Thursday, July 31, 2014

Introductions


Hi! My name is Simba No. Some people call me Nala instead. I is a kitten, and I is very cute. I has a new house I got a couple weeks ago and it's pretty neat. I has a big brother, and a mommy and a daddy, and LOTS of toys. There's lots of rules I gots to learn but mommy says I is doing a pretty good job of learning them, I just gets distracted because I is still a baby.

I has sort of figured out that night times are for sleepings, but sometimes the bed still looks reeeeeeally fun to play on so mommy has to wear me out real good before bedtime.

I is losing my baby teeths now so I is chewing on stuff and sometimes trying to eat stuffs I shouldn't, but mommy and daddy are trying to teach me what isn't okay to eat so I can grow out of that. Mommy had to put some bitter icky stuff on one of my wand toys to I won't chew it, because I bit a whole piece off it this morning. Mommy also got me some teething toys to help, and I like to bite them a lot so mommy tries to throw me those every time I chew on things I shouldn't, so I think I is supposed to chew on those toys instead. She says she wishes she could find me more of them so I could have lots all over the house so any time I want to chew, there will be an okay thing to chew right there for me.

I is starting to learn that a cord is not a string, and I think I is not supposed to bite those so I tries not to, but sometimes I sniffs them pretty hard and I still has to be told no. I think mommy just put some of that bitter icky stuff on the cords too so maybe now I will remember.

My big brother is really nice. He was mad at me when I first got here and I don't know why, but now I know to listen when he doesn't want to play, and not to steal his special foods. Daddy says he needs it so I tries to remember to leave it alone. I still sometimes forgets because it smells really good, but I is learning. But I think my big brother likes me now. Here we are in the window:



He doesn't play back yet, and he doesn't want to cuddle with me, but he likes to watch me play so I think for now that's okay.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New baby, day 2

Last night went about as well as can be expected. We had to teach the new brat that the "kitty crazies" are not appropriate on the bed. She got dumped off said bed maybe half a dozen times before she finally seemed to decide maybe we didn't want her attacking everything in sight. Then she curled up and slept through the night.

Today I left the house for a bit this morning, and my other half thought I had taken the kitten with me - I hadn't. So she didn't fuss at all while I was away. I came back to both cats nose to nose again, no hissing. Played with her some more, and Anubis started to watch with interest, and even ran past with his "monkey tail" once. He only curls his tail in that specific manner when he is playing. So we're making very fast progress, and I think they're going to do just fine tomorrow while we're both out out of the house (I have work, he has some errands to run).

So now it's just a matter of teaching her house rules, and calming my own anxiety. I'm one of those people who has issues with change, to the effect that my brain reads any new thing in the house as "scary", so it takes me some time to get used to a new furball. I did the same thing when Simba moved in years ago, so I know it will be okay, but that part of my brain refuses to listen to logic. Maybe it's part of why I understand animals so well. I know what throws them off, because the same things often bug me too.

My mother has dubbed the kitten "Nala", since she looks (and acts) a great deal like Simba. My sister suggested "Kiara" which I liked as well, but my other half put in his vote for Nala, so Nala she is.

Nala is starting to learn to entertain herself a bit, has discovered the "racetrack" (hallway) and has started to use it. She is figuring out what are toys, where she shouldn't go - though she does get curious about places if you are standing next to them. But hopefully this means she will wear herself out some while everyone's away at work, instead of sleeping all day and turning into a maniac at night. If Anubis decides to start playing with her a little too, that will help.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New baby, first evening

We have hit evening of day one.

Though there is still some hissing going on, the kitten is doing a very good job of listening when Anubis warns her off. And he is doing a very good job of allowing her some shared space. She may not go to his chicken bowl, she may NOT sit on his spot on the cedar chest (hoo boy did he not like that), but the regular food bowl in the kitchen, he not only let her eat from, he snuck around the corner to sniff at her tail like he used to with Simba when they were first getting to know one another.

On that note, I am seriously thinking of taking my grandparents suggestion (made in separate conversations no less) to just dub her Simba 2. I've slipped into calling her Simba anyway, and it feels right. They say cats have 9 lives anyway, so who knows?

She's curled up on the couch now, purring away. She seems to be trying to sit in places where she smells that other kitties have sat before. I couldn't figure out why she was insistent on being allowed on James's nightstand, until he told me Anubis has been sitting on it (even when told not to - whoops) so - she smells kitty there, therefore she assumes it's okay to sit there. That also explains why she refused to be deterred from sitting on Gram's table tonight (I ended up having to distract her with string).

