Pet Appreciation Week

The first full week in June–Sunday, June 3rd through Saturday, June 9th–is Pet Appreciation Week! Summer is the time for family vacations and fun, so make sure you take the time to acknowledge and truly treasure all the benefits that your pets have brought to your life. My cats bring me joy, laughter, and warm fuzzies, and have taught me about love, family, true friendship, and compassion.

I managed to snap a photo with Charlie looking directly at the camera while Garrus enjoys his buddy’s company.

What do you appreciate most about your pets? What lessons have they taught you? Share in the comments!

Farewell to Boudicca

Shortly before 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon, my beloved Queen Boudicca Mata Hari Sophia passed from this life and found peace. It was dreadfully sad. Boudicca was terminally ill with multiple chronic, incurable, and progressing medical conditions, and she was suffering as a result. I had to to be her advocate and, out of love and duty, I had to act on her behalf and end that pain. The tears flowed and ebbed. Boudicca passed painlessly away, hopefully with the knowledge that her human family loved her fiercely.

I knew this day was coming and began to prepare myself mentally and emotionally weeks beforehand. I had to make a hard choice but in the end it was the right one, and I don’t regret that choice. Her human mother–me, the human she chose all those years ago at the ASPCA–loved her enough to let her go.

Afterward, everything seemed surreal and out of focus. Happysad feelings are difficult to articulate in coherent sentences. I felt a sinking feeling in my chest–sadness and loss. At some point, relief trickled over me. Comfort knowing that Boudicca was in good company with the rest of my family’s pets that have gone over the Rainbow Bridge. Gratitude for the 18 years of loving companionship and joy that she brought to my life.

It still feels mildly surreal to accept that my sweet baby girl no longer lives among us. Her pink beds lie empty, vacant thrones upon which Queen Boudicca lay in languid repose. In the evening, the boys aren’t interested in or know how to enjoy lap time yet. Charlie, for example, would probably enjoy it quite a bit but he’s rather wiggly. The boys certainly like to snuggle with one another but they’re not snugglebugs with humans yet. We’re working on that. I love Charlie and Garrus deeply (every pet in my house always winds up slightly over-loved) but they do not and will not replace Boudicca.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of little things I will miss about her. Without fail, Boudicca greeted me when I came home, yammering and dancing around my feet until I picked her up. She turned into a limp slinky accordion cat when held. Her purr rumbled, punctuated with trills, when she was filled with lazy contentment (or feline entitlement), especially when I kissed her in between the ears. I would sometimes wake up with her camped out on my chest in a smug cat loaf. I miss her quirks, like when she went through a kleptomaniac phase and repeatedly stole my grandmother’s light blue mohair scarf, complete with matching hat and gloves, and absconded with them to her tower. She became an early riser and pawed me awake. Her eyes turned lantern bright Maleficent-esque green, as though she was plotting nefarious deeds and how to take over the world…just as soon as she finished her nap. She sprawled across books and newspapers and refused to budge. She explored new boxes with relish or took her responsibilities seriously when testing a crocheted blanket for softness and nappability. When I spoke on the phone, Boudicca contributed her two cents to the conversation. Queen B was an excellent reading buddy, especially on quiet rainy days.

Rest in peace, Queen B. I love you.

P.S. I am very grateful for all my friends and family that reached out to me and offered me hugs, comfort, and condolences. Your kindness and thoughtfulness is truly touching. Thank you.

Garrus and Charlie’s Story Part Five: Slowly Opening Up

The boys needed time to realize that they were in a safe, quiet, and less-stressful space and were not going to be roughly handled. All of us needed to get to know one another and establish trust. In order to do so, Aaron and I spent time sitting on the floor in order to hang out with them; if we stood up, the boys scattered and hid. (Understandably, humans loom over cats when they stand up. We needed to work slowly with these guys.) We spoke in low, quiet voices to the boys as another way for them to get used to us.

Garrus was the first to come out of hiding and tentatively approached us. We moved very slowly around the boys as to not inadvertently startle them. We let Garrus sniff us and choose on his own terms how to engage with us. If he wanted to come toward us for pets, he could do that but if he chose to back off and hide, we did not reach in after him. A few hours later, Charlie emerged from his hiding spot and timidly checked us out. We noticed that he first watched what Garrus did and followed his lead. We were both quite pleased when we were able to give the boys gentle pets and strokes. They jerked away if we put our hands on either of their bodies, even to give scritches, so we worked very slowly, read their body language closely, and took our cues from the cats.

Garrus slowly started to explore his surroundings. He was the first to explore the chair and desk.

Charlie came out from his hiding spot!

Stay tuned for Part Six! (If you haven’t already read them, check out Parts One, Two, Three, and Four.)

Garrus and Charlie’s Story Part Four: Bringing the Boys Home

We brought the boys home and, knowing that they would need time to adjust to their surroundings, we set up a foster area in Aaron’s office, complete with food and water bowls, a comfy bed and chair, a litter box, and toys. Initially we closed the door so that all three cats would not be spooked by each others’ presence; later we used baby gates to separate them from Boudicca. (For her part, Boudicca was mildly alarmed when she saw carriers. Otherwise, she was confused as to why we took food into the office, did not share with her, and closed the door.)

At first both the cats hid under Aaron’s desk or bookshelves. It became evident that they were accustomed to eating and using the litter box predominantly at night, presumably because the shelter was quieter during that time. They were incredibly skittish, reacting immediately to noise, sudden movements, and any change. We had to be careful and solicitous in order to not spook them any more than they already were.

