Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sassy and the Unattainable Red Dot

Sassy has never been one of the most active cats with whom we've had the pleasure of sharing our lives.   Overall, she's relatively lazy, extremely prissy, and has a severe superiority complex.  She seldom seeks attention from anyone, save my husband, and would rather be left alone than doted upon. 

There is one thing that Sassy desires to do, however, before she sees the kitty box in the sky... If she could speak, she would say that she wants to catch the "unattainable red dot," or laser pointer beam to us laypersons.  That is the one thing that will rouse the ordinarily subdued Sassy from her laziness and whip her into a frenzy. 

Now sure, our other felines have long desired to capture that tiny red enemy of cats everywhere, but none so much as Sassy.  She is the one who will wait for what seems like a kitty eternity for the shiny, red nemesis to emerge from under a sofa or chair, not realizing that it really didn't escape there in the first place.  When the dot races vertically up a nicely painted wall, Sassy is the one who will chase it, jumping and twisting herself in a vain attempt to capture it.  

Of course, in her older years, she doesn't do so much of the jumping and clawing, but she will still never give up the chance, no matter how slim the possibility of victory, to chase that little unattainable, red dot.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

Even though I'm not a "mother," per se, I do count myself as a devoted pet mom.  Anyone who has an adopted member of the family (either human, feline, canine, avian, rodent, you get the picture) realizes that in order to qualify as a mom, you need not have birthed your 'child.'  A true mom is one who provides love, nurturing, and comfort to their children, regardless of gender and/or species.

Every mother also knows that unless there is one child in the family, there inevitably will be rivalry.  Human children do not hold ownership on sibling rivalry, even though they may well have patented the idea.  What pet parent hasn't had two fur-children who just won't quit their squabbles, no matter what is done to calm the little savage beasties?  I'm guessing quite a few pet guardians deal with this very issue on a daily basis.  Our family is no exception.

Sassy is now the older of the two remaining "children" in the household.  She got her name by no accident.  She is an eleven year old Himalayan mix with a superiority complex and the tenure in the "pride" to back it up.  She is mild-mannered for the most part but head strong and very stubborn when she sees reason to be so.  She is a typical Alpha female cat.  She's beautiful, regal, and spoiled.  

Pixel, who was previously mentioned as my official shadow, is the young, daring antagonist in the family.  A spry five years old, he often has delusions of grandeur and a bravery that he only shows to Sassy.  Pixel can be extremely argumentative with her, which results in much hissing, spitting and growling from both of my little lovelies.  At other times, he's goofy, clumsy and extremely cuddly and the picture of manners.  Unfortunately he is also a typical Alpha male cat, dominant, strong-willed and HEAVY, outweighing Sassy by a good ten pounds.

Like human children, these two critters scuffle on occasion and are peaceful with each other most of the time.  But I have to admit it would be easier to break up two fighting children than these two knuckleheads when Pixel gets it in his head to make Sassy's existence a living nightmare.  If we don't hear them fighting (if we're not home) we can always tell by the fluffs of cream-colored fur on the carpet that things weren't exactly peaceful in our absence.  While Mom's away, the cats will play, or fight in our case.

We are trying a new gimmick (I call this a gimmick because I haven't gotten enough information to know if it will actually work) to calm the cats enough to keep the peace.  We invested in a diffuser that looks like a small plug-in air freshener but emits a cat's facial hormones.  We are hoping that this little device will be effective.  I will not post the name of the product, as I am not endorsing any specific brands on this blog unless I have found them to be of proven use and I believe in them strongly enough to post a testimonial.  But I will keep my readers updated from time to time as the month passes, and the cats' behavior changes (or not!)

Pixel is taking a time out to recharge.
Sassy, being... well,  Sassy.


Friday, April 8, 2011

The Best of Birthday Gifts

As another birthday comes to a close, I would be remiss if I did not talk about the best birthday gift I ever received.  This particular year was the first birthday I got to celebrate with my new husband, and as such he wanted to get for me something I would love.  We never suspected it would come wrapped in a long, silky fur coat.

Let me rewind a bit, and also warn my readers that this post will likely be the length of a small novella, but the story bears telling in its entirety.  At the time, my hubby and I had but one "fur child," my three year old calico, aptly named Callie.  And though I loved and raised this cat from a wee kitten, she chose to love my handsome new partner.  I was feeling quite snubbed.  What is that old saying?  Oh yes, you're nobody until you've been ignored by a cat.  Well, in Callie's case, I must have been President.  

One of the things hubby and I did on occasion was to visit the kitties at the Humane Society, not because we were necessarily looking to adopt a new family member, but because it was about halfway in between destinations on a back country road we traveled almost daily.  I was impressed with the set up of the cat room.  Though the cats were caged, everything was clean and well kept.  On this particular day, April 4, we happened to be passing by and decided on a whim to stop in to visit with the cats.  

On a typical day, there was an over-abundance of cats sheltered in the lobby of the facility, in addition to the cat room.  We waggled fingers at the twitchy feline noses that yearned for attention as we passed by.  We were informed by the attendant on duty that a family of cats had recently been surrendered by an elderly owner's family who had passed away.  She showed us to the cats that were included in the group.  My heart immediately melted for the uncertainty these kitties surely faced.  What would happen to them?  Suddenly, I felt as though I was being watched...

I turned to see a young tortoiseshell cat with huge gold eyes staring me down.  She continued her unnerving stare until I walked to her cage to talk with her.  The coloring on her chin gave the illusion at first of a severe under-bite, as though she was a bull dog.  I distinctly remember telling her, "You don't look like a very nice kitty," and walking away toward another calico who was part of the abandoned clan.  This cat's relentless stare continued until I could almost feel her gaze penetrating my skull.

