Saturday, 28 November 2009

Gentleman Puss

There is no doubt in my mind that Red is going to grow up to be a very handsome cat. Even now as a little kitten he has an what appears to be an impressively wavy and luxurious chest wig. It looks like it is just crying out for a large gold medallion. So this week as I was playing with my cameraphone I found a feature that allows you to take photos in a frame. The result is above.


Red is getting bigger and longer as can be seen in this picture. It is surprising how fast they grow and even a week makes a big difference. This is one of the reasons I wanted to keeep this log as the kitten stage only lasts a few months and it is easy to forget just how small they were and how little time it took for them to become a seriously large beast.

Far from friends

Magic still is deeply unimpressed by Red and regards him as an intensely irritating bug. This is ok by me. Obviously friends would be much better, curled up and devoted would be best but if I have to settle for Magic pretending he doesnt exist I can live with that. So long as there is no blood on the carpet I can still keep hope alive for better days.

However, the good news is the distance between them is reducing as can be seen in the picture above. The bottle of pepsi max is actually there by chance as I hadn't got round to moving it but given the title and subject of the blog it couldn't have worked out better!

If you're not fast you are hungry

As I've said before Red is a hungry horace. He hasn't met a food he dislikes. On Thursday the other person in the house fed him three full sachets for breakfast in error as they thought they hadn't fed him! And guess what - he ate them all. He looked like a cannonball with legs and would also have probably eaten another sachet if I hadnt caught him.

The other person also forgot about the little furry food guzzler when they came to answer the door to me and the photo is the result.

So the house rule for the humans is either eat up or stick a lid on it!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Taking a stretch

Even in the two weeks he has been with us Red is growing. You can see it in his torso as he is getting longer which is beginning to look a little odd as he has not grown up the way at the same rate.

I noticed it a few days ago as scooping him up with one hand was easy as he was effectively just a hairy ball of fluff. Now he needs picked up 'properly' by stretching your hand out under him to support his little body. He also jumps differently, more like a cat now, instead of the launch and land like a sack of spuds technique that he had earlier.

It is nice to see him growing and I look forward to seeing him hopefully grow into a great big tom cat. However, I will miss these precious days of him toddling about with his tiny cute face and wide eye look, silky fluffy fur and dinky little body.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

House Mouse

Red loves toys - the more he's got the merrier the game is. He goes round the living room of an evening systematically murdering all the furry crinkly critters he can find. His favourite is the bright pink fur mouse, or at least it was until yesterday when he got a new tweepy mouse. The tweepy mouse is gray and brown and looks like a little womble. It makes a sound like a cross between a cheep and a tweet when you shake it, hence the name tweepy. Red takes it as a personal mission to knock the tweep out of it and it has had a few good batterings in the short time he has had it.

Magic gives all new toys the once over but isn't terribly into toys. She was as a small kitten but grew out of them after a couple of months. She used to play fetch but now if you throw a toy mouse or a ball for her she looks over to where it fell and then back at you as if to say "Its over there if you're looking for it". The only thing she will play with and even brings you to play with is a bag handle. You know the twisted brown paper handles which come from posh paper carriers? Well, these are the Rolls Royce of toys apparently in her world.

We save them obsessively as sometimes we get loads and other times nothing seems to come in these carriers. The local deli used to put your shopping in a brown paper carrier and it counted as a treat all round. Lovely food for us and a bag handle to play with for afters for Magic- bliss. Now however they use plastic carrier bags. I am not an eco warrior and generally prefer a plastic bag for its robustness and suitability for the Scottish weather. I loathe paper carriers normally as the risk of your shopping collapsing onto the street in a heap of papier mache leaving you holding nothing but the bag handles doesnt appeal. However, to ensure Magic gets her supply of preferred toy, I am wiling to join with an eco mob to campaign for a return to paper carriers- just so long as it isnt raining when we picket the shop!

Peeps and Poops

You cannot own an animal without considering of the logical outcome of feeding them. Magic is very clean and not too prolific in the bathroom department, pees twice a day and poops every second day. She is also regards toileting as frightfully declasse which is probably why she doesnt go too often.

