Exchanging Pleasantries

Although Mau remains in our foster suite (read: Aaron’s office) because he’s on the skittish side, we propped two baby gates in the doorway so that he could see more of the house and passively meet our cats through a barrier.

Charlie is utterly fascinated by the presence of another cat and really wants to be friends.

Charlie and Garrus hang out in the hallway sometimes when they see Mau.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to snap a photo of Garrus sitting politely, like the gentleman he is, on one side of the gate while Mau chatted to him on the other side. It sounded like Mau just repeated his name over and over again. I was pleased with their initial meeting. Charlie has done the same thing, sometimes punctuated with squeaks and rubbing himself against the gate.

For his part, Mau has done well. At times he seems quite curious about our cats while at other times he would prefer the company of people only. Mau has occasionally hissed at Charlie, although I think that’s because he’s not a fan of Charlie’s habit of staring at him. (Charlie is enthusiastically friendly but not always adept at reading other cats’ body language and vocal cues. Imagine a feline version of Spongebob Squarepants.)

Sometimes Mau initiates staring contests.

Visiting Mau

Our original goal of visiting the shelter on Sunday afternoon was to visit Mau. We had a lovely time with him. He doesn’t mind the kittens and apparently likes other cats, although one of his previous housemates, Virginia, did not like him. He enjoys being brushed and, when taken to the interaction room, evidently knows about lap time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a photo of him climbing into Aaron’s lap.

One of the volunteers suggested that he be renamed Frankie or Sinatra because of those beautiful blue eyes!

Compared to Garrus and Charlie, he has big paws! He’s also heavier than I expected, given that he is on the skinny side. On this visit, we were able to pick him up and hold him. He also purred! Cue warm fuzzies.

Kitten Palooza Part Two

As promised, here are more photos of the kittens Aaron and I visited yesterday afternoon. It’s hard to get photos of 9 scampering kittens, especially when occasionally one’s hands are full of said kittens.

The bicolor tabbies were Ragdoll-level super chill and enjoyed being cradled.

This one had an adventure on the new cat tower.

Must investigate ALL the things!

I found a spot!

Hide-and-seek?

Who could resist that face? I could not. I babbled inanely at her and gave her lots of lovies. (That’s the official term.)

Kitten Palooza Part One

Aaron and I visited the Pflugerville Animal Shelter for two hours this afternoon, originally intending to see Mau. We’re still waiting for him to be transferred to APA and receive more intensive treatment for his dental issues. In the meantime, we get to visit!

When I visited last week, there was a litter of seven kittens. Two of them–the black and the white and grey bicolor–were adopted last week. The grey will be adopted tomorrow. But now the adoption room has four more kittens–9 total! I can verify that they were indeed most precious.

These three were mellow and super-cuddly and freely demonstrated their excellent purring technique. (You can see the third’s rear end sticking up. He took kneading on the bed very seriously.)

This little girl was positively loquacious! Her brother had been adopted late last week so she did not like being by herself, and let everyone know how unfair it was.

“GIMME ATTENTION NOW!” The grey tabby (the only girl in the litter of seven, now five) was a little diva.

“Love me please?” These orange and grey furballs wanted all the smooches.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

Rainy Day Shelter Visit

Aaron decided to take the afternoon off to fix our garage door. We went to Home Depot to pick up parts and, while we were out, stopped at the Pflugerville Animal Shelter to visit the cat adoption room. What a lovely way to spend a gloppy afternoon!

Mau really enjoys his box. Here he is demonstrating the swishy magnificence of his tail.

While we were not able to get photos of it, Mau did come out of his box and we brushed him. He has thin patches of fur on his sides, likely evidence of stress-related overgrooming. While he apparently eats, he is quite skinny. Amazingly, he refuses to eat wet food and insists on dry food, even though that must hurt him. The volunteers I spoke to suspect he does so because that’s what he is used to eating. He reminds me of Garrus when we first got him. Aaron agreed with me that he looked sad, a bit scraggly, and in need of our help.

