or a pillow or whatever is squishy nearby.

For a long while he slept on the loveseat in the bedroom. Then, for about a month, he attempted bed sleeping. As suddenly as it began…it stopped. I worried about whether he was getting enough snuggle in his life. Last night, I found the answer.

At about 2 a.m., Oliver got up for an early morning snack. Obi arrived. He kneaded the foot of the bed. Then the middle of the bed. Then he popped up to lick my nose. Then he went to the far side of the bed when Oliver came back. When he sneezed, Oliver noticed Obi’s presence and…well…thunder. At some point – I fell asleep around then – Oliver returned to his place in my arms, head on my pillow.

So Obi is getting his snuggle needs met. And his knead needs as well.

It is Thunder Thursday! I bring you Elwood in a box. Further proof that cats need you to buy stuff for you to ensure their continued happiness. Thanks to Phillip of the Facebook for his picture.

"You ordered happiness from Amazon? It is just my size."


Caught, Red Pawed

This blog is going to be quick because I am off to the old house to paint. More painting. Ugh. I am so sick of painting. Painting, painting, painting. If I was worried about seeing this house go, I’ve gotten over it with all the painting. And, over the ten years that I’ve owned that house, I did enough painting that you’d think there’d be no more painting left to do.

When Oliver was a juvenile I refinanced my house. To do this, I needed a new appraisal. And that meant finishing the stairwell. Fast. It was 2 a.m. and I was painting away. I’d painted every other step of the stairs so I could still go up and down. I used this great, rich scarlet paint. While the floor dried, I was painting the trim around the door the same color.

I heard a tiny mew.

I look down from my ladder and there is Oliver, holding up one tiny red paw. It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. From the paint tray there were paw tracks leading down the steps and into the basement. They went about twenty feet before fading out. Oli had tried to clean his own feet. Then he came to me to confess…and beg for help.

There’s a lot that goes through your mind at a time like that. Is concrete paint poisonous? How much did he lick off? Do you get extra points on your appraisal for adorable cat prints?

It was about 4 a.m. when I finished washing Oliver’s feet. They’d faded to a delightful, very girly pink. They stayed that way for weeks. I went back to painting and worked for about five minutes before I decided that it would be two full days before someone came looking for me if I fell down the stairs and broke something. I stopped.

And never started again.

So last month I finished painting the walls in the stairwell. And now I’m off to do the doors and finish that floor. Bye bye, cute little kitty prints.

Cats in carriers, cats in copper

As I mentioned in my last post, Obi has been with us for almost a year. His annual check up was on Friday and went as well as can be expected. He cried a lot on the way there. I can’t decide if it is the carrier, the car or the “going” that he doesn’t like. His crying much less on the way home makes me wonder if it isn’t the “going” part – after all, a majority of his trips in the carrier have had bad endings.

We had the new doctor; she’ll be okay eventually. She was relatively nice to Obi (but no ooohing and aaaaahing…Oliver would NOT find this acceptable) as she poked and prodded him. She brought the scale in with her – which I like because it means no alone time in the exam room – and he hopped right on. He weighs 11.5 pounds. Perfect.

Of course the visit ends with three shots. Obi has never disliked anyone in his life but by the third shot he gave her a look to indicate he was considering an exception. Then she insisted on giving me a talk and a brochure about urinary tract infections and how dangerous they are in male cats. I tried to explain to her that I’ve had cats every day of my life. And I know the signs of an infection. I raised an eyebrow at her and, too, considered making her an exception. But, like I say, she’s new and once she mellows out we’ll probably like her just fine.

Waiting to check out, I saw the monthly magazine from the animal shelter and flipped to the center spread to show the nurses that Obi is a celebrity. This is the third time he has been pictured in an animal shelter publication. The nurses are well trained and ooohed and aaaahed. One even suggested we carry around a stamp pad so he can autograph his pictures. Obi’s only contribution to this silliness was to sulk in his carrier with a pout that said, “celebrities don’t get rabies. I don’t need shots.”

