Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Few Things About Kittens

First of all, I'd like to state up-front that there are no new kitten pictures to share.  That is because kittens either run full speed ahead (and my iPhone camera is just not enough to keep up with them) or they are asleep in a pile.  But I've been wanting to update, so decided to do so tonight, with or without pictures.

We have had a good time with our kitten fosters.  It's been a long time, however, since I've been around kittens though, and so it was like a new experience all over for me.  As a "newbie" with kittens, here are some of my observations:

1.  Kittens are made out of bouncy balls.  They can ricochet off of walls, radiators, me, the sink, into the trashcan, back out of the trashcan, with no harm done to themselves.

2.  Kittens are masters of destruction.  I turned my back for 30 seconds to get their food ready and when I turned back around the bag of nasty dirty litter was overturned and spilling out onto the freshly swept floor, and my iPhone was upside-down in the newly cleaned litter box.

3.  Kittens know NO fear.  Which is why ours spend their unsupervised time in a large crate.  It is to protect them (and my house.)  They are fascinated with the dogs, and want to play with them very badly.  They climb my shower curtains, and do all sorts of feats of daring with absolutely no regard for their own skins.  One dove head-first into my bath with me tonight.  I had to spend quite a long time finger-combing and drying her out in front of the portable heater so that she wouldn't get chilled.

4.  Worming medicine works fast on kittens of this size.  And let me tell you, you haven't experienced life until you find one of your kittens...  umm.... oozing out a tapeworm.  Blech!

5.  It's amazing how quickly kittens adapt to having humans around.  I am their favorite jungle gym, climbing wall, spring-board, trampoline, and that I am their primary food-giver doesn't hurt.

6.  Kittens will decide that it is time to snuggle, and that is that.  There are a couple that climb up my torso if I'm sitting on the floor with them and cuddle either under my chin or into my hair.  Sanitary?  Probably not.  But do I care?  Not a bit.  How can one possibly care about that when there is a purring kitten under your chin?

I've named them.  It took me awhile, because in the beginning, they all looked like black cats to me, and I couldn't tell most of them apart.  But I've learned to look for those tiny distinguishing features.

So, the roster is:  Ophelia, Hamlet, Horatio, Lara, Violet, and Ellie.

Lara is the one that dove into the tub, and she has the least amount of concern regarding her own survivability.  I'm pretty sure it was also her that bapped Maera on the nose when Maera stuck her nose up to their crate, and it was probably her that climbed the radiator grill the other night too.

Ophelia is the biggest and fluffiest.  She is also The Boss and does not let the other kittens forget it.  Horatio is a scrappy but affectionate little guy, who also serves as Ophelia's chief enforcer/right-hand-man when it comes to bossing around the other kittens.

Hamlet talks a lot to get my attention, and he also does this little high-pitched whine-growl while he eats.  I haven't decided whether he's warning the other kittens away from his meal or he just likes to sing.  He is the second largest and fluffiest, though doesn't really have any interest in being "in charge."

Ellie was the first one named, because she has a rather obvious white splash on her underside.  She is a sweet-natured little girl, and is one of those that like to snuggle with me.  She was the first one to ever purr for me, so I'm particularly fond of her.

Violet is a sweet-heart as well, though I do think that she's training to be a wire-fu artist.  She doesn't leap so much as hover in the air when she's pouncing on her siblings, hovering into open bags of cat food, etc.

No, I'm not attached at all.  I'm going to be sad to take them back next week, I'm sure.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Coming Home

Everyone remembers the first day that they came "home."

I remember walking up the steps to the house and putting the key into the lock on the front door of our house the day after we closed on it.  It was empty, but I felt as if its timbers and bricks were welcoming me in, whispering to me.  Yeah, I'm a fruitcake that way.  But I knew that I was home.

Do you remember the day that your pet came home for the first time?  Did they know that they were home, or were they just frightened of their new surroundings at first?  How long did it take them to come around?

