Tales of the
Moggy Horde
cat face
How I learned
To Stop Worrying
And Love Bast

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cat line drawing
3 Jan. 2004
A mournful way to welcome the New Year, perhaps, but I've added a photo of Uni's grave to his webpage.

8 Jan. 2004
Puck has been quite a lover boy lately. He's been spending a lot of time in my lap. After lunch the past couple of days, I've let Puck come inside into the back hallway (pantry/laundry room combo), then Randy comes back there to give Puck a bunch of love and scritchies. Puck has a lot of the qualities that Uni had, so it's helping Randy get over the loss. If it weren't for Nefreet Psycho-Kitty, we'd let Puck become a house cat, but she even tries to attack him through the glass doors.

The ants discovered Nefreet's food the other day. Her bowl was covered with them. They had come in from below the house, up through a window in the living room, through the spider-plants, through the living room, through the dining room and to the kitchen. Determined little buggers. Her bowl now has a moat around it.

Owl is coming along well. The leg remains somewhat wobbly, with the knee and foot at slightly odd angles, but he's walking around fairly well, albeit it with the limp. He's been quite interested in getting outside. I'm afraid his outside days are over. I know he mainly wants to eat grass and throw up, so I've started a big pot of oat grass for the office. That should make him happier.

I'm worried about Querida (who will be 17 next month). She's been drinking a lot of water for the past few days, enough to be a sign of something going on. I also noted that she's walking far back on her hind legs. Both of these things together could indicate diabetes, and when she was checked a couple of weeks ago, the vet did find a rather elevated blood sugar. Since stress can also cause that, he couldn't be sure if meant anything. Then there were the indications of possible kidney problems. I've just finished weaning her off the Prednisone which may or may not be affecting things. I suspect Querida may be in for another trip to the vet very soon.

13 Jan. 2004
I've come to the conclusion that there is absolutely only one thing I can do about Theseus as winter approaches -- shave him. I swear, in no time he'd have a thick growth of fur again, but it might keep it from turning into this solid mass of dreadlocks that is, quite literally, impenetrable. Neither wire brush, nor comb, nor scissors -- *nothing* can unknot this mess. I despair.

Diva has taken to scratching raw spots on her head and neck again. She periodically gets into this skin or allergy problem, whatever it is. I've put her back on the anti-histamines and hope that will do the trick.

14 Jan. 2004
I brought a large pot down to the office and planted a crop of wheat grass. It's amazing how quickly that stuff germinates. After only a few days, the grass has sprung up a couple of inches. I figured in another couple of days, it might be tall enough to put the pot on the floor and let Owl chomp on it.

Untl this afternoon, when I looked over and realized that Puck was taking a nap on it. Sigh...

I removed him and I think the grass is recovering from the shock of being a moggy mattress.

16 Jan. 2004
I had planned for a short visit to town this afternoon because I needed to have Querida checked out. She's been drinking far too much water, plus there were the worrisome results that showed up on the tests the vet in Fresno did two weeks ago.

They were running behind, so I waited a long time. Then they needed 40 minutes to get the results on the blood test. I left the poor girl there (she *hates* being put in a carrier) and did a whole batch of errands, by which time it was late in the afternoon. Then I waited some more and had a wonderful chat with a mirror image of myself -- a woman with 12 cats. We exchanged war stories and vet stories. I told her about the chicken feed cat litter and the Nature's Miracle anti-allergen liquid, both of which were of enormous interest to her. And I got a big, sloppy kiss from a sweet Labrador.

Querida has a bladder infection that may also be affecting her kidneys. Or she could have other kidney trouble (such as a tumor). She has borderline pancreatitis which is affecting her blood sugar. No more canned food for her. She's on heavy-duty anti-biotics in the hope that this will clear up the full range of problems.

We've been worried about Nefreet, trying to figure out what's going on with her. The past couple of days, I noticed she made an odd noise when she went to eat. Tonight, she tried to eat a piece of dry food and made a growling-pain-complaint noise which told me she must have something seriously wrong with her mouth. Maybe a bad tooth. She doesn't seem able to eat the dry food and it's possible her bad temper of late is a combination of being hungry and having pain in her mouth. I gave her some canned food which she inhaled.

And I left a message for the vet's to see if they can get her in tomorrow. They're only open half a day on Sat. and usually booked solid, but I must get her looked at.

One damn thing after another.

17 Jan. 2004
I was jolted from sleep by the phone. My pettersitter was working at the vet's this morning. Her worried voice said, "What's wrong with Nefreet?" I explained. "We can get her in at 8:40." I looked blearily at the clock. I could just barely make it. I threw on clothes, stuffed a quick breakfast down my gullet, eased Nefreet into the carrier and headed off into a mist-enshrouded morning.

As I came down the mountain pass toward Oakhurst, there was a sight I never see, mainly because I'm rarely on the road at that hour -- a river of fog had flowed into the valley and completely hidden the town from view.

It took the vet and an assistant to hold Nefreet still for a tooth exanination. Nefreet was actually quite good until the vet had to really start probing. Sure enough, she has either a root abscess or maybe a fractured tooth. We're trying a course of strong anti-biotics first. If that doesn't work, we'll have to take out the tooth.

Oh, goody. Querida just threw up a big hairball, which means she probably threw up all the pills I gave her an hour ago.

18 Jan. 2004
I ran out of Fancy Feast to give to Nefreet, so I had to open a can of the regular 9 Lives food that I give to the rest of the Horde. But noooooo, that's not good enough for the Princess of the Universe. She turned up her nose and walked away. Guess we'll see just how hungry she gets before she lowers her standards.

I decided to put the pot of grass on the floor for Owl. I brought him over, made the introductions and Owl wasted no time. He began to graze like a herd of cattle. Ten minutes later, he threw up a *huge* pile of grass. Happy cat. The natural order is restored. Yeesh.

19 Jan. 2004
Nefreet is already eating dry food again and is clearly feeling better. Thank Bast! I think I've avoided dental surgery on this one.

Not so sure about improvement in Querida, though. She's still drinking a lot of water. The old girl doesn't do much these days except sleep.

23 Jan. 2004
My life is about to undergo a major change, as I am moving at the end of February. I'm going from owning a house to renting, which means that moving with the entire Horde is a big, big challenge.

Randy's sister, N., very much wants to have a cat, so she is going to adopt Artemis. As much as I love the Princess of Thumbs and will miss her, I think this will be an excellent move for everyone. N. loves animals and will pamper Artemis. Artemis will get personal attention, have all her needs looked after, will be put on a diet, and will no longer be bullied and harrassed by Blue. And I will have one less cat to move.

N.'s sending me money for a full set of vaccinations ahead of time and the changeover isn't taking place until mid-Feb. We talked for an hour last night going over every little detail of grooming, claw clipping, food, water, cat box, cat litter, how far Artemis can jump (not very) and so on.

I have no doubt Artemis will be a much happier cat once she adjusts to the change, and Bast knows she needs to have help with her weight. Plus, since she's going to a family member, I'll still get to see her from time to time, and will always know how she's doing.

25 Jan. 2004
I love it. I told N. how much Artemis loves to drink from flowing water, so she has already purchased one of those cat fountains with a running stream of water. I think Artemis is about to be royally spoiled.

30 Jan. 2004
After dragging in late at night from a two-day trip, Nefreet was ecstatically happy to see us. She raced around the house like she had a rocket up her butt.

I was denied the night's sleep I so desperately needed when Nefreet had a nightmare or an anxiety attack at 2 am and came crying and scratching at the bedroom door. I had to get up to soothe her and get her settled on the sofa again.

All the other moggies were happy to see me, too, except for the taking pills part. Happily, Querida is done with the anti-biotics and she has bounced back very nicely. She was even playing with a piece of paper yesterday. This is the first time in weeks she's felt that well.

Owl is coming along on using his leg, though I suspect he'll be left with a significant limp. It's taking forever for the hair to grow back and it's growing back in an odd patchwork of dark and light areas. Now that he's getting anti-histamines regularly, he's stopped pulling out the fur on his back. I may have a nice looking Siamese again in a couple of months.

Thanks to the excellent suggestion from a Moggyblog reader, I purchased a dematting tool and am slowly working my way through the thick tangles of Theseus' fur. His hair defies even this gadget, but it works better than anything else I've tried.

1 Feb. 2004
Don't you love it when a cat throws up in the food bowl? Good old Blue was the culprit. There goes half the dry food in that bowl. Sigh...

N. sent email to tell me about the wonderfully perfect piece of cat furniture she has bought for Artemis. It has platforms low enough for Her Blimpness to get onto and will provide her with a viewing position for Cat TV, aka the aquarium.

5 Feb. 2004
Artemis to the vet a few days ago to have her shots and to get her claws trimmed prior to going to her new home. She was truly pathetic. She stuck her head into the back corner of the carrier and did her best to convince herself THIS IS NOT HAPPENING TO ME.

We had to all but pry her out of the carrier. And she weighed in at a whopping 20.5 lbs.!!! She's gained 2 lbs. since the last time the vet saw her. Yeesh.

I'll admit I laughed a lot when I got her home and she shot out of the carrier and waddled off as fast as a 20.5 lb. blimp can waddle.

8 Feb. 2004
My cats have decided to have a Vomit Marathon. Artemis led off, followed by Tribble, then Owl and I'm not sure who else. I swear it's their favorite hobby.

11 Feb. 2004
I've been worried about Artemis for a couple of days. She's been mopey and inert, no interest in food or treats, and throwing up clear, frothy liquid. The clincher was yesterday when she didn't come over for her drink of running water in the morning. So I hauled her off to the vet again. She burrowed her head into the newspapers and went into a total state of denial.

She's lost nearly two pounds since I took her in for the shots. Not good. The vet thinks most of it was water. I was worried about Artemis getting dehydrated and so she was. However, the blood work up came back almost totally normal. No indications of infection or anything serious. Most likely, it's a vague gastrointestinal something or other. She had one of thes flare-ups about a year and a half ago which was fixed with a cortisone shot. She got another cortisone shot, plus is getting anti-biotics in case there's some low level inflammation going on.

She wasn't doing too well last night. The vet gave me some easy-to-digest canned food and wanted me to get Artemis to eat it. No such luck. Artemis wandered off and threw up instead.

Fortunately, she seems to have bounced back today, though she chose to eat dry food rather than the special canned food. Nor is she happy about the hot pink anti-biotics being squirted into her throat.

I had a wonderful moment while I was hanging out in the waiting room area at the vet's. A little girl of about 3 was acquainting herself with the other pets, giving out hugs when she could. She wanted to know about Artemis, so she got next to me on the bench and looked at the furry headless blimp (head inserted deep into newspapers). Then this little girl threw her arms around me, hugged me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. "I like to hug," she said. I gave her a big hug and planted a big messy kiss on her cheek. She was delighted (and her mother was having the best time watching all this).

She then wanted me to kiss her dog. I said it would make my cat jealous. She stared at me with big, brown eyes and I could hear the cogs churning as she worked through this. She wanted to know why. I explained that my cat was scared of dogs and if I kissed her dog I'd smell like a dog and my cat would be scared of me. She wanted to hold Artemis, but I said my cat was big and fat and weighed too much. She held up her little three year old arms and declared she had muscles.

She was totally adorable. I can't remember when I've had so much fun with a small child. I hope she can retain that warmth and confidence and fearlessness for the rest of her life.

12 Feb. 2004
Artemishas bounced right back and is doing great. She ran over for her Water Ritual this morning, sucked up to me while I was cleaning the cat boxes, and even jumped onto my desk. Jumping is something she doesn't do too well anymore and it takes a lot of effort, so she definitely has to be feeling better.

18 Feb. 2004
Sunday was a bad day for Artemis. My stepson and I were making much noise and mess in the office, which drove Artemis deep into hiding. I'd managed, with great difficulty to get some anti-biotics into her in the morning, though half of it went on to her, leaving her mottled with hot pink medicine droplets.

Later in the day, after a lengthy search, we finally located her in a cunning new hiding spot. I had to move several sets of old skiis, boots and poles to get to her for the purpose of rubbing her down with anti-allergen liquid. This isn't something I've done to her before, plus there was the whole STRANGE-PERSON-IS-HERE crisis. The result is that I finished the rubdown, but not without damage -- a big scratch on my chin and a painful bite on one finger.

Things were back to normal Mon. morning. Artemis showed up for her drink of water ritual, then I petted her and rubbed her belly. However, when I went down to the office later to put her in the carrier, she had vanished. I searched for ten minutes. Randy came in to help. After another five minutes, I finally found her in yet another cunning hidey hole.

She was not at all happy about the carrier, of course. She was pretty good about it, though. It was a two-hour drive to N.'s house (Randy's sister), made even longer because we had to take the extremely winding road at a much slower pace than usual. Even so, any time Randy took a sharp corner just a little too quickly, Artemis would meep out a complaint. I sat in the back seat next to her, so she could see me and get her ears scritched.

N. had the house all set up for Artemis. She'd installed a special gate to keep Artemis herded to one section of the house and to make sure she didn't accidentally get out the front door. She'd put up signs on all the other doors that read "WHERE IS ARTEMIS?", so they wouldn't forget and leave a door open. She had a nice new piece of cat furniture, food, a running-stream water bowl, a new cat bed, toys...the works.

I had suggested letting her out first in a small room where she wouldn't be able to immediately hide. N. and I settled into the laundry room, where she's put the cat box. We sat and chatted until Artemis had calmed down enough to come out of the carrier, though I still had to "help" her a little bit. We petted her up and reassured her. Artemis crawled behind me to hide. When I had to get up and leave, she crawled behind N. to hide. That was a good start.

Randy and I took his mother to lunch, while N. stayed behind to continue bonding with Artemis. We went back to her place after lunch and spent another hour helping Artemis become acquainted with her new home. She's going to be in hiding mode for a while, but she's not doing all that badly. She even ate a few pieces of food while we were there.

Since then, I've been getting long, detailed email updates. Artemis is mostly hiding under the sofa, not eating or drinking much, but she is taking treats from N. and even played a little bit with a couple of her new toys. Pretty soon she'll realize that she has the whole house to herself, that there are no other cats to bother her, that she has new doting humans, and she will be a spoiled princess.

26 Feb. 2004
Artemis is doing great in her new home.

The rest of the Horde is greatly perturbed at seeing their space taken apart and replaced by stacks of boxes. They prowl, complain and crawl into my lap for reassurance.

The real fun begins at dawn on Sat. If I survive this, it will be a miracle.

22 March 2004
I have learned two important lessons from having to move 12 cats a distance of 200 miles.

1) Don't have 12 cats.

2) Don't move.

Oh, yes, lesson #3:

3) Individual carriers are better than stuffing multiple cats into large cages.

Here is the epic ordeal of Moving the Moggy Horde.

Saturday, I lined the guest bathroom with cardboard on the floor and against the walls, put in a couple of catboxes, water and food. Then I hauled the entire Horde up, one cat at a time, opened the door a crack and quickly shoved them inside. Nefreet was confined by herself to the main bathroom.

Here is where I had my first surprise. The cats I figured might be a problem were fine and the one cat I didn't anticipate having trouble with -- Sly -- went totally psycho on me. He howled and carried on the entire day while the movers were removing everything from the house. Given that there were 10 other cats with him in a confined space, the psychic fallout was not good.

During the afternoon, as the movers worked, Randy and I drove to Fresno where I rented a van with all the seats removed. As soon as the movers had completely emptied Randy's office, I lined that room with cardboard, added catboxes, etc. and began to transfer one cat at a time out of the guest bathroom and into the office where they had much more space. I left Sly to be freaked out by himself in the bathroom. Poor Diva was in the throes of a nervous breakdown after a day trapped with PsychoSly. Puck was his usual carefree self. "Oh, a new room. Cool. Check it out. What's over here? Interesting. Say, is that an open carrier? Cool, I'll just get inside it and look around. And there's a cardboard box. Cool, I can play in that, too."

I drove another 20 minutes north of town to borrow a couple of large cat cages from a woman who runs her own cat and dog rescue home, to go along with the five carriers of my own.

It was evening before the movers and Randy headed south to the new house (about a 200 mile drive). I spent the night in the empty house with a lot of upset cats confined to their respective spaces, except Nefreet who got to hang out with me. Sly howled non-stop ALL NIGHT. It was so bad, the only way I could sleep was to shut the bedroom door, go into the main bathroom and close that door, and from there into the walk-in closet and close that door. I slept inside the closet (which thankfully is quite large).

Sunday morning, I set about packing the van with a large amount of left-over stuff. I laid down plenty of cardboard on the floor and against the walls to protect the van. I spent a long time considering who to put in carriers and who to combine inside the cages. After many permutations, I decided that Nefreet, Sly, Knobby, Theseus and Divawould go into individual carriers. The largest cage held Owl, Querida, Kate and Tosca. The smaller cage held Puck, Tribble and Blue.

Then began the catch and capture phase. Fairly soon, I had the five cats in their carriers, though Sly was berserk about being confined. I had the large cages placed inside the van. I would catch a cat, walk outside to the van and insert cat into cage. This went fairly well until I tried to add Blue to the cage with Puck and Tribble. Blue went medieval on me. For a full minute, he twisted and bucked and fought while I tried desperately to maintain a hold on him as he inflicted damage on my wrist. It was like trying to hold a dervish covering with razor blades. He got away.

With the rest of the cats in the van, I was faced with what to do about Blue. I was so stressed, I was ready to tell the new owner he had inherited a cat. I continued packing the van and about ten minutes later I caught a glimpse of Blue under the back deck. I sat down on the steps to the deck where I spent about ten minutes gently talking to Blue until I had coaxed into the open. He came up to me, I gave him to scritchies, waited until he had relaxed, then carefully picked him up, took him to the van and got him into the cage before he had time to think about it.

I wish I would have had a tape recorder for the drive that followed. I heard every single sound a cat can make, in abundance. Howls, yowls, mrowls, screeches, squeaks, cries, complaints, name it. For three hours. There was one five-minute pause near the end of the drive, but that was it.

Much later than intended, I finally pulled up to the new house. The movers were gone, but the house and my new office (the garage) were stuffed to the gills with boxes. The cats were SO ready to be set loose. Sly quickly returned to normal once he was free and able to move around. I have to say, all in all, the Horde adjusted to the new space pretty well. Nefreet, as before, is the sole cat in the house. We let her sleep with us the first night, given how uncertain she was about everything.

Mon. we had to turn around and make that long drive again, first to return the cages I'd borrowed, then to return the van.

For the first few days, the cats gathered around the office door to make a break for it, though the only one that actually succeeded, about a week after we moved in, was Tosca. She darted past me and into the yard between the garage and the house. She quickly came to a stop, perplexed by the strange surroundings, and I had no trouble picking her up to put her back inside. She hasn't tried again.

They have one window, unlike my previous office which had four. I've set up shelves in such a way that they have an open platform for looking out the window, for those that can reach it. As soon as I get more boxes unpacked and things moved around, I want to set it up so that even Owl (who can no longer jump), will have the means to get up there.

My other first order of business was to locate the nearest vet. It turns out there's only one. Her office is about 5 miles away, which is good, but for after-hour emergencies, we'd have to drive about an hour, which is not so good. When I asked around for a vet, I was told that this one was very expensive. Other people swear by her and say she's really good. I've been told she's so attuned to the animals that she'll remember the cat's name but not the cat's person's name.

I located her office and stopped by one day, so I would know where it was, get the hours, etc. It's a gorgeous place, with a good-sized atrium in the center of the receiving area containing unusual birds that she's rescued, including one bobwhite pheasant that apparently arrived having been packed along with a truck transmission. At any rate, it's the classiest vet office I've ever seen with a very dedicated staff. Her standard office visit didn't strike me as terribly expensive, only slightly more than my previous vet. I've brought with me the medical records for the entire Horde to have handy for the new vet. Sooner or later, I'll be meeting her.

3 April 2004
I debated what was appropriate for this blog. It is, after all, intended to be about my horde of cats. But it's also my blog and may be whatever I want. Rather than go into detail, I will only mention here that I've been in Tucson for the past several days dealing with the untimely death of my best friend, Katherine Lawrence. To read more of my thoughts and feelings on this painful loss, you may read my obit posting at

Immediately after I got home from Tucson, I discovered that Querida had an eye infection, so the poor old girl was hauled off to the vet that afternoon. This was my first experience with the vet since moving here and so far I'm impressed. Nice woman with a great attitude. Very meticulous and thorough. We have Querida on anti-biotics and I'm supposed to get her some L-Lysine since the vet thinks the chronic eye problem may be from a Herpes virus. The Lysine is supposed to combat that.

Amazing news -- twice today I've found Owl up on my desk! There's only one way he could have gotten up there and that's to jump. Which means he's able to jump again! I'm astounded. I want to actually catch him in the act to convince myself he's jumping and hasn't simply developed anti-gravity levitation skills. Wait, here he goes.

Ah, the mystery is solved. I had completely forgotten that I temporarily placed a large rubber container down at the far end of the lower branch of my desk which provides him with two short jumps up here. Still, they're little jumps and that has to be good for him. It also means I won't be moving that container away.

Birthday greetings: sometime earlier this year, Querida reached the ripe age of 17. Puck's birthday is unknown, so I've assigned him April Fool's (so appropriate) and he is now 3. My "little girl" of the group, Diva, is now 7 (at best guess).

3 April 2004
Owl is such a happy boy now that he can get onto the top of my desk. He's hanging out here much of the time. I even saw him jump down from the very top level. I was worried about him doing that, but he landed very easily with no apparent problem for his knee. I've very happy about that.

Querida's eye looked terrible this morning, crusted all around. I had to get a washcloth and spend a few minutes cleaning her up. Which she hated, of course. I really need to get hold of some lysine for her.

This house has come with its own troop of the neighbor's outdoor cats. The most frequent visitor is Salem, a black cat, who comes around to drink from the birdbath. He's extremely shy and won't let me get near him. Then there's Duncan, who's black and white, who has sniffed my fingers. The big brown tom, Harley, who was more than willing to let us rub his belly, but who also starts fights with the other cats. There's another big brown tom, Tom, that I haven't seen yet. I caught a glimpse of a gray cat today, name unknown. I don't mind if they hang around, since I'm not letting my cats out, and this well-fenced yard keeps them safe from the roving dogs, but it's rather amusing that we have a "shadow horde" around.

6 April 2004
Owl truly has amazed me now. I saw him jump all the way from the floor to the highest part of my desktop. That's a regular sized cat jump, which means he's using that knee pretty well, even if he does want to keep holding it out straight when he's lying down. He's spending a lot of time on the desk, purring up a storm, even climbing into my lap. Happy moggy.

9 April 2004
It was the unfortunate Diva's turn to go to the vet today. I was hoping that her constant running, goopy eyes problem would go away once I moved to a new locale and Diva was no longer going outside. But yesterday, her eyes looked really goopy. That pretty much rules out the allergy theory, unless it's an allergy I brought with me from old office to new office.

Off she went and she was a very good girl, sweet thing that she is. I have eye drops for her, but the vet was insistent that since Diva's had this problem for so long and it never clears up, I need to take her to eye specialist to find the underlying cause rather than continuing to treat the symptoms only. She's given me the names of three specialists, all over an hour's drive away. I'll see how things go after this round of treatment.