While we were there, two other volunteers, Carolyn and Grandma Jean came into the adoption room. Both had worked more with Mau than I have, so I asked them questions about his temperament. When he first came to the shelter a month ago, he was terrified (understandable). Gradually, he started softening and demonstrating that he is a calm but friendly cat who likes to be held and brushed. He has toe floof! Evidently he has been handled a lot more than Garrus was, so that’s a plus, but he’s also quite a bit older than Garrus and Charlie and presumably spent years with his previous owner.

Mau doesn’t like new environments so being taken out into the open space of the adoption room is overwhelming. Grandma Jean said that he does better in the small interaction rooms. As Carolyn reached into the condo to pet him, he started licking her hand repeatedly, which I thought was an odd quirk. When Aaron and I held a kitten, he didn’t seem to mind them at all, whereas his neighbor Chester growled at the the mere sight of the kittens.

As to if and when Aaron and I will be able to foster Mau, we’re waiting for him to be transferred from the shelter to Austin Pets Alive!, since he needs extensive dental work. I contacted both the shelter director and APA and have been approved as a foster (yay), and let APA know that I wanted to foster this particular cat from the Pflugerville Animal Shelter. In the interim I’ll visit and love on him.

Peace…for about 3 minutes!

Shortly after I took this photo, the grey tabbies woke up and started yammering for attention. Obviously we had to plunk on the floor and hold kittens because I couldn’t resist giving these babies lovies. (Who would?)

The tabbies had adorable spotted tummies (!), and all of them had eaten recently, so they had little fat bellies begging for rubs. The black kitten was calm and cuddly today and, mercifully, not so pointy after having his nails trimmed. The orange bicolor and grey bicolor were chatty and bold little explorers. They are clearly used to climbing into volunteers’ laps and being adored. The orange tabby was a genuine extrovert and threw a squeaky, wiggly tantrum until he was picked up again. Once held, he wanted to chill and started to doze off against my chest. There was much internal squeeing on my end.

Adult Cats Need Love Too

While it was easy to get sidetracked by the massive cuteness exuded by the seven kittens yesterday, I felt it was important to spend time visiting each of the three adult cats in the adoption room at the Pflugerville Animal Shelter. I’ve never seen the cat adoption room so empty but that’s a good thing!

This is Chester. Initially he was mislabeled a girl! He is slow to warm up and, when overstimulated, gets scared and poofy (perfectly understandable). He is decidedly not a fan of the kittens in the condo downstairs.

This is O’Rian, a total love bug and adoration sponge! He was chatty, frequently kneading on his bed, and greeted me by putting his paws on my shoulder when I opened the condo door. He loved to look around while being held and made air biscuits. Also note how handsome he is!

This is Mau. He is rather shy but sweet and loves to be brushed (which he needs, since I don’t think he’s grooming himself much). He was also a little chatty with me, which made my heart melt.

Given that Mau is 10 years old, somewhat timid (he seldom left his box), and has stomatitis, it is easy for him to be overlooked. He and his two housemates (who also have dental issues  and possibly upper respiratory infections, and therefore are currently in isolation) were surrendered by their owner a month ago. Aaron and I have discussed fostering again and I think we could help this boy. I wanna love him!

Aaron and I can’t adopt all the cats but we want to help those who need a respite from the shelter and who might take longer to find a home due to age, need socialization, medical issues, or other factors.

Adopt a Cat Month

Kitten season is here and so is Adopt a Cat Month! Did you know that more than 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters annually? Did you know that 860,000 cats are euthanized? Animals being euthanized due to lack of space and overpopulation makes me very sad, since this is a preventable problem. Spaying/neutering pets and catch-neuter/spay-release programs dramatically impact animal overpopulation issues in communities. If you want to add a fur person to your family, please, please consider checking out your local animal shelter or rescue group first. There are so many lovable cats (and dogs!) that deserve wonderful homes.

