The oldest guy, Spike who is 18 (!) and cherishes his privacy
wanted nothing to do with the new little boy, Junior (shame on me--i still don't have a good photo of this little scamp) who stalked the black cat constantly.
It got pretty intense around here. No blood, but plenty of fur flying and lots of yelling at each other everytime Junior ventured upstairs to find and stalk the phantom he could only catch glimpses of.
The screeching yells of a surprised-shocked-indignant cat who has just been pounced upon by a brash youngster can be nerve wracking, to say the least. And it is not a lot of fun trying to extricate a terrified young cat who has wedged himself under the bed and against the wall in the middle of the night.
He would never admit it but Spike is much more active (and happier) since the hide 'n seek games with Junior. He often races around upstairs flying up to the stair railings and skidding across the hardwood floors stopping to look down the stairs at Junior then flying off to hide... only to emerge with tail held high in triumph after Junior fled.
My life changed a lot too. i was literally wearing out the carpet on the stairs tending two litter boxes. One, upstairs one, down and refilling two sets of water and food bowls twice a day... because that handsome, spoiled rotten black cat flatly refuses to go downstairs anymore.
The truth was becoming crystal clear: it will be some time before we achieve detente around here. And a mad cat who knows he is beloved and refuses to go downstairs to use the litter box leaves one with only one choice: Give in.
Junior became very clingy to his humans. He was clearly lonely and very bummed out that the senior feline resident is paws-off for the time being.
So as counter-intuitive as it may seem the thought of adopting a third fur ball/kitten/buddy for Junior's sake and ours kept coming to mind. Apparently, i gave words to that thought in the company of a friend who volunteers at Antler Ridge, a wild animal rescue charity.
Next thing you know there is a phone call "Didn't you say Junior needed a friend? Wouldn't you like to meet a sweet young cat who must have gotten lost during Irene and showed up on our doorstep?"
Half an hour later we are holding this sweet young thing who snuggled into my arm purring loudly.
Four hours later after a visit to the vet we have a third litter box and feeding station set up in the back room and i'm searching for a basket and warm rug for Lucy
Isn't she pretty? Doesn't she look sweet and mellow? Yes, well... Junior has his paws full.
Before i show these to you i want to explain: the house is very dark given that we keep all the curtains drawn as a sheild, these days, against the brutal sun. This means that i had to adjust the camera to the 1600 iso and even then it was a slow shutter speed and this little rascal is hardly still for more than a brief moment. (i've read that camera flash can harm pet's eyes so i do not turn it on to photo the cats) So, with that pre-apology i share these first snapshots of Junior the new furball to join our family.
Even though he sports a perfectly round, adorable spot on his back the name "Spot" just doesn't fit.
And he has the most expressive, curvacious tail
Buddy Junior has been with us for almost 5 weeks. He is hilarious. Adorable. Affectionate. He has taught me a great deal in such a short amount of time about the courage it takes to face the unknown. And patience. And honoring individual needs.
i have to keep reminding myself that absolutely everything is completely new to him.
He spent the last 18 months of his life (he's only 2) in a crate at the shelter run by very good, caring people. When we adopted him, he went straight to the vet for "his operation" then came home to a world totally foreign to him. He had no idea what a house is--how could he? He was confused and petrified.
It was the first time i'd adopted an older cat/not a kitten and i had no idea what to expect, but i assumed he would warm up to us quickly. everyone at the shelter loved him and we are animal people. i learned the hard way that i needed to let him decide when he was ready to adopt us. And i've a deeply scared pinky finger to show just how hard he can resist when he's totally panicked.
i made the mistake of trying to pick him up 2 days after he was here and surprised to discover that he does not have much loose skin at the back of his neck where his mom carried him. When my hand lost hold of that spot and i grabbed him with both hands he totally freaked. And bit the scary hands holding him. He bit hard. Right through the leather gloves i was wearing. And nearly through and through the end of my finger.