10 April 2004
Here's a more detailed report from CNN about the ancient cat burial (it has a photo, too). It's been a fascinating story to follow.

(CNN) -- Archeologists say they have evidence that a bond between cats and humans was forged thousands of years before previously thought.

An elaborate Neolithic burial site uncovered in the Shillourokambos settlement on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus reveals that the friendship between cats and humans may go back 9,500 years. Prior to the discovery, Egyptians were thought to be the first to keep cats as pets, around 2,000 to 1,900 BC.

Scientists, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Science, say a skeleton of a young cat was found just a few inches from the remains of a human, buried in a similar fashion.

"We don't know if the human was a male or a female, but we do know that he or she had a special status in society," said Jean -Denis Vigne, vice president of the Scientific Council of the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The cat was the Felis silvestris species, a wildcat, a bit larger than modern domestic cats. It was about eight months old when it died.

Researchers found many items not often found in other graves, including flints, a small green stone axe, and two dozen shells. The cat skeleton was just 15 inches from the human skeleton. Vigne said the animal skeleton showed no sign of having been butchered, and its proximity to the human suggested some respect or reverence. It is possible, he said, that the cat was killed to accompany the human in the afterworld.

Vigne said there is no way to know if this cat was a pet. But he said the burial find in Cyprus indicates that the relationship between cats and people involved spiritual links.

Stone and clay figurines of cats have also been found at archeological sites in Syria, Turkey, and Israel from the Neolithic period, the latest period of the Stone Age.

Archeologists examining early bonds between cats and humans usually describe the benefits to the pet owners as rodent control. The cats would benefit from easier access to food, the researchers said.

But in the case found in the Cyprus dig, the cat would likely have been brought to the island from a mainland location, some 35 to 50 miles away.

Vigne said other animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs, were probably also transported from the mainland around the same time.

"This is an important site for the whole of western Asia," said Vigne. "Because it has told us this civilization crossed the sea to this island both for culture and to domesticate animals."

Until this Cypriot excavation, the Egyptians were long considered the earliest civilization to both tame cats and to show a great reverence toward them. The Egyptian goddess Bastet often appears with a human body and a feline head.

Along the Nile River, cats were viewed as protectors of the home, keeping the household free of pests. The Egyptians even bred a new species of cat 3,900 to 4,000 years ago.

The Cyprus site was first excavated in 1992. Vigne expects about two more years of study there, which will probably mean the French scientist will put off owning a pet cat for a bit longer.

"Perhaps when I retire," he laughed.

13 April 2004
There is nothing worse than a bored, young cat full of mischief. I knew being forced to stay inside would be tough for Puck, but it's also proving to be tough for me.

His antics over the past few days have include knocking a large box of bubblewrap off a high shelf; methodically knocking large bags of wadded packing paper (leftover from the move) off the top shelves; trying to climb into a carrier up on a top shelf, which he knocked off and both he and the carrier came crashing down six feet to the floor. I was scared to death he'd really hurt himself this time. He looked rather shocked. I checked him out very carefully and couldn't find any damage. A minute later, he was back to playing energetically with a feather toy.

When he's not knocking things down, he harrasses other cats and I have to keep jumping up to play cop and break it up. I wish I *could* let him outside, but it's not safe around here.

16 April 2004
Nothing much to report in the moggy world, so I've posted some photos instead.
Tribble the magnificent.
Tribble and Puck
Right before Puck decided that two could share that chair.
Theseus the Mogggy Tank.
Diva doing her Fiend From Hell imitation (her way of telling me she isn't going to tolerate more eye drops).
Winged Moggies
A batch of winged moggies.

19 April 2004
Nefreet's behavior has changed a lot in this new house. For the better, I should add. I think it's a combination of finally settling in and the realization that she has the house to herself.

She no longer has to share her humans or her space with Unicom, and she doesn't have to worry about unexpectedly running into him, or being harrassed or getting into a fight. Her Dread Nemesis is gone.

This has freed her up to become more energetic and playful. I swear, you wouldn't know this was a older cat. She races around the house and up and down the stairs like her butt was on fire.

Her favorite toy -- she's totally addicted to it -- is a sphere made of brightly colored plastic suction cups. It was one of those tech convention giveaways, I think designed to be thrown and stick on walls. She loves to bat that thing around.

Another funny thing she's doing these days is hiding under a corner of excess drapery of the cover we put over the sofa to protect it from cat hair. She becomes The Lump and lashes out at those who dare to tease her from the Outside. Sometimes she simply grabs a clump of the extra fabric and disembowels it.

She's certainly a happier moggy than she used to be.

20 April 2004
Oy. Puck is determined to live up to his name as the Prince of Mischief. It wasn't bad enough that I had to keep breaking up his attempt to start a fight with Tosca.

During the afternoon, he crawled *into* a large box of styrofoam peanuts that I thought was well out of his way on top of a set of shelves. But noooo, not satisfied to merely muck around in them, he knocked the entire box onto the floor. And onto the cat food and into the water bowl and into white drifts on the floor...sigh...

Randy, the dearheart, came out to the office and helped me pick them up. Which also gave him an excuse to grab the feather toy and play with His Mischief and the other moggies for a while.

23 April 2004
Puck continues to make mischief, but right now he's cuddled in a cat bed with Kate and it's terminally cute.

Theseus has a big scratch on his nose.

Randy came out for a visit and was mobbed by furry attention-sponges. They're so neglected.

24 April 2004
We ordered a blind for Randy's office window and the box and packing it came in became cat toys. I opened both end of the long square tube, thinking Puck might like a cat tunnel, but the box is just a little too small for that.

But the packing! It's some kind of cushy cardboard stuff cut into accordion-like lattice. I put that on the floor and the moggies, every single one of them, went crazy over it. They had a Smellathon!

Photos of Smellathon.

I swear, Tribble stuck his nose into it and didn't come up for air for ten minutes. I think he was getting high.
Moggy Smellathon
Tribble, Puck, Theseus, Owl, Sly
Moggy Smellathon
Sly, Tribble, Owl, Puck, Theseus, Diva
Moggy Smellathon
Sly, Tribble, Owl, Puck, Theseus, Blue
Moggy Smellathon
Sly, Tribble, Owl, Puck, Theseus, Blue
Moggy Smellathon
Coming late to the party -- Kate, Querida as Puck watches.

25 April 2004
Kate is a sadist. She loves to get in my lap and knead. The problem is that her claws go right through my pants and inflict me with ten needlepoint incisions. She's always so happy about it, too.

I keep a special towel around to whip onto my lap as soon as I see her coming, but every once in a while she catches me unprepared and inflicts happy pain.

27 April 2004
Now that Owl is able to access my desktop again, he's turned my big HP printer into his permanent bed. This, of course, means that I'm SOL if I need to print something.

What? Disturb the cat? Unthinkable!

Tosca and Diva had a mutual grooming fest that was very sweet. See for yourselves.
Tosca & Diva
Diva (daughter) & Tosca (mama, blue collar)
Tosca & Diva
Diva & Tosca
Tosca & Diva
Diva & Tosca
Theseus & Tribble
Theseus & Tribble, my two furballs.

28 April 2004
If you're reading this blog, you probably don't need one of these. A Synthetic Animated Moggy.

30 April 2004
The bluejays have been having words with cats today. A scrub jay perched on the fence outside the office window and screamed at the cats. Later, I went to the house and a stellar jay was screaming obscenities at Salem, the neighbor's black cat who drinks from the birdbath a couple times a day. I'm sure the jay didn't appreciate a cat using *his* pond.

Tosca was talking in her sleep. It must have been some dream because she was moan-yowling quite loudly, with her feet and tail twitching.

The feather toy has lost its last vestige of being a feather toy, thanks to a final pounce by Theseus. It is now a slithering snake-string toy, which the moggies seem to enjoy every bit as much.

2 May 2004
I came outside the office in the dark and saw a shadowy shape lurking nearby. I said, "Hello, Salem," naturally assuming it was the neighbor's black cat. But instead of running away, this cat ran right over to me to be petted. It was a lovely gray cat and the same neighbor has a gray cat that I've only seen from a distance, so it may the same one. He (I'm assuming, since all their other cats are male) was on the skinny side, and was behaving very oddly in that he was obviously friendly and more than willing to be petted, but he kept growling the whole time.

Of course, the growling may have come from smelling the other cats on me, not to mention smelling the plastic bag of cat droppings that I had brought out to put in the garbage bin. We visited for a while. I petted, he growled and rubbed up against the stair railing before vanishing into the night.

He might be one of the culprits who fights regularly somewhere near the office. Almost every other night, there's a short, vicious cat fight usually between 9 and 10 pm. This doesn't exactly promote harmony and peacefulness within the Horde, some of whom tend to jump up and run around trying to figure out who's fighting and what should be done about it.

Things are peaceful this morning, though. Puck went bubble-wrap diving. Pills, treats, water and food have been given. Nap time is in progress.

Nefreet was a Happy Sofa Lump this morning. Pictures ensued.

Nefreet becomes the Sofa Lump.
Beginning the Lump
Full on Lump
Attack of the Lump!
The Lump takes a breather.

4 May 2004
I did one of those really stoopid things. I sliced open my thumb while opening one of those peel-back-lid cans of cat food. Bled a whole lot.

When I came into the office this morning, I once again found the large box of bubble wrap lying on the floor, courtesy of Master Puck's bag of mischief tricks. There was also a goodly amount of shredded bubble wrap lying on the floor. I went to pick up the box and it was heavy! I looked inside. There was a very happy Owl in his new cave, sleeping on his bed of shredded bubble wrap.

8 May 2004
Nefreet got up into the kitchen window, which is above the sink, and gave some cat outside a stern hissing at. Probably Salem come to drink from the birdbath, but whoever it was had vanished by the time I ousted psycho-kitty from the window.

9 May 2004
Something I have feared for weeks has happened -- ants have found the cat food bowls. We have a big ant problem in this new house. I thought we'd just brought a batch with us in the jasmine plant, but we have ants in the walls behind the shower and are constantly battling invasions.

I figured with ants in the house, they were likely all around the property and if they ever found their way into my office with all the cat food bowls, I would be in trouble. That's what happened last night. I went to give the mogs their night-time treat of canned food and found ants on one of the bowls. Disaster! Catastrophe!

Fortunately, they'd only found one bowl. I doled out the food, removed the ant-infested bowl and washed it, and sprayed along the wall where they were getting in. I haven't seen any new ants this morning yet, but I know this was only one battle in a war. These are the tiny black ants that go crazy over meat and protein, and cat food is an irresitible lure.

THE GREAT CAT LITTER CHICKEN FEED EXPERIMENT: One year later, I declare this experiment to be an unqualified success. The lay crumbles work great, are cheap as all get-out, and I haven't had one single insect of any sort result from using it. It is dusty, but it's no worse than dust from clay litter, while being a lot more environmentally friendly than clay. I wear a dust mask anyway, but I've also learned to close my eyes when I'm pouring out a large amount of it.

Speaking of matters of the cat box, one of my cats has had a problem that's been going on for months now. I keep finding single, hard "tootsie rolls" outside the boxes. Almost every morning I find one close to the boxes and then I usually find one somewhere else in the office. I have no clue who's responsible, but I sure would like to find which moggy it is and figure out why he/she has this problem.

13 May 2004
Here's a site of terrific wonderfulness. Enjoy.

The Infinite Cat Project.

15 May 2004
Owl has lost some weight, maybe a couple of pounds. Which is not bad, because he was carrying a bit more weight than he needed. I'm wondering if the anti-histamines could be the reason. At any rate, his fur is looking lovely and thick because he's not pulling it out and he looks very good at the lower weight. He looks trim and fit.

Of course, if he keeps losing weight, I'll have to do something about it, but for now he seems to be doing great. He's become outgoing enough to actually come out and greet strangers who visit the office and he's always happy to see Randy. He's still not sure he likes it when I kiss him on the head, though. Owl, I mean, not Randy. ;)

21 May 2004
I missed celebrating Tribble's birthday! He turned 15 on May 1st. And he is a bright and bouncy as ever. He mugs me for treats every morning and every night. Tosca and he do a tag-team mugging for treats.

I have a big, purring pile of Siamese in my lap. He's found a way to squeeze his entire bulk into a compact shape that doesn't interfere with typing, amazingly enough. What a happy boy.

22 May 2004
I gathered up a large handful of white goose feathers at the pond in the park, which I will turn into cat toys. String, gaffer's tape and goose feathers -- what could be more perfect? They're in my office now and Puck is doing his best to destroy them first. The other moggies have found them to be most interesting to sniff.

Tosca likes to reach out and grab the other cat's tails. I haven't seen a single cat yet that actually appreciates this, oddly enough.

27 May 2004
Poor Knobby. I rarely mention him because he's such a pathetic little boy. He's neurotic and timid, so he spends his time hiding out. I usually only see him when he and Puck have a noisy, yowling confrontation that I have to break up, or when Knobby is unleashing several quarts of cat spray, which does not exactly endear him to me. Fortunately, he uses the same piece of cardboard each time, which I put up specifically for that purpose.

But the past couple of days, Knobby has been coming around and begging for attention. This consists of giving him head and ear scritchies, which he loves. Today I thought I'd try putting him on my lap, in case his desire for attention was really that strong.

A big N-O to that. He freaked, spun out and disappeared. He is so not a lap cat.

Unlike the big, happy Siamese love-sponge I have in my lap right now.

31 May 2004
Tosca is not happy that I rearranged my desk. The big HP printer is now in an entirely different location, on the left-hand wing of my desk, rather than to the right of my monitor. That was one of her favorite sleeping spots. She jumped up there yesterday and stood on the right side of the desk going "What th--?!" Her tail whipped back and forth in Extreme Disapproval.

I started to point out to her the new location of her napping spot, but discovered it was already occupied by Owl.

Poor little moggies. How they suffer.

2 June 2004
Tribble's favorite thing to do when sitting in my lap is to rub against my right hand, which doesn't do much for my ability to type.

This morning, while lying abed before forcing ourselves awake, we heard an odd thumpathumpa in the back yard. We couldn't identify it, but we were too tired to investigate.

About ten minutes later, Nefreet when to the sliding glass doors and growled. A bit more awake by then, I got up and discovered we had two, young tabbies curled up in contented sleep on the back deck. The deck is really no more than a landing with several steps down to the thin strip of back yard and the high wooden fence that separates us by not very much from the neighbors behind us.

I had seen one of these tabbies yesterday in the yard and was confused because I could tell it wasn't one of the two tabbies from across the street. Harley is bigger and more sandy-brown, while Tom had some sort of leg or foot injury and has what seems to be a permanent limp.

These two were nearly identical, very pretty dark tabbies with big green eyes. They were in good shape and looked well enough fed. I didn't get a good enough look to know their gender, so I'll guess they're a pair of brothers from the same litter. What they look like are thinner, younger versions of Puck. Two young pucksters!

One was much more skittish than the other and upon seeing me, ran down the steps, jumped over the fence and headed for the hills (literally). The other boy was more casual and hung around longer. He jumped onto the ledge of the fence and sat there a long time as we talked to him and meowed-mrrrred at him. Finally, he strolled through our yard toward the front of the house and probably vanished under the deck, since I couldn't see where he went.

We are definitely the Cat Nexus for this area, for easy reasons:
   a) our yard is entirely and solidly fenced off, inititally for the original owners to keep their dogs in, but it works equally well to keep dogs out, making our yard about the only safe and dog-free space for miles.
    b) we have a water bowl aka the birdbath.
    c) we provide food-on-the-wing aka birds (since I put out birdfeeders and seedbells). Randy found the feathers of some unfortunate bird in the yard when he was cutting grass.

I wonder if these pucksters are the cause of the frequent cat fights we hear behind our house.

Speaking of pucksters, I bought a toy yesterday that I thought might keep Puck occupied. It's a catnip mouse inside a wire ball. I gave it to him this morning. I think it took all of five minutes, tops, for him to get the mouse out of the wire cage. :P

I put the mouse back inside the ball and tried to close up the wider sections. Puck played with it a bit more. But now, a few hours later, Owl has found it, removed the mouse in about two minutes and is having a wonderful time tossing it around. I may as well leave it that way.

4 June 2004
I thought I'd never find the catnip mouse again, but I did accidentally come across it, rather battered now and minus a tail. I put the nipmouse up on one of the high walkways I made out of 2x4's. Puck eagerly bounced up there, grabbed the mouse and made off like a tiger-with-prey. He carried the nipmouse down to the floor and tossed it around.

I"ve decided to try cutting Owl's dose of anti-histamines in half. If he starts pulling out his fur again, I can bump it back up, but I'd like to find the lowest possible dose that will work, just in case it's behind his weight loss. He looks very trim and fit at this weight, but I wouldn't like to see him lose any more than this.

He must have known I was "talking" about him. He got onto the deck, purred in my face, walked across my lap a few times and has settled down on the right side of the desk, purr-motor in cruise control.

Randy came in for a brief visit. He was met with a loud chorus of moggy greetings, led by the chorus-mistress, Tosca.

Over dinner with N. (Randy's sister) and her husband, D., I was delighted to hear how happy Artemis is in her new home. D. said that when he's relaxing on the sofa, she will climb onto his chest and rev up her purr. He also showed me a nice big scratch she gave him when he didn't pick her up quite right (she hates being picked up). She's lost a few pounds, which is very good, but seems to have a bad touch of arthritis. She always walked rather oddly. I thought it was due to her polydactyl feet, but it may be a joint problem. N. is taking her to the vet for x-rays soon. They're doing an outstanding job of doting on her, so I am content.
Puck with catnip mouse
Puck and the nipmouse
Puck wishing he could go outside.
Querida and Kate snuggle up
Querida and Kate snuggle up.
Theseus talks, but doesn't reveal who gave him the scratch on the nose.

6 June 2004
There's not much left of the catnip mouse. A snout and half a body, that's it. My moggies are merciless nip-addicts.

I've given up trying to grow the oak grass inside. Puck simply will not leave it alone long enough to grow more than half an inch. I now have three pots of oat grass and a pot of catnip set up just outside my office in a spot where I hope the other stray cats that visit the yard will miss. I saw a new one today, a fluffy orange and white patched cat that took off fast over the back fence when I talked to him.

I'm fairly sure now that Theseus is the one who's been leaving the "tootsie rolls" around the office. His big furry butt is a total crap magnet. I've been trying to carefully trim away some of the unpleasantness and excess fur back there, but it's not an easy job. He is understandably uneasy about having me clip things back there. He'll hold still for about ten seconds, then squirm away (imagine a tank squirming), then turn around and come back for more. It's not easy getting anything accomplished that way. I have a very small electric trimmer that is completely useless against his thick, tough fur. I need something far more powerful.

Querida has another eye infection, poor girl. I have drops on hand and am debating taking her to the vet. There doesn't seem to be much the vet can do beyond the drops, which aren't good to use on an extended basis. Querida wasn't able to tolerate the anti-biotics the vet gave me last time. At 17, I suspect there are limits to what we can do for her.

8 June 2004
Thanks to Alex Burr for pointing me to this one. It was found at:

by Howard "Bud" Herron

Some people say cats never have to be bathed. They say cats lick themselves clean. They say cats have a special enzyme of some sort in their system that works like new, improved Wisk--dislodging the dirt where it hides and whisking it away.

I've spent most of my life believing this folklore. Like most blind believers, I've been able to discount all the facts to the contrary, the kitty odors that lurk in the corners of the garage and dirt smudges that cling to the throw rug by the fireplace.

The time comes, however, when a man must face reality: when he must look squarely in the face of massive public sentiment to the contrary and announce: "This cat smells like a port-a-potty in July."

When that day arrives at your house, as it has in mine, I have some advice you might consider as you place your feline friend under your arm and head for the bathtub:

--Know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and lack of concern for human life, you have the advantage of strength. Capitalize on that advantage by selecting the battlefield. Don't try to bathe him in an open area where he can force you to chase him. Pick a very small bathroom. If your bathroom is more than four feet square, I recommend that you get in the tub with the cat and close the sliding-glass doors as if you were about to take a shower. (A simple shower curtain will not do. A berserk cat can shred a three-ply rubber shower curtain quicker than a politician can shift positions!)

--Know that a cat has claws and will not hesitate to remove all skin from your body. Your advantage here is that you are smart and know how to dress to protect yourself. I recommend canvas overalls tucked into high-top construction boots, a pair of steel-mesh gloves, an army helmet, a hockey face mask, and a long-sleeved flak jacket.

--Prepare everything in advance. There is no time to go out for a towel when you have a cat digging a hole in your flak jacket. Draw the water. Make sure the bottle of kitty shampoo is inside the glass enclosure. Make sure the towel can be reached, even if you are lying on your back in the water.

--Use the element of surprise. Pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to his supper dish. (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire. They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule. If he does notice your garb, calmly explain that you are taking part in a product testing experiment for J.C. Penny.)

--Once you are inside the bathroom, speed is essential to survival. In a single liquid motion, shut the bathroom door, step into the tub enclosure, slide the glass door shut, dip the cat in the water and squirt him with shampoo. You have begun on the wildest 45 seconds of your life.

--Cats have no handles. Add the fact that he now has soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded. Do not expect to hold on to him for more than two or three seconds at a time. When you have him, however, you must remember to give him another squirt of shampoo and rub like crazy. He'll then spring free and fall back into the water, thereby rinsing himself off. (The national record for cats is three latherings, so don't expect too much.)

--Next, the cat must be dried. Novice cat bathers assume this part will be the most difficult, for humans generally are worn out by this time. Drying is simple compared to what you have just been through. That's because by now the cat is semi-permanently affixed to your right leg. You simply pop the drain plug with your foot, reach for your towel and wait. (Occasionally, however, the cat will end up clinging to the top of your army helmet. If this happens, the best thing you can do is to shake him loose and to encourage him toward your leg.) After all the water is drained from the tub, it is a simple matter to just reach down and dry the cat.

--In a few days the cat will relax enough to be removed from your leg. He will usually have nothing to say for about three weeks and will spend a lot of time sitting with his back to you. He might even become psychoceramic and develop the fixed stare of a plaster figurine.

--You will be tempted to assume he is angry. This isn't usually the case. As a rule he is simply plotting ways to get through your defenses and injure you for life the next time you decide to give him a bath.

--But at least now he smells a lot better.

11 June 2004
I keep stepping on the pathetic remnant of the catnip mouse, which is unnerving because after years of living with cats, my feet have developed unique sensors entirely of their own which instantly send messages along the lines of "You may have stepped on some part of a cat!" or "You may have stepped on a gopher snout!" or "You may have stepped on a large, firm hairball!" or "You have just stepped in something really disgusting you don't want to know about!"

One of these is usually correct. Except no more gopher snouts here, of course.

Tribble has a worrisome elevation in a key liver enzyme, so I'm starting him on two medications. One I have to pick up at the vet's office and the other is, as she put it, "at the human pharmacy."

Puck had one of his ga-ga moments over my hair this morning. I had just washed and dried it. Came into the office. Began the morning round of handing out pills and treats. I knelt down to take care of Owl under my desk. Next thing I know, Puck has walked off the desk, onto my shoulders, settles on my back, wraps his front legs around my neck and rubs himself all over my hair. Then, totally high, he chases Kate around the office. I swear the secret ingredient in Pantene must be catnip.