Last month a friend of mine emailed on behalf of the animal shelter to see if I was planning to donate for the Fur Ball, an annual fundraiser. I told her that I had to; the shelter’s publications were vital to building Obi’s modeling portfolio. I finished up the necklace Friday morning to turn in for Saturday’s event. I think it turned out well:

The clasp is the fish, which fits through a slot in the kitty's hand.

Obi, of course, is very helpful when it comes to photographing jewelry. Especially when you’re in a hurry and try to take the picture on his bed.

"This cat is horrible; look how skinny his tail is!"

Back to the great vet visit. As I said, Obi cried a lot less on the way home. I’m really relieved that he isn’t always going to cry like he did last year. I’d only had him for about a week when he went in to get declawed. Oliver had just decided to like him. When we woke up, I put Obi in the carrier so Oli could eat – but Oli stood outside the carrier and wailed. Obi was inside in a panic. In the most horrific twist ever, his panicked wails sound like “Mama mama mama!” So all the way to the vet he cried “Mama! Mama! Mamaaa!”


And Oli was TICKED when I came home without his brother. It was a long 24 hours. This year, Oliver was equally unhappy with me forcing his brother in the carrier and taking him away. Luckily I got to bring him back half an hour later.

As soon as I let Obi out of the carrier, Oliver was all over him trying to sniff and make sure he was okay. Obi wanted nothing of it and tried to walk away. They walked two laps around the house before Oliver just shoved Obi to the ground and sat on him to keep him still. “Fine,” Obi sighed. “You pick on me too.”

Then he got kisses. But I’m pretty sure brother kisses make it all better.

And by Saturday, The Girl got to give him make-it-better kisses as well.

The Girl, Kittened Out

First, a definition: You know when you see a kitten stalking something and it’s concentrating really hard? It has its head low to the ground, moving one…step…forward. Then…one…more…step. Butt wriggles. About to pounce…and…ooh, look something shiny! And suddenly the kitten is off doing something else, its prey forgotten? That is kittening out. Prepare yourself for some random, unrelated topics.

First, I bought ugli fruit today. And boy is it ever ugly. It is the cross between a grapefruit, and orange and a tangerine. If it turns out pretty they call it a tangelo. If it looks like this, well, they’ve decided to try to sell them anyway.

"Super nose says this is safe to eat. Super eyes say...eew."

The guy at the store who saw me laugh says they are actually quite tasty.

Did you know that raw peanuts lead to mangy looking squirrels? I found that out on a website for squirrel lovers that happened to be on a website for exterminators in Florida. The top picture is a gnarly looking dude holding a raccoon and a opposum. But he likes squirrels.

I was reading about peanuts because when I was home for lunch the squirrel feeder had grown a tail. A squirrel was all the way in the box trying to dig out the last of the peanuts. I was trying to find out where to buy more. I found some at Murdoch’s but I couldn’t tell if they were roasted (thus safe) so I bought HUGE sunflower seeds and “backyard buffet” that has a little bit of everything. That should take them a while to eat.

Also at Murdoch’s…baby birds! Chicks, ducklings, tiny quail and turkeys. So cute. For a moment I tried to picture Oli and Obi with a chick. I’m pretty sure the chick would win.

Oliver has been bringing his favorite toy to bed with him. He brings it up to my pillow, tucks it under the sheet and tries to lay down. But, to his great disappointment, I will not allow the toy in bed. It’s not like his favorite toy is the teddy bear mousie. Or even Mr. Cow. It’s a milk ring. Um, no.

Obi has been with us for almost a year. Tomorrow morning I take him in for his annual check up. Will he weigh more than ten pounds? Will he be charming? Will the girls ooh and aah over his glorious beauty? Will there be little kids who will be THRILLED to find out his name is Obi Wan Kittenobi? Will he still be terrified of the kitty carrier?

And now, for Thunder Thursday, I bring you Kitten Thunder’s future kitty-cousins. The Boy’s mom’s kitties. This is NOT an announcement of any sort; this is merely an assumption that some day in the future I will become Mrs. Boy. 

