Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dawn Patrol: Anniversary Edition

On 22 July 1989, I first met +Katherine Derbyshire in person and took her to lunch in Boston, MA. 25 years later, on Monday we drove and ferried our way to San Juan Island for two nights. It was a nice getaway, and the feline overlords were looked after by our regular sitter, +Heather Waters of Fetch Pet Care Kirkland.

It was also nice that within an hour of getting home yesterday afternoon and handing out kitty treats, we had three cats visit the living room couch and snuggle us while we watched the end of the Mariners day game. It's nice to be loved.

Unfortunately, early this morning they repeatedly announced that they both love and rely on us. In no particular order, the following routine activities occurred before we got up:
  • Someone loudly deposited a hairball at the top of the stairs. (Leading suspect: Penwiper)
  • Someone jumped up to the exterior water dispenser in the refrigerator door, loudly knocking its metal tray to the wooden floor. (Leading suspect: Billy)
  • Whitey offered meows of despair from downstairs.
  • Penwiper growled from under the bed. Looking over the side, it was Whitey impinging on PW's personal space. (At least Whitey came upstairs on his own ...)
  • Oscar cuddle time was declared shortly after 7 AM via a head butt to the the almost sleeping human, me. (I did cuddle, lest he start meowing.)
  • Penwiper went on a tour of the window sill, which included walking behind the blinds and rattling them.
  • Billy went on a tour of the dressers, poking at things and generally making noise.
All that was missing was Billy scratching at the bathroom door to be let in, and Whitey clawing his way up the headboard over Katherine to be feline death from above.

It's nice to be loved and relied on after you've been gone, but I wish they didn't remind us quite so early.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Check for Penguins ... and Other Overlords

We call the master bathroom the Penguin Pen, because a certain tuxedo cat likes both to attend the humans using it and to hang out there after lights out, quietly warbling about his sadness.  This is not to say he and his housemates don't like the other bathrooms, but their doors are usually closed and thus off-limits as performance spaces.   They will use them when available, so we always "check for penguins" before closing bathroom doors.

Katherine used the center upstairs bathroom this morning before kitten breakfast, and she left it open because Whitey slipped in with her.  He was guaranteed to follow her down to breakfast, saving her the effort of shooing him if she waited to close it.

Later, Billy hopped on my desk to get a drink out of my (okay, his) water mug, causing me to notice it was low.   After he refreshed himself, I refilled it from the still open center bathroom.   While in there, I discovered a fluffy penguin lounging on the bath mat, who departed gracefully.  I then checked the tub, lest Whitey was hiding behind the shower curtain.

Katherine mentioned I should also check the under sink cabinet for Whitey.  This makes sense in general as Whitey loves to hide in our self-closing French-hinged cabinets, but makes no sense in that bathroom because the door hinges are misaligned.  The doors to be lifted while closing to get them slide over each other and actually close.  Even a small human with thumbs couldn't do that from the inside.

Whitey was inside the cabinet, with the doors closed.

Beats me how he closed them.

Update:   I tested both doors. The right door is misaligned. the left door will open and close fine if the right is left untouched.  I must always be using the right door.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Holiday Roll Call

Happy Independence Day.

I'm delighted to report the the boys aren't thinking much about it.   They might prefer less of a distraction to better hear the creatures outside, but they don't seem to care one way or another about the fireworks noises.   Certainly they aren't acting overly tense or hiding this year.

To check on them, once the fireworks had picked up after dark I did a roll call the old fashioned way, with a rattle of the kitty treats bottle.  Oscar was a little late, but that doesn't mean much -- he tends to be last to ad hoc treats.

I made good on the rattle, and much chasing of treats ensured.   Clearly treats were more important than noises a block or more away, and that's a good thing.

Photo Friday: Ten Years of the Quiet Hunter

As noted, Whitey likes his window perch in the evening.

Whitey Quietly Watching the World from his Window
I considered posting a photo of him looking at me (and the camera) from the window, but let's face it: That's not what he is there for.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Photo Friday: Now Playing

The Cat's Dreamin'
My newest Big Black Kitty Warmer is networked.  Billy is shown here while The Cat's Dreamin' off Clifton Chenier's album Bayou Blues plays.

 And yes, we queued the track up deliberately, we couldn't resist.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Out in Right Field

Sometimes, it seems that the most similar cats at the Kitten Farm are Billy and Penwiper.  While different in appearance, both are athletic, self-assured, and seemly the most active hunters of the crew.   (Make no mistake, all are hunters, but Oscar and Whitey are quiet hunters).

And then there is hunting of the kitty treats we ritually pass out in the kitchen when we come home.

Whitey will go after the treats, but both he and Oscar often tend towards the Bob Uecker school of catching knuckleballs ("wait till it stops rolling and pick it up").   This is particularly embarrassing when a treat bounces off their nose to the floor.  ("Oh, that was for me?")

