TALES OF THE MOGGY HORDE

24 JULY 97:
Owl and Tigerlily have arrived.

Page, bless her, got up extra early and got them onto an Alaska Airlines flight that got in around 11 am, with a 40- 60 minute wait before they reached the cargo pick-up area. I had the address for the cargo station, but it proved extremely difficult to find. For one thing, going west on Imperial, the numbers were in the 5700 range, while on the eastbound side they were in the 2200 range! Some road engineers sick idea of a joke? Then there was suddenly a huge gap in the numbers. I gave up and called on my car phone, but those instructions proved nearly as worthless. Finally, with a lot of driving around and some common sense deduction, I found the place.

Next came the standing around at the window for someone to help me part. Followed by the barely helpful woman part. She didn't ask for any ID or confirmation. Just mentioned it was the cats was enough. Everybody knew about the cats. She tossed a form at me as though I were supposed to read her mind as to what to do with it (sign it). She told me to go to out to the loading area to pick them up. I explained I had no idea precisely where she wanted me to go. She led me to the door with the pained expression of one who is dealing with an idiot.

So fine. I stand in the restricted area of the loading dock, a massive warehouse full of men busily running around in forklifts, studiously ignoring the waiting area. There were two other people who'd been waiting longer than me. After a few minutes of being totally ignored, I asked one of them whether he had been helped. He said no, with the hapless air of one resigned to endless waiting.

Phoque that for a joke, I decided. I wanted to get those cats OUT of there, and besides, I had a 5 hour drive ahead of me.

After a few more minutes of being resolutely ignored, I walked over to the nearest forklift driver and asked if there was anyone to help us. He started to give me an excuse of some sort, but I mentioned I was picking up animals.

He perked right up. "Oh, you're here for the cats!" He led me straight to them. They'd at least put the carriers on a platform in a quiet corner away from the machinery and bustle.

Two pairs of unhappy cat eyes, blue and green, stared at me from the carriers, no doubt wondering what torment awaited them next. I hefted Tigerlily's carrier. No problem. A light cat. I hefted Owl's and almost fell over. He must weigh 14- 15 lbs.

Tigerlily made a few pathetic mews as I put them in the car, but for the rest of the long drive, I heard nary a peep out of them. I stopped to gulp down some fast food in the car and gave them some water, which they ignored. I got home around 5:30 pm. I set things up in the spare room, shut the door, settled down on the floor, and let Tigerlily out first.

She sauntered out, let me pet her and proceeded to check out the entire room. She would cruise over every few minutes to let me pet her again. She also hissed and growled at nothing in particular, out of habit I think. I had also opened Owl's carrier, but he didn't move for many minutes. He crouched in the door, his eyes big as saucers and twitching this way and that.

When he finally worked up the courage to ooze out, I was amazed at how huge he was. I think he was a little cramped up from the small cage. He slunk around, then went into hiding under the futon sofa. Tigerlily even hissed at him, the silly girl.

I put the carriers in the front hall so my cats could get a good sniff of the other scents (and there was plenty of that). Theseus stuck half his body inside and spent minutes sniffing it up.

The back room was a bit stuffy, since it's always closed up, so I decided to put the child gate across the door and let some air get in and out. Owl and Tigerlily were under the sofa. I didn't figure they were going anywhere.

Almost instantly, four of the Horde were inside checking things out. I'd only been carrying things in from the car, so I wasn't gone more than a few minutes. I didn't hear any confrontations going on.

I went in to check. Zorro was spraying, so I chased him out. I looked around. Owl and Tigerlily had utterly disappeared. Vanished. Turned invisible.

I was baffled. There really aren't any hiding places in the room, other than under the sofa. I searched and searched. Right then, Page called. I filled her in. She told me Owl was especially good at hiding and wished me luck. {g} I couldn't accept that in five short minutes they'd have overcome their fear, faced the Horde, leaped the gate, and found such a good hiding spot. None of the cats in other parts of the house were reacting. I figured they *had* to be in the back room.

I shooed the other cats out, shut the door and searched yet again. I finally found them. They were squooshed into a teensyeensy space between the back of the futon cushion and the wall. Tigerlily came out fairly readily. Owl glared and twitched his eyes at me from the depths of Extreme Hiding. I left them alone for a couple of hours. When I went to check, Diva dashed out. I hadn't realized she was in there, but at least she's one of the friendliest of all my cats. Tigerlily was under the sofa; Owl remained in Extreme Hiding.

A little while ago, I checked on them again. I found Tigerlily sitting in one of the windows, hiding under the blind. She strolled over and let me pet her, but issued a few Required Hisses that didn't seem to mean much of anything.

Owl had graduated to Ordinary Hiding, under the sofa. He wouldn't let me do more than barely touch him, but at least he didn't run off. I laid down on the floor.

Tigerlily was relaxed enough to come over, sniff me, be petted, drink some water, eat some food, use the cat box (though she kinda missed and I had to clean up a couple of solid bits).

Then she gifted the rug with an enormous throw-up of cat food and cat hair, and jumped onto the futon to clean herself. Yeah, she's going to fit into the Horde just fine. {g}

As for Owl, he needs more decompression time. I may have to force affection on him. Oddly enough, with some cats, you have to do that, and then suddenly affection becomes all right.

I'll check on them one more time before I go to bed, but no more child gate until tomorrow.

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25 JULY 97:
Both remained in Extreme Hiding today between the futon cushion and the wall. I had the child gate across the door. My cats were so ecstatic at being able to go outside for the first time in eight days, none of them so much as visited the room.

The catbox had been used overnight, and a small amount of food eaten, but I think it's mainly Tigerlily. I'm not sure Owl has ventured out at all. I'm going to put some water close by his hiding place, as I don't want him to become dehydrated.

Tigerlily is definitely the easier to entice out. She gives me an initial hiss, just for good measure, but she's a total sucker for having her head and ears scratched. She came out pretty readily after a few minutes of that and she gave me a nice, loud purr as she got her scritchies. She's shedding like crazy. I was soon covered in hair.

I leaned down behind the futon to give Owl a scratch and some petting. He only took it because he couldn't escape. As soon as he could, he ducked under the "cave" part of the sofa (the way the wooden frame folds up, it forms a steep "A" frame that makes a comfortable cave).

Tigerlily was abominable to him. She growled, hissed, then whacked him around the face. Poor Owl refused to back out because I was there, so he had to take it. She eventually let him lie near him, but she's not being nice to him.

He's going to be a serious challenge. He reminds me of Oscar Wilde, a fluffy orange tabby youngster I brought home who hid in a closet for two weeks before I could catch a glimpse of him. It takes time and patience to win over a hidey-cat, but I'm used to that.

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26 JULY 97:
We're making tiny bits of progress. I made my last check-up before going to bed last night, and Tigerlily came out when I called her. She's quite enthusiastic about getting her scritchies. She purred, and rubbed, then plopped and rolled around on my feet in scritchie delirium.

This morning, I tried to get a little further with Owl, who remained in Extreme Hiding. I couldn't tell that he'd eaten or used the cat box, so I need to get him past this stage. I forced some gentle petting on him, then nabbed him by the back of the neck and hauled him out from behind the sofa. He was damned po'd about that and was having no part of me. He ducked back under the sofa instantly.

So tonight, I decided to try something else. I figured something they'd both find familiar is simply having someone around, especially someone reading. I spent a few hours simply sitting on the sofa reading a library book. Tigerlily came right out to get scratched. She hung around, jumped into my lap, shed all over me and the book, growled and hissed long distance through the child gate at some of the other cats, and finally curled up on the top of the futon next to my shoulder.

I was gratified, after about an hour, to see Owl poke out from under the sofa. This is a *big* step for him. He crept around me, but quickly ducked into hiding. About an hour later, he poked his head out a second time. Nothing any braver than this, and he still backs away from letting me touch him, but at this stage, I call it an improvement.

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28 JULY 97:
Nothing major to report. We've reached the stage where progress is made in tiny increments. Tigerlily comes out for her scritchies and the obligatory growl in the direction of the other cats.

Owl continues to hide and avoid me, but I did manage to reach way under and scratch his hindquarters at the base of is tail. He arched up into it a little, so now I know he likes butt scratches. He only tolerated it for a few seconds. Then he gave my fingers a sniff before backing out of reach.

My main worry is what he's doing about his waste products. The cat box isn't getting much use, but I can't see or smell unpleasantness elsewhere in the room.

One of them is definitely doing some prowling during the night. I found something knocked down from the top of a stack of boxes. I rather hope it's Owl, as I'd rather him in exploring that hiding all the time.

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31 JULY 97:
I experimented with removing the child gate for part of the day. The gate is only a psychological barrier not a physical one. Any cat can easily jump over it, but they choose not to. A few of the other cats wandered in to be hissed at by Tigerlily. She didn't quite work up the nerve to explore beyond the room, though I sense she'd like to. She's very aggressive. Getting along with other cats is at the bottom of her feline agenda.

I played role reversal with Owl today. He continued staying out of reach, settled into his "cave" (the "A" shaped area formed by two panels of the frame jackknifed in an upright position). I was feeling a bit frustrated, and also don't want him to settle into a permanent state of hiding under the sofa.

So I pulled the sofa partways forward, as I would to extend it to bed length, but I went just far enough to widen out the A-shape. Then I wriggled underneath to join Owl in his cave. He didn't run off immediately. I was able to give him scritches on his head, down his back, even on his ample belly.

He took it for a few minutes before he decided to move away. I wriggled all the way under. Owl left. I found myself in the Owl hiding position with Owl plopped on the floor in the middle of the room staring at me under the futon. It was a silly moment. I was LMAO. It felt like that Monty Python "Confuse A Cat" sketch. I let him stew over the reversal for a few minutes, then wriggled out the other end of the sofa. By which time, of course, Owl had ducked back into his cave. I figured that was enough wormwiggling for the day.

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3 AUG. 97:
There's been a major shake-up in Cat Town, courtesy of Owl.

Yesterday, things were much the same. I gave Owl a cat-treat, which he ate. I gave them each a small bowl of canned cat food. Tigerlily ate with gusto. Owl took one small nibble, then ignored it. I left it there. It was eaten this morning, but I have no way of knowing who ate it.

I'm in good shape with Tigerlily. She comes out to me, trusts me, and enjoys being petted, but she continues to hiss and hide from the other cats. Owl tolerated being scratched or petted when I could manage to reach him under the sofa.

I decided to remove the child gate from the doorway, to encourage more interaction between Tigerlily and the other cats. I was hoping she might even come out and explore a little. I figured the one thing I didn't need to worry about was Owl going anywhere. Wrong. I should have remembered that as soon as you think you know something about a cat, he'll take it upon himself to contradict you. I should have realized that foremost in Owl's furry little brain is the command: ESCAPE.

I came back an hour or so later, found Lil under sofa as usual...and no Owl. I searched the room. I figured he hadn't gone very far, and my bedroom door is immediately adjacent to the guest room.

Sure enough, he was under my bed. He stared at me with twitching, glowing saucer eyes. I laid on the floor and talked soothingly to him. Katie-cat came along and asked me what I was doing. She spotted Owl. Being mostly a sweet and gentle cat, she went over to Owl, exchanged a little sniff with him, then left him alone. I was glad to note that he didn't hiss or growl.

But this gave me the opportunity I wanted, to really get hold of him for the first time. I closed the bedroom door, then opened my bathroom door. When I walked to the other side of the bed, Owl made a mad, low-mo dash for the bedroom door. When I came toward him, he ran under the bed.

I repeated the motions. This time, he looked around in desperation, spotted the bathroom door and I had him! There's nowhere to hide, though he tried the shower stall, did a panic dance on the sink top (didn't break anything), then attempted to become invisible behind the toilet.

I petted him and soothed him. Finally, I hauled him into my lap. Or tried to. We're talking major lap overflow here. I'd say his back 3/4 fit onto my lap. He didn't fight me, which was good, but he jumped down fairly quickly. I sat down on the rug and spent some time with him while I thought about what to do next.

I couldn't leave him in there as I don't have room for a cat box and he would probably not enjoy the shower running. It's too soon to just leave him loose, as my greatest fear is that he might dash out an open door to the outside. And putting him back in the spare room would leave me exactly where I was before.

I decided to transfer him to the guest bathroom. It's good- sized and will still allow me to handle him as much as I want. He *needs* handling. I put a cat box in the tub, put in some food and water, put in a cardboard box he can hide in. I wasn't sure how much he would struggle when I tried to carry him. I decided to put the child gate across the hallway, blocking access to the rest of the house. That way, if he struggled out of my arms, he would be herded back toward the bedrooms.

Meanwhile, other cats were inspecting the spare room while Lil lurked under the sofa. I caught Zorro spraying, which he does every damned chance he has when he gets in there. I yelled him off. He raced down the hallway and bounced off the unexpected gate. He was pretty rattled about that.

The transfer proved easy. Owl didn't give me any trouble when I picked him up and hefted him on one arm. When I put him down in the other bathroom, he stayed in that one spot while he looked around. He didn't panic. He sniffed the edge of the tub, then curled up between the tub and the toilet.

I left him to adjust to that and turned my attention to Tigerlily. I tried to coax her out of the room. She was curious, but dubious. I picked her up, took her into my bedroom and set her down on top of my bed. She jumped right down, but didn't run off in a panic. She sauntered back to the spare room.

I picked her up again, took her to the end of the bedroom hallway and set her down at one edge of the front entrance area, next to the stairs to my loft. She's a deliberate cat, our Miss Lil. She doesn't do things in a hurry. She checks things out. She carefully sniffed her way up the stairs, about halfway to the top before slowly coming back down and retreating to the back room.

I think separating them may work out. I have two different problems that need two approaches. Tigerlily needs to accept the other cats, which means getting exposure to them and the rest of the house. That's her big hurdle.

With Owl, I need to form a bond with him before he goes to ground somewhere and I never see him again. He needs to remember what it means to be handled. He needs to be brushed (that boy can shed). Most importantly, I can finally determine whether or not he's eating. The indications from the cat box have left me worried that he's not eating at all. This way, I'll know for sure.

"The great charm of cats is their rampant egotism, their devil-may-care attitude toward responsibility, their disinclination to earn an honest dollar."

Robertson Davies

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4 AUG. 97:
Things are progressing nicely, much better than I thought they would be when I got up this morning. La Lil was in a foul mood. All I got from her at first were swipes at my feet.