Charlotte was furious with us when she came home.  I'm not sure that she realized that she was home yet.  I think she was angry about being in the shelter for a week and a half, angry about the car ride to the house, angry about the fact that we had the nerve to bring a kitten home with her, and then angry that we let her out of her carrier and expected her to god forbid interact with us.  I write all of this with a faint smile on my face, because I think that this is how I, many times, react to change as well.  Even change that eventually turns out good for me.  Charlotte knows that she is home now, and is very content.  But that first week was spent hiding under the largest pieces of furniture that she could find, and hissing and spitting at us if we interfered with her much.

Annie didn't know that she was home yet either, when we brought her home.  She paced the floor that first night like a wild animal.  She tried to claw out one of the window screens to escape.  She had been found stray by Animal Control, though she was not feral.  My guess is that she was accustomed to the outdoors, and felt terribly confined in this house of strange people and cats.  So definitely not home.  I'm not sure that she felt like she was home for a full year.  That was when she stopped running away from us, anyway.  I sometimes fear that she still doesn't feel like she is completely home.  She is a very anxious cat, and the way that she "sucks up" to me, I sometimes wonder if she's trying to convince me to let her stay.

Bit never questioned the fact that she belonged here.  It was home for her from the time we first let her out of her carrier.  She was a kitten, four months old, though.  All she wanted to do was play, and be adored, and explore all of the nooks and crannies of her new home.  The things that kittens do best.  She never questions it, but sometimes I also feel like she doesn't appreciate it either.  (Isn't that just like a kid?)  She takes for granted that I don't mind that she literally sleeps on top of my legs every night, that she is going to be fed, that she is going to be cuddled and crooned to and treated pleasantly.  And you know, that's okay.  I'd rather have her that way, than to be afraid.

Argos  immediately knew he was home.  I remember Jeff unlocking the door as I urged Argos through the doorway.  He looked up at me at first incredulously, then with joy.  It's absolutely amazing that a greyhound that had never seen someone's home before, having only known the track, knew that he was home.  Maera was nearly the same way - but having a different personality than Argos, her reaction was more one of curiosity than gratitude.  She wanted to explore ALL of the things, jumped up on ALL of the furniture to see what would be the most comfortable.  Taste ALL of the food.  But she too knew that she was home.

And that's what I think this animal rescue thing is all about.  Not just saving animals from certain death - either from euthanasia or the many unhappy endings that await them outdoors - though of course that is part of it.  But giving them a place that they KNOW is their home.  A place to belong.  Not just a house or apartment, but a place where they are part of the family.

If you've done that, even for just one of these animals, then you are a hero, no mistake about it.

What brought on this post?  I think that it's reading everyone's blogs, and thinking about how incredibly lucky their pets are to be in such caring, GOOD homes.  (And of course how lucky the HUMANS are to have such lovely animals in their lives.)  I count myself among the fortunate that I have been allowed to get to know you lovely pet bloggers, and that I can see just how much good is being done on behalf of animals.

Happy holidays to all of you.  I wish you joy and peace and warm snugglies with your favorite furry friends.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Hoarding Situation

With the recent publicity, most people know that true hoarding is a manifestation of a mental disorder.  My topic tonight is not that kind of hoarding:  those types of people are going to hoard no matter what happens, or at least until they are able to get help.

But I find myself wondering... how many reported hoarding situations are actually the result of a mental illness and how many are the result of a truly compassionate person who is incapable of turning an animal away?  Then of course, they get in over their heads, are afraid to ask for help, and things spiral out of control until animal control shows up and starts taking animals out in carriers and crates.  THAT is the situation that I am addressing here.

Because I can see how it could happen.  The need to give all of the homeless and unwanted animals a place to live, a chance at life,  is HUGE, and is never, or at least for the forseeable future, going to be completely satisfied.  There are always going to be people who can't take care of their pets any longer, for good reasons or bad, and there is always going to be pressure on an animal lover to DO SOMETHING about it.

