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.