‘I’m looking for a toy to wear Pickle out,’ I said.
Dedicated Cat Protection Staff Member recommends a Catnip Carrot. She promises me that this toy never fails. I order one. I wait. I brought it home and this is the reaction. (For those of you who find it hard to tell my girls apart – I can’t think of why?! – Saffron is first to check out the carrot).
What can I say? At 11 Licorice can still beat the crap out of a catnip carrot. Good call Bronwyn. Excellent advice as always. Let’s hope Pickle likes his just as much.
Licorice’s habit of ‘poking me awake’ appears to be getting worse. I have tried very hard not to ‘reward’ her, by not getting up until the alarm goes off. Yet it seems like she is getting more persistent. So this morning I consulted Dr Google (as many people do). Hmm… I thought I was ignoring her, but I have sometimes ‘pushed her away’ and that seems like in cat terms that’s a response. As is any talking – even if it’s no. (This morning I’m pretty sure there was a loud ‘no’ when Licorice decided to ‘stroke’ my nose. I’ve checked and there isn’t a big scratch down it but it feels like it!)
Oh dear, I shall have to reaffirm to throw the covers over my head and do absolutely nothing to encourage her.
Meanwhile Saffron was doing her morning routine – paper chewing again! Stupid me had left at piece of paper out in the bedroom.
While it may sound like I’m grumbling, I am still very happy to have them around today. Our family cat Pippy is quite sick at the moment and it’s meant the girls – and boys – have been getting extra cuddles.
Pippy has come down with a mystery illness. The vets are baffled. She is negative for FIV and ‘Feline Leukaemia‘ and it’s not cat flu either – certainly a relief; although FIV seemed very unlikely as Pippy doesn’t get into cat fights. Yet she is still a sick cat, although hopefully has turned the corner. Her temperature is slowly coming down and she is starting to eat again – if she is handfed by the vet nurse mind you! Mum, dad and I went to the vets on Friday afternoon to see her. She is sporting a new haircut – completely shaved underbelly and some off the sides too (I presume that was so they could do the ultrasound). Her eyes are still weeping, she is still snuffly and has developed a bit of a waddle when she walks, but there was a bit of spark. I put her down on the floor and she made a beeline for mum. It was very cute. Since Friday apparently her temperature has dropped a bit. She’s been sick for a week. Clearly a fighter though and I’m more optimistic now that she will pull through this. It was looking a bit grim on Wednesday / Thursday.
Since I’ve already put pics in of 3, I might as well feature the entire fur family. I never know how to answer the question, how many cats do you have? Especially while Chilli was alive. I tend to say 2, or 4, depending on the context.
If you are new to my blog, then here’s the quick version of why that’s a confusing question – I adopted Chilli in 2000. When I moved out of my family home (where Pippy and Poirot also live), I took Chilli with me. However, Chill was a bit of a special needs cat and for her well being went back to live with mum and dad. So I was catless. So in 2009, I adopted Licorice and Saffron (above). My fur family was complete. Then in 2010, I met Andrew (a man, not a cat!). Andrew didn’t have any pets. After swearing that he didn’t want one, he started to warm to my girls. So, with time, we adopted Pickle the ginger ninja and Gesso a deaf white cat. They live with Andrew but if they need to go to the vet etc, then I’m responsible. I guess you could say, it’s a shared custody arrangement! So you see, that’s why it’s hard to answer how many cats I have!
The car has been at the engineering shop for 2 weeks. The lifter has landed on the roof but apparently the seat modifications aren’t completed. Like nearly everything in the disabled world; it is happening very slowly. I am getting pre-Christmas crankiness.
Andrew and I went to the shops today – in my car. The wheelchair lifting part was all good – when we’re together that’s my job and I manage it with reasonable ease. The getting in and out of the car without a fixed transfer board – slightly more tricky. Not to mention that my car is somewhat smaller in the door cavity than his – really not ideal at all.
Pickup of the car is scheduled for Wednesday. I have my fingers crossed for Wednesday. And my toes. And my legs. I’m crossing everything.
In the meantime I’ve started to stitch the wheel onto the quilt. My first attempt looked like a pizza. A blue and purple pizza but a pizza just the same.
My second attempt, I cheated. I used the wheelchair wheel and like a 3rd grader – traced it! Harder than you may think as the wheel is not perfectly flat.
Then when it came to the stitching I found that the top layer was all puffy. All those hand basting stitches to keep the batting, backing and top together weren’t holding it down enough. So, with some swearing under my breath, I set about unpicking 2mm satin stitching.
