Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cat-astrophes -- Part Un

It’s been a cold winter here in Seattle. We’ve been pretty much snowed in for about 10 days, off and on. The temperature has been in the 30s for so long, it’s going to feel positively balmy when it gets back to the normal winter 40s. Being home with the kits has been interesting. I’ve made a few notes on their recent antics:

Morning Coffee, anyone? The other morning, I heard a significant crash from the direction of the kitchen. In my semi-awake state, I called out to the kits to knock off whatever they were doing, then fell back asleep. A half-hour later, I visited the kitchen, only to find my morning mocha all over the counter, rangetop, floor, new Christmas throw rug, and even inside the stove, in the glass panels that make up the door’s window. “Wow,” I said aloud in an admiring voice, “that took some doing!” Much discussion of “bad kitty behavior” ensued as I sponged, wiped, mopped, and scrubbed away the coffee. All the while, I was “helped” by two kittens who had absolutely no idea how the cup had been spilled! They suggested a “seismic event” or “marauding reindeer.”

Honest, Mom. It was reindeer. Eight of 'em!

Mmmmmmm…. Catsicle: I was peeking out the door the other day, checking out the snow. I looked around, no cats underfoot, all was clear to close the door. A few minutes later, I noticed Winston clawing at the front door. Thinking that was singularly unusual behavior, I looked around to see what Franklin was up to. No Franklin. Well, no Franklin until I opened the front door and found him wedged between the house and storm doors. Oh, don’t worry, there was plenty of room for him – he’s still a tiny little thing. The main problem was it was 24 degrees outside, and I’m not sure if I would have noticed him being amongst the missing for a while. Hence… the title. ;) (I hasten to add, I do cat-checks frequently and am obsessive about safety. Toilet lids down, rooms with tempting small objects have doors closed, etc. That one got by me, though. So now I do a nose count before I open the door and turn to do one again as I close it behind me. Honestly, these are pretty high-maintenance kitties! :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh! Christmas Tree!

Franklin and Winston are enjoying the season. They’re very intrigued by the tree, of course. In addition, they've found themselves indulging in all sorts of interesting new taste treats -- whether invited or not. (“Cream cheese salsa dip FTW!” they cheer.) Mostly, they're smitten with my plushy collection. I have plushies both on the tree and lined up along the back of the sofa. It's sort of a "Santa, and Reindeer, and Bears, oh my!" thing. Now, nary a day goes by that I don’t find a Christmas mouse or a Beanie Penquin in my hallway, under my bed, or down the stairway. There has been no actual damage (knock wood!) but it’s sort of like finding little seasonal corpses lying all over the house. ;)

I like to play the Musical Snoopy for The Boyz; this plushie even has flashing lights! They really get pretty excited about that little guy. Stepping closer, one will take a tentative bat at the toy, wondering if it will fight back. I figure by tomorrow, Winston (or will it be Franklin?) will have figured out how to trigger the music, and we'll be awakened to Vince Guaraldi (he's the guy who wrote that great jazz score for A Charlie Brown Christmas) at, say, 3:30 AM.

But the seasonal pièce de résistance is, as one might expect, the Christmas tree. It causes quite a ruckus when folks stagger into a little kit's house bearing eight or nine feet of Noble Fir goodness. The timing was questionable, I suppose: we got the real tree before we got the official kitty climbing tree. I feared Win and Frankie might compete in Swiss Rounds of “King of the Tree,” but thankfully, they resisted climbing altogether. They satisfied themselves with a thorough, five-sense inspection of the tree as we brought it in and have been busily removing all of the lower decorations since their installation.

I would say Win and Frankie give Christmas two paws up. And just think, they haven't even opened their packages yet! :)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Boyz: It's Vet Day

Yeah, we're thrilled. Mom said it's time to take us to The Man with the Pokey Things again. "It's to make sure you're healthy and thriving," she says. "Right," we say. "Obviously we're the picture of health -- leave sleeping cats lie!"

We quite like the Vet Assistant; her name is Michelle and she's great. She calls us "handsome," gives us pets, and pays us a decent level of homage. Her, we'll keep. But that veteran... vegetari... vertinar... that guy with the official jacket? Poking and prodding; distracting us with something shiny and jabbing us with meds? He's gotta go!

It's nearly more than a kitty can bear, y'know?

Kitties Chillin' in Their Carrier

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Night Owls & Morning Larks

I’m a night owl. There’s no way around it—mornings are not my thing. Oh sure, I can drag myself out of bed for an early-hours conference call, and I’m sure I’ll be hitting the December 26th Post-Christmas sales bright and early. But for the most part, I prefer the afternoon, evening, midnight and beyond. Back in the day when I was working more as a writer, I did some of my best work at 2:00 AM. Last night… errr, this morning… I was awake until 5:15 AM reading.

So it was no great pleasure when Frankie and Win decided to offer me their cheery morning greetings less than four hours later. This is a daily pattern, for these kits are definitely morning larks – they love the dawn, rejoice in the twittering of robins and chickadees – the very things that I try mightily, with a pillow over my head, to avoid.