14 June 2004
Poor dear Tribble. I feel so bad having to give him these two liquid meds, one of which (the vet warned me) has a terrible, bitter taste. Plus he already has bad diarrhea from them after only one day. I put in a call to the vet wondering if I can give him acidophilus to help deal with it. I'm lucky that he's such a loving, forgiving cat, but that just makes it harder to do the evil deed.

16 June 2004
I just had to break up a full-on bloody fight between Puck and Knobby. Puck really has it in for Knobby. Knobby often ends up as the "pariah cat" in the Horde. Fortunately, there was no actual blood but I had to visit some severe discipline upon the blasted Prince of Mischief.

Theseus is such a bull-in-a-china-shop. He can't help it. He's built like an aircraft carrier. A very furry aircraft carrier. He gets on my desk and simply turns around and knocks over half the objects I have there, sending me searching for scattered pens.

Tribble has taken to hiding from me when I come into the office. Sadly for him, I know all his hiding places.

My vet recommended L-Lysine for Diva to treat her eye virus (250 mg twice a day). I've been giving it to her in chunks inside treats. She was taking these without demur until last night when she finally said, "Yuck on these." I had to give them the old-fashioned way. Happily, she took them in the treats this morning. I think it's already helping, as her eyes are looking better (less weepy and gooey) and her fur looks like it's improving as well.

I'm also giving it to Querida. I don't see a big change in her, but she does seem to be feeling pretty well these days, which is good.

18 June 2004
Kate is stretched out to the right of my keyboard trying to have a relaxing nap, and Tosca, who simply cannot resist the sight of a twitching tail, keeps batting at Kate's tail and pinning it down. I'm waiting for the inevitable backlash, as it were. Kate is staunchly ignoring the pestering and this seems to be working. Yes, Tosca is losing interest. What's the fun of batting your sister moggy's tail if you can't get a rise out of her?

Tribble has taken to going into hiding as soon as I come into the office and he's found some truly cunning new hiding places that have wasted a lot of my time as I wander around the office muttering and peering behind, under, over and around various objects.

I should mention that there are some new contenders in the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics, so check it out.

22 June 2004
I had to tear apart a corner of my office to find and nab Tribble this morning. The man who put the drywall up to convert this space into my office left behind a large pile of rubbish and stray bits of drywall in one corner that I haven't had time to deal with. Naturally, Tribble found a way to ooze back in there totally out of reach.

He comes by his hiding ability genetically. Querida found a hiding spot the other day that gave me fits. Took me ten minutes of serious searching to find her.

24 June 2004
Getting Tribble's medicines out is a slightly complicated affair. I have to put a piece of paper on my desk. Set out the thyroid pill. Get the two bottles of liquid medicine from the mini-fridge (one white, one hot pink). Shake them up. Draw up the two syringes of liquid med. Lay them on the paper. Put meds back in fridge. Find cat (a 2 to 10 minute process). Grip cat firmly. Impart meds. Let cat run off and hide. Toss out paper. Wash out syringes. Wash spit-up and foam off plastic floor mat. Repeat at night.

Yesterday, I had everything laid out, but when I returned with Tribble, I found that Theseus, CWAC (Cat Without A Clue) had laid his enormous, furry body all over the meds. ACCKKK! I went. He jumped up and ran off, scattering the syringes. I somehow managed to gather them up and shake off the bits of hair without losing hold of Tribble. So now I have to add an extra step and put my large rolodex over the syringes for protection until I get back.

I will be soooo glad when we're done with this.

25 June 2004
Yesterday, while running errands in Bakersfield, we went to a Petsmart (big chain of pet stores). I mainly went looking for a powerful shaver to use on the Evil Butt of Theseus. I found the one the vet recommended but it was $80.00 and I just couldn't justify spending that much. I settled for a special pair of clipping scissors at $8.00 instead.

Meanwhile, Randy got into serious trouble. He had found a room set aside for an organization that tries to get cats adopted. There were about 8 large cages with batches of kittens and about 6 adult cats. Randy fell hard for a white cat with orange tabby patches that was a total sweetheart. The only thing that saved us is that person who handles the adoptions is only there on Sat. Otherwise, I greatly fear that cat would be home with us right now. We had a narrow escape.

I vascillated about it, but ended up buying a $20 catnip "spa" for the cats, a tub of catnip, more oat/wheat grass seeds, and Randy bought a new catnip toy for the moggies, since the catnip mouse is long gone.

The catnip spa was a big hit and I have photos to prove it. A whole batch of photos, actually, of that and other tidbits. The main nipheads were Puck, Owl, Tribble and Theseus. Puck and Owl teamed up to make it very difficult to put the spa together while they went bonkers on it.

I put the unopened tub of catnip on top of a bookshelf about 4 feet tall. Owl astonished me. Not only did he detect the sealed tub up up there, he JUMPED to the top of the bookcase. I honestly didn't think he was capable of a jump like that with his metal knee. But driven by catnip lust, he can do it.

There was much rubbing, sniffing and lolling about. Tribble and Puck exchanged a flurry of blows after trying to snarf up the same piece of catnip.

Randy came in and had great fun getting the mogs to play with the new catnip toy, a furry thing on a string. I was surprised at how incredibly playful Owl got with it. Owl is learning rather late in life how to play, and it's nice to see.

The toy was carefully wound up and put away on a much higher bookshelf, but this morning I found it unwound and knocked down into the trash bin.

Of course, today the catnip spa is being ignored. They only like the stuff when it's really fresh, the spoiled brats.

Yesterday, I also picked up some L-Lysine in capsules, trying to find an easier way to give it to Diva and Querida. Unfortunately, they only make a dosage in a large capsule suitable for human throats, and is twice the amount I'm supposed to give at one time. My cats would choke on those capsules. I tried sprinkling it into food, but both girls decided they didn't care for the taste of it, so that's not going to work. I went to the pharmacy today and bought some much smaller sized gelatin capsules. I'm going to empty the Lysine powder from one large capsule into two small capsules and give those. Bast owes me big karma points for this.
The Cat Desk where, if the moggies let me, I might actually get some work done.
Left to right: Tribble, Tosca, Puck, Theseus.
Puck and Theseus practice detente.
The Lawnmower moggies, Puck and Owl, move in on the oat grass.
The catnip spa frenzy. Nipheads are (from top, going clockwise) Owl, Theseus, Puck and Tribble.
The Great Catnip frenzy goes on...
...and on...
...and on.
Tribble says, "Catnip good!"
"Catnip! Give me catnip!"
Owl gets medieval on the new catnip toy.
Owl's dilemma -- the catnip toy or the catnip spa. Choices, choices.

26 June 2004
Converting the big Lysine capsules into the two small capsules has proven to be relatively easy and painless. Neither Querida nor Diva seem bothered by swallowing them. I'm a happy cat-mother.

I'm sprinkling a bit of fresh catnip on the spa in the morning and last thing in the evening, making for a batch of happy moggies.

27 June 2004
I couldn't resist taking more cute cat pictures: Diva, Puck and Blue this time.
Diva says...
..."Do you mind? I'm trying to sleep."
Puck, Prince of Mischief
Puck & Blue
The Tabby Mafia: Puck & Blue

28 June 2004
Poor Tribble. He keeps searching out new hiding places and I keep finding him.

Only 6 more days to go, thank Bast.

29 June 2004
Tribble has developed this cunning method of floopy quasi-passive resistance to taking the liquid meds. He turns into a floppy furry ragdoll with coils of refusal lurking underneath.

Only 4 more days to go, though one of the meds doesn't look like it will last that long, and he's supposed to have both of them together. I'll have to check with the vet on whether to continue the bubblegum pink liquid if the bitter white liquid runs out first.

I think Diva might be benefitting from the L-Lysine. It's all rather subjective, of course, but her eyes don't seem quite as bad (though still a little runny sometimes) and her fur seems to have improved (more gloss, less dandruff).

1 July 2004
The vet wants me to keep Tribble on the Hideous Meds for the full 21 day course, so we stopped by there today after having lunch out and I picked up enough of the Bitter White Gunk to last until the final dose on Sun. night.

Only five more doses to go!

2 July 2004
Tribble put me through my paces this morning. I searched all his previously used hiding places. No luck. I started in on all other possible places and finally found him lurking behind a couple of pieces of old bed headboard. I'd been meaning to finish cleaning out one corner of the office and put those pieces back there. Since I couldn't reach him as he was, I went ahead and tackled that task.

As soon as I moved the second piece of headboard, Tribble darted off. I had to finish up what I was doing, then began round two of Find The Tribble. He'd done a very good job this time and it took me a while to locate him in a teeny place that I didn't think he could squeeze into. This required moved a very large, but thankfully lightweight box and the Hideous Meds were duly administered.

It isn't giving the meds that takes the time. It's the finding of the cat for the giving of the meds that is time-consuming.

Only 3 more doses to go!

3 July 2004
WE'RE DONE! We're done, thank Bast. This morning, Tribble got his claws into my thumb so that I had a bloody thumb while giving him the meds. This evening, he didn't even bother trying to hide, though he still fought me over taking it. But that's the last dose and I felt a great satisfaction in throwing out the hateful bottles and dosers.

I must admit, Tribble looks good. He's gained some weight and feels more solid than he has in a long time, his fur looks better, and he seems to generally be feeling pretty well.

Likewise, Diva and Querida both have improved fur quality from taking the L-Lysine. And they both seem to be feeling pretty well these days. If I could just find a way to clear up Querida's permanently stuffy, snurfly nose, that would be great.

5 July 2004
Someone, whose name probably begins with Puck, disemboweled a roll of paper towels during the night and left the remnants all over the floor.

Then I found that half of the remaining "lizard" toy had been amputated. It's actually a wand with a long piece of plastic string that used to have a bunch of feathers at the end. One by one, the feathers were destroyed, leaving only the long plastic string. This turned out to be Puck's favorite toy -- chase the lizard! Now, alas, even the "lizard" is too short to do much with. I must find a replacement.

6 July 2004
We made the mistake of letting Puck have five minutes or so outside, under our strict supervision, several days ago. Ever since, he has made mad dashes out the door as soon as I open it. Fortunately, he doesn't run off or try to avoid me, so I have no trouble catching him, but I'm thinking that giving him a taste of the outside then denying it to him again was a bad idea, poor boy.

8 July 2004
Tribble has forgiven me pretty quickly, now that the Horrible Meds have stopped. He's on my desk, to the left of the keyboard, looking quite happy.

Puck keeps scooting out the door. If we have the time, we'll stand outside with him for a few minutes, but it's made getting in and out of my office a whole lot trickier.

One of the neighbor's tabbies was hanging out in the yard the other night. The next morning, we found the remains of yet another bird -- just the head, wings and feet. I'm not terribly happy about this, but short of trapping the cat, I can't see what to do about it. As Randy pointed out, that would certainly justify her accusations of me being a cat-napper. [g]

Speaking of Randy, I came inside and saw a bandage on his hand and indications he'd been bleeding pretty freely.

"What did you do to your hand?"

"Nefreet got me with a dull tooth."

"Ah, you were annoying her."

"We were annoying one another."

12 July 2004
Owl was sleeping peacefully to the left of my keyboard when Puck plopped himself along the top edge of the keyboard and used Owl's butt for a pillow. After a few minutes, Owl scrunched sideways. Puck buried his head in Owls' stomach. After a few more minutes, Owl got in disgust and stalked off. Puck hasn't budged, of course.

Puck has also taken to helping me put the Lysine capsules together in the morning. His "help" consists of batting the gelatine capsules around and sticking his tail in the Lysine powder.

14 July 2004
Puck decided to "help" me with filling the Lysine capsules again this morning. He grabbed one of the small, empty gelatin capsules and made off with it.

Okay, I thought, if he wants gelatin capsules, why not give it to him? I took one of the large capsules from which I'd emptied the Lysine, put the two halves to back together and when the Merry Puckster showed up for more mischief, I tossed it to him. I figure it can only benefit him to eat a bit of gelatin with Lysine in it. He leapt happily upon it and chased it down a table top and onto the floor. I found half of the capsule later, so he might not have found it all that palatable after all.

I had to fight off another ant invasion in the cat food and sprinkled boric acid around the outside of the office to see if that would help. The ants don't seem interested in the sugar-baited type of boric acid I had to buy. These ants want protein.

Which is why I'm perplexed over the major ant invasion in the house where we have Nefreet's catbox. There were ants all over the box and in the litter and they seemed to be after the cat crap. I've never seen ants interested in cat crap before. It took me forever to get that taken care of and get all the ants out of it.

18 July 2004
The new catsitters came by today, a very nice older couple and die-hard animal lovers. It was their second time here, but I didn't have spare keys for them the first time. Today I gave them the keys, along with some documents I'd prepared for them. I wrote up a chart of which cat gets what medicines, plus a bunch of other relevant info on where to find things, what the routine is, etc. I also gave them several pages with color pictures of each cat, with name, age, temperament, health issues and whatever else I thought they'd like to know. I've already done paperwork at the vet's authorizing these people to bring my cats there in case of emergency, so I let them know about that.

I walked them around to everything, where cat food is, etc., and reintroduced them to the moggies. Most of the Horde will come forward to greet new people. Theseus, Blue and Kate hid in a heap in a corner behind a box, and Knobby vanished into some other hidey-hole. The rest demanded or allowed as much attention as could go around.

We'll only be gone a few days, so it'll be a good test run.

19 July 2004
New rule -- never leave a pile of packing paper lying around for too many days. I mainly left it because Puckaroo Banzai likes to play in it and hide under sheets of crumpled paper. But last night, I caught Tribble peeing in it, much to my dismay. I suspect Blue may have done the same earlier, now that I think back on his behavior. I saw him coming out of the papers, then scratching at them as though trying to cover up something. At least there's only concrete underneath, rather than carpet.

20 July 2004
One of the small pleasures of life I missed immediately after moving was the lack of birds. At my house up north, we had tons of birds and a great variety of them. Juncos would arrive by the dozens and bluebirds by the handful would splash in the birdbath.

When we moved here, we brought a birdbath with us and immediately set it up, and I hung seed bells and then a feeder. Then I waited. And waited. I began to despair of ever seeing a bird in this yard.

Months later, we finally have a fair number showing up. Nothing like the old place and nothing like the same variety. The most common visitors are the red house finches and the titmouse. There's also a more unusual golden-orange house finch. There are black-chinned sparrows that are striking to look at. We get scrub jays and once in a rare while a couple of Stellar jays (with the black topnotch).

There are none of the hordes of acorn woodpeckers we had before. I've spotten one type of woodpecker that I haven't seen before. I'll hear a loud metallic rat-a-tat-tat and I know he's trying to peck through the metal banding at the top of the power pole. He can't seem to figure out that he's never going to get through that metal. I forget what type he is.

Yesterday, a new pair of birds arrived. A very pretty and somewhat large black-headed grosbeak. The male looks like a calico. He has a black head, bright cinnamon on his chest and part of his neck, black and cinnamon streaks on his head, black back with white bands on the feathers. Similar colors to Nefreet, in fact, though his orange is deeper. They have huge beaks, in keeping with their name, for eating seeds. Unlike the other birds who come and go nervously, the grosbeaks take up residence on the feeder for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, methodically devouring the seed. Sometimes the smaller birds sit on a wire nearby and swear at them.

Then today, a pair of robins visited. The male had a rollicking good time taking a bath in the birdbath.

We also had to run off Tom, one of the neighbor's tabbies, who was crouched by some bushes near the tree with the feeder, watching lasciviously and chattering to himself. I'd say it's pretty clear that he's been the one catching birds in our yard.

27 July 2004
The moggies were very happy to have us home again. The sitters said everything went fine and all pills were given.

We got in late Sun. night and immediately had to battle ants. The sitters had accidentally not closed Nefreet's tub'o'food tightly enough and the ants were having a par-tay! Food! Food! Endless food!

I had to take care of the Horde before we could collapse. There was much joy in Hordeville because Big Mother Cat was back.

Nefreet, feeling insecure, meowed at the bedroom door at 6:30 am the next morning. We weren't ready for that.

I let Puck come outside with me this morning while I dumped the water bowl contents onto the apple tree and refreshed the birdbath. Puck's first order of business was to roll in the dirt. Then he had to sniff everything in the universe. I stayed on the porch with him a few minutes longer, but had to work to do so I slung him over my shoulder and brought him in. The next thing he had to do as a result of that was harass Tosca because he had, after all, been Outside.

28 July 2004
Puckaroo Banzai had TWO visits to the Outside today, the lucky boy. He has quickly glommed onto my willingness to let him come outside with me when I empty the water bowl. This morning, he bounded out, rolled in the dirt and immediately went to sniff everything on the front porch.

Late this afternoon, when Randy got home from the gym, he came out to say hello to me and the moggies and he took Puck outside for a while.

Meanwhile, Theseus is once again a major stinkybutt and I despair of dealing with it. So mainly, I try to pretend it isn't there. Except I can smell him as soon as he's within two feet of me. Feh!

31 July 2004
I think I'll have to reverse my policy of letting Puck go Out. The brief time he gets outside isn't enough to satisfy him, but seems to be just enough to get him all hepped up and riled and frustrated. He spent his first year as a totally outdoor cat, his second year with a lot of access to the outside, and now suddenly in his third year, he's forced to be an indoor cat. The very short tastes of the outside must reawaken the wild boy inside him.

Whatever the reason, he jumped Sly last night and they had a series of short, vicious battles where they were biting one another around the neck and fur was literally flying. Puck was the aggressor. I had to chase them around the office until I finally managed to get hold of Puck and whack him a good one on the head to express my displeasure. I held onto him until he had calmed down and stopped huffing, then I checked him over carefully for bites. Didn't find any.

After that, I found poor old Sly and massaged his neck and shoulders checking for bites. Sly thought that was wonderful and turned on his purr machine. As near as I can tell, they pulled out tufts of fur, but didn't inflict actual wounds. I hope.

At any rate, Puck did not go Out today.

2 Aug. 2004
Courtesy of my friend, Marty, take this link and under "Cats Falling Down", click on the video link. It's hysterical.

Poor Nefreet's catbox was overrun with ants again, blast the miserable things.

Puck is frustrated at not going out. He stretches himself full length at the door where tries and tries to figure out how to work the doorknob. He knows that round shiny thing is the means to opening the door. If he had thumbs, I'd be in big trouble.

4 Aug. 2004
Although Puck has gotten wise to it, I still manage to distract him briefly by flicking the large empty gelatin capsule into the air so it bounces and makes a fun thing to go chase.

This morning Puck bounced after it and mauled it in his mouth a little bit, just enough to make the gelatin sticky. I looked up and there is Puck, only a teensy bit perturbed, with a gelatin capsule glued to his bottom lip. This necessitated (between howls of laughter) grabbing my camera to get shots.

After about five minutes he got it off by himself, then pretended it never happened.

Since I had the camera out, I grabbed a couple of other shots, too.
Puck: "What's so funny?"
"Okay, it looks silly. What's your point?"
"Are you going to help a guy or are you just going to laugh?"
Tosca: "What are you looking at?"
Knobby: "I'd be much happier if you didn't have Puck at your feet."
Theseus: "Yeah, I'm built like a tank. Adore me or else."

8 Aug. 2004
Nefreet is in the doghouse where Randy is concerned. He was petting her, then stood up and walked past her whereupon for no apparent reason she lashed out and gave him a nasty set of claw marks on his foot. I think she's very lucky that she didn't become a football at that moment. Punt!

Yesterday, I heard Diva having a wonderful old time batting something around on the floor. It turned out to be one of the extra Lysine capsules I had set aside for the evening dose. Both capsules were missing from the corner of my monitor stand. I rescued the one from her and only managed to find the second one later last night.

Tribble spent yesterday methodically puncturing my two guests in the legs. It remain the most effective attention-getting technique I've seen used by a cat. "Hi, pet me right now or I will stick this fish-hook into your calf."

I found Salem (neighbor's black cat) munching on bird feathers in the front yard this morning. I hope it was an old kill and not a new kill. I confess, softie that I am, I bought some cheap cat food and put out a bowl of it on the front porch a couple of weeks ago. The neighbor's cats all look skinny to me. Besides, I was hoping that having food handy might discourage some of the bird-eating and might tame them down a bit so that I could get a chance to pet them. No such luck so far. They are very spooky cats.

Here's a new batch of photos of the Demon Glowing Eyes Brigade.
Tribble: "Behold the awesome power of my glowing eyes."
Tosca: "You will do as I command. You will do as I command."
Kate: "I, too, will command you with the power of my glowing eyes."
"But right now, I have grooming to do.
Puck gives his glowing eyes a rest
and resorts to Toxic Cuteness.

10 Aug. 2004
I've been worrying about Owl's knee for a couple of months. He walks and even jumps apparently using it, but as I've commented before, when he sits or lies down, he holds it straight out. When I've tried to get him to bend it, he reacts badly and gets away from me as fast as he can.

When I had visitors over a few days ago, Owl wanted to run away from them and wouldn't even use the leg. He went three-legged instead. That was the tipping point of worry. I thought that maybe he was being a stubborn Siamese (is that redundant?), but it could be more than that.

For peace of mind, I took him to the local vet and had the knee x-rayed. She hadn't seen him before, so she did a full exam. The general exam looked good. But the x-ray news was as bad as it gets.

The wire holding his knee together has broken and the bones have shifted out of place. This means he *can't* bend his knee. It also means he must be in constant pain from the way the bones and cartilage are now jammed together. Plus who knows how much the broken wire itself might hurt.

Which means...another round of surgery to fix it. Damn! Once again, I'm looking at really expensive surgery I can't afford, but it's not like I can leave him in this condition.

The local vet is showing the x-rays to a radiologist this evening. She's going to call me with specific details tomorrow so that I can begin to call the list of orthopedic surgeons she gave me and decide where to take him. They're all a long way from here in West L.A. or Ventura or Pasadena (not a single one in Bakersfield). The ones in Ventura are supposed to be extremely good, but also twice as expensive as anywhere else. Sigh...

He was such a sweet, quiet, good boy about all of it. I was told not to let him have any food since this morning (which meant none of the moggies got to eat), so the first thing he did when he got home was stick his face in the food bowl. That was another nagging clue that had me worried -- I could see he was losing weight, even though he eats well. He's down to 13 lbs, a good weight for him, but down a couple of pounds from last Dec. If he's in constant pain, that might make him lose weight.

Poor Owl. The sooner I can get help for him, the better.

12 Aug. 2004
News about Owl: the vet took the x-rays to a radiologist and reported thusly -- the radiologist doesn't think the broken wire is the problem and thinks the joint has fused with scar tissue, a condition called arthodosis. There's a surgical procedure of arthrodesis which uses metal plates to fuse a joint that is too badly damaged to be repaired.

However, my biggest concern right now is that Owl might be in constant pain. My vet thinks he probably does have discomfort of some sort, if not outright pain.

By amazing luck, the vet has an orthopedic surgeon visiting her clinic tomorrow afternoon and he will look at Owl and the x-rays for free to give me a second opinion. I will take action depending on what I learn tomorrow, but I feel that something will have to be done and I don't see how it could not involve surgery.

