Sunday, December 31, 2006

Photo Extra: Emily's Last Year

The single most important event at our kitten farm this past year was the passing of her Emilyness. But we have our memories of her, and of course photographs such as her relaxing on the bed during her final springtime with us.

Emily Spring 2006

Rest well, our elder kitten.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Slipping away

Both boys lost a little weight in our absence, no doubt because the Happy Tails folks followed our food instructions precisely and weren't around to shower them with kitty treats. We have upped their rations a little bit. Whitey came in at 13 lbs 7 oz, Billy at 13 lbs 9.5 oz. Both are down about an ounce since last time.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Photo Friday: Special Guest Appearance

Just because Billy isn't the official resident Spider-cat doesn't mean he can't go vertical. Hence the ease of snapping this on one of his irregular visits to my office bookshelf.

Billy on Bookshelf

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Photo Friday: Electric Kitty Warmer

When taking photos on the cats on the stereo, we did of course get several showing its true purpose.

Whitey napping on the Kitty Warmer

Like watching grass grow

No weight change from last week. Billy comes in at 13 lbs 10.5 oz, Whitey at 13 lbs 8.5 oz. In this case, boring is good.

Whitey finds a caterpillar

We've written about Billy's maniacal pursuit of the Fuzzy Caterpillar before, but lately Whitey has been hunting a caterpillar of his own. It's grey with black rings, sort of like a big wooly bear, and it twitches back and forth in a very intriguing way.

It's also attached to our SpiderCat's rear end.

That's right, Whitey is reverting to his kittenhood, and has been chasing his own tail with wild abandon. (Maybe it's time to check the catnip stash?) Mostly this is funny, but when he does it on the narrow top of Drew's seven foot office bookshelf, it can be a little unnerving.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Just after I woke up this morning I heard the area defense weapon's warning siren sound downstairs.

Either we have a defective SSSCAT, or someone was on the dining room table when they shouldn't have been. You decide.

Over the Counter and Through the Woods

We have a new weapon to join the depth charge launcher. This one is more automated, and is currently assigned to the kitchen counter as an area defense weapon.

It's SSSCAT, which is basically a motion detector activated Hiss of Doom; it also includes a warning siren which sounds just before the mist goes off.

You can see a video of it in action from their web site as well. Please note the mist did not blow the cat off the counter. Rather, that's just one very surprised cat jumping under its own power.

The cats must be quite shocked for the kitchen to be guarded when Katherine is working up stairs; I have a fresh report from the kitten farm that our new gizmo has gone off twice in the past half hour.

They may be down right depressed when they find out the counter is guarded even when we're off visiting grandma's house.

And yes, we do love our boys; the thought of them getting injured if they got near our hot stove is what drove this latest purchase.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Photo Friday: (Almost) Ready for Our Close Up, Mr. DeMille

As previously noted, the boys have used my stereo for going to the high shelf in my office since they were cattens. Now they stop on it more often, sometimes for long enough that we can take a picture. But being neat felines, they want to look good for the camera.

Boys on the Kitty-Warmer

Knowing how little Whitey likes his brother power washing him, it's lucky we didn't get Cat Fu right on the Kitty Warmer.

A side note: The stereo is not as small as the boys make it appear. It's actually 17 inches wide; those boys are that big.

Weight Watch

Both boys remain stable at about the right weight. Billy comes in at 13 lbs 10.5 oz, Whitey at 13 lbs 8.5 oz, both unchanged from the last weigh-in. Since Whitey's frame is slightly smaller, this means Whitey is actually a little tubbier than Billy now.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dawn Patrol: Paging the Valet

The boys have figured out that I'm the only one standing between them and world domination. Or standing between them and dinner, which ever is more important to them.

They drove me whacko last night begging for dinner early, and then Billy did an official pre-dawn meow this morning. I was up an hour early because of him.

I think Katherine gets 100% of valet duty for a day or two once she arrives. I need the break.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Where's Mom?

As I was packing up to leave for work today, I heard a sad mew out in the hall.

Whitey, the owner of the mew, padded into my office, wrapped himself around my legs, and gave me three more soft multi-syllable chirps.

I don't speak domestic tiger well, but I took his chatter as a query from a somewhat lonely kitten asking where his daytime human was. Her office has been empty for days now. Not much I could say to him in return, but I did pass the message along.

She can console him in person tomorrow evening.

I was Doing Fine ...

I was doing fine until the wet cat food can slipped out of my hand and our completely undisciplined cats wanted to wrap themselves around my legs while I tried to clean it up.

And the Hiss of Doom (used for crowd control) was broken after someone with four paws knocked it off the counter last week.

(Note: DO NOT try to salvage broken cat tools in the future.)

No cats were injured this morning. One got wet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who are These Guys?

No Kitty Warmer for me last night. Instead, the boys curled up head to head on Katherine's side of the bed just below her pillow. No doubt they are keeping her side warm for her return.

There was early morning Cat Fu, but not too early and not too loud.

They are so well behaved, it scares me. (But I like it.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Inmates are Running ...

Katherine is doing her conference thing on the left coast, and that leaves the boys in charge.

Well behaved boys, I might add. I went to bed early for them (they generally are up until Katherine retires). While there was one series of mournful meows, and a shake can was knocked down from the linen closet door knob, the night was pretty quiet and no early wake up calls were issued.

In Katherine's absence I did get used as a kitten wamer by Billy, but since he was gentle and flexible about moving when I wanted to roll over, we both slept reasonably well.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Photo Friday: Shower Attendant

Whitey loves almost any window. He'll even jump the tub to get up into the bathroom window if we leave the outer shower curtain open.

Whitey in the Bathroom Window

Once in a while he'll even try with the outer curtain closed, which makes me nervous in case he brings it down around him -- he would not be able to claw out of that heavy plastic.

(And no, we don't have the window wide open in December; that picture is from early August after we first noticed he likes that window.)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Tubbo no more

He's still a Mighty Hunter, and he's still Catzilla, but it's time to quit calling Billy Tubbo. He's more or less stable at 13 lbs 10.5 oz, which is about right. His brother gained a few ounces since the last weigh-in, and comes in at 13 lbs 8.5 oz.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Sad Word for an Old Friend

We received word Sunday that our friend's canine companion Samantha was put to sleep on Sunday.

Her arthritis had gotten to the point that she couldn't walk without falling, and stairs were impossible.

Here's hoping Samantha has warm fields to run pain-free in and happy companions to play with at the Great Puppy Farm in the Sky.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Photo Friday: Catzilla Conquers Desk

Her late Emilyness included in her royal realm Katherine's desk, and Whitey has been known to crash on on it too. This past summer, Billy decided it was good for a nap as well.

Billy Desktop Nap

He takes up real estate as only a pre-diet Catzilla can.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Maintaining target weight

Both boys are now more or less stable at their desired weights. Billy comes in at 13 lbs 10 oz, and Whitey at 13 lbs 4.5 oz, essentially unchanged since the last weigh-in. If anything, Billy is a shade on the thin side. We have nudged their portions up a little bit.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bluegrass Photo Extra: The Real Thing

Our niece Bootsies may be only be a kitten, but she knows how to be a cat.

Bugs and bugs and bugs, oh my!

Fuzzy caterpillars and feather dusters are fun, but there's only one Ultimate Cat Toy: live moths. They like to cluster around our porch light, so one or two often get inside when we open the door. Unfortunately, the boys play too rough, so moth hunting sessions tend to be brief.

It may be because the moths are sluggish from the cold weather outside, but they don't seem able to figure out that the ceiling would be safe. Instead they flutter around between three and five feet off the ground. This improves their entertainment value, but not their longevity.

Petco sells live crickets as food for frogs and reptiles. We have resisted the temptation to buy some for the boys. We're worried they would escape to the basement or into the walls, and then we'd have both cricket chirps and insane kittens to deal with. *shudder*

Monday, November 27, 2006

Over the (DST) Hump

The boys have settled nicely back into getting up with us, instead of getting us up with them.

Yesterday, they actually let us oversleep 8 AM kitten breakfast by 11 minutes. Today, they were both at Katherine's feet when I woke up just before 7 AM, quietly stretching and thinking about cleaning themselves.

Maybe we should move to Arizona so we don't go through the DST shift with them twice a year?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Once They've Seen Paris ...

The Fuzzy Caterpillar has a real downside. Billy won't play with me on the stairs any more. He believes me taking any toy out downstairs is a sign I'll go upstairs and get out the caterpillar out.

