Tag Archives: cats

Old Cats, New Cat

Mali and Malta joined our family in July 2006 when they were just five weeks old;

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They were sisters and best friends and together adapted quickly to living in a busy childcare home.  They usually loved all the attention they got from the children but also knew they had quiet spaces to escape to when they had enough.  I often commented on their ‘synchronized sleeping’;

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Over the years they got bigger – too big actually – Malta carried a little extra weight but Mali was very overweight;

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They were put on a vet recommended diet and dropped down to a healthier weight.  They still sometimes beg for food from the children so ‘Don’t feed people food to the cats’ has been an important lesson for the children.  It has also resulted in many wonderful conversations about healthy diets for both children and cats.  Through it all Mali and Malta remained best friends and still enjoy playing with the children and having alone time too.

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Last winter when we first introduced a new cat into our family I was slightly concerned that the two bigger, bonded cats may pick on the little newbie.  Sure, Mali & Malta considered children, and even our old dog to be acceptable housemates but they had never lived with another cat.  I wasn’t certain how the ‘old’ cats would feel about another cat in the house but I optimistically envisioned that the old cats would teach the new cat all the house rules and everyone would live happily ever after.  I was wrong.

Although ‘Button’ was the name given to the tiny little cat at the humane society and is her official name on her license and other papers, she was soon renamed.  We call her ‘Monkey’ most of the time – sometimes ‘Monkey-Butt’ because she is a very mischievous, naughty, sometimes ornery little cat with a big attitude.

She taunts and torments the older cats.  She pushes boundaries – growling in protest when removed from places she shouldn’t be and then immediately returning – sitting there glaring as if to say ‘I go where I please, when I please and you can’t do anything about it’.  She opens doors and cupboards and has stolen whole sandwiches left unattended for just two seconds.  Her early life as a stray allowed her to perfect her hunting techniques and stealth mode – for the old cats there is no escape.

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Malta seems very afraid of Monkey – running/hiding from her and refusing to enter a room Monkey is in.  I wouldn’t say Monkey is mean – just more like a toddler who keeps poking you trying to get a reaction and then laughing.  Mali has become grumpy – like the angry old woman who yells ‘Get off my lawn!’ when the neighbourhhood children play there – Mali hisses and snarls and chases Monkey off counters and other places she thinks she shouldn’t be.  Places that include my lap – I have battle wounds from cat fights that have occurred on my lap.

Monkey is not longer the scrawny little stray she once was – she has become a little ‘chunky’.  Mali & Malta however have lost more weight than they ever did on their diet. I started giving them regular food instead of ‘light’ food and when they threw that up I gave them food for sensitive digestion.  They still had difficulty holding that down and were getting so thin that I was concerned about their health.

I took them to the vet and after a thorough exam and blood tests he ruled out any illnesses.  They are however very stressed and have developed stomach ulcers.  I now have to give them medication twice a day and they have prescription cat food.  I also have a plug-in diffuser that spreads peace & joy & love (cat pheromones) throughout my house.

Fingers crossed, so far there have been no more cat fights or vomit to clean up.  Mali & Malta seem more relaxed – we’ll return to the vet next month to see if they’ve managed to regain some of their lost weight.  Monkey (finishes licking all the dishes in the sink and leaves a trail of wet footprints on paperwork as she walks across my desk) hasn’t lost any attitude yet though.

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Little Miss Button

The search for our new cat began online, looking through listings of adoptable pets.  Our first trip to the Winnipeg Humane Society was ‘just to look’ but there was one in particular – named ‘Button’ that I was hoping to see.  However, when we arrived at her kennel there was a ‘Hold’ sign – someone else liked her too.  We checked out all the kennels and played with many cats but as planned we were just looking.

Over the next week we visited a few satellite locations and I did more online searching.  I noticed that Button was still listed as adoptable so the following weekend we went back to the Humane Society. There was no longer a hold on Button.  It took a long time to coax her out of the back corner of her cage.  She was so timid – maybe too timid for a busy home like ours but eventually she snuggled her scrawny little body in my arms and purred. I put her back in her kennel and we looked at some other cats.  I also revisited Button and coaxed her out for another snuggle.

There were a couple of cats that we were interested in so we met with an adoption counselor to get some more information about them.  After learning more about their background we  decided they were not a good fit for us.  I asked about Button…they didn’t know much.  She was about nine months old.  She was found living under a porch in the freezing cold.  She had ear mites but had been treated and her ears were fine now.  She had been spayed before being put up for adoption.  She was very underweight and they were trying to get her to eat more.