13 Aug. 2004
The Owl Report is about as dire as it gets.

I dropped Owl off at my vet's around 12:30 pm to await the arrival of the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rooks. Dr. Rooks has a surgical practice in Orange County, a two-hour plus (depending on traffic) drive south of here. He comes up once or twice a month, as I understand it, to consult at my vet's clinic and places in Bakersfield.

Later in the afternoon, my vet called to give me the results of Dr. Rooks looking at Owl and the x-rays. Yes, he agrees that Owl is probably having a lot of pain. The only option is to go in surgically and see what can be done. If there's a sufficient amount of cartilage remaining, it might be possible to reconstruct a working knee. It's more likely that he'd have to perform a procedure called arthrodesis in which the knee is permanently fused. It would no longer move, but it would also no longer cause pain. Given how well Owl has been moving around here, including jumping up and down from my desk, only using three legs, I don't think a fused knee would be much of a disaster.

Mainly, I want this to be the last damn knee surgery this poor cat and his poor (about to be impoverished) owner have to suffer through.

My vet gave me a list of four clinics that have licensed orthopedic surgeons she would recommend. We're looking at a *very* expensive surgery. Dr. Rooks estimates the cost between $1900 and $2400. Two other places estimated anywhere from $2500 up to $3200. I didn't even bother calling the place in Ventura because my vet said that when she priced them, they charged twice as much as anyone else. Since she took her dogs to Dr. Rooks for surgery, and since he has seen Owl and has the best price, I opted for him.

I'm driving Owl down tomorrow to have him checked in, to consult with Dr. Rooks (who I didn't get to meet today), and Owl has his surgery Sunday morning.

I picked Owl up late this afternoon, along with the x-rays and some morphine-based pain medication. At the moment, Owl is feeling pretty good (IOW a stoned moggy). He's not gonna be too happy about a two hour plus car drive, stoned or not.

I am deeply touched and appreciative and wish to thank Marty and Eva for sending money to help Owl without me even going into cyberbegging mode. I have been extremely reluctant to cyberbeg again after people were already so generous for the first surgery Owl had. But the price of that was nothing compared to the price of this. So, dear moggophiles, if you have money burning a hole in your wallet (hah!), Owl and I would be eternally grateful.

14 Aug. 2004
Tremendous thanks to Shannon Muir who may have just saved Owl's life. I was in such a rush and too trusting and didn't do the kind of research I should have done. But Shannon googled on Dr. Rooks and the All-Care Center and discovered a very unsettling lawsuit against him. Numerous counts of malpractice, including having someone whose background was a heavy machine operator giving out anesthesia and performing surgical procedures!!! And passing off people as specialists (such as neurologists) with no such background, not keeping proper records, and so on.

I immediately cancelled the appointment. I'm still shaken by what a close call that was and the thought of what could have happened to Owl at the hands of unqualified people. Rooks may be a great surgeon (he has a good rep), but the person administering anesthesia is every bit as vital.

Rooks was supposed to have had his license to practice revoked, but has gotten a stay which allows him to remain in practice. That's not good enough for me! There were also other lawsuits, including lawsuits All Care brought against previous patients who complained about bad care or the loss of a pet, and All Care lost all of them, as far as I can see. Apparently, his clinic also tends to give a lowball figure up front, but charges more later.

I realize that things can go wrong with the best of vets. It's hardly a perfect science. A brilliant and caring vet will still lose patients. But the number and type of items listed in the lawsuit after a 11/2-year investigation by the California Veterinary Medical Board is enough to keep me away.

I spent the morning researching a place that looks very good and is recommended on a couple of websites that do animal rescues and adoptions. It was one of the other places my vet gave me to check out, Animal Surgical and Emergency Center in west L.A. I've made an appointment for Monday to have Owl evaluated there.

Deepest thanks to Shannon and Joyslin for contributing to the Owl Surgery Fund.

15 Aug. 2004
Puck is determined not to let Owl have all of the attention. He got onto the top of a bookshelf, knocked some empty boxes down onto Blue (who had been sleeping peacefully), then decided the wall clock could be used as a stepping stone, resulting in the clock and Puck tumbling to the floor.

I have been forced a couple of times today to stop what I'm doing and play with Puck before he explodes from excess energy.

Special thanks to Elizabeth B. for her donation to the Owl Surgery Fund.

16 Aug. 2004
By Bast's Whiskers, it's been a long stressful day.

I had to get up at omigod o'clock, an hour at which I am not yet a sentient being in order to have breakfast, give cat pills and get on the road for a trip I estimated would take about an hour and a half due to traffic. I'd had to put all the food away last night because Owl couldn't have any food after midnight, which meant the entire office Horde had to go without food overnight. The food went back out as soon as I had Owl outside.

I had a slight delay because while I was giving the morning pills, Owl's telepathy kicked in and he went off to hide. He was very unhappy about being in the carrier and panted a little during the drive (meaning he was quite stressed himself).

Owl is one of the sweetest, gentlest cats I've ever seen, so it's not that he struggles or makes noise or does any of the things other cats do. He just looks at you with those big, blue saucer eyes and that's all it takes to melt your heart.

I got started a bit late, but still got there within a few minutes of the appointment time...then got to wait for about 50 minutes. It's a good-sized place, very busy and extremely pleasant and upscale, just south of Westwood. I was amused by the chit chat in the waiting room. One young woman's father produced American Gladiator and other reality shows. Another young woman is the assistant to a TV writer and ended up with his dog because he never has any time.

They took Owl to the back for weighing, etc. while I waited in another room. Then the surgeon came in with the x-rays and we consulted. I have to say, I am very, very happy with the people there. She was terrific. First, she has a Siamese herself and really loves them. We discovered that we both have Siamese cats with the same plastic bag-eating fetish and the same obsession with eating/throwing up grass. So right off the bat, she was in tune with Owl.

She went over everything in thorough detail, with no false promises. She was very honest about what might or might not come of this, what the various procedures could be and the possible outcomes. With a big cat like Owl, it's harder to make this type of repair work as well. The main thing is that the bones had moved out of alignment and were being held that way by scar tissue, so the only thing she could do was to go in surgically and see what could be done in terms of a repair.

I had called ahead to the vet who'd done the first surgery and had him fax the records down, so they had a blood panel to look at. There was a question about the high blood sugar he had then and the fact that he's lost weight. We decided she would do a new blood panel before we made a decision about surgery. I hied myself off for half an hour while that was done.

The blood panel was excellent, blood sugar normal, everything indicated he's in good health otherwise. I left Owl to have the surgery, but I asked to see him before I left. They brought him into one of the rooms and I spent about ten minutes soothing him and telling him what a good boy and that everything was going to be all right. He wasn't buying it.

The tech who had drawn the blood came in to chat and tell me what a nice cat Owl is. The guy was warm and sweet. I could tell that he genuinely liked Owl. Another big plus point for this place. He nicknamed Owl "the gentle giant".

The bad news -- it's going to cost between $2,200 and $2,800...and there's no way to make payments. It's half up front, half when I pick Owl up. Aaaagggghhhhhh.

The surgeon wasn't sure if she would be able to get Owl into surgery today or have to wait until tomorrow. She said she'd call. I got home by late afternoon and went out to finally clean the cat boxes. To add to the worries of the day, I discovered that Querida's left eye is infected and nearly swollen shut. I found some ointment to put in it, but I'll have to check it carefully in the morning in case she requires a run to the vet.

C'mon, Bast, show a little mercy here.

Six o'clock came, 6:30 crawled by. I called and was told the vets were all still doing surgeries. Around 7, the surgeon called to assure me that it went well and that Owl came out of the anesthesia just fine. She said there was a lot of scar tissue they had to remove. They took out the pins and wire, got the bones aligned properly, did some suturing, and have put on an exterior rigging to hold the leg rigidly in place until the new scar tissue can form and hold things things in place. When she first described it to me, I called it scaffolding, so that's the only word I can think of for it now.

The idea is for the knee to heal in a certain position, with the hope that he might get some flex in it, but at the very least, he'll be able to stand on it and use it a little. That's what we have to hope for, because if this fails, we would probably have to consider amputation. And I DO NOT want to think about that.

She emphasized that it will be vitally important to keep Owl quiet and still for weeks. She wants me to either get a big cage or dog crate and keep him in that, or create some kind of enclosure so that he can't possibly try to jump or do anything that will dislodge what has been done until it's thoroughly healed in place. I'm afraid that is the most likely explanation for why his first surgery failed. He jumped or did something that screwed up the bones while the scar tissue was in the process of forming, and it formed with the bones out of whack.

Owl will be in the hospital for observation for another couple of days. The surgeon expects there to be a lot of swelling at first and she wants to keep a close eye on him.

About five minutes after we hung up, the phone range again. Instant paranoia! I was worried it was the surgeon again. To my surprise, it was a woman from my local vet's office calling to inquire how things went. I was impressed with that. I filled her in and told her about the need for a large crate or enclosure. I meant to call them in the morning to see what they might have. She said she thought they had something, but she would check on it and call me in the morning.

I feel optimistic about the surgery. I'm highly impressed with the surgeon and the clinic. I appeal once again to all you angels out there who can contribute to the Owl Surgery Fund. This is going to be a tough one to cover.

17 Aug. 2004
I spoke with Dr. Wilson this morning. She said Owl is "subdued", which is to be expected right after surgery. There's some swelling, also expected, but he generally seems to be doing all right. He's on pain meds, of course, so that would also keep him subdued.

She said to keep checking every day and I might be able to bring him home by Thurs.

I didn't ask about the total cost. I don't think I'm prepared to hear it yet.

Enormous thanks to Alex B. for his donation.

For those who can, please consider contributing to the Owl Surgery Fund. Thanks so much!

Oh, yes, Querida's eye looks better this morning. I'll keep using the ointment and see how it goes.

18 Aug. 2004
I wasn't able to connect with one of the surgeons until late in the day. Owl is progressing all right. He doesn't want to eat, but she says that's pretty normal. She guesses he's the kind of cat that will do better back in his own environment, and and I quite agree. They've given him a box to hide in. She said he likes it.

Meanwhile, Randy and I spent much of the afternoon getting an enclosure made to keep Owl confined in comfort. The surgeon stressed again today how important it is to keep him from doing anything that could mess up the healing process. She said I'll have to keep him more or less confined for two months, not two weeks.

The other keel-over-heart-stopping news is the final bill. Over $2600.00. ::THUD::

20 Aug. 2004
It's been a tough couple of days. Backing up:

Thurs. 8/19: We arrived at the clinic around 5:30 pm after finishing our other meetings and such in L.A. The bill had gone up because the person who gave me the total the day before hadn't figured in the overnight hospitalization costs, roughly $300 a night! So the final total was $2920.00, a figure I can barely bring myself to think about. And there will be more expense down the road. The follow-up visits are included, but not the follow-up x-rays. I'm going to stop talking about this now before I go mad.

I was given the anti-biotics and pain meds, and detailed printed pages of instructions. I was impressed with their thoroughness. They covered everything I need to do or not do or watch for, as well as when I need to make follow-up visits, what those visits would do, what costs would be incurred, and so on.

They brought Owl out in the carrier. The tech commented that he is an "awesome cat". I think he made some fans.

He wasn't a happy camper on the long drive home, though. He fought with the carrier a little bit, which isn't like him, and he even complained plaintively a few times. He's usually silent. Shortly before we got home, he peed in the carrier and then complained quite a bit about that.

For various reasons, we didn't get home until pretty late. I needed to spend some time in the office with him, plus I had to give him the meds. We put the cat box, food and water bowls into the enclosure. Then we took the carrier apart so we could simply lift the unhappy moggy out. I wiped him down as best I could. Once inside the holding pen, Owl flopped around a bit, being pretty unsteady as you might expect, and he's got this metallic scaffolding jutting out from both sides of his knee. Almost immediately, he stuck his snoot into the foot and ate a little bit. I was told he didn't want to eat at the clinic, so this was a good thing.

But he was Not Happy about the pen. No, precious, not one bit. There was one tiny air slot at the bottom of the desk that we hadn't blocked off because we thought there was no way in hell he could get out there. That was the first thing he did. We turned around and to our shock found him squeezing and pulling and oozing through this low, narrow gap. We had multiple heart attacks on the spot. The last thing you want to do in that situation is interfere with what the cat is doing, so we had to stand by while he dragged his scaffolded leg out through this space.

I immediately put him back in the pen and investigated his leg with a flashlight. I couldn't see any outward signs of damage. Randy blocked the space with a brick and the large tub of cat food (to keep him from pushing the brick out).

By this time, Randy's asthma was reaching critical levels, having been in the car with a cat for two hours and now in the cat-filled office. He had to vacate for a while. I gave Owl his meds, which make him foam profusely. He hates that.

I was checking my email when I heard a loud thump from the back of the pen. I had blocked off other open spaces around this angled desk using spare shelves from some bookshelves, held by bungie cords. They seemed quite secure.

Not with the Siamese Hulk around. He had forced his way out and was making off for the back of the office. I put him back inside and stacked up three heavy boxes against the shelves. Randy, who had come back in again, placed a heavy toolchest against another shelf and brought more bricks inside.

We put a couple of heavy boxes against the child gate that forms the front of the pen, to hold him in for the night.

Fri. 8/20: I came out before breakfast to check on Owl and give him the morning meds. I was relieved to see he hadn't found some cunning new way to escape, Houdini-cat that he is. He's also very damned unhappy about being in prison. The pain meds are not keeping him nearly as sedated as I expected they would. He has one, sharply focused imperative in his furry brain -- ESCAPE. That is, after all, the duty of any good POW.

One of the techs cautioned me that the morphine-based pain killer might give Owl constipation. Instead, we had a messy case of diahrrea that required some unpleasant clean up on both cat and pen. I am not having fun.

Every time I have to open the gate to clean the box or give him food or whatever, he makes a break for it. He wants to be anywhere but there. I wish I could give him that simple freedom, but on one of his jailbreaks, he tried to get into a narrow space where he could easily get that leg caught. If he screws up this operation, we've reached the end of the road. About the only alternative after this is amputation. I remind myself of this to harden my heart while I keep him locked up.

But he really, really hates it.

Here's a batch of photos, mostly of Owl, but a couple of other moggies as well.

A big thank you to Lois T. for her donation.
Owl the jailbird. The child gate is fastened on one side with door hinges, so it's more secure than it looks. The big fan on top is holding down a shelf to block the gap between the gate and the angled desk.
Owl: "You just wait until I get out of here..."
Owl's luxury condo with the gate open. He's getting ready to make a break for it.
Owl's scaffolding and incision.
Owl's scaffolding (actually called rigging).
More of Owl's scaffolding.
Randy and moggies
Randy in the land of moggies. Tribble at his feet; left to right is Diva, Sly, Owl and Puck. This was just before we took Owl in for surgery.
Tribble in blissful sleep.

21 Aug. 2004
Owl has gotten himself so pre-conditioned that last he started to foam at the mouth before I gave him the pill! And it isn't even the pill that tastes so bad, it's the liquid antibiotics.

He seems a bit more resigned to incarceration today, though he was quick to come out when I had to release him briefly in order to sweep up the litter on the floor.

LATER: I just got back from running errands. It's the middle of the afternoon. All I did was say hello to Owl and tell him he was a good boy, and he has already started foaming at the mouth as though I were about to give him the meds. Yeesh. Talk about Pavlovian conditioning...

22 Aug. 2004
Once again, I had to let the Owlmeister out briefly while I cleaned up the pen. There was a lot of litter on the floor and in the water bowl. I always replace the water in the morning, refresh the food, remove the litter pan and sweep out the area.

I have to sweep with one eye on Owl the whole time. He wandered over to food bowls, but didn't eat. I'm rather worried about the eating. I can't tell that he's eaten any dry food, and he hasn't been touching the canned food at all. Normally, he's enthusiastic about the canned food. I can tell from the litter box that he's drinking water, but I'm worried that he isn't eating.

He then wandered around my desk and squeezed himself into the tiny carrier on the floor that Querida likes to lie in. Fine, I thought, let him stay here nice and quiet. The next thing I know, he has pulled himself out of the carrier and *jumped* onto the director's chair. At least it's a low-slung canvas chair, so it wasn't a big jump, but the last thing I want him to do is jump!

I immediately went over there to stand by him and pet him. I got him to purr for me. Then Puck decided to jump Kate. She took off with a squeak that spooked Owl who did exactly what I feared and tried to launch himself from the chair. Thank Bast I was standing right there and was able to catch him instantly. Back into the pen he went. I swear, it must be like having a 2 year old.

I rearranged where the food and water bowls are to get them as far away from the litter as I can. I'm also going to change how I give him the meds in the hope of encouraging him to eat at times when he's not foaming at the mouth so much.

23 Aug. 2004
I gave out the canned food at the usual time last night, while not giving Owl his meds until later. I was really hoping that would help get some food into him. He showed a little bit of interest in the canned food, then threw up. Since he didn't have anything in his stomach, he only brought up liquid. That left me pretty worried. I had to go back to the office an hour later to do the meds and it looked like he might have touched the food, just a little bit. I decided to call the clinic in the morning if I didn't see improvement.

But this morning -- praise Bast! -- he had eaten the canned food and a portion of the dry food. I am so relieved. Randy, who is a saint, is now coming out with me before breakfast to babysit Owl while I do the housekeeping chores with the enclosure. He kept Owl under control, but he commented that although Owl was purring, he was also whacking his tail around in that way that says, "I may be purring, but I'm not really happy about this."

24 Aug. 2004
Last night, I ran out of Clavamox, the liquid antibiotic, which they wanted me to give to Owl for 7 days. But they only gave me enough for 4 days. Color me confused. I left a long, detailed message on their voice mail asking them to contact my local vet and authorize me to pick up some more Clavamox from her.

That was the first thing I followed up on this morning and, of course, nothing had been done. I finally found out that the surgery clinic had not even gotten the voice mail. I was hard pressed to bite my lip and not snarl "Why do you bother having voice mail if you don't bloody bother to CHECK it?"

Anyway, after several phone calls and wasted time, I got things arranged, had breakfast, ran down to my local vet's office and picked it up. My local vet, bless her, gave me pills instead of the awful liquid, so Owl won't have an excuse to keep foaming.

I was very happy to see this morning that Owl had eaten every bit of his food -- all the canned food and every spec of the dry food. Randy did the baby-sitting with Owl while I cleaned up. Owl just wanted to escape, though he tried to put Randy off his guard by purring. I put some catnip on the catspa, which kept Owl occupied for part of the time, along with several other catnip fiends. Then I also put some catnip on Owl's cushion in the pen.

The poor boy looks so bored being cooped up. I asked the clinic if it would be all right to simply let him out and walk around a little bit, but they said absolutely not. I need to keep him contained, quiet and moving as little as possible. Sorry, Owl.

25 Aug. 2004
Owl has been crying today and I don't know why. It may relate to his guts bothering him. I gave him acidophilus this morning and really hope it will help him. I keep sitting down to give him pets and atteniton, but I think mainly he's just agitated and wants to get out and about. Definitely not a cat who likes to be caged.

26 Aug. 2004
I suspect part of Owl's crying may be to say "I don't want to use the same cat box for two jobs." He complains a bit when he's using the cat box for the second time, I notice. The acidophilus has helped with the gut problem.

He's also pulling fur out. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It wasn't from the usual place on his back. Then while Randy was babysitting him, he saw Owl pulling out fur along the edge of the shaved area on his leg. Maybe the fur growing back is irritating him, so he's licking it hard enough to pull out the fur. Randy said Owl was also licking the incision, which I hope is a good thing, as in keep it clean vs. having a problem with it. It looks all right superficially. The stitches come out next Tues.

I have a new type of eye ointment for Querida, though I haven't used it yet. The inflammation in her eye calmed down with the last oinment I used. Considering how much she hates having stuff put in her eyes, I won't use it unless I really need to. She was drinking a lot of water this morning. I cut back her thyroid meds just a tiny trifle starting a few days ago. Drinking a lot of water could mean I need to go back to the original dose, so I will.

27 Aug. 2004
Mr. Owl has been slightly quieter today. He complained to me quite a lot yesterday. I spent several sessions in the pen with him to give him love and attention.

While I was gone for lunch and running a couple of errands, Owl got a raw pink spot about the size of a nickel on the inside of his knee just below the bottom part of the rigging. He had something similar on the outside of the knee at the same location relative to the rigging, but this one is a bit more raw. I don't think he could have simply scraped the skin away, so I'm thinking he must have licked it raw.

I called and conferred with the surgeon. She said it's not uncommon, but if it gets any worse or yucky looking to bring him in. She also said it was okay to put Neosporin on it, which I've done. I didn't discuss it with her, but I'm thinking it must hurt somewhat for Owl to want to lick it that severely. Since I still have some pain meds from my local vet, I went ahead and gave him a dose of that, too. From the nice nap he's having, I think it helped.

28 Aug. 2004
Owl is being an excellent boy. The raw spot on his leg looks better (the vet said the Neosporin tastes bad, so that would also keep him from licking it).

Querida, OTOH, was so badly congested this morning, that she was having trouble breathing while we were doing the pill routine. I've decided to make a second try at giving her the course of antibiotics that my vet wanted me to try on her. I stopped the first time because she developed such bad diarrhea, but the acidophilus is working so well for Owl, that I'm going to give it to her and hope that keeps it under control.

I have a tall narrow box in my office that a camera tripod came in. It's standing up right with the top open. I heard a lot of commotion and a big THUD!, so I went to check. I peered down the long box and Puck the Merry Prankster's big eyes stared up at me. I tipped the box over so he could extract himself, but he stayed inside near the opening and casually sniffed the edges to make it clear that he could have gotten out any time he wanted.

I'm sure I've already mentioned this in the past, but I have a large tattoo on my forehead that reads "SUCKER!". It's in glowing letters that only cats can see. Which is why I bought a cheap bag of cat food (barn cat food, the man called it) and set out a bowl of food on the front porch. The neighbor's cats from across the street were looking skinny and given all the drama that goes on over there, I figured she might not be feeding them regularly. Not that it's my problem, of course, I told myself as I put the food out.

But there are also plenty of other half-wild moggies around the area and they've finally discovered the food. The bowl is being emptied at a quicker pace. There's a dark tabby coming around now, very pretty and quite young. I'm guessing 9-10 months. I saw her (him?) creep behind the bushes, across the open space and onto the porch.

I looked out the front window a little while later after she had eaten. She must have heard me talking to Randy because she looked up at us for a few seconds before running off. She had ENORMOUS green eyes, big bat ears, a white chest and white mittens on her paws. Very pretty moggy.

29 Aug. 2004
Owl continues to complain about his situation, on and off. He had rubbed the raw spot on the outside of his knee to hot pink again. More Neosporin was applied.

Diva entertained herself by batting around the rubber tarantula.

Either Puck or Blue (both deny responsiblity) knocked over the tripod box, then they played hide & seek with it.

After such exhausting play, Puck needed a nap. He settled into the director's chair, apparently oblivious to the fact that Tribble was already sleeping there.

See for yourself (third photo down).
Beware! Mad cat!
Owl in his foam-at-the-mouth stage. Fortunately, when we switched from liquid to pill, he was able to give up the foaming.
Tribble, Puck and Theseus
Sleeping cheek to cheek. From lef to right: Tribble, Puck, Theseus.
Puck and Tribble
Puck: "What, I have to share the chair?"
Tribble: "Mom, I was here first."