How many messages do we see, on the Web, on signs, at the local shelter, letting us know either point-blank or by insinuation that if a particular animal doesn't get a home within three days that they are going to be killed?  What is the animal lover supposed to do?

In my own life, I see at least three of these messages a day.  And on extra-special days, I have friends directly query me on whether I can take their cat or their friend's cat in.  (I am not saying that any of these people are doing anything wrong at all.  The responsibility is on ME to say no. But I think that is where some animal lovers fall down.)

To prevent a "hoarding" situation in my own home, allowing it to get to the point that I am unable to clean up after everyone on a daily basis, or getting to the point that I am unable to feed everyone nutritious food, I have had to learn to say "NO."  Even if I knew that the animal was probably going to die because of it.  Even if I cried myself to sleep about it, and felt guilty about it for days  weeks months afterward.  Even though I still sometimes have doubts that I did the right thing.  I think that every animal lover has to draw that line in the sand, wherever it may be for that person.

For me, the City of Pittsburgh made it easy.  The ordinance is that no home can have more than five animals in it.  Yes, it would be easy to circumvent that rule; no one would ever need to know.  But I have a fear that it would start the spiral downward.  First, I would have secret animals in the house.  That means that if I'm truly worried that I'll be reported, I stop inviting people over, and retreat into my own shell.  I think that is where it would start.  But when you're over the invisible line, I think it is easier to say, "Well, we're already over, what's one more?"  So for me, five animals is the limit.  For some, even having five animals is unthinkable.  For some, who have a totally different living situation from me, they can handle far more than five.  And I think all of that is OK, as long as each individual knows his or her limits.

An animal lover, though, needs to be on guard.  We need to think really long and hard before adding any "newbies" to our household.  We need to think about available resources.  How much attention we're able to pay to each animal.  Whether anyone is going to be neglected.  Whether there is time in the day to scoop everybody's litter, fill everybody's food, give everybody's medicine.

And I really wish that we would get over our obsession with hoarders, putting them on t.v., showing them on the news, making fun of them, shaking our heads and feeling superior to them.  Hoarders are in the situation that they're in at least in part because they've retreated from the world.  I can't see where dragging them out into the light and mocking them on national television is possibly going to help them in any way.

I also wish that there were more resources to help "hoarders."  One of the most commonly quoted reasons for why someone had too many animals is that they were afraid that the authorities would kill them all.  And...  that fear is actually pretty well-founded.  I am sure that a lot of animals that are found in true hoarding situations are in bad enough shape that a quick and merciful death is truly the best route.  But I'm not so sure about many of them.  I've seen footage of some animals being taken out of homes.  To me, they don't look like they've been starved.  Most of the time, the cats look like they have respiratory infections.  Which can be cleared up with the proper environment and medications.  I don't blame animal control for choosing to euthanize instead of rehabilitate. Rehabilitation is expensive.  Which is where the wish for more resources comes in.  If there were more homes available to temporarily foster some of these babies, then shelters wouldn't be filled to bursting after a single raid.  I believe that some of these so-called hoarders would be much more willing to work with the authorities to rehome their animals if they thought that a genuine attempt to rehome was going to be made, and that the threat of the death of their furry loved ones wasn't constantly a factor hanging over their heads.

I don't know, maybe I'm full of crap.  Maybe those of you who actually work in shelters will tell me that the animals that come in from these situations are always in terrible shape.  But I do know that I wince when I hear about a raid on a hoarder.  Yes, in sympathy for the animals, of course.  I have seen pictures of some that were in truly deplorable condition.  But there's also a part of me that winces in sympathy for the hoarder.  Whether they're a true hoarder with a mental illness, or just an animal lover who couldn't say no, I feel horrible for them.  I can't imagine how it must feel to have all of your animals taken away from you, to who knows what fate.

