Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Birthday

to Han and Luke! They are one year old now, and we've had them for eight months. When we got them, they were just little four-month-olds, tiny little balls of fur:

Now they are strapping young cats, but still just as cute and handsome:

My boys have grown a lot, matured a lot, and come a long way. I'm proud of how far they've come! Being rescue cats, they had some issues before they ever met us, and although they're not the relaxed, comfortable cats that I want them to be, they really are so much better than they used to be.

Han is the big boy- not fat, but solid. He's lost some of the interest in playing that he used to have (he used to play with anything dangly), but he still loves his fuzzy mice. He's a cuddler, and usually sleeps on my feet or leaning against my legs at night. He also likes to burrow under the covers on the bed, and will snuggle in my arms when I get into bed. He's actually pretty protective of me, always wanting to make sure that I'm okay, whether it's following me into the bathroom or keeping me company when I'm taking a nap. He's a lap hog, sometimes pushing his siblings out of the way so that he has the best part of my lap (the inside, against my stomach). He's very picky about food- I feed them mush on occasion, and he really only likes the chicken. One time when I gave him turkey, he sniffed it, fixed me with a look of "Mom. I like CHICKEN, not TURKEY!" and walked away.

Luke is sensitive, intelligent, and innocent-faced. He has big round eyes that make him look much younger than his heavy-lidded-eyed brother. While Han's definitely a mama's boy, Luke is just lovey, and enjoys sitting on Elijah's lap and getting pets. He's very treat-oriented, and gets excited every time he hears shaking (even when it's not a treat can/bag, oops). He likes snuggling, but not for very long, he's more fidgety than Han. He likes to keep me company when I'm getting ready for bed. He's more playful, loves the laser pointer, and likes chasing most toys. He likes eating catnip before he rolls in it.

I know that I post a lot about Leia, and that's because she's more photogenic and outgoing, so there's usually more to say about her, but she's only one-third of the feline part of the household. My boys are wonderful big brothers, snuggling and playing with her.

My boys.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day

So I decided to take the cats outside for a bit. Last time I tried, it was a complete disaster, with Luke and Han panicking before we even got out the door. I had figured that being together would reassure them, but this time, it seemed only to make them feed off each other's fear. They were flailing and thrashing, trying to get free of the harness that was holding them, and when I let them go, they bolted into the bedroom to hide.

This time, I decided to take them one at a time. First, of course, was Leia- because she wants to go out, and we did a lap around the house, slowly, exploring everything. She loves being outside (at least when it's not cold and gusty), and really can't get enough of being outside before I want to go in. But I won't let her off the leash, at least not yet, because she gets so wrapped up in everything that's outside that she doesn't listen to me, and I don't want her to go somewhere she shouldn't where I can't get to her. So, leash it is.

Next up was Luke. I didn't give him the option of going outside or not, I just carried him outside (on the sunny side of the house) and put him down on the thick bed of pine needles. He wanted to cower and hide, but I kept him in the open area. If I squatted down, he would try to hide under me, and otherwise, he wanted to be as close to the side of the house as he could be. I just kept picking him up and putting him in the open. I want him to learn that being outside is not that scary. He did really well- I could tell that he was scared, but he didn't panic, and when I brought him back inside, he was fairly calm while I took off his harness, and then when it was off and I told him he could go, he ran- but didn't bolt- back to the living room.

Then it was Han's turn (although Leia disagreed; she wanted to go out again), and I dealt with him the same way as I did with Luke. He was a little less afraid, and more uncertain- I put him down on the ground, and he didn't want to immediately hide, but he had no idea what he was supposed to do. He was sniffing the air though, which is good. After we were out for a little while, Elijah put Leia's harness back on and brought her outside again, so she got some more fresh air and sunshine. A little while later, I let Han go back inside (he reacted the same way Luke did, waiting calmly until I got the harness off and let him go), and then soon after, I took Leia back inside, despite her protests.

It was a successful trip outside, judging not in the least by the way the boys aren't cowering and hiding, but lounging in their usual spots.

As for other successful things, here's my breakfast yesterday, a fried egg and cheese sandwich, on rosemary sourdough bread (not homemade this time).




Monday, April 12, 2010

A Leia Post

Leia would like to share with you this very important information.

Listen to me!


The ribbons are all mine.

Shiny ribbons.

Long brown ribbons.

Colorful ribbons.

My favorite, pink (and black) ribbons.

They are all MINE!




Friday, April 9, 2010

Cats, Cats Everywhere, and Drinking Upside-Down

It's interesting to see Leia playing with the boys, chasing and wrestling with them. Luke and Han are not nearly as agile, as sure of their bodies, as physically able as Leia is, something that is perhaps left over from whatever neglect or abuse they may have suffered before they were rescued (You can see it in Luke's back legs particularly- they bow in a bit so he is knock-kneed at times). It's noticeable still in their personalities as well, that they were rescues- over the first few months with us, they had started to relax and calm down a little, to realize that we weren't going to hurt them or not take care of them. Since we got Leia, they've improved so much more than they did those first few months. Seeing a kitten, younger than they, who was so fearless, so sure of herself, taught them that perhaps there wasn't as much to fear as they thought, and that maybe they too could be less afraid. Since Leia, they don't immediately bolt when we approach (they still do run sometimes, but it's less of a knee-jerk reaction and more of them still being unsure), and they feel comfortable enough to let Elijah pet them sometimes (they wouldn't before) and to climb onto my lap when they want to instead of me having to pick them up every time.