I often ask her as she exits her litter box whether it was a peep or a poop to give me an idea if it needs dealt with and she gives me a withering look that clearly says "peasant"! However, there is a pattern which works better than asking her. She generally goes at the same time each day and when it is a solid she passes she stops briefly outside the box then races off at 110mph- easy! She also doesn't cover it with litter as there is no way on earth she is spending any longer in there with THAT, than is absolutely necessary. This means if you dont lift it straight away the house honks. I'm also a bit obsessive and diffuse lavender oil which neutralises it effectively unlike the commercial products.

Litter box cleaning is not too hard as I use the litter packs which come complete and include a liner, absorbent pad and deodorising litter. This means they need changed less often, dont stink to high heaven and changing it doesn't alway require scrubbing out the tray, Miltoning it, rinsing copiously and drying thoroughly. Instead it is a simple case of lifting out he old one and replacing with full cleans only needed every few changes. It is dearer but for the convenience is worth it.

I knew Red was litter trained but we needed to make sure he knew where the 'facilities' were in his new home. I made sure there were two litter trays for him and they were always in the room he was in. I bought kitten sized trays for his little stumpy legs, bought soft cat-o-let litter because it is made of paper and would be soft on his little delicate paws, liners for his tray to allow us to change the shallow litter daily or twice daily as needed. The minute he passes any solids they are lifted immediately.

He is a one kitten sewage farm and I am certain passes more than he eats which given his appetite is saying something. He was well trained by his mother cat to bury's what he passes which is good, but then you need to find it. He also has terrible wind. He passes the silent but violent kind and usually when you have him in your arms. It is truly awful and can stink out a room like a boxer dog - a friend and relative both had or have boxers and this is the best analogy I can think of!

Red, as usual, is every bit his own man. He uses the kitten trays provided but prefers Magic's big litter box with the high sides and jaggy, gritty litter! Either that or Magic has started passing tiny skinny little stools 4 times a day and burying them. I knew he was using her litter tray to poop but didnt think he was doing it almost full time until last night I thought I smelt cat urine- eeeek! I knew Magic's shouldn't be needing changed but checked it and lo and behold the source of the stench was revealed. So, back to the drawing board. I now need a big puss lidded litter tray and to start using the all in one litter with him too.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Red is becoming a real handful. Even in the short time he had been here he has begun showing just exactly what he is made of. He now regularly charges at Magic with a raised paw, tries to bite her tail, climbs up the scratch post to her radiator hammock and leers at her with his head upside down over the edge of the hammock. I am hopeful they will become friends or at least tolerate each other but he is so cheeky that I cannot bring myself to reprimand Magic when she swats his head as he climbs up to annoy her. It doesnt even bother him, he simply sprackles down then climbs up again. He loves jumping up to places and when he comes down he normally lands on all four paws like a sack of spuds.

Everything is a climbing toy. He loves tightrope walking over the clothes airer, he's fallen off but learns no lesson. Tonight he scrambled up to an unreasonable height for a wee cat as he had seen Magic do it and took it as a personal challenge. He was too high and inaccessible for me to grab him so in his own sweet time he sauntered down and decided to jump the last part. He landed on a table to with a dreadful bang and I was terrified to look as I was sure he'd have done himself an injury, but no he gave himself a shake and sped off again.

I suspect I shall be grey haired, exhausted and need treating for an anxiety related disorder before he makes it to a year old. This is always supposing the SAS of the kitten world hasn't tried to kill himself in the meantime.

I did ask my colleague to choose me the kitten with the nature closest to Magic's and who would be all chilled and restful. In fact I may have used the words 'I want the dim one who gets the message four seconds behind the rest'! I was very specific that I didnt want any kitten that could be described as 'spirited' or 'a bit of a character'. She delivered the perfect puss for us. He is very chilled, relaxed and sociable. He plays beautifully and any little nibbles of your fingers are always swiftly licked better. Far from being dim he is wickedly intelligent and has us wound round his little dew claw. I couldn't ask for a more beautiful or adorable kitten and think he will grow up to be an absolute gentleman of a cat but ONLY if he gives up climbing, abseiling and base-jumping.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Playing chases

Tonight when I came in from work the two cats came to greet me. As usual I spent some time greeting Magic and then tried to capture Red for a cuddle but he was too full of nonsense and haring around the place.