Monday, December 19, 2011


A friend of mine has written several blog posts about kindness.  Here's a couple of them, but if you haven't checked out her blog for yourself, I highly recommend it.

Her words about kindness, along with her most recent post in which she talks about kindness to the self

have made me start thinking about that concept, and the role that it plays in all of our lives.  In our human lives, and certainly in the lives of the animals under our care.

And here is my thought about kindness.  We are all pre-disposed to expect it from others.  Our animals are the same.  We want to be treated kindly. We can really only react to others with kindness when we ourselves have been shown kindness, at least at some point in our lives.  And we react with hurt, anger, or even rage when it is withheld from us, or when we are treated unkindly.  We all have different threshholds, but I do know this much, even if the threshhold is different for each and every one of us, there is HELL to pay once it is crossed.

Because being treated unkindly isn't something that can easily be shrugged off.  It can break someone, human or animal.  How many broken people lash out and do serious emotional damage (or worse) to themselves and those around them because they were treated poorly for so long that they finally just gave up on others?  How many animals do the same?

Every time I hear about a dog attack, or a vicious dog, or hear the rage-filled screech of a cat lashing out at her handlers, I wonder what that animal's story is.  How badly did that dog have to be treated to be unable to bear the sight of a human being any longer?  Dogs aren't so good at generalizing (as anyone who has only trained their hound to "sit" in one room will learn - the dog might not realize that she has to sit anywhere else but that room.)  So how badly do they have to be treated before they ARE able to generalize that all humans are bad?  How many individual people have to fail them, either by offering them abuse and neglect, or by looking the other way when others do?  Dogs especially are very forgiving - I am always humbled when I read stories of so-called "vicious" fighting dogs gently wagging their tails and licking the hands of their human rescuers.  Or dogs like Patrick the Dog, who was starved, neglected, and eventually disposed of down the trash chute by his former owner.  If anyone has the right to be angry at the world, it's him.  But by all reports, he is gentle and kind, and still expects good things from humans.  These dogs are better than I would be in the same situation.

Many members of the pet blogosphere are dealing with the consequences of someone else's unkindness to an animal.  They are the ones who come in and try to pick up the pieces when an animal simply has no hope left.  I know that I read some of your blogs, in which you are rehabilitating an animal who has been abused, or neglected, or starved, and I am in awe.  Some of your stories bring me to tears, they are so filled with hope, love, fear that it will never be enough, and above all, kindness.  You know who you are.  May your kindness overshadow these animals' pasts, and drown out all of the unkind treatment that they have received.

And here is my second, sentimental wish (blame the holiday season, I guess.)  My wish for all of us is that we learn to treat those in our lives, both human and animal, with utmost kindness.  But most of all, that we learn to treat ourselves with that same kindness.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Weekend Has Arrived (At Last!)

It is going to be a busy weekend, with holiday parties and general housework type things, and making sure that we keep all of our critters happy and well.

I promised the animals that this post would NOT be about the kittens, but let me just say this much.  Kittens:  I am in awe of your mighty destructive prowess.  I think that these six little bitties managed to completely trash my bathroom in about twenty minutes tonight when I let them out to run and play.  Let's see...  one dived head first into the water bowl, sending water SLOSHING all over the floor.  After which the others, delighted at this, splashed and pounced happily through the puddles as I was desperately searching for a towel to clean up.  And then ran through their litter box.  So not only was my bathroom dripping with water, but it was now completely tracked up with wet clay litter!  They managed to climb into the trashcan, climb into the holder for the toilet scrubber, and one of them figured out how to slide under the radiator, which meant that they all caught on to that little game quickly.

Here is a picture of them being a little more sedate:

But anyway.  About my non-kitten post.  My other animals want for me to tell you how they are doing.  So.  In no particular order:

Argos and Maera are becoming better and better friends.  There are still little spats now and again, but I'm pleased with how well they get along.  Maera becomes positively distraught when Argos leaves without her, which he's done a couple of times:  once to go to the vet for his annual check-up, and once to go to the Meet & Greet at Ross Park Mall last week.  Jeff reports that she cries when we leave, and seems generally depressed about it until we get back.