I went to check on Owl. He had disappeared again. Then I remembered being told about his skill at opening doors and cabinets, and tied that into some thumps I heard around 2 am. I tried one cabinet, a second cabinet, and the last remaining cabinet under the bathroom sink. Owl was lurking as far back as he could get, under the pipes, behind the bottles of flea shampoo, conditioners, cleansers, amidst a scattering of potpourri from a bag of it he'd crunched up against.

I pulled everything else out of there, transferred it to a different cabinet, swept out the potpourri, and tried to pet him a bit. The good news is that he definitely ate some food and used the cat box during the night, so I can stop worrying about that. He's not eating much, but given his bulk, he could afford to lose a couple of pounds. {g}

During the day, Tigerlily alternated between sucking up to me and thwapping me. She and Nefreet are soul sisters. They share the same color scheme (black, white and orange), the same beautiful jade eyes, and the same snotty, mercurial temperament. They haven't met yet. I'm not sure I want to be around when they do. La Lil attacked any cat that came within a foot of her. Diva, Sly and Kate all got a taste of her flashing hit and run technique. But she did make more and more forays into the house, when I was around to chaperone and when most of the cats were outside. She came all the way to the kitchen, which is at the opposite end of the house. She even wandered into the back hall/panty/laundry room and sniffed at the cat door.

Around 6pm, I decided to make a concerted effort with Owl. I found him scrunched up behind the open door of the cabinet. I guess his "cave" was no longer good enough with the door open. I closed the cabinet and sat down next to him. He had his head buried under the cabinet overhang in that time-honored feline belief that if he couldn't see me, I wasn't there.

I spent perhaps ten minutes simply giving him long, soothing strokes the length of his body until I sensed the tiniest bit of relaxation. Then I gave him a massage, mostly around the neck and shoulders, some down the back. He purred. He inchwormed a tiny bit closer. I gave him a bellyrub and he really seemed to enjoy that. He inched a tiny bit closer. I kept on with full body treatment for what seemed like forever.

Tigerlily came crying around the door, so I let her in. He perked up a little at seeing her, but all she did was hiss at him and investigate the bathroom. She decided to use me as a launch platform. She leapt onto the top of my back, checked out the sink area, then jumped off me onto the counter. When she decided she'd had enough, I let her out. The whole time I kept petting and massaging Owl.

And then, like a light breaking upon darkness, he opened up. He began to walk around me, taking in the scritchies and petting. He looked at me with eyes that looked more like a normal cat, instead of the wide, twitching stare. He acted more like a normal cat. He even rubbed up against me and responded to my hand gestures to bring his head over for more scratching.

We were at this happy pass, when I heard a bird in mortal torment right outside the bathroom window. I raced outside. Theseus had a mouthful of woodpecker. I figured the bird was doomed because catching Theseus is nearly impossible. And he sure didn't want to give up that bird. I followed him around and around the outside of the house with no luck.

Theseus ducked under the front porch. The woodpecker was carrying on and fluttering around, but I figured it didn't have much time left. I'd just given up and was about to go inside when the woodpecker miraculously escaped, shot out from the porch steps and arrowed off toward a big oak tree down the driveway. It wasn't flying very well and couldn't seem to gain altitude. Theseus was after it at full speed, looking like a racing lion in a documentary on the Serengeti.

I could see the woodpecker wasn't going to make the tree. I raced after Theseus and spooked him into veering off without seeing where the bird went. I know it landed in the tall grasses near the tree. It may likely be beyond recovery, but I still don't like to let my cats prey too much on the local wildlife, with the exception of gophers and mice.

I was able to get Theseus to come inside a few minutes later. He was panting, his eyes wild, his tongue blood-red, a few small feathers dribbling from his mouth. It was the tiger that lurks within every cat. Well...maybe not in Owl, but in most cats. {g} I returned to Owl. He was lying on the floor in a more relaxed position. A big improvement over being in hiding. He took some more attention calmly. After I had dinner, I brought him some pieces of lamb fat. He ate one piece, then seemed to lose interest. He may eat the rest later on.

I'm very heartened by this improvement. The timing could be better, in that I have to go to L.A. tomorrow and will be gone a couple of days. I may have to do this all over again when I get back. At least I've gotten this far.

"Oh cat; I'd say, or pray: be-ootiful cat! Delicious cat! Exquisite cat! Satiny cat! Cat like a soft owl, cat with paws like moths, jewelled cat, miraculous cat! Cat, cat, cat, cat."

Doris Lessing

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8 AUG. 97:
Tigerlily was a little slow to come out and greet me, but was very happy to see me once she did.

I found Owl scrunched up behind the bottles. Y'see, there's one big cabinet under the sink, but the cabinets on either side are divided into two shelves, mainly for towels. Owl had pushed past the shampoos, cleaners, etc. I'd put at the front of the shelves and squished himself into the back.

So I once again moved the objects out. I talked to him, reached in and petted him. He was giving me dubious looks. I left him alone for a while, then the next visit I "assisted" him out of the shelf. It took about, oh, 30 seconds of full body massage for him to remember who I was and that this was good.

He purred, he rolled, he plopped, he got strokes and scritches and belly rubs. He circled around me a lot (I sat on the floor), rubbing against me and butting his head into my hand to get more scritches. He may have regressed, but he recovered quickly. I spent a long time with him until he was more happy and relaxed. I noticed he had a strong hormonal scent that I haven't detected before.

When I stood up, he reacted to me differently. He gave me an odd growly- sound. Not like a threatening growl. More like a complaining "whatcha doing up *there*" growl. He gave me this growl as he circled my legs, while I kept petting him.

What I can't figure is how he manages to get so much cat litter out of the tub and scattered all over the bathroom floor. He has a talent for this.

I checked on him again a little while ago. He hadn't gone back into hiding and was nicely responsive. Tigerlily whined at the door. When I let her in, she did the same thing she did the previous time -- hissed at Owl, then ignored him. I've left her with him for now. I wouldn't want her to forget who he is. {g}

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11 AUG. 97:
We had a breakout last night. Owl went AWOL. You'll notice that AWOL conveniently forms A Owl. {silly g} I put Tigerlily into the bathroom thinking Owl would enjoy her company. She hissed at him, then climbed over the child gate.

This clearly gave him ideas. As I said, I've been leaving the bathroom door open with just the child gate there. When I went to check on Owl later, he was in none of his usual hiding spots. He'd moved back in under the futon sofa. Worse yet, the gains I'd made with him weren't strong enough to get him to move into touching range. Tigerlily furthered complicated things by attacking him when he made a move. Tilly wants *all* the attention when I'm in the room, thenkew.

I took advantage of the relocation to give the bathroom a quick vacuuming, which it urgently needed. I considered leaving him where he was, but I feel the need to have him accept me to the point where he'll come to me in just about any situation.

I tossed Tigerlily into the bathroom for a while to see if I could lure him without her around. Still no go. He'd reverted to staying out of reach. I began stuffing things under the sofa (pillows, etc.) until I flushed him out. He was very annoyed when I grabbed him.

But once I restored him to the bathroom (and let Lil out), he was fine and friendly again, circling around me, rubbing against me, and coming up for scritches. Meanwhile, Madame Lil has been angrily whapping my feet when she doesn't want me to leave. My feet have never been so chastized.

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12 AUG. 97:
OWL'S NON-PEREGRINATIONS: I decided to experiment with Owl. I've kept Tigerlily in the back room with the door closed. I've offered her chances to come out, but she's not ready.

I closed off my bedroom door, then left the bathroom wide open. I decided I'd risk seeing what happened if Owl had the chance to explore the other parts of the house. I don't want him to feel stifled or trapped in that one room.

Hah! When I first opened the door, he made one short foray partway down the hall, then ran for his shelf. He stayed holed up on his shelf, peeking out.

He did come out tonight enough to lie on the floor of the bathroom. He and Artemis had a brief encounter, possibly the beginning of a hot affair to come. She looked in and I'm sure I heard her think, "My, what a big, handsome stud."

She wandered inside, keeping about 1-2 feet away from Owl who was lying next to me being petted. Then he swiftly did a belly-crawl to sniff her butt. She whirled and backed away and gave him "Watch out, buster" growls. He plopped over and played Mr. Cool. She explored some more, curled up, growled at him every few seconds.

He moved around toward the door, she moved toward his water bowl. He decided to slink past her toward the tub. Wrap your mind around this concept -- a sumo wrestler *slinking*. This was a little too much for Artemis who gave him a final growl and dashed out the door.

Sounds like love to me. She could have gotten out of there any time, growls or not, but she choose to hang around. {g}

I'm debating whether I should leave him free to wander during the night. He's get bolder when it's entirely dark and quiet in the house. Problem is, would I be able to find him again in the morning? The rest of the house includes a hellish lot of hiding places. Must think about this.

"Most of us rather like our cats to have a streak of wickedness. I should not feel quite easy in the company of any cat that walked about the house with a saintly expression..."

Beverly Nichols

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13 AUG. 97:
Owl has been resolutely ignoring the Open Door Policy. I saw one glowing eye peeking around the corner of the doorway late last night. I did end up closing the door when I went to bed, but maybe I'll leave it open tonight. He might get braver in the wee hours.

Tigerlily went into the carrier pretty easily, though not happily. We had a conversation on the way to the vet's which went something like this:

TIGERLILY: Meow.
ME: Meow.
TIGERLILY: Meoooww.
ME: Meooww.
TIGERLILY: Meowow.
ME: Aw, poor Tigerlily.
TIGERLILY: MEOWWW!!!
ME: Meow.
TIGERLILY: Meow.
ME: Meow.
TIGERLILY: Meuww.

She was a good girl with the vet. She had some big chunks of plaque picked off her teeth. She was thoroughly examined and found to be in generally good shape.

Except for the real reason I took her in. I've refrained from mentioning it earlier, Jo, because I was hoping it would prove to be something I wouldn't need to mention at all. But at this point, I'm opting for being open and honest rather than covering up that there's a problem.

A few days after she got here, when she had accepted me enough to let me pet her all over, I found some lumps on her uppermost left teat. Based on my previous experience with cats, this set off my alarm bells. I didn't want to take her in until she'd had time to recover from the move and developed some trust in me. I also didn't want to wait too long.

Lumps on a cat are not a good thing and they have to go. I left her for a blood work-up and chest x-ray. The vet called this afternoon to say the blood looks good and the x-ray was clear (nothing has spread to the lungs yet). So tomorrow she has surgery to remove the lumps, and possibly some other areas along that left side that felt as though they could be heading toward being lumps. Once the lumps are removed...we hope for the best. We hope she's a very, very lucky cat.

My vet is the best I've ever encountered, anywhere. She's just excellent, she loves cats, and she's pulled some miracles for me in the past. You can be sure Tigerlily's getting the best care she could possibly get.

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14 AUG. 97:
The news is better than I'd hoped. Tigerlily may prove to be a miracle-kitty after all. The vet's office called around 2:30 to let me know she'd come through the surgery just fine. I spoke to the vet who did the surgery (the only male in the office!) and he was extremely optimistic. He says he would normally be more cautious about what he said, but he feels fairly sure that they were benign. There was no involvement of the lymph nodes, no other problems, plus they looked and felt like fibroid masses.

He said, "She did great and is already waking up with a pissed off expression on her face." That's our Miss Lil. :D

Of course, we won't know for sure until they get the results of the biopsy in 5-7 days, but he sounded reasonably confident. I'll be able to pick her up tomorrow. Then I have to give her antibiotics for two weeks. I'll bet *that* will be fun.

Mr. Owl, Cat Burglar, Midnight Rambler, Sumo Cabinet Wrestler, clearly investigated the kitchen sometime during the night. I found one cabinet door wide open, a drawer pulled slightly open, and a bottle of Comet lying on the floor outside another cabinet. {g} He was asleep in the bathroom sink when I got up. I was bothered that he jumped out and hid when I came in, until I realized I had five other cats on my heels waiting to be let out for the morning romp. He was probably reacting to them as much as to me.

I'm hoping he'll get a little bit braver each night.

"When my cats aren't happy, I'm not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they're just sitting there thinking up ways to get even."

Penny Ward Moser

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15 AUG. 97:
Owl did get a little braver last night. We're talking tiny increments, of course. I must have left the door to the spare room ajar when I vacuumed because I found Owl under the futon sofa again before I went to bed. I was too tired to bother doing anything about it.

Instead, I took the cat box, food and water out of the room, so he'd have to come out for one of the three necessities sooner or later.

Around 5:30, I heard the sound of litter being kicked around in the bathroom. I got up and saw Owl dash out of the bathroom, but instead of darting back into the bedroom, he ran toward the kitchen, then ran around the house a bit. I closed off the spare bedroom and went back to bed.

At least the other cats weren't harassing him. When he dashed out of the bathroom, he found himself face to face with three of them in the hallway. He went to ground for few seconds, then dashed through them. I think my cats are more perplexed than anything else. They don't quite know what to make of a fast slinky sumo-cat.

A couple hours later, when the cats wanted to go out, I went searching for Mr. Owl. The same cabinet was open in the kitchen, but he wasn't in it. (I realized later he doesn't like that one because the door doesn't close behind him. I looked all around the house, then the obvious struck me. I went back to the kitchen, to the cabinet under the sink, opened it...and there he was. He leapt out right past me and raced to the safety of his bathroom shelf.

He did deign to come off the shelf once today to let me pet him for a few minutes. I decided it's time for the next Major Phase in turning him into a full house cat. I took the cat box, food and water out of his bathroom (and put them into the spare room for Madame Lil).

With the spare room closed off, he now has to use one of the six communal cat boxes in the utility hall, drink from one of the two large communal water bowls, and eat from one of the seven communal cat bowls around the kitchen and dining room area.

I had several errands to do in town, and had lunch, then picked up Tigerlily. She was a hit at the vet's. They said she was so good and sweet and easy to deal with. Hunh? {g} She has big old stitches on her chest, of course, but otherwise seems to be in great shape. She was very glad to get back to her room. She walked circles around me, rolled, plopped, purred, ate a little, drank a lot of water, and gave me a solid whap on the foot when I turned to leave.

"Cats can be very funny, and have the oddest ways of showing they're glad to see you. Rudimace always peed in our shoes."

W.H. Auden

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19 AUG. 97:
Miss Lil continues to do great, no problems. She's been such a happy girl, she hasn't even whacked my feet. She became Tigress Incarnate-alert, ready, fierce-- when she heard a couple of my cats fighting outside. When I got up this morning, I caught sight of Owl sumo- slinking into the kitchen and letting himself into one of my corner cabinets. These corner cabinets have a double- tier, rotating shelf system. I tiptoed up and Owl was lurking amidst the spices and seasonings. The instant he saw me, though, he shot out and raced to the bathroom shelf.

