My 5 Fave Kitty Videos of the Week

In honor of some very much needed fun time, I am sharing some of my favorite kitty videos. Some of them were not from this week, but I’m including them any way. Nothing like a smile on your face to make you feel better.

  1. A kitty and his deer friend. Or two.
  2. The kitty kat dance.
  3. Cat saves boy from dog.
  4. Two babies waking up from a nap.
  5. A baby very excited to see her kitty cat.

I especiallly love #5. And #2.

If you have some videos that you’d like to share, please post them in the comments! I’m an animal lover all around, so you don’t have to limit it to kitty videos!

The Joy of Animal Rescue and Care

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.”
― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering at a shelter and tending to  a tiny four-week old kitten who, while waiting to go to foster today, was screaming his head off. He was no bigger than the size of my hand, but had the vocal strength of a fully grown cat.

I have often said that I am a sucker for kittens, and this was no exception. His black coat was roughly salted with strands of white fur, and he had a thin, white strip down the side of his nose. I immediately thought of him as Stripe. He alternated between begging at the cage door and hissing at me. The begging quickly won out when I opened the cage door. I moved slowly and spoke softly, and he responded right away with sniffs and with head bops.

I wanted just to scoop him up in my arms, but he had wreaked havoc on himself as well as the cage. His water bowl was empty. The litter was totally soaked, as was his blanket, teddy bear, the floor of the cage, and his entire body. Litter tracked on the cage floor. A quarter of the dry food was spread in his cage and another quarter on the tile floor.

I proceeded to take things out of his cage cautiously so as not to scare him. I slowly wiped down the cage as I took out items to clean or replace. I layered a blanket on a thin bed and made sure to include a few small, stuffed toys for company. I gave him a clean litter box and new food, but food was the last thing on his mind.

I had to get some paper towels to soak up the water from his paws and body before I could hold him, but it was a largely futile exercise. My shirt got filthy anyway. Well worth it. He climbed up and down off my shoulder as I leaned into the cage. Stripe pressed his tiny head hard against my chin and pressed his little body against mine. As I pet him, he tried to lay down against me and then would flop over for more petting.

I pet him as long as I could, but eventually I had to go and help with other kitties. Before I left, I peeked into the room to see him sitting comfortably on his new bed. All morning, I had been mentally calculated the logistics of bringing him home with me. I eventually decided against it due to logistics  and the fact that I literally cannot take home every cute kitten that I fall in love with. Believe me when I tell you there have been a lot of them.

During my itty bitty kitty petting session, I started to realize that I had endorphins coursing through my body. I was actually beginning to feel high and loopy from the baby kitten love fest. I think that’s what happens when you provide physical love to a helpless, loving, and lovable baby: the pleasure center in your brain lights up like fireworks to reward you for your altruistic attention and physical affection for another being. Every time this happens, you want it to happen again as soon as possible. I have no kids, but I can only imagine the degree to which this happens to parents. It is addiction in its highest and best possible form.

When I am down or angry, all it takes is for one of my kitties to give me some unsolicited attention and love. Suddenly, I forget what was going through my mind and smile, returning the love that is so willingly given to me.

The Biggest Misconception People Have About Cats

When I was a toddler, we had an outdoor cat named Meesh who had a litter of kittens. After the kittens had found homes, Meesh disappeared. I then spent the next eight years begging my mother to get me another cat. On the Valentine’s Day after my 14th birthday, my mom took me to the North Shore Animal League. We came home with a four-month old black girl kitten. I named her Valentina, but her name quickly became Meesh. Although I did not take her with me when I went to college, I went back to an animal shelter just two months after I moved into my first solo apartment. I have been encatted ever since. That was 23 years ago.

About four years, I began volunteering with a friend at the MSPCA Angell Animal Adoption Center. For two years, we pet kitties of all shapes, sizes, and ages, fed them, cleaned their litter boxes, and gave them medication. We received training in cat behavior and worked closely with the animal technicians in order to learn as much as we could about cats in order to make their transition from intake to adoptee as easy as possible. The only way that happens is if you are paying attention to cats, their body language, personalities, and preferences.

The number one misconception about  cats, as a whole, is that cats are aloof, antisocial creatures. Nothing could be further from the truth! If you were with me when I was volunteering, you would have seen cats meowing for attention who would then rub your hand furiously to get some pets in, rub against the cage to get to you, roll around, and generally put on a show. Yes, they wanted out of the cage, but they were also dying for attention and affection (and, yes, food, too).

Kittens and cats are social creatures, especially when raised by loving caretakers and appropriately handled. Remember that , just like human beings, any particular cat may be more or less independent than another. For example, kittens who are taken from their mothers too young can actually be needier than normal cats.