Luke and Han still have a long way to go. They are still kittens, 11 months old (they'll have their one-year birthday at the end of this month, when Leia turns 7 months old), and we're hoping that maturity will bring them some measure of feeling that they are going to stay with us, not keep moving from place to place like they were before we got them, and can be comfortable with us. But the fact is, much as I love them, and Elijah does too, we don't know if we can keep cats who behave the way they do. We've set the deadline of... whenever we move, which keeps changing, that if they haven't calmed down enough, we're going to find them someone else to live with, someone who doesn't mind having cats who are at the same time needy and distant. I don't want to give them away, but I can't imaging moving cross-country with two cats who run and hide whenever they get scared or startled or someone moves the slightest bit in their direction. I'd rather have them be safe in someone else's house than lost in the middle of the country.

Leia still has a long way to go too, in terms of accepting that we're the parents and that she needs to listen to what we want of her. She's finally learning that "no" can apply to her, but doesn't always want to stop what she's doing. I'd never used a spray bottle on a cat before, not with the boys either, but with Leia, for months, it was the only way that we could get her to pay attention. We use it less now, as just the sight of it is usually enough to get her to listen, since she hates getting sprayed. She still doesn't really seem to believe that SHE, the adorable and precious Leia, can EVER actually do anything wrong... so disciplining her is a little tough, as she doesn't really apply being told "no" to a general rule, only to that one incident. "Oh, you want me to get off the kitchen table, Mom? Well, I will this time, but I'll go back onto it later. You couldn't possibly mean that I'm never supposed to get onto the table. I just love being up on top of things!"

Toilet training is so-so. The bowl technique I was using wasn't really working (actually, Leia was really getting it, but the boys weren't), so I bought a system- the Litter Kwitter, which is a seat that clips onto the bowl, with rings that sit inside it- the first, red ring is solid, the second, yellow ring has a hole in the middle, and the third, green ring has a large hole in the middle, and you put litter on the rings around the hole (there's a high ridge to help keep the litter out of the toilet, but we use paper litter, so a little bit should be fine if it gets flushed). With this system, the boys are doing really well, but Leia is picky about if she'll use it or not, and it's not just whether or not it's clean (Luke insists that it be clean, or he'll hold it until I clean it). She'll gladly go up on the toilet to eliminate, as I saw when I was using the bowl, but if it's not clean enough, or there's not the right amount of litter, or the planets aren't aligning in just the right way, she prefers to poop in the tub, or the sink, or on the bathroom scale, or pee on a towel, or her princess bed (which has been taken away until she's toilet trained- after two days in a row of having to wash it, I decided that she can just wait to get it back).

The boys are ready to progress to the next ring, yellow, but I don't know what to do about Leia. I had already tried moving to the yellow ring, and the boys (Han especially, surprisingly) were fantastic about it, but I moved back to the red ring in hopes of getting Leia on board with the whole thing. It's been over a week, I think, and I'm still having problems getting her to poop in the toilet. I think that she is using it to pee, but with three cats and one toilet, it's hard to tell who's doing what most of the time. I try to catch them in the bathroom when I'm home, but I've been working a lot, and most of the "accidents" happen at night anyway. I've been taking their food away at night (but making sure that they still eat plenty during the day) so that they need to use the toilet less at night and then in the morning after they eat (and I'm awake to supervise) they'll need to go. That helps somewhat, but I'm still having trouble getting Leia to use the toilet. I'm going to go look at the Litter Kwitter forums and see if I can find any advice.

Leia likes drinking from the fountain upside-down:

Monday, April 5, 2010


On Friday, I hosted a Passover Seder, and it went really well. A few of the friends I invited weren't able to come, but Dave and Jen (Jen of the Lion Hat), and Cody were able to make it.

Dave printed out a Haggadah and cooked the lamb shank, Jen made hard-boiled eggs and a pot roast, and I made charoset, noodle kugel, and date nut bars, which everyone agreed were absolutely amazing. I printed out the recipe for Jen right then and there, else I was afraid that ugly things may have happened. We also had the obligatory parsley with salt water, matzah, horseradish (jarred, that everyone said was really good and cleared out Cody's beginning-of-a-cold), and I had an orange on my plate.

I was planning to lead the seder, just because, but Dave has led a few before and ended up taking over, which worked out very well. We did a lot of passing the Haggadah around to take turns reading, and sang a little bit, but not as much as I'm used to (since Dave and I are the only ones who know the songs).

No pictures, unfortunately. I was running late that day (hadn't even put the kugel in the oven by the time Dave and Jen arrived), and was just trying to get everything put together, so I forgot to take out the camera. Instead, I will present you with this picture of a blissed-out Leia:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

ROAR! Lion's Mane

When my friend Jen was in town visiting a few months ago and found out that I knit, she asked me to knit a lion hat for her orange cat. She then went home and never suspected that I was actually working on the hat. Then she got a job here and ended up moving out here, and as a welcome present, I gave her the hat, which I had completed about a week before she got here. I tried the hat on Leia and the boys as I was making it, to make sure that it would fit:

And here it is on her orange cat:

She also put it on her other cat, but he pulled it off pretty quickly. Also, each of Jen's cats is about the size of my boys put together. Big cats, and adorable.