So far, he ignores my encouragement to come into the kitchen and hang out. Once a night, I'll gather his heavy bod up, transport him to the kitchen, set him down with his nose pointed at some food, and hope he'll stay put. Not yet.

Last night, he got peeved enough to growl at me when I tried to nudge him off his shelf for another try. I've decided he's not thrilled with me because I have trouble taking him seriously. He's such a silly cat with his hiding and slinking. Given his size, it's like Godzilla trying to sneak through Tokyo without being noticed. If he could speak, he'd be doing a Rodney Dangerfield, "I don't get no respect." Poor baby. {g}

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if he takes a year or two to finally come around. I've had cats that have taken that long to fully settle in, and I can see large dollops of stubbornness in Mr. Owl.

===============================================================
20 AUG. 97:
There's an odd mix of bad-good news on Tigerlily. The vet called to give me the results of the biopsy. The lumps they removed are malignant BUT it looks like they got it all. The tissue around the lumps was healthy, there's no indication that it spread to any other part of her body, and the pathologist gave an unusually optimistic evaluation. It looks like it was caught early enough before it had a chance to spread.

So she may be more of a miracle kitty than I first thought. I've been advised that if it does come back, it'll likely be in that same spot, so I'm supposed to check a couple times a month for signs of new lumps. Owl's being a hermit. He won't come out for me and is being most reclusive, though he will purr when I contort myself to pet him on his shelf.

"If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man but deteriorate the cat."

Mark Twain

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23 AUG. 97:
In Which Tigerlily has a Coming Out Party and Owl becomes Upwardly Mobile.

Tigerlily cried last night as I was going to bed, but she wouldn't be coaxed out of the guest bedroom. She wanted me to stay in there with her. I wasn't about to turn her out of the room and listen to close encounters of the feline kind all night. But this morning, after I'd let the rest of the Horde out, I carried her out into the kitchen and informed her she was Coming Out. She ran right back toward the bedroom, but found the door closed. She's not happy about this and hasn't gotten any happier as the day has progressed.

She's been wandering around, going as far as to explore the kitchen counter and jump onto the dining room table while I was eating dinner. When I had a nap from about 6- 8, she cuddled up to me on the bed, tickled my face with her whiskers, and touched my nose with her paw. This is what ended my nap. {g}

Alas, since then she's been extremely upset with me because I keep lecturing her to calm down. She's been complaining, hissing and jumping other cats all day. I had to give her a whack on the head at one point.

She glared daggers at me. She's been giving me *hard* whaps with more claw than usual. I was boxed severely around the hand while giving her a lecture on the kitchen counter. Miss Lil was *pissed*.

Meanwhile, Owl found a new place to roost, what used to be Hubble's favorite spot when he was first settling in - - the top of the kitchen cabinets. They're nice and high, so he can look down over everything, avoid me and the other cats, and feel invisible. He mostly is invisible. I can just barely see his eyes glaring down at me. He's trying to play Scottish Fold with his ears, which is pretty funny. He didn't budge from there all day. While I was eating dinner, he must have snuck down as I saw him lying in the front hallway. For a big cat, he's incredibly silent in motion. He ran off as soon as I tried to get close to him, though.

Sigh...Jo, I'm afraid both your cats are mightily miffed with me right now. If you were here, they would have a long list of complaints and grievances to lodge against me. And in my mind's ear, I hear you telling them, "Tough, get used to it." {g}

"A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks,eyes blazing and sputtering."

William S. Burroughs

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24 AUG. 97:
I finally managed to score some time with Owl last night. He stayed put under the bed long enough for me to crawl under there and give him scritches all over. I was delighted when he even responded by coming a bit closer, rather than moving off right away. Today he's back on his roost.

Tigerlily made nice when I went to bed. She wrapped herself around my head, then crawled under the covers and snuggled up to me. She didn't stay there all night, as she resents sharing the bed or me with the other cats.

She's found herself the perfect hiding spot within a jumble of boxes I have stored under the stairs to the loft. They're open stairs, so she squeezes through them to appear on the small landing near the bottom. But she's rather like the Troll under the bridge, because she won't let the other cats up or down the stairs unless they're willing to brave her ferocious self. They've developed tactics like leaping onto the landing from the backside and rocketing up the stairs before Tilly has time to strike.

"Cats have intercepted my footsteps at the ankle for so long that my gait, both at home and on tour, has been compared to that of a man wading through low surf."

Roy Blount, Jr

But with Tigerlily around, it looks more like St. Vitus' Dance. {g}

===============================================================
25 AUG. 97:
We make progress in little steps. Miss Lil is wandering around a trifle more boldly, though she incurred my wrath and was Severely Lectured this afternoon because she went after Sassy rather viciously. Fortunately, Sassy doesn't take such things too seriously. She's giving Tilly a wider berth than before, but isn't too intimidated.

Pretty much all the cats go, "Oh, a loony. Let's avoid her." I'll have to apply tough love to Tigerlily, same as I had to with Nefreet. When she's not busy being the Troll, Miss Lil likes to hang out on my lap.

Owl daringly came down off his roost *in the daylight* and while I was *in the kitchen*! He made sure I wasn't too close, but he bounced on down. Then he didn't run off and hide, he kind of hung around outside the kitchen and watched me make lunch. He wouldn't let me get near him, but he's clearly more relaxed and curious about what I'm up to.

He spent the rest of the day under the bottom two steps to the loft where I was able to stop and pet him a few times. He's moving about more freely and hasn't had tiffs with the other cats, thank Bast.

"One cat is tabby with emerald eyes,
And a tail that's long and slender,
And into a temper she quickly flies
If you ever by chance offend her."

Thomas Hood

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26 AUG. 97:
Tilly the Troll went out of her way to inspire terror last night. She's been attacking cats as they try to get up or down the loft stairs, and she's really gone after Sassy in a fierce way. Fortunately, Sassy doesn't seem excessively fazed by this, but I can't let it continue unchecked.

So I rearranged the boxes under the stairs and blocked off that one particular space she was lurking through. She resorted to lurking under the very bottom step, where Owl was hanging out yesterday. She has to bellycrawl to get under that one. That's good because it doesn't allow her to make a fast attack. Today I called the vet and I picked up some kitty valium for her. {g} Yes, really. I had to do this when Nefreet was totally psycho. What I'm trying to do is break the cycle of aggression rather than let it settle into a set pattern. It's only a temporary thing, to take off a bit of her edge.

She got slightly wobbly at first, but once she got over that the main effect was she wouldn't get her nose out of my dinner. I gave her some nice lamb tidbits to placate her.

Owl's going back and forth between his high cabinet roost and his under-the-bed hideout. I tried giving him some of the lamb tidbits, but he ignored it.

He seems to have developed, or has, a worrisome penchant for eating plastic bags. I've been finding chewed up plastic bags in the back hall, then regurgitated bits of plastic show up on the floor later on. Actually, it was the other way around. I'd find these bizarre piles of mysterious vomitatious Stuff, and finally figured out what it was.

I've never actually caught him in the act, but I'm pretty sure it must be him. I've moved the bags to a different location to get them out of his reach.

"I'm used to dogs. When you leave them in the morning they stick their nose in the door crack and stand there like a portrait until you turn the key eight hours later. A cat would never put up with that kind of rejection. When you returned, she'd stalk you until you dozed off and then suck the air out of your body."

Erma Bombeck

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27 AUG. 97:
A stoned Tigerlily is a funny thing. But she is resisting the one thing I wanted the Valium to do, of course. She's still hissing and being aggressive. But she's more insistent about wanting to be close to me, so she's been prowling more. She's knocking over things a lot. {g}

Last night, she actually came all the way up to the loft. This didn't last long because she found herself in close, cramped quarters surrounded by the loft gang (Achilles, Tribble, Kate), as well as Diva. Tilly and Diva have big Hissathons when they encounter one another.

When I went to bed, Miss Lil crawled under the covers and stayed there all night! She never got in my way or impeded me, even though I tend to turn over a lot. Owl's been Owling it. Roosting on the cabinets, coming down midday when I start doing things in the kitchen, retreating beneath the bed, hanging out a little, and staying well out of my reach. Sigh...

"Cats don't like change without their consent."

Roger A. Caras

===============================================================
28 AUG. 97:
In which Tigerlily goes Undercover. Tigerlily repeated her performance of spending the entire night sleeping under the covers. I've decided not to give her any more the kitty-valium. It was messing up her equilibrium. I worry about her being hurt because she's off-balance and can't jump properly (exacerbated by having moderate arthritis in her hips and rear legs). When she failed her first two jumps to get onto the bed, that clinched it.

Besides, it only seemed to work the wrong way. It didn't take any of the edge off her aggression. She was woozy, clumsy, and had the munchies, and that's about it. Oddly, she's been pretty good today. She actually sniffed at Sassy, and has been within a few feet of Hubble, Sassy and Artemis without going on the offense.

OTOH, she doesn't seem to have the word "no" in her vocabulary. This isn't to say she's never heard it. {g} She just refuses to let it apply to her. She was on the kitchen counter sticking her nose all over my food as I tried to fix dinner. She was getting a sharp "no!" and a tap on the head, and lawdy, did she get pissed with me. I persist in disciplining her, though, so she'll have to get used to it. {snicker} I finally had to flick water in her face.

Owl spent the day under the bed, courtesy of the plumber arriving at 9:30 to install my new water filtration system. I went looking for Tigerlily at one point and began to worry when I couldn't find her anywhere. I was in the bedroom asking Owl if he'd seen her (he refused to say), when I heard a small "meep".

I looked around. Then I spotted a subtle lump making like a submarine under the bed covers. Yes, she played Lump all day. She's been out and about tonight, and so has Owl. I looked up from watching the news in the living room and was surprised to see him lounging casually on the kitchen counter. He hung around the immediate outside boundary of the kitchen while I made dinner, but still won't let me approach him unless I crawl under the bed. He allows me 30 seconds of scritches, then saunters off, leaving me to worm my way out again.

I must get a photo of him in his full sitting up Siamese prince position, with the body upright and the front legs together. His body and tonal coloration come together to form an exquisite piece of art.

"The Cheshire Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had *very* long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt it ought to be treated with respect."

Lewis Carroll

===============================================================
29 AUG. 97:
Miss Lil only spent part of the night under the covers with me, then returned in the morning. Her big excitement for the day was going to the vet's to have her stitches removed. She was very good--pardon me, there's a major cat altercation going on downstairs. Be right back.

That was interesting. It involved Nefreet, Owl and Sly. Nefreet rocketed to high ground in the living room. Owl and Sly were facing off. Owl's tail was puffed out for miles. I Had Words with them. Owl stalked off and Sly backed off. I have no idea who was the picker and who was the pickee. Sly is fairly aggressive and Nefreet is nasty to any cat, but I got the sense Owl was participating, too. When I went downstairs, Owl retreated to the bedroom.

Owl continues to avoid me like the plague. I accidentally came upon him in the pantry hallway. He was on the washing machine. He panicked and make a graceful leap across three cat boxes, thus escaping right past me. I *almost* coaxed him over to me afterwards. He sniffed my fingers, but that was it. Where was I? Miss Lil behaved very nicely at the vet's. She's healed up beautifully from the surgery. No problem there. I discussed what happened with the Valium. I now have her on Elavil, which is an anxiety reducing drug rather than a trank. So she's gone from kitty-valium to kitty-prozac, so to speak. {g} We'll see how it goes. So far, she's been her usual temperamental self, growling and hissing. I gave her a cat couch amidst the boxes under the stairs and she's been enjoying that a lot.

"Most beds sleep up to six cats. Ten cats without the owner."

Stephen Baker

===============================================================
30 AUG. 97:
La Lill slept with me again, but has been her usual irrascible self today. I had a helluva time getting the half a pill down her throat. They must be bitter because she foamed a bit after spitting it out the first time. I succeeded by hiding it inside some butter.

I've decided that Owl is the arrogant King of Siam, who is too royal and lofty of personage to bother with me. {g} I am barely worthy of having my fingers sniffed. I may not approach closer than 6 feet or I am snubbed. His eyes tell me, "You are not worthy of my majesty."

Except when avoiding my insufferable presence, he does hang out in the hall, on the washing machine, under the bed and on top of the kitchen cabinets.

"Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you."

Mary Bly

===============================================================
2 SEPT. 97:
Owl has discovered the loft. He ran up here a couple of days ago in one of his mad panics to escape me. Then he found the nice, big cave that runs along one entire side of the loft's sloping roof.

I was hoping he'd find the loft eventually and would hang out up here because it puts him in proximity to me while I'm working at the computer, and I'm hoping those familiar sounds will also help bring him around.

But for the time being, he practices Extreme Avoidance. He dashes down when I'm up and up when I'm down. Not always, but most of the time. I haven't been able to pet him for quite a while. I check on him a few times a day just so I know where he is. Otherwise, I'm pretty much leaving him alone and settling in for the long wait.

Tigerlily's been her usual irascible self, picking fights and chasing a few of the cats. Nothing serious, but it has unsettled the other moggies somewhat. I've taken Miss Lil off all medications, as nothing seems to help. She's not sleeping with me the way she was. She might crawl under the covers briefly, but without the kitty-valium, she's less cuddle-prone. {g}

"I love cats. I love their grace and their elegance. I love their independence and their arrogance, and the way they lie and look at you, summing you up, surely to your detriment, with that unnerving, unwinking, appraising stare."

Joyce Stranger

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5 SEPT. 97:
I found the perfect description for Owl. The Sumo Ninja! An enormous, but utterly silent and invisible cat.

But he does kind of hang around well out of my reach, sometimes even out in the open space of the hallway. As I think I've said before, I expect only the passage of time will bring Owl around. Meanwhile, he seems to be faring pretty well.

Even Miss Lil has been slightly more relaxed (a relative term in her case). She has her nice bed under the stairs. She's slowly getting the word that picking on the other cats is a no-no. She even cuddled up to me and tried to purr me to sleep last night, though only for a short while. So I'm guessing we've reached a plateau with a long period of very gradual adjustment to follow.

"The little furry buggers are just deep, deep wells you throw all your emotions into."

Bruce Schimmel

===============================================================
8 SEPT. 97:
Tigerlily's been fairly good. No serious tiffs, though she still grows and rowls when she feels closed in by another cat, but she's doing much better than she was.