30 Aug. 2004 revised
Last night, Owl used his sumo ninja skills to sneak past me when I was cleaning up spilled litter. I was inside and there was Owl on the outside. He mainly wanted to roll on the catnip spa, so I let him do that for a few minutes before he want back to the pen. Doing hard time in Kitty Alcatraz.

When I came in this morning, Owl had removed almost every bit of litter from his box. Such a helpful boy. So I changed out the box, swept up the mounds of litter (I bought a small hand whisk broom that works great) and put the freshly cleaned box back in the pen.

Owl immediately climbed into it, threw half the litter out and used it. Sooo, more cleaning up, etc.

He's pulling the fur off his back again, so I have a query in to the surgeon to find out whether I can return to giving him antihistamines.

Shortly after I gave him the last of his several pills, he horked up a giganto hair ball, along with lots of food and at least one pill. Sigh...pardon me, I have more clean up to do.


The vet said antihistamines were okay, so I've started Owl back on those. I think Owl has figured out that emptying the litter from the box will make me come visit him, because he's sure been doing it a lot today.

I had an amusing moment when I was inside the pen with Owl cleaning up. Tribble came up to the gate and stood there pondering me inside. He said, "Murf? Murf?" He was thoroughly perplexed. Then he began sticking his paw through the grid openings and sticking his claws into my feet, the patented Tribble Method of Getting Attention.

Next I have to put the cat carrier back together pending Owl's return visit to the surgeon tomorrow.

The little tabby with the white chest is hanging around a lot now and getting bolder. He'll stay on the porch and eat while we talk to him from 6 feet away or so, and he lurks around the yard. Still not sure if it's a he or she.

With the rise of cats coming to eat the food, there is also a rise in the number of cat spats, unfortunately.

31 Aug. 2004 revised
Today was mostly eaten up by taking Owl to the clinic for his first follow-up visit to have his sutures removed. I had to get up at an evil (early) hour and went out first to do all the cat stuff. Having given pills and cleaned boxes, I put the carrier inside Owl's pen in the hope he would get inside it himself of his own free will and hide out.

I had a quick breakfast and found that my idea worked perfectly. Owl was already inside the carrier, comfy and relaxed. All I had to do was close the door and we were on the way.

I left around 9:15 and arrived around 10:40. I dropped Owl off along with a note that had some questions on it for the surgeon. I did major grocery shopping, had lunch and went back for Owl. I didn't get to talk to the surgeon, but I was given a printed report that addressed my questions.

She said the incision has healed nicely, not to worry about the positioning of the fixator (I thought it had shifted, but it was an illusion caused by the swelling in his leg continuing to go down), to keep putting Neosporin on the hot spots but not worry about them unless they get worse, and that she's pleased with how well Owl is using the leg after only two weeks.

The bad news -- I have to keep him confined another month! Aggghh!

I got back around 3 pm. Owl did NOT want to go back into the pen when we got home. He complained a lot about it. I was in the pen visiting with him when my phone rang, so I had to hurry out and just "latched" the gate using the bungie cord. A short time later, I heard the gate go BOINGGG! as Owl muscled it open and escaped. He didn't get anywhere, but he was very unhappy with me for returning him to Kitty Alcatraz. And now I have to take more care to put the doorstopper bricks in place so he can't do that again.

His next recheck is on the 14th, when they take another set of x-rays. Which I have to pay for. Sigh...

1 Sept. 2004 revised
Owl seemed terribly out of sorts and disgruntled with me this morning. He wouldn't even take a treat after getting his pills. I changed the cushion in there, putting in one of his favorites, and he seems happier about having that, but all in all, he seems rather depressed today. I wish I could make him understand how important it is to have his leg heal properly.

5 Sept. 2004 revised
Owl is back to being mostly resigned about not getting out of the pen. Note I said mostly resigned. I was inside the pen the other night cleaning it out and had my leg across the opening to keep Owl from escaping. He simply jumped over my leg! The brat! He's not supposed to do things like that!

To give him credit, he did it beautifully without using the rigged leg and without landing on it. But even so...

He's eating well, though he did throw up last night. The antihistamines have gotten his hair-pulling under control again.

I'm having less luck with Querida. The past couple of days, she has thrown up quite a lot about 20-30 minutes after I give her the morning pills. Which means I don't know how whether she's getting the benefit of any of the medicine, blast it. She has hairball problems and is shedding profusely, and that doesn't help.

I went over to comb Querida. As usual, Theseus waltzed up (and he really does dance over) because he loves to be combed. I have all but given up trying to keep his fur under control. It is beyond any tool I've found, including the dematting tool.

He loves to let me groom his head, neck and front end, tolerates me grooming his mid-torso, but the minute I head toward the rear quarters (where desperately *needs* the work)...fuggedabouddit. Somehow, I will simply have to come up with the money for the heavy-duty shaver and shave his rear end. There's no other viable solution.

Excuse me, I must go and save a roll of paper towels from the Puckaroo.

6 Sept. 2004 revised
The petsitters came by so I could show them Owl's set up, display his bionic leg, and go through his situation with them, since we have to make a sudden overnight trip. I hadn't spoken with them since the end of July, so they didn't know about the surgery.

Tribble made sure to stick double sets of claws into both their legs to ensure that they remembered him. They did. He's such an attention sponge.

I've tried spacing out Querida's pills rather than giving them to her all at once, and this seems to be helping. I give her the antibiotic right away, wait ten minutes or so, and wait a while longer before giving her the Lysine. I hold off on the acidophilus until the middle of the day. So far, so good. She hasn't thrown up since I started doing this.

There's a scrawny little white cat coming around for food now. White with blue eyes. I thought it was completely white, but once I got a closer look I could make out a very faint orange blush on its nose, ears and tail. It showed up with a big, scruffy orange tom that just might be daddy since they clearly knew one another.

We haven't seen the lovely little tabby with the white-chest for several days now, ever since it was jumped very badly by one of the neighbor's big old tabby toms. I ran outside where the fight was raging under the front deck and yelled, but they both ran off without me being able to see if there was damage. I wish the little tabby would show up again, so I would know that it's all right.

7 Sept. 2004 revised
Last night was a whole load of Not Fun. The ants had found and invaded Owl's food bowl and water bowl. I've been worried about this since Owl is trapped in there and has no recourse if he's plagued by ants. Blasted little six-legged monsters. I tracked them to the source and dealt mercilessly with them, but this left a lot of clean up to do.

Randy came out and babysat Owl in another part of the office while I cleaned out the bowls and vacuumed out his pen. Owl was delighted and promptly curled up in his favorite cat bed under my desk. I hadn't thought the cat beds would be comfortable for his leg, but he was so happy there, I've taken out the cushion and put the cat bed into his pen.

Of course, I think he was mostly happy that he was under my desk, rather than in Kitty Alcatraz, but them's the breaks.

Puck has been a Major Snot lately, chasing Tosca around and giving her a lot of grief. Right now, though, everyone is curled up in happy moggy piles for the afternoon nap.

11 Sept. 2004 revised
Owl and the rest of the moggies fared just fine with the petsitters for a couple of days.

I was a bit worried about Owl's leg because on Thurs. night, there was an especially raw, nasty looking spot next to the rigging. I slathered Neosporin on it.

I was prepared to take him all the way to the clinic (hours of driving into L.A. and back), but it looked much better in the morning. He has a regular appointment next Tues., so I'm doing my best to hold out for that.

I think I'm finally seeing some improvement in Querida from the antibiotics. Her eyes are much better and the congestion seems to be easing some. The acidophilus is helping at least a little with the negative effects. I need to contact the vet about getting a few more days' worth, since I'm short on the amount I need for a full treatment.

During our short trip, we stopped in at Randy's sister's place where I attempted to say hello to Artemis. She's been with her new people for going on 8 months now and is quite happy. And she has completely forgotten who I am!!! She hid under some covered chairs, wouldn't come out for any amount of coaxing, would barely let me touch her at all.

That's either a really short memory, or she was afraid I was going to take her away from paradise! ;)

15 Sept. 2004
Owl had his second follow-up visit yesterday. I tried the same tactic of putting his carrier into his pen ahead of time, but he's too smart for that. "Oh, no, I remember what happened last time I crawled into that thing. You fooled me once, you're not fooling me twice." When the time came, I had to gently help him inside.

He was very quiet on the long, tedious drive, while I was tense because I was supposed to have him there by 10 am and the traffic was beyond horrendous. I called at 10 to let them know I would be late because I was stuck on the freeway. "Ah, the 405 parking lot," she said, "Our favorite." I got there at 10:20 am, which was okay but meant I'd have to wait until later to pick him up because they wouldn't release him until the sedative wears off.

They had to sedate him to do his first set of follow-up x-rays.

I went off and did a ton of errands in that part of L.A. The surgeon called to give me a report after the x-rays. She said that he has managed to slightly shift the bones -- even with the damned fixator! -- but the knee is in good shape and the bones are still in alignment, so it's okay. However, she was once again adamant about having to keep Owl confined and as still as possible.

So the unfortunate Mr. Owl has been sentenced to another month in Kitty Alcatraz. His next check-up and x-rays will be in Oct.

I picked him up at 5 and began a two-hour battle with traffic to get home. Owl was agitated on the trip home, plus he got into a wrestling match with the towel on the bottom of the carrier. He ended up with the towel sort of wrapped over his head, so I finally had to pull the car over and take the towel out.

He was NOT happy about going back into his pen when we got back. He spent an entire hour bitching me out non-stop until I gave him some canned food. Then he busied himself with that and gave me some peace.

This morning, though, he made it crystal clear he's unhappy and wants out, so I'm having to be very careful when I get in there to clean things up.

15 Sept. 2004
I just heard a kitten crying outside the back of the office. Puck was up in the window going crazy. I mewed out the window and it mewed back, so I called Randy, grabbed my flashlight and went looking.

I quietly stepped outside the door, sat down in the darkness on the steps and mewed. A minute later, a white kit appeared atop a short piece of fence between the back of my office and the taller back fence that encloses the property. It stopped dead when it saw me, then went back the way it had come.

By this time, Randy came out and by shining our flashlights around we saw kittens everywhere! By "kittens" I mean very young cats, maybe 6 months or so. There was a tabby, a black one, a white one and others that scurried off before I could get a good look. They were taking off in all directions.

Obviously, they've gotten the word that there's food around here, but Holy Bast, the amount of free-ranging cats is getting ridiculous. And I just don't have the money to trap and neuter them, nor is there a program up here to do it.

16 Sept. 2004
Nothing much to report on the moggy front, so I've committed Photo.

6! - count'em 6! new additions to the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

See Owl and Puck plotting, Diva squinting, moggies holding paper down so it won't escape, and gaze deep into the eyes of Theseus.
Owl in prison Owl: "You can't hold me here forever. It's a prisoner's duty to escape."
Owl & Puck Puck: "Don't worry, buddy, I'll keep you company."
Owl: "Now about those escape plans...whisper...whisper..."
Puck: "Plotting? Us?"
Diva squints Diva gives us a good squinting at.
Theseus and Querida What is it that cats love so much about paper?
Querida and Theseus
Theseus, Tribble and Querida Give them paper, and they will come.
Theseus, Tribble and Querida.
Theseus The Mighty (Silly) Theseus

18 Sept. 2004
Kate is a world-class panicker. As with many aging cats, she sometimes gets a claw stuck in something and then she wants to panic. Unfortunately, the "something" she often has her claw stuck in is my pants leg. She did that last night and I had to wrestle with her while she's trying to go in ten directions at once in panic mode so I could disengage her claw.

Her most spectacular panic attack was a very long time ago when she somehow managed to get a shoe attached to her butt. I think the shoelace got wrapped around her tail. It was hard to say for sure because all I saw was a terrified brown streak going at warp 9 with a shoe bumping along at her rear end. She finally dislodged the demon shoe by rocketing through the cat door.

20 Sept. 2004
I walked into a solid wall of cat urine stench when I came into my office this morning. Yowsa! I searched around and found the origin. It was the big, very sturdy cardboard box that the air conditioner came in. I hadn't quite figured out how to dismantle it, so it's been sitting there. One or more of my moggies decided it was the ideal place to pee a lake. I hauled it outside, let it dry for a few hours, and tackled it with an Exacto knife. Not a fun job.

The small white cat and small white-chested tabby have been hanging around the yard more and more, along with occasional visits from what are likely their brothers and sisters. However, I think last night the bowls of food and water on the front porch were visited by a raccoon. The evidence? First, the snap-on lid of the plastic container of cat food had been carefully removed and set aside, while the container itself was still upright. Secondly, the water bowl was filled with sand and grit from the ground, which could only get there by means such as a raccoon washing its paws in the water.

This means no more leaving the cat food container out at night, and trying to time it so there's no cat food either. The strays will have to show up during the day.

Meanwhile, I came across the local Totally Crazy Cat Lady (Every community has to have one. It's Bast's Law.). She will help trap and neuter strays, and takes them in. I worry about these lovely little guys around as winter sets in, and have been getting more serious about trying to catch them.

Step #1, however, is to locate the woman in the neighborhood from whence they supposedly originate. I need to at least consult with her about dealing with the cats. Maybe she'll help cover the neutering part if I do the trapping. We'll see. Step #2 will be to contact the cat lady, get the traps, etc. Watch out, mogglets. Your dinner is about to cost you your repro organs.

20 Sept. 2004
Part 2
I came out of my office a bit after 6 pm and was deep in thought as I came up to the front porch. I looked up just in time to see two cats lounging on the front porch. Apparently, they didn't hear me coming because in the next split-second, they hit the rockets so fast, I could hear them skidding around the corner of the porch deck.

Then I walked over to talk to Mrs. S., the neighbor the next street over (behind me) who is the main person feeding the cats that belong to a woman that lives across the street from her. That woman, T., is the source of all the stray cats. T. inherited the house, but mostly lives somewhere else and is only there for a few days at a time. According to Mrs. S., T. tries very hard to keep the population under control, but this time there's been a kitten explosion.

T. is supposed to be back later this week and is planning to take a whole batch of kittens with her to a shelter that would love to have some kittens. I left Mrs. S. my number, so that she can help me connect with T. and see if we can coordinate some efforts to deal with the strays.

On the way home, I stopped to peer past the gate of T.'s house and saw the most gorgeous little Siamese kitten, maybe 4 months old. I talked to him and he watched me with wary eyes, but didn't run away. I'd be tempted to nab that one. They should have no trouble getting him adopted.

I knew there had to be Siamese blood running through her cats because the young white one with the orange blush and blue eyes is very much like the orange-point kittens Querida used to have in her litters.

24 Sept. 2004
I simply can't find the time to catch up, so instead here's a fun batch of Moggy Horde photos.
The Majestic Tribble. It's funny, he always looks disgruntled in photos, but he's the sweetest love-muffin in the world.
Kate & Theseus
Kate and Theseus -- he just loves to cuddle, as you'll see again further on.
Owl was in a very funny pose, but of course he moved the instant I grabbed the camera. He had his front legs out like that, but crossed.
Puckaroo Banzai
Puck goes head to head with the wrapping paper.
Theseus & Tribble
Theseus and Tribble. I couldn't decide which photo I liked better, this one...
Theseus & Tribble
...or this one.
Tosca says, "I like both of them". Or was she just following the pointing arrow?

25 Sept. 2004
Tribble decided to get inside Owl's pen the other day while I was cleaning things up, so I decided to leave him in there with Owl to see if having company would lift Owl's spirits. Hah! Instead, Tribble whined incessantly and when I looked over, I saw Owl taking whacks at Tribble. So much for that experiment. There's only room for one, I guess.

The white with blue eyes and the white-chested gray tabby strays have become semi-regulars here. I came up to the porch when the tabby was lounging there, so I sat down on the steps and sweet-talked him for a few minutes. Then the white boy came around the other corner of the porch. It was instantly obvious they didn't like one another. White boy went into that funny arched stalking mode males will use when they want to intimidate another cat. I chided him and he suddenly realized I was there. For some reason, rather than run back the way he'd come, he decided he had to go forward. He dashed past the tabby and then cruised right past me. Not slowly, but not at a mad dash either. I probably could have grabbed him, if I'd really wanted to.

I tried to catch T. during her brief visit to her house, but she took off again so quickly, I missed her. I think I may go ahead and trap these two youngsters regardless. Since she's so rarely here to take care of them, I don't see how she could object.

I came out the other morning and found Salem finishing off the last of a chipmunk in our yard, with Limping Tom hanging around trying to get whatever Salem left behind. He ended up with the guts.

Puck is becoming quite the lap potato. It interferes with typing a little bit, but not too much. Not like Tribble, who doesn't so much want to lie in my lap as get attention. What he really wants is for me to give up typing completely and give him scritchies, and he'll keep bumping his head into my hands until he gets them.

26 Sept. 2004
The Swedes are invading! I've been inundated with submissions to the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics for the past few days and about half of them have been from Sweden. I love the international reach of the net. We are all one in our love for silly sleeping moggies.

Anyway, a whole bunch of new contestants have joined the page.

28 Sept. 2004
There's another fine addition to the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

As I came outside this morning, I saw the young white cat hanging around. I got the bowl of food and set it a short ways from the bottom of the porch steps. Then I sat down on the porch steps about four feet away and tried to coax him over. He spent some time sitting under the spruce tree watching birds, then cautiously headed my way.

He made a close run skirting around me and ducked under the front porch. I sat still and waited. It was lovely out with a cool breeze and sapphire sky. After a couple of minutes, he came out from under the other side of the steps and went to the bowl. He ate a good breakfast and didn't run off when I talked to him. He only ran off when he'd had enough food.

I've decided to give up trying to connect with T. If she's hardly ever there, she can't be that attached to these couple of cats. I'm going to trap these two that are coming by regularly, get them taken care of and into a shelter, then I'm going to stop leaving food out. I just can't deal with taking care of too many moggies.

I get inside the pen to visit with Owl several times a day and to sweep up the cat litter he tosses about with abandon. Puck wants me to play with him a lot. Tribble demands attention. I try to make sure each cat gets a bit of attention every day, which explains where a lot of my time goes!

28 Sept. 2004
Part 2
I decided to get a short walk in before dinner. It was Randy's turn to cook and I assured him I'd be back in 20 minutes.

But as I got a short way from the house, I looked down the street leading to T.'s house and realized she was there. I debated it for about half a minute and headed to her house instead. As I walked around to the back deck where the door was, a veritable slew of kittens and young cats hurtled away in a thousand directions! Lots of pretty Siamese mixes and every other color of the cat rainbow.

T. was a terrific woman and we hit it off instantly. We had a long, wonderful talk. These aren't actually "her" cats in that they began just as neighborhood strays, then she started feeding them and down the slippery slope she went. I wouldn't know about that, ahem. But now she feels she's responsible for them, since they mostly live in her yard. She's a bit overwhelmed at the explosion this year, I think. She said she counted 35 young and adult cats showing up for food, and she's just discovered 3 brand new litters!

She gave me her absolute blessing to do what I will, offered to help out a little financially if she can, and loaned me a Haveaheart trap. I was just about to try and find one, so this long-term loaner is perfect. I invited her to come over and meet the Horde next time she's in town.

I got home late for dinner, which Randy wasn't terribly happy about. He was in the driveway about to come looking for me. I couldn't believe T. and I had spent that much time talking. The trap is on the porch, not baited or set. I need to work out the rest of the logistics before using it. In the meantime, I want the strays to become accustomed to the trap as an object.

Operation Stray Roundup is poised to begin...soon.

29 Sept. 2004
Hooboy. 4:03 pm. We had a small earthquake. Made my office rock very slightly for a few seconds.

Made my heart pound for longer than that because you always wonder, "Will it get worse?"

BTW, the cats slept through it. So much for the animal senses. :P

I talked to a woman who has a local cat orphanage/shelter. Once I trap the cat youngsters, I can bring them to her and she handles taking them to a vet who gives them a realy good deal on neutering and shots. There are a few places locally where I should be able to pick up vouchers that will cover part of that cost as well. I'm planning to visit with the woman this weekend, see her shelter and get the final details worked out. Then...let the trapping begin!

30 Sept. 2004
Owl had been having a grand old time today tossing the litter out of his box. I cleaned up a huge batch of it about 30 minutes ago, and now it's all over the floor again. Yeesh.

3 Oct. 2004

After lunch, I drove down the road to meet Lolette and her husband who run Cause4Cats, their own private cat rescue service. We'd spoken by phone about taking in the cats when I trap them here, but I wanted to meet her in person ahead of time and see her situation. She's in the middle of incorporating and becoming a full-fledged non-profit so she can get grants and donations.

I was very impressed with what she's done on her own. She has a lovely piece of property full of flowers and lush plants, very quiet and private. I met Pete, a black and white patched loverboy who enjoyed having his belly rubbed. He's the lord of the manor.

Lolette is taking care of about 100 cats so far. She has extremely nice outside catteries built, filled with lots of cat furniture, aerial walkways, and content cats. Each outside cattery has a cat door to an inside area for the winter.

They're in the middle of building yet another, really cool outdoor cattery that includes sheltered bunkers with a sod roof, complete with sprinklers, so the cats will have their own lawn in the summer, and warm bunkers to lay up in during the winter.

We had a long chat, mostly about cats, of course. Terrific lady, and I'm very impressed. She wants (and needs) a website, so I've offered to do the website building for her when she's ready.

When I left, she was getting ready to give medicine to 30-40 cats, which certainly put into perspective only having to give meds to 4 cats here at home.

I need to get that little white cat trapped soon. He's decided that this is his yard and he's driving all the other strays away. This means we keep having to break up cat fights and the other cats aren't able to come around.

3 Oct. 2004
Part 2

Also, a couple of new entries in the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

4 Oct. 2004

We had an entire flock of robins show up this morning. Usually we see one or two at a time. I saw four or five on the birdbath at once with others on the ground and in the trees. They had arguments and aerial chases and mini-battles over the water rights, but it looked like everyone got to have a drink, or in some cases a bath.

A bit later I looked out, and there was the little white cat perched in the spruce tree as close as he could get to the bird feeder. Urchin that he is. I went out and had a chat with him. He finally decided to vacate the yard for a while. This afternoon I move the cat food into the trap and we'll see what happens.

All is well with the Horde. Puck is being his usual puckish self, prowling around, knocking things off shelves. Owl tries to escape Kitty Alcatraz every chance he gets. Querida is still on the anti-biotic, but her nasal congestion has gotten worse in the past few days, which I'm unhappy about. Knobby threw up in my sandals, luckily when I wasn't wearing them. Also luckily, they're rubber and were easy to clean.

4 Oct. 2004
Part 2

Things have been hopping in Moggyville.

I finally managed to connect with the right person at the right place to get two free vouchers for spaying stray cats. The vouchers go to the vet and reimburses $20.00 of costs per cat. Two vouchers were the most I could get, but every little bit helps.

Mid-afternoon, I set the trap, covered the sides with a towel, and set a bowl in the far end baited not merely with dry food, but a dollop of canned food. Oceanfish and tuna. Enough to reel in any moggy.

And it did. The white boy went in, ate his fill and danced out again. I figured it was luck or cunning.

