Tag Archives: pets

And Baby Makes Three


The kitten we adopted in May had his requisite session under the knife two weeks ago, and though he certainly still acts like a baby, I can’t really continue to call him one.  After our big cat died in January, I wasn’t sure how we would ever cope with having another animal to care for and watch over.  After the rigmarole involved with deciding upon a kitten and making the house and family ready for his integration, I was still shaking my head.  The fluffball came to live with us, staying on the back porch until we were sure he wouldn’t bring any dangerous diseases to our grown cats, and then, kaboom.

He’s taken over the house.

He has a definite swagger to his walk, though it’s a charming one.  He has made pacts with both older cats, though they vary wildly from “I’ll attack you whenever I want; as long as you wrestle with me, we’ll get along just fine” to “I’ll bow and look down whenever we meet, though I’ll never give up trying to get a rise out of you”.  Hear a big crash or a muffled thump? Better go look.  Stepping out of any room with a formerly closed door? Better look down because more often than not, he’s stretched out at the sill, waiting for you.  Arriving home after five hours (or even five minutes) away?  He comes running with a growly meow and a purr strong enough to jumpstart your heart.

As long as we don’t feed him after midnight, we’ll be okay.  Yes, his name is Gizmo.  At least we named him after the friendly and cuddly Mogwai and not the destructive Gremlins – though there always seems to be a mysterious gleam in his eye that makes me think the gremlin part of him is not really that far away.

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Filed under Changes, Day to Day, Family Relationships

What’s In A Name?


Four days should be long enough to name a little kitten, shouldn’t it?   After waiting patiently for the girls to shift toward a decision, I set an arbitrary deadline of nine o’clock last night, just to try to move the process along.  The time limit came and went, through heated discussions, hurt feelings, and a few shortlisted white-bread names that nobody was really ecstatic about. Even threatening to name him “Spitvalve” if they couldn’t settle on anything before then didn’t seem to light a fire under anybody.

I don’t know why, but it seems that it’s important to pick the right name for the little ball of fluff.  Something that shows some creativity, some character, something the kitten can grow into a cat with and still be dignified.  My daughters spent a little while discussing how a name is something that molds the animal.  If it’s a good name, it will be a good pet.  Personally, I think the name ends up fitting as they get older not because they grow into it or live up to it, but rather because we spend all this time picking something that will fit the personality or looks that we can perceive already.  The name doesn’t make the cat: the cat makes the name.   This pet belongs to them, though, not me.  Therefore it is their job to successfully name it, by whatever means necessary.

Everyone submitted some names for the list, then we all got to initial three of them.  Any names without initials beside got tossed on the first round.  On the second round, we only got two votes.  On the third, we each got one. Of course, by this time only the ordinary names had survived.  Anything with any character or personality had been vetoed by one or the other of them.  Compromise only gets so far before it becomes either defeat or victory for someone.  As long as only two of the three girls agree on any given name, there are winners and losers.

After waiting all evening for the white smoke to come up the Vatican chimney, I conceded defeat and sent the youngest to bed without a clear consensus.  We may have to start with fresh suggestions and see where we are tonight after another day of wrangling.

I’m getting tired of referring to him as “kitty” – Spitvalve is starting to sound quite good.

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Filed under Changes, Family Relationships, Parenting, Success/Failure

The Art Of Compromise


They had installed the litter of kittens in a large ferret cage, with shelves and ramps and hammocks swung between.  When the lady swung her garage door open, my daughters cautiously approached the shoulder tall crate and peered quietly in.  Apparently it was nap time at Feline Preschool.

“Here, they’re tired.  Let me stir them up a little,” she said, brushing past my girls and clanging the gate open.  A little head peered out of the upside down cardboard box on the bottom and just as quickly pulled back in.  With the cage open, we could see a couple of furry bodies nestled together in one of the slings, and a cocky kitty came sauntering out of the back corner to see what all the fuss was about.

Our hostess scooped kittens up and distributed them out, smooching each one loudly as she did, and soon my girls stood holding wriggling balls of fur, looking a little shell-shocked.  The kittens just wanted to find a warm place to snuggle and scrabbled up on shoulders as we tried to look at them, so they peered at each other’s kittens and tried to be judicious in their praise.  Eventually my youngest gravitated to the spotted little runt of the litter, the one who had swaggered out earlier.  My middle daughter decided she liked the one with the dramatic markings and unusual look, and my oldest was in love with the sweet, fluffy black one.  This was going to be their kitten, if we adopted one, so I hung back and tried to stay out of the way, assisting where I could, untangling tiny claws from shirts and making mild suggestions about what to look for and how to choose.  Each began to try to sway the others to her choice, because they all knew that they would be very lucky kids to leave there with even one of the kittens and asking for two was asking too much.  As the argument went on and became a little more heated, each compromised a little by saying “Well, if we can’t get mine, then I like this one…”, but they couldn’t agree on a compromise that worked for all of them.  It seemed as though each kitty was beginning to be thought of as so-and-so’s kitty, and if they chose that one, that person would have an advantage.  After the poor owners of the house had been kept on hold from their yard work for about half an hour, I urged the girls to either choose a kitten or go home and think about it, returning the next day.