Gram discovered she likes plain old yarn (she snubbed the other string-y things I tried to offer her). And it seems those crinkly sparkle balls she also likes - the ones made of cellophane.

Hopefully she and Anubis can get their differences worked out here soon. If Monday rolls around and we're still not sure of it, we're just going to have to clear out one of the bathrooms enough to let her plop in there with a litter box and some food and water since we'll both be out of the house. But if things progress as quickly as they have thus far, they may actually be fine that soon.

Introducing cats, 2014 edition


Anubis has been getting lonely lately, and since I posted about Jellybean, it's no secret that I have been thinking about bringing home a kitten. So a few weeks ago, I started looked at the local humane society to try and find a kitten. lots of sweeties came and went, but none of them seemed to be my cat. They just didn't have that special something, and sometimes the ones that did were a bit too wild to bring home to Anubis.

But today I found someone. She... looks a lot like Simba actually. I don't know what we're going to call her yet.

Anubis seems to have mixed feelings. When we brought her in and opened the carrier (she comes with all her shots and tested negative for all the nasties so no worries there) they touched noses right away, nobody hissed. Until several minutes later when she had explored the house and decided she wanted to play with that other kitty.

Sound familiar?

Yup. This is pretty much the same situation we dealt with when Anubis first moved in, except now he's on the receiving end as the one who is not sure he wants to play.

Go figure.

There was one other worrying development, though. He started hissing at me. That was a bit concerning, as that indicated to us a much higher level of stress. So we agreed the kitten would not be left alone with him for at least the first 24 hours (I am taking her to visit my folks tonight so she's not left in the house - there's no really good place to shut her away, and closed doors will upset Anubis MORE).

Since then, however, he does seem to be calming down somewhat. he saw us tell her "no" a couple of times as we are trying to teach her where she can and cannot jump (much like Simba, it looks like she responds very well and doesn't push the issue if she finds out you don't want her somewhere - she has yet to try to jump into the bathtub again). So he sees now that we are starting to enforce the same rules on her that we do on him. That will help a lot, I think.

He has also used the litterbox since then. I think this accomplished two things. First, it probably made his tummy feel better (he's been swallowing his hair a lot lately and isn't always so cooperative for brushing sessions so we don't get him brushed out as well as we'd like, since they have to stay short). Second, there is now a big stinky I LIVE HERE sign. He seems to be MUCH calmer now, is letting me pet him again already, and even came up to sit by me on the couch. Of course, the munchkin is also asleep right now, so that may have something to do with it. But the litterbox he used is the one in the room she's sleeping in right now, so I'm pretty sure he knows she's still here.

I have opted to leave that poop right where it is for the time being, since it seems to calm him to know he's got a nice big territory marker.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

RIP Jellybean

You life was too short, baby.


In spite of all attempts at treatment, it seems the URI won. All the cats had it this winter, it was a bad one. The cats and kittens were all on antibiotics, had ointment for their eyes, and had started to regain their appetites for a little while, but then they took a turn for the worse again.

None of the kittens made it.

The life of a barn kitty is rough. Worse still when they're born in winter when the weather has been horrible on pretty much every critter out there (and the barn where they lived was even heated, so they didn't get the worst of it, but it still had an effect). Had we taken her sooner, though, she wouldn't have been ready to leave mama cat yet.

Mama cat was a lot less chipper today than I've seen her every other time we've visited. She was totally devoted to those babies. Now she's lost them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kitten update

Just a few more weeks before we will be able to bring the Jellybean home. She's got to have a bit of cleanup done. She has what my mother refers to as "barn kitty eyes" - most barn kittens I've known have had it in one form or another. Usually it seems to clear up once we can get them some flea medicine, but then it may just correlate with getting them away from the standard barn dust and whatnot. It has also been a rough winter, so all the kitties are looking a bit more ragged than usual, even though the barn is heated. Ideally, we will pick her up the same day we're headed to the vet and get all that out of the way before she ever enters the house. As it stands, we have been washing hands and clothing every time we've been to see her, just in case.

Now we get to make sure Anubis is up to date on his shots, get a quarantine room ready, and figure out where we're getting Jellybean's shots and exam done (more than likely she will be taken to the humane society as they do the full testing without charging too much - assuming their vaccination clinic is open again by then).

On the upside, in spite of the eye problems, she does seem interested in playing:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jellybean

"I found you. That means you are mine now, right?"

 So... we might be bringing home a kitten.

Yeah.