As we had a Chinese meal the human's priority was to get the food on the plates while it was hot. While we were plating up what we wanted to eat the two cats were running around which is a bit of a novelty for Magic as she only occasionally indulges in moving any faster than a saunter. I was keeping an eye on them as usually any fast movements tend mean Magic is after Red to deliver a telling off. However, on this occasion, Magic was chasing Red through the hall and he was shooting under the kitchen stool while she stopped at the kitchen door, but as soon as she stopped and turned away he sped after her and she obligingly turned to chase him.

I realised, with delight, that they were actually playing chases! It didnt last long before a half-hearted hissing came about but they were actually playing for a good couple of runs. I couldn't have been happier as it meant there is a budding relationship there and Magic is possibly begining to see Red as less of a threat or annoyance if she is prepared to play with him.

Another up-side is that I won't have to play chases anymore. I like to think of myself as a good pet owner. I do think it is somewhat unnatural to keep a pet exclusively as a house cat but my animals are deeply loved, want for nothing and are kept stimulated with human contact and allowed to set the balance of contact versus sleeping/lazing. Therefore, sometimes at the weekend, if Magic is feeling boisterous I do play chases with her, stalking her round corners and 'capturing' her on the bed before letting her escape to do it all again. I do feel like an utter wally playing chases with the cat but she likes it, it gives her some exercise and keeps some of the cat instincts going. If Magic and Red can find a playful side to each other this will let me off the hook! A benefit I hadn't even thought about but one I like!

Monday, 16 November 2009


I have never had to socialise two animals of different ages when one has already had six rather idyllic years of adoration in this house.

I read up as much as I could and took advice from my vet on how to do it. Much of the online advice seemed contradictory or tremendously long-winded involving the new animal being locked in a room alone and introduced to the house and other animal over days/weeks. This seemed to be an extraordinarily cruel fate for a beautifully socialised and loving natured little kitten being taken from his feline and human families and dumped in a room in a flat with minimal contact.

My vet, and the colleague who gave me him, were both much more pragmatic from their more experienced stances and reckoned we let them meet and just take it as it comes. This seemed like the best option and so far, fingers crossed, it seems to be working. Hissing, the odd slap and death stares aside things seem to be getting on ok and we humans can relax ever so slightly from one to one vigilance. We probably were a little overboard and by comparison ITU patients probably look neglected compared to how over protective we were with both cats.

Today, Sunday 15th Nov, has probably been the day I've spent most time with Red while he is awake. I have been hands on with him every day since he came but I've been very disciplined in ensuring each word or contact with Red has resulted in an equal one for Magic. Red has slept on me a couple of time and I play with him every morning and evening but I am always conscious of not putting Magic's nose out of joint.

I don't want her to become jealous of the new kitten as she could do him very serious harm in the blink of an eye if she chose to given her size. I dont really think that is likely to become an issue as she is very laid back and tends to look at him as an irritating bug rather than a contender for the title.

At the back of my mind is one poor cat an aunt of mine had that was never the same after an utterly gorgeous Felix-lookalike new kitten came into their lives. Their house was already a multi-cat home but the kitten was a bit of a thug and I seem to recall the older cat ended up sedated at one point and was ever after a nervous twitchy critter. Perhaps I am miss-remembering this but anything that jeopardises Magic's equilibrium is to be avoided.

What I feared most of all was losing her love and her closeness with me. She is, as I have said, very much my cat. When I am at home she is delightful, easy going and comfortable company. I know her ways and she knows mine. I never have to call her at night because as soon as I brush my teeth she comes out from whichever hidey-hole she is in to go to bed and get her tablet which adores. She is on palatable tablets for her dodgy luxating knee-caps. In the morning when I get up she immidiately claims where I was lying in bed to soak up the heat. When I go out she sits on the end of the bed for a treat which allows me to keep her in one room while I am out and when I come back we spend time reaquainting. In short, many of our little routines are interwoven which is lovely and comforting especially after a hard day at work. To lose this through her becoming, jealous, resentful or depressed would be very hard. It would also be cruel to her especially as we, and mostly me, have made her into number one and to pull the rug with a shiny new cat taking the glory would be a great unkindness.