Mommmmm, she's got cooties!
Bit and Annie have always been fast-friends, but they have been best friends lately.  Probably because they think I'm terrible for bringing the Tiny Menaces into the house.

Charlotte is herself.  She seems annoyed at the time that we spend behind closed doors with the kittens. (I'm quarantining them for at least a few days before I even let our cats in the same room, to make sure that they're not incubating kitty colds.)  She threw up a little earlier, which has me mildly concerned.  Any change in Charlotte's health is something that worries me.  I keep telling myself that all cats occasionally throw up, and hers even looked like it was at least partially a hairball.  Normal cat malady, Mel.  Take a deep breath.  All the same, Jeff and I have agreed that she's sleeping with us tonight so that we can be aware of any additional troubles.  (Her congestive heart failure was misdiagnosed as attempts to cough up hairballs, originally.  That being said, back then, her coughing never actually PRODUCED a hairball, it just sounded like it.)

Charlotte is unconcerned about my concern.
Maera continues to do well.  We've given her a bit more freedom this week to choose which room she wants to be in.  In the past, she was always required to stay with one of us, because I didn't quite trust her not to harass the cats or to get into things that she shouldn't.  I trust her with the cats now, and am learning to keep certain things out of temptation's reach, so now want to wean her off of being in the room with us at all times.  Frequently, she does choose to lie down on our bed in our bedroom while we're in the study in the next room, so that's a step towards more independence.

OK, this picture has nothing to do with Maera's independence, but it amuses me.  I think she's doing an iPhone intervention with me.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful weekend, and that you are able to lavish your furry friends with love and attention and affection.  I know that I plan to!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Our kitten babies are doing well.  They eat like little horses, and are just so adorable that I want to snuggle with them all.  They're still not too certain that THEY want to snuggle with ME, though, but a couple of the bolder ones seem to be coming around.  I think I even heard a tiny purr coming from one.

Jeff built a carpeted "kitten shelf" to put in their Kitten Containment Unit.    It took them awhile to figure out how to use it.

The first to figure it out:
I am the 1%!
The rest of them figuring it out (with a little help from my husband):

They are lovely.  I have no idea of how I'm going to be able to tell them all apart enough to accurately name them though!  There are two fluffies and four short-hairs, that much I can see.  But there isn't much color variation here to work with.  I know that there are two boys and four girls.  I can't wait to name them!

The dogs are cheerfully oblivious that we have other creatures in the house, though I do get sniffed from head to toe when I leave the kitten room.  The cats have suspicions, but choose to not be too concerned about it until they actually see proof.  They were all glaring at that closed door this morning, though, when they heard the kittens playing with a jingle ball...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I was going to get on and rant about something tonight, but something came up to distract me.

Kittens!  The Animal Rescue League asked us to foster a late litter of kittens for them until they're big enough to keep at the shelter.  And how on earth was I supposed to say no to THAT?

Hopefully I will have more attractive photos later.  They still think that I am a Big Scary Monster (TM) and so aren't hitting their super-model poses for me yet.

Anyway, it is impossible to muster up enough righteous indignation to rant about something bad when you have six sets of little eyes peering at you.  So instead I am going to melt into a kitten-induced coma.