Us buying a Mac would be less shocking. (Oh, wait. We just did that.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Mighty Hunter Gets New Prey!

Last time we were in Petco, I randomly grabbed something called a "Monkey Tail" teaser. (Page down for a picture.) That's what its official name is, but it looks like a giant fuzzy caterpillar to me.

Billy loves it. He hasn't been this excited about a toy since he first discovered pom-poms. (Which he still loves, but not as much as his fuzzy caterpillar.) He growls, he hisses, he leaps tall cat towers in pursuit.

Even better for the humans, it's pretty durable and has so far survived the abuse more or less intact. We have a winner!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Further Adventures of Mr. Inscrutable

It's official, Whitey is messing with me.

Monday, he burrowed under the quilt as soon as I came bed, and basically stayed there until his periodic leaning on me caused me to nudge him sufficiently hard that he left in the pre-dawn hours.

He also appeared for bed promptly last night (sans the burrowing), and was still at Katherine's feet at 7 AM.

Fit and trim

The boys are still losing weight, but a little more slowly. Both are down about two ounces since the last weigh-in. Billy comes in at 13 lbs 11 oz, and Whitey is at 13 lbs, 5 oz. I think.... Billy decided he wanted to grab Whitey's treat, and so he shouldered his way onto the scale while I was weighing his brother.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Hacker's Little Helper

Every family oriented blogger has one fear, namely that their subjects (the family) will read the blog. I thought we were immune to that on this blog.

Now I'm wondering if Whitey is reading over my shoulder from the bookshelf.

After this my post about his aloofness, he spent half of Sunday in my office in very accessible spots. (The rest of the day he spent napping under the quilt in the bedroom, which is par for the course.)

In the morning, he did some office window sitting, and I rewarded him with an open window for a while.

The late afternoon was a warm nap on the stereo receiver. Cats love warmth, and my office is the warmest room in the house, since the radiator has close to a vertical run from the furnace. He napped in the warmest spot in the office. But that receiver Kitty Warmer has been in this office since he was a kitten and he jumps from it every trip up to the bookshelf; he's always done the aloof cat on the top shelf before.

The less aloof cat is noticed. But I need to remember to write nice things about him from now on.

And of course, pray cat fur doesn't short the receiver ...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mr. Inscrutable Goes To The Movies

Of our three cats, we always viewed Emily as the most social, Billy as the most active and extroverted, and Whitey as both the most agile and inscrutable.

This blog has shown those traits, and of course that both Billy and Emily demand more attention than Whitey.

Because his brother is both more demanding and a clearer communicator, sometimes I worry that we're neglecting our equal-but-junior feline. If true, we could be fostering that Whitey doesn't care if we exist or not so long as he gets fed, watered, and has a clean litter-box. That sometimes of late he choses to sleep overnight outside the bedroom doesn't help this feeling.

(Katherine notes that what actually happens is that Whitey dozes off in her office as she is winding down, which is quite sociable of him. That he doesn't come to bed at the same time as her is simply a function of it's comfy there. But *I* miss all this, I'm asleep already.)

However ...

Last night after dinner, Katherine and I watched Shall We Dance on DVD. We were crashed on the couch, with pillows and blankets. Into the midst of this jumble came a white faced tiger cat. He alternatively burrowed under my blanket and kept my feet warm, and then laid out over the blanket on my outstretched leg calm and relaxed for a while. He didn't stay the whole movie, but it was most certainly not a drive-by greeting.

Our Whitey may not be a movie buff, but he certainly wanted to share our company.

Thank you Whitey.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Photo Friday Extra: Team Napping

I lamented to Katherine that I never see the boys nap together any more. She says that they do, and proved it this afternoon with this camera phone shot.


Sleep well this afternoon, boys.

Wile E. Coyote vs. The Road Runner

I got up to use the little bloggers room at 5 AM, and this caused Billy to wake up, wander off the bed, and starting meowing for a playmate just often enough to keep waking we up.

Calling him back with kitty treats didn't work. Well, it did, as he was instantly standing on my chest, but he didn't stay bought.

It was time for the secret weapon. I got up, armed it, and returned to bed. I waited for him to meow. I reached for the remote control, which caused a small rattle . . .

... And discovered Billy had reappeared on the bed, and was using the antenna of the remote control as a cat toy. I got rid him at least, by ordering the car to turn its wheels. That made distinctive *click* sound, and he charged back into the hall to investigate it.

He didn't even meow any more.

Still, I need to check the RC MINI and see if it's made by Acme.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Photo Friday: Traveling Companions

Maybe mom will take the boys to Europe with her if they are willing to share a suitcase.

Packing for Europe

Wait until they find out that particular suitcase being big enough for them both means it is always checked baggage. Not to mention it would be pretty crowded if she could actually close it with both them and clothes in it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Molly Revisited

The AP is carrying a follow up on Molly, the cat who got stuck in a wall in NYC six months ago.

Short version: She's doing fine.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Nice Try

Our loyal reader suggested yogurt for Whitey's digestion. It turns out this would be a great idea ... if the patient were Billy.

Billy loves the stuff, the way Whitey loves milk.

Whitey sniffs at yogurt and walks away, unless it has a kitty treat buried in it. And even then I'm not sure, since the kitty treat was as almost as big as the sample of yogurt I used.

Stable weight, more or less.

Since the last weigh-in, Billy has lost a little more, and is at 13 lbs 13 oz. Whitey is up an ounce, at 13 lbs 7 oz.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Angels of the Morning

I went to bed late last night, and Billy meowed enough that we closed the bedroom door until Katherine followed me to bed. Then Billy hopped up and settled down immediately.

From there on, however, it was smooth quiet sailing. Not a peep out of them until we all started waking up around 7:15 AM, when morning stretching became self-washing which became sibling power washing which made the usual transition into gentle cat fu.

What sweet little angels. Now if we could just get the same behavior for week ...

Photo Weekend: Our Secret Weapon

If you follow my personal blog, you know one of our cars is a British Racing Green MINI Cooper S. If you follow this blog, you know the Spider-Kitten once tried to fall off the second floor through a gap in the stair railing.

Those two items came together this past week. Our secret weapon is a new radio controlled MINI Cooper S positioned to drop shake cans on the first floor by pushing them off the ledge.

Our Secret Weapon

It met my requirements nicely: Cheap, locally obtained, too wide to fall through the gap itself, and can be controlled from the bedroom so the cats can't hear me preparing to launch. And of course, it's so cute Katherine doesn't object.

We have not actually used it yet to quiet a cat, but if even if we never do, we still have a car to match our die cast Miata model built in the same scale. The MINI is cheaper plastic, but the Miata is a static display (not self-propelled).

Friday, November 3, 2006

Amoxicillin is our friend

After visiting the litter box three times in fifteen minutes this morning, Whitey won himself a visit to the vet. Mew! Without his brother. Mew! The verdict is a possible bladder infection, calling for a course of amoxicillin. Fun fun fun.

The good news is that these things are apparently not very contagious, so Billy is unlikely to get it.

He apparently wasn't too traumatized, though. He is now napping in his carrier.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Man The Barricades

For our loyal readers only loyal reader, an explanation may be in order to why we don't just lock the meowers in the kitchen. There are actually several reasons:

  • The kitchen does not have a radiator, instead relying on other rooms, appliance heat, and people being dressed when in it.
  • The kitchen doesn't have door latch, or for that matter, a door. In fact, while the farm doesn't have an open floor plan, there are no interior doors in any doorway on our first floor. We just have exterior doors and the basement door.
  • The general heat flow of the house doesn't encourage putting doors in, as then first floor heat would not rise in the winter.
  • The boys (along with our departed Emily) were implicitly taught to sleep with us, in particular to snuggle Katherine.

So we need more subtle methods, like remote control depth charges.

Get The Party Started

Another day, another morning of early rising cats.

Unfortunately, what got them (in particular Whitey) up this morning was me getting up to plug in a cell phone which was feeping due to a low battery. So it's all my fault.

Whitey didn't meow that much, just enough to wake me multiple times. Every time I woke up enough to hear him, he would stop before I felt I should do anything.

"Anything" including test the new grenade launcher (actually, more of a depth charge launcher) I bought last night. (The hard part was finding a device which Katherine would approve of ... but I did!)

I'm sure Billy will give me a chance soon enough.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fire In The Hole ...

The problem with shake can grenades at 5 AM is if that you're supposed to punish meowing with it, you need the perp to keeping meowing until you're ready to toss the device.

Unfortunately, if the cat hears you get up to get the can and position to toss it, he may settle down because he assumes you're headed downstairs to greet him. Never mind stealth, we're talking about a species which hunts with their ears.