There was a winter litter at my aunt's dairy barn just down the road from us, and the runt of the litter has done a pretty good job of getting her wee little claws hooked into my heart. (I say her, but it's only a guess - it's still a little early to be sure, they are all quite tiny still, she just looks less "obvious male" than the other black kitten.)

So far, the kitten has been dubbed Jellybean, because they all looked like wee furry jellybeans when we first walked into the barn and saw them, and it sort of stuck.

Getting ready to climb momma cat to get to me.

We got a few photos today, though not very good ones as it's raining and the barn was pretty dark. Plus the little fuzz-nugget wouldn't stop moving long enough for me to focus my camera (there is video too but my other half has to process that for me - my computer doesn't have enough memory to edit high-def video and he needs to convert the file before we can upload). But today as soon as we walked in, once our little furball heard both our voices she abandoned her lunch and started bawling at us.

We didn't stay long because my aunt was busy and it's rainy and cold today (there's a furnace in the barn but still, I didn't want to keep baby away from warm mama cat for long). But I did get at least those photos before this idiot decided to photobomb:

"What is that in your hand? That hand should be petting me."
He then proceeded to climb all over me and that sort of killed the photoshoot. (Yes, we are aware his eyes need a bit of help - my aunt has some ointment from the vet, the barn kitties have been having a rough winter with all this crazy weather. Most of it's just kitty head colds.)

But we're keeping an eye on the jellybean for now, taking some time to come to a final decision. Momma's running out of milk already, and my cousin says she's already teaching the kittens how to eat regular food, so it may not be much longer, but we want to make sure momma cat has time to teach them what they need to know before we take anybody home.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Or: Why I will no longer buy dragon scale bettas

Say hello to Lo Pan. (No, he has no green-eyed bride.)

In addition to my furry friends, I am also fond of fishkeeping (try saying that one three times fast). Fish were the only thing I could have in college, and with the small space, naturally bettas were my first love. I've had several bettas over the years, most of them outliving their standard life expectancy (they usually only live around five years, and most bettas you buy in the store are already at least a year or two old, as it takes a while for their full finnage to grow out, so they look more impressive once they are past breeding age). Our most recent loss, Lucius, was with us for at least six years.

My current betta, Lo Pan, is what is known as a "dragon" or "dragon scale" betta. Dragon scale bettas are characterized by thicker, more noticeable scales, which usually have a very metallic sheen. Lo Pan was the first of this type I was really drawn to - most of them are not really "my type" when it comes to looks, but this guy just had a little something extra.

Still the same fish. Every angle of the light changes his color.

It wasn't until I got him home that I noticed anything wrong.

First was that his gills cannot flare all the way. One way I check the health of my bettas is to hold up a mirror to encourage them to flare in a typical territorial display. This way I can see their fins fully. They also bring their gills forward and fan them out to make themselves look larger. (Just a note, you should do this sparingly as it does get them riled and that's not healthy if they're doing it too often.) Lo Pan, I noticed, could not properly fan his gills out. He tries, but they snap back very quickly. I am not certain if this affects his breathing - it has been a bit difficult finding much information about this, but scales growing over the gills seems to be noted by some as a common condition in dragon scale bettas.

I also noticed, once I got him into better light, that there was a scale growing over one eye. I asked about it online, and was told by another betta enthusiast that this is known as "diamond eye" and is also very common in dragon bettas. I was also told this usually becomes more prominent as the fish gets older, and most will eventually go blind, if they are not already.

You can see the scale over his eye very clearly in this photo.

Today as I looked at him, he tried to flare at me again - the issue with his gills seems worse than before.

This seems problematic to me. As beautiful as Lo Pan is, I do not wish to encourage the breeding of unhealthy fish. So he will be my last dragon scale, unless I can find evidence that there are breeders that have found a way to eliminate this problem while still keeping the beautiful scale pattern.

I can't stop others from buying them, but I can stop buying them myself. Not that I will judge people for buying these fish from stores since they are already there - I know plenty of people who prefer to "rescue" fish like this to make sure that the person who takes them home can at least give them a good life. But as for me, much like my decision not to buy fish from certain chain stores, I do not wish to encourage the practice to continue. It hurts my heart to leave them there, but it has to stop somewhere.

If anyone has more information on these issues, feel free to send links. I would like to learn more.

For those who have a betta who is already going blind, I can offer some suggestions that others have sent me: bettas can also smell their food, so if you are using pellets, you can dip them in chicken broth or (so I am told) even a little bit of garlic oil so they can find their food more easily.