A couple of first night observations, from a kitten-newbie, before I go to bed:

1.  Kittens never stop moving.  There is a seething black pile of undulating fur in my guest room right now.

2.  Kittens have no sense of self-preservation.  Which is why they are in a crate right now.  I have no desire to have to pull kittens out of my box springs, or off of my curtain rod.  Or from under the radiator.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy Like Sunday

Usually, I see these beautiful restful pictures on CAT blogs, but dogs are pretty good at lazing about as well.  Particularly greyhounds.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This and That

It's been a rather busy day today, as Saturdays often can be.  After giving Argos an early morning bath and giving him a chance to dry off, the two of us (leaving Jeff and Maera at home) drove across the city to the Ross Park Mall.  We had volunteered to do a Meet & Greet event in a new venue - a store called Moochie & Company.  It was a fantastic store!  I imagine that most greyhounds would completely love to be in it...  it has lots of stuff for dogs, but what I saw EVERYWHERE were toys, toys, toys.  Most of them with squeakers.  Which meant that every time new customers came into the store and tried out the squeaky toys, Argos and adoptable hound Flyer would throw their heads up and STARE into the back of the store.

The Meet and Greet went very well.  Argos has a great personality for these events - he loves people of all kinds, and just assumes that the feeling is mutual.  He's not shy about just walking up to someone and leaning against their legs, staring up at them beseechingly for petting.  It melts the hardest of hearts.  Adoptable hound Flyer did an awesome job as well.  You'd have thought that he'd spent his entire life meeting and greeting all kinds of people, for all that he's only been off of the track for a few weeks.

One of the things that Moochie had that AMAZED me was a rack of squeaky toys that were every bit as long as a greyhound.  Argos would eye them with a certain gleam in his eye every time someone squeezed one of them and it made a noise.  I almost bought one, but then worried that Maera would destroy it too quickly - and then we would have a giant orange squeaky toy with the stuffing coming out, like all of its miniature cousins hidden in our living room closet.

I did buy a couple of other toys for the dogs, however.  One is a long green monkey/grinch looking thing with a santa hat on.  Maera caught sight of this when I got home before I even took it out of the bag, and before I knew it was pulling it out and playing with it.  I'd say that she approves.

She is now lying on top of it on her bed so that no one else can have it.

Which makes Argos sad.  Maera stole the best toy AND he has to lie on the couch and have holiday pictures taken of him.  You might think that this is the most glum Santa you have ever seen, but just you wait.

Maera is glum.  She is not allowed to eat the Santa hat.

That's better.

But the most upset of them all, and the one the most lacking in this thing called "holiday cheer" is:

Ho.  Ho.  Ho.  I hate you sometimes.
I'm not sure what displeased her more:  that I put the hat on her to begin with, that I started laughing and taking pictures, or that after the third shot, Maera leapt up over the back of the chair and whisked the hat right off of Charlotte's head before running off with it to do a bizarre parade of the vanquished around the main floor of the house.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Have you ever wondered WHY dogs adore us so much?  Is it because we are magic food machines, or is it a more pure love than that?  I personally think that it's a little bit of both - no one does devotion like a dog does, and I don't actually think that mine are that devoted to me just because I am Food Provider.  (Though it doesn't hurt.)

I frequently wonder why they adore me so much.  I mean, I'm not a HORRIBLE person, and I'm kind to them, and love them to distraction.  But part of me feels very unworthy of the level of devotion that I am shown.  I get irritable - frequently with them - and am not as patient as I could be.  I worry over them too much - constantly on the lookout for something that might be wrong.  I can almost sense the eye-rolls sometimes.    Though I do take them places, I don't do it nearly as often as I might like, and there's that whole abandoning them every workday thing, so that I can earn enough of a paycheck to feed them.

But they don't see it that way.  When I'm irritable with them, they keep seeking me out, clowning for me in an attempt to appease me and to put me into a better mood.  (I for one, would avoid me, and possibly give me the silent treatment.)  When I fuss over them - whether it's their training, their health, their attitude, they endure it with quiet patience... they don't seem to care whether I take them hiking, to the park, or into the back yard. Because what they really want is to be with me, no matter where we are.  And if they get upset with me for going to work, their joy upon my return makes them quickly forget.