I suspect that this is the case wtih my cat Norman. He loves to bit a blanket, lay down, and then knead, like a kitten trying to knead the momma cat’s belly to start the flow of milk. Norman follows me around the house like a dog and sits in front of my computer screen when I don’t pay him the attention he wants. If he’s not with me, then he visits with my mother who lives downstairs from me. When either of us goes out for the day, he acts as if he hasn’t seen a human being for a week.

My husband and I recently went on a short trip to visit his family. While Norman spent all his time with my mother, Gwenny hid under the bed. Unlike Norman, she did not get affection for three and a half days. When we got home Sunday evening, Gwenny kept coming over to me to get pet for the rest of the night. Today, she came over to me for pets a lot more than normal. She let me pet her a lot, rolling over and putting her paws into the air so that I could scratch her belly. She loves affection, but especially those belly rubs! Since she was two months old, I have been petting her belly and she loves it. I do not suggest you try and belly rub a cat you do not know or else you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Over the years, I have noticed that, the more I give affection, attention, and play to my cats, the more social, friendly, and sweet they become. Is every cat like that? No, and I do not recommend that you assume anything when you meet a cat. However, if you don’t like cats because you think they are antisocial as a rule, then I would like to suggest that maybe it’s because you haven’t met the right cat.

A Post About Cute Animals

I think it’s time for a change of pace. Today I’m going to talk about and share cute animals with you.

First, I have to bring up of two cutie pie cats that I share my life with: Normie. More frequently as of late, Normie has been jumping up to sit on the cabinets above the kitchen sink so he can wash me do the dishes.

Here are some shots from this mornings Kitchen Party with Momma:

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As soon as you’re done with those dishes, we’ll play. Right, momma?

Earlier today, my cat Gwennycakes tried to meow at me. She’s a cat, you’re thinking. Of course, she meows! Well, not really where Gwennycakes is concerned. I’m not sure why she did it, except that I’ve been playing with her with a toy that she really loves for the last three days. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something?

Here are some shots of my beautiful girl:

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These are the only animals who share my life. But out there is a baby goat named Pipsqueak who is trying to become friends with a litter of puppies. Well, I can’t really describe it, so you should really just go see it for yourself.

Pipsqueak Meets the Puppies

Will Pipsqueak Ever Make Puppy Friends? Watch this and find out!

And now, a bunch of cats who can now live their lives as hamsters!

No post about cute animals would be complete without a mention of Gronk’s, posing with kittens, sometimes shirtless!! Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

A man, any man, poses with animals wins me over. A very hot man with kittens and with less clothing is almost like I’ve died and gone to Heaven!

Almost.

The Guilt of Euthanasia

Trigger Warning

If a frank talk about euthanizing a beloved, suffering pet would upset you, then I suggest you skip today’s post. I write what’s foremost on my mind and important to me, and this is what came up for me.

The Guilt of Euthanasia

You would think that laying down to meditate in the middle of the afternoon would be a relaxing, calming thing to do.  For me, today, that did not happen. Instead, a terrible thought went through my head.

I thought of it, that very moment, when the vet injected the liquid that ceased Hunter’s bodily function in an instant. An excruciating guilt filled with regret and sadness kicked me in the stomach. I spent the next 20 minutes sobbing over having to put Hunter down.

Even though there was no hope of survival. Even though I know we all die. Even know I know that 18 years is ancient in cat years. I keep thinking the following thoughts:

I want Hunter back. 

and

I killed my kitty. 

Even though I know there are circumstances, I feel terribly guilty. I felt caught between two equally terrible decision: to let my cat suffer to a considerable degree until he died, or to have the vet inject him with death-inducing drugs. After loving another living being for 18 years, each decision would have produced its own kind of guilt.

When you don’t act, you can be upset by the thought that things could be different if only you would have acted. When you act, you feel all the responsibility and, sometimes, guilt that comes with acting. A momentous point in time becomes imbued with the weight of that decision, even when the action comes a while after the decision.

After meditation was over, I washed my face to cool down the redness of my eyes and nose. I worked out with my trainer and sorted through the mail after coming home.

I opened an envelope from the pet insurance company. Inside was a generic sympathy card. Just the few kind words in the card had me on the floor crying. Gwenny flopped over next to me, belly up for pets, and purred up a storm. I was happy to hear her purrs, but sad to be reminded that I won’t be hearing Hunter purr anymore.

I used to tell Hunter, “Please just die in your sleep, will you? I don’t want to have to put down another cat.”

If only it would be that easy!

Right now, it feels like I don’t want to go through this anymore. I found Hunter as a kitten, and he stole my heart immediately. Then we became very close, and I felt like he thought I was his momma/petting machine. He had such intense eyes and would stare at you as if trying to communicate psychically. My heart would ache every time.