For that matter, if you buy them off being for being quiet with kitty treats, it would be nice if they stayed bought for longer than the time it takes them to go back down stairs.

At least when I finally did get off a grenade at 5:45 AM it shut Billy up.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Just to clarify ...

The boys will get more food. Only it will be more yummy kitty treats, not boring dry kibble. (Oh darn.) And it will be distributed when they are being good. (Mew!)

Not, say, at 5 AM, when I tossed a grenade (in the form of a shake can) into the stairwell this morning when Whitey meowed.

It had the desired affect on Whitey, but both Billy and Katherine were unhappy with the collateral damage to their rest.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Target weight (mostly) achieved

The boys are definitely slimming down. Billy is down below 14 lbs, at 13 lbs 14.5 oz. Whitey is down to 13 lbs 6 oz.

It would be time to nudge their food up a little bit, except the demanding meowing has gotten a bit out of control. We need to chastise noise and reward silence, and that means kitty treats.

Photo Friday: Can I go too?

As previously noted, Billy likes to stowaway on trips, even though once he gets out of the house he realizes that he hates cars. Two other things about this picture may not be immediately obvious, though. First, note the empty cat carrier behind him. This is an attempt to decoy him so that I can pack in peace. Sometimes it actually works. Second, note his alert focus on the area to the left of the frame. That's where the pompom shelf is. Luggage is good, but pompoms are better!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Meow! We're Starving! Meow!


Their pitiful meows to the contrary, both boys gained weight in my absence. Whitey is up to 13 lbs 8.5 oz since the last weigh-in, while Billy comes in at 14 lbs 5 oz.

We won't discuss how much weight Mom gained while exploring Belgium's culinary delights at someone else's expense....

Mom's Home!

Katherine has returned.

They were so distracted by her appearance (and of course, she had luggage to explore!), I could not get Billy to play with a pom pom while she unpacked.

The boys have returned to their normal overnight kitten pile anchored by her.

After they settled down, there was virtually no meowing until 7:45 AM.

(Actually, the boys were kinder the last two nights she was gone, as well. With Whitey on morning meow duty, he let me sleep until almost 7AM Thursday, and on Friday he let me go until 7:30 AM. That's not say he didn't wake me at 5:30 AM with a meow, he did. But he doesn't have the volume or the persistence of his brother the Power Meower, so I could go back to sleep.)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Photo Friday: A boy and his cave

The ferocious tiger defends his cave against all invaders!

(Actually, the photographer caught him in mid-yawn. But he likes to think he's ferocious.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Inmates: Kill Billy, Vol. 2

Our story continues ....

During Tuesday's dawn meowfest, I thought maybe it was Whitey doing the meowing, but I later realized he was at my feet -- burrowed under the quilt no less. For all I know, he slept all night under the quilt. (I think I saw saw him burrow as I went to bed, and let him go so long as he didn't pounce on me.)

Last night was a mix of Sunday and Monday nights.

Whitey was under the quilt before I even went to bed. Unfortunately, he was on my side of the bed, and he got nudged so far out of my way he decided he wasn't welcome and surfaced.

BIlly came to bed and curled up on my left side just below my arm. This unfortunately caused me to search for a clear spot for the arm for much of the night. But like Sunday, he was quiet and warm, and he let me move around as much as I needed. So, he was welcome.

Unfortunately, he woke up earlier than I did. The meowing started at 5:30. I even tried closing the bedroom door, but Billy, expert door opener that he is, went to work rattling the knob.

So I was up 6 AM, resigned to not enough sleep again.

I was so off my game (not upset, just off my game), I almost forgot to feed them. I had my coat on when I realized it, and it freaked me out. For all the jokes we make and however much they may annoy me, they do depend on me.

Pass the carbonated caffeine solution, please.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Inmates: Dead Cat Walking

Billy woke me up at 5 AM by meowing. And he refused to stop. I wanted to hit him.

Or just cry.

(Later... I didn't do either, but did come close to the latter. I did however fed them 45 minutes early to shut them up.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Inmates: Kitten Pile

With Katherine gone and crisp fall weather here, Billy has given me two test drives as his mutual nap furnace. This included both a nap yesterday and much of the over night.

I'm a physically restless sleeper, but he's not weighing the covers down too badly, and he lets me scoot in or out a little to find the magic spot where we're in mutual personal (and heating) space but not pushing on each other. And I'd certainly rather have him quiet next to me in a happy doze rather than meowing downstairs.

Sleep tight, Billy.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Inmates: Testing the Valet

Katherine jumped on a plane for Belgium today. This means I'm running the show the only valet.

One of my charges, I think Billy, decided to promptly test my attention by lightly wetting the upstairs cat paper around the litter box -- sort of a half hearted miss. I caught it promptly because someone decided it needed to be lightly covered, and the throwing of kitty litter around on paper is a very unique sound, even if I was half asleep.

The only thing really worthy of note (aside from the humorous timing) is that this the first litter box mess in a few weeks. Suffice to say the boys are neater than their departed Aunt, especially with the lighter litter box load.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Photo Friday: Here comes the sun

Earlier this year we visited the Louisville Zoo, where we discovered that big kittens like sunbeams, too!
We had to apologize to the boys, though, as the tigers were napping in the shade and wouldn't come out to pose for pictures.

We're famous!

When I'm not watching over the kitten farm, I study aikido, and I earn my daily kitty treats as a writer. So, when I was invited to write about cat fu for an aikido website, how could I resist? "The Gentle Art of Cat Fu" can be found at Aikiweb. Includes photos of our fursome threesome, so even non-martial artists may enjoy it.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Fighting trim

The trend continues, with Billy down to 14 lbs 3 oz, and Whitey at 13 lbs 6.5 oz. Both boys are definitely looking sleeker now. Next comes the tricky part: leveling their weight off without sending it back up again.

Bug Hunt!

The boys went on a bug hunt tonight.

Unfortunately, the bug was hiding in the light over the kitchen sink.

Both boys tried to jump on the (off limits) kitchen counter chasing the bug, including Billy, who jumped across the kitchen from the onion bin (next to the wastebasket) to the counter which had two full glasses of milk on it. He slid right into one, which sloshed badly but didn't spill.

This was attempted literally under my nose, or more precisely under my arm which was holding a Mist of Doom waiting for Whitey, on the floor, to jump up. Needless to say, the Mist chastised Billy instantly.

Whitey did go for the gold five minutes later, making it all the way up to the cabinets over the frig. He got chastised as well, and retreated.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Watch These Tiger Kittens Roar

Some Tigers that were the favorites of my departed mother were on TV today. They turned the tables on some rich white hunters from New York.

Next, the Tigers are hunting elephants! (If you didn't know they were elephants, look at the sleeve of their shirts!)

Friday, October 6, 2006

Photo Friday: Sorry, no XL available

No matter how small the box, Whitey tries to fit in it. If Whitey were willing to wear a rubber nose and big shoes, we could label his current cardboard prize a clown box.

Whitey in Small Box

This is even funnier when you realize it is only because the box has flaps that it appears to come up anywhere past Whitey's ankles.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Hey Mom! Watch this!

Did you know that the activated charcoal inside PetMate cat fountain filters is in the form of tiny little black rods?

Neither did I, until Billy managed to rip one open. As previously noted, the filters are among his favorite toys. I hadn't seen one wandering around the house lately, so I thought we had managed to thwart him. Then I found a couple funny black rods floating in the water. Which I threw away and didn't think anything of it, until I found more.

Turns out he had managed to reach a paw into the space where the water comes out, snag the gauze part of the filter with his claws, and rip a hole. Of course, when I pulled the damaged filter out to replace it, Billy pounced, grabbed it, and went running through the house, leaving a trail of charcoal bits behind him. That's our mighty hunter.... sigh

Saturday, September 30, 2006

For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her

Today would have been Emily's 17th birthday. l miss our departed queen.

Not often, but I do.

Happy birthday Emily, wherever you are.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Kitten Farm!

We took possession of the kitten farm on this day in 1995.

Where the does time go?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sleeker hunters

Billy is getting to be down right svelte, having lost 3 ounces since the last weigh-in. He's at 14 lbs 5 oz. Whitey is also losing, though a little more slowly, at 13 lbs 7 oz. Both are getting pretty close to where they should be.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Photo Friday Classic: Pounce!

This week, we bring you a cat on a mission. Clearly, something down the floor is being hunted.