I dragged the quilt to the armchair – I may as well be comfy.
Licorice appeared. Licorice was persistent. We reached a compromise. She could sit on the piece of fabric resting on the footstool as long as I could hold on to the end I was still unpicking. Minutes later – Saffron wanted her share of the quilt. Nevermind that Licorice was already sitting on it; she just climbed up and wriggled her way in. The funny part was watching her slowly descend. It wasn’t a quilt – it was quick sand. For Saffron had decided to sit on the quilt but between the footstool and my on the armchair. Eventually I gathered up enough of the fabric and pushed her enough onto the footstool that she stopped sinking.
Of course I just had to take a photo.
Over a year ago I wrote a blog post called “Beauty in Cat Poo“, in which I had a rather long rant about pet-unfriendly rental and strata accommodation.
So it is with happiness that I write 18 months later that the NSW government is calling for submissions asking whether people support a review of the barriers to cat and dog ownership in relation to residential tenancy laws.
I will be submitting my opinion with a resounding yes. I only wish I could tick a double yes, or a yes plus, a yes on steroids, a yes the size of a mammoth! A yes which is big cat sized!
While some may not go as far as to say that pet ownership is a right (I think it should be), I’m sure there are plenty of like-minded people out there who are unaware that the government is even considering the issue. I think it would be terribly sad if the opportunity to make some headway on this issue was lost.
So I’m making as much noise as possible about it. I’ve put it on my facebook. I’ve emailed almost my entire address book, and now I’m blogging about it. (I find myself at this moment wishing I had more friends so I could help make a bigger wave of support).
Here’s a snippet of what got me so hot under the collar 18 months ago:
The invisible rulemakers
…To be honest I often think of the body corporate and strata managers as figments of someone’s imagination. I acknowledge that one frequently hears of the body corporate. However have you ever seen one?
There’s no office with ‘body corporate’ signage. There’s no letterbox.
Forget the invisible man of politics the true mystery of today is the body corporate. Really, think about it… what does a body corporate look like? What makes a body look corporate? Is it the human figure which has been processed, streamlined, structured, and programmed to function off finance rather than more natural fuel?
However I will put aside for a moment the mysterious-ness of the body corporate or the strata management company and move on to the critical question at hand.
Why do these people get to decide whether you have a pet? In some situations, your landlord may be quite happy for your to own a pet, but this body with the corporate look has decided you cannot. Ah, I hear you all cry out… but of course they can decide this. Pets can be messy. True. However so can children and I’ve yet to see a complex advertised as ‘no children allowed’. (I suspect retirement villages are generally without children, although with the age of childbirth creeping ever higher who knows what may happen in the future).
In 2011, with more and more people remaining single, I believe pets should start to have the same rights as children – at least in the home. I get mad when I read on the cat protection society website that a cat was surrendered because of “unfriendly accommodation”.
My home was ‘pet friendly’ when I moved in four years ago… Recently the strata management company issued new strata laws which said only fish and birds (in a cage) were permissable. I checked with the real estate agent regarding a grandfather clause. Surely if you have moved into pet friendly accommodation, they cannot suddenly become unfriendly and expect you to give up your pets? The answer I received was – as much as they knew – it was fine to continue as before. So while that’s good news for Licorice, Saffron and myself, I do feel for anyone new moving in who may be denied the chance to have a pet.
And why did they change their minds? Because some people had some dogs and they were irresponsible owners and the dogs made such a mess of the carpet that it had to be replaced. To this day I’m still puzzled how they went from ‘dog causes mess’ to ‘cat not allowed’.
Such a situation would be aided if the laws were changed as currently proposed. New South Wales would adopt the same laws as the ACT where
“the default position is that pets are allowed, with the onus on the owners corporation to not unreasonably withhold permission.”
Oh, what a delight if that were to occur. Had the strata remained resolute that no pets were allowed, I would have moved back to mum’s place rather than surrender Licorice and Saffron, yet I know that some people don’t have that option up their sleeve. According to Cat Protection NSW, up to 20% of adult cats they take in are victims of pet-unfriendly rental and strata accommodation.
That’s 20% too many.
Please take a few minutes to answer the survey and please, vote yes in question 18.
I thank you all for your support in advance and the kitties thank you too!
I’m trying to imagine the scene. My partner has set himself up for a relaxing night of painting. He’s squeezed out a little of all the colours he needs onto his palette. He starts to paint.
Who knows how far he got into the painting zone before the 5 month old white kitten decided to leap onto the paint palette.
