Ollie & Lena–A Love Story

Any cat lover (and I know several of you follow my blog) will appreciate the story of Ollie and Lena. Thanks to Amy for sharing. Click on “view original post” to see the video.

Insights From The Edge

The premier of LotusLand TV, a Punt On Point Media production. LotusLand TV is a channel dedicated to raising awareness about the rescue and fostering of cats. Saving a life, changes your own. The love you give to a cat, he returns 7-fold.

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Some time ago I wrote about my precious cat Mimi, who’s experiencing a case of displaced aggression. That’s when one thing upsets a cat (in this case, a stranger cat peeking in through the front window) and she takes it out on another (her brother Walter). I’ve had to separate the two for six months now.

I tried last week to reunite them, and only succeeded in upsetting Mimi to the point she won’t leave my bedroom anymore. She’s cautiously approaching the door, but nothing more. I should add that Walter is placed in another room when I try to lure Mimi out, so she’s safe. But she isn’t so sure.

On Friday I was convinced I was going to need to find a new home for one of them. I was devastated and the grieving process began. I cried and cried — sobbed, really — and in the end realized I wasn’t ready to make that move. Saturday I spent all day knowing that, ready or not, it was inevitable, but Sunday I came up with a plan that will give each cat enough space to run around in while keeping them away from each other. It’s not ideal, but it’s fair.

Is this situation likely to resolve itself? Everything I’ve read says it’s a challenge and can take up to a year. Sometimes it never happens. I may have restarted that calendar by trying to reintroduce them too soon, I don’t know.

It’s painful all around. I don’t have any wise words to summarize my thoughts here.  Just thanks for listening.

Celebrating Milton (It’s Caturday!)

Today we celebrate my mom’s cat Milton, a sweetheart with a difficult past who found his permanent place of residence a few years ago. Now he’s King of the Castle, reigning with benevolence and charm.

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Stop this darn picture taking and feed me!!

 

Pondering…pondering…

Image Credits–Header: (Cesar Cat) © Belinda Ostrowski; (Paws and Heart) © Bigstockphoto.com

How Cesar Got His Name

Last week, I received a long-dreaded text from my friend Deb.

“Cesar had another seizure. I took him to the vet, and it was time to let go. This has been a bad week.”

Cesar the Cat was her second pet to die in two days. She had had to say good-bye to her beloved terrier Daisy earlier that week.

Cesar
The late great Cesar.

Cesar was 20 years old, and had first entered her life at the age of six weeks. When I met Deb two years ago, she was afraid his time had come then, and a visit to the vet revealed he did, indeed, have kidney disease. However, cats can live a long time after that initial diagnosis, and Cesar continued to function in a healthy manner.

A few months ago she sent me this agonizing text: “Cesar just had his second seizure in two days. I’m afraid it’s time. I will miss him so much. He is the best cat EVER.”

It wasn’t time yet.


Deb taught high school English for decades, and 20 years ago, she told one of her students she’d name her kitten after him if he got an “A” on his paper. He got the grade, and Cesar got his name.

I wonder what former student Cesar is doing now. Assuming he’s alive (and we’ll assume that), he’d be in his mid- to late-30s. Does he remember his one-time teacher named her cat after him? Did it matter to him? Has he ever owned a cat, does he have children, was he successful in his life?

We influence the world around us, and never know it. Student Cesar would likely never imagine that today, a woman he’s never met is musing about his life. Because of a dead cat. To say I care what happened to him is perhaps a stretch, but in a way, I do. I want success for him.

About the time I met Deb and learned about Cesar the Cat, I was in the middle of drawing a cartoon cat for one of my posts. I named him Cesar. When I showed Deb the drawing, she said, “Yep, that looks like him.”

Cesarlg
Cartoon Cesar.

I had no idea. I had simply liked the name. For some reason, I’d thought CtC was a Siamese, but he was a Maine Coon. The cat I’d drawn did resemble him. Eventually I made some “limited edition” t-shirts featuring the cartoon Cesar, and a couple of months ago I gave one to Deb.

