Saturday, January 27, 2018

It's been a while

Baby's first toy.

I know it's been quite a while since my last post. I haven't felt up to blogging much since we lost Anubis. But in July of 2016, my other half and I decided it was time to start looking again, and we found this guy at the shelter. He was just a tiny, pitch-black ball of fluff at the time, only 10 weeks old. He ran under my legs and wouldn't leave. He claimed us, and so we brought him home. We ha originally intended to pick a friend to bring with him, but he didn't seem particularly interested in any of the other kittens, so for now we adopted him as an only child. (SimbaToo - now known simply as "Kitty" - still lives with my parents and has pretty solidly bonded with my mother, so there she stays.)

Ceiling fans are confusing.

He very quickly settled in, and we breathed a sigh of relief when he took his cues from us and slept through the first night. After some deliberation, my other half chose the name Night for our new little monster. He was rambunctious and feisty, but very smart and so quickly learned the rules of the house (though we had a little trouble with him trying to eat anything he found on the floor, including lint and strings, so all small objects had to be put away or discarded).

And then he grew. And grew. And grew. By 6 months old he was already larger than the average cat, and still growing. The vet confirmed he is probably at least part Maine Coon, and said he is likely to keep growing to at least 2 years of age. So far that is proving to be true.

Turn on the faucet, please?
He developed a love for water - but only on his terms. Eventually he figured out that we can control the magic faucet where water comes out, and started begging us to turn on the "drippies" for him.

Reusable shipping bag for scale.
And still he continued to grow. At last weigh-in, he was almost 14lbs - and that was a few months ago. He has grown more since then.

He is a very muscular cat, with very shiny fur - we think this was helped along by his food. We settled on Hill's Ideal Balance for him, as the ingredients list was on par with some of the more expensive brands like Wellness, but was a brand we knew we could find fairly easily. Plus they had an adult food that matched the flavor of their kitten food, which made for an easier transition. He also gets a bit of wet food in the evening, mixed with lysine powder to help control the symptoms of his feline herpes - a chronic respiratory infection that is common in cats who came from a shelter environment. He had some issues as a kitten with some nasty flareups, and the vet determined he has a sensitive immune system due to his lymph nodes swelling several times, but as he has gotten older he has stayed fairly healthy so long as we keep up with the lysine.

He loves little plush toys.
Night does not seem to have gotten the memo that most cats mellow out as they approach a year of age. He's about a year and a half old now and still tears through the house at top speed, and prefers to have several hours of playtime a day. His favorite toy is a blue stuffed bunny we purchased at the dollar store around Easter last year - I am currently watching for them to return so I can buy him a bunch of backups, just in case poor bunny gets torn up beyond repair.

Restoring his chocolate tips in the sunlight.
He does have some quirks we need to work through, mainly getting very fixated on things to the point of obsession. His love of drippies has turned into obsessively sticking his paws down drains, and pawing aggressively at the tap when it's off, so we are currently working with him on that. We also had a mouse in the walls for a while this winter, and he would ignore his food for hours on end just to stare at the spot where he last heard it, waiting for it to come back. We tried Rescue Remedy for a bit and it did help, but his fixation on water increased once the mouse went away so we've taken him off it until such time as we need it again.

Gotta keep that fur perfect.
He also seems to have VERY sensitive hearing, which at times leads him to be a little jumpy, but he is getting better on that front. He seems to have sensitive skin as well, and we found that we are unable to use standard flea treatments on him. This sensitivity also makes him a bit difficult to groom. Thankfully he usually is able to keep up with it himself, except during heavy shedding season. He also has the softest fur of any cat I've ever known.

Warming his toes by the space heater.
Night's hobbies include kneading on blankets, playing chase through the house, scratching on the couch (never mind his several scratching posts that lay ignored all over the house), nomming on mommy's arm when she's not paying him enough attention, and stealing small objects. He is still working on his stealth skill and has not quite figured out how mommy and daddy always know he has stolen something when he's crouched over it so they can't see. It's like we're psychic or something.

Heat vent and sunshine - double the warm!
All in all he is growing up to be a gorgeous cat, very smart and active and full of mischief. It's hard to remember with his size that he is still technically a kitten. At least until he warbles out his war cry right before tearing down the hallway after his toys.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Another Goodbye

I think I am finally in a mental state where I can try to explain the last two posts without getting tears all over my keyboard. We've said goodbye to another furry family member.

On December 9th, at 5pm, we said our farewells to Anubis.

It all started with what we thought was just another bout of his IBD that flares up sometimes, especially when the seasons are changing and he starts shedding more. We called the vet, they checked him over, and gave him his standard run of meds to help with digestive troubles (as well as some antibiotics for his teeth, since he has some dental disease and at his age they didn't want to risk taking him into surgery). We got some special food he could eat with a syringe, since he has lost some electrolytes and therefore some of his coordination, so he needed a little help with eating.