Intrigued by the tortie with the golden eyes, I walked back to her cage and stuck my finger in between the bars.  She immediately started to rub against my hand and the bars that separated us.  Hubby noticed I seemed to have found a friend, so he joined me in the exchange.  I quickly discovered my first impression of her couldn't have been more off-base.  Hubby and I decided to spend some time in the visiting room with her, to attempt to get to know her better, determine her personality, and if nothing else, give her some love and attention.

Once we were in the visitation room, this kitty that the shelter had named "Luna," turned into a completely different cat.  I am convinced to this day she saw the uncertainty in our faces and did all she could to make us fall in love with her.  She covered me in sandpaper kisses, purred so loud I thought all of the town might hear her, and rolled over on her back for tummy rubs.  The attendant told us what she knew of Luna's past.  She was surrendered and adopted out.  She bore a litter of kittens, which we understand the other owners kept, and Luna was surrendered and spayed.  Over the course of a half hour, I became smitten with this cat, and I knew I needed her.  Hubby and I placed her on hold for 24 hours while we discussed the impact of bringing another cat into our home.  How would she and Callie get along?  

We sat up into the wee hours of the morning, discussing Luna's fate in our family.  At one point, we decided to not bring her home, but it weighed heavily on me.  I cried, agonized by the argument between my head and my heart.  Finally we slept on it.  We would make a decision in the morning.
When we awoke the following morning, I had already decided I could not live with myself if we didn't at least try to bring Luna home.  The wait for the noon opening was torturous.  Knowing we were making the right decision, we drove to the shelter and were there pretty much when it opened.  We walked into the cat room and saw our red "Reserved" ticket on the front of her cage.  My heart sang with delight!  In just a little bit, she would be ours!  A little boy, there with his parents, poked his fingers into her cage.  I noticed she was not at the front of the cage this time, but huddled in the back looking withdrawn and maybe a little sad.  When the boy moved, I walked over to the cage to see her.  As soon as she heard my voice, and saw me she was on her feet and looked so very happy!  If I was looking for a sign, that was surely it.  

To this day, Luna, who we renamed Tika, remains the best gift anyone has ever given to me.  Tika was part of our family for 12 1/2 years, until cancer ended her life in November of 2010.  I won't say that celebrating this birthday, my first without her, has been easy.  But she is with me in spirit, and I know she's watching from Rainbow Bridge, waiting to see me again someday.

I miss you Munchkin, and still love you so very much.  Wish you were here.

 Tika Marie
October 25, 1995 - November 2, 2010

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Princess Sassy!

Birthdays are a pretty big deal around our home, and the cats' birthdays are no exception.  Over the years, we've only had the privilege to know with certainty the exact birthday of two of our many cats.  Abby and Arista were born to the neighbor's cat in the middle of the night, so they alone had a known date of birth.  All of our other kitties, most of them rescues, have had their birthdays assigned to them, according to their age, and what we felt was a good, remember-able date.  

My very first cat, a calico beauty named Callie, shared a birthday with my late grandfather.  Tika, who was approximately 2 1/2 years old when she adopted us, was given an October 25th birthday.  For Miss Tika, we placed 30 numbers in a hat (minus the 31... she was a black and orange tortie, and I didn't want a Halloween cat), and drew 25.  Sassy, who decidedly bonded with my husband the night we rescued her, shares my birthday, April 8.  This is the most ironic of all birthday pairings, as this cat shows me absolutely no affection unless she is hungry.  She is most certainly my husband's baby.  Pixel, who came to us two days before Thanksgiving, has a September birthday.  He doesn't have the luxury thus far of an official "date"... we just celebrate his birthday in the middle somewhere.  Poor guy!

I really don't mind sharing a birthday with the cat who shuns me on a daily basis.  She is the cat, after all, that my beloved Tika decided to love before she laid eyes on her.  Sassy's adorable devotion to my husband warms my heart, and she makes me truly happy.  She is the true princess of the family. Sassy is prissy, sweet, and in her own Sassy way, she really does love me, I suppose.  So to my littlest birthday partner, I say... Happy Birthday Princess Sassy!  I hope we have many more with you.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pixel, My Official Shadow

Today, I was searching for something to do, so I decided to pull out some cross-stitching that I had started about 3 years ago.  Pixel, my 5 year old brown tabby, wasted no time inspecting all of my paraphernalia that I had strewn about our den while looking for my scissors, threads, hoops, and my actual stitch project.  He's so curious about everything I'm doing, every moment of every day.  Pixel has been my little attachment since we lost my beloved Tika in November, as if he was waiting to take her place, that coveted spot on my lap, the place of honor.  Once I had gathered all my sewing supplies, I headed to the living room, where the light was just perfect for seeing my work of art of thread and aida cloth.

Now, I should have known better than to expect my lap to be empty, a place to put the metal sheet and magnets that hold my spot on the stitchery pattern.  I should have known with certainty that my furry shadow was going to lay on my arms the second I planted myself in my recliner.  Which he did, in record time.  And then, in his ultimate cuteness, he stared up at me as if to say, "What?"  He promptly snuggled into my lap, his 20 pounds securing my hands under his warm, furry belly.  Somehow, I did manage to free my captive limbs, assuring him I was not going to split my attention with a scratch on his chin.  His loud, rumbling purrs signaled his approval.  

So much for cross-stitching.