Rest in peace, Cesar Kitty and Daisy Doo. You are missed.


Image Credits: (Paws and Heart) © Bigstock.com

Caturday Memories

Today I want to remember all the kitties from my past.

I don’t have pictures of all of them, nor is it likely I’ll remember all their names. But Hugo, Petunia, Whittier, Salem, Gabriel, Cassie, Darren, Whitney, Montero, Carter and of course, Paco, you made my life better just by being there in the morning. Even if being there meant you were pestering me for food.

Granted, the quality of many of these pictures is pretty poor, either due to age or because they’re Polaroids (or both). But you get an idea of how blessed I’ve been.

Caturday Memories.


 

Rainy Days and Kitties

What are the kitties thinking when they peer out at the rain?

I know my Mimi would love to be outdoors, but I won’t let her wander. It’s too dangerous outside the confines of my home, with a wooded ravine in the back and a very busy street directly in front.

Mimi looking out the windowI house-sat last year, and hauled the cats over to this pretty place on the lake, with woods and the brush all around. No way in heaven or earth I was going to let them run free. Not only would they likely get lost, whoever did find them (probably a coyote) would discover them covered in ticks and fleas and whatever other grunge lies out there.

I know, there’s medicine for that. They can also stay inside.

Inside is pretty appealing these days, with lots of places to climb and hide. My latest creation? It happened quite by accident when I decided to protect the desk chair at the aforementioned house.

The cats had turned my own desk chair into a fine scratching post, despite having two such already, and I didn’t want to have to spend everything I made housesitting replacing my friend’s desk chair. So I covered it with a sleeping bag. Turns out this makes a great tent for cats. They spent hours under there, huddled together in one furry mass.

At our own home, I cover my desk chair with a blanket when I’m not using it. I should make one thing clear. My laptop is at a different desk, with a different (rather uncomfortable yet decor-appropriate) “desk chair.”

When they’re giving the world that faraway stare, are they sometimes thinking, what’s wrong with our mama? She isn’t happy today. I wish I could make her feel better. You do, babies. When I’m feeling sad, you always seem to know it, and you comfort me.

walter kitty smDo they dream of the big hunt? Right now there’s the occasional bug to stalk, but I usually reach my limit watching that game after a time and kill the thing myself. They tend to let it go otherwise. Unless it’s a flying bug. Walter is adept at catching bugs in flight, and has no compunction eating his capture.

I want my kitties to be happy, so I worry sometimes at their pensive look. But then they’ll crawl into my lap and purr themselves to sleep while I sing their favorite songs. All is well.

We have each other.


Eyes So Kind

On the last day of the late great Paco’s life, I sat in the waiting room at the Cat Clinic, waiting for Dr. Rose to tell me what I already knew.

Paco BearPaco, some of you may recall, was my best buddy for more than 15 years, a feline friend who saw me through some of my toughest times. I was starting a new phase of my life, and I was at peace with the timing. More change would have been too hard on him. It was time to let go.

He had advanced kidney disease, so I’d known for some time this day was looming. But knowing, being at peace, none of that prepares for you the final good-bye.

As I sat waiting, I noticed a grey tabby mama cat in a kennel a couple of feet away from me. She had been rescued with four kittens, three of whom had already found good homes. It was her turn to be adopted, and the Cat Clinic had cleverly placed her in the waiting area for all to meet.

She was looking at me with such sweet and compassionate eyes, I knew she knew what was happening. I was losing my baby, and my heart was breaking.

“It’s okay,” I told her. “I’m okay.”

She didn’t break her gaze, but shifted closer to me.

“Thank you,” I whispered to her as the doctor called me into an exam room.

It was time, Dr. Rose told me. I would regret waiting any longer. I signed the papers and said good-bye to Paco.