After several days of TLC he seemed to be doing better, everything was looking up, life started to go back to semi-normal.

But then something when wrong. He stopped eating on his own again. He started acting lethargic. Something didn't feel right, and I thought I felt a lump where there shouldn't be one, so I panicked. I called the vet, then I called James who said he would meet us there. We were worried about his kidneys, since his bloodwork had shown some troubles with that in the past.

The lump turned out to be nothing - just something about the way he was sitting. The vet checked him over, everything seemed good. But then both she and James noticed the skin on his ears looked a little yellow, so we decided to have some bloodwork done again, just to be safe.

His liver was failing.

All of the levels that would indicate liver trouble were through the roof. One of them was so far off the charts, they had to dilute the sample to even get a reading. It had to have happened within the previous day or so. Everything else was good. Everything else, through medication and modification of his diet had brought his other vitals all back within normal ranges - even his kidneys, which I worried my homemade diet might fall short on after he refused to eat the commercially available foods. But there was no way to prevent his liver from giving out. And the vet told us anything they could do to fix it would not in any way be kind to him - hospitalization, tubes in the stomach, and they couldn't even guarantee he'd come out of it alright.

So we were told to take him home for one last night. Spoil him. Love him. Say goodbye. We bought him fried chicken, which he loved, but he didn't get very often because it's not very good for him. He ate a lot of it that night. I wonder if he knew it was his last chance. Or maybe he just thought it would make us happy to see him eat. We gave him his holiday presents early - with lots and lots of catnip. We figured maybe the catnip would ease the pain a little. We hoped he would pass on his own in the night while he was sleeping.

The next morning he was still hanging on, skin an even deeper shade of yellow, still wanting cuddles. Still refusing to go. Every time he started to so much as fall asleep he would jerk himself awake again. And so the time came for his appointment. And even then he tried to hang on. But the injection did its work. We hated having to make that decision, but we hated even more to see him keep on suffering, and it was the last gift we could give him in this lifetime. He isn't hurting anymore.

We buried him in my parents' yard next to Simba. The vet's office gave us an imprint of his paw to keep, which we plan on making a nice shadow box for. I have a painting of him that will end up hanging in James's home office once we get it framed. We're really going to miss him. The house feels so empty without him. But it's going to be a while, we think, before we bring anyone else home. SimbaToo is happy with my parents and though we plan to visit her plenty, we don't want to take her away now that she's bonded with them so well.

I know I'm going to keep thinking I see him for a while. Every time I see a shadow out of the corner of my eye, every time I walk by the places where he slept, I'm going to want him to be there. We haven't been able to bear to put away or even wash up the cat beds yet. Haven't moved his bowls. It feels too soon for that. Maybe eventually, just not now.

And I was wrong. It seems typing this brought the tears all back. But then, the pain never really goes away completely. It just sort of dulls into the background after a while.

They may leave our homes earlier than we would like, but they never leave our hearts.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Good Kitty

Once upon a time, there was a kitty so good, and so brave, that the Heavens wanted to keep him for their own. But this kitty knew that down on Earth, there was a man he deemed worthy of his love, who would love him just as much in return. And so he left the Heavens to be born in such a place where he knew his man would find him. And find him he did.

But the man was still just a boy, and did not live alone. And so life was not easy from the start, for not everyone was so nice and loving, and the Heavens wept for the good kitty was now on Earth where they could not keep him from pain and strife. The kitty was plagued with fleas, and began life very ill, but the boy took care of him. And when other people shouted and did not-so-nice things to the boy, the kitty was there to comfort him.

And so it went, the good kitty and his boy protecting each other and standing by each other through all of life's trials, until one day when the boy was a man, they left for a better home.

Life was better for the kitty and his man at this new place, and the kitty even met another good kitty who he came to love very much. And not the kitty not only had a Daddy to live with, but a Mommy too. The kitty was very happy for a time, and forgot all about the Heavens and their lack of strife.

Until one day the other good kitty got hurt, and he began to worry. What if the Heavens took her back? What would he do if she was taken away from him? He loved his man, but he also loved the other good kitty. And so when the Heavens took her, he contemplated going to join her. And the Heavens would have welcomed him back with open arms. But it was not to be so. The good kitty decided that his Daddy needed him more, and so he stayed on Earth to wait for the other good kitty to sneak away again, and he was sure that his family would find her.

Every day he grew a little stronger, a little happier until he was okay again. But he was getting older, and the Heavens wanted him back. And so one day they tried to take him. But the kitty said "no, it is not time for me to go yet," and he fought and his Daddy fought with him to help make him well again. And so the Heavens were forced to let go, and wait patiently until it was time.