Early in the evening, I was about to go outside and rebait the trap. I opened the door and there was the little gray tabby with the white chest and feet. We hadn't seen him/her in over a week and have been worrying about him. I went out with the can of food and the tabby didn't run off. On impulse, I put some food in the bowl (which I'd taken out of the trap), sat crosslegged on the porch and put the bowl only inches away from me.

The little tabby's nose overcame his fear. With a few half-spooks and some trepidation, he came all the way over and ate ravenously right next to me. I had to remain still as a rock, but I was within easy reach. So he's certainly not feral, just shy. Randy enviously watched the whole thing from inside the door.

The tabby retreated, so I put a little more of the food in the bowl and put it inside the trap. I checked after dinner and once again, the food was gone. Randy and I checked the trap more closely and realized there's something wrong with the tripping mechanism! Bloody hell. I could easily have caught both of the strays today if it had worked.

Limping Tom also came around wanting the canned food. Usually I can't get within touching range of Tom, but tonight he was so interested, he let me scratch his ears. I had to run him off to home, though, because he was keeping the little tabby away.

Around 9, we decided to close up the trap as a precaution, since we don't want anyone trapped during the middle of the night, even though we couldn't get it to work. The tabby came from under the porch, looking at us expectantly. I put more canned food in the bowl and this time, both Randy and I sat very still on the porch. The tabby worked up his nerve and ate right next to us again. Afterwards, he went and sat by the trap for a while instead of running off.

So I think this is going to work just fine, once we get the frickin' trap working right. If there's too much wrong with it, I can borrow one from Lolette. We've pretty much decided to adopt the little tabby, who is extremely pretty and seems to have a nice personality. Bast strikes again.

5 Oct. 2004

The stray moggies are mine! Bwwaaa-haaa-haaa!

I got in touch with Lolette this morning and we made arrangements for me to drop by and pick up her trap. What's great about her trap is that it has an additional holding cage. You place the two cage ends together, open the two sliding ends of the trap and the cage, and it enables you to transfer the cat from the trap to the cage.

We waited until dusk and set up the trap. In no time at all, the little tabby took the bait. He was terribly upset at first, of course, but he quieted down relatively quickly. We took him into the laundry room and with much coaxing and urging, we got him to back up into the holding cage.

Then we set the trap up again and about 30 minutes later, kaboing! The little white cat is now our prisoner. He was rather more pissed off, but he has calmed down now. We have both of them in the laundry room with the cages covered by towels.

I have a call on Lolette's answering machine to let me know when she gets home tonight. Randy and I are debating whether to take the tabby to our local vet, at greater expense, rather than risk sending it off to an unknown vet for a much cheaper price. We're worried about integrating him/her with the Horde unless we're absolutely sure it's healthy, not carrying any viruses, etc.

Here's a first glimpse of the unnamed tabby.
unnamed tabby

7 Oct. 2004

Lots of catch up to do.

We took the two strays to Lolette late Monday night. Randy came along, which qualifies him for sainthood to be around that many allergy-causing cats. Lolette has a house that is packed floor to ceiling with lovely cats and we gave out a lot of scritchies. She has some gorgeous kittens, including one that was such a character, we would have nabbed her on the spot if we weren't already committed to this one.

Lolette truly is a saint, taking care of so many cats, and constantly taking cats to L.A. to be fixed and for treatment, etc. She took our two down and would have brought them the same day, but the vet had too many emergency surgeries. They were done today instead.

It's a good thing I wasn't taking bets, because I would have bet any money the aggressive white cat was male. They're both female! About 6 months (which had been my guess) and--thank Bast--not pregnant!

I talked to Lolette tonight and she's keeping the tabby until tomorrow because we haven't gotten the results of the blood tests yet. She's going to call the vet in the morning to make sure everything is okay. Then she's going to loan me a large cage, so I can keep our new girl separated for a few days to recover while she and the Horde get to check one another out. I sense hissing and growling in my future.

The time has come to start clipping Tribble's claws. He keeps getting them stuck in things and can't get unstuck. And he has the weirdest trait of going utterly limp like a ragdoll so I end up with this limp fluffy orange thing dangling from my chair by one claw. Not to mention using them for his attention-getting technique. Yesterday, while I was giving Owl some attention instead, Tribble stuck his claw in my butt. Today, I almost jumped out of my skin when he gave me a bad puncture on the back of my upper arm. Those claw tips have gotta go.

The second time I nearly jumped out of my skin today was when there was a terrible racket of things falling and going thump and metal clanking and it sounded like half my office was coming down. It turned out to be Puck (of course) knocking over the tall tripod box, and with it came a bunch of cardboard and some large levels and metal T-square, which were what made most of the noise. By the time I got over there, Puck was heading inside the tripod box, now that it was lying on the floor where he wanted it.

Hours later, I went to set the box upright again, but it was too heavy. I looked inside and found Querida lurking deep inside it. I think she's looking for good places to hide when it's time to give out the pills.

8 Oct. 2004

I had a bad moment with Owl a couple of days ago. I was visiting him in the enclosure as I try to do several times a day. He was trying to change his position in the cat bed and somehow got the injured leg twisted in some position that was so bad, he actually cried with pain. And this is a cat who very rarely ever cries! Fortunately, since I was right there, I immediately picked him up so his leg was freed from that position. I've been watching carefully since then and hoping like hell he didn't do some kind of damage. Only a few more days and he'll get his second set of follow-up x-rays.

We haven't brought the new girl home yet. Due to a clash of schedules on both ends, this wasn't a good day for it. Besides, it gives her another quiet day to recover from the surgery. We plan to bring her home tomorrow morning.

9 Oct. 2004

Randy and I headed over to Lolette's around 10:30 this morning. I had great fun wrestling with an adorable orange and white kitten, and petting lots of sweet moggies. It's a miracle I didn't come home with a couple of those kittens in my pockets.

Lolette loaned us an excellent large cage for the tabby girl's temporary new home. I'm not sure just how long this taming process is going to take because she *is* half-wild. Getting her out of the holding cage and into my carrier began as a serious battle of hissing, growling, climbing the wire grid and hanging on. Then she dived into the carrier to escape, so that worked out.

Quite the contrast to Puck, who adores getting inside the carrier and just hanging out in it.

We set the cage up next to Owl's enclosure, in the only open space that would work, and installed a small cat box, cushion, food and water. She wouldn't come out of the carrier. We tried leaving the carrier in the cage while we had lunch, but she hadn't budged. Randy ended up taking the carrier apart while keeping it inside the cage. Once he lifted off the lid, she went "What the hell?!" and dashed over to the cushion.

We spent time sitting by her, talking to her, while the Moggy Horde investigated. She's settled down enough to take a nap, but when I tried to get her to sniff my fingers, all I got was a hiss and a warning to keep away. I suspect this is going to take a lot of patience.

Here is tabby-girl's current home arrangement:

new tabby-girl

Here is St. Randy with Puck and Tribble (who is draped over Randy's leg for a nap).

Randy, Puck & Tribble

10 Oct. 2004

Last night, Randy came out to give tabby-girl her bowl of the dry food when I doled it out to the Horde. She polished off every speck of it.

This morning when I opened the cage to refresh the food and water bowls, tabby-girl deigned to tentatively sniff my fingertips without growling. Though when I opened the cage to put the bowls back in, she flattened her ears and looked as fierce as she could manage. Shortly afterwards, she ate some dry food.

She used the cat box and all is good in that department.

The other cats aren't paying as much attention to the cage as I thought they might. I let Owl out briefly while cleaning his enclosure and he had a sniff at the cage. He's not using his injured leg as well as he was before, so I'm deeply worried about that. I'm glad he has a follow-up on Tues.

Before we went to dinner, we spent some time sitting near tabby-girl. Randy figures it's good for her to see us interacting with the other cats, watching us play with them and so on. We gave her a catnip mouse, but she's nowhere near ready to relax and play with something while we're around. Or maybe not at all.

We gave Owl a catnip mouse, too, and he had a grand old time batting it around his cat bed.

Randy wants to be here to give her the canned food again. He's fallen head over heels for this little girl.

11 Oct. 2004

We make progress little bits at a time. Randy spent another bout of time next to the cage this morning. Tabby-girl sniffed my fingers and didn't react when I ever so carefully stroked the fur on one of her paws. She sat up for us once, rather than lying in a defensive posture. And Randy even got her to play for a minute with one of the cat toys. Nothing too extreme, but it indicates she must be relaxing slightly.

13 Oct. 2004

Yesterday was another long day in L.A. I left early enough in the morning, but it took me nearly 2 hours to get to the surgery clinic because the traffic was so bad. I dropped off Owl to have his second follow-up set of x-rays. I had lunch, did various errands and picked up Owl at 4 pm.

No more rigging! The cover letter they gave me said that the fixator had become so loose, they removed it. I know Owl must be a happy boy about that. There was another note about the bones shifting slightly and I don't know whether the surgeon meant even more shifting from last time or was referring to the same shifting as before. I haven't been able to connect with her to find out. Unfortunately, I have to keep him strictly confined for another month, and have to take him back for a recheck (no x-rays) in two weeks.

About an hour into the drive home, Owl burrowed his head under the towel in his carrier and stayed there. He seemed to still be woozy when I got him home because he staggered when he got out of the carrier. I think he felt pretty much out of it.

When I came back to my office after dinner, Owl complained loud and long. I've never heard him complain so much! And he's been complaining ever since. I think he is very pissed off that he has a free leg, but remains in Kitty Alcatraz. I also think he needs to time to adjust to using the leg without the support of the rigging. He was unsteady on it yesterday and only slightly better today.

On the other main cat front -- Randy adores the name Ariel. I figure it's only fair to let him name the new girl, since he's the one who was set on adopting her.

Randy's been spending a lot of time with Ariel, talking to her, whistling for her (she seems fascinated by that, as is Puck), and playing with her. He has to play at a safe distance using a rod and string, but she's getting more playful, which is a good sign. I've also tried to sit by her with the cage door open and get her used to me. Today, I got her some new dry food (a full nutrition food rather than the senior and lite food I give to the others) and hand fed her. She wouldn't take it from my fingers, but I would place a piece of food right in front of her and she would eat it.

However, she does NOT like to be touched. I've made a few attempts to carefully, gently give her a little stroke on the back. She hisses and instantly goes feral on me, though she hasn't tried to bite or scratch. Yet. But that is a major obstacle we have to overcome, so I need to keep doing it.

She's already learning the routine with the canned food. Randy was lying near her when I opened the cans for the nightly treat and he said she immediately got excited and began looking around to get her food.

Puck the Prince of Mischief just went over to Ariel's cage, found a couple pieces of loose cat food that were knocked out of Ariel's bowl, and used his paw to drag them through the grid wire so he could eat it. Mind you, he has huge bowls of food right behind him, but obviously stolen food must taste better.

14 Oct. 2004

Not only has Ariel learned the sound of canned food being opened, she is getting excited enough about getting her food that she even speaks! It's the only time we've heard her use her voice...if you don't count hissing. ;)

We caught Puck stealing her dry food this morning. She didn't knock it out of her bowl. He's doing that. He reaches through the wire grid, bats the food around, then scoops up whatever bits land outside the cage.

I've had my first blooding, courtesy of Ariel. I knew it had to happen sooner or later. I was sitting near her with the cage door open, letting her sniff my fingers, getting my hand closer, but I made a wrong move and she whacked me with her paw. As chance would have it, she sunk a claw into a vein on my hand, which bled profusely. I kept talking to her in the same soothing voice while I worked at staunching the bleeding. After I got it cleaned and bandaged, I went back and let her sniff my hand some more. She'll let me touch her paws without much reaction, but as soon as I head even slightly upwards toward her back or head, watch out!

15 Oct. 2004

Ariel is getting more talkative. She seemed to think we might give out the Good Food this morning, too, so she asked about it. She is becoming more outward-oriented, taking in more of the world around her and becoming more playful. During the morning play session, we gave her some catnip and that REALLY got her going!

This afternoon the office was getting stuffy, so I turned on a large fan that sits on the desk which forms Owl's enclosure. Apparently, something about this fan disturbed Ariel a lot and she began to talk and talk. Blue went over and they sniffed noses. Then Owl began to talk back and the two of them had a conversation. I gave up and turned off the fan, since she was so unhappy about it.

Kate has been the main lap potato recently, and being a chunky girl she occupies a lot of lap.

Puck really loves the tripod box. He dives inside it and scrabbles around, making lots of silly noise.

The surgeon got back to me today. She confirmed that Owl's leg bones have shifted a bit more sideways from the first x-rays (which showed some shifting), but that the critical alignment, forward and from top to bottom, is still good. It's not an ideal situation to have the bones shift sideways like this, but it's not a long as it doesn't get worse.

Meanwhile, Owl is more determined than ever to escape every chance he gets.

16 Oct. 2004

Emergency visit to the vet this morning. It began early yesterday evening when Nefreet developed a sudden, inexplicable limp and wouldn't walk on her left front paw. But the real moment of alarm came when she jumped into my lap where she usually likes to curl up after we've had dinner. Instead of relaxing, she began to snarl and hiss and behave as though she was going to attack me. This was because she was in some kind of terrible pain.

It was so bad, she jumped down to the floor and kept rolling around, yowling with pain, unable to find any position that didn't hurt. We watched her carefully for an hour and she went through that a second time. She would only hobble around on three legs, holding up the front leg. We debated a trip to an all-night emergency clinic in Bakersfield, but it's very expensive, not to mention a long trip.

Later, she went up the stairs to follow Randy to his office. What was weird is that she wouldn't walk on that paw, but she would use both of her front paws on the scratching post.

First thing this morning, I checked on her and she was still hobbling on three legs. I left an urgent message for the local vet. She's only open two Saturday mornings a month and luckily this was one of them. The second piece of luck is that they were booked up, but had a last-minute cancellation. So I rushed through breakfast and off we went.

I had Nefreet's records from my previous vet. I'd forgotten that she had an incident like this, same paw, in July of 2003. Back then, the vet though it was probably arthritis and a sprain.

This vet doesn't think so. Naturally, as soon as I let Nefreet out, she was no longer limping. Don't you love it when cats do that to you? It's like taking your car to the mechanic because of a rattle and the rattle stops the minute you get there.

She gave Nefreet a thorough exam. She didn't detect arthritic problems and no problems with the bones. It could be a sprain, except for the way she was rolling around in pain. That was clearly much more than a sore paw.

Which leaves a couple of not very good alternatives. One could be a nerve problem. The other could be a heart problem that is sending intermittent blood clots into her leg. When that happens with a cat, the clots usually impact the back legs, so this is slightly unusual, but far from impossible. I had to forego getting x-rays of her heart this time around for money reasons, but the only way to find out how her heart is doing is x-rays and echocardiogram.

While we talked about it, Nefreet cruised around the exam room, not a limp in sight. "Adrenaline works wonders," the vet said.

So we're in a wait-and-see mode for now. The vet said to try and videotape her the minute she exhibits that kind of problem again. She could tell a lot more if she could actually see what Nefreet does.

And that was the first half of my day.

And now for something a bit more fun. Photos! Featured in this session: Ariel, Randy, Puck, Owl, Querida and Blue.

Ariel ponders her new life.
Randy & Ariel
Randy playing with Ariel.
Puck & Ariel
Puck checks out the hot new chick.
Owl: "Yeah, I know my leg looks funny. But when I get out of Kitty Alcatraz, I'm going disco dancing!"
Querida, Puck & Blue
Querida, Puck and Blue share an old bedspread. All the moggies love that old thing.
Puck & Blue
Blue decides to sniff butt, so Puck moves in to give him a severe, disciplinary grooming. This turned into a mutual groom-fest.

17 Oct. 2004

Nefreet continues to have intermittent problems with her leg. Randy managed to videotape her limping and having a milder attack of the pain. I have pain medication leftover that the vet gave me for Owl, and she told me it was perfectly good to use on Nefreet.

I gave it to her with a syringe last night, then made the happy discovery that she really likes the taste of it! Now all I have to do is put the dosage in a dish and she laps it up.

At any rate, no matter how tough it is financially, I really do have to get the x-rays and try to do something for her. The problem isn't going away.

18 Oct. 2004

Tough day that began with a major setback with Ariel, but which may have turned out all right after all.

My first action of the day was a series of phone calls to the vet to bring Nefreet in for x-rays. Finally got that all arranged and headed for my office to very quickly give out pills, food and clean the boxes before heading to the vet.

As soon as I stepped outside, I saw the broken water pipe and a big hole full of water which led to a major PITA that took all day and too damned much money to resolve. I had to cancel Nefreet's trip to the vet and reschedule for Thurs.

Then when I finally got into my office, I discovered that Ariel had a major mess in her cage. The cat box was askew, half the litter kicked out and she had entirely missed the box when she took a pee. There was a large puddle of urine stretching all the way from one corner of the cage over to her cushion, which had soaked up a lot of it.

I had no choice but to take everything out of the cage, including the cushion, plus I had to get way inside the cage to clean up the mess entirely. This caused Ariel serious stress and she reverted to Terrified Wild Cat. She didn't strike out at me or try to bite me, but I think that's mainly because she's a rather timid cat. That's the conclusion I'm reaching. I keep reminding myself that it's only been 12 twelve days.

When she's deeply stressed, she squints her right eye. Randy and I debated renaming her Squinty or Blinky. Okay, it can just be a nickname. She's been Squinty all day now. That's taking a long time to get over something that shouldn't have been quite that big a deal.

I put a new cushion in for her and have the other soaking in some anti-smell stuff to neutralize the urine. I visited with her a couple of times during the day, hoping to get back to where we were before, but she kept doing Squinty at me.

Tonight I tried playing with her. I tried the plastic string, the string string, the feather toy. Only the tiniest vestige of interest. I went back to something Randy and I have been doing for a few days. We've been using a goose feather to gently stroke her paws, then stroke down her back. We've been using it as a step to get her used to being stroked by something and to having our hands get closer to her. So far, she has seemed to enjoy it.

I thought, why not go for it? She had calmed down, wasn't being totally Squinty, was relaxing under the feather, so I set it aside and verrry carefully, used my hand to stroke her back several times. And she let me! She didn't get upset, didn't react, and didn't move away.

That feels like a nice win to me.

20 Oct. 2004

Nefreet is now completely asymptomatic. No limping, no indications of the problem. It's weird. I cancelled her appointment for tomorrow, though the vet would still like to see the tape we made when she had the symptoms. When we aren't so tight on finances, I still want to get the x-rays done, but we've been hit with too many other expenses at once to do it right now.

It turns out that Ariel's squinting isn't just due to stress. She's done something to her eye. I've seen it on many of my cats over the years, where it looks like a clear film is coming off the surface of the eye. Her eye was watering last night between squints and we finally could see that something is going on. There's no pus, redness, swelling or other signs, and she only squints some of the time. Other times, her eyes are wide open. I'm hoping it means that it's nothing serious and will clear up on its own, because I can't imagine trying to get eye drops into this girl.

I got another set of scratches this morning when I was only trying to get her to sniff my fingers. She seems to start out wild and bad-tempered in the morning and mellow out a bit by late evening.

Part of the cleaning routing involves sweeping the concrete floor around the cat boxes. I had set the dustpan on the top of the low shelves and propped the broom there while I cleaned Ariel's cat box. The Prince of Mischief decided to play with the broom, knocked it over, which in turn knocked off the dustpan, both of which bonked me on the head. I swear, never has a cat lived up to his name as often as Puck.

22 Oct. 2004

I knew this was going to happen. I managed to talk the vet out of it since July, but this time she put her foot down. She wouldn't renew the Tapazole unless I brought Tribble in for a blood test. It's a damned expensive test, hence trying to avoid it. I made the appointment, but then faced the problem that he had to fast from 10 pm onwards. Short of taking the food away from the entire Horde, I have no way to keep him from eating.

Ignoring the howling protests from my credit card, we nonetheless went to Petsmart and purchased the same large, sturdy cage that Ariel is currently living in. Randy and I have been forced to conclude that taming Ariel is going to take a long time, and we don't like to keep Lolette's borrowed cage indefinitely when she might need it. There have been other times when a cage like this would have been handy, so now we have one. We picked up a nice bed for Ariel and I further gave in and finally got that blasted heavy-duty shaver. Now I can go after the Butt of Doom aka the Crap Magnet aka Theseus...when I work up the courage.

Yesterday was especially bad with Ariel. She was exceedingly feral in the morning, to the point of lashing out at my hand when I was putting in the fresh water. Randy thinks she's being harrassed at night. This is possible as the towel we put over the cage is always on the floor by the next morning. She greeted me with flat ears and hisses this morning, but calmed down sooner than last time. Right now, she's having a relaxed nap and looks so sweet, she makes me want to reach in and rub her belly. I have to remember that she would turn into a Fury and disembowel my hand if I did.

Back to last night, I waited as long as possible to put Tribble in the new cage. He had the old bedspread to sleep on, a new cat box and a bowl of water. When I put him inside, he gave me the most utterly bewildered look I have ever seen. He said, "HUNH??!!"

This morning, the cage was a disaster. Litter everywhere, nearly all the water knocked out of the bowl and all over the floor of the cage. Tribble reamed my ears out. He is incessant. Nobody can whine, winge and complain like Tribble.

Randy came along because he's the only one who can operate his very expensive prosumer video camera. While Tribble was off having his blood drawn, the vet watched the few minutes of video we took when Nefreet was limping and having her pain. She's thinking it's more likely a nerve problem or blood clot, but she offered to have us come back in a week and show it to a visiting orthopedist, so we'll do that. Meanwhile, Nefreet is completely recovered from whatever it was, to the point of running around and chasing after her ball.

When we got home, I figured the first thing Tribble would do after not eating for 12 hours, would be to stick his nose in the food, but he didn't. He went and stretched his claws on the scratching post. I put out some canned food and that went over well.

Then I tackled cleaning out the cage. Such fun. I've given Ariel the slightly larger cat box, and the plan for sometime in the next couple of weeks is to transfer her from Lolette's cage to our new cage, so we can return Lolette's.

I learned a new thing from the vet that was a shock. I was asking her how long I could wait to give Ariel the follow-up shot that I have. I was told to give it to her in three weeks, which will be one more week from now, and I don't see that happening. I was also told to give her the injection in the back of the neck. When I mentioned that to the vet, she nearly freaked out. She trotted out horrific photos of cats with massive tumors on their necks and gave me a long dissertation on how giving certain shots in the neck has been leading to these neck cancers. This was the first time I'd heard about it. Instead, I'm supposed to pinch a bit of skin on the back leg and give it there.

From what has been observed, giving insulin shots in the neck area doesn't cause this same problem. No one has quite pinpointed the cause, but in the meantime, better to be cautious.

24 Oct. 2004

Three more days to go until Owl's next check-up (no x-rays this time, thank Bast) and with luck, Owl may be released from captivity after this visit.

Last night, Owl got one of his claws stuck on the child door grill on the front of his enclosure and for some reason couldn't retract it. He had a panic attack and absolutely HOWLED. I don't think I've ever heard Owl make such a loud noise, let alone howl. He got himself loose a few seconds later, but it's pathetic how all brain function in a cat ceases when Panic Mode sets in.