Owl remains in avoidance, though he will lie about in the hallway more openly, as long as I don't get too close. Though tonight, he nearly walked into the living room with me, but that's because he had his nose up Diva's butt and whither went her butt went he. But this afternoon, I had a severe shock. I was heading for the back door, on my way out of the house. Though it was only about 3:30, I decided to block off the cat door. I slid the metal panel down. I paused to transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer when I heard the metal panel rattle, and knew a cat was trying to get inside.

I opened the door.

IT WAS OWL!!! Right outside the cat door, with about 4 other cats in attendance. Talk about being frozen with astonishment. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. In those few seconds, Owl darted past me and into the house, thank Bast. Imagine the horror of trying to ever catch Owl on the outside.

This certainly complicates matters. I don't know whether he was investigating the cat door on his own, or whether he was in the back hall when I entered and ran out the door in a panic. Either way, it means I'll have to keep the cat door closed off from now on, which means letting my Horde in and out manually all day. Oy. Or I risk Owl getting out. Not something I want to contemplate right now.

What a cunning sumo ninja he is.

"Prowling his own quiet backyard or asleep by the fire, he is still only a whisker away from the wilds"

Jean Burden

===============================================================
12 Sept. 97:
Miss Lil has been doing pretty well. She's more responsive to being scolded. This doesn't mean she likes it any more than she did, but she's getting the message. Sort of. {g} She's been getting more and more curious about the outside, so today I let her come out and have a wander on the front porch. She sniffed around the wood, the doormat, the jasmine vines, but didn't go down the steps. She was jumpy and ran inside the house the first time she was spooked, but not the second time. I ended up having to scoop her up and carry her inside, since I couldn't stand out there supervising her indefinitely. She may have the makings of a safe outdoor cat, which would be good.

Owl's main hideout is now the loft. He's willing to slink up and down the stairs while I'm working at the computer. His Avoidance Tolerance Range is shrinking by tiny amounts. Last night, he sat and watched me working for a few minutes before going into hiding.

He ran out from under the bed while I was changing from jeans to sweatpants and nearly ran over my toes. *That* was something he's never done before. Usually when I accidentally "trap" him in the bedroom, he waits for me to go into the bathroom or leave or get into bed before making his escape.

And this evening, wonder of wonders, I got him to play with a ball. He was about 6 feet away. I find plastic practice golf balls (the ones filled with holes) make excellent cat toys. It rolled to a stop a few inches to the side of him. He seemingly ignored it.

I remained where I was, kneeling down to give scritchies to Blue.

After a couple of minutes, Owl POUNCED! Whack! The ball was his. He rolled over and held it in his front paws like an otter with a rock. Then he give it a couple of swift back feet disembowelment kicks. I grabbed the camera, but Owl is well versed in Cat Lore: Thou Shalt Stop Doing That Cute Thing The Instant A Human Points A Camera At You. Sigh...so no shots of Owl playing with the ball just yet. I tried rolling another one at him, which he batted around a couple of times.

It's a start. Tigerlily, on the other hand, has no interest at all in balls. She sniffs at them and writes them off. But she's a speed demon when it comes to chasing string. {g}

"If you want to be a psychological novelist and write about human beings, the best thing you can do is keep a pair of cats."

Aldous Huxley

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14 Sept. 97:
I'm pleased to report that Tigerlily is finally adding a little bit of meat to her bones. She was very thin when she got here, possibly in some part due to the tumors. Can't say for sure. I could feel her pelvic bones sharply protruding at the base of her tail, and now they have a small amount of padding on them, plus she's generally filled out some. She's still quite svelte, but I'm glad to see the change.

Owl nearly crashed into my feet tonight. He was chasing one of my cats. I didn't see who it was. All I registered was a furry streak between my legs, then Owl crashed to a halt at my feet. In typical cat fashion, he was so intent on the chase, he didn't quite register I was there until I scolded him. Then he ran. {g} I'm not sure if this was aggression or an attempt to play. I need more observation to determine that.

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not."

Ernest Hemingway

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18 Sept. 97:
I decided it's time to expand the Owl & Tigerlily report to something more general.

Diva has further perfected her wake-up technique. She batted my wristwatch across the bedroom floor, under the bed and out the other side behind a floor mirror where I would never have found it in a million years. Fortunately, I'm a light sleeper and very much attuned to sounds. I recognized the sound of my watch being batted to kingdom come, staggered out of bed, rescued watch and let the nutso moggies out.

Maybe it's the full moon, but the aggravated assaults continue. I'm worried about the way Diva is being picked on. Nefreet jumped her outside. Inside, she and Tigerlily have a pronounced antagonism.

On my way home from L.A., I stopped off at Trader Joe's in Fresno where I discovered they have a brand of those cardboard catscratching boxes, but theirs come with "organic" catnip. {snarf} Anyway, I brought a couple home. They contained a large package of catnip. I guess the organic stuff must be pretty good as I had some truly loopy cats for the rest of the evening.

Owl took over one of them for hours and became downright mellow. So mellow, I was able to sit on the floor near him, then carefully scoot over a few inches at a time until I was finally able to pet him. I touched the elusive Owl! He only allowed it for about a minute and only because of the catnip, I suspect.

So I guess this means I'll have to get Owl stoned in order to pet him. {g}

I've noticed something about how cats reacts to catnip. According to one of my cat books, whether or not a cat likes catnip depends upon a certain gene. But I've observed that amongst cats who have the gene to respond to catnip, they fall into two basic categories as human drunks do: happy drunks and aggressive drunks.

Tigerlily, of course, got quite aggressive after rolling around on the catnip. Artemis got so bloody excited she punctured my hand because I wasn't spreading out the catnip quickly enough. Even the usually placid Katie-cat turned into a stroppy bitch and kept attacking Nefreet. Hubble rolled around and stayed mellow, same as Owl.

Oh, when I got back from L.A., I was greeted with an editorial comment -- cat sh*t under my bed. I could smell it, but it took me a few minutes to find it. Owl greeted me this morning with a nice, big hairball in the foyer. He's been avoiding me all day, lest I dare to pet him again.

Miss Lil, however, gets into my lap any time I sit down to read. She still doesn't come up to the loft, though. Instead, I have Achilles overflowing my lap where he greatly interferes with my ability to type.

"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet."

Colette

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20 Sept. 97:
Diva, in keeping with her position as the Imp from Hell, knocked over the long-suffering spiderplant in the living room yet again.

Spiderplants have to be the toughest plants in the world. I have two big pots of multiple spiderplants in the living room. They are completely flat because Achilles takes his naps on them in the warm sun of the afternoon. It doesn't matter how many times I chase him off or squirt him, the next day he's back there for another nap. This one pot has been knocked over, been rattled and abused. Yet these plants hang on and even thrive...in a flat sort of way.

But it meant the Horde had to deal with THE MONSTER. I had cat grenades going off left and right when I dragged out the vacuum cleaner monster to clean up the spilled dirt. The older ones, like Zorro and Achilles, are blase. Nefreet and Tigerlily weren't overly worried. Unicom wreaked such havoc, I had to boot him out. Nefreet is a totally different cat outdoors than indoors. Indoors, she gets picked on and is extremely defensive. Outdoors, she reverts to being the bitch-queen. I was watering the lilac and rose bushes when I saw Nefreet chase Diva the entire length of the front yard. Diva complained to me in great detail later on.

Had an odd moment late last night. I was in my loft at the computer when I noticed a stream of perturbed cats coming up the stairs, including some who almost never come upstairs, like Theseus. Then they perched along the railing looking downstairs as though something worrisome were below. I went down, looked around, checked outside along the back deck. Nada. They were seeing an Invisible Thing, I guess.

Owl's been spending more time hanging out in the open. He's abandoned the top of the kitchen cabinets. He's still getting off on the catnip scratching box, though he's not letting me get close to him again. When I came home tonight, I even found him sitting on the dining room table. He didn't jump down, either, not until I had to come past the table to check my answering machine.

IOW, he's getting cheekier. He hasn't decided he likes me yet. I can see it in his eyes. He's decided he has to tolerate me, but that's as far as it goes right now.

At least, Miss Lil loves me. She greets me, comes to me, jumps in my lap, purrs for me, and I've hardly had my foot whapped in weeks. Only a couple of times.

"To err is human, To purr is feline."

Robert Byrne

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21 Sept. 97:
Not much to report. A vomiting spree has left the house riddled with hairball mines I have to clean up. Owl managed to find plastic or paper to eat for his projectile.

Tigerlily's been munching on a squash plant in the dining room. I can't figure out what the story is with this squash plant. I planted the seeds from a store-bought squash, it great like topsy, sported dozens of flowers...but not a single squash has grown. And it was there long before Miss Lil began munching, so it's not her fault.

Diva did her Goth Princess routine. She came inside with a filmy white cobweb covering her dainty black nose. Later, she got rid of that and came in with an ear covered with leaves artfully dangling in cobweb.

"They say the test of literary power is whether a man can write an inscription. I say, 'Can he name a kitten?'"

Samuel Butler

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22 Sept. 97:
Doomed, doomed, doomed. A CURSE ON YOUR HEAD, BAST! MAY THE FLEAS OF A THOUSAND MANGY DOGS INFEST YOUR LOINS!!!

She did it to me again. Cat #18 has arrived. It's like this...over the weekend, my petsitter called. She stops by Doug's house 3 days a week to feed the fish and check things out, thereby saving me the trip (Doug pays her, of course).

Anyway, she called to say there was a black cat at the house. Has to belong to a neighbor, I figured. It's been months since I brought Sly home and he was the last cat around there.

I needed to stop by the house myself, so I decided to go today. As soon as I got out of the car, a small black twin of Diva ran over and talked to me non-stop. She talked and talked and talked. She not only looks almost identical to Diva, but sounds almost identical to her.

I have a packet of emergency cat food in the car, so I fed her. She was very hungry, but obviously in excellent condition. I did what I had to do there, but she stayed underfoot and kept talking, almost incessantly. She gave me a couple of love-bites, one on the toe.

She had to be related to Diva, maybe a sister. There was no hope for me. I scooped her up and drove straight to my vet's to get some Advantage put on her before I took her home. She was excellent in the car, though she gave me an earful about it.

She got a quick exam, enough to confirm her good condition (small cat, weighs 8 lbs.), that she's been fixed, and that she's a least a year or so older than Diva (told from the teeth--a chipped canine and a lot of plaque). She has to be at least 2, maybe 3 years old.

She has the same sweet, affectionate, easy-going temperament as Diva. I brought her inside and watched. Cats are visually oriented, so the reactions were pretty funny. They would assume it was Diva, and cruise up to her as usual, only to suddenly face a hissing stranger. Then they'd stop, confused, and try a tentative sniff which confused them even further. I have a whole house full of very confused cats.

She quickly emigrated to the loft where she sprawled comfortably next to my desk chair. I called Bridget McKenna (this was also her house, before she and Doug split up) to get the scoop, as I now has the suspicion this was Diva's mother. We're 99% sure she is. She had her litter, Bridget's daughter Marti took one or two of them, and Diva was the one they couldn't catch when they moved out.

Momma cat disappeared quite a while ago. They never could find her, nor had they gotten around to naming her. Bridget couldn't remember getting her fixed, though they may have. Clearly, someone's been taking good care of her, or she wouldn't be in such good shape. I don't know why she returned to her previous house. Maybe someone in the area would love to have her back. I'll have to put up some signs and make an attempt to find out, at least.

There was absolutely no recognition factor between mother and daughter. They hissed at one another and are staying clear. I find this is typical. Cats have notoriously bad memories for kin. My biggest problem is telling them apart. They're the same size and all black. Diva is slightly more angular and elongated (longer tail, a slightly longer and more narrow face). But it's a very slight difference. Diva's eyes are pure gold while this one has a bit of jade in hers. She sure talks as much as Diva in the same fashion, but at a slightly lower register. Diva has the true Siamese, piercing voice. So I guess I have, what, a soprano and alto-soprano (contralto)?

If I end up keeping her (awright, you can pick yourselves off the floor, it's not *that* funny), I'm calling her Kiri. Anybody know why? (quick cultural literacy test, here).

I've decided that Owl's proper title is Lord. Lord Owl. He has a couple of new hanging-out spots. On the dining room table. Next to the dining room screen door. On the bottom shelf of a bookshelf halfway between the living room and front door area. I continue to be beneath his Lordship's notice.

Tigerlily has taken to hanging out in the dining room next to one of the catnip scratching boxes. Katie-cat is losing some of her blimpiness. I think the new "light diet" food has helped her. I have to give Zorro this food because of his diabetes, which means all the cats get it. She's still a hefty girl, but she looks better as less of a blimpo.

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23 Sept. 97:
Diva's mother has settled in with lightning speed and little hassle. She and Diva still hiss at one another, the silly beasties. There's been plenty of nose- sniffing with the other cats with little trouble.

I've decided against Kiri, because it sounds too similar to Querida and I like to avoid audio confusion. I'm now favoring Tosca. All I know about Tosca is that it's a famous opera and a famous female role. I'm sure, being opera, there's some tragic story to go with it. I like the sound of the name, though.

I have a history of ending up with twin black cats. I've had two sets of long- haired, black, twin brothers. Today, while letting the cats outside, I thought she was Diva and let her out. I realized it a few seconds later, and luckily she was too confused about the back deck to run off. I was able to scoop her up and bring her back in. I may have to get Tosca a collar for a quick visual ID.

This assumes I keep her. I put up "Found" signs in three locations, two in the tiny town near Doug's house, and one in the big Raley's in Oakhurst.

The cat I'm most tempted to find a new home for is Blue. He's becoming an aggressive trouble-maker. He's such a sweet boy to me, but he continuously attacks Nefreet... like right now. Pardon me while I go yell at him.

Lord Owl was daring last night. He wanted to retreat to his cave here in the loft, but didn't want to walk past one of the cats in his way, so he actually slunk right behind my chair, even though I was in it. He's been awfully scarce today, though.

Theseus is a little miffed that Tosca has taken over *his* spot on the sofa.

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24 Sept.97:
I've had a number of small spats, none related to Tosca. She's eased right in. Her main confusion seems to be why she's being kept inside a house.

I found Hubble trouncing Blue. Then Zorro picked on Sly. Blue picked on Nefreet. Diva hissed at Tosca. And so on. Tigerlily's been remarkably self-contained through all this, though I think she chased somebody at one point.

A little while ago, someone streaked up the stairs. When I looked over, I saw Owl race up after, then stop dead when I said, "What are you up to, Owl?" He thought about it for a minute, then retreated down the stairs. I looked to see who he'd been chasing. It was either Blue or Kate, but I suspect it was Blue.

