Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving (A Day Late)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Well, for us Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet...  Jeff has a nasty cold/sinus infection and so we postponed the feast until Sunday when we could all enjoy ourselves more.  Fortunately, his symptoms have gotten SO much better in just 24 hours, so I don't anticipate that Sunday is going to be a problem for us.  So now, instead of being in a turkey coma with a large swath of the country, I'm still drooling over the idea of eating all of it.

We still have the foster cats that I mentioned at the end of my last blog post.  They were intended to be much more short-term, but they all came down with some pretty severe upper respiratory infections a couple of days after we brought them home.  The shelter gave us some antibiotics to fight off any opportunistic secondary infections, but it was a nasty bout of symptoms...  I've never seen cats sneeze so much, or have quite so much mucus up in their sinuses.  I've also never had cats stop eating because of URI symptoms.  It was all very scary, but we've come out the other side, and except for the occasional sneeze, they're almost back up to healthy again.

So, you may be wondering, just who are these kitties?  What's their story?

Meet Christina (left) and Emily (right.)

And Edgar.

And Dante.

They all came as a family unit.  They're all one-year-olds, and I suspect that they are litter-mates.  I don't know much beyond that, except that their paperwork says that their owner died.

I went in to the shelter that night intending to take two healthy adults home with me - the foster list had gotten an email earlier that day telling us that cage space was at a premium, and that there were a number of cats that really needed to go into short-term foster until cage space opened.

Actually, I should backtrack a little bit.  The FeLV positive kittens took an emotional toll on us, and after their new mom adopted all of them, I said that we needed to take a break.  I said that we'd need to go through the holidays with no fosters, and that after that, I would consider doing it again.  My resolve lasted for...  two and a half weeks.  I didn't even make it to Thanksgiving.

Anyway, so I wound up at the shelter that night, and saw a cage of what appeared to be three scared looking kitties in it.  I agreed to take them - after all, three is not any more difficult than two, right?  But as we were peeling them off of their terrified kitten pile, one by one, to put them in my carriers, a FOURTH head popped up.  Well, I am not the type to harden my heart and tell them to start putting cats back in a cage after I'd already decided to help them, so I agreed to take all four.

They're the sweetest, most adorable, friendly cats.  Dante likes to show you his belly, as does Emily, who will purr if you so much as look at her.  (Though she is a little shy, and will require some coaxing to come out at first.)  Christina is bold, and is definitely the queen of this little pride of cats.  She likes to sit on your chest, and gets very unhappy with you if you move.  Edgar is a little scared and shy at first, but is a friendly, snuggly boy who is desperate for your attention once he realizes that you're friendly.

Even though I don't know much about their history, I can know one thing after just a short time interacting with this group of cats - their previous owner loved them very much, because they're clearly used to giving and receiving lots of affection.

They'll all have to go back to the shelter, and I'm guessing soon.  They're very adoptable, young adult cats, and having them sitting in my home isn't doing them any long-term favors. It will break my heart to take them back, but it HAS to happen.  We are not equipped to absorb even one more permanent cat into this household, let alone four.

I will do this thing.

Emily streeeetches.

Christina turns her green, green gaze towards the camera.

Dante wants a hug

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Life Lessons from Dogs AND Cats

I was just reading a wonderful blog post by a friend over at 24 Paws of Love, which talks about the healing power of dogs.  How their presence can soothe, relax, and heal.  I find that is so true.

A bad day at work, or even just an annoying commute home can be made better by snuggling on the couch with the dogs.  Even when I was going through a rough patch emotionally, the dogs helped.

But I started thinking about it, and I realized that my animals, both cats and dogs, have taught me some important life lessons.  Sometimes they teach completely different life lessons...  but their teachings mesh together surprisingly well.  I've talked about some of these life lessons in the past.  But I hope that you enjoy them together here, in a list.

Cat Life Lessons

1.  I am what I am  (am I the only one who can't say that out loud without hearing Popeye?)  I make no apologies, and expect and accept no recriminations. Those who can't accept me for what I am are not worth the time and the effort.

This is perhaps the most painful lesson that I've learned, but you have to admit that cats pull this one off with great dignity.

2.  It's OK to want to be alone.  I'm fortunate that my cats all like to snuggle with me.  They are not the aloof stereotype.  But they all slip away for alone time, every day, even to the point of hiding in the attic sometimes.  As an introverted loner, I need this too.  It is impossible for me to recharge if I don't take some alone time.

3.  It's also OK to not be constantly busy.  Even if the sink is full of dishes.  Or the yard needs to be raked.  Or all of the tiddlywinks have to be washed.

Sometimes it's just better to seek out a "sun puddle" and relax.  The work will still be there in a few hours, and I can just deal with it then.