I think someone must have told Gesso that it’s customary to get your paws wet from time to time. Chilli, Licorice, Saffron and Pickle have all done it before him.
Unlike his brothers and sisters in crime, Gesso chooses a nice muddy earth pigment to squish his paw in. This is good news for the cleaner-upper-er. Previous kitty cats have chosen something high staining like phthalo blue or quin crimson.
So, white paw goes into raw umber. Andrew has to quickly catch him before he leaps off and takes that glob of brown paint with him onto the carpet. Catch him he does. Well done. Perhaps I can get Andrew into a cricket team and he can cover the Silly Point position.
Slippery cat in hand, now what?
I’m trying to picture how he managed to wheel anywhere while still trying to hold on to Gesso. I’m guessing he tried one handed, which is a good way to direct oneself quickly into the wall. Trying to move the wheelchair with one hand reminds me of playing Wii Canoe – frequent side swapping required if you don’t want to go in circles!
Of course it wasn’t that simple. The little white rascal, now proudly sporting one brown paw, escaped. He took off, running the length of the house.
Somewhere in the ensuing moments Andrew got red oil paint on his hands; when he caught the little white devil, he was now a white and red devil.
More laughable than a guy trying to hold on to a cat covered in paint and push a wheelchair is the idea of him giving same cat a bath in the laundry tub! Would pandemonium adequately describe the scene?
It’s like one of those bad jokes:
What’s worse than bathing a cat?
Bathing a cat covered in red oil paint.
Gesso in a pretty shade of pink neckwear.
While part of me wants to have been witness to havoc and lawlessness Gesso imposed on the house for the briefest of moments, the other part is happy to be in my own little unit, with my own furry friends who have never got quite so dirty in paint that they have required more than a sponge-off.
I know that the Cat Protection Society (where Licorice, Saffron, Pickle and Gesso all came from) has an ‘art’ auction annually and gets their residents of the day to do some of the artwork. I think Andrew and I could save them the effort and just collate Gesso’s work through the next year. This is the second time in less than a month that he’s made contact with wet paint. It won’t take long to get an exhibition worth!
Andrew and I have discussed over a number of months the pros and cons of getting a second cat for pickle. On the ‘cons’ side were space, cat boarding while away and the risk they wouldn’t get on.
Space resolved itself as an issue with the recent move. The place is now certainly large enough for two, with access to the litter trays still off the ground. With the bathroom the way it is, the trays can be emptied from the wheelchair or standing.
With regard to cat boarding, while I think putting saffron and licorice in boarding would stress Saff out no end, both Pickle and Gesso are relaxed enough to cope.
This left the last problem – the risk they wouldn’t get on. Well, I guess that’s a risk anytime you put two cats together. Since Saffron and Licorice were adopted as a pair, it was never a concern. However, this time it was. I’m happy to say that while Pickle is somewhat put out, the signs are encouraging.
Our intention – based on advice from Cat Protection Society – was to get a second cat of a similar age to Pickle and similar personality. Finding another cat who was confident enough to just sit in a chair as it moved across a room was going to be a challenge. For a time, it seemed like it was a challenge too great. We have both been reading the facebook profiles Cat Protection Society put up each week and both been shaking our heads – too old, too shy, wants outdoors, doesn’t like other cats, the list went on.
Finally on Sunday we met Gesso. We were intending to look at a 1 year old female however upon arriving at Cat Protection Society we discovered she was no longer available. There was 1 other option – another 1 year old girl. As we went out to look at her, we passed this little guy.
‘He’s sweet’ says Andrew.
‘Oh, he must be homed with another cat or someone who is home all the time. He’s deaf.’
I’m not sure whether it’s the lack of hearing but he is pretty calm! He was unphased by the wheelchair and happy to be held up, down, upsidedown and sideways.
We had a raft of questions – what if they don’t get on? what about the size difference? what about them being two boys? if he was deaf did any other health problems go with that? As always, the girls at Cat Protection Society were more than happy to answer our questions. Part way through an adult cat leapt out of her cage unexpectedly and hissed upon seeing Gesso. This little white boy was unphased. That was all the proof we needed that he wasn’t going to be super stressed if Pickle was initially grumpy.
As it turns out, naming him was a lot harder than choosing him. The list was long. Early suggestions followed the deaf and ear theme. Cochlea, Shepherd, Drum, Beethoven, Van Gogh and more medical terms like atresia. For a time, Andrew really wanted Jeebus. The Cleaver. Sebastian. Marc Antony. Caesar. We then moved on to anything engine related given this little boy was found filthy and oily (possibly from hiding in an engine). We had sparkplugs, carburetor and castrol… which I quite liked. We then turned to facebook friends and they suggested the typical ‘white’ names – marshmallow, snowdrop and the like. In the end, I started reading websites. I had got up to L and still not found anything fitting when gesso popped into my head. (For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s pronounced jesso and it is a white paint which has been used for centuries as a ground for paintings. It often has quite a chalky look). I think it suits him perfectly.