This leaves Penwiper as second only to Billy in fielding thrown kitty treats on the fly.  Billy always wants to catch treats on the fly in his mouth or paw.  The downside of his all-out effort is if he misses, he deflects it and the treat can end up in the next room.  Penwiper similarly extends real effort to not let a treat hit the floor, with a result he deflects even more than Billy.  At least they don't fly as far.

However, something has clicked: Penwiper is suddenly able catch some treats in his mouth.   I would not call his catches of what are effectively pop-ups highlight plays, but then again any catch by a cat is a highlight reel play.

Note: We tried to get video of this this morning and failed.   Was it timing (middle of the morning when we haven't left), location (upstairs), or karma (the boys don't do stupid pet tricks on demand), I don't know.  We'll try for video again during some more natural time.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Feline Cuteness Paralysis

Of all windows in the Kitten Farm West, Whitey is most likely to be found following the world from the laundry room window, especially during the warmer weather when it's open. We'll look for him there as we come home. In fact, we call it The Whitey Window, and will open it just for him if the weather is nice.

Last night, after +Katherine Derbyshire and I watched a movie, she started closing downstairs windows before retiring upstairs for the night.  She got the living room, dining room, and finally headed into the laundry room to close The Whitey Window.  I pointed his likely presence out as she headed in there, and indeed ...
Katherine: Whitey, it's time to close your window so I can go upstairs. 
me: Don't close it.
Katherine: You willing to come down later?
me: Well, I'm going to bed next, so no.   Go ahead.
Katherine (coming out of laundry room): He gave me a cute kitten face.
The window stayed open until Whitey later wandered upstairs, so Katherine had to make an extra trip down.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

CSI: Cat Scene Investigation

We really wish we knew what happened in the front downstairs hall (the passage to left of the bathroom door in the background to the photo) this afternoon.

When I came downstairs to feed the boys I found fresh dried blood splatters between the counter and the bathroom door.  +Katherine Derbyshire said that it looked like a feline slasher movie.

Most of the blood was on the floor in front of the door, but we found individual droplets everywhere from 3+ feet up on the bathroom door to on the counter (where the boys are sitting on in the photograph), and into the living room (to their right). There was no real trail, just droplets here and there.

It was bright enough to be arterial blood.

We were out most of the day, but Katherine thinks there was no blood when we distributed kitty treats when we got home.

We didn't hear any battles royal between cats.

There are no marks on any of the cats.  We checked each at least twice.

There no signs of invading rodents.

Short of putting the blood through a DNA analysis to determine the owner, we have no clue.

Update: Actually a little bit of a clue. Given the lack of interest in the blood by the resident felines, we're guessing it belonged to one of them, not a rodent.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

At The Ballet (The Magic is Back!)

Yet more small adventures, none of which were properly told in a timely fashion.   Thus, it is time for multiple chapters of "As the Food Bowl Turns".

Our Story Thus Far

Penwiper, who gets overly excited and swats at his housemates while meals are being served, has for some time now been locked up until his own bowl is ready.  

It mostly just works: He knows the food reward for going in the bathroom before feeding, and when he thinks it's time he'll go sit by the door waiting to be let in.   After he eats, he's fine, lounging around or looking for some human affection.   No disturbing of housemates occurs ... at least by Penwiper.


As previously noted, we had a minor problem with Penwiper's appetite being off after his annual shots, the same sort of problem we sometimes see with Oscar after his annual exam.   We bought two cans of wet food, and to avoid a riot gave some to each boy:
  • Penwiper treated it like an ice cream cone at first, licking it rather eating it, but he got the hang of it and generally liked it.
  • Oscar refused to go near it.   We had to give him a clean bowl of dry kibble.
  • Whitey definitely liked it.  Not surprising, since he and Billy got wet food years ago.
  • Billy, resident foodie, acted like he had gotten cream.  ("More please?")
We gave the three who wanted it a treat at every meal until the first can was gone, and put the other can away, unopened.

Three Weeks Ago

Billy, who has always been a pain at meals by eating fast and then raiding others' bowls, got to be enough of a headache that I came up with a new plan: As we let Penwiper out of the bathroom, we put Billy in.   

This is actually easier than it sounds, because Billy was already under the impression that going in the bathroom on command gets him treats.  That the kibble he was following to the bathroom wasn't his (it's PW's, and not going in the bathroom with Billy) mattered not: The Mighty Hunter is easily decoyed, and if his bowl eventually shows up at his private dining room, he's good with the procedure.

With this, after 10 years we can lay off the continuous vigilance at meal times.   We just need to let him out once his housemates finish.

The Week Before Last

We got worried about Whitey not always finishing his food over period of a couple of weeks.   It was off to the vet for a full exam and geriatric blood work, the pronouncement being: He's fine.  

We opened the second can, added wet food back to his diet and now the magic is back.   He was bored.   Or maybe no longer feeling the pressure of Billy wanting to raid his food.   