I still can't say whether it's true aggression or an aggressive form of play. Blue didn't seem too terribly upset and he went back downstairs a couple minutes later.

Tosca has a thing for my rubber thongs. She's been stretching her nails on them.

I made swordfish for lunch (bought it for dinner last night, then was too tired to bother with it). I thought it had an odd taste, so the cats had a large serving of swordfish, to their delight.

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25 Sept. 97:
I was ready to turn Blue into hyena bait last night. I kept warning him to leave Nefreet alone. Next thing I know, he has her trapped under a stair and is beating her up. I chased him through the house for five minutes until I finally cornered him (he *knew* he was in for it). I held his head under a tap and rinsed his brains. He sucked up to me today, but I'm waiting to see if he really got the message.

I found Owl sprawled regally on the upper tier of my two- tier kitchen counter. He even stayed put, until I aimed the Dreaded Camera in his direction, then whooooooosh. I found him up there again later on. Last night, I got him to pause on his way out of the loft and come over and *almost* sniff my fingers. But blasted Diva had to get in the way and hiss at him.

I was standing at the door to the back deck in my bedroom enjoying the cool morning breeze full of promise-rain, when Nefreet raced in with Owl on her heels. He was definitely chasing her, but he stopped at the entrance to the bedroom. If it's aggression, it's a mild type. Nefreet wasn't wildly upset as she would be if Blue were chasing her, for example.

Since I didn't move or make a sound, he didn't realize I was in the room. He paused there, thought about what he felt like doing next, and sauntered out.

Sassy had a wonderful time in the light rain. She hardly seemed to notice it. I couldn't get her to come inside and finally had to nab her later in the afternoon. Most of the cats wanted to caper in the rain, even though they got a little wet.

I accidentally let Tosca outside twice today thinking she was Diva. It's a good thing she willingly comes to me instead of running away. I decided I *must* get her a collar. I don't like putting collars on my cats, but I'm having too much trouble telling them apart.

She's now sporting a spiffy little red collar. She's obviously never had one before, as she was doing contortions trying to get the odd thing off.

Bloody Theseus managed to knock the rolling screen door in the dining room off its track, then squeezed out through the opening. I've had Unicom knock the door off the track by running into it hard enough, but that was only because he was running to get out and I didn't get the door open fast enough. What Theseus did was pure cunning. Which is bad news, because that screen door is the main way I get air flow through the house.

Theseus has some Houdini in him. One time, he also managed to get out the cat door after I'd closed it with the sliding metal panel. But I hadn't pushed it all the way down. Theseus figured out he could use that small space to lever the panel up and squeeze out.

Speaking of squeezing through small spaces, I found Unicom sleeping in my car this afternoon. To get inside, he had to squeeze through the very small opening I left in the window. I don't like to shut the windows all the way when it's warm because my car turns into a microwave. I thought the space was way too narrow for a big cat like Uni. Wrong!

However, it does solve one mystery -- several times lately he's shown up with a limp, as though his shoulder hurt. He had the same limp when I startled him out of the car. He must be getting a mild injury doing the squeeze inside. Silly cat. It also explains where he goes at night, and why it takes him a while to answer when I call.

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26 Sept. 97:
I just realized that the 24th was the two month anniversary of Owl and Tigerlily arriving at Moggy Manor aka Cat Heaven.

After two months, Tigerlily is about as integrated as she'll ever be, I suspect. She sticks mainly to the kitchen, dining room, living room and front hall area. She doesn't have a lot of spats, but still occasionally growls. She's calmed down a lot. She's very affectionate with me and we have a nice bond.

Owl continues to avoid me and ignore me when I say his name, but he comes out into the open more frequently. He's definitely chasing Nefreet. I actually saw him stalk her in the dining room and ended up having to chase after him while he chased her. It's a distressing development. Poor Nefreet gets chased and picked on a lot and doesn't seem to be fighting back the way she used to. Then again, when she's outside, I've seen her turn on Diva and chase her.

I keep finding chewed up, regurgitated bits of paper and/or plastic, which I've nicknamed "owl pellets". Tosca woke me up at dawn by climbing the bedroom screen door. I squirted her with water a few times, but she'd just come back and climb the screen again. I finally had to get up and slide the glass door shut. When I woke up hours later, I found Tosca curled up next to me on the bed.

I made the mistake of leaving Unicom inside when I left the house for several hours. When I got back, I found tufts of white and black, and orange fur scattered on the bedroom floor. Uni and Knobby must have had another one of their nasty fights, though they both seem to be fine.

I tried putting rough-edged rocks in my spiderplant to discourage Achilles, but he simply oozes his body around the rocks and takes his naps anyway.

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28 Sept. 97:
Owl produced more owl pellets. I located the plastic bags he's been using for fodder. There were a couple of bags, containing early-purchased xmas presents, on a chair in the living room. I'd forgotten they were there.

Owl is flirting perversely, as Jo suggested he would. He'll *almost* let me get within petting distance, then dash off. I've gotten just close enough a couple of times to toss him a kittytreat, but not close enough to pet him.

Tigerlily goes crazy over those treats. She knows the sound of the bag being opened and is on the kitchen counter sticking her snoot into them in a flash.

Hubble is equally eager to get his share, so she has to tolerate his presence.

I was reading in the living room, with Tigerlily joining me on the couch, when I saw her stare intently up at my loft. I looked up and saw Owl exploring my desk, walking on the keyboard, etc. {g}

Diva and Tosca had a play-match this morning, to my delight. Diva was lurking under the bottom folds of the cover I keep over the sofa. They batted and lunged at one another. It only lasted a few minutes, but it's a good first step. They'll be romping in no time, as they both have surges of energy where they race around the house like complete loonies.

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29 Sept. 97:
I was most amused to find Owl-san regally sprawled across the top of the sofa this morning. He's getting settled in every way except relating to me. And he chased Nefreet again this evening.

More Owl pellets on the stairs. He keeps finding plastic bags that I've forgotten about.

But I think I'm better off letting him have his way. I left a pile of mail on the dining room table. One of the pieces was a large white envelope from my lawyer. I was sitting in the living room watching tv when I realized Owl was on the dining room table *mauling* that envelope. He ran off when I went in there, then came back as soon as I retreated, so next time I removed the contents and threw away the envelope.

I now have lightly mauled legal contracts. {g}Luckily, they're countersigned copies, so I don't have to explain it to anyone. "You see these teethmarks, that means my cat didn't approve that clause. We'll have to renegotiate until he's happy." Or maybe it was just Owl's way of making a point. "Give me plastic bags or I eat your mail."

I have Zorro stretched out between my keyboard and monitor (where he barely fits at all), his tail lying over the mouse cord. Achilles and Kate taking up the entire right half of my desk, with Tribble sprawled full- length beneath the wheels of my chair. I've learned the hard way it's pointless to keep anything on the right side of my desk, as it will end up on the floor. It's a Cat Management style of enforcing a clean desktop. Ah, Zorro has just propped a hind paw over the top edge of the keyboard.

Tosca keeps asking me why I won't let her go outside. WHY, WHY, WHY? I'll probably start letting her out next week, as she seems pretty well settled in.

Miss Lil's been such a good girl lately. I love the way she'll sit on a counter or tabletop and gently tap me on the face with a front paw to get my attention. "I'm here, see? PET ME." Then she purrs like a fool.

"I am indebted to the species of the cat for a particular kind of honorable deceit, for a great control over myself, for characteristic aversion to brutal sounds, and for the need to keep silent for long periods of time."

Colette

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3 Oct. 97:
The cats gradually and casually strolled out of various parts of the house when I got home. They were particularly snotty about me being gone this time. There were things knocked over on the kitchen counter. The phone in the dining room had been knocked to the floor and nearly taken the answering machine with it. They totally destroyed one of the umbrella plants. Lots of spraying went on. They knocked over the phone in the bedroom. They *trashed* my loft: knocked all the papers off my desk and scattered them around, knocked over other things, shredded a roll of paper towels, then scattered it from end of the loft to the other.

To add to the welcome, Knobby got onto the dining room table and threw up on a magazine I'd been reading. Ah, my darling moggies.

Knobby has an open puncture wound on his neck. It looked fresh, which puzzles me since Unicom was outside. But this may have been an injury he got before I left (remember the bits of fur I found), which has reopened. And Diva has a large raw patch on her neck where she somehow had the fur and top layer of skin ripped or scraped off.

Hubble and Theseus decided to chase one another up and down the top of the kitchen cabinets like utter lunatics. I left a few items I'd bought sitting in their plastic bags and in no time at all Owl was munching on the bags. I'm learning to recognize the distinctive rustle of plastic being eaten.

"Ye shall not possess any beast, my dear sisters, except only a cat."

The Ancien Riewle (Nun's Rule)

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4 Oct. 97:
I got a closer look at Diva's raw spot last night.

It's actually a puncture wound that's healed up pretty well, but must be at an itching phase. She's scratched the fur off the spot. I'll have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't turn into abscess. Same with Knobby's.

Since her bite was in exactly the same place as Knobby's, I'm wondering if Unicom might be the culprit both times. It's possible. Uni certainly has it in for small black cats. He goes after Knobby, Sly and Nefreet who are all about 80% black; now there's Diva who's all black.

Speaking of black cats, I let Tosca go out with the others this morning and it worked just fine. She stayed close to the house and came inside when she felt like it. She's a happier cat now.

Upon returning from doing errands in town, I found a large spot of fresh blood on the hallway floor. A bit further on, I found an Unidentifiable Rodent Remnant. I was interrupted by a neighbor and when I went back to clean up the URR, it was gone. Somebody et it. Ewww, guh- ross.

And then I found the large gopher snout in the living room. They'll eat everything else, even tail and feet, but they leave the snouts. Wisely so, given the teeth on those buggers.

After that, I had many laughs when another neighbor showed up with her 5-year-old, Paige. Paige adores cats, and every moggy unlucky enough to be inside the house was summarily sezied and hauled around like an elongated ragdoll. Achilles, Nefreet, Diva, Tosca, Hubble, even the lordly Zorro, suffered a total loss of dignity. Paige got nipped a couple of times (Nefreet, of course, and Achilles), but took it in stride.

You should have seen the expression on Achille's face as she hauled him down the stairs of the loft. He looked up at me with eyes that clearly said, "SAVE ME!" But I was laughing too hard. I'm sure I'll suffer for this later. Miss Lil stayed well out of reach. {g}

Lord Owl dragged a plastic bag out of my trash bin to satisfy his unholy cravings.

NEWS FLASH!!! A small, but important milestone in the Taming of the Owl. I was about to come upstairs when I realized Owl was sleeping on one of the lower steps. He's been trying all sorts of new spots lately. I talked to him carefully so as not to startle him, then I reached through from the side of the stairs...and he didn't run away!!! He actually let me rub his belly for a minute, after which he got up and turned around on the same stair facing me and let me give him a short bit of scritchies on the head. Only then did he retreat and only up one stair. Not bad, eh! Of course, the minute I had to come up the stairs, he vanished. But I think the feat of touching Lord Owl calls for a toast. Pass the champagne around, please.

"A dog is a dog, a bird is a bird, and a cat is a person."

Mugsy Peabody

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5 Oct. 97:
I'm amused to note now that Tosca has the freedom to go outside, she's content to mostly stay inside.

Owl was on the sofa when I got up. He looked most comfortable. Tigerlily has been munching on the squash plant with unbridled enthusiasm.

Diva has scratched the spot on her neck red and raw. I cleaned it again and put Neosporin on it. If it keeps bothering her that much, I'd better start her on antibiotics.

I left the cat door open when I went out. I was only gone a little over an hour, but when I drove up, Owl was sitting at the bottom of the steps outside the back door calmly taking in the sights. He ran inside as soon as the car got close.

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6 Oct. 97:
7 am. I'm woken by Nefreet being chased into the bedroom by Owl. He continues to harass her...like right now. sigh...I've had to scold him severely today, but he of course pays no attention to this. Even if he's trying to be playful, it's perfectly clear she regards it as aggression... which may be what's egging him on. Whatever, I have to discourage him from this.

He's been rambunctious and downright playful. He had a sort of romp with Blue in the afternoon. He was chasing Blue, but it wasn't a very serious or aggressive chase. He's spending a lot more time out in the open, wandering around the house, looking for trouble to get into.

He startled me badly after I got up this morning. He was sleeping in a cat bed on top of the dryer, a spot he's favored many times. I came in to put something into the washing machine and didn't happen to notice he was there. I was lifting the lid of the washer when he erupted off the dryer, pounced across the lid I was trying to raise, and dashed off. I'm lucky I didn't lose fingers.

The items I had in hand were kitchen towels doused with cat spray. I got tired of the Phantom Sprayer doing his number on the food processor or tea maker or other items on a certain part of the kitchen counter. So I started pinning towels from the bottom of the shelves to hang over the appliances. It's been working well in that it's easier to wash the towels then clean up everything else.

To date, I have never been able to catch the Phantom Sprayer in the act. I suspect more than one cat, actually. But tonight, I got a huge shock. I was sitting at the dining room table reading Newsweek when I heard the unmistakable sound of a cat pissing on the kitchen counter right behind me.

I whirled around and saw...ARTEMIS! Artemis?!? She was doing a bad job of it, too, as most was going onto the floor. I leapt up screeching and off she went. There was no excuse for that. The cat boxes weren't in bad shape. It's purely behavioral. Directly above her, Nefreet was "treed" on the wooden pan rack, having been chased there by Owl. I'm willing to bet it was a way of showing alpha female dominance...though technically, I'd say Querida is still the alpha female. She simply doesn't bother to enforce it most of the time.

It's a friggin' madhouse around here.

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7 Oct. 97:
Sassy curled up on the other pillow and purred me to sleep last night. She has a nice cement-mixer purr when she gets going.

Nothing much to report. I think the cats were too discombobulated by the arrival of three repairmen in one day to get up to mischief. I had to snatch Diva from one of the repair trucks before she ended up far from home. Owl chased Nefreet again tonight. I can never catch him in the act, but he's learning it means the squirt-bottle is coming for him. This hasn't exactly helped me win him over, of course...

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10/12/97:
The moggies all came out and greeted me when I got home Friday night, happily anticipating FREEDOM on the morrow.

The wound on Diva's neck isn't healing up properly. I've cleaned it and treated it, but she keeps scratching it red and raw. Time to have the vet look at it.