More than a year they waited, and watched as he grew happy and playful again, with his Daddy and Mommy taking such good care of him that even the doctors were amazed and pleased at how his health had improved. But the Heavens knew something that the good kitty's family did not. Something the good kitty tried to hide. The good kitty's body was failing, and it was starting to hurt.

He tried to hang on, as good kitties often do, but one day his family began to notice, and they were afraid. They loved the good kitty very much and did not want to lose him. And he fought very hard - he wanted to stay, too, you see - and his family on Earth tried to fight to save him. But then the doctor found something that was wrong and could not be fixed. She said that it was time to say goodbye. The good kitty's family was very sad, but they told him he was allowed to rest. But still the good kitty would not rest. He felt that his Daddy, this man he has chosen all for his own, still needed him. And so, in spite of his pain, the good kitty tried to stay. But the good kitty's family knew it was time to go.

They knew the Heavens would welcome him back, for he was good and brave, and very smart. He was the best kitty anyone could ever ask for.

And they also knew that someday that good kitty would sneak away from the Heavens again, and when he did, he would come to find them.

Because good kitties always come home.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

We said goodbye today

We said goodbye today
with fried chicken and catnip and some of your favorite things.
We cried some
We cuddled some.
But most of all we told you it was time to rest.

We said goodbye today
and the sun came out for a while, just for you.
There were warm blankets
and calming sounds
and lots and lots of tears.

We said goodbye today
and told you we will always love you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

On Photography and Living in the Moment

Every so often I'll see a post somewhere about how everyone should stop taking photographs when they're out someplace beautiful and just enjoy the scenery. That focusing on taking a picture ruins the experience, keeps you from living in the moment.

Now, that may be true for some people. But it certainly isn't true for me. And it makes me think that perhaps there is a fundamental misunderstanding about how the photographer's mind works.

See, photography isn't just about snapping any old shot, ignoring everything else, and walking away. It's so much more than apertures and shutter speeds and filters. It's about immersing yourself in the moment. It's about feeling such a deep connection to your surroundings that you want to try and capture it so that you and others can go back to it later. It's about framing the shot just right to make it feel like you're really there, whether it's a wide shot to capture the vastness of the scenery, or a macro shot of a flower so close you can almost smell it. It's about waiting for that cloud to pass so that the light will come through the leaves just so, and make everything shine. It's about waiting for a smile, a turn of the head, a certain gleam in the eyes.

It's so much more than just point and shoot. It doesn't matter whether I am working with a phone camera, my SLR, or anything in between. I see something I want to capture. I stop. I frame. I inhale. I focus. I wait, and exhale slowly, then push the shutter button when the timing is right. Sure, now that everything's in digital, I don't have the same restrictions film gave me. I can try that shot again, and again, and again. But each shot is taken with the same care as the last, each one bringing me just a little closer to whatever I'm trying to photograph.

For the photographer, taking a picture is how we live in the moment. And maybe, if we get that perfect shot, we'll be able to live it over and over again, even after our subject has long gone.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Video Update

Not much to report, so instead have a pair of videos I've taken over the past several weeks to fill in as your kitty update.

First, of course, we have Anubis. As you can see he is doing fairly well on his meds. He still has his bad days, but for the most part he seems to be happy.

SimbaToo is also doing well over at my folks' place. From what I am told her nap schedule is increasing to more slots per day, but she is still a maniac in between. She also eats EVERYTHING (to the point that my parents have to be careful not to drop anything on the floor even for a second), and seems to be trying for a bit of a blimp impersonation (she has now been switched to a lower calorie, adult food).

Friday, June 12, 2015

Remembering Simba

So, Amy Shojai's new novel is coming out soon, and once again she is having a character naming contest on her website. For those who don't know, Simba (the original, not the wee munchkin) made it into Amy's first fiction book, Lost and Found. So of course, I've been taking a bit of a trip down memory lane.

The wounds, I think, have closed up as much as they're ever going to now. Naturally, they never close completely. I still sometimes cry over my first dog Jodi, after all, and she's been gone for nearly 15 years. But I can at least look at old photographs now without hurting so much I have to put them away.

Compared to the little nutball who was named after her, she was always so calm and proper. It seems like looks are about the only thing they have in common. Simba was finicky. SimbaToo will eat anything. Simba loved being pet anywhere - belly included. SimbaToo is VERY selective about when and where anybody pets her. Of course, the newbie is only just a year old and not done maturing yet, so she may yet become Simba-ish as she ages. But it's interesting to me that a kitten that reminds me so much of her namesake can have such a vastly different personality.

They both, however, share the same fondness for pillows.
Not that I can ever really compare the two, of course. They are who they are. It's just strange to think about sometimes. Mostly I'm just glad Anubis has learned to get by.