The boys’ salutations can run the gamut, starting with Franklin’s softly patting my cheek with a furry paw and Win putting his wet nose in my hand to beg an ear scratch. When unsuccessful, though, they move to less cuddly efforts, such as nibbling my fingers with pointy little teeth or—in extreme cases, which most mornings seem to inspire—sitting at the end of the bed, timing a synchronized pounce on my chest. (Seriously, I saw Franklin holding up a paw displaying four claws, then three, two, and one before they simultaneously leapt across several feet of air space to land on my stomach.)

I marvel at how two kittens of under three pounds each feel like a herd of twenty-pound chimpanzees as they scamper over my shoulders, race around my knees, or attack the monster under the comforter: my toes. I can’t figure out how this burst of energy seems always to occur before the night begins greying to dawn, the first songbirds warm up for their morning chorus, the earliest commuter bus passes, the thinnest rays of sunshine strike the window.

Early Morning Wrestling Match

It’s almost as if The Boyz find the quiet unsettling, that after having curled up with me at bedtime they just can’t rein in their energy long enough to last through a normal number of sleeping hours. I'm not sure what to do about it. A moratorium on kitty toys after 10 PM? Soft kitten-y lullabyes on the radio? A sleeping draught in their kibbles?

Oh look! I think I spy two kittens in their kitty tree, napping off the rigours of their early morning exercise session! *evil grin* I think I’ll go rattle their cage for a change!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Franklin: All I really need to know…

… I learned in Kittergarten.

Mom is telling her friends how surprised she is that my brother and I show courtesy in our kittling romps. I guess there’s some famous book about how humans learn all they need to know at a tender age. Why, my sibling and I wonder, would it be any surprise that Winston and I would have absorbed a similar philosophy in our early months?

The thing that surprises Mom is this whole “sharing” thing that we do. She has remarked that she thought the instant she waved that tantalizing fishing pole (mylar, and fabric, and feathers—oh my!) in front of us, it would be every kit for himself. She expected to see us heads over tails in a flash of fur and claw, a muddle of limbs as we tried to best the other in wrestling the toy into submission. Au contraire, ma mère!

We take turns, as any polite creature would do. First to the pole gets the initial romp, and the other of us sits down and patiently awaits his turn. Ok, perhaps “patiently” is stretching it a bit -- IMpatiently may be a whisker more accurate. But still, if Win is first launch on toy-attack take-off, I hold my pounces for when my round comes up and the toy is clearly moved to my side of the triangle. If the toy crosses some invisible line between us and comes into my space, I take up the chase and Win waits. If one of us is racing in a circle around the other, we have the good sense to recognize a queue, and we stand our ground to allow our brother the completion of the current foray.

It's about courtesy. Or, to put it another way...

Feather toy: $4.98
Fishing Pole: $9.98
Good Manners: Priceless

Sharing the new kitty tree!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winston: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I meant to post earlier, but it took me a while to figure out this keyboard thing. It's not easy when you're small -- I have to pounce from the ASDF set to the JKL; set. But no matter, I'm on board now. (/me like puns.)

The reason I'm writing is to appeal my current reputation as the household "bad kitty." I don't care that I was caught straddling the roll of Christmas paper towels. Nor that there was a pile of at least 15 yards of chewed, ripped, torn, and shredded towels beside me. And it's not fair to check me for "paper towel breath" and, because I happen to have a slight scent of paper products, assume I'm the culprit.

*adopts angelic expression*

I blame Franklin.

Kitty tip: Don't unwrap the new paper towels and set them on the stairs to take upstairs. Best to leave them wrapped, or better still, hidden safely in the pantry. After all, someone may decide to turn them into package filler.

My brother "helps" with filing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cars and Caterwauling

The Boyz paid their first visit to the veterinarian today. Their carrier has been in the living room for the last weeks as a little "safe house" in case they wanted to have private time in their own space. It had become such an immobile fixture, they were a little startled when I scooped up the two of them and placed them inside, closed the door, and stepped outside into the Seattle mist.

They were silent in the car, both standing at attention, looking around curiously, swaying a bit as the car moved along. "What well-behaved little kits," I thought to myself, "maybe they'll be the kind of animal companions who like to take road trips." So I congratulated them both, saying "You guys are great little travelers."

And that's when all heck broke loose.

Winston started up with his squeaky mew. Franklin joined in with his somewhat lower tones. Soon it was “Oh the draaama!” and the competition began: Who can invoke the longest meow, the loudest lamentation, the most plaintive cry? Which can merge fear, anger, desertion, and neediness in a single sob? Shakespeare himself might have taken a lesson from the tragedy in their emotes! The paw on the forehead and the melodramatic rolling of the eyes was an excellent touch.

The vet tech thought they were beautiful little guys. She was so kind to George in his last years, it was fun to show her the new family members. The vet checked them both and gave them a 100% clean bill of health. He noted The Boys are 3.5 pounds each, precisely. Which, of course, doesn’t help us a bit in figuring out who is who. But at least the two whos are in topnotch shape!

Kitty Tip: As an after-vet pick-me-up, we recommend morsels of chicken breast, cheese, and pico de gallo from Taco Time. ;)

Franklin says, "You're taking me where?"