Unicom is spending more time indoors now that weather has gotten wet and cold. And, oddly enough, I'm finding an increase in the urination taking place on the kitchen counter. I did catch Knobby in the act of spraying and yelled bloody murder at him (same spot Artemis hit the other day). I'm tempted to order those electrical pads I've seen in a couple of catalogs, designed to discourage animals from jumping onto certain areas (they give a mild shock).

Owl's passion for plastic is (you should pardon the pun) all consuming. I left the bag from Barnes & Noble out and he found it right away. Munch, munch. I know some of the plastic he eats goes through his system. He ate some bright blue plastic and I saw signs of it in the contents of the cat box. I need to ask the vet what the allure of plastic can be.

I keep my suitcases under the bed and there's one suitcase the cats love to piss on. Not thinking about it, I put the suitcase inside a large plastic garbage bag. I was woken this morning by the sound of Owl munching on it. I've made room for the suitcases in my walk-in closet instead.

Last night, I occupied a small corner of the sofa while 7 cats occupied the rest of it. They formed a pattern of orange alternating with black & white, with Blue being the odd one out (Siamese tabby).

I gave the mogs a treat of canned food, something I rarely give them anymore. The vet guessed Tosca was used to soft cat food from the amount of plaque on her teeth. I can confirm that she definitely responds to the Cat Signal (aka the can opener). I have several mewling moggies at my ankles when they heard that magic sound, but Tosca was the most vocal.

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10/13/97:
Diva keeps finding fiendish new ways to wake me up. This morning, it was dragging a shoe around by the shoelace. But I had my revenge.

I had a 10 am meeting, so I dropped off Diva at the vet's in the morning and picked her up in the afternoon. Being a curious girl, she cruised right into the carrier without prompting, but once she realized she was trapped there and being hauled around...oh, she was unhappy. She bit at the wire grid. She made sounds such as I have never heard from a cat's throat. She moibled. That's a word I made up to describe the weird combination of moaning, wailing and warbling she did.

The vet staff tried to foist another cat off on me. A lovely male tabby that had gotten chewed up in a car engine. I've heard about that a lot of up here, cats going to sleep in engines with awful results. This one was lucky to survive though they'll have to amputate one front leg. The owners brought him into be put to sleep, but my vets saved and will find him a new home instead. But I said no, that 18 were driving me crazy. "But what's the difference between 18 and 19," they cajoled, "and 19 is such a nice, round number." They are eeeeevil people. I resisted.

When I went to pick up Diva, the clinic was in chaos. They had two emergencies at the same time--both animals on the verge of death. Oy. And I found out that right after I finally got Diva and left, someone rushed in a cat with a broken pelvis. It was a hellish day, I gather. So I didn't get to find out at the time what the diagnosis was. She got a shot of Prednisone and I have ointment to put on it. When I called much later, I was told it's a hot spot, just one of the "weird cat things" that will take a while to heal. It could have been an insect sting or bite.

Achilles, Kate, Unicom and Tribble have been all over me and the desk tonight. Given these are some of my biggest cats, trying to type has been a challenge.

Zorro's getting crankier with the other cats. Given his age and the diabetes, I guess he's justified.

Miss Lil has settled right in. I don't know how she used to be, but she's quite a lap cat now.

Owl's been in Extreme Avoidance of me since the water squirter incident. But he was harassing Nefreet again tonight, so regrettably the water squirter had to be wielded again.

Around 4 this afternoon, I heard thumping and pathetic wailing from the kitchen. I discovered Achilles locked in a cabinet. I think the silly boy was stuck there all day. The last time I opened that cabinet was about 9:30 this morning. {g}

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14 Oct. 97:
Not much to tell, alas, since I'm now spending so much of my time away from home. I let the beasties out via the cat door in the morning, and make sure I get home early enough to get them inside before dusk.

I forgot one incident from yesterday. I heard the most awful screeching of a bird in terror. I raced outside. Mighty Theseus, Bird Hunter Supreme, had a mouthful of a big woodpecker. As I started toward him, Theseus was distracted enough to lose his grip and the woodpecker made a miraculous escape. Theseus spent the next couple of minutes going "What? Where'd he go?" and spitting feathers out of his mouth.

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15 Oct. 97:
Unicom woke me at the usual early hour desperate to go out (he paws the glass doors ceaselessly). I staggered down the hallway and opened the cat door and went back to bed briefly. Around 11:30, knowing I had to leave in an hour, I closed the cat door and began calling cats inside.

Most of them had come in when I happened to look through the front hall windows and saw Owl on the front porch! Aiiee!! He seemed to be trying to figure out how to get back inside. I quickly opened the front door, but this only spooked him. He vanished.

I was faced with a logistics problem. If I opened the cat door hoping he'd come in, I risked letting the rest of the cats out, which I didn't want to do because I might not get home until after dark. But I had to get him back inside.

So I herded one large batch of cats into the bedroom, a couple more into the guest bathroom, and didn't worry about the cats I knew I could get inside easily.

I opened the cat door, then walked around the house hoping to spook him into running inside for safety, but I never got a glimpse of him. I went inside to wait, hoping this wasn't going to turn into an epic. I called him several times. A little bit later, I saw him on the front porch again, peering in the window next to the front door (they're floor to ceiling windows, long and narrow).

I carefully opened the front door, left it open wide, and went up the stairs to the loft. I took off my shoes and tiptoed down far enough to see the door. Sure enough, he sauntered in. I raced down, shut the door, closed the cat door, let the rest of the cats out of prison, and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Now I don't know what to do about letting the cats out in the morning. He's obviously gotten comfortable using the cat door, but I never know when he does because he's in sumo ninja mode. I can't count on him coming inside when I call. I don't dare leave the house without knowing he's safely inside. Sigh...

Owl sure has a way of complicating my life. {g}

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17 Oct. 97:
Alas, not much to tell. The cat door remains closed, so I had to play Automatic Door Opening all morning. Owl came down and sort of hung around and looked wistfully out the dining room screen door. He knows what the morning routine is. He's too damn smart, that beastie.

Several times lately, I've found myself almost right on top of Owl before he decides to bolt. I suppose this is progress of a sort. It's usually some location where I don't see him ahead of time and he startles the hell out of me.

I found more Owl pellets. No matter how careful I am, he still manages to find plastic bags in obscure places I've completely forgotten about.

Diva's hot spot is finally healing up.

Miss Lil continues to snack on the squash plant. She also has a routine. She gets on the kitchen counter to greet me in the morning.

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19 Oct. 97:
Owl is letting himself be seen a tiny bit more, though is permanent hide-out is behind some shelves and boxes in the loft where I can see him, but not get to him. I almost managed to pet him on the stairs. I put my hand out to him and he thought about it half a minute before running off. He did sit still long enough for me to take a couple of photos later.

Theseus showed up with a baby woodpecker (quite dead). No wonder he did so well on his own before I adopted him. I just wish he'd cut preying on birds now that he has all the food he could want. I suppose even a moggy needs a break from cat kibble all the time.

Several cats came up to the loft last night looking perturbed and peered nervously out the windows toward the front yard. When even Theseus came upstairs, I decided it was time to check it out. More cats were looking out the front windows downstairs. I went out with a flashlight, but couldn't see or hear anything. I did finally get the reflection of some eyes further up the road, possibly one of the neighbors' dogs. Or maybe a coyote.

Or they may have been spooked by the owl hooting away in the oak tree.

Tribble's sleeping next to me on the desk. He was "talking" in his sleep, meowing in the midst of a energetic dream, whiskers and ears all a-twitch.

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece."

Leonardo Da Vinci

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20 Oct. 97:
Arrgh! Owl did it to me again. I left the screen door open a crack in my bedroom to let the Horde in and out during the day. So far, Owl hadn't discovered this particular route. I shoulda known better. He's way too smart to miss an escape route for long.

I discovered it when I glanced onto the back patio and saw him lounging like a king, resting against a large bag of potting mix. I will spare everyone the hysterical details of my attempts to get him back inside. It involved opening various doors and trying to casually flush him back inside. He'd keep going around to the front porch, but stubbornly refused to come in the front door.

I set a hose on sprinkler setting to block off one end of the underside of the back deck. I used a second hose to squirt underneath the deck, until I finally got him to run inside via the side door. I guess it took about half an hour of following him around the outside of the house. I must find out from Jo whether this is Owl's first exposure to the outside. He sure seems to enjoy himself. If I only knew he would answer me or come to me when I called, like the rest of the cats, I wouldn't worry about letting him go outside. Maybe eventually...

So, alas, it's back to being the automatic door opener for the Horde. They're all racked out at the moment. Small, furry piles of sleeping contentment dotting every horizontal surface.

This is in contrast to the Kittianapolis that took place between Hubble and Theseus on top of the kitchen cupboards last night. Thunder, thunder, thunder to one end; thunder, thunder, thunder back to the other end.

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22 Oct. 97:
The poor moggies, how they suffer, being locked inside all day.

At least the house is intact. You'd think with this many cats, they could manage to keep one another occupied. The most "exciting" thing I noticed is that Tosca managed to get her collar off. It took a bit of looking to find it, but it's back on again. At this point, I think I can tell Tosca and Diva apart pretty easily. I put the collar back on mainly for the convenience of my petsitter.

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10/28/97:
I left Unicom, Tribble, Nefreet and Sly stay outside all day while I was working at Sierra On-Line. Sly only got out by virtue of ramming the screen door so hard, he knocked it off the rails and escaped. The snot.

When I first got up this morning, I trotted out to put something onto the washing machine (so I'd remember to put it in the car) and only then realized Owl was sleeping in the cat bed on the dryer right next to me. I was pleased that Owl didn't jump up and run off in panic as he has in the past. He stayed put for several minutes before going off to hide somewhere else. With Owl, I take whatever tiny wins I can get.

Miss Lily was cruel to Theseus. He was trying to bump heads with her and she whapped him. If she'd only realize what a sweet boy he is. ;)

My current worry is Hubble. He's been lethargic since yesterday, often lying around in that hunched up position cats tend to take when they don't feel well. And he had some very nasty Unpleasantness around the rear end I had to deal with. Yuck. I ended up having to cut away some fur. He threw up a teeny-tiny hairball, but that wouldn't account for his other problems. If he doesn't look better by tomorrow, I'll probably drop him off at the vet's in the morning and pick him up at the end of the day. That gives them plenty of time to observe him.

Unicom has been drooling buckets in my lap.

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10/29/97:
I dropped Hubble off at the vet's this morning and heard from the vet around mid-afternoon. He's definitely a sick little boy with a touch of jaundice. He's lost a pound and a half from the last time he was weighed, which would have been some months ago. She did more blood tests with encouraging results. She was worried he had hepatitis, but his liver functions are good. Her best guess is a bacterial infection in the bile duct that was just starting to involve the liver. So he's in the hospital overnight, getting fluids and antibiotics and we'll see how he's doing tomorrow.

Poor baby. Sigh...and poor me. More vet bills.

Unicom is playing the Stay Away game again. Grrrr...

The rest of the Horde have been indulging in Vomit Olympics. Even Owl contributed.

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30 OCT. 97:
Unicom didn't come back last night and didn't show up this morning no matter how much I called him. The brat made me worry about him ALL DAY.

He was waiting at the house when I pulled up around 5:30 tonight. He's staying *in*.

Hubble needed to stay in the hospital another night. He's eating, which is good, but his intestinal problems remain on the nasty side. They want to observe him a bit longer.

I have Achilles and Tribble around my keyboard, Diva and Tosca on the floor behind me, Unicom on my shelves, Kate and Blue and Sly on the stairs. An average loft infestation. {g}

Owl's downstairs ripping enthusiastically into one of the catnip scratching boxes.

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31 OCT. 97:
Joyously, the moggies surged forth to the Great Outside for the first time all week. Happy, happy moggies.

I let them stay outside while the Vacuum Cleaner Monster was on the rampage. Only Zorro, jaded old man that he is, pays little attention to the Monster. Miss Lilly doesn't care for the Monster, but it doesn't seem to terrify her overmuch.

I brought Hubble home this afternoon. He only cost me $160.00 (argh! ouch!). He's looking better, but not back to normal yet. He stuck his snoot in the food bowl as soon as I let him out, which is a good sign. He's totally racked out on top of the cabinets. I have to get 5 pills a day down his gullet; 3 in the morning and 2 at night. This will be fun.

In keeping with the true nature of a Siamese, Owl is causing me to reassess his situation here. It was about a week ago when he was badly harassing Nefreet and I got absolutely furious with him. He knew it, too. He even hissed back at me. But he's so damned smart, he may have gotten the message because he hasn't bothered her since.

That's better than I've been able to do with thick-headed Blue who never gets the message no matter how much I squirt him or chase him or yell at him. I've discovered Blue is also one of the main culprits spraying the kitchen counter. In fact, Blue is the biggest PITA I have.

Owl's been acting more relaxed the past several days. He spends most of his time out and about now, and even did a bit of romping tonight. Although he still won't let me just walk up to him to pet him, I'm able to get in a quick head or back scratch (like a split-second) when he's on the stairs, provided I'm to the side of the stairs (reaching through the banister).

This morning, he was sleeping in the cat bed on the dryer again and didn't run off when I discovered him there. He didn't move until I had to walk right past him to let the repairman in to work on the water heater. Even then, Owl ran with inches of me and I was able to run my hand along his back as he passed me.

So his overall panic and avoidance level is clearly easing up. In fact, he sat and watched me talk to the repairman. Granted, it was from 12 feet away, but the fact he did that rather than hiding is quite a change. To be honest, I'm not sure I could bear to give Owl to a new home at this stage. I've gotten pretty attached to the big galoot. He's such a character.

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2 NOV. 97:
Hubble's slowly getting better. He's still pretty wiped out and sleeps a lot. Popping the pills down his throat the first day was easy. Today was a battle. It's the one time I was glad he doesn't have front claws. I rewarded him by letting him go outside for a while. He loved that. He rolled around on the patio, he was so happy.

Owl reverted to being a bully and picked on Nefreet a couple of times. He has been Severely Admonished. This affects him about as much as trying to knock over a marble statue by tossing cotton balls at it.
I notice Sly's been getting picked on more than usual lately. I don't know why. He's been mostly defensive, rather than fighting back. In a group of cats, there will always be one "pariah" cat who gets picked on the most. Sly and Nefreet seem to sharing that position.