Now he’s gone. Eighteen years is longer than I had with my other cats, but it feels too short. Maybe it wouldn’t feel too short if the end did not have to come to such an abrupt stop that required my intervention.

But I have two more. Two more cats to live with until they need my intervention at the end.

I guess I could stop having pets so that I would not have to go through with this. While I was meditating, Gwenny curled up in the sun on the ottoman next to me. As I pet her, I realized that she’d have to live her life somewhere. Someone, somewhere would adopt her, probably, and they’d have to do the same thing. This is the ultimate pain of pet stewardship.

I think I would be able to keep the resolve of not having any more cats until the moment when I looked into another kitten’s or cat’s eyes, fell in love, and relived the joy of bringing them home.

And Then There Were Two….

Trigger Warning: If you’ve recently lost a pet, are grieving, and would rather skip the details of the last day of a sick, old, and dying cat, you might want to skip this post. If you want to read a tribute to my cat Hunter instead, read my blog from Monday, October 6th.

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When I woke up yesterday, my husband told me that there was something wrong with my beloved 18 year old cat, Hunter. Mark had given him his medication and his subcutaneous fluids. Hunter didn’t move much, nor did he eat more than a nibble of his treats. Hunter did not come at all when food was put out.

I saw Hunter sitting uncomfortably by the water bowl. He moved away, and his back legs stumbled. You could tell he was in pain just by looking at him. When you can see that, you know it’s bad.

Hunter climbed into a chair where he likes to sleep, but he couldn’t quite rest comfortably. He moved slowly and did not lie down all the way. I decided to call the emergency line at my vet’s. I heard from my vet about 15 minutes later. She was already going into the office, so she said to meet her there.

Hunter looked so ill that I began crying. I went downstairs and told my mother to come up and visit Hunter because he was very sick. She was alarmed at how he looked and cried with me.

After getting some coffee, Mark and I drove Hunter to the vet. A physical exam indicated fluid in his stomach. The vet took some out and showed us the foam at the top, which indicated a severe protein deficiency. We considered draining his stomach, but the vet said it would probably fill right back up. We could take him to a specialist for it, but testing would cost at least a thousand dollars without giving us any real hope of him getting better.

Given his poor prognosis and that Hunter was excruciating pain, we decided it was time to say good-bye to Hunter and asked to have him euthanized.

I have loved animals all my life, especially cats. After you spend 18 years doing everything you can to keep your pet happy and healthy, telling a vet that now is the time to end your pet’s life  is nauseating. I hate the very idea of it.

But what are my options? Hunter was already in a lot of pain, and my vet said that he could die at any moment. I do not really feel there are any good options when you come to a point like this.

I called my mother to let her know what we were doing. I could only understand half of what she said through her crying. Since we moved down to New York, Hunter has been a constant companion to her. After she started to give him treats, my mother was Hunter’s queen. He would get on his hind legs and tap my mother’s arm to let her know he wanted food. Other times, he would grab her arm and pull it towards him. Or he would meow, which was more like a cute little grunt than a meow.

Hunter had the cutest little face, the most intense stare, and the softest fur you would ever touch. He used to flop over in my lap so I could scratch his belly. I’ve spent 45 minutes, an hour just petting that cat’s belly at least a couple of times a week since I got him. More recently, he did it only occasionally because he was no longer comfortable laying on his side. I think the last time that we did this was in the last couple of weeks, but it wasn’t for more than 5 minutes before Hunter had to move.

So now our home and our hearts are emptier. Yesterday was three years ago that I first met Gwendolyn, and today is three years that I brought her home. Life is like that. Sometimes you mourn and celebrate on the same day.

When you have them from when they are kittens, like I have with Hunter and Gwenny, they really do think you are their mother. That parent/child bond can exist between you and a being of another species. Hunter was an especially sweet and affectionate cat. He could not get enough of whatever attention that you wanted to give him.

I will miss his snuggling, his belly, his fur, his tail. I used to gently hold it and tell him it was my tail. If he was in my lap, I would lay it against my chest and pet his tail. He would let it stay there. So soft!

Some people claim that you cannot love an animal and that animals cannot love you back, that it is only attachment. To them I say, go to hell. I loved my cat, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loved me back. Sometimes, the final way that you can show them your love is to recognize when it’s time to end their lives. It’s just so painful and goes.

When Hunter was euthanized, he was surrounded by me, Mark, a vet tech, and the vet who had cared for him this past year. She thought he was a great cat, too, even though his pain meant he growled when he received the physical exam or was put on the scale.

After Hunter died, I pet him for a little while, gave him kisses, told him how much I love him, and how much I was going to miss him. I feel like someone shot a cannonball through the place where my heart and lungs used to be. The house feels empty, even though I still have two kitty babies in my life.