Moreover, this is Father’s Day weekend! Some shelters may run Father’s Day specials (read: discounts!) as well so be sure to ask about those too!

I’m so happy we adopted these two boys! I think they are quite handsome but I’m probably biased.

National Pet Month

Did you know that May is National Pet Month? In addition to celebrating pets around the world, the holiday has several specific aims:

  1. Promote responsible pet ownership;
  2. Raise awareness of the benefits of living with pets;
  3. Increase public awareness of the role of pet care specialists;
  4. Promoting the value of service and companion animals.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

You can celebrate National Pet Month in a variety of ways and involve your community too! Think of it as pawing it forward!

  1. Volunteer. Help out at adoption events at your local animal shelter or rescue group. Love on, play with, walk, and socialize shelter animals, as these experiences will help them get adopted faster.
  2. Adopt. If you’re thinking about adding a pet to your life, please consider checking out an animal shelter or rescue organization. There are many lovable animals waiting for the right home and a person to love them!
  3. Foster. Whether you have a pet at home or are unsure whether having a permanent pet would be right for you, consider fostering. Giving a homeless pet respite from being in a shelter is a fantastic demonstration of compassion and altruism.
  4. Donate. You can donate time, skills, supplies, and/or money to a shelter or rescue group. Non-profit organizations like Friends of the Animal Shelter would be a great place to start.
  5. Fundraise. Organize events like community dog walks or puppy play dates, pet photography, pet wash, or animal-themed walk or marathon. Be creative and have fun!
  6. Teach. Do you like educating others? Are you an experienced pet owner? Have you had success in training commands to your dog? Share your expertise with others. Teach children (and adults!) how to properly introduce oneself to new pets and interact with them safely and respectfully.
  7. Share. This goes hand-in-hand with #6. Share articles on social media about pet homelessness, shelter events and programs, and pet welfare. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and/or city council. Spread the word by mouth and by social media about adoptable pets, and, if you play your cards right, you might end up being a matchmaker for pets and humans! Use the hashtag #PawItForward.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Garrus and Charlie’s Story Part Eight: Adopted!

After we had the boys for two weeks, the animal shelter called us to let us know that someone had submitted an application for Tink (Charlie). However, as foster parents, we had first dibs. I did not want to break up Garrus and Charlie’s adorable bromance and I was fully aware that the latter had been adopted and returned three times before he came to us. I did not want that to happen again or for him to regress back into himself.

I immediately spoke to Aaron about it to verify that he was on board with adopting these two cats. He responded with an affirmative “Let’s do it.” So I told the shelter we wanted to keep both. Since we took them home as fosters during the Clear the Shelter event, the adoption fee was waived. Yay free cats!

This is the last post in this series describing how we went from a single-cat household to a three-cat household. Now we have a little clowder! If you haven’t already read the previous posts, be sure to check out Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven!

Want to know more about fostering and the boys’ progress? Stay tuned to Purry Home Companion!

Boudicca’s Story

In November 2000, I was a high school sophomore and, after discussing my desire to get a cat with my parents, decided to adopt one. I went to the ASPCA in Dallas, accompanied by my older step-sister, Krysta.

What was I looking for? In middle school my family and I adopted a markedly high-energy, extraordinarily playful, and irrepressibly naughty half-Siamese all-black longhaired cat named Misdemeanor. (Yes, her name was aptly chosen. If she had been a bigger cat, she would have been Felony. She was a very naughty girl.) Unfortunately, Misdemeanor did not stay with us for very long since she once slipped out the dog door and never returned home. After a lot of searching, we were fairly certain that, since she was a gorgeous cat, someone had taken her in. So we went several years without a cat. While I enjoyed her playfulness, I wanted a less high-octane cat. A more laid-back lap cat appealed to me most. In terms of color, I didn’t have my heart set on any particular color or breed, although I must admit that I have a definite soft spot for black cats. (Who doesn’t like having a house panther?)