4.  You don't have to like everyone.  You have to prove yourself to my cats.  They will not come out and interact with you if they don't trust you, don't like you, or are afraid of you.  It's freeing to acknowledge that you don't HAVE to subject yourself to people that you don't like.  You don't have to do ANYTHING you don't like.  Social pressure be damned.

5.  Despite being a strong, independent individual, when it comes to the ones that you love, snuggle and purr and hold on tight.  You never know what life is going to throw at you, and you never know if the ones that you love will be taken away from you too soon.

Dog Life Lessons

1.  Together, as a "pack" we are stronger than if we try to go it alone.  Our dogs are happier when we are all together and... we are as well.  And yes, sadly this point has to be illustrated in a beat up old chair.  You can thank Miss Annie for the rips.

2.  Be emotionally open and vulnerable amongst friends.  They will either prove that they are worth that trust and reward your faith ten times over, or they will tip their hand and show that they are not, in fact, true friends.  This may seem to be an odd one, but I've seen the dogs display this time and time again.  No artifice.  No faking.  No strong front. If they're happy, they are exuberantly so.  If they're sad, they do not attempt to hide it.

3.  If they're worthy to be "pack" then they're worthy of forgiveness when they screw up.  Forgive 100 times over if necessary.

4.  Each day brings new joys.  Live in the moment.  This is one that I've brought up before, and I know that others do as well.  It's one of the defining characteristics of a dog... the ability to live in the moment.  It's a lot harder for us humans to do, after all, we understand just a little bit more about the human world than our canine friends do, and therefore have a LOT more to worry about.  But it is good to cast those cares aside, even if for a short time, and experience the joy that living in the present can bring.

P.S. - I have some new foster cats.  I will post pictures of them soon.  I don't know how long that I will have them...  they're here due to lack of cage space, plus now they're coming down with colds so I will need to at least keep them through a course of medication.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cabin Fever

Pittsburgh was supposed to get some weather from Hurricane Sandy, as did much of the Northeast.  We didn't get it, or at least not like we were supposed to.

Oh, we've gotten rain, and a lot of it, but none of the winds and flash flooding that had been predicted.  I'm so thankful for that!  (Though I feel terrible for those that DID get hit hard.)  I think all of us feel a bit bad for complaining when so many lost everything to the storm...  though if I can submit a teeny tiny complaint...  I haven't seen sunshine in a couple of weeks.  Bleah.  The world is shrouded in gray.  But at least I can look out my window in my safe warm house at the gray.

The rain that we have gotten has driven most of the leaves off of the trees...  which makes me glad that Jeff and I got some good pictures when we took the dogs to the park before all of this began.

It was really just an exercise to get out and use my new camera... I think that the photo quality is pretty good, considering that I was just treating the camera like a glorified point-and-shoot and not using the manual setting.  (I WILL do this.  I've taken a class to give me the basics.  But now I need to practice a little to get everything just right, with lighting and shutter speed, etc.)

It was chilly that morning, and I think that both of us were wishing that we'd worn warmer coats.  There was even frost on the ground!

The dogs thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as they always do.  We kept to ourselves, staying on the leash-only paths and not going to the off-leash exercise area.  I have to admit that some of the antics at the dog park make me nervous, even early in the morning.  So even though the people that congregate there with their dogs seem like very nice, stand-up people, I'm a little uncomfortable just letting the dogs loose there.

This picture was meant to get Argos and Maera both looking straight on at the camera.  You can see how well THAT worked, but I decided that the end result was better this way.

If you're wondering what they're looking at, someone walked by up on the trail with a dog.  They wanted so badly to go over and meet the new dog!  (But I'm a big meanie pants and didn't let them.)

I think that the dogs are probably wishing for those sunny if cold mornings in the park, or at least our frequent walks around the neighborhood.  But every day it's been soggy and raining great big cold droplets, and I've decided that the dogs would be just fine in the backyard.

But I did notice today that they seem to have a lot of restless energy.  And Argos is very intolerant of Maera getting into his space, and air-snaps at her, or barks at her to warn her away.

And Maera snapped at one of the cats tonight, for invading her space.

All of this would go away if we can get a good walk in.  I'm hoping tomorrow will be decent...  I DID see the sun peak out briefly this afternoon (and when I say brief, I mean brief; maybe ten minutes.)  But maybe that's a harbinger of better things to come.  I can hope so, because I think that everyone has a case of cabin fever!

Well, okay, just the dogs and the humans.  The cats, who wouldn't be going outside anyway, could care less.

They get more snuggling when we stay in, and since the weather is turning colder, they think that's a good thing!

Charlotte, on the other hand, just wants for me to get the camera out of her face.

I hope that everyone is having a good weekend!