I've had rather a discouraging time with Ariel. We had some kind of a set-back and I can't fathom what brought it on. She's now quite reactive to me and I can no longer pet her as I was doing. I'm trying to work up to that again, but must be very careful. We had a good play session with the feather toy this morning, but if my hand strays even slightly in the wrong direction, I get whacked. My left hand is covered with itty-bitty scratches and prick marks.

When I bring out the canned food, she can't decide whether to be excited and meow, or put back her ears and hiss, so she does both.

Randy spends a good half hour or more with her at night and is making good progress on his end, but he's a more cautious and laid-back person than I am. ;)

26 Oct. 2004

This was a much shorter day in L.A. I left earlier this time and got Owl to the clinic by 10. I had a moderate wait, then got to consult with the surgeon who is quite happy with the results. While the bones aren't perfectly aligned, they're very solid front-to-back which is her main concern. And he's gained some weight, though he looks to me like he needs to gain another pound before I'll be satisfied. I'd like to see him stay around 15-16 lbs.

The good news is that while he's not entirely free from Kitty Alcatraz yet, he's at least on parole. She said I could let him out for an hour or so at a time while I'm around to keep an eye on him. I'm to do that for a week so that he gradually gets more exercise, then I can pretty much let him out for good.

Owl's been wandering around the office for a couple of hours now. He's already gotten up on my desk twice, using two short jumps. I try to set him down instead of letting him jump down just yet, though when I mentioned to the vet he would probably be jumping, she didn't seem overly concerned.

I noticed Owl almost trips sometimes from getting his claws caught in the carpet, so I've just trimmed his claws. He's entirely calm and patient about that, I'm glad to say.

A few minutes ago, I heard the sound of Ariel's food being knocked out of her bowl. I went over to put a stop to it, figuring it was Puck yet again, but noooo, it was Owl. Probably because I've been giving a full-calorie food to both Ariel and Owl and he could smell it. I'd put his bowl out of reach temporarily because all the other moggies empty Owl's bowl if they can get to it.

I swear, it's a standard cat thing that whatever food is in the *other* bowl must automatically be more interesting than whatever is in the bowl in front of them. Even when it's the exact same thing.

Ariel's still doing her hissy-squinty routine, though she does seem to be calming down a trifle. In the evening, Randy sits next to her with the cage door open and last night she was so excited about the canned food on the way, she actually came halfway out of the door with Randy right there next to her.

Here's Ariel playing with her feather toy. A before and after.


27 Oct. 2004

It takes a lot to gross me out, but it happened last night. I was sitting very quietly next to Ariel as she ate her canned food. She was reluctant to come over by me at first, so I needed to keep things calm.

That was when Blue came alongside me on the right wanting a bit of attention. No problem. I was scratching his neck when I came across an odd bump on his back near the neck. I was fumbling around trying to figure out what it was when it burst and I had an ugly abscess on my hands. Rather literally.

And because of Ariel, I couldn't scream, "EWWW, YUCK!!!" like I really wanted to, nor could I make any sudden moves. I ever-so-calmly waited for Ariel to finish up, closed the cage door, scooped up Blue, shaved the area, and commenced cleaning out the nastiness. A lot of nastiness. I know the cause, too. That's where Puck often bites Blue when they get carried away with rough play. It was obviously a bite wound.

I had to clean it up again this morning and popped an Amoxi down his throat, but it doesn't look like it'll cause a problem. Blue was very good about it all, even though I could tell it was hurting him.

Owl, meanwhile, is a much happier boy. He's managed to curl up in my lap as I type this, after making a few visits to the desk and making walking passes through my lap as though he couldn't decide whether it would work to lie down or not. I had to stop him from stealing Ariel's dry food again, with Tribble hanging out ready to inhale whatever Owl left behind.

I find it amusing that the cat bed in Owl's enclosure has become Querida's favorite place for the day.

And back to Ariel, she didn't hiss at me once today, and didn't go Squinty on me either. That feels like a good thing.

And now, an interesting bit of story that shouldn't surprise any true cat servant.

Cats suffer stress, experts say

Cats can suffer from stress-related illness like humans, a study by animal experts suggests.

Rivalry with another cat is the biggest source of feline anxiety closely followed by moving home or the arrival of a new member of the owner's family.

Experts compared 31 cats with bladder disease to 24 healthy cats in the same households and used a control group of 125 other healthy cats.

Sick cats generally got more stressed by other cats in the house, they said.

Stress trigger

Dr Danielle Gunn-Moore, senior lecturer in feline medicine at Edinburgh University's school of veterinary studies, said feline lower urinary tract disease was frustrating for vets and owners because most cases had no apparent cause.

"This group of diseases of the bladder is most commonly seen in pedigree, middle-aged, overweight male cats which don't go out much and eat a dry food diet.

"We believed stress could be a trigger and wanted to identify differences in the cats' environments and temperaments which might cause this condition."

University researchers suggest cats with such illnesses should be fed wet food and encouraged to drink more fluid by adding tuna-flavoured ice cubes to water.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals has welcomed the research.

Spokeswoman Doreen Graham said: "We've always known cats are extremely sensitive and this study highlights a problem more widespread than previously thought."

28 Oct. 2004

Blue is recovering from the abscess just fine. Lucky for me it opened before getting too severe.

The happy purring Owl-lump is in my lap again.

Speaking of cats becoming lumps...we have a soft, old green blanket that we have folded in quarters and left on the end of our bed for Nefreet to sleep on. Usually, she curls up on top of it, but lately she has taken to burrowing inside the layers. If we can't find Nefreet, we know to look for the big lump in the green blanket.

I suspect it's because of the colder weather and she's getting older. Since we turn the heat down at night, we've taken to putting the blanket on the sofa when we go to bed. That way Nefreet has the option of burrowing into her "cave" during the night.

I've made a couple of attempts to shave Theseus' rear end with the new shaver, but I need three hands to manage it. I need one hand to hold him still, one hand to hold the shaver, and one hand to hold his tail up so I can get at the problem. Randy said he'd help me with it during the weekend, which is the only way I'll manage it.

29 Oct. 2004

I got a couple of hisses from Ariel today, but overall she seems to be calming down. She was happy to get her canned food from me this morning and came right over, even though I kept my hand on the edge of the bowl. I get her to sniff my fingers two or three times a day, but I haven't tried petting her again. The timing doesn't feel right yet.

Other moggies keep raiding Ariel's dry food by knocking it out and dragging it through the grid of the cage. I've put a piece of cardboard in the way to put a stop to that nonsense.

The local vet arranged for us to dash to her place this afternoon and show the tape of Nefreet to a visiting orthopedic surgeon. Based on what he saw, he was definite about calling it a neurological problem, probably a pinched nerve in her neck or back area. But before a definite diagnosis, we need to get blood work and x-rays. I need to do that as soon as I can afford it, since we're pretty sure she continues to have discomfort in that leg, even without the limping.

Owl voluntarily spent the morning napping in his cat bed in the enclosure (with door open). Now he's next to my desk and Tosca has taken over that cat bed. Tribble loves to go in there to drink from the water bowl. Something new and exotic, I suppose. [g]

30 Oct. 2004

Last night, Ariel was so excited about her food, she came out of the cage and crouched right next to Randy while she ate. As soon as she was done, she dashed back to the safety of her cusion in the cage, but still, that's a pretty big step for the little girl.

As near as I can figure, there's something in my posture or approach when I first open the cage door that sets her off with a hiss/ear flat reaction. This morning, she even threw in a small growl. Right after that, she calms down and we get along fine. I held the food bowl so that her whiskers were tickling my hand, and she was okay with that.

We've theorized that her reaction comes from being grabbed and put into carriers and cages in her first few days, when she had surgery, etc. Something in my posture must look like a person coming to grab her and do nasty things to her.

While I was cleaning cat boxes, I kept hearing her make a distress cry and found Puck right outside the cage intimidating her. I had to chase him off with scolding and whacks on the butt.

Tonight I attempt to move her from her current borrowed cage into the new cage we bought. Pray for my soul.

31 Oct. 2004

To my relief, getting Ariel moved into the new cage went easily and well. I did it in stages, with time inbetween the changes to let her adjust. First, I opened the two ends of the cages and put the openings together. Then I removed her food, water and cat box.

I put the new cat bed we bought her at the far end of the new cage, and moved her towel covering to that end. About five minutes later, I looked up from my computer to see Ariel exploring the opening, then she moved into the new cage and settled onto the new bed. She seems happy with the new bed which is an oval-shaped, had thick suede padding in the cener and a thick roll of sheepskin around the perimeter.

The next step was to slip a piece of cardboard over the opening, move the cages apart and get the end door shut. Then I cleaned and packed up Lolette's cage and got it out of the way.

Next, I carefully slid the new cage around to the same position the old cage had been in. After more down time, I replaced her food and water. A bit later, I gave her the canned food and put the cat box back in.

She wasn't entirely happy about the proceedings, but took it much better than I hoped. Although this morning she wouldn't come over to me to get her canned food, as she always has. I finally had to put the bowl right next to her.

I'm discouraged to not make more progress after three weeks. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I wish she was responding better.

Randy and I took a day off for a driving trip. On the way out, we dropped the cage off to Lolette, who was glad to have it back as she had a need for it. She has one kitten that I was ready to catnap on the spot. It's the sweetest, spunkiest little thing. We're lucky Lolette didn't want to part with it.

This evening, I gave Ariel a new toy to play with, a furry ball-creature with feet fastened at the end of a string. I hung it from the top of the cage. Ariel had a great time with it. She batted it around and caught it on the backswing. Finally she went totally medieval on it and the furry creature came off the string and "died" at her feet. That's when she lost interest. [g]

1 Nov. 2004

Things are not going well with Ariel. Something happened during the afternoon that has left her traumatized. When I came into the office around 5:30, I found her cowering in the corner of the cage next to the cat box. The new cat bed was flipped upside down.

Any attempts I made to calm her or do anything for her were met with hostility, though I did get the bed turned upright. She refused to go near it again. It's hours later and she hasn't improved much, though Randy was able to get her to play a little bit as long as he didn't open the cage door.

This evening, I carefully removed the new cat bed and put back in the cushion she was sleeping on before, in case her fear was directed toward the cat bed.

She was so freaked out, she jumped into the cat box, then took a fear dump. I left her alone and now she's back in the corner of the cage rather than on the cushion.

It might be Puck. He's being something of a bastard lately. Earlier this evening, I caught him harrassing her through the bars of the cage. I had severe words with him. Then he got on my desk and jumped on top of Knobby, biting him on the back of the neck. I had even more severe words with him.

The truth is, Ariel may be too feral and too scared of everything to become a regular domestic cat. I really don't know. We'll give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.

Owl, meanwhile, loves the new cat bed.

2 Nov. 2004

Nefreet's having more discomfort with that front leg. She doesn't limp, but she holds it up now and then, so it clearly continues to bother her.

Owl is finally a free moggy! I didn't lock him up last night and decided that was it for Kitty Alcatraz. I took out the catbox and left two cat beds in there, which various cats have been enjoying enormously throughout the day. It is a rather nice cave, after all. Owl's attitude is much improved now that he can go where he wants when he wants.

Ariel has calmed down somewhat. I still get the ears back/hissing/squinty-eyed routine... which she doesn't do with Randy at all! I've been talking to her, playing with her, etc. Tonight, I got terribly brave and gave her a few strokes on the hindquarters. She wasn't thrilled, but she didn't strike out at me. Randy's having a good play session with her right now.

3 Nov. 2004

Imagine my amazement. Ariel didn't hiss at me this morning, or put her ears back and barely did Squinty at me at all. She even meowed prettily for her canned food.

Later in the afternoon, I tried playing with her when she seemed to be in a playful mood, but she doesn't react as well to playing with me as with Randy. She's far more reserved.

At one point, she didn't like where my hand was straying and struck out at me. She got one claw stuck in my sleeve and couldn't get it out. Randy noticed she seems to have a problem getting her claw stuck in things. I stayed absolutely still and talked soothingly to her so she wouldn't panic, and let her work the claw out on her own. That didn't exactly help her frame of mind, though.

Plus I had left a cat toy on top of the cage, one of those rods with a string. She was the bright pink cap on the end of the rod and went after it. Eventually she got it to come through the cage and fall down on her, which freaked her out slightly.

At the moment, Randy is here to play with Ariel and Puck and whoever. Puck is going bonkers over the new mouse-on-a-string. He gets so enthusiastic, he turns somersaults.

6 Nov. 2004

Ariel pulled a switcheroo on us last night.

I had a very nice play session with her earlier in the day. In the evening, we were going through the usual routine. Randy came out, gave her fresh water, played with her, then I served up the "good food" (canned food). She was enthusiastic about it. I give her the good food in the morning and Randy gives it to her at night. While he's doing that, I start cleaning the cat boxes.

One section of the back side of Owl's enclosure is held in place by a big, heavy tool chest which is a bit in the way when I'm cleaning the boxes. I was in the middle of saying to Randy, "Y'know, now that Owl's not using this anymore, we can move the tool chest..." when Randy said to me, "Ariel has left the cage."

After eating the good food, Ariel came out of the cage, scooted along Randy's legs, went into Owl's enclosure and settled into the high-sided cat bed I left inside there. It's been Puck's favorite sleeping place lately.

We debated what to do. Herding her back into the cage would have been tricky. Besides which, having her in there wasn't such a bad alternative. It's solid on all sides except the front where the child-gate is. That gives her total protection from the rest of the Horde. It's larger, so she has more room to move around and stretch out, something we were worrying about with the cage. She *is* a growing girl, after all.

On the down side, there are a couple of niches she can hide in and be somewhat inaccessible. On the up side, it's much easier for me to get inside and be closer to her.

We transferred her food, water and cat box. It is no longer Owl's Enclosure or Kitty Alcatraz. It is now Ariel 's Cave.

She was a bit hissy with me today, but I think it's part of getting settled into the new space. I took advantage of the situation to stroke her back, though she hissed and growled over it. The hard fact is that unless I force some petting on her, she will never come to accept it. She spent some time playing with a catnip mouse, so I think she's generally happy about the new accomodations.

And I can put the blinkin' cage away, freeing up a chunk of floor space. The only loser is Puck, who is miffed over losing out on that cat bed. Owl says she's welcome to it.

Photos of Ariel , Puck, and Owl.

Ariel's Cave
Ariel hides out in her niche.
Happy Owl.
What Puck does when he's not being mischievous.

7 Nov. 2004

Ariel had regressed a lot toward me this morning, probably because I insist on petting her. I got the full range of hiss/ears back/growl and she refused to come near me to get her good food.

After I leave her alone for a while, she comes out, tosses the catnip mouse around and hangs out, but otherwise, she was hiding out in the small niche behind her cat bed. I went in there a little while ago and blocked off the niche (which freaked her out, unfortunately). There's a second, larger niche, but that one is easier for me to access. It's important to get her past wanting to hide all the time.

Nefreet has been adorable hiding out as a lump in her green blanket on these cold days. This morning, she merely tucked herself in.


9 Nov. 2004

Ariel has been with us a whole month now. On the whole, it doesn't feel like we've made a lot of progress. Yes, we can play with her if we're very, very careful and don't look her in the eyes. But touching her is still out of the question. Even the very suspicion of being touched makes her cringe in a corner.

I don't know whether this is genuinely bad news, or whether I'm being impatient. I really want to see a turning point where she realizes that people aren't going to hurt her. That being petted is good! That having human slaves is fun!

We seem to be a long way from that now.

Puck isn't helping. When Randy comes out to play with Ariel, Puck has to get his share and ends up climbing all over Randy in wild abandon. Sometimes it's hysterical, as when Puck attached himself to Randy (while Randy was lying on the floor) and disembowelled his butt. Randy has Puck "innoculations" all up and down his shin, given right through the blue jeans. Puck is jealous of Ariel , so he tries to intimidate her. This doesn't help.

There was a sweet moment earlier today when Tribble and Ariel sniffed noses through the child gate, and Ariel rolled around being cute for him. Tribble's a nice old gentleman, so he's a good one for her to make friends with.

Owl gave me a heart attack when he got onto my desk, as he does often these days, then rolled over and fell off the desk! You can imagine how worried I was. I checked him all over and he kept on purring as though nothing had happened. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to have done any damage to himself.

11 Nov. 2004

Ariel was just playing with the tip of Owl's tail through the child-gate. Poor Owl was terribly disconcerted. Ariel also has a small scratching pad now, in the hope that it will help her get her claws under control and not catch them in fabric so much.

Nefreet went to the vet this morning. I had to keep her off food overnight since I knew they'd have to trank her. She kept sitting at the spot where her food bowl should have been, making pathetic squeaks of inquiry. She wasn't happy about the trip, either.

The regular vet is out of town this week, so she has substitute vets. An interesting dark-haired woman came in, with a thick accent that I couldn't place. She looked at the chart and asked with some amazement, "What is the cat's name?" I launched into my usual explanation, "It's from the Egyptian root word 'nef' meaning beautiful..."

"I know! I'm Egyptian!" She was absolutely delighted. She, of course, knew all about the Egyptian princesses whose names begin with Nef. Nefertiti (whose name means "the beautiful one has come") is only the best known of them. And this vet comes from the same city that Nefertiti came from. Talk about small world... [g] She agreed that Nefreet has Egyptian eye make-up on. As you can imagine, we had much fun.

Nefreet did not, however, have fun. At all. They had to trank her once for the blood tests, then again for the x-rays. Afterwards, the vet showed me the x-rays, and we did a comparison with x-rays from a healthy cat. Nefreet has some definite oddities. Her sternum is not aligned the way it should be. It looks as though her enormous beach ball of a belly has pushed the sternum out of alignment, causing some bones to crunch together.. Also, her heart isn't floating in the middle of her chest where it should be. It's sitting right down on the sternum. Finally, there are some worrisome fuzzy patches in her lungs which could indicate fluid.

The x-rays will be evaluated by a specialist next week, but I suspect I could be in for bad news. The visit took two hours, much longer than I anticipated. I gave Nefreet a dollop of canned food when we got home to make up for the trauma.

Puck is alseep on my right arm, so this is about all the typing I can manage.

12 Nov. 2004

When I brought the cat carrier back into the office yesterday, I set it on the floor with the door open. Puck took up residence and stayed there for hours and hours. When he took a break, Owl moved in. When Owl moved out, Puck moved back in. Crazy moggies.

Ariel and Puck are playing footsies through the gate, both being coy about it.

Earlier in the day, I was trying to get Ariel to play and Owl sauntered into his old pen and settled into the cat bed. Ariel didn't seem bothered by this, so I let Owl stay there and played with both of them. When she got tired of it, I closed the gate and left Owl in there with her for about five minutes. No trauma ensued, but when he moved in on her food, I opened the gate and he sauntered out again.

I'd cut back a little on Owl's anti-histamines, but he's pulling out the hair on his back again, so it's back to the previous dose. And he's just horked up a huge hairball with a sound like turning his lungs inside out.

I was talking to Randy's sister and was delighted to hear that Artemis has lost 6 pounds! She must be almost svelte now. We'll be visiting them for Thanksgiving, so I'll get to see for myself.

13 Nov. 2004

I went through the same routine with Ariel this morning where she was back in her niche and wouldn't come out for the Good Food. I took it out and a few minutes later saw that she was in the front part of the cave and this time she took the food readily. I think she got the hint from yesterday that she has to endure being near the human to get the Good Food.

She's been quite inactive today, staying in her niche most of the time, not very interested in playing. It's discouraging. Unfortunately, Randy has to stop coming out and spending so much time here surrounded by cats because his asthma is getting worse and worse to the point of being dangerous. It's frustrating for him.

It took Nefreet a while to over the trank they gave her, and she hasn't quite been herself for the past couple of days. I'm anxious to get the results of those tests.

I discovered quite by accident that the new mouse-on-a-string toy we bought actually squeaks! I discovered this when I stepped on it and it squeaked at me, much to my surprise. I then began squeaking the mouse at the cats. Every time I squeak it at Theseus, he runs away! Mighty Theseus!!! LMAO.

13 Nov. 2004

This morning Ariel was far more ready to get her Good Food instead of hiding out. I made some changes in her Cave to open up the space a bit more for her. I took out the high-sided cat bed, moved the small scratching pad alongside her food bowls, and put in the flatter cat bed we bought her. She refused to lie on the high-sided cat bed for days now, possibly because of getting her claw stuck in and then pulled way, hurting her.

Now she's lying on the new bed. She likes to stretch out and can do that more easily now. A little while ago, she was batting around a practice golf ball I'd put in there. That's a first!

Puck is so jealous of Ariel, he makes it hard to play with her because he keeps bounding into her cave where he sits in the niche or in the cat bed. Then I have to haul him out, all of which rather detracts from bonding with Ariel .

Theseus, meanwhile, is crazy to chase any of the long as it's not squeaking at him!

15 Nov. 2004

The moggies are patiently sitting around, waiting for the hour to arrive when I will turn off the computer, dole out the pills, and hand out the Good Food. Turning off the computer is The Big Sign. Then the excited meowing and demands begin in earnest. Diva's post is on top of my printer where she gets her pill and treat. Tribble and Tosca get on top of the rubber box I put over the keyboard and get right in my face. Querida, if she's cognizant enough, tries to hide because she knows the pills come first. Ariel perks up in her cave. The rest mill around various parts of the office or get underfoot, apparently not understand that causing the human to fall flat on her face will not make the Good Food arrive any faster.

16 Nov. 2004

Had a wonderful play session with Ariel this morning. We must have played for twenty minutes, until Puck Prince of Mischief decided to keep bounding in and out of the cave, thereby distracting everyone involved.

Also gave the surgeon a follow-up report on Owl. She was very glad to hear that he's doing well. He hobbles, but he does put at least some weight on the leg. And it certainly doesn't stop him from doing whatever he feels like doing, such as jumping and getting into my lap.

17 Nov. 2004

Ariel has great fun playing with her ball. It's a plastic practice golf ball, the kind that has holes in it. I saw her with her claw stuck in one of the holes and she was holding up her paw with the ball dangling from it as though not quite sure what to do about it. This morning, I found the ball floating in her water. Tonight I found it lurking under her new scratching post. I can hear her when she bats it around and bounces it off the wooden sides of her niche and other parts of the cave.

Then Puck lusted after the ball and tried to get at it through the mesh of the child-gate. He whacked Ariel in the face and she retreated briefly, but came back quickly. He worked so intently at getting the ball through the mesh, he actually opened the gate!

While Randy was out here briefly and was playing with several of the cats, I showed him how the catnip mouse squeaks. I squeaked it at Theseus and he took off like a demented rabbit. We howled!

19 Nov. 2004

There was a message from the local vet who said that the oddities in Nefreet's x-rays aren't all that odd. She's seen that before. The heart and chest look good. No sign of cancer or other problems. There were two bones that look scrunched together, so it seems more and more like we might have a pinched nerve happening. The blood work also came back very good. In all other respects, Nefreet seems to be a healthy old girl.

Ariel's been more open and interested in things outside her cave. She continues to have great fun batting the ball around. She's eager to get her Good Food. But the minute I try to touch her at all, even in the slightest way, she reverts to Pissed Off Feral Cat and swats me.

Patience. We must have patience.