Photo Friday Extra: Bootsies

Bluegrass Mama has posted numerous pictures of Bootsie, the newest Bluegrass feline.

That little girl has the cutest whiskers.

What's wrong with a cat blog, anyway?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Photo Friday Classic: Catten Nap

If our filing system can be believed, Billy's happy nap was photographed when he was a "little" kitten catten in July 2004 2005.

Billy Napping in 2004

Updated: I didn't believe the little (I originally read the year as 2004), I did and do believe the happy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Slimming down

The boys continue their downward trend, with Billy coming in at 14 lbs 8 oz and Whitey at 13 lbs 9.5 oz. Only down a few ounces since the last weigh-in, but that's okay.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Bird Watching

The summer isn't dead yet. With the outside temperature at 61 this morning, I opened the sun deck window for Whitey, and Billy joined him for a spell to watch the birds. I sort of miss Emily's daily visits, so it was nice to have the boys stop by.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

A Change of Season

The seasons are changing. Labor Day has come and gone, and the nights in New England are getting crisper.

But we really know the change is here because this morning Whitey borrowed under the blanket while I was in the shower. This marked his first day time expedition since spring.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Battle of the bulge

Billy continues to lose weight, down three ounces since the last weigh-in, at 14 lbs 9 oz. Whitey is stable, at 13 lbs 10 oz.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Photo Friday Puppy: A Tale of Two Millies

Today we belatedly present the other Millie we saw on our summer vacation back in June, the happy Corgi who watches over Katherine's Aunt and Uncle in Maryland.

Millie The Puppy

Needless to say, this Millie is not be confused with Bluegrass Millie. (Millie the Corgi is a lot more sociable than Bluegrass Millie.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Photo Monday: Nothing Happening, and Proud of It

Another hot off the presses camera phone shot ... just to explain there is nothing to report on the boys today, for the best of reasons: Nap Time!

Nap time

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Not so Tubby Kittens

The boys' new diet seems to be working. They've both lost a few ounces since the last weigh-in. Billy is down to 14 lbs 12 oz, while Whitey is at 13 lbs 10.5 oz. They both have about a half-pound to go.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Extra! Extra!

We have new feline niece with photos down at Bluegrass Mama's house.

Update ... Millie is not happy with her new housemate.

(We'll leave further updates to Bluegrass Mama)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Someone To Meow Over Me

I think Whitey needs to change his meds. What meds, I don't know, as we don't give him any. But he must be on something. He spent a fair amount of time Sunday meowing and making affectionate rubbing gestures ... 7 feet in the air.

The height did not encourage actually petting him, which was okay because he doesn't want to be petted. He in fact tends to flee if you try to pet him to when he meows at less lofty heights.

At times we think his primary only waking purpose on the bookshelf is to make us think he's about to fall head first to the floor. This does however exclude sleeping, which is his true calling in general and main reason for climbing up there most days.

The flip side of this is that over the course of the Sunday Spidercat kept me in sight most of the day. He watched TV on the couch with me in the morning, and ascended the shelf in the office while I worked in in the afternoon. We did it all again in the evening with our respective places on the couch for some baseball in the early evening, and then back up to our places in the office for more work.

So I'll just have to smile knowing he likes me around, if not too close.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Opening the kitchen window on Saturday, the glass from Bluegrass Mama with the kitten farm motto fell down as it has several times before.

Unfortunately, unlike previous falls, this time it shattered in the sink! That's bad.

However, for all the time it hung with the sun shining through it, we enjoyed it far more than if we had tucked it away in a drawer where we had never seen it.

The glass is gone, but the kitten farm and its motto live on.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Photo Weekend: Repeat Offender

Fresh from the camara phone ...

Truly, Whitey has mastered the art of looking like he belongs where he doesn't. Yes, that pepper mill means it's the dining room table again; this time he's enjoying Katherine's placemat. (Last time he was across the table on my placemat.)

Whitey on Dining Room Table ... again

No doubt the lesson the Mist of Doom taught him was diluted by my stopping to take the picture, but oh well. He was too darn cute and comfortable.

His brother, it should be noted, was asleep on the wicker seat of my dining room chair. The chair and brother were both properly tucked under the table in approved fashion.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Power Meower

As previously noted, Billy and I have a good routine going with pom-pom hunting these days.

Billy has, unfortunately, learned an associated trick -- he invites me to the hunt by sitting in my office door and serenading me with catzilla sized meows. Then if (when) I get up, he leads me off to the pom-pom stash.

He'll occasionally meows to be fed too, with an alternative destination of downstairs. But he doesn't do this as often, and his timing is usually not far off the official schedule. So "feed me" meows don't stand out as much.

I think he could meow louder (for all their volume, these are calm almost happy meows), but for the sake of my hearing I don't want to find out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Slimming down

We cut back on the boys' food a little bit since the last weigh-in. Whitey gained a little bit anyway, coming in at 13 lbs 14 oz. Billy lost a little bit, at 14 lbs 13 oz.

They're more active now that the weather is cooler, which no doubt also helps.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Local Sad News: Puppies Die in Truck Fire

More sad news from the wire, a number of puppies were killed in a tractor trailer fire in Lowell, MA, which is about 25 minutes northeast of the kitten farm.

The Daily Stench: Tummy Trouble

Early Yesterday evening we found an unidentified mess in the upstairs hall. I though hairball, but Katherine said probably diarrhea. Since she got a closer look by cleaning it up, I'll let her decision take the election.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Emily At Rest

We mixed Emily's ashes with the soil for the climbing rose this afternoon. I hope it has enough sun to make her feel warm.

While we've mostly moved on, it was still a sad time for Katherine and me.

The boys did not attend, but immediately after coming in the house we we summoned them, fed them kitty treats, and petted them.

Rest in peace, our little calico.

The Cat In the Bed is Back

With the summer heat dropping off, the boys have been curling up around Katherine at night again.

Yesterday, Billy even nestled on the couch with Katherine and me as she rubbed my feet in front of the ballgame. Then he followed us upstairs to help us take naps. (Hey, all this plumbing supervision is tiring for man and beast.)

With last night almost cool, at some point Billy decided I was a good place to curl up next to for the first time this season. Of course, this resulted my first seasonal nudging him away when I woke up and was pinned under the cover ...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Once More, with Feeling Pounding

A legitimate source of the new leak was discovered by the plumber (father of the previous plumber). The earlier repair on the bathroom drain stack appears to have broken the tub drain trap, which makes more sense than the work damaging the tub caulking.

No additional charge, although now we have far more water damage in the kitchen and several holes in the kitchen ceiling to fix in addition to the original holes in the wall.

Photo Weekend: The Return of Millie

While on vacation at Bluegrass Mama's in June, we got a new picture of our feline niece Millie.

Bluegrass Millie

Hope Springs Eternal

Hope springs eternal, and so does our kitchen ceiling. Or at least our ceiling is like a spring.

Translated, the ceiling leak is still with us. And it's not what the plumber claimed it was, I tested with a pure tub draw and (re)flooded the kitchen.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Paw & Order Extra: Sad news from NY

We filed the original post about Fred the undercover kitten under Humor. Unfortunately, we can't use that for today's follow up.

CNN reports that Fred was killed in a traffic accident.

The DA's office has the official announcment.

Let It Flow

The plumbers came and went yesterday, leaving us with several new holes in the walls and a new drain pipe, not to mention a new small hole in the home equity line.

We blocked the door to Billy's favorite linen closet which has a floor level hole in the wall which is just too cat friendly. We also replaced some of the wallboard high in the kitchen wall and secured it with duct tape. This keeps a certain Spidercat from jumping to the cabinets over the stove and inspecting inside the wall. We've never seen him up there, which is not as accessible as the cabinets over the refrigerator, but we did it anyway -- he's a Spidercat.

We called our favorite general contractor to scope fixing the walls for real; he'll stop by on Tuesday.

And then we called the plumber again this morning when the kitchen ceiling sprung a leak during my shower. This problem was new (and freaked us out), but was traced by the plumber to the sealant around the tub spout breaking loose because of their other work. All fixed.

We hope.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Our Dainty Departed Emily

Another Emily quirk we don't miss (much): No one ever explained to her the difference between sinks and fountains.

Emily used to mostly hang around upstairs, an orbit for her final months that mostly consisted of the bed, Katherine's desk and futon, the sun deck in my office, the litter-box, and the bedroom water fountain. In particular, she tended for some reason to use the litter-box, and then head immediately for the fountain, wiping her paws on the edge before drinking.

No wonder the upstairs fountain always seemed dirtier.