The most aggressive cats I have are Blue, Artemis, Tigerlily, Unicom, and Zorro, pretty much in that order. Unicom reserves most of his aggression for Knobby. Knobby gets very aggressive, but only with Unicom, understandably. Blue is turning into a problem, unless I can get his aggression under control. Plus he's spraying a lot.

Artemis has turned into a really aggressive little snot, though her aggressive mainly translates into chasing and intimidating lunges, rather than actual attacks.

Tigerlily can be very aggressive. Fortunately, she's also responsive to being scolded. She'll be all right as long as I'm around to rein her in.

Zorro uses aggression as a tool, when and where he needs it to retain his alpha male dominance. Otherwise, he's quite mellow.

Querida can be very defensive, but only when an occasion calls for it. When she had a litter of kittens to protect, she was ferocious. I once saw her chase off a = raccoon, and it was larger than her to boot.

Of course, even the sweetest of my cats has moments of aggression. I've been shocked to see Kate or Tribble suddenly pounce on someone. In fact, the only exception so far has been...Theseus. There's a twist for you. {g} Oh, and Tosca, who's incredibly mellow.
"A cat is a lion in a jungle of small bushes."

Indian proverb

"A cat is a tiger that is fed by hand."

Yakaoka Genrin

"When she walked...she stretched out long and thin like a little tiger, and held her head high to look over the grass as if she were threading the jungle."

Sarah Orne Jewett

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3 NOV. 97:
I had 4 cats vying for my lap last night. It became completely impossible to type at one point and I had to relocate one from time to time. But the instant I get out of my chair, Tribble curls up in it. He'll even steal my chair when I'm in the act of sitting down. He's completely silly.

Hubble's getting very annoyed about the pills. Fortunately, I've finished with one of the them, an in another day will be done to only one pill a day. He's not quite back to his bouncy self, but keeps looking better.

I managed to give Owl a split-second scratch on the rump. And he's now feeling secure enough to run within inches of me in order to get past me. The avoidance distance shrinks by centimeters, but at least it's shrinking. And tonight, he actually looked at me when I said his name. This is the *first* time he's responded to hearing me say his name. I say his name a lot, but he always, always ignores me. This time, I'll bet he just forgot to ignore me for a second and will be more vigilant from now on. {g}

Tigerlily "helped" me pay bills this morning. She helped by rolling around on top of the bills and checkbook, and butting me with her head so I couldn't hold the pen steady. She's a great little helper, she is.

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4 NOV. 97:
Not happy with today's news. I'm assuming, since I caught her at it once, that Artemis is the one responsible for consistently peeing on a certain part of the counter that divides kitchen from dining room. There was a large pool of it awaiting me this morning.

Plus, I was on the phone last night when I saw that the Phantom Sprayer had sprayed on the towel I have pinned protectively over the kitchen appliances. I took down the old one, pinned up a clean one, dropped the other in the washing machine, came back and chatted for a minute, turned around...and the fresh towel had already been sprayed. The only cat on the counter at that moment was Artemis. It could have been someone else, but she sure seemed like the likely suspect.

This is sticking it to me, nothing more. It has to stop. I thought about it, trying to come up with a simple solution to discourage her from that area. I've often considered buying one of those shock pads I've seen advertised in some catalogs, but I have reservations about using something like that.

I'm trying an experiment. Cats don't like walking on those doormats covered with hard spikes of rubber. I picked up one at the hardware store and have placed it where she would have to stand. Now to wait and see whether it's a sufficient deterrent. I kinda doubt it, but maybe I'll get lucky.

It would help if I could figure out why she's indulging in this behaviour. One too many cats in the house? One of the new arrivals has her really annoyed? She doesn't think I'm giving her enough attention? She thinks she's a male cat? All of the above? (probably)

Hubble fought me like crazy this morning and successfully avoided taking one of his pills (one that's especially bitter, so I don't blame him). I called the vet and was given permission to lay off those pills. That leaves just the antibiotic which isn't bad. Of course, Hubble's taken to staying on top of the kitchen cabinets, out of reach (unless I climb onto the kitchen counter and clamber after him).

Tosca sure has filled out since she's been here. I no longer have any trouble telling her apart from Diva. Diva remains skinny; Tosca's added a pound or two.

Owl's avoiding me tonight.

Tigerlily's waiting for her treat. I've started giving her a chicken-flavored treat at night and she's developed a serious passion for them. Her purr machine revvs to full speed the instant I pick up the packet and she's all over me, demanding her treat NOW!

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5-6 NOV. 97:
Success!!! Yesterday morning, I went to deposit the latest sprayed-upon towel in the washing machine and realized Owl was once again sleeping in the cat bed on the dryer. But I must have caught him half- asleep because he made no effort to move. I casually stepped over and gave him scritches on the ears, chin and body. He acted as though this were nothing whatsoever of consequence.

I didn't push my luck and only scratched him for a minute. When I checked on him several minutes later, he was still in the cat bed, but in a ready-to-run position. As I started walking toward him, he ran right next to me across the washing machine, but I put out a hand and intercepted him, very gently. He allowed me to stop him, just for a second, and run my hand over him. I probably could have held onto him, but I'm working hard to make him feel safe around me, so I didn't.

Of course, the rest of the day he made sure to avoid me in retaliation. {g}

My experiment with the rubber mat had mixed results. Instead of piddling in that corner of the counter, Artemis simply moved further down the counter and piddled. Then she conned one of the males into standing beyond the mat and thoroughly spraying the wall behind it. sigh...

I made a short trip and got home late tonight to an unpleasant welcome. One of my mangy moggies left a whopping big pile of turds on the kitchen floor below the sink. I suspect Unicom, who had already knocked over a bunch of objects into the sink from the kitchen window, knocked the phone off, and disrupted other things that I know I can attribute to him. He does that when he's trapped inside. So I'll bet the "gift" was to further make his point.

What disturbs me about it is that none of my cats has ever done that to me before. They do plenty of other things, like spraying and piddling, but they've never dumped on the floor. I warned my sitter to kick Unicom out of the house from now on. He can be a brat outside.

Hubble is bright and bouncy and looks totally back to normal. He was having races on top of the kitchen cabinets after I got home.

Owl came down the stairs briefly, but went back into Avoidance Mode as soon as I tried to give him attention.

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8 NOV. 97:
I'm having more close encounters with Owl. This evening he was sleeping on one on the dining room chairs. He suffered being petted a couple of times without getting off the chair and running off (though eventually he abandon the chair). The hardest part for me is to leave him alone as much as I can when what I really want to do is give him all kinds of attention.

I caught Blue immediately after he sprayed the towel curtain on the kitchen counter. I chased him across the house with a water squirter and squirted his brains out. Alas, I'm sure this will do nothing to break him of the habit.

Tigerlily was a naughty girl. I'd set out a cooked chicken breast that I was going to turn into chicken salad for lunch. I turned away for no more than half minute and when I came back, she had her snoot into my chicken. She was very spooky after being scolded, but by the time I finished lunch, she was climbing back into my lap. {g}

She certainly has a passion for chicken. The treats I give her are chicken-flavored and she practically attacks me to get at them.

The Horde had a day outside to gambole, but it's such a chilly day I ended up letting them in and out and in and out and in. The human automatic door opener. It's so chilly tonight, even Unicom is inside.

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9 NOV. 97:
PRAISE BAST! The day long awaited has come. Lord Owl, King of Siam, the Great and Majestic, has finally deigned to accept me.

Yes, today marks a major breakthrough. As of last night, he was passively accepting being petted without running away and he even purred. But it was still passive acceptance. I was heartened when he sat up to see what I was doing in the kitchen, and he was quite happy to take a few of those chicken treats. He likes them almost as much as Tigerlily.

Maybe he got tired of having to avoid me all the time. Whatever the reason, he made a definite decision to accept me on a new level.

This morning, I came over to pet him in his now favorite spot, the dining room chair, and I could see him make the decision. This time, he *responded*. He went beyond purring. He's making a different kind of eye contact, which is important with cats. He leaned into the scritchies, then jumped off the chair, came over to me, and rubbed against me!

And he did it more than once. He's not exactly answering when I call or anything like that, but I was able to coax him over several times.

On top of all this -- he talked!!! It was only a couple of very quiet meows, but these are the first sounds I've heard him utter since he got here.

Let's see, it took 3 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days to get to this point. That's actually sooner than I expected. Mind you, this is a first stage acceptance, with a couple more stages to go. Once he freely comes to me when I call, or seeks me out for affection on his own, then I'll know I've been fully and completely accepted. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

It was a good day for the rest of the Horde, too. I spent an hour or so taking photos of the cats outside. They love it when I hang around outside with them.

Sassy is learning to climb trees. She was a little clumsy going up the first time, but it does come naturally, after all.

My biggest problems trying to get photos is they keep wanting to come over to me instead of staying at a distance where I can get the shot.

The spot on Diva's neck is finally 98% healed. It's taken an awfully long time. Artemis has a scratch on her nose from getting into some mischief, so that left her out of the photo-taking session.

Everybody had a good roll in the dirt, a munch of the catnip, and a romp. All's well in Moggy Heaven.

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11 NOV. 97:
I've been gone so much lately (working on a computer game gig), I don't have much to report.

I was petting Owl last night and seemed to really be relaxed and enjoying it, when he suddenly jumped off the chair and went into a crouched-ready-to-attack position. I glanced over to see poor little Nefreet eating. Before I could move to stop him, Owl jumped her. The snot! All I could do was yell at him at that point.

He avoided me the rest of the night. This morning, he was back on the dining room chair and I was able to pet him. But I *must* break him of picking on Nefreet.

Nothing much new with the rest of the Horde.

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15 NOV. 97:
The Horde got out to romp this morning, after being inside all week. They had a wonderful time until it started to rain. Oddly enough, they were willing to come in then. {g}

I had to go after Owl quite a few times between last night and now. He's obsessed with badgering Nefreet. I'd find him staking out a spot in the bedroom and discover he had her trapped behind the bedroom door. She takes refuge often on top of the overhead hanging pot rack and he lies in wait, having "treed" her. He's in hiding from me tonight 'cause I had to yell at him.

He allows me to pet him when he's on the dining room chair, but he still won't let me get close to him in any other part of the house.

Nefreet got into my lap earlier, something she rarely does. Unfortunately, she has the strong opinion that I may not use my keyboard when she's in my lap. If I ignore that opinion, she growls and bites. I finally had to evict her.

Tigerlily, however, is a quiet and happy lap cat. I sometimes remain seated much longer than I originally intended because she's so content, I can't bring myself to disturb her.

Achilles is a huge, sprawling lump on my lap. Unicom is sleeping with his tongue sticking out. There are curled- up piles of napping cats scattered throughout the house. It's a tough life.

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16 NOV. 97:
One of my idiot moggies thinks the cardboard scratching boxes are some exotic new form of litter box and has been peeing in them. I am not amused.

Owl is Miffed and has been avoiding me, but I managed to scratch his ears a bit this morning.

Looking down at my sofa which is covered with five cats: Zorro, Sly, Hubble, Blue and Kate. They left one little space open for me.

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17 NOV. 97:
It was another nice day, so the moggies romped.

I happened to be outside when Tosca nabbed a bird. She was crouched under the second birdbath, which is in the front yard. Faster than I could even follow, she had flashed upward and snatched it right out of the water. I could see bright glints of water fly from the spot, and there was Tosca with a mouth full of bluebird.

I chased her and coaxed her to let it go. Like she was going to listen to that. She went under the back deck where I couldn't get to her. The bird got lucky. Tosca released her hold, possibly distracted by me, and the bluebird shot off past me to safety. Therein lies the difference between a well-fed domestic cat and a feral one. A cat that was serious would have had the bird half- eaten by then. Tosca had done so little damage, the bird was able to fly away.

I seem to have fallen into a new pattern with Owl. I get to pet him first thing in the morning when he's on the dining room chair, then he avoids me the rest of the day and night.

I heard a strange sound from downstairs and went to investigate. Near as I can tell it was Owl. He's so desperate at the lack of plastic bags to chew on, he dragged a FedEx envelope out of the trash and was unsuccessfully trying to munch it. Whatever those FedEx envelopes are made of, they resist cat teeth. He was making a lot of noise, but eating little.

I bought 40 lbs. of cat food and 100 lbs. of cat litter at the feed store for about $70.00. This'll last...2-3 weeks. At this rate, I should become a non-profit charity and take donations. {g}

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20 NOV. 97:
Just when I think I'm getting somewhere with Owl, he goes and pulls another one. Before I left for L.A. on Tues., I had great success petting him and getting him to come to me to get a cat treat.

Last night, he was insatiable about the plastic bags I brought home. If I left them unattended for ten minutes, he'd be on the counter chewing madly away.

But tonight, I'm furious with him. I heard the screams and screeches of a very serious cat fight in the bedroom. I went raging in that direction and a stream of cats raced out and past me. Chief amongst them was Owl chasing Nefreet. I found chunks of her fur scattered on the bedroom fur. Owl's hiding from me now, as I've made it clear he'd better. I think Nefreet's all right. She hasn't come down from her high perch yet to let me check her out.

The rest of the moggies have behaved themselves.

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22 NOV. 97:
The nighttime Giving of the Cat Treats is becoming a ritual. Tigerlily is immediately there in my face the instant I pick up the bag and say the word "treat". She's a cat treat fanatic. Now other members of the Horde have caught on and gather around. Last night, even Owl was so bold as to jump onto the counter to make sure he got his treat.

I begin to understand why Owl behaves the way he does. The only other cat he's known is Tigerlily. I was petting Owl on the chair, we were relaxed and happy and he was enjoying himself. Tigerlily was on the table. When she was unable to get my attention, she walloped Owl around the ears and drove him off the chair. He's been raised by a Dominatrix! It's no wonder he revels in the chance to pick on another cat for a change. Not that this excuses him.

I came home with a carton of canned cat food today, so the cats had a rare dinner of moist food. They mob me as soon as they hear me opening cans. Tigerlily got overly enthusiastic with her bowl and scooted it right off the counter onto the floor.

Now they're all in a happy stupor, sleeping off dinner. Achilles and Kate have formed perfect bookends, with their foreheads pressed together. It's entirely too cute.

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28 NOV. 97:
Got home from a short trip to find the moggies had made a lot of Statements. A lot of "how dare you go away?" statements. My sitter leaves me a daily written log. She said they knocked over the two coat racks in the front hall and knocked a bunch of my jewelry onto the floor.

What I found was a lot of piss. The kitchen counter towels were soaked, other parts of the counter had been sprayed, then I found a puddle of urine on the top of my mother's antique carved wooden chest of drawers. [snarling and gnashing of teeth] The real object seems to have been the Sierra calendar book lying there, which is now in the trash.