"Touch the belly...if you dare."

Lacey is quite discerning about her humans. I didn’t get to interact with her much when we visited. But she’s a pretty princess. But check out this glamour shot of Chuck:

"It is hard to contain this much handsome in one face."

Leave your shoes by the welcome cat.

"World's cutest brown kitten award? It's in the bag."

Part of Obi’s job duties is to greet the people at the door. His methods are quite different from how Oliver welcomed people when it was his job. And he has customized his greeting so The Boy and I get different experiences.

There are the go-to techniques that are included with both greetings. It begins with a roll on the dining room rug while we take off our coats. If we are fast enough, there is a preliminary belly rub in this area. The welcome then goes to the living room.

After being led to the living room, Obi will stretch on the rug and expose his belly. A well-trained human, I will scritch the belly. It is a trap. Obi will lock his arms around my hand and chew on my knuckles while bunny kicking my wrist. Not hard – this is a game. Then, looking in my eyes, he gives my knuckles several kisses and kicks a couple more times. He’ll get up, rub a hug against my leg, and if we want to we’ll do it again. But more often he’ll show me his new favorite toy while I get comfy on the couch.

After the dining room greeting, The Boy will follow Obi to the same spot on the rug. There, things are different. Obi will stretch to his full length and expose his belly for petting. The Boy will pet him in long strokes. Obi will roll over. The Boy repeats the pet. At least once a day The Boy takes this opportunity to brush Obi’s hair – it is so thick it HAS to be brushed or he gets matted. Obi is very helpful in this process, rolling and stretching and offering all sides for brushing. I confirmed tonight that he even purrs.

If you don’t have a cat you might assume that this is normal. It is not. Oliver hates to be brushed. Luckily – since he’s 14 pounds and pretty impossible to get to do anything in which he’s not a willing participant – he has linty soft fur that doesn’t mat yet. With Poco there was almost always bloodshed. Mine. And boy did she ever mat. They were once so bad I had her shaved. They didn’t shave her legs or head…she looked like a lion in wooly chaps. A very, very crabby lion.

The Boy’s welcome procedure takes four to ten minutes. Mine takes about three minutes.

Oliver’s welcome, as I said, was much different. Of course, he became Chief Executive Kitten before we lived with The Boy so there was only one routine. It consisted of him standing in the entry way, usually getting bonked in the nose with the door, and starting with questions. “Where have you been? How was your day? Did you buy cat food? How about tuna?” And the daily report “I saw a bird. I took a nap. Thirteen cars drove down our street today. I like tuna.”

Oliver’s go-to trick is the shoe scritch. He attacks shoes like a scratching post. This is fun if you are wearing shoelaces because it makes some noise and obviously feels good on his fingers. Also, he’ll untie your shoes for you. To make sure you know he wants you to stay. It feels less good when you are wearing sandals and he pinches your skin between his toes and the shoe.

Oli will still do the shoe scritch but, since he is no longer in charge of greeting at the door, sometimes we go days without one.

I have Kitten Slumber on the bed behind me. Time for one last nap to get ready for bedtime.

"I checked this whole bag and couldn't find the kitten manicure set I asked for."

Bonus! The falcon cam is back! If you like birds, this is a great time suck. Watch a couple of peregrine falcons as they prepare this scratch box, lay their eggs and raise their hatchlings.

Thunder in My Drawers

"Hey, I had The Girl open this drawer for me!"

"You snooze you lose, bro."

"I'm coming up whether you're in my drawer or not..."

"I win! do I get The Girl to open that cupboard?"

Yesterday I had an Usborne Books party at my house. Obi checked all the books for quality – knocking them off the table, knocking them off the mantle, bending the binding backwards as he jumped from the mantle to avoid being blamed for all the books on the floor…

They are, in fact, high quality books.

Sylvan for Squirrels

First, a random funny: this is what Obi would look like if you cut off all his hair and he was really, really, REALLY happy about it.

"Well hi!"

This is from which is how I like to start every day.