Aristotle (Garrus) was highly wary of people and hid under Aaron’s desk when we would first enter the room.

NB: Before we left the shelter, Aaron decided on the name Garrus after the Mass Effect character. That is what we called him before we properly adopted the boys so henceforth I will refer to him by that name.

Tink was initially wide-eyed, jittery, and, a bit agoraphobic, often bunched in a corner or behind whatever he could find.

NB: It took us a few more days to decide on a new name for this handsome guy. Aaron proposed Charlie and we agreed that it simply suited him without further ado.

Stay tuned for Part Five! (If you haven’t already read them, check out Parts One, Two, and Three.)

Garrus Chills Out

Over the last couple months Garrus has made huge progress in becoming less wary, engaging more with us, and generally relaxing. He now asks for visits several times a day, purrs and slow-blinks regularly, lets me touch his paws, dances around our legs and feet, and gives tail hugs–and not only to get food! He even talks a little in this soft, vaguely squeaky meow, but he typically only meows when his wet food is being prepared. (I believe Charlie has rubbed off on him.)

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Aaron and I found Garrus sprawled on the ottoman yesterday evening. You can see what a long, stretchy, and handsome cat he is. Naturally we had to visit. He seemed to enjoy all the rubs and let both of us pet the delightfully fluffy fur on his belly.

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I managed to snap this photo just as Garrus began to yawn. Here he looks like he is roaring!

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I know it’s a bit blurry but I laughed when Garrus got up and stuck his face right up against the camera. “Alright Mr. Deville, I’m ready for my closeup…”

 

International Happiness Day

Today is International Happiness Day! Who knew, right? I think it is most appropriate. Every day we are deluged by negativity in a variety of ways. It’s hard to stay positive and happy. Creating this blog was one way for me to give myself, and hopefully others, a small dose of joy. My cats bring me happiness and make me laugh every day. I hope yours do too!

Lately Charlie has been EXTRA cute. He has been very chatty lately–so many chirps, trills, and squeaks–both directed at me and just when he’s moving around: jump on the bed (chirp), look out the window (trill), see Garrus (squeak), talk back to me (chirp, squeak, trill, squeak, squeak, chatter). He’s been rather lovey and snuggly, especially in the morning and at bedtime, and he has demonstrated that he in fact knows how to knead! It only took him eight months to show me that he does knead when he is sufficiently relaxed and googly. When he does, he shows me all of his toes and purrs most rhythmically.

Charlie is teaching me how to be simply happy. Finding joy in the little things. Wonder in every day activities. Greeting loved ones enthusiastically. (I admire his persistence in trying to make friends with Boudicca. Lately he has been adding to his overtures of friendship by bringing her toys on the couch.) Playing. Looking outside. Happiness indeed.

Cat Lessons: Sunbathing

In my time as a cat owner, my fur people have taught me a number of things. I’d like to share some of them with you. Here is one of them: get a little sun.

Many cats enjoy sunbathing and my cats are no exception. They enjoy the warmth, they get to sprawl and relax, they might doze off, and if they are near a window, they have an opportunity watch the interesting goings-on outside. Garrus, especially, is apparently solar-charged. He seems to wilt rather like WALL-E when his batteries are low.

The boys’ favorite sunning spot is the master bathroom, especially this winter. We have a unique set up in there. As we don’t use the garden tub, Aaron fitted boards on top of the tub and created a platform. On top of this platform he placed the two Cat Genies, which need water hookups and a fair amount of space. (If we had more room in the house we would have put one Cat Genie somewhere else but we have made do with this arrangement.)

The cats have found that there is sufficient room for them to loll around the Cat Genies, and that sunlight streams through the window in the afternoon. This makes Garrus in particular a most happy cat.

This picture was taken with the same setup we use now but before we transitioned to Cat Genies. (It is clear in the photo that there was more room on the platform and the boys took full advantage of this.) This was also one of the first times I had seen Garrus flop on his side like this. It was delightful to see him look so utterly relaxed.

[Read in Sir David Attenborough’s voice] “Now here we see the meditating cat in its traditional pose, accompanied by its spotted companion. Transcendental vegetation is very important to these creatures and can best be accomplished after basking in sunlight for a period of time and not being disturbed, even though it is most tempting to do so. We must remain absolutely quiet in order to hear them begin to purr. This is a sign of great contentment and relaxation and that the meditating cats are reaching the zenith of transcendental vegetation.”

Yesterday afternoon, I found Charlie lounging inside one of the Cat Genies as if it was a lounge chair or hammock. (Don’t worry, it had just finished its cleaning cycle and was therefore clean and sanitized. I think he liked it because it was also warm from said cleaning cycle as well as the sun.) He was very talky about how happy he was about finding a new spot.

Charlie felt it was necessary to (1) warm his belly, (2) flaunt said belly, (3) be ridiculously cute and flirtatious at the same time. He squeaked all the while I took a number of photos.

Later Garrus came over to investigate what all the squeaking was about and found a spot for himself. I managed to snap a photo of him mid-slow blink.

Boudicca sunbathes too! She does, however, restrict her basking to a shorter period so I am not always able to snap a photo of it. When she sunbathes in front of the back door, she normally looks outside the window and watches birds. I am unsure why she turned around and looked mildly miffed.

I believe this was Garrus’ first sunbath in our house and one of the alternate sunbathing spots. This was also one of the first times I saw him start to relax.

Here is Boudicca catching a late afternoon sunbath. In this photo, her lowered and extra green eyes make me think of Maleficent.

Do your cats like to sunbathe? Do they have favorite spots? Do these spots change from season to season or according to their moods?