21 Nov. 2004

Puck and Ariel played footsies through the gate. Puck seems to veer from wanting to play nice with her and wanting to harrass her depending on whether he's bored or jealous.

I was in her cave cleaning things up, and was deep in thought about something else. Ariel was crouched to the right of me, being very calm and good about it and in my preoccupation, I reached over to give her a scritch behind the ears as I would my other moggies. She flinched back. I immediately pulled my hand back, of course, but she didn't hiss or freak out or try to whack me. I sure hope the day comes when I can casually scratch behind her ears.

22 Nov. 2004

Poor Ariel. She really wants to play, but is still intimidated about playing with me. She stretched out, belly up, on her side of the closed gate and stuck her paw through at Puck, but he wasn't much help. Puck and Theseus both went bounding inside her cave when I was trying to play with her with the string toy. That doesn't help either.

Owl had pulled out quite a patch of fur on his back. I can see some small red spots, too. Allergies or bites, I guess. I've had to go back to his full dosage of anti-histamines. I've been delighted to see Owl become outright playful recently. He got quite enthusiastic about the feather toy. That's unusual for him.

23 Nov. 2004

There was a nose-sniffing moment between Ariel and Tribble that was sweet to see. Tribble has been all over me lately as though he simply can't get enough attention. He's such a love-sponge.

We'll be gone for Thanksgiving for a couple of days, and it will be the first time in the month and a half that we've had Ariel that she will be taken care of by someone else. I hope it isn't too traumatic for her.

There's a huge cluster of moggies around the radiator. I guess a three dog night must translate into a nine cat night?

27 Nov. 2004

We were greatly relieved to return from our trip and find that Ariel did perfectly fine in our absence. If anything, she may possibly have seemed happy to have us back. She's having a rollicking time chasing the ball around her cave right now. Earlier, I caught her sticking her entire front leg through the one open slot of the cave, trying to get at Tosca.

Puck, being the clever puckster that he is, figured out how to get himself inside Ariel 's cave when I have the gate shut, but not fastened. He goes to the top of the desk, insinuates his head into the narrow opening between the desk and the gate, and simply pushes his way in! He lands with a decided PLOP! and the gate is pushed open in the process. I removed him, of course, and latched the gate. As soon as I left it unlatched this evening, he repeated his technique. He's incorrigible.

Nefreet seems especially happy to see us. Randy said she's spent all day meowing at him without respite. But it's easy to get Nefreet to leave you alone. Just give her too much affection and she heads for the hills, the dear little psycho. [g]

That Puck! He just stole Ariel's ball right through the slot in the side of her cave. I tossed it back in. So he tried his new trick to get inside, but I have the gate latched. I looked over to see him with his head squashed between the gate and desktop. I'm sorry, but I laughed. You would have, too. He pulled his head free, caring nothing for his dignity.

During the holiday, we spent a couple of days at Randy's sister's house. N. and her husband were out of town, so we had the place to ourselves, and I took care of my ex-moggy, Artemis. She mostly stayed hidden in her secret spot (under a floor-length chair covering), forcing us to lie on the floor, lift the cover and give her scritchies.

Finally by Thurs. night she came out on her own and spent some time with us. She even cuddled up to Randy when he laid down on the floor. She purred up a storm. She's still fat and waddles like a raccoon, but she's actually lost a few pounds and looks better than she has in a long time. She's a very happy moggy and I'm happy at how well it's turned out. N. left me some photos. When I have time, I'll scan a couple and post them.

28 Nov. 2004

Puck was an extremely bad boy this morning. He jumped Kate, an absolutely quiet and harmless cat. He had her down in a bear hug and was raking her with his back claws. I was on my way when Sly ran over to the rescue, but that just made him the new target. I found myself chasing Puck and Sly around the office until I got Puck herded off. Then I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and had Stern Words with him punctuated by a few good whacks on the head.

Ten minutes later, he was sharing the water bowl with Sly.

I checked Kate out and she seems fine, thanks to her thick fur. A few tufts came out here and there, but that seems to be the worst of it.

After doing all the chores in Ariel's cave, I tried giving her a little scritch under the chin to see what would happen. She backed up a little in confusion and gave me a light whack on the hand. Not enough to hurt, but enough to get the message across, said message being, "What in the hell do you think you're doing?"

A few pictures: Randy, Puck, Artemis.

Randy & Puck
How Randy's legs get "pucked up".
Siamese kitten
A Siamese kitten from the house that is The Source of All Cats in this neighborhood, including Ariel.
Artemis, happy in her new home.
Miss Saucer Eyes.
Artemis, the Princess of Thumbs.

1 Dec. 2004

Nothing much new to report amongst the Horde. Ariel continues to regard my hand with suspicion since I keep trying to pet her.

Puck continues to behave like the boy who can't decide whether he wants to play with new girl or pull her pigtails, or both.

Several moggies had a puke-athon. Blue was the clear winner in terms of sheer quantity. Diva came in second for style, by puking down the side of my printer and onto some of my papers.

Owl's large bald patch is slowly growing over, so I think the anti-histamines are working. He isn't putting on more weight and that disturbs me, since he still feels too skinny for my liking. However, the lower weight is probably beneficial right now as he slowly builds up use of the rebuilt knee.

3 Dec. 2004

Ariel went exploring this morning! Randy was commenting the other night that we can't keep her locked up in the "cave" forever. I'm still worried about the fact that nobody can touch her, let alone catch her or pick her up, if the need should arise.

But it's true. She can't be kept in there indefinitely. So this morning, while I was preparing the Good Food, I left the door open. She tentatively came out, then went over and sniffed a blanket lots of the cats sleep on, then went inside the tripod box, came out, skirted around to my desk with Puck on her heels. By this point, I had her bowl of Good Food ready and she wanted it, so she ducked under the side wing of my desk and dashed back into her cave, recovered her wits and came partway out to have her food as I sat next to her.

I think short bursts of exploring like that will help her gradually adjust to being out in the open. My other big worry is that Puck might harrass her, so I'm keeping an eye on that.

4 Dec. 2004

Last night, Randy came out for some play time with the moggies. Ariel did a short piece of exploring, but Randy had to keep Puck literally off her tail.

This morning, I left her gate open. She did a short piece of exploring before retreating to her cave. Then her cave was invaded by the likes of Puck, Tribble, Owl and Theseus. They emptied out and Ariel came out a bit later, after the Good Food, and took up residence in the tripod box. Puck was, of course, camped outside the box, making it hard for her to retreat. I dragged the tripod box over to Ariel 's cave and she came out a minute later.

Photos: Ariel, Puck, Randy & Horde.

There have also been several new additions to the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

Ariel thinks about exploring.
The first brave step.
Ariel figures out which direction to try next.
Ariel considers her options. A second later, she ducked into the tripod box behind her.
Puck: "Hey, is there room for me in there, too?"
Ariel: "NO!"
Randy and Moggy Horde
Randy often has trouble playing with Ariel and you can see why. The rest of the Horde wants attention, too. Tail at lower left is Owl. By Randy's head are Theseus, Kate and Sly. On top of the desk, Puck. At Randy's feet, Blue and Querida.

5 Dec. 2004

The Letting-Ariel-Explore experiment took a downward turn last night when she skittered over to the far side of the office, which is filled with nothing but shelves and boxes, and therefore lots of hiding places. And she promptly hid.

Well, fine. I was counting on her being lured back to her cave by the Good Food. Unfortunately, she just waited until I'd put the food out for all the cats and snuck up to have some.

I finally had to call upon Randy. He moved a heavy box she was hiding behind and the two of us, with some help from Puck, gently herded her to the cave.

I haven't let her out at all today, though I did let Owl stay inside the cave with her for a few hours. They simply napped near one another. He's such a gentleman that I don't have to worry about him, and it gives her more chance to acclimate to another member of the Horde.

7 Dec. 2004

Ariel had her first taste of chicken tonight. As far as I know, anyway. She quite enjoyed it. I made a chicken pie for dinner and brought out the skin and remnants for the happy Horde.

I'm vaguely worried about Blue. He's been throwing up a lot lately and right now he's crouched next to one of the oil-radiator heaters, which is not all that unusual in the cold weather, but his posture makes me wonder. Otherwise, he *seems* okay, so I could be worrying about nothing.

Old Dame Querida is always soaking up the heat these days. At her advanced age, it must feel very good to her.

8 Dec. 2004

Ariel played some serious mind games with me this morning. I came into the office, said hello to the moggies as usual, and went over to unhook the bungie cord from Ariel 's gate and say hello to her.

There was no Ariel! I got right inside to be sure, but there was no sign of her. I couldn't fathom how she escaped without dislodging the gate. I left the gate standing open, then began to search, hoping to flush her out and send her running back to her cave.

I couldn't find a sign of her anywhere. I checked inside the tripod box and noticed that someone whose name probably begins with Puck has clawed a hole in the end of it.

Then I looked back at the cave and there was Ariel! You can imagine how baffled I was. I began to suspect a cloaking device.

I did the morning routine and went to work. When it was time to go inside for lunch, I looked in the cave and Ariel had disappeared again! The gate was still in place and I would have heard anything unusual like pushing it open.

I did another thorough search of the office. Then I heard a strange sound and went to check the cave. Ariel had reappeared and was about to exit via the gate I'd left open. I think I figured it out.

There were two "niches" in the back area of her cave (formed by a bookcase upended to block an opening. She had been getting into the smaller niche out of reach instead of interacting with us, so I used a large piece of stiff plastic (a boot tray) to seal it off. However, there's a small opening at the top, and I think she must have managed to leap up and through this small opening and was completely hidden back in that niche.

Clever girl!!!

9 Dec. 2004

Like most cats, Ariel is a mind-reader. I've made no secret of my intention to start petting her, though I'm biding my time about it, so she's resorting to pre-emptive whacks. When I even think about trying to pet her, she whacks me. Gently, so far (no claws), but firmly. Ariel stubbornly refuses to accept me as alpha cat. [g]

It's been 2 months since we brought her home. I know we've made some progress, but it feels like slow going to me.

She didn't use her cloaking device today. Maybe because she knows I've figured out the secret.

I received an unexpected call from the local vet. She was able to show Nefreet's x-rays to a radiologist and discussed Nefreet's symptoms with other vets. The radiologist didn't see problems with the spine or neck bones. He saw a bulge in what would be the right atrium of the heart in a human. He saw a solid mass in the area of the spleen which could mean an enlarged spleen. Unfortunately, following up on any of these things to get more definitive info requires money I don't have.

So we're still in a gray area of mystery. It could be a heart problem, she could be throwing the occasional clot (but having the left front leg affected is highly unusual), or it could be a nerve problem.

The vet also commented that Nefreet had an extremely fast heart rate when she was at the clinic, something that would normally indicate being hyperthyroid. But her thyroid results were normal. She wants me to check Nefreet's resting heart rate a few times. I tried a couple of times earlier tonight, but she won't sit still to let me do it, or she purrs so much I can't find a heartbeat!

10 Dec. 2004

More throwing up from Blue. I got out the hairball remedy gel to see if that will help him. Naturally, he didn't like it enough to lick it off my finger and I had to force it on him. Meanwhile, half a dozen other moggies gathered round and nearly bit off my fingers to get some as a treat.

Randy and I have been completely unable to count Nefreet's heartbeat. We've tried over and over again, but every time we press our fingers to her chest trying to feel it, all we can feel is her loud, happy purr or her breathing.

I tried to give Ariel a couple gentle strokes on her back and she whacked me thoroughly for it. I was careful not to overreact and rather than just going away, I followed it up by getting a string and playing with her. I have never seen a cat so stubbornly dead-set against being touched by a human.

I've also been inundated suddenly by tons of new submissions to the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics. I must have hit some tipping point in being discovered on the net. There are lots of new photos.

13 Dec. 2004

I came into my office this morning, said hello the moggies as usual, turned on my computer, changed from my house clothes to my cat clothes (to keep the cat hair off the clothes I wear in the house) and did all the usual things I do when I first come in. Then I went over to say hello to Ariel. There was no sign of her, but I assumed she'd gone hiding in her covered niche again. I left the door to her "cave" propped open.

I went back to my desk and stopped dead in my tracks. Puck looked up from one of the cat beds under my desk. Except he had a white chest. And I realized it wasn't Puck, it was Ariel! Happily curled up in the cat bed only a foot from where I'd been standing. You could have knocked me over with a feather!

She finally decided she didn't like the way I was looking at her and she nonchalantly headed back into her cave, after which I did the rest of the normal routine -- giving pills and treats, refreshing the water bowls, giving out the Good Food and refilling the dry food.

I figured out how she got out. The "cave" is primarily made up of an oddly angled desk that my late husband built to be a computer desk. The child gate closes off the main open part of it, but because of the angle, I had to place a bookshelf across the top to close off the large gap between the gate and the angle of the desk. The bookshelf had gotten pushed back, one way or another, leaving a substantial gap and she must have shimmied up and out.

Obviously, she did fine during the night and got along with the other cats, so I'm seriously thinking I may open the gate and leave her to her own devices again tonight.

14 Dec. 2004

Ariel was hanging out in her cave when I came in this morning. When I gave out the Good Food, she wasn't content to wait for me to bring her own bowl to her. She came out to get some for herself. I was able to get her to come over to me and eat from her own bowl, but once she finished that small portion, she went back to the other bowls to help herself to more. She seems to be getting along just fine amongst the other cats. She retreats to her cave when she needs a break. At one point, she was back in the covered niche, so I uncovered it to give her easier access and to keep her from hurting herself climbing through the tiny hole at the top. At the rate she's eating, she won't remain svelte for long!

She's been prowling around the office checking everything out while I work at my desk, and I've heard her batting a ball around on the other side of the shelves where the concrete floor isn't covered with carpet. Just now she scooted rapidly past me to get to another part of the office. I think she's having a good time. [g]

Meanwhile, Querida slept the morning away in the cat bed inside the cave. Ariel has had a fun day of wandering around the office and hanging out in her cave with various cats occupying her bed. After Querida left, Owl took up residence. During the afternoon while she was hanging around near her cave, I got her to join a play session and chase the purple string, taking turns with Puck, Theseus, Blue, Sly and Tosca.

Later, she let me walk right past her to get to another part of the office, but she is still totally off-limits as far as touching is concerned.

"You can look, but you can't touch!"

For your amusment, moggies (not mine) helping set up a xmas tree.

15 Dec. 2004

Ariel was cute last night. When I got out the Good Food, she first went to join the other cats. I called her name, not really expecting a response, but she came over to her cave and ate her own portion of food next to me. As soon as she was done, she sprinted past me, went back to the other cats and stuck her head into the bowl from which Theseus was eating. He looked at her, perplexed, then moved away like a gentleman.

She even jumped up onto my desk last night, while I was standing a several feet away from it, of course. But still...

17 Dec. 2004

Once in a while, when things get too intense,Ariel will dart into the tripod box to escape, but I'm pleased to note that she also comes right back out again, usually in less than a minute. She didn't run away when Randy came in for a visit last night, either, and I think that's the first time Randy has come out since Ariel was given her freedom. She still comes over to me for her portion of the Good Food, though she continues to be wary of any attempt I might make to pet her. All in due time, my pretty, all in due time. (If you heard the Wicked Witch saying that, give yourself ten points.)

Puck jumped Tosca this afternoon, and I mean really jumped her. It was a nasty attack. I couldn't do anything about it because they were way up on top of the highest shelves, but once he chased her down to the floor, I grabbed him. He was unrepentent, so I held him next to the water bowl and splashed water in his face. That got the message across.

18 Dec. 2004

Ariel was inside the tripod box when I came in this morning, though she did come out of it right after.

A couple of days ago, I decided to take the small cat box out of Ariel 's cave since too many other cats were using it, including Owl. Unfortunately, because of his bum leg, Owl's aim isn't very good and I didn't want to go back to that mess again in there. I figured that since Ariel was out and about, she could use the communal cat boxes, something she has to do eventually.

However, this morning I disocovered that Cat Uknown had peed in the cat bed I left in the cave, which is very annoying. Then I discovered that Cat Unknown has left a large cache of turds against a back wall of the office on the cement. It's in a spot that Ariel first hid in, so it's possible she's going there because she doesn't feel safe with the communal boxes yet. But it could be another cat. I keep catching Puck harrassing Tosca when she's trying to use the boxes. At any rate, someone left a big mess back there and I need to put a stop to it.

19 Dec. 2004

We were proud ofAriel last night. Randy's sister and husband came to visit, and when they first came into my office, Ariel hid waaay down at the end of the tripod box. A few minutes later, she scurried out, darted around a bit, then settled down and let them have a look at her...from a safe distance. But she let Randy get close enough to sniff his finger, and he was able to get her to play with a string. We think that was quite brave of her, with strange people around.

There's been no further mess made in the back corner of the office since I cleaned it up. While I was cleaning the cat boxes this morning, I got to the last one and was about to stand up when I realized Ariel was using one of the boxes behind me. She took off like a shot when I turned around, but the fact that she was using it, and with me nearby, is a good sign.

She's gotten up on the high shelves at the window a couple of times, too. I keep trying to snap a picture of her there, but as soon as I head in that direction with a camera, she takes off.

Photos: Ariel, Puck, Owl, Tribble.

Ariel by window
The only shot I've been able to get of the elusive Ariel by the window.
Tribble in bed
Tribble gets some serious relaxing in.
Ariel with toys
Ariel says: "All these toys are belong to us."
Puck in food box
Puck wonders where all the food has gone and why Ariel is on the box art instead of him.
Owl in bed
Owl relaxes. The fur on his rebuilt knee is still growing in and looks much whiter than the rest of him.
Ariel in bed
Ariel practices being adorable. Doesn't take much practice.

21 Dec. 2004

I was quite pleased this morning. Ariel showed up with all the other cats to greet me this morning. Usually I have to go looking for her after I change into my cat clothes, but this time she actually showed up on the other side of my desk where I was greeted by the rest of the Horde. She did some friendly rubbing against a footstool and chair, though she came no closer to me.

The past couple of days, she's taken to hanging out in a small carrier that used to be Querida's hiding spot. For some reason, Querida abandoned it a while ago (possibly because I had to keep dragging her out of it to give her pills). The carrier sits on the floor to the right of my desk about five feet away from where I sit at the computer.

Owl decided to squeeze himself into the tripod box. A bad move, because he was then unable to turn around, due to his size and his bad leg. This led to distressed scrabbling that made me jump out of my chair to come to his rescue, except that he managed to extricate himself before I got there. Ariel was waiting outside the box to whap him, thinking it was part of a game. She didn't do any real whapping, though.

After that, Owl went over to lounge at the cat spa, so I've spiced it up with a bit of fresh catnip. The catnip junkies are gathering.

24 Dec. 2004

Puck, Lord of Mischief, was struck with a fit of boredom which he alleviated by jumping repeatedly onto my desk and making off with whatever he could carry from the tray of my monitor stand. First it was a small cat's head magnet, then it was the cat claw clippers, then a metal frog click-clacker doodad. I finally let him carry off the frog, which is fairly impervious to harm, but Puck was bored with the frog in half a minute and came back to see what else he could carry off.

I tried to distract him with a couple of actual cat toys, but he wasn't interested in authorized play. He wanted mischief, so it was bck to the desktop. The frog ended up waaaay under the monitor stand, causing me to crawl around behind the desk to retreive it.

Puck moves into mischief mode.
Puck Puck Puck
Having worked over one part of my desk, he moves on to a new section.
Ariel wonders what is going on up there.
His work done, Puck settles in for a nap with Querida.
Puck and Querida

And a very moggy xmas to all who celebrate it! A very moggy hannukka, kwanzaa, solstice and so on to the rest of you! May your stockings be filled with catnip!

26 Dec. 2004

Nefreet was adorable this morning. She cuddled herself into a lovely little lump inside her green blanket, as cozy as cozy could be.

My stepson visited for xmas. He knows half the cats quite well, having lived with my late husband and myself on and off for years. Later in the evening, he came into my office to see the Horde. I was hoping he'd get a look at Ariel , but this time she didn't cooperate. She found a cunning hiding spot and stayed there. The rest of the greeters were out in force -- Puck, Tribble, Sly, Tosca, Diva and Owl. Querida and Knobby kinda slept through it all. Theseus, Kate, Blue and Ariel were invisible.

I did the Good Food and cat chores after my stepson went back into the house. It took large amounts of coaxing, but I did finally get Ariel to come and get her bowl of food.

Cats don't like having their routine upset.

31 Dec. 2004

We were hit by a winter storm, buried in 18" of snow, and went without power for 3 days and 3 nights. In the house, we did all right because we have a gas heater, but the unfortunate Horde in my office had to endure 72 hours of chilling temps because the only heat out there is from electric oil-radiators.

I brought out piles of old blankets so they could snuggle up together while I bugged the power company several times a day. I worried about them a lot. I'd come in and find them piled up together, but seemingly no worse for wear.

Except for my very old girl, Querida. After the first night, I was so worried about her that I talked it over with Randy and we brought her into the house. I had her in a carrier until she warmed up, then rubbed her with the anti-allergen liquid to keep Randy from having problems.

Nefreet was absolutely put out. She hissed and snarled and carried on like the psycho-kitty she is. Nor did she let up. She went and sulked upstairs most of time. When she deigned to come downstairs for food, she hissed preemptively at us and anything else around, and fixed us with glares that said, "If I were a cougar, you would be dead now."

Having Querida inside where I could watch her, I quickly realized how sick she was. She was having bloody stools, drinking huge amounts of water, and refusing to eat.

By Thurs. morning, though we still had no power, we were able to get our 4X4 Subaru down the dirt road and get Querida to the vet. The vet immediately agreed she was a very sick girl. We left Querida there for tests, had brunch, did errands and went back for the results. It came down to what we hope was only a raging urinary tract infection, starting to affect the kidneys (vs more serious underlying problems). We left her there to be hospitalized, treated for severe dehydration and given heavy-duty anti-biotics.

Nefreet was still hissing automatically for a while, but she is finally calming down again.

This morning, the vet called to say that Querida responded very well overnight. No more blood in the urine and they had gotten a little bit of food into her. We picked her up at noon. They gave us instructions in how to inject her with more IV fluids for a few more days, pills, and special food that I must get into her. I have a lot of nursemaiding to do. I'm also in a state of shock from the cost of the vet bill. I really couldn't afford that.

Power is finally back on and the cats are glad to have heat again.

Ariel has gone aerial. She's discovered the high walkways and is now sleeping waaaay up on the top of the boxes on the top of the highest shelves...far out of my reach.

I was looking more closely at Owl 's leg. At first, I thought the fur on his knee was white because it was starting to grown back and would then turn dark brown as it got longer. Judging from the length of the fur, I suspect that it has grown back white rather than brown. After two surgeries, I'm not surprised.

Puck & Blue
Puck and Blue, the Tabby Mafia.


Nefreet the psycho-kitty

Puck with ball
Puck says, "Could I get any cuter?"

Owl says, "Can't a guy lick his crotch in peace around here?"


Diva displays her adornment of burrs.

Theseus & Tribble
Theseus and Tribble

Theseus enjoys the sun.

Kate the Wild Abyssinian

Artemis the Great White Belly

Artemis shows her thumbs.

Theseus and Owl
Theseus & Owl demonstrate why I have trouble getting work done.

Tosca the golden-eyed.