It was frightening. And i wondered, "was this a mistake?" We called the shelter, the young man who had loved him most came and got him back into the crate for us. And gave us a longer tutorial as to the reality of bringing an older young cat into a brand new world. Because we have adopted so many animals over the years the assumption had been that we had a broader experience. 4 cats have come to Greenwood on their own. And i could always handle Puma, the one who bit every other hand who touched him. Ah, well. Lessons learned on both sides. Yes, they would have taken him back if we thought it best. We worried most about old Spike's safety--he is no alpha cat. John, from the shelter, assured us that New Boy is not either. Obviously, we wanted to try again.
Later, i sat on the floor next to New Boy's crate. He was crouched in the corner as far away as he could get staring straight into my eyes. All i could see was his terror.
i swallowed my desire for him to leap over his fears to understand and know us and began quietly talking to him. Murmuring, really. i apologized and promised him i would not push him too hard again. And i saw it happen. i saw the terror leave his eyes. He relaxed, just a bit. Blinked. And then it was there, in those big, beautiful eyes. He wanted it to be OK between us, too.
As advised, we put the crate in the Lshape (family room) where he would be with us mornings and evenings when we sat to have tea, watch television, eat our meals. It was two weeks before he stopped growling when we opened the crate to feed him and clean his box. Then, out of the blue, one morning he suddenly came up to my hand when i reached into to take the empty bowl and he nudged my fingers, wanting me to scratch his chin. So i did. It was another week before he ventured out of the crate door to sit and let us give him long rubs and chin scratches before dashing back in. From that point on, it has been one quick milestone after another. On his terms.
For two more weeks he lived in the Lshape with the crate door open slowly, he began exploring the large room.
A few days ago out of the blue he jumped up onto the sofa to be close. And we noticed that he no longer went into the crate even to just sniff and look around.
He still does not want to be held but will let me put both hands on him, so i lift him a few inches off the floor then quickly put him back down and he does not run off. Or try to bite. When he is lying near, he will let me softly massage his paws. In fact, when playing and over stimulated he will often put his mouth on fingers...but...he never bites hard.
He has finally left this half of the downstairs and last evening, he ate his supper in the kitchen where the "big boy's" bowl is.
Speaking of the big boy. He wants to meet Spike in the worst way. But for the last few years, and now that his brother has passed Spike has chosen to be an upstairs cat. He comes downstairs at 8 o'clock every night for his supper and who-knows-when to use the litter box. It took Junior all of two days once he left his crate to figure out Spike's schedule. Every night, starting at 7:30, Junior waits, watching the stairs he is still afraid of. So far, when Spike does appear, it's long staring matches followed by hissing and fluffed tails Junior gets so excited that he races back into the Lshape and tears back and forth for a bit. Often ending up back at the doorway looking up at the top of the stairs.
Two nights ago, after Spike strutted back upstairs tail held high i sat on the bottom two steps and waited for Buddy Jr to finish his dash about and return. He came to me on the steps and i told him, "It's OK. You can come upstairs. Spike is OK and it's OK to go meet him." But he's still not sure. After all, he has just braved the dining room and kitchen these past 2 days. And met a strange, scary new chair that squeaks (!) when humans sit in it.
He will sometimes curl up next to my leg, purr--and close his eyes--for almost 2 full minutes.
i am moved beyond measure and humbled as i watch him bravely explore new corners of this totally strange, new world and try new things get nervous, but perservere forgive and forget and come out, each morning, from under a little rug he's chosen as his new bed to greet us, happily, eager for a good head rub.
The only thing that has me nervous now: the fact that i must get the vaccum out one of these very soon days to do the carpets in the hallway and dining room. Sweeping and picking up won't cut it anymore. Thank heavens there's a door on the Lshape (which has no carpet and we can continue to just sweep with a broom until he feels safe in another room)
i may forget the time but you-know-who never does. He expects his afternoon tea snack around 3, as usual and if the bowl is empty i hear about it. Though sometimes, he comes in unannounced and quietly reaches up with a paw and taps me on the derriere
You know me i don't need sunshine they way most people seem to. In fact, i can become out of sorts and downright grouchy if we go too many days without some nice clouds, fog, drizzle, rain or snow. But i confess that this weekend, while at Greenwood with chilly temps and a stiff breeze i was grateful for the clear blue skies and sunshine on a bench out of the wind. And buds swelling on the trees
these are glistening, fattening buds on a really, really tall oak:
and huge, glossy with sap chestnut buds:
And! on a south facing slope in the cracks of sun-soaking stone and concrete steps there are flowers! i call them Siberian blues (which sounds so much nicer than Siberian squill, don't you think?)