Anyway today I was at home and although the cats tolerated each other quite well, including a joint pigeon patrol on the table at the window, there was a small stramash in the kitchen and Magic decided to stalk off for a sleep somewhere quiet that Red either doesnt know about or can't reach. This left Red to explore/sleep/explore again/sleep again for most of the afternoon and early evening. As he likes a hot body to sleep on he decided to join me as I was sitting using the laptop. For this reason I have probably spent the most time together with him since he has arrived and it has been lovely. He plays so delicately and seems conscious of not hurting you even when he he is play biting. He loves mirrors and all sorts of things including watching pages load one the computer.

While this was lovely what was even nicer was that when Magic rose from her lair she didnt seem bothered at all that his scent must have been all over all the places that have traditionally been hers. She is just as loving and I am so relieved.

I also spoke on the phone with a friend who has had a number of cats and reckoned the occasional wallop or hiss is likely as her two cats still fought occasionally up until the older one died aged 20yrs. So at least there is hope that our longterm future as a two cat household is looking like it has potential.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

First Vet Visit

Little Red had his first vet visit on Monday of last week for his vaccinations. He was a little star and allowed the vet to do everything he needed without too much complaint. The key points were that Red is likely to be a semi-long haired and a 'biggie'. So, this means that some 6yrs later than we'd planned it seems like we are going to have our enormous ginger tom once Red grows up.

The vaccine was painful for Red and he still has a soft fleshy lump on his little back a week later which I am hoping is just a reaction that will go down. I am keeping an eye on it. The vet was kindness itself when he injected Red and spent time massaging the injection site and playing with him for a minute or two to distract him.

There were only two downsides to the visit. The first was the cost which was in three figures and the second was that although he was pronounced fit as a flea he also had a real honest to goodness flea - I am woman hear me scream like a girl!

This meant he needed flea treatment and so did Magic! I was surprised as I knew my colleague had already flea treated all eleven of her cats. The vet was most concerned as Red is a little light for the type of treatment he was proposing as he was only 900g and we discused the risk/benefits at length. Afterwards, I wondered why we'd bothered as at the rate he eats he'll be 1kg very soon! As I couldn't co-administer the flea treatment after the vaccine I combed him all out and only found another one so although I did my Lady Macbeth impression of "out, out damned flea - I think he really only had the odd hitchhiker. The cats are also lucky they weren't sucked up the steam hoover in my psychotic bid to stop any stray hitchhikers taking up permanent residence. I couldnt abide the thought of spraying noxious chemicals all over the place and decided to let the steam vacuum pay for its exorbitant cost.

The worst bit was telling my colleague, I had to break the news that not only had the treatment not worked but that the rest of the double litter and adult cats were also needing done again. I can only guess what she would be doing for the next couple of days.

Time now I think to try to upload some photos as part of this record. I have never tried this before but willing to give it ago especially as the kitten will be getting bigger by the day and I dont want to lose that sense of perspective. Currently, he is crashing around the room playing and finding everything utterly fascinating.
The first photo is of how he is today, a bright handsome looking boy. The second one is of his first sleep in my arms and the last one is of a sorry looking puss in his basket after his journey home.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

This blog has been created as an online diary to document my life following the addition of a second cat to our household. I've never had to introduce a second cat to an incumbent resident and an online blog seems somewhat preferential to having to find a paper diary and write it up.

I also want to record the growing up of the little kitten as you seem to forget how fast they go from a feather light bundle of fluff to something that needs two hands to lift. I've never had two pets of the same species and, as I normally only get a new animal when the previous one dies, it will probably be another 20yrs before another new kitten enters my life.

Magic is 6yrs old and has lived with us since she was rescued from an SSPCA animal shelter when she was around 3-4months old. Our old cat had died aged 16 and a half and it had broken our hearts. She had major health problems throughout her life and how she survived to this age at all was a source of mystery and wonder to us. We liked to put it down to her being very well looked after during her illnesses and deeply loved. As the old cat had died just before Christmas the SSPCA were not rehoming any cats to prevent folk using them as Christmas presents so we had to wait until the new year.