And really, although this post started out being about the dogs, my cats show a similar level of devotion.  I know that felines have a reputation for being aloof, but honestly, I do not see that trait in any of my cats, nor did I see it in either of the fosters.  They are simply delighted to see me when I get home, or when I get out of bed in the morning, greeting me with loud meows and purrs, shaking their tails at me like they are rattlesnakes instead of cats.  They don't punish me for leaving them, and they quickly forgive me for any bad mood that I might be in.  And it's not because I'm the perfect cat-mom, either.  I just think that they have more of a capacity for loyalty and love than they're given credit for.

May I show my loved ones that same understanding and devotion that my animals have modeled for me.  I have a feeling that I'm on to something there - this is the kind of thing that would shake the world,and in a good way, if it were more widely practiced.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I've made a post about the beauty of things around me in the past, and in that post, I talked about how beauty affects me (and probably everyone else.)  It warms the heart.  It turns thoughts towards things that are good, and pure, instead of focusing on the ugliness that at times seems to surround us.  My thoughts have been gray-tinged for awhile now, and that tends to only amplify during the holiday season.  The holidays just don't warm me like they used to - I think that I see all  of the nastiness that people are capable of leading up to the celebration...  the woman who pepper-sprayed other Walmart shoppers for threatening her shopping turf, the nasty drivers in the shopping district near my house, so intent on getting out and accumulating stuff that they bang on their horns for any and all reasons, and make nasty gestures out of car windows at one another.  The sheer volume of people increasing no matter where you go.  Whatever.  My intent is not to bring anyone down, or to convince others to not like the holidays - there is good there too, I just have a difficult time seeing it sometimes.

Which is why I decided to take today to focus on the simple pleasures in my own home, far from the hustle and bustle.  And even though I've made a similar post before, I thought it appropriate to do it again, in case anyone else is stuck with me in this place of grayness.  These are the things that fill me with a sense of appreciation.  I'm glad that I have my husband (though he is not pictured) and my animals, and the life that we have made for ourselves.

Okay.  There's really nothing that beautiful about a ratty pair of sneakers and a single mary-jane, but this is what I saw when I came downstairs.  It made me giggle, then laugh.  I must have needed the laugh, because I had to eventually sit down.  Maera loves to hoard shoes.  This is all Maera's fault.  But I thought that anything that got me to give a belly-laugh deserved a mention in this blog post.

And speaking of Maera, one cannot continue to have negative thoughts when THESE brown eyes are gazing at you adoringly.  Well, gazing at you asking for treats.  But I'm sure that there was some adoration in there too.

Bit's glamor shot.  Caught quite unintentionally while she was watching me get ready to do my little bit of shopping.  I love her green eyes.  And her ear tufts.  A world with kitty ear tufts cannot be that bad of a place to live.

Though the photo quality might not be stellar, there are few things that are more pleasant and relaxing than watching a cat groom herself in a shaft of sunlight.  That is the image that I get in my head when I think of the word "contentment."

It's good to see that Argos and Maera are becoming friends.  It warms my heart to see it.  Even if they did evict Annie from the bed.  Really, they'd have been happy to merely join her, but Annie would never consent to that.

One thing that tells me that all is well, and I can relax, is when I come home and Charlotte is on the back of the recliner.  It is HER perch.  It's the first place that I look when I can't find her.  All is well, Charlotte is at her post.

And one thing that I can finally do is look at old pictures of Romeo, and enjoy the beauty that is in them.  I was avoiding pictures of him, because seeing them always made me feel a lump in the back of my throat, and I would have to fight down guilt that we couldn't do more for him than we were able to.  I have finally set aside the guilt, and can look at the single year that we had him as a reprieve from the shelter for him.  He got soft, warm places to sleep, and as you can see above, he WAS able to relax in our house, for all that he was bullied by the other cats.

I hope that you enjoyed the photos.  I know that photos of other people's pets are probably not as relaxing as photos of your own, but I would encourage anyone who is suffering from the holiday blahs to take some time, slow down, and enjoy the loved ones, two-legged and four-legged alike.  The beauty and comfort is there if we but look.