As I walked out, I once again passed the little lady kitty. She looked at me, and I started to cry. I bent down and whispered, “I know you’ll find the best home ever.” She purred softly, her eyes so kind.

The best home ever for this one, I told the vet tech. She smiled and nodded agreement.

Good-bye, sweet Paco.


 

 

Equal Time for Mimi! (It’s Caturday)

A few weeks ago, two consecutive posts featured my adorable cat, Walter.

But I have two precious kitties, and Mimi is every bit as loving and sweet as her brother. It’s just not as easy to capture cute pictures of her. Here are a few I particularly like.

 


 

We’ve Got Each Other

I recently told the tale of how my babies came to be a part of my life. They are brother and sister, and have a bond deeper than any other.

They protect each other, battle with each other, and at the end of the day, snuggle with each other (and if I’m lucky, with me.)

Caturday Night

I worry about what will happen when one of them dies, but they’re not even five years old yet, so I don’t think about that for long.

Each one has his or her own power. Together they are a mighty force.


Symbiosis

Here’s Your Baby!

November, 2012.

I didn’t have a job. I owed the Cat Clinic hundreds of dollars for the care of the late great Paco. It would have been irresponsible to get a new cat. So when the pitiful cries of two little ones are heard outside my apartment window, I steel myself and say, I can’t save all the kitties.

In that neighborhood, at that apartment complex, people were abandoning cats all the time. It was one of the hardest parts of living there, and that wasn’t an easy place to live. It was devastating not to be able to help all the poor kitties who sat outside my window, crying. Fortunately, one of the other residents worked at a no-kill shelter, and she was usually able to find them a home.

Older Paco
The late great Paco.

I had only the screen open, so I closed the window completely. The crying fades slightly, and now I start to cry a little. It’s only been four months since I lost Paco, and I miss him. Not to mention no one should have to cry like that. Were they hungry? Did they have a home?

Two hours after the crying starts there’s a knock at my door. I open it to find Kaylee, my neighbor, holding the cutest one-pound ball of fluff I’ve ever seen. “Here’s your baby!” Kaylee says with delight as Ball of Fluff leaps out of her arms and runs into the heart of my apartment. I run after him (her?) and scoop him up, hand him back to my neighbor and explain he’s not mine, I can’t take him in, and why.

Kaylee’s face falls. “Okay,” she says. I found out later she and her roommate, Foster, took in Ball of Fluff and B of F’s sister, along with a menagerie of other abandoned pets, hoping they could find their real owners, or in the alternative, new homes for them.

“You’re Coming Home.”

That didn’t last too long. Come January, it’s below freezing, with ice, sleet and snow covering every inch outside my door. I lay awake one night once again listening to the pitiful cries of a kitty. I can’t stand it. Throughout the night I hear him crying, again and again.

Finally, it’s morning, and all is quiet. I’m hopeful the kitty has received good care, because I no longer hear any crying. I leave for an errand, but when I come back,  I hear him.

A quick look around reveals he’s right outside Kaylee and Foster’s door. It looks like Ball of Fluff, a little bit bigger, a lot soggier, a whole lot sadder. And mysteriously, with a blue leg.

“Okay,” I tell him. “You’re coming home.”

 

Later that night, when Kaylee is home from work, I tell her I’ve taken in the kitty, whom I’ve named Walter. She’s ecstatic.

“The police told us we couldn’t keep all these all animals here without a kennel permit,” she said, “so we put those two outside and gave them food.” True or not about the police, they had dumped two kittens outside, in the middle of winter. I held my tongue.

“I can only take one,” I said. “Really, I can’t even afford him, but I can’t let him stay outside.”

“Okay,” her face telling me that clearly, she’d hoped I’d take the other, too.

“He looked so pitiful…” I said. “That blue leg…”

“Oh, that,” Kaylee rolled her eyes. “He jumped into a jar of my blue paint and wouldn’t let me clean him.”