And the perfectly named wintersweet:
And for good company a cat named Buddy who has very fine whiskers and eyebrows
i wake discover, mid breath that it is easier to breathe.
my hopscotch memory skips over the tense days of the last few weeks (reflecting, with knew knowledege, i now recognize it was months)
i remember your other nickname "Short Circuit"
for your twitchy tale--a dancing plume peculiarly yours and how, each time you stood under the empty piano bench that serves as our coffee table it played a delightful bumpity ditty. (camera photos are rarely very good, but often what is in hand)
Smiles coming more easily now hopping back lightly over anxious days to the all those moments to choose from (even the ones that leave the jute rug in my workroom with a shredded hem: "Bad cat!" i say and you look up at me not the least bit worried until i stomp my feet and pretend to attack with clapping hands as you trot off tail high)
the mind jumps back again to this place where the clenching ache is slowing loosing its grip and i see you and the rest of my family who move lightly walk silently where you do
Even as i shake my head knowing i'll never stop finding ginger cat hair here, there, everywhere Thank you, Kirby.
Thank you dear friends for your kind words here and elsewhere.
out of the corner of my eye curled up on this chair or that one or the corner of the bed or stopping, suddenly to carefully examine as he did everytime he entered the room the suspicious fringe on the rug before leaping over it and sauntering in. i keep waiting to hear his voice engage in our daily banter.
This sweet boy, Kirby, like his brothers and sister before him will live with me forever. i am one of those who, but for a very few exceptions, will choose the company of animals over humans everytime.
Long story short, we expected this sweet boy to rally, like his brother did, after vet visit and new thyroid meds. But there was a deeper, hidden problem...and his health declined quickly. So, Uncle Ted (our vet) came to the house Sunday and we said good bye to our dear little friend. i'm so grateful that it was a gorgeous day so that i could prepare a place for him in the garden. Afterward, we sat in the sun and listened to a very sweet little finch sing him to his happier place.
17 years is a nice long time...can hardly believe it's been that long. What was life like without him?
As a kitten, his nickname was "Motor boat" because he walked around purring, loudly. He was our little shepherd cat, who waited at the bottom of the stairs and herded us up to bed. He would not settle down until we both were both in for the night was always there to greet us at the door when one of us was away sat on the "cat tree" and talked with us every night as we fixed dinner was the world's best mouser--just two days before, he was on duty and caught one (poor little thing, but as always, you were so proud) twice daily he and his brother raced around the house, up and down the stairs, rumpling rugs, up and over books and tables, until just recently. When napping during the day, if you came into the room where he was he would lift his head and "meow" hello, and often keep on talking. He made sure to spend time with each of us, every evening, then curled up on the couch with his head resting on J's leg. Such a sweet fellow Such a good soul
The house is so heartbreakingly quiet now The shock is finally beginning to wear off and a new wall paper on this machine coupled with sweet memories are filling my head. Thank you, Kirby. Hope you're having fun with Nicolas and McKenzie again and enjoy Obadiah and Benjamin, too. i'm sure that Cheri, Jon and Kelly are having fun with all of you.
4 wonderful cats have called Greenwood home. They all came here on their own. 2 have moved on with humans, and their leaving leaves large holes in the place. This very young fellow appeared in late autumn, friendly, but not eager to be picked up, or spend the nights in the potting shed. We all worried for him, even tho we know the other cats have successfully dodged the fox and coyote that hunt regularly on the grounds.
That he loves to follow any of us about as we tend to the chickens, geese, and goats, talking all along the way, made giving him a name a "no brainer". He's a Buddy if there ever was one. And he loves for you to take a break and sit on a bench, so he can clambor over your lap, shoulders and arms.
When, in early November, a deep cold swept in, Buddy gladly accepted the invitation into the potting shed. The once skinny little guy is now quite robust...and relaxes only when he knows there's plenty of food in his bowl.