I blew off washing the fountains over the past month, and when I got around to them, they were still cleaner than after a couple of weeks of Emily use.

(At the same time, while I wrote this my third monitor has had a picture of Emily asleep on the office futon. Pity I can't rub her ears for her...)

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Weekend Stench: Right on Schedule

After I got up this morning, I was thinking how it has been a week since the boys last left a mess, a considerable drop in frequency from our final months with Emily. I also wondered when the next event would be.

The next event, a hairball, was waiting for me downstairs by their food bowls.

Just like clockwork...

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Diet, what diet?

Since the last weigh-in Billy has leveled off and Whitey is gaining. Billy remains stable at 15 lbs 0.5 oz. Whitey comes in at 13 lbs 13 oz. Time to start cutting back.

We're Back and We're Bad

Our network now works not because of the heat breaking, but because I swapped our main SMC router for a LinkSys router which Bluegrass Mama surplussed when I fixed her wireless router. Those SMC routers have history of toasting on me, this may the third or fourth one that flaked out on me.

All this means I only have one spare working router, although I could change things around so that the WiFI router carries more than just our limited WiFi traffic. (What? You don't have a distinct WiFI network, or any spare routers?)

Friday, August 4, 2006

Photo Friday: It's a Bug Hunt

Both boys are pretty big. We've already mentioned Billy's 41 inch reach, and Whitey isn't much smaller. Still, they sometimes wish they were just a little bit taller, especially when small flying insects hover just out of reach.


Friday Fun Stuff

We realize that not all cat lovers have cat friendly household arrangements. Though not nearly as warm and cuddly as the real thing, electronic pets do have certain advantages. (Shockwave animation. Move mouse and see what happens.)

Rain In the Summertime

The heatwave has broken. Light rain this morning, coming straight down, so we can we leave all the windows open.

The boys have taken on new life with the heat gone. They both chased cat teasers not only last night but also this morning before breakfast. Air Whitey did some spectacular (or is that specatacular) vertical leaps going after a pom pom, and Billy certainly put in his effort up and down the stairs.

Of course, it also helps that we are more willing to play with them with the heat gone, even if they do most of the work.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Pardon the Interruption

If you could not connect to us recently ... a recent heatwave has affected our Internet connection, including the connectivity for this web site.

We thought it was our provider, but disconnecting most of the equipment in the Farm House from the network and plugging a computer directly into the cable-modem shows their stuff works fine. So I'll start swapping equipment when I get a chance to find out what works and what doesn't.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Canned Emily

Katherine picked up Emily's ashes from the Stoneham Animal Hospital. They were shipped in a boring brown box via UPS. Inside the boring box was a white six inch canister, with various sizes of black paw prints all over it, and a black label with Emily's name on the lid.

Rather than being depressed, the cute canister made me smile.

Katherine noted that this looks far nicer than what we saw on their web site for containers.

Katherine rolled her eyes when I weighted the actual remains (in a bag in the canister) and discovered that Emily now weighs 9 and 3/4 oz.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Cat Plumbing

The boys would like to point that if we were cats, we would have not this plumbing problem.

They are self cleaning, and they use nice dry litter boxes. Just give them clear fountains to drink from.

I'd argue with them (I've seen them kick litter around, never mind where we clean the fountains). but when was the last time anyone won an argument with a cat?

And Away Goes <strike>Troubles</strike> Money Down the Drain

The initial report from our new plumber is that the leak is from a cracked drain stack, and we may be replacing it from the bath tub all the way to the basement.

The rough translation for a home owner is, "kiss your three year old kitchen ceiling goodbye".

p.s. we have a new plumber because the old one didn't answer return our call. However, it may not be his fault, because Verizon's voice mail network broke.

Monday, July 31, 2006


About a year before the kitten farm acquired its current feline residents, we had a hot water pipe split in the shaft which takes various pipes to the upstairs, in particular our bathroom. And a fun time was had by all ... Not!

The spray soaked the kitchen ceiling, and the associated hole in the wall resulted in most of the kitchen getting wallpapered when we could not find the old style in stock.

We did however not only get the pipe repaired, we got a lovely shutoff value in the basement for the upstairs hot water feed.

Over the past couple of days, the built-in side board where we prepare dinner for the boys has had a damp spot on the dining room side of the the aforementioned pipe shaft. Katherine wiped it up, and well, it's back.

We used the hot water shutoff valve this morning, in part to see if we can tell which pipe is leaking (very slowly ... for now). More importantly, the plumber has been called.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Piece of the Action Nap

Not to be outdone by his brother, today Billy decided to lounge on the dining room table. Unfortunately, my camera phone was upstairs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Photo Weekend: Caught in the Act Nap

We have had a real problem with the boys encamping where they aren't supposed to be, in particular hanging out on the dining room table. They keep telling us it's not them on the table, but now we have proof!

Whitey lounging on the dining room table

And no, this is not from the archives, this photograph is fresh this afternoon.

And no, we did not doctor it to put Whitey there, no matter what he meows.

And no, entrapment was not involved, he just decided to hang out there when he thought we were not looking.

Blah blah sorry for camera phone quality blah blah ...

Admin Note

We did an internal reorganization of the server which hosts this blog. Please report any problems to the valets.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Cat is in the Mail

I am told the remains of Her Emilyness are neatly packaged and waiting to be shipped back to the Stoneham Animal Hospital sometime next week. Katherine, keeper of all things flowering including the memorial climbing rose, says the bush was fed last week.

It occurs to me the boys should attend her memorial service (all 15 seconds of it). It occurs to me more that they should stay safely inside. I suspect we'll go with the latter.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Film at 11!

We now have video on Willy, the mighty glove hunter.

The Great White Hunter

Actually, that's the great Whitey hunter. I was flicking the pom-pom up around the corner of the landing on the stairs for Billy when it didn't come back with the normal pull. I looked up and saw Whitey had commandeered it.

He doesn't chase pom poms the way his brother does. It's more of a batting around like a stereotypical kitten with a ball of yarn, but he clearly likes it. I admit I get bored easily since he won't chase it like some beasts we know, but it's still nice to see Whitey enjoy himself.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Precious Playmates

A long time ago I noted that Billy absolutely hates to give up a pom-pom after he catches it. That is out of date.

Some where in there, I am not sure when, I learned to stand in front of Billy when he comes down to level ground from where ever he caught the pom-pom. This discourages him from wandering off. At the same time, he learned that if he drops the pom-pom, he gets to immediately chase it again. Now he generally only hogs the pom-pom if he's tired.

I also changed where I cast the pom-pom, and perhaps other subtle changes, but I can't really say what was important and what wasn't.

In any case, our routine for many months has been a very consistent cast-chase-catch-drop, repeat cycle. (There a lot of misses in there, but that's part of the game). Both of us are happier, and the mighty hunter is indeed mighty.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Reach for the Sky Redux

Over the weekend, Billy did a full length stretch up the side of a door jam. We noted how far he reached with his extended front paws, and measured.

With his weight firmly on his back legs, that kid can reach 41 inches off the floor.

Kitchen Clean Up

Someone had a classic over spray of the kitchen box. One of the sheets of cat paper caught all of it. We changed all the cat paper, even the dry sheets, mostly because it does show routinely scattered litter like a Harley in a bicycle race.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Weighing in

Whitey appears to have leveled off, at 13 lbs 11.5 oz. Billy gained another ounce. At 15 lbs 1/2 oz he's back near his maximum weight.

Whitey is also eating his food more promptly, which gives Billy fewer chances to raid it. We'll see if that does the trick, but I expect we will want to cut back on portion sizes, too.

Reach For the Sky

There were flying things (bugs) in the upstairs hall last night. I'm not sure I've ever seen both boys so alert at the same time when it didn't involve milk. They were both standing on the highest points in the hall, chins up, eyes bright, and each ready to nail that flying prey if it just came a little closer ...

The prey never came close enough.

Some photos were taken with the small camera. Then some photos were taken with the better Nikon camera. Then more photos were taken when the boys changed positions. Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sleeping in (not!)

Katherine generally goes to Aikido class on Sunday mornings, but was taking today off. In a perfect world, on a morning like this the boys would sleep until 8:02 AM and then gently remind one of us that it was breakfast time. Meanwhile, the other valet would sleep in.

This isn't a perfect world.

At 6:45 AM somebody invoked memories of Emily by throwing up a hairball. Speaking of things we don't miss about Emily, dawn clean up is right up there.

Then it was a relatively understated but long running edition of feline closet Olympics, including knocking luggage down from its stack, scaling the wire shelves, and doing Cat Fu under the door.