The ASPCA had three community cat rooms at the time–one for kittens, one for adult males, and one for adult females. Kittens are adorable, of course, but they tend to be frisky little rascals, not chill lap cats. I hung out in the room with the boys but none of the toms really stuck out in my mind. Ultimately I spent the most time in the girl cat room. There were four black cats but all were seemingly aloof and indifferent, completely uninterested in engaging with me. (NB: This happened to be the case with these individual cats. Not all black cats are snooty and unsocial.)

Only two cats remain vivid in my mind all these years later. One of them was a slender red spotted tabby named Ladybug. I estimated her to be about six months old, certainly less than a year old, so there was a kittenish element to her. Confident, she came right up to me and wanted to play, but once I sat down she made a beeline for my lap. She was charming and vivacious so I found her quite delightful. While I was preoccupied with Ladybug, I didn’t pay attention to the other cats in the room. Distracted, I didn’t see a dark cat-shaped blur until Ladybug had been politely but abruptly ousted from my lap. The blur was a young tuxedo cat, who had daintily climbed into my lap and sat there like she owned me.

“Well hello there,” I said. “Why did you shoo off Ladybug? I can visit with you too.”

Before I knew it, the tuxedo cat draped herself across my chest and left shoulder, wrapping her right paw around my arm, leaving her back legs and tail sprawled across my torso. She rested her head on her left paw. Apparently this cat was part-Gumby, part-liquid, given the way she stretched so languidly. The whole time she vibrated with the loudest purr. This cat was also part-Velcro since she was now attached to me quite firmly.

I stood up with her draped on my shoulder; apparently me moving around didn’t bother her in the slightest. I gently detached her from me and put her down on the floor. She raced up the cat shelves and leapt off of one, flying back onto my shoulder. I put her down again and scurried out of the room to visit the boy cats and kittens again. When I returned, the same little tuxedo cat sat in front of the glass door, waiting with great anticipation of my return and giving me a running commentary all the while. When I opened the door, she leapt from the floor onto my shoulder (I was too surprised to put my hands up and catch her). Again, immediate purring ensued. She was utterly adorable.

Krysta stopped by; it was getting late and we needed to start home. “Did you pick a cat?”

“No,” I said. “One picked me!” I gestured to the tuxedo cat, whose name at the time was Minx or Mittens (I think).

Krysta laughed. “Well, do you want her? She clearly likes you and she’s lovey.”

I don’t think there was any doubt in this cat’s mind that I would be the one who would take her home, feed her, and love her a long time.

With regard to her name, I already had an inkling to call her Boudicca, which is derived from Brythonic boud, meaning “victory”. I named her after the queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the Romans in AD 60-61. While my Boudicca was not nearly so hardcore, I thought it was a name with great character.

When I told my stepdad what I wanted to name her, he exclaimed, “What? You want to name your cat Booty Call?!” After I stopped laughing, I corrected him. My grandmother misheard me and thought I wanted to name her Botitas, or “little boots” in Spanish, considering that she had white paws. Such was my family’s reception to my cat’s unusual name.

Being a writer with a flare for names (I study onomastics as a hobby), I ended up giving her a multi-part name. First I added Queen before Boudicca in honor of her namesake sovereign. My grandmother likened her beautiful eyes to that of the seductive Mata Hari, so that was soon added. When she sat in a classic loaf-cat pose, her ears often tilted and her eyes appeared to turn green so she looked a bit like an owl and partly like Malificent: wise, content, and possibly plotting some nefarious deed…after she finished her nap. So her final name became Sophia (Ancient Greek for “wisdom”). Her full name is thus Queen Boudicca Mata Hari Sophia. The vet techs call her Queen B or Miss B. As you can probably guess, she has many, many nicknames, some of which include Boo, Boophus, Boophus Brain, Googly Girl, Her Majesty, and Pretty Girl.

This is the earliest picture I have saved of Boudicca, dated November 2011. By this time she had filled out to her adult house panther size. When I first took her home in 2002, she had an adolescent cat’s slim physique.