So….we adopted her.

They had recommended that we should keep her in quarantine for at least a week – to adjust to us and hopefully gain some weight before meeting our other cats and the children.  We kept her upstairs in my son’s room.  She was so very happy all the time – purring and climbing all over us.  It was impossible to get a decent picture of her because she was always moving or wrapping herself around my neck.

At first I had to sit beside her food dish to get her to eat.  She would devour the food in her bowl but if I walked away before she finished eating then she would follow – pressing her little body against my leg like “Please don’t leave me”.  By the end of the week she was much more relaxed and putting on some weight – her spine and hip bones were not nearly as pronounced as they had been.

Over the weekend we introduced her to Mali and Malta – they do NOT love her but they haven’t been terribly mean.  It is interesting that it seems like Button thinks these other cats are in HER home.  Most of the disputes between them are started by Button.

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I joke about her ‘angry’ face because in almost every picture I take she looks a little angry.

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It doesn’t matter how happy, relaxed or content she is she still ends up making that face when I take the picture.

I guess she must have just been unhappy in the confines of her kennel at the Humane Society because here she is not a timid cat at all.  In fact she likes to be the centre of attention – as long as she doesn’t have to hold still for too long. (angry face)

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She likes to be where the action is – and she loves people.  All people.  Any sized people – even babies.  No cats.

She helps when we get dressed to go outside; (angry face)

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She watches the children through the playroom window because she hasn’t yet figured out how to get in there when the gate is shut;

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Is there a cat in this picture?

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Yes, she’s playing one of her favourite games – attack the toys the children put under the gate.

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Welcome home Little Miss Button – we look forward to getting to know you.

Liking the Space

It seems like I’ve been neglecting my blog.  Truth is, I’m feeling a little overextended at the moment.  Meetings, editing, writing presentations, paperwork, and other commitments have been eating up all my ‘spare’ time.

The 11 hours/day that I spend with the children has become my ‘quiet’ time.  Right now I’m supposed to be working on a slideshow presentation that I need to finish for tomorrow so I really shouldn’t be ‘wasting’ time playing around here but….

I wanted to share some of our experiences as we try out our newly renovated spaces.  There have been (mostly) positives and (a few) negatives from my perspective and the children’s too.

I haven’t really got the time to do this now so I’m just going to post a few pictures for now.  Here is a ‘magic’ tower;

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The blanket was successfully removed and replaced several times without knocking over the impressive structure hidden under it;

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In the nature area there has been a lot of interest in our new tree pieces – we now have several different sizes to choose from.  Here are some of the smaller ones that were being used to make a fence;

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The new art spaces have been popular too – for the preschoolers;

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And the school-age children too;

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Even the cats have been checking out the new spaces.  Malta has decided that the nap area divider is her property;

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However, there have been a few disputes about that.  Both cats have also claimed that the carpet under my computer chair belongs to them;

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I continually have to decide whether the paperwork is more important than disturbing the cats.  Maybe it is their way of telling me to go outside and play instead 🙂

Hopefully I’ll have time to write a ‘real’ post after things slow down a little.  Until then, I’ve got more work to do….

Fat Cat

Our cats Mali and Malta are six years old.  They are sisters but they have very different personalities.  Most people tell them apart by their colour – Mali is a orange/cream colour and Malta is a tortoiseshell.  Mali has another distinguishing feature that people comment on.  Mali is overweight.

She wasn’t always.  When she was two she was slim;

When she first began gaining weight I was unsure why – I fed both cats the same type and amount of food but only Mali was overweight.  Through observation I discovered that personality played a part too.

Malta nibbles her food, chewing each piece thoroughly and waiting a few seconds before selecting another piece.  Malta is picky about what she eats and the setting must be just right too.  If there is any sound or motion that disturbs her she quits eating and will not return.

Mali attacks food with fervour –  often consuming half the food in one bite and she doesn’t chew.  There is nothing that distracts her from eating.  So, I discovered that she really was eating more than her sister beause she was eating the food left in Malta’s abandoned dish.

I started feeding them separately and ensuring that Malta’s uneaten food was promptly removed.  The veterinarian also recommended a diet cat food.

It has been nearly three years since then and Mali has lost some weight but she still weighs more than she should.  The children like to see if they can lift her.

Recently, I decided to address not just the amount and type of food that she was eating but also how quickly she was eating.  I bought her this fancy food dish with several levels and she really has to work to get her food.