I'm getting very fed up with this behaviour. There's no excuse for it and it's only a recent development. I'm afraid it probably traces to adding Owl and Tigerlily to the mix, either because of personality clashes (Junior Miss Dominatrix Artemis miffed about Senior Dominatrix Tigerlily) or because I now simply have too many possessive little monsters. Something must be done...as soon as I can figure out what.

Anyway, the mogs all came out to welcome me home, innocent looks on their deceptively sweet faces (including the unknown guilty parties). Except Owl, who's in Avoidance Mode. Probably forgot who I am.

This makes me worry a lot about what they're going to do when I go away for a couple of weeks, instead of a couple of days. Oy.

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29 NOV. 97:
I did the cat treats before I went to bed and Owl suddenly forgot all about being in Avoidance Mode, got on the counter and waited expectantly for his treats alongside Tigerlily.

Miss Lily isn't the least bit passive about getting her treats. She practically grabs them from my hand. I had an amusing moment as I went down a line of cats putting treats in their mouths and I suddenly felt like a priest giving communion. Take this Holy Chicken-flavored Treat and sin no more. {g}

Tosca suffered an Indignity. I was scrubbing mineral residue (from my hard water) off the counter with scrubbing cleanser when Tosca teleported herself smack in the middle of it. She squeaked in outrage when I grabbed her and washed her feet with a wet sponge.

I bought a new 20-lb. bag of cat food which I left in the pantry hallway. I'd just sat down to eat lunch, when I heard the sound of ripping paper. And there was Owl, tearing into the bag. He bolted past me like a large, furry, brown cannonball. Mind you, there are 8 cat bowls in the kitchen and dining room and they all had food in them.

He also bolted past me earlier in the day as I came into the bedroom for something. Then I realized he's been stalking Nefreet and had her trapped on top of a set of shelves. He knows it means big trouble if I catch him in the act, the cunning devil.

Speaking of Nefreet, she's been competing with me for my computer chair. She bites at me when I pick her up to move her, and moves so fast, she's usually back in the chair before I can sit down. She then took up residence in my lap, something she doesn't do often. The problem with this is she's completely intolerant of letting me type. She growls with every move of my arms. Finally, she gets fed up and bites me. That's when I toss her off my lap. Having been summarily ejected, she jumps back into my lap, is contrite for, oh, maybe 5 minutes before she starts growling again. She is such a lunatic.

She also whacked Tribble, then Achilles when they tried to have a turn in my lap.

A number of the mogs are being snarky tonight. Tigerlily has a hissy fit every time Unicom gets anywhere close to her. I just had to break up a rumble between Achilles, Unicom, Zorro, Hubble and Diva on the stairs. Owl's on the prowl for mischief. I'm sure he'll manage to find some.

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2 DEC. 97:
They're monsters. Monsters, I tell you. Having to keep them inside the house all day means they have the entire day free to plot their revenge.

In addition to peeing on the counter, someone now regularly leaves a puddle on the rubber door mat. Rinsing the matt has become a regular morning task. At least being rubber, it's easy to do.

But now it's gotten worse. Now at least 2 or more of the moggies have decided to leave their solid "gifts" in the back hallway. It's become a minefield. I have to watch every step. Tonight when I got home, there were no less than three turd-piles lying in wait for me.
If there were such a thing as cat diapers...

Over the weekend, I make sure to let them out before they self combust or something. This last weekend, it rained before I got up. I had my share of amusement watching each cat go through the same routine:
dash madly out the door
come to a sudden stop upon landing in water
stand with one paw raised looking discombobulated
shake paws
run away shaking paws in disgust with each step

The other torment they brewed was to keep me awake when I didn't get to bed until nearly 3 am and had to be up around 8. So naturally they had cat fights, ran around, knocked over the trash, had more fights, knocked over the trash *again*, had more fights, knocked jewelry off the dresser, had more fights, etc. Monsters.

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4 DEC. 97:
Maybe the cats are easing up on me. There was only one large smelly pile waiting for me inside the door tonight and relatively little other damage.

I have a lovely, small, wooden sculpture of a cat curled up in a sleeping pose. Diva has decided this is a toy. She jumps onto my desk, bats it to the floor and proceeds to bat it around the house until I rescue it.

Somewhere downstairs there are a dozen practice golf balls lurking in unfindable places. I *know* they have to be there somewhere, but can't find a single one. They make the best cat toys, so I guess I'll have to buy another dozen of them. Then they'll eventually disappear. One day, years in the future, when I move, we will find ten thousand practice golf balls lying in wait.

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7 DEC. 97:
It rained off and on all day, so I let the Horde out onto the front porch where they could fluff out, curl up and watch the wetness without having to actually get wet. Sassy was bold enough to venture into the rain, but not for long.

I found it worked quite well to let them out that way for a couple of hours and lo! they'd be more than ready to come in next time I opened the door. Even Tigerlily ventured outside the door, but didn't go more than a foot from the threshhold and then she stood there and played troll, swatting at any other cat that wanted to get out. I had to scoot her back inside to restore the normal flow of traffic.

Hubble's having a nasty bit of skin trouble on one side of his chin. I've been cleaning it at night and putting vitamin E on it, but if it doesn't improve soon, I'll have the vet look at it.

Diva and Tosca get into some nasty-sounding play nowadays. They way they go at it, I sometimes think they're fighting. Diva's become a surprisingly aggressive little cat.

Owl did some Nefreet-stalking, for which I lectured him, so now he's avoiding me. This morning, though, he cooperated happily in some extended scritchies and even talked to me.

Achilles is a large lump in my lap, determined to interfere with everything, especially typing.

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8 DEC. 97:
I bought a package of plastic golf balls and they're being enthusiastically batted around.

The counter was sprayed, but at least there were no sh*tpiles waiting in the hall for me. The rubber mat has become a permanent pissing spot for a mystery cat. Every morning and every night. I sure would like to catch who it is. I've rigged up the hose right outside the back door so I can quickly and easily clean it off. Diva came around for attention and did something new--she climbed on top of my shoulders. I don't have very big shoulders, so this didn't last for long, but it's been years since I had a shouldercat. I like it.

Otherwise, it's quiet in the Moggy madhouse. Nefreet continues to get a hard time from several cats. I'm contemplating putting a cat box, food and water into the spare bedroom and let her stay in there during the day. I'm not sure she'd really like it, but it would be better than being picked on for hours when I can't come to her rescue.

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11 DEC. 97:
The mogs continue to misbehave. I've moved a cat box, food and water into the spare bedroom and have taken to leaving Nefreet safely ensconced for the day with the room to herself. I think she's been very happy about this. As soon as I get home and let her out of the room, the Evil Posse (Artemis, Blue, Diva and Owl) starts picking on her again. Nefreet glues herself to my stomach when I go to bed, as it's the only way she feels safe.

I made an exception today, however. Since it was a bit warmer than the past couple of days, I let Nefreet stay outside and I put Hubble in the spare room. That's because I suspect he's never quite fully recovered from whatever gave him the touch of jaundice and the severe diarrhea. Now I'm sure he's still having a problem, plus the skin problem on his chin refuses to heal up. So it's back to the vet on Monday for poor Mr. Hubble.

I found a huge pool of urine on the counter this morning. It's driving me nuts. As an experiment, I've installed a clean, new cat box on the floor right below that section of counter (I refuse to put it ON the counter), in the hope that the Phantom Pisser will go, "Oh, look, a cat box right down there. Maybe I don't need to go on the counter."

Unfortunately, this means I now have a cat box next to the dining room table. I'm less than thrilled about this, so it better pay off. The idea is to break the PP of using the top of the counter, then I'll gradually move the cat box away from that area.

While at the hardware store, I discovered what may be the ultimate cat box. It's a big plastic "utility bin". It has higher sides than a regular cat box, and the sides curve slightly, and it's big enough for 3 cats to use at once. I used it to replace 2 smaller boxes. Maybe, if I get lucky, this will cut down on the amount of litter that gets ejected deliberately onto the floor and the amount of Icky Stuff that also gets left on the floor by cats who don't seem to understand which side of the cat box to hang their butts on.

Sassy is growing more social with the Horde, which is good to see. I've seen her romping with Blue and Diva. And I think she's responding a bit more to the affection I give her. Not that she didn't respond before, but I feel she's finally getting the sense she can bond with me, instead of treating me as just one more face in an endless stream of people who would come and go at the clinic. She used to leap off the spare pillow when I came to bed. Now she'll stay put and purr when I give her scritchies.

Owl is such a he-slut. He can go out of his way to avoid me when he's not in the mood to be petted, but as soon as I break out the kitty treats, there he is on the kitchen counter waiting for his share. Once in a while, I get a glimpse into the level of affection I might eventually get from him, when he actually responds to being petted, purrs, and even bumps up against me.

Most of the time, he pretends to barely tolerate my attentions. I think my original timetable is correct: it'll probably take 1-2 years to truly win him over. Another good sign is that he's getting more playful. I got him to chase a shoelace, albeit briefly.

When it comes to treats, Dominatrix Lily makes sure she gets hers first, before any of the Horde, or else. She's gotten so bad, she no longer waits to hear me pick up the foil bag and say "treats". She stakes out the counter around bedtime in slavering anticipation of treats, and whenever I go into the kitchen for something, she turns those big green eyes on me and an expression that says, "Well? I'm WAITING."

Diva is the Mischief Monster. She finds more damn things to get into, onto, under or to bat around. One of her favorite things is a toy I attach to the door of the fridge with a magnet. It's a little red stuffed creature to which I've added a bit of catnip. Diva just loves to reach up and knock the creature onto the floor. I sometimes pick it up 2 and 3 times a day and reposition it for the next assault.

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13 DEC. 97:
The giant Tub'o'Litter is a success. Popular with the cats and no litter (or less pleasant by- products) escapes from it. I'll have to pick up a couple more of them.

The box in the dining room is a success, so far. No a drop of pee on the counter since I put it here. And the rubber mat hasn't been pissed on since I thoroughly sprayed it with pet odor neutralizer.

I had temporarily removed a large plastic boot tray from under the water bowls to use elsewhere. So naturally, Artemis, Mistress of Fang Miow, decided to practice the water arts after a long sojourn and I came home to find the kitchen carpet soaked.

'Twas a lovely, warm day and The Automatic Door Opener (otherwise known as me) was back on the job, so the moggies had a day to romp outside, much to their delight. I noticed today how fat Tosca has gotten. She was as thin as Diva when I first brought her home, and now she's turning into a beach ball.

I was petting Owl today, and enjoying the fact that he's definitely relaxing bit by bit. I picked him up and held him briefly. He doesn't struggle, but I don't hold him any longer than he's willing to allow, which is about a minute. I realized that amongst the progress I'm making with him is that he's stopped hiding. He no longer immediately runs to his cave in the loft at the slightest provocation. Now he hangs around on his chair, or the cat bed on the dryer, on the steps to the loft, and even sometimes on the sofa.

Miss Lily spends most of her time out in the open, too. She eagerly grabs lap-time whenever I sit down on the sofa or dining room chair. She reached out and snagged me with a claw to get my attention when I was standing in the living room instead of supplying her with lap.

At the moment, I have Achilles sound asleep in my lap with Tribble, Kate, Hubble and Tosca sleeping on the floor around me.

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16 DEC. 97:
I made arrangements for my sitter to come by yesterday morning after I left for a trip, and take Hubble to the vet. Poor old Hubbs had to spend the night and most of today there before I could pick him up.

There doesn't seem to be anything especially wrong with him except that old vague stand-by of "irritable bowel syndrome". He got a cortisone shot which has helped. The spot on his chin is severe acne. I'm supposed to clean it twice a day and put Neosporin on it. I have a few cats who tend to get chin acne, but not usually this badly. In fact, Tigerlily has some at the moment. I need to shave her little chin (she'll love that!) and keep it clean until it clears up. Zorro usually has a bout of it every summer.

Well, the Phantom Pisser has left that corner of the counter alone, but now the Phantom Sprayer has returned with renewed vigor. Between the two, I guess cleaning spray is marginally better than the other, but not by much. Sigh...

Still having the occasional accident happen on the rubber mat, but that's a really easy clean-up job. I can live with that.

Tribble got in my lap demanded attention with such enthusiasm, he jostled the cable loosed from my keyboard. It took me several minutes to figure out why I suddenly couldn't write anything.

Theseus is all fluffed out for the winter and looks so beautiful. Having a good home and good food has vastly improved his coat, which is now soft and lovely. He looks like a stuffed toy when he sits in certain positions.

Ah, the Mischief Monster/Diva has arrived to talk in my ear and climb on my shoulders and purr in my other ear and chew on my hair and...you get the idea.

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17 DEC. 97:
I had to clean up two different parts of the kitchen counter this morning. I've GOT to catch the cat that's doing it.

Theseus and Diva ran the Kittianapolis from one end of the house to the other. Too much pent up energy from not being able to go outside.

Achilles loves my aloe vera skin lotion. It licked it all off my hands and fingers while I was typing. Made for a unique writing experience, I can tell you.

I had some Kentucky Fried chicken for lunch and brought home the mostly empty box which I left on the kitchen counter. Later I heard an odd sound and discovered Owl trying to stick his head into the box. He was scooting it down the counter.

He's gotten bold enough that when I sat down to eat the remains of the chicken, he jumped onto the dining room table and sat close by watching me.

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21 DEC. 97:
The moggies romped outside in the chilly day and would come inside all fluffed out and quickly stick their noses in the food bowls lest they starve on the spot.

There's been a general lessoning of unpleasant "accidents", I'm happy to note, though they did have a puke-athon to make up for it.

I actually saw Sassy playing with Diva. It's the first time I've ever seen Sassy play with another cat. I regularly take photos of her to the vet clinic because Sassy had a huge following of clients who keep asking after her.

I had a small "first" with Owl yesterday. Until now, any time I've approached him when he's on the stairs, he races to the top and hides. This time, he finally decided I could just pet him instead, then he trotted down the stairs for his usual haunts. It's now much easier to walk up to him and give him scritches and attention.

He talks to me more frequently now, though he hardly makes a sound when he opens his mouth. He's the most silent Siamese I've ever encountered. Diva out-talks him by miles. I think he's slowly coming to ENJOY being petted, whether he wants to admit it or not. {g}

Miss Dominatrix Lily has been dominating my lap every time I sit down to eat. Or watch tv. She's can't get enough lap time.