Jumped into a jar of her blue paint…I didn’t ask. I later learned Walter liked to dive from the refrigerator onto the far counter, and he jumped into more than one glass of my orange juice before I discovered how far away I had to place it.

Feline Destiny

The next afternoon Walter sat in my bedroom window and cried. I felt terrible, then I heard something that made me feel even worse: the sound of another kitty crying on the other side. His sister. I couldn’t see her, but I knew I wouldn’t last with that situation. I was about to be the proud mama of two kitties.

I wrote a note and placed it on the girls’ door upstairs. “Everybody needs a little buddy. Bring the other kitty over. I’ll take her in.”

Within thirty minutes there was a knock at my door. “Walter,” I said, as I headed to the door. “Here’s my other baby.”

 


I Want You Back

Ah Paco, I miss your little kitty breath. Yes, I have two wonderful kitties now, but you were older and needed your teeth cleaned more often to keep them fresh, so frankly, you had…kitty breath. It smelled like love.

I miss you so much sometimes it just hurts. You were my sweet baby, you saved my life when no one else was there to help. When, in the last months of your life, I needed you so desperately, you sacrificed for me again, and I’m in pain today knowing you were probably in pain then, and didn’t show it. I know better now. My two new babies won’t suffer like I fear you may have.

Paco (1)
Paco, my sweet baby

But those were the bad times. Mostly it was just day-to-day, me and Paco being best buds. I’d come home at night and you were at the door. When you were little you’d run out and I was scared you were going to run away, but instead you ran to the upstairs apartment, backing yourself into a corner. I’d pick you up and carry you home, you purrrrrrring all the way back.

Then you’d eat, and wow, you had an appetite. You got really fat, but when I tried to cut back, you were relentless in your pursuit of more food. It wasn’t worth it to me to try to hold out on you. Now I know better, and my two new kitties maintain a good diet, a good weight.

Despite that extra weight you never got diabetes or any of the other diseases related to weight gain in cats. You lived a good long life. I wanted you to live until you were 22; that was unrealistic, and you made it to 16.

Older Paco
All snuggled up

I miss you, the way you snuggled up to me and fell sound asleep, leaving me stranded on the sofa until you woke up because I didn’t want to disturb you. I miss the way you played with Mr. Green Satin Mouse on a String, your favorite toy. I haven’t been able to find another toy that durable for my new babies. We go through those fishing pole toys so fast!!

I miss you, I miss your kitty breath, I miss your little fashion spot on your front right leg and your little pink nose. I want you back and I know that can’t happen. I love my new babies, but you Paco, you were the cat of my heart.

Thank you for being there for me, and forgive me all my faults.

Sweet Peas in a Pod

best-friends
At tbe end of the day, it’s good to have a best friend.

It took me a while to write this post. Sitting on the sofa, I was weighted down by my two furry friends, Walter and Mimi. Walter is the pretty boy on the bottom, Mimi the sweet little bean he’s resting his head on. Once they’re done sitting on my lap, they find each other.

I get lonely sometimes. When I look up and see their sweet faces, whether they are asleep, wide awake or peacefully purring with eyes half-open, I’m comforted. They find solace in my presence, too. As I head downstairs, they leap from their chairs and run down before me, putting themselves in position in the rooms below. They want my company, want to be near me. I have to twist and turn to accomodate them at night (Mimi in particular is a dead weight).

Forgive me the numerous posts about my cats lately. Rather, indulge me. It’s been a good month to ponder the uncomplicated, unconditional love of kitties.

In Desperate Times Come Feet of Fur

Today at work the owner’s dog, Thelma Lou, wasn’t there to greet me in her usual overly-exuberant manner. We’d known there had been problems. They’d been going on for days, but weren’t clearly identifiable symptoms.

thelma-lou
Thelma Lou

It started when she began running away from me and my colleagues instead of bowling us over with affection. She was fearful and timid, and we puzzled over the change in her demeanor. Perhaps one of us had scared her inadvertently? Or had something frightening happened on one of those days when she ran away while being walked? (Her mom agonized over those escapades, but her dad was pretty nonchalant about them, much to the chagrin of the entire staff.)