The other day I accused the squirrels of Cheyenne of being stupid. But that wasn’t really fair. Everyone learns differently and I shouldn’t have assumed that my squirrels would learn the same way the seller of the feeder’s squirrels learned. So on Tuesday I put a nail in the feeder to hold the lid up a little bit. Just enough that if they saw the nuts and tried to get their face in, it would lift the lid. But…would it work?

For two days I didn’t see a single squirrel. But, today as I drove up to the house at lunch, there were two squirrels working their way across the street. I knew just where they were headed. I sat in the car with bated breath.

The female squirrel was in the lead and I’m thinking she’s expecting kittens because she is OVER the male. She chased him off the porch every time he followed her up there. When he got the hint and went to get birdseed off the window sill, she set her mind to peanuts.

She approached the feeder. She tilted her head left. She tilted her head right. Then…ZOOM! She ran off the porch and up a tree to avoid the Corgi who was walking his owner down the sidewalk. I’d have been more mad, but that dog dragged his owner across my yard and into the tree before he knew what hit him. Or what he hit, rather.

And it gave me a chance to get into the house.

As I was getting out sandwich fixings, the squirrel returned. Again, she contemplated. She jumped up on top of the feeder. Grr, I thought. But then she shimmied down the side and *bloop* into the feeder went her head and out she came with a peanut. Success! Yay!

She repeated the process three times before she had to zoom off again because of two blue jays arrived to check out the porch. Obi had been watching the squirrel with half interest – my pastrami with the other half – and I suspect that the squirrel programming has been going on for two days. Blue jays, however, get him interested. Sink down low the sill, push your ears down flat, holy cow those are big birds interested.

I’m thrilled to see the jays. In the nine years I lived at my other house I only had blue jays in my yard once. My other house is one mile away. The difference in wildlife in that one mile drives me crazy.

Just for giggles, I’m going to feature a fuzzy (or scaley, Zen reminds me) from you guys each Thunder Thursday. We’ll start with my aunt’s cats, Benjy and Fred, because they’re the ones who inspired me to get Oliver a brother. Without them, there may be no thunder.

"Does this brother make me look fat?"

Oli Packaging

My friend Mona sent me an email on “The Art of Sleeping in a Box” with many funny pictures of cats. Here’s my favorite:

"Even a small box will do in a pinch."

The email reminded me of Oliver’s favorite box. Which is not a box at all. In November, Oli and Obi’s grandpeople gave us a flat screen TV for Christmas. The long skinny styrofoam is a purrfect fit for Oliver.

"Insulation and security are key to a good box."

‏He looks a little tubby in this picture but you’ll have to take my word for it that Oliver is long and skinny, just like this box. He can stretch to fill the whole thing. The tubby look is just fluffy overflow.

When the grandpeople came a couple weeks ago I tried to throw out the styrofoam but our garbage can was full. Now it is in the dining room instead of the entry way and I think it might be okay for it to stay. He sure does love it.

While I was taking pictures of his brother, Obi watched from the dining room table. Then he decided to do something photo worthy to get the attention back on him where it belongs.

It started with him playing with the strings on my sweatshirt from above. Which was funny. But then the funny escalated when he decided to jump to the bookshelf. As he gathered to jump he realized his foot was dirty. Still gathered he licked his foot one and a half times before he remembered he hadn’t gotten the string. But, oh yeah, he was going to the booksh – oh no, his foot is – hey the string!

"The last two minutes have been a blur."

This is him simultaneously reaching for a string, bracing to jump and washing his foot. I got this picture of him before he realized I was laughing at him. Insulted, he left without getting to the bookshelf, getting his foot cleaned or getting the string.

Side note: After work tonight I put a nail in the squirrel feeder to hold the lid open a little bit. Will the squirrels be able to take it from here? Will Kitten Thunder enjoy hours of peanut eating entertainment? Tune in next time…same Out time, same Out channel…

The scars from Battle Bottle

Having been rescued from the feral cat population at just a couple hours old, Oliver was bottle fed for several weeks. Still very particular about his food, he was very picky as a baby. If I failed to hold his bottle correctly he would throw a fit. I can still hear the piercing scream that came from his tiny throat. And he would wave all four paws up and down, wielding razor-sharp claws as weapons until I corrected my bottle-feeding form. Eventually I learned how to pin his front feet down while I fed him to avoid bloodshed.