We both were up at 7:30. *sigh*

Hello, I Love You

One of those little changes we've noticed in the past month...

When we arrive home after an absence, the boys have always pretty consistently greeted us if they hear us. Their standard greeting has several parts (some optional):

  1. Checking on our progress into the house from the driveway from a window.
  2. Being in the front hall so we're the first thing they see.
  3. Actively greeting us, for example coming right up us as we enter the door.
  4. Stretching and yawning (if they weren't in the window checking on us in step 1)
  5. Happily prancing into the dining room to lead us to food or cat toys (even if we're not interested in either).

They perform this ritual even if a human is already home. All of this combines to provide an image of happy, loving boys who were relaxed when we were gone and are now glad to see their humans.

Our departed Emily was different. First, she never greeted someone if a valet was already home. Otherwise, her greeting involved quietly coming half way down the stairs, sitting down, and being very still as she stared at us reproachfully for having been unavailable to meet her needs. She offered extra intensity if she had missed a meal, which given she ate every hour she was awake, happened a lot.

We miss our lovely calico, including seeing her when we opened the front door. But we have to admit, we don't miss her official greeting too much.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Photo Extra: Mighty Glove Hunter

It seems Pelham, NY, has a mighty tiger hunter of gloves.

It's just as well we keep Billy inside, who knows what life of crime he would lead in our neighbors' yards. (Actually, the thief looks more like Whitey).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Repent, for the End is Near

The gas company is repatching a spot outside the Kitten Farm that they dug up last winter. (The patch is sinking and crumbling around the edges.) So the first thing they did is use a jackhammer to break up the old patch. Unfortunately for poor Billy, jackhammers are powered by compressed air, and air compressors hiss. From his reaction, this was well beyond a Hiss of Doom. More like the Four Hisses of the Apocalypse.

It's a small patch, though, so the noise went away before he had too much of a panic attack. He is now sleeping soundly, ignoring the crashes and bangs of the backhoe that went to work after the jackhammer was done.

Photo Friday: Pimp My Laundry Basket

Billy has been enjoying a lot of laundry basket rides lately; he likes to hop in as soon as the basket appears from the basement. Usually, he'll ride it all the way up to the bedroom. Why, we don't know.

Billy in laundry basket

This is actually from last year, but he still gets the smug look on his face when he's gotten rides this month.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We're a Team!

The boys have figured out how to divide the niche formerly occupied by Emily.

Billy took the affection piece, with lots of head butts and purring.

Whitey took the inscrutability piece, complete with plaintive meowing for no reason.

The Not So Daily Stench

Billy did one of his semi-famous visits to the kitchen pantry litter box last night around dinner. Unfortunately, the visits attain fame because we have to clean up after them.

Basically, he thinks he should stand across, not with, the long side of the box. Since he's long enough to reach up and peek over the edge of a dining room table, this means even with the huge box (you could immerse a VW Beetle in one of our litter boxes) sometimes he ... overshoots. Which he did last night; he very carefully dug a couple of different holes in the litter, and then he sprayed half his output over the edge.

Fortunately, he didn't miss the cat paper.

It really is worthy of note (to us at least) that this is the first problem we've had in two weeks or so. We can deal with that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Finally Found A Home (part 2)

Billy is not the only one with a new favorite place.

With the recent heat, I've taken to opening the bathroom window and its mini blind, and of course pushing back the covering shower curtain, all to promote fore and aft airflow through the upstairs.

Whitey assumes I do this each day to give him a new ledge to hop up to and see the outside world from. I'm little worried about him getting tangled and suffocating in the shower curtain, but I mitigate that by pushing it as far out of the way as I can.

(He's also the only one who jumps up to the half window in the stairway to look out from there.)

One other note on Billy's new kitchen hangout. I suspect much of its charm for Billy is not that he can watch us in the kitchen, but that with the added height he can see across the kitchen to what we're doing on the counters. It's far more interesting to him than a floor view, I'm sure.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Finally Found a Home (part 1)

We noted sometime ago the boys were tipping the kitchen wastebasket over, and that it needed to be replaced. The basket was indeed replaced, with a nice steel one in a half moon shape (which, consistent with our kitchen, matches nothing else). It's bigger, heavier, and very stable with a flat top.

Which makes it a prime place for a cat to jump up on, in this case, Billy. I spent a month chasing him off it, but he liked it ... a lot. We discussed it, and decided since the basket is quite stable, he's on it, not in it, and there are no food preparation surfaces near by, he was allowed to visit it.

So we lined up a few shake cans on top of the microwave which overlooks the basket, and Billy has a new spot in the kitchen. He likes it, and we actually like it too - it lets him watch us in the kitchen (which he would do any way) from a spot out of the way where we can't step on him.

He's easily petted here, too.

If I could only figure out how to get trash into the basket without disturbing him ...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mother of the Pride

Katherine was gone all week, but most the news worthy item associated with her absence was more transportation related than cat related. The feline inmates were boring in the keeping me busy sense, although as warm and cute as ever, and kept me company at night. Even better, they kept me company without trying to heat me -- this is summer in New England with no A/C.

Katherine returned yesterday, but due to a borderline heat wave she slept in our cooler guest accomodations. You can tell she's back though; the boys abandoned me overnight to curl up near mom!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Photo Friday: Nap, Nap, Nap

This week's Photo Friday is from almost two years ago, when the boys were still (barely) small enough that they could comfortably curl up in a condo together for a nap. Now if they try it, the effect is more like 28+ pounds of cat in a 20 pound penthouse.

Billy and Whitey napping

Photo extra: International Cat of Mystery

It's been a boring week, but that doesn't mean the boys aren't looking cute. I noticed this picture (from packing for my last trip) of a feline spy on the job.

Whitey in IBM briefcase

(Okay, it's one of our own exploring yet more luggage. I still like it.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

All Choked Up

I'm not sure we mentioned this before, but Emily will be cremated. We plan to scatter her ashes around the climbing rose under the the sun deck window. She'll get lots of sun there.

Pet Memorial Park down in Foxboro is handling the actual cremation. They have a four week backlog for private cremations, which isn't great but falls under the "we rather do it right than fast" department. (Both they and the vet have cold storage.)

I called them today to sort out the container we want her remains sent back to us in. The conversation went fine until the representive mentioned to me that Emily was now there, having been picked up from Stoneham Animal Hospital on June 29th.

It was a simple status update, but the reference to her reminded me of how she looked when she passed away, and made me start to choke up. I wanted to drive down to Foxboro (almost an hour away) and pet her, but of course she's gone. What's left is an empty cold furry shell.

I need to hug a tiger or two when I get home tonight.

(Writing this was hard, too.)

Photo Puppy Extra: Peaceful Remodeling

From old college friends come this picture of their elderstates puppy Samantha. The explanation was that there yet more remodelling work going on around the condo, and "Now she can get some rest!".

Samantha with Head Phones

If we tried that with the boys, they would do us in while we slept. Not to mention Whitey's favorite high shelf is directly between my office stereo speakers; he doesn't let a little noise bother a good cat nap.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

And Then There Were Two (Litter boxes)

With our mega sized litter boxes, twice a day cleaning of the boxes, and now our reduced user base, our three litter boxes are close to underutilized.

In fact, with the latest litter change cycle, we have reduced the number of litter boxes from three to two. The third smaller box was a legacy from when we had boxes in two different rooms upstairs; both upstairs boxes have been in the same closet for months.

I'll say it was retired, but let's be honest ... we tossed it. :-)

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Tubbo and Tubbo Jr.

The boys are tending toward tubbiness again:

Billy: 14 lbs 15 oz

Whitey: 13 lbs 12 oz

My guess is that with the warm weather and us being gone they are less active. Need to keep an eye on them, maybe cut back their food a bit.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Photo Friday: Cat Cases

We're suckers for watching the boys climb into things, even if we need those things for other purposes. This picture is even cuter if you look carefully in the rear (light blue) suitcase and realize the black and brown stripe visible is the arch of Whitey's back. Whitey was too busy exploring to pose for the photographer. (Click  the photo for a bigger version.).

Billy and Whitey-exploring suitcases

Monday, July 3, 2006

The Weekend Stench

Billy, bless his tubbo back end, missed the litter box by hanging over the end of it yesterday.

Hmm. With just the boys here, can we go to covered litter boxes?

Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Great Litter Box in the Sky

On the Road Again ... we were off see Bluegrass Mama this week.