We'd decided we wanted a kitten as we didn't feel we could take the heartbreak of a shorter lifespan of an older cat. We knew any animal could die young but we were grieving and trying to protect ourselves. We also decided on no account did we want another Tortoiseshell girl as it would remind us too much of the one who had died. Instead we decided we wanted a ginger boy as a total opposite! We went round a number of shelters but there were no kittens.

Then one came in to our local one - a wee shivering wreck of a Tortoiseshell girl sitting on a tiny rectangle of carpet looking lost, devastated and rejected. She had been taken by her new owner from a litter and had apparently not got on with the owners dogs. She'd only been with the new owner for 3 days and had apparently been 'attacking' the three dogs in the house. A highly improbable story as Magic is utterly terrified even of hearing a dog bark on tv. However, their loss was our immense gain. As animals can only be adopted at a certain time and a few people were interested in her I ended up waiting in the snow for a few hours just to secure her when she was available for re-homing.

Magic is a delight to have as a companion and we adore her. She is very chilled and fits in beautifully in our house. She is in all truth 'my' cat though she shares her love around. She shares my room at night and has a number of preferred spots to sleep depending on the weather, the time of year and whatever other criteria cats use to decide that the top of the wardrobe, foot of the bed or pillow on the chair at the window is just the spot. For six years she has been the house princess with her every whim indulged. Then some months ago a colleague, who had two pregnant cats, asked if I'd like a kitten.

Of course I wanted a kitten but how could I ever do this to Magic? Or would it be company and bring her some fun. All the ideas went round and round and the decider came when the kittens were born - were any of them ginger? Yes, three, two boys and a girl! Magic's fate was sealed and, as my colleague was willing to allow me to home test the kitten with the option of returning it if Magic became too devastated, then it seemed like there was nothing left to lose.

Red, the kitten, came home a week ago. He is unbelievably light as a feather, has the tiniest squeak, and a tail like a diary pencil with fur. He has found toys Magic discarded years ago and plays with gusto. I am ignoring what this says about the state of my housekeeping! He is litter trained and so delicate in his touch and movements that he is a real credit to my colleague and her family for socialising him beautifully.

The only odd thing for us about him is his eating habits. He came from a double litter with 7 kittens all used to dining together once weaned from the mums. Although to us he looks like a waif he is actually one of the largest of the kittens. Which explains why he views all food as his friend.

Magic normally gets two meals a day which she grazes on throughout the day and always has a bowl of dry food as well. When Red came he promptly ate his half sachet of kitten food and a whole sachet of Magic's Gourmet with shrimp. He looked like his legs were going to buckle under the weight of his drum tight belly and his legs seemed to be sticking out at the sides. I was horrified that he'd done himself an injury from overeating but he seems very robust. On the Felix box it says kittens just a week younger than him have stomach capacities the size of a walnut and need fed four times a day. It doesn't say anything about a nine week old kitten scoffing one and a half sachet of food and only leaving the dried Hills Science because he hasnt worked out how to eat it yet! With regards to endearing himself to Magic he was definitely not going for the easy option.

We have now had Red for a whole week now and though there have been a couple of instances of demented windmill paw head slapping, ferocious hissing and death states (from Magic to Red) there have been no injuries. I couldn't say there is love in the air between both cats but the physical distances tolerated by Magic are getting less and Red doesn't have to make such a large detour around her now.

Red sometimes doesn't really help himself as he occasionally takes a bravery pill and sideways charges at Magic. Once she gets over her shock at his audacity she either hisses mightily or slaps him senseless with a paw with the claws sheathed. Luckily this has only happened 3 or 4 times which is probably not bad going in the first week.

The first time she slapped him I nearly fainted. Her paw went whirring round like a windmill on speed raining blows on his little skull. I swiftly broke it up but he'd had a good few slaps land probably because he was so surprised at the speed of her reaction. When I checked him over him there was not a mark on him. Magic weighs a ton compared to Red and her open paw is about the size of his head. Ok, not a ton exactly, Magic is 4kgs and Red 900g. If she had been intent on causing him harm even in the second or two that the assault lasted she could have probably killed him if she had meant it. Instead he got a very good demonstration that nonsense is not likely to be tolerated by 'da management' as Magic like to think of herself!