At this point one of them noticed a sleepy little kitten who had climbed to the top shelf and was trying valiantly to sit upright and not let its eyes close, but kept nodding off. This was the fourth and last kit, not chosen as a favorite by any of the girls, and I listened quietly as, one by one, they decided that it would do very well, thank you.  It was hard to leave their favorites, but as we walked to the car with their choice held reverently, all eyes were on the new member of the family.

When we got home and got it settled, we found that it was sweet and curious, frenetic and sleepy, playful and cuddly – the best of all its brothers and sisters combined.  It turns out that the one that was no one’s favorite was the best choice of all.

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Filed under Family Relationships, Growth, Parenting

No Leg To Stand On


Words parents are loath to hear: “Mom! The neighbors found a litter of kittens under their back porch… Can we have one?”

For years I have had to be the bad guy.  When we pass cute puppies and kittens at the pet store, I don’t have the luxury of oohing and ahhing over the little rascals.  Any softening of my demeanor would indicate weakness and the entreaties would start.  I appreciate baby animals as much, if not more,  than the next guy, but my role is that of The Denyer.

“We already have three cats.  There isn’t room for any more pets at our house,” has been my standard reply.  It was an easy one.  The reasoning couldn’t be disputed, and they came to expect it.  That argument was lost in January when our sweet cat died and three quietly became two.  His loss took more out of me than I really wanted to admit, and I was hoping they wouldn’t notice the hole in my logic for a while longer.  It’s a parent’s job to take the long view, to see past tiny paws and adorable whiskers.  When the little kitten that they want reaches the other end of its life my three chicks will be long out of the nest and it will be me left sitting beside the cat as it purrs its last.

When the litter was discovered I knew, deep down, that I was sunk.  All of the other cats we have rescued since my daughters were born have been ‘teenagers’; lanky and small, but not a ball of fluff with ears.  We have never had a tiny kitten to raise, and the girls began to remind me of that.  They chipped away at the chink in my defense and widened it, reminding me that it was now or never for my eldest daughter.  Soon she would be heading to college and getting a kitten in the Fall wouldn’t really be fair to her, in spite of the fact that we had joked that we would get one after she moved out and give it her name and room to live in.  They wheedled for days and I shut down the topic for as long as possible, but my hold on my objections began to loosen.  The girls knew I had relented even before I did and were at the car by the time I said “let’s just go and take a look”.

The inevitable stared me in the eye, and it purred.

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How Do They Know?


The barometer must be changing.  After a long, busy weekend and a tossing, turning night, I was trying to fight off the beginnings of a headache.  I knew I would need to be clear-headed to teach lessons later, so I stole a few moments to lay down with a cloth over my eyes, keeping the light out.

I was trying to nod off when I felt a cat hop on the bed and climb up on my side.  As I laid still, playing ‘possum and trying to recapture my doze, I felt one soft arm stretch out and a smooth, cool paw touched my temple.  She relaxed into the pose and started to purr, keeping contact and a tiny bit of pressure there, and I finally slept.

The next thing I knew, the older girls were home and calling for me, and the cat was still nestled on top of me.  I gently moved out from under her, testing for my headache before I rose, and it was gone.  I gave her head a stroke as I left the room to get the studio ready for my students.

One green eye opened, and she gave me a lazy wink.

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Filed under Day to Day, Health

Ambush


Forgotten memories
Hide in the corners of the mind
For surprise attacks on
The heart.

~ me

This morning I went to get saucers for milk from the cupboard and got out three.  It’s been two months now, but still I look for my third cat to come wandering around the corner.   I had mostly been able to let it go until my youngest girl wrote another blog about missing the boy.  It took a hunk out of my heart, and made the wound all fresh again.

Our minds are incredibly complex and we learn how to safeguard our emotions. We build little walls, protecting us from things that might hurt, and as we get older, we get better at it.  For an empathetic, sensitive young person, though, those walls are mighty thin.  I wish I could loan my daughter a few of my hard-earned building supplies to shore them up.  She’s learning valuable lessons through all of this, but I still yearn to hold her close and protect her from the pain.

Here’s hoping we don’t forget our lost friends and family, but that we can think of them without hurt.

 

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Filed under Changes, Day to Day, Loss, Parenting

Tears Are Contagious


I can keep it together for quite a while as long as no one else is crying. Even if it’s a completely sad movie or a touching moment, I can hold my composure. Let someone I love start to sob over something I’ve been strong with, though, and I can’t help but turn into a blubbering mass of sodden tissues.

It was like that yesterday. I sat and stroked our cat as he took his last breaths, spending all my tears on him before anybody came home. I was ready to be strong for the kids.  Do my mom thing.  Be the rock.

Yeah, right.

The older girls arrived home first, and were very supportive and helpful.  Though sad themselves, they were concerned more for me.  We talked a little, and everything was alright.  A hug or two, a few stories remembering him, and they could move in a subdued manner into their night.  When their little sister came through the door, that all changed.  She burst into wailing tears at the news, and though I was steeling myself for it, I couldn’t help but melt into a puddle with her.

I’ll be going along, thinking I have it all under control, and she’ll think of him and start to cry.  It’s an automatic, visceral response – it seems I have absolutely no control over it, but all of a sudden the tears are leaking down my face as well.

The day will get better, and perhaps I’ll have more time to straighten my backbone and toughen up while she’s in school today, but I have no more faith in my tear ducts.  They have betrayed me too many times in the last week or so.  They are fired.

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Filed under Day to Day, Family Relationships, Loss, Parenting, Self-realization