"Send The Hitching Post Inn my thanks for the giant teddy bear, but Mr. Cow is my favorite."

While he was being bottle fed, Oliver went to work with me at the chamber of commerce. We had a good routine. He had a giant crate with a blanket and his stuffed cow to sleep with. He’d sleep and I’d work. When he woke up I’d feed him his bottle and help him…well…go. THAT was something nobody told me I’d have to do; believe me when I tell you that Oliver and I had daily arguments about who least enjoyed my helping his bowels move. Bleh. Afterward, he would play (ah, the glorious days when I had an office with a door) and I would work.

On occasion, Oliver would need to be “babysat” by the rest of the chamber staff when I had a meeting. It was pretty easy duty. I would feed him and set his crate in someone’s office. He’d fall asleep with Mr. Cow and never caused a fuss.

Knowing that he’d need a bottle when he woke up kept the girls at the office from bugging him. However, whenever I’d walk in the door I’d see somebody hovering by the crate. My presence was the “all clear” and they would swoop down and wake up the kitten for a snuggle. He was adorable. There was no blaming them for not being able to resist him. And they got five minutes of snuggle while I set down my stuff and prepared a bottle.

One day I had the bottle prepared but hadn’t taken Oliver yet when the phone rang. Never one to neglect my job for my kitten – and because our receptionist was cooing over Oliver – I answered the phone. It was a long call. Oliver started screaming for his bottle. I was content to let him scream for a couple minutes but I couldn’t hold him while I was on the phone (I’m sure that guy wondered what we were DOING to the cat) so I handed him to Julie. I didn’t see Julie take the bottle.

Just as I was finishing up the phone call, a ball of fluff and blood was thrust into my face. Poor Julie, silly woman who thought she was qualified to apply a bottle after raising children, had tried to feed Oliver. They both suffered from deep gashes. That’s right, Oli didn’t just cut HER fingers. He sliced his face from one eyebrow, down his nose and all the way to his chin.

They both healed an Oli’s scar is just a little black mark under his nose. But it is a fun reminder of our adventure in kitten raising, my friend Julie, and good times at the chamber.

"Some people say scar, I say it is a beauty mark."

Side note: Obi has come to sit on my lap while I type this blog. He thinks it is a real snooze.

“S” is for squirrel. And stupid.

For Christmas, Kitten Thunder received OutTV programming in the form of a squirrel feeder from my aunt. You may remember the adorableness of it – an antique phone type box made out of rough wood. The theory is that you’ll have hours of fun watching squirrels learn how to lift the lid to get a peanut from inside. However, there seems to be an issue.

"If I pretend to make a call, can I have the nut?"

Squirrels, at least in Cheyenne, are stupid.

I know! I was shocked! I really thought they’d get the knack of this fairly simple contraption in a couple of days and we’d be spending a kabillion dollars a month keeping them in peanuts. But two months after hanging the feeder it is still about half full from the original load of peanuts. And the only reason it is that far down is because I put out a “teaser peanut” between the box and the lid at least once a day.

The squirrels have figured out how to get the teaser peanut. Their strategy, however, may be part of the problem. They jump up onto the lid of the box, reach down, and do a kind of reverse football hike to pull the peanut out from under themselves. If they keep their balance, they are still standing on the lid. And that keeps them from lifting the lid to get more.

Their solution? Destruction.

"When all else fails. Chew through the box."

View of the hinge and corner from the outside.

And more destruction.

“This is where the peanut comes out. Where’s the ‘easy’ button?”

And a little more destruction.

"Two more days of chewing and we'll have a peanut sized hole."

On the bright side, the goal was to provide Kitten Thunder with squirrel programming on OutTV. I’m guessing that these holes are providing hours of entertainment.