Moving each piece through the maze until it reaches the dish below.

Sometimes Malta likes to watch but the dish is far too frightening for her to try to get any food from it;

We had to put a cover over the top because sometimes Mali ‘cheats’ and just stands up to eat the food at the top.

It now takes Mali about 15 minutes to finish a meal instead of the mere seconds it used to take her.  Diet and exercise together.  I’m looking forward to her next visit to the veterinarian.

Saying Goodbye – For Now

I opened my front door and thought ‘What a beautiful sunny day’  – but wait, it is cloudy.  “Why does it seem so bright on such a cloudy day?”

I looked again.  Autumn seems to have arrived suddenly and winter is on its way.  The Elm trees that shade my yard have lost all their leaves.   The foliage usually blocks my view of the sky from here but now that the branches are bare the light comes through even on such a cloudy day.

A thick blanket of leaves covers the garden so I can barely see the gravel path.  Sigh.  Good-bye my friends.  Sleep well.

Back in March I wrote a brief history of my front yard garden and my plans to redo the whole garden.  You can read about it here.  Then in May I continued the saga as I began to create the space to plant my prairie garden.   I planned to write another chapter once the plants were in the ground but I never got around to it.

So here is the ‘before’ picture I took of my front yard;

This was taken in May as we began taking apart the old steps to make room for the expanded garden space.  You may notice that these old garden beds contain mainly day lilies along with a few other plants that had managed to survive.

The steps and sidewalk were then relocated to the far left side of the landing and a bench was added so we could sit and enjoy the new garden.  I left that big bush under the window (I don’t know what kind it is) and the Hosta which seemed happy this year.  All the other plants were dug up and most of the gravel was replaced with more soil.

Then I planted the seedlings from the shade garden kit that I purchased from Prairie Flora.  The plants include:

I’ll admit that at first the garden looked rather sparse.  There were a few casualties over the summer – mostly due to the neighbourhood cats who decided I had built the world’s greatest litterbox 😦

Some of the young plants grew much quicker than I anticipated.  Many even produced flowers – something I didn’t expect them to do in their first year.  I know that all these plants  were busy putting down strong roots to support them for years to come.

By September the garden looked like this;

In this view you can see some of the sticks I put in the soil to deter the nasty cats;

Yes, as I look at the thick blanket of leaves that now covers my prairie garden, I am a little sad.  As these young plants prepare for the long cold winter ahead I will say good-bye, for now.  I’ll see you again in the spring – stronger and more beautiful than ever.

Back to Work

The first week back to work after vacation was very busy.  There have been some periods of adjustment but I think we’re settling into a good routine.  I’ve already written about a few of our activities like the Reno Boxes and the Rona Parts but here is a short recap of the rest of the week.

A mini project from my vacation was the addition of the cat loft.  Mali likes the view from above as the children call her name and wave;

My goal was really just to get the cats’ beds out of the hallway but the cats are thrilled to have a new retreat to relax in;

One of the children made a roller coaster for the toy bugs in the playroom — Mali loved that too, purrr.  I think she missed having the children here to play with.

We had a full day of water activities with five different water stations.  This was the most popular one according to the younger children;

They were making coffee.  The older children preferred the boat locks – experimenting with using the pump to raise and lower the water level to get the boats to their destination.

But by far the favorite activity this week has been watching the leaf cutter bees;

There are two of them that have been diligently working to line their nest with leaves in preparation to lay their eggs.  I believe they are supposed to be solitary bees but both of them have chosen the same crack in a log;

The children have been very observant and have discovered which leaves in the yard are the ones that the bees like best;

And some of them decided to help out by building a ‘bee hive’;

 

Indoors or Out

We’ve had some crazy weather recently.  Some days the temperature has been above zero but within days it is back to a frigid -30C. We’ve even had days where my sheltered back yard has been whipped by wind.

This weather has resulted in the daily dilemma — ‘Should we stay indoors or go out to play?’  Actually, the question really is how long we should stay out since only once have I decided we should not go out at all.  Some days we’ve only been outside for 10 or 15 minutes but usually it is much longer.

The cats seem to think they’d like to go out;

But that’s really only because they want the neighbours ‘pets’;

When the children and I are inside we work on projects like these sun catchers;

Outdoors we’ve made cakes;

I love the ‘fire’ that the children make — they sit here to ‘warm up’

Their biggest complaint is the lack of snow.  They spend a great deal of time relocating the little snow we do have to the area of the yard they want to play in;

Indoors or out — working together and having fun.