Then, yesterday, she refused her treats after her morning walk. She was lethargic and clingy, and we all knew something was wrong. Her dad took her to the vet, who diagnosed a pulled muscle or tendon in the right hind leg. When she came back, she was clearly better. We were relieved.

But overnight she lost movement in her hindquarters. Paralyzed in her hips and back legs, she struggled to move and understand what was happening to her. After a race back to the vet, a more experienced doctor determined she had a slipped disc. Emergency surgery was required, but he wasn’t qualified to do it. The best “pup surgeon” for the job was an hour and a half away. So Thelma Lou was loaded in the Jeep, and rushed down the Interstate to helping hands.

I got a call a few hours after I left work that her prognosis was surprisingly good. The veterinary surgeon, who wouldn’t operate unless there was reasonable hope, estimated she had a 70 percent chance of full recovery. The fact that they were able to get her in for surgery within 24 hours of becoming paralyzed was critical to the success of his work.

So now we wait, and her mom and dad have their work cut out for them. But it’s a labor of love, and they don’t mind doing it.

Thelma Lou came into her dad’s life when she was a puppy and he was severely suffering from the effects of PTSD, a result of his time as a Marine photographer in Vietnam. He’d left his wife and was living in a storefront in a nearby town, struggling day to day to survive his nightmares and the cumulative effects of the trauma. He had this energetic, simple soul to keep him company and give him love. Yes, his wife was always there for him, but he was suffering in a world he couldn’t escape and hadn’t yet gotten help to deal with properly. So Thelma Lou was his salvation.

I understand that bond. Twenty years ago I was alone and living in Nashville, dealing with the memories of sexual abuse. The pain at times was so overwhelming I wanted to die, just to escape it. I wasn’t suicidal in that I didn’t truly want death, I simply wanted to escape the burden that was weighing me down, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

paco-and-me
Me and Paco, circa 1999

Enter Paco. He’d had his own share of pain in his short life, having been abandoned three times that I know of by the time I took him in. He came with troubles, some of which never went away, although I learned how to manage them. He bit everyone. He wanted love, but would become overwhelmed when he received it.

We quickly became dependent on each other. When I came home from work, he was at the window, waiting for me. He’d turn and run to the door, and when I opened it, he’d dash outside and run upstairs, where he’d be trapped, so to speak. He couldn’t get past me once he was up there, and he didn’t try. Instead I would pick him up and hold him close, carrying him back to our apartment, while he purred and buried his face in my shoulder.

When I wanted to die, I would reach out to him. I couldn’t leave this needy little soul. He saved my life just by being there, and I saved his by taking him in and giving him the love he so desperately needed.

Paco bannerAs he got older I began to have dreams I’d be outside, perhaps with some friends, somewhere near my car but not right next to it. I’d look up and there would be Paco, waiting for me. He sat close to my Toyota, patient and loyal, knowing I would return. I’d wake up from those dreams and call his name, and he’d come running. As if he knew what had been playing out in my mind moments before, he’d stay by my side until I fell asleep again. When I woke up, he’d be a little distance away on the bed, as was his preference, but near enough to reach out and scratch behind the ears.

He died at the age of 16, just four years ago. Until the day he died, when I was driving home I would anticipate seeing him. I was twenty, ten, three minutes away from Paco. I miss him terribly, even though today I have the love of two wonderful kitties.

I pray Thelma Lou recovers completely. It isn’t time for her to leave us yet.

Update: I’m happy to report Thelma Lou came through her surgery as well as could be expected, and she’s now home. She has months — up to a year — before she is fully recovered, if in fact that ever happens. She may never run again, certainly not like she used to do on a regular basis. But she is loved, and love is healing.