While driving from New England to the Bluegrass State, it rained. And then it rained some more. Then it rained harder, usually when approaching an important interchange with lots of traffic.

Then I figured out why. Our Emily was now in the heavens, and she wasn't happy at the timing or that her litter box misses had anything to do with our decisions.

Litter box problems? I'll show you litter box problems.
(and it rains harder)

Seriously, that we can joke about it says we're moving on.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Moving On

Various people have asked how the boys are handling their Aunt Emily's absence.

Emily preferred to associate with people, not cats.

The boys were reactive to her, but didn't seek her out, and learned not enter her personal space, which usually extended over a foot in every direction. The buffer was allowed to shrink for a respectful Whitey, or made to expand for a stalking Billy. Billy was chastised by her more than once even though he was half way across the bed. Napping also shrank personal space requirements, but Emily didn't do kitten piles.

They did seek her food, but either tiger coveting her food in a public space or crowding her in a door could be in for the Paw of Death (which never actually landed on them, to my knowledge).

None of this was conducive to them attaching themselves to her, especially since they were raised from birth together to happily sleep, play, and eat with each other. Mostly they automatically check her haunts to avoid stumbling into her by mistake, and proceed on when the coast is clear.

The short version is they have nothing to deal with, and we're glad of that.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Last Supper Lunch

Emily's last day was not all gloom.

We cleaned up various items from her residency when we got back from the vet. This included retrieving her upstairs food dish.

Now, Emily's food has been coveted by Billy and Whitey since they were kittens (long before Emily changed diets). The boys were on the prowl every time she snacked in one of the offices. As for her more formal meals in the master bedroom, Whitey in particular upon hearing the door open could sprint all the way from downstairs to sneak in. Then he would slink under the bed until the coast was clear for him to raid her dish.

As a bequest from Emily to the boys, I gave them each a small serving of her dry prescription food in their normal bowls before I dumped the rest back in the bag. Billy chowed down. Whitey, however, checked it out and then walked away, leaving it in the bowl.

I guess it just didn't taste as good if he didn't have to hunt for it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The (Cleanup) Beat Goes On

Just so we remember our place in this organization, Whitey gave me a hairball to clean up Friday night. We know it was him because Katherine almost tripped over him in the upstairs hall one minute, and literally the next minute when I came through there it was.

Billy was downstairs for this tiny window, so he's in the clear. This time.

We're relieved by the way. Emily had real diagnosed medical problems for over a year, and for time for a last week was getting both her special diet and seven doses of various prescriptions a day. But we also noticed her increased litter box issues as a sign of her worsening condition without proving they were all actually hers. (We knew many were). With her gone, the issues are gone as well, so we did make not a horrible mistake in blaming her for issues with one of the boys.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Song for Emily

"... A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar...."
-- Lipton/Yarrow

Compared to little cats, humans live forever. Things will be grey for a while, even with the boys to lighten our mood.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tiger Town

The boys have been pretty active in the last day or so, doing everything from cave diving into a new briefcase I was transferring stuff into and playing on the couch with computer cables I was organizing, to jumping on the bathroom window sill (the only window open during some rain).

(Or maybe it's their normal level, and I just have not been paying attention.)

They also both visited the dining room table. In response, we demonstrated to them that the Mist of Doom lives. (Okay, we used it on them.)

Their youth and vigor remind us both that some do live well past their prime, and that our kitten farm remains very well stocked.

Friday, June 23, 2006

References for Pet Euthanasia

I found a couple of articles that might be helpful to people struggling with a pet's terminal illness. This one is about the euthanasia decision, and this one is about the euthanasia procedure and the grieving process.

Photo Friday: Emily's Last Day

I took several shots of Emily this week, including her back on her sun deck in my office yesterday morning, less than a couple of hours before she went to the vet. As usual, she was grumpy with me for pointing a flash camera at her.

Emily on her last day

I noticed lately that Emily's fur no longer laid as flat. She was still regularly grooming, but we wonder if her illness affected the make up of her fur, or perhaps she wasn't as quite as complete in taking care of herself as she once was.

This morning, at the hour of Emily's usual visit, both boys were at my office window watching and listening to the birds. Whitey is still here after an hour. I don't know if Emily would approve, but I do.

I miss her.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Requiem For Emily

It is with great sadness we announce that Emily was put to sleep today at ~ 9:35 AM at Stoneham Animal Hospital. Katherine and I were both with Emily as she slipped away.

While Emily had regained much of her former energy in the past two days, her recent illness reminded us how close to the edge she was with kidney disease and her almost 17 years (~84 human years) of age.

We don't know if we acted too soon; we only know we hope she finds the heaven of her dreams wherever she has gone on to.

Rest in peace, our lovely calico.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Billy: 14 lbs 12.5 oz

Whitey: 13 lbs 8 oz

Emily: 7 lbs 2.5 oz

Into the Sunset?

Short of being a parent, adopting a pet is one of the most humbling responsibilities a human can accept. You're promising another living creature that you'll be there, that you'll make sure it has food, water, shelter, and affection for the rest of its life. That doesn't seem like so much -- the needs of most household pets are really pretty simple -- but it still makes you think. Or should, though the number of abandoned pets suggests that many people don't.

Pet owners also face an even more humbling responsibility, one that few parents are unfortunate enough to experience. Household pets get old and sick, and eventually their humans have to decide whether and when to help them into the next life. That's where Emily is now. The antibiotic she got Friday seems to have wreaked havoc with her digestion -- causing massive diarrhea -- without actually curing the low grade infection that she went to the vet for in the first place. We took her off the antibiotic last night and her digestion seems to have settled down, but that only brings us back from "really sick" to "kind of sick," not all the way back to "Emily norm," much less truly "well."

Let's just say playing God isn't a whole lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Emily Under the Weather

We took a long weekend to join MINIs on Top of Mt Washington, NH. It was almost cut short before it started because Emily lost control of her bowels Friday morning, and left a multi-part mess on the bed.

We got the bedroom cleaned up, and Katherine scooted off to the vet with our queen. They got back with a prescription for Emily in time for us to leave for a convoy (which I had organized) to NH. So off we went, returning Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. Emily was hiding from the cat sitter by end of the weekend. More importantly, since the weekend she has gotten worse. She's still got a very loose stool, and she is going by (not in) the litterbox ~ 50% of the time.

We have a call into the vet as our next steps.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Look Into my Eyes

From the BBC ... A cat which was dumped in a river as a kitten has been nominated as a national feline hero for its ability to predict its owner's epileptic fits.

Mighter Hunter

In case you missed it last week, some cats are even mightier hunters than Billy. Take for example Jake, who hunts black bears if they trespass.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Photo Tuesday: Sundeck, Interrupted

Emily wants a bodyguard; someone needs to keep those pesky photographers away when she's enjoying a nap while sunbathing.

Emily on the Sundeck, Interrupted

Monday, June 12, 2006

Report from the Trenches

We've been lazy posting, and of course, no one missed us. *sigh*

A bigger sigh is because since Memorial Day we seem in one long litter-box crisis upstairs.

Billy is intermittently stalking his Aunt Emily, who then hides behind the litter-box to do her business. She's leaving a solid miss as often as everyday. She has also had a soft stool, like stress is giving her diarrhea

One (or both) of the boys is missing the litter-box up to once a day, soaking the cat paper. We're going through that stuff at an amazing pace.

This morning hit a mew low, with someone missing even the cat papper. Katherine had to empty the closet to clean out under the plastic blanket boxes.

I just don't see an end in sight.

Monday, June 5, 2006

We're saved!

Regular readers (and other cat owners!) will know that litterbox misses are one of the most frustrating aspects of sharing your home with a cat. Billy -- aka Tubbo -- does exactly what he's supposed to, and yet sometimes his tubby butt is completely inside the box and sometimes it isn't. It's hard to be mad at him, but no one likes cleaning up messes.

Enter CatPaper. It's just a layer of superabsorbent paper on a plastic backing, but it makes cleaning up after a miss miraculously simple. Fold up soiled sheet, handling from the completely unsoiled plastic side. Throw it away. Put down a fresh sheet. Done. Go order more CatPaper to make sure you never run out.

(No connection with the company, just a very satisfied customer.)

Friday, June 2, 2006

A Not Very Weekly Weigh-In

It's been a while since we posted a weigh-in. Everything is pretty much as before, though the boys seem to be creeping upward again.

Whitey: 13 lbs 8.5 oz
Billy: 14 lbs 9 oz
Emily: 7 lbs 5.5 oz

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dawn Patrol, Ark Edition

We were gone over weekend, and are still getting back in the swing of things. For example, we were up later than we normally are.