A full case of wet food has been obtained.

The permanent change in menu does mean that Billy is dining alone for the foreseeable future.   If he was a pain when everyone was eating kibble, he's in overdrive when his wet food is gone and someone else has some. The kid spent years trying to raid Whitey's bowl of wet food, we have not forgotten.   

Amusingly enough, it does mean the decoy of Penwiper's bowl is less effective.   Billy is so eager for wet food, he won't go in the room without a bowl as easily.  So now we prep his and Penwiper's bowls at the same time.

Such is the ballet we dance for our boys.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

He ain't heavy, he's (still) my brother

Continuing the birthday theme, this was Billy and Whitey at about five months old, in July, 2004.

Billy and Whitey Kitten Snuggles
And this was taken this evening. Same futon (new cover), supersized snuggles. Please note that the boys did not shrink. It just looks like they did because I had to step back further to make them fit in the frame.

Billy and Whitey Catzilla Snuggles
(Tech note: The top photo was taken with a Toshiba PDR-3310 digital point and shoot camera. The bottom was taken with my Moto X phone. Both are straight out of the camera, with no post-processing.)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ten Years After

Billy & Whitey Watching a Laser Dot the Night They Arrived in 2004

It was on this day in 2004 that a litter of kittens were born that included the brothers which we would adopt (along with the elderstatescat Emily) just under four months later on June 14th, 2004.

Ten years later, our Catzilla brothers are still the anchor of our little kitten farm.

Make no mistake, they are getting older.   Whitey still seeks out the highest vantage point in the room, but he is if anything more sedate than ever. Billy is still a mighty hunter of cat toys, but while he may chase up six foot towers as many as eight or nine times during play time, he may take a break after as little as two or three.  As a catten, eight towers would have just been warming up.

Of course, Billy & Whitey still scoff at the concept that anywhere in the house is truly off limits to them -- if anything, Ssscat laden kitchen counters are more fun than cat towers (especially to Billy).

May we still be shooing our senior princes off the counters ten years from now.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Temporary Menu Change

Penwiper went into the vet at the end of January for his annual check-up and shots, and was given a clean bill of health.   However, late last week he seemed to lose some of his appetite, possibly an after-effect from the shots.  So it was off to vet again on Friday.  No issues were found, but to encourage him to eat we did pickup canned food to spice up his kibble.

The new menu started Friday evening.  Knowing Billy would raid Penwiper's dish if he didn't get some, we gave some to all the feline overlords with the usual results:

  • Oscar announced that there no way he was eating this "contaminated" kibble.   We had to serve him a clean dish of dry food, and pass his original dish to Billy.
  • Billy thought it was Catmas.  He woofed it down before his kibble.
  • Whitey was on board with the holiday treat idea too.
  • Penwiper wasn't quite sure, and used it as a tasty side dish.   In particular, he licked it every so often (as he does cheese we when we give that to him), and finally ate it when his kibble was gone.
Oscar wanting only his dry kibble actually makes it easier.   He's fed first, and serving him "boring" dry food means Billy doesn't raid it while waiting for his own meal.

After a meal or two, Penwiper has gotten to where the wet food is a real part of the meal, and has eaten it more promptly.   He has required patience by the valet, but has finished sooner or later.   Sometimes this requires letting hop him on a dining room chair next to a valet and putting his half-finished meal by him, but he's a social kitten -- what's wrong with wanting company?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

We'll never forget What-his-name

We actually owe a bunch of posts, some of which we may backdate.   But for now ...

+Erika Rice Scherpelz just posted a picture of Kage (The Grey Mouser) and his housemate Jasper curling up together on the local self-heating cat cushion (i.e. her).

Kage really does remind me of a more reserved version of Penwiper, especially with their long fur and sociability around favorite humans.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Photo Friday: You're Why We Can't Have Nice Things

One of the odder places our Spider-Cat has ascended to is the right speaker shelf in +Katherine's office.   As you can see, "relaxing" on it requires climbing from the bookshelf to the right onto the speaker and then squeezing over the speaker to huddle in the free area:

Whitey On the Speaker Shelf Last Fall(click for larger)

Well, it used to.   Back in December, Whitey had a never quite explained accident, where he and the speaker both came off the shelf.   Being a Spider-cat, he extended Cat Ki and landed well out from the wall.   Cat Physics at work and all that.  The speaker, being attached to a wire which was stapled to the wall, also obeyed the laws of physics:  It dropped until it ran out of slack, and then was pulled to wall by the wire:

Speaker Repositioned After It Dented the Wall Below It
(click for larger)
That's not dirt on the wall.  If you click on the picture to see the details better, you'll see that speaker physics caused the speaker turned pendulum to take two divots out of the wall.

At least Whitely and the speaker itself both are okay.

The speaker is permanently moved to the left, so that if Whitey wants that shelf again, he can get on it without pushing the speaker around.