Pickle is a ball of energy and I’ve considered whether a second cat would wear him out. I was at Cat Protection Society talking to them about the idea and one of the girls said they had a very social cat at the moment named Cous Cous. Now social or not, I simply couldn’t adopt a cat called cous cous. That would mean we would have Licorice, Saffron, Pickle and Cous Cous. People would start to think I was food obsessed… that I’d developed some bizarre condition of only adopting cats if they could be a condiment! Add Chilli to the mix and it’s already a little ‘food heavy’. Of course, chilli’s real name is kecil (pronounced like the ke in ketchup and the c as a ch). It is the Indonesian word for small (given Chil was dumped at 2 weeks and hand reared she has always been very petite).
As far as cat names go, I think Cous Cous is rather cool. In my family, no cat can ever be given a human name. It appears this must be a family oddity because many people give their cats human names. Cat Protection Society at the moment have Max, Gibson, Franklin, Quinn, Frida, Claire… human names abound! Of the non-human names (cous cous aside), I think a pair called ‘fortune and cookie’ is pretty cute. When I first got my girls I thought of all sorts of ‘pairings’. I remember contemplating ‘krispy and kreme‘ for quite a while. As neither of them has the personality of a krispy it was perhaps a lucky escape. Today Andrew told me ‘we should have called Pickle Bart Simpson… he’s as irritating as Bart sometimes. But oh no, we couldn’t give him a human name!’
While my family avoids human first names, surnames are quite acceptable. The cats of my parents and my childhood include: (don’t think we have very shortlived cats… we generally have had 3 at once)
- Russell – oh yes, that was a human name. But we didn’t name him. Mum and dad bought the house and the cat came as part of the package.
- Streisand – she had a weird nose
- Piewackit – of bednobs and broomsticks fame; all black and a beautiful temperament
- Miss Piggy – well she owned the place. She was well named!
- Jingle – a little black kitten we adopted a couple of days before Christmas
- Fizgig – I think it’s a Dark Crystal character?
- Holmes – originally named Homeless… the pathetic attempt of my brother and I (aged about 10) of trying to get dad to allow us to keep ‘homeless’. After dad finally succumbed we changed it to Homes… and well Holmes had more finesse!
- Poirot – named for being exceptionally inquisitive I don’t think we had considered we already had a detective in the household
- Chilli (formerly kecil). I never use her full name at a vet after someone wanted to treat a cat which rhymed with heckle. Clearly not an Indonesian speaking vet).
- Pippin – what can I say… mum was obsessed with Lord of the Rings
- and lastly the food gang… Licorice, Saffron and Pickle.
Why consider two?
- You get twice as much love
- They put twice as much cat hair on your clothes. One cat deposits just enough for you to look messy. Two leave enough cat hair to make the fabric look textured – it was meant to be that way.
- You can justify purchasing more cat toys!
- When used as a lap warmer they cover twice the surface area of just one.
- If you are ever in doubt regarding a bump or a bubble, you have another cat for comparison. You may think I joke but I did ‘use’ my second cat for this reason recently. Saffron has a pinkish-purple lower lip. (Saffron is on the left in this photo): Periodically I think Saffy’s aubergine lip is overly large. That’s when I scoop up Licorice (as much as one can scoop a 7 kilo cat) and check the size of her lip. I find it reassuring to find they are the same size. It’s just that Licorice’s lip is black. This pigmentation is consistent in her pallette whereas Saffron has a ‘tortie’ mouth as well
- If you buy cat food that one doesn’t like hopefully the other will eat it and it isn’t wasted.
- If you can’t decide on boy or girl, long-haired or short, fat or thin, dark or light – a two cat solution is the perfect antidote to your indecision.
- When you have two cats to lift you can exercise BOTH you arms
- Purchase two at the same time the second one is discounted! and lastly,
- They’ve got each other.
Other little things cropped up yet we managed all these. Then pickle started attacking the walking stick and getting under Andrew’s feet when he tried to walk. Uh oh. This is one thing we hadn’t considered. Nothing 4 did seem to deter pickle from getting under Andrew’s feet. After all, he is but a kitten and life is one giant game.