The cats are however, are their usual mayhem causing selves, and early risers to boot:
  • 6 AM, Emily throws up. Katherine cleans up after her and feeds her.
  • 6:26 AM, we take a power glitch just long enough to make every UPS alarm in the kitten farmhouse to pulse. Loudly.
  • 6:45 AM, Billy knocks the sealed Rubbermaid container which stores the cat bowls off the dining room sideboard onto the floor.
    Much to his delight, this knocks the cover off and he can snack on Emily's dry food.
    Much to Katherine's dismay, she's jolted awake by the crash.
    Adding to Katherine's dismay, upon examining the scene of the crime, she finds one the bowls broke. She cleans that up too.
At this point we're both quite awake.

At least the Boston area flooding hasn't affected us. We have the even less than the traditional trickle in the basement, and our mason thinks he can nail the remaining leaks.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday, May 5, 2006

Photo Friday: Emily's Morning Bask

I mentioned a few weeks ago I wanted to get pictures of Emily on the sun deck. Need I say more?

Emily relaxing on  Sundeck

Thursday, May 4, 2006


Whitey: 13 lbs 4.5 oz
Billy: 14 lbs 6.5 oz
Emily: 7 lbs 2.5 oz

Claims of impending starvation appear to be greatly exaggerated.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Photo Friday: Network Lunch

Cats are solo hunters, but when doing other things (like naps!), they work in groups. Some cats even network at lunch. Our Billy, on the other hand, wanted to have the network for lunch. (Yes, those are teeth marks on the antenna)


Our little Diva

So I'm doing the weigh-in last night. For the boys, this is easy. Zero the scale, wave a kitty treat under the nose of the cat you want, and make sure he has all four paws on the scale for the reading. The hardest part is keeping the other brother from helping.

Billy: 14 lb 6.5 oz
Whitey: 13 lb 5.5. oz.

Clearly neither suffered any ill effects from my absence.

Weighing Emily is a bit more involved. She's deeply suspicious of anything the humans want her to do, figuring it probably involves a trip to the vet, or medicine, or something else she's not going to like. To weigh her, you have to put her food on the scale, zero the scale, then studiously ignore her while she decides the coast is clear. (While being alert to chase off curious tiger kittens.)

So I do all of that, and the reading comes back: 5 lbs 11 oz.

Which is cause for panic. That's close to her lowest weight ever, when she was wasting away from her kidney problems. So we panic a little bit. Actually we panic a lot, since that represents more than a pound lost in just a few weeks.

And then we realize that she doesn't look or act like she's wasting away. She's had some stomach troubles recently, but her appetite seems normal, her coat is healthy, all that good stuff.

So I try weighing her again. And she must have had a paw off before, or maybe the scale wasn't level, because this time the winning number is: 7 lbs 4.5 oz, completely in line with her recent weights.


In retrospect, it's clear that she's been feeling unappreciated and used her feline powers of levitation to de-weight herself temporarily.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Serve, Therefore I Wear

I have a personal motto, the kind in which the truth hurts:

I eat, therefore I wear.

Let's just say that any light colored shirt is at risk if on my body at meal time, and even the dark end of the wardrobe needs to worry about grease.

However, I have hit a new low.

The boys each get a 1/8 of can of IAMS canned food per meal. These cans have a pull tab, but I prefer to open neatly them with a can opener, including crank the opener a half turn and then reverse direction for a nice smooth rim with no overhang. This lets me then put the contents into a small Tupperware container without having to pry out the first couple of slices.

Often, I'll run a knife around the edge of the can to further smooth the exit of the food. But not this morning. No, I had to shake the open can, forgetting the food is packed in oil.

The result was one shirt smelling of fish oil. I changed before going to work.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Emily 1, Bed Quilt 0

I somehow got suckered into playing with Billy this morning. Someone (a human) told me that I owed him.

At least Katherine retrieved the laundry for me while I was busy. (She also retrieved Whitey, who went down to help her.)

In the midst of all this, I heard the semi-famous gurgling noise of Emily throwing up. I wasn't sure, but I adjourned playtime to the second floor so I could check the usual suspects, including my office, Katherine's office, litter box annex, and of course the bed. All clear, and Emily was sitting calmly on the bed, so Billy and I went back to playing.

Come to think of it, I found Emily sitting calmly the last time she threw up when I was around. Also like last time, she did throw up and I missed it. This time, she avoided immediate detection by hitting the far side of the bed, almost under (and on) clean clothes I had tossed on the bed to free up a laundry basket. She missed the clothes, but got both the bed quilt and top sheet.

As this is the fifth time she has thrown up in ten days, it is worrisome.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Late News on Emily ...

Emily threw up a couple of times this week, it turns out.

Unfortunately, our cat sitter didn't let me know me until she left a note with the bill for the week on Thursday.

This after I had specifically told her I was concerned about Emily.

Friday, April 21, 2006


We clean the litter boxes twice a day around here. We have huge boxes, but dirty boxes will lead cats to find other places to do their business.

One of the routine things I'm in charge of is throwing out the used kitty litter, which simply requires twice a week taking the bag from the dirty kitty litter bucket, taking it out to the trash, ansd putting a new bag in the bucket. This is done, not surprisingly, the night our trash goes the curb and more or less half way between trash nights.

Even with all the excitement this week, I remembered to do this Wednesday night, and even took some other unrelated trash out from the basement and the like. The result was a nice empty bucket.

However, when I opened it to clean the boxes Thursday night, I discovered my horror it was still empty. I had forgotten to clean the boxes Thursday morning. Not didn't want to, not didn't have time, just forgot in the midst of my other valet duties.

Fortunately, the cats had not declared the boxes dirty; no alternative venues had been used.

14 hours and counting.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

38 Special

Yesterday was so quiet I didn't post.

Alas, this morning they blew their hitting streak.

There seemed to be more pre-dawn prowling than yesterday, which didn't let me sleep as late as either of the two previous days. At least it wasn't get the valet up at the crack of dawn. Minor, but noticed.

Less minor was a wet miss of the kitchen litter box. Without the head valet here, I got to clean it up end to end.

Good news: We're over the hump day, only 38 hours to go!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Brand New Day

Things have calmed down.

Once again, I fed Emily when up in the middle of the night, but this time she didn't reward me by throwing up.

I slept almost an hour longer today.

No one has landscaped any litter boxes.

I don't have to do the minor set up for our cleaning service today.

Only 86 hours to go!

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Inmates and the One-armed Paper Hanger

Katherine is traveling. The inmates are (of course) running the place.

Emily started the fun by asking for breakfast after I woke up at 4:30 to run an errand. Not really a problem, she didn't wake me up, and the boys even stayed put in the bedroom so I could close the door and feed her in peace in Katherine's office.

Then 6:45 AM she woke me up again by throwing up in my office. Not just in my office, but on the sundeck, the floor by my desk, and my desk. And not just on my desk, but on my 12 year old heavy duty classic IBM PS/2 keyboard.

I clean up the sundeck and floor, go to the bathroom, unplug keyboard, wash it in shower, take it down to the basement to dry, get a spare IBM PS/2 keyboard (my supply mimics Linus's piano/Beethoven bust stockroom), take it up to computer, plug it in, boot computer, sit down ... and realize Emily also threw up on the floor opposite my desk.

So I clean that up, just in time to hear a cat landscaping litter out of the upstairs box. It's Whitey, bless him. Dry litter at least. I sweep it up and dump it back into the litter box.

Only 111 hours until Katherine is back.

(Seriously, I am worried that Emily has thrown up twice in two days.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Who dunnit? (Solved ...)

At 7 AM, in-bed Cat Fu wakes me up. Katherine (without waking up) interrupts it by moving and nudging the wrestlers off her. I get up and fed Emily her pre-breakfast.

At 7:30 AM, I hear a cat throw up. I look for suspects/victims/patients. Emily sits calmly in in my office on the sundeck. The boys both sit calmly downstairs, but there is vomit with (used) kibble in it on the front hall rug. The kibble implies Emily, but I know she didn't have time to get to upstairs and settle in -- but one of the boys throwing up solid food 11 hours after eating dinner is a serious worry. I clean it up and get the Sunday paper.

By 8:30 AM, I am back upstairs. Katherine doing litterboxes upstairs reports a minor mess in there. I turn around, and realize someone threw up in my office. Maybe I missed this the first time, but it's almost certainly Emily. The place and kibble remains are right.

Poor Emily. At least it's a known a problem though.