Each living soul is different from another. Getting or having another pet doesn’t make the grief less or the grieving easier. Even though it’s painful, I will open my heart and home to cats who need homes as long as I possibly can. The only thing worse than having to put your beloved cat down is having an empty house.

Bless you, my baby Hunter. I hope your journey over the Rainbow Bridge was a good one. If there’s an afterlife, I hope to see you again. Find us a comfy chair where I can sit down and rub your belly for as long as you want.

A Tribute to Hunter

One night, I walked into the Brookline Police Station to contest an overnight parking ticket I had received. I sat along the wall opposite where the hearings were being held. Several other people were waiting with me for their turn at the hearings.

A door to my left swung open. An officer walked partway into the room and said:

“Does anybody want a kitten?”

I looked down to see a gray face with blue eyes peeking out of his pocket. I started to fidget and silently tell myself that bringing home a kitten was entirely off limits. I already had two cats, Jolie who was 4 years old and Misha who was 2 years old.

Several moments later, the officer spoke again, “Well, if no one wants it, I’ll take it to the MSPCA.”

I no longer remember whether the kitten sneezed right before or after the officer said he was taking it to the MSPCA. In my heart, I heard a cry, “They’re gonna kill it!”. I immediately spoke up, “I’ll take it!”.

The officer walked over to a table that was in the middle of the room against a support pole and put the kitten on the table. The kitty started to walk around the table and everyone who was in the room gathered around.

Opposite from me at the table, an older Jewish man engaged me in conversation, “Is there anyone you need to ask before you bring the kitten home?”

I replied, “Oh, no. We’re not asking. We’re just going to go home with it.”

The older man said, “What are you going to name him?” I told him that I did know yet.

The man turned to the officer and asked, “What’s your name, Officer?”

The officer replied, “Officer Hunter.” The name could not have been more perfect for a kitten. I figured the universe was colluding to help me bring home an already-named kitten.

I decided aloud, “Then I’ll name him Hunter.”

The officer got me a box with a lid so that I could drive home to Malden without worrying about a kitten climbing all over the car or, Goddess forbid, go under the brake pedal when I was driving.

For a tiny kitten, he howled the entire 25 minute drive back to my home. I carefully picked up the box from the seat and walked up to the second floor landing in front of our door. I knocked. Mark opened the door and looked at me.

I said, “If you let me keep this one, I promise I won’t bring home any more stray cats. Three will be the limit.”

Mark looked at me and scowled. Then he stepped aside to let me into the house. Because I didn’t know what kind of illness the kitten may have, I decided to keep him in the bedroom separate from the other cats, and I brought him into the vet the next day.

Hunter was approximately 7 weeks old. He had fleas and ear mites. After getting an exam and a flea bath, I brought him home. Here are a couple of photos during this time. These are the ones that I have of him.

Hunter Kitten Hunter Kitten Closeup

For the next month, Hunter lived in the bedroom. I was managing the rehab of our unit so I was staying home to deal with workmen. Hunter got a lot of affection and play from me.  At night, he would often sleep on my pillow or he would crawl on my chest, sit down, and purr. He quickly became my baby and my favorite.

Eighteen years later, Hunter is still with us. Jolie and Misha have gone over the Rainbow Bridge. Norman and Gwennycakes are now the 3 and a half year old younguns. Whereas Hunter was Misha’s whipping boy, he definitely put down his paw when alpha kitty Normie joined the household and thought he could just get his way.

For an old man cat, I have yet to see Hunter give Normie the upper hand even as his health has significantly declined since December 2013 as a result of chronic renal failure.

Late last month, we celebrated a few family birthdays. One of my sisters took this incredible photo of Hunter:

Hunter in Light

As he’s aged and, especially, since he’s gotten more ill, his gray fur has turned brown, as you can see. His eyes are alert, he still knows us, and he gets so excited about meat and treats that you’d think he was a young cat again.

We give him subcutaneous fluids twice a day, Prednilosone twice daily for inflammatory bowel issues, and Procreit three times a week to help stimulate his blood production. He recently was diagnosed with very low blood in his system. Chronic renal failure means that, at some point, the kidneys may no longer make or make enough hormone to stimulate blood production. We went with Procreit and bypassed the blood transfusion hoping that it will work.

I bring him in next week for a checkup. We’re just keeping an eye on him, treating him as much as we can, and enjoying the time we have left with him.

He just screamed at me from the shadows of my desk to let me know that he wanted food. After jumping out of my seat and grabbing my heart, I laughed. Even if I have to take the step of having him euthanized, it will be worth every minute of joy and worry that has blessed my life all because I got a ticket in Brookline and went to the station one night to contest it.

I love you, Hunter.