A common way of deterring cats – a quick short sharp spray with a water bottle – was one of my first thoughts. However I’d already tried this to deter pickle from stealing the food on my dinner plate and he was unphased by it. After adjusting the strength of the spray to be a little firmer, pickle did seem to dislike it. Unfortunately what I hadn’t thought of was that this put water on the floor, creating a slip hazard. All our planning seemed to be unravelling.
I think this is one of the most distressing things about a disability. At a fundamental level you think it simply inhibits physical movement. Yet it affects so much more. The more movement is impaired, the more it seems to cut off some of life’s pleasures. The thought Andrew may not be able to keep pickle because he could cause him to trip and fall was heartbreaking. Cats – and pets in general – are such a joy. The offer laughs, companionship, and – at least in my case – someone to talk to. (Licorice, Saffron and I have conversations every day). Andrew has already had to give up on his dream of owning another dog. Cannines are just a little too hard to handle and many do not like the wheelchair at all. To think that Andrew may not be able to have a cat either, just seemed especially cruel.
I’m pleased to say that we have come up with a few options for trying to prevent pickle causing a walking hazard. There is no magic bullet but we have enough ideas for the moment. I’m very thankful to the girls at Cat Protection Society for trying to assist us in finding a solution. So far it seems that pickle isn’t very keen on the orange oil we have dabbed on the end of the walking stick.
Yet just as a disability seems to take away many of life’s pleasures; weirdly, it brings some too. It may sound corny but one comes to appreciate some very simple things indeed. 4 and I spent the early part of Saturday evening watching the sun set over La Perouse. I was fascinated by a man flying a ‘parachute’ like kite and Andrew enjoyed the passing cars – in all shapes and sizes.
We both love acquiring fish and chips and sitting watching a view. There is a delight in watching dogs playing in the park. Discussing the array of fashions displayed on a short drive through Enmore and Newtown is a favourite pastime. There are many more however it’s getting very late. (11:20pm and I have to work tomorrow). Below are a couple more pictures from Saturday night at La Perouse.
With no hope of chilli returning to live with me due to her need for frequent feeding of small meals to prevent vomiting, I had started to think about getting another cat. I’d contemplated it on and off for a few months. There were times I was resolute – no more cats for me (especially after chilli went back to mum and dad’s place after the failed second attempt). Other times I’d think maybe when this happens… or that…
After the shock of the redundancy, I thought about it again. I never expected to be made redundant. I don’t expect to be evicted either… but if I stop myself from making decisions in fear of something that might happen, I never enjoy. So I’ll deal with WHAT IF, when what if happens.
These two beautiful girls are sisters from 2 different litters. They are both overweight and despite being on a light diet at the cattery have actually put on weight since being there! They are 4 and 7 years old and were surrendered along with their sister, Shadow, because the owner moved interstate. Shadow was more aloof and not particularly interested in playing with her sisters so was put up for adoption separately – and I’m happy to say has found a home. The then named Marilyn and Tiger-Lily needed a home together. Fortunately I had decided that I was looking for 2 cats so that they could keep each other company. I also wanted older cats who did not need as much attention and entertainment. I didn’t think it would be fair to get kittens if I was working full time and I feared for the state of my unit when I arrived home.
These girls have been with me 3 1/2 days now. They are settling in well. Within 4 hours of arriving home, after initially hiding under the bed, they claimed posession of the top of the bed – it’s not my bed anymore I can assure you!
Finding New Names
The biggest challenge on day 1 was trying to find them new names. They are indoor cats so it isn’t like they need to know their names for me to call them in at night. I am convinced that Marilyn (who was called Manson before arriving at the cattery) did not know her name anyway and tiger-lily just would not do. I contemplated Lily – but I wasn’t terribly keen. Perhaps if she was a slight and delicate thing it would work, however she is ernormous!
I’m delighted with their new names of licorice and saffron and had a hoot of time reading through lists of possible names on a website and brainstorming.
Clever play on words:
A little odd
- whatever (which would be as good as Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First)
- for an all ginger cat mum and I liked darth vader
- for a hairless cat – fluffy
- Figaro and Fledermaus had operatic style but didn’t seem particularly feminine
We then started on paired things:
- echo and… ummm… echo (a friend said that would be cruel!)
- doppleganger and ditto
- krispy and kreme
- quangle and wangle… but I was missing quee
Then I was on a “fat” theme…
- igloo (well, they’re round!)
Mahogany and Marbles were seriously considered, before finally settling on licorice and saffron.
As for how you tell them apart… well, that’s probably best left for another time.