The big news this week in our area were the eerie yellow and red skies due to the marine layer lofting the smoke from fires up north high into the atmosphere. (More here.) It was yellow and dark most of the day here in Mountain View, but further south and north the skies were red and much darker. But the air quality at ground level was actually fine, it just made for a from and foreboding rising every time one looked out the window.
The apparent end of the world was overshadowed for me because Jackson started showing signs of conjunctivitis again, meaning I guess the respiratory infection some of the cats had a month ago isn’t entirely gone. So we took him to the vet and got some meds. We couldn’t take him in until the end of the day, so I spent much of the day looking out at the dire heavens, and worrying about our boy. So we’re going him two meds for a week and then we’ll revisit. It remains to be seen whether the others will also need meds, although Edison started showing signs of eye trouble today. Sigh. I was really hoping a month after finishing the last round of meds that we were done with this.
(Despite the dramatic coloring, our weather was greatly overshadowed for the rest of the country by the disastrous wildfires in Oregon, which have been about as bad as anything I can recall in California.)
Unfortunately the marine layer moved out of the area by Friday, which meant the smoke came down to earth, and our air quality has been lousy for the last couple of days. Even worse up in San Francisco, I think. But we’ve basically been sitting inside, running the house fan and occasionally and A/C (the outside temperature did hit 80°F today, and the sun even came out). I don’t think anyone really knows, but the best prediction I’ve heard is that we won’t get relief (in the form of winds blowing the smoke elsewhere) until at least Monday.
Of course, the best thing would be for the fires to get put out. California firefighters have been doing a heroic job of containing the fires – the three large ones around the Bay Area are almost completely contained – but the whole west coast and several inland states have been set ablaze and things are bad.
Anyway, hopefully next week will be better. On top of the pandemic, this week was just nuts.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first: You may recall that they had upper respiratory infections and kitty conjunctivitis when they arrived, which we treated them for. Well, it turns out it was worse than that: The infection they almost certainly had from the start was kitty chlamydia, which we learned when their big brother Jackson’s right eye started watering and got hecka inflamed. We found out because we took him in to get tested.
So the three boys were on antibiotics for three weeks. We decided not to treat Sadie and Roulette because neither of them had showed any symptoms, and both of them had been avoiding the kittens (and Roulette avoids Jackson anyway). It was a bit of a risk, because if it turns out one of them was infected, then we’ll get to do this again, for all five of them. So of course every time I see Sadie sniffle I think, “uh oh”. But Sadie is a sniffly, slightly-drooly cat anyway, and she hasn’t shown the eye watering that all three of the boys showed. It’s been a week and a half since we finished their meds and none of them seem to be showing any symptoms, so it seems we got away with it.
The other downer is that a couple of weeks ago we were watching The Mandalorian, while the kittens were playing hard, when Edison jumped down off the top of the cat tree and must have twisted his ankle or something because he stopped putting weight on one of his rear legs and went and hid behind the couch. We put a stop to playtime for the night and corralled him and took the kittens up to their room and closed the door and left them alone for half an hour. Then we checked on them and he was limping, but he was using the leg again. So we decided to let it go to the next day, and while he was favoring the leg he was using it, and it wasn’t stopping him from running around. So we’ve kept an eye on him, and will probably ask the vet to take a look when we bring him in for their next shots. He was less adventurous about jumping for a while, but maybe it was psychological. Recently he’s been back to his old self, getting all kind of places, so hopefully it was something small.
We have another appointment for them to get their next round of shots in a week so we’ll have the vet check them out and make sure they’re okay. Fingers crossed!
Anyway, end of bad news.
The good news is that both kittens are growing up and are now in that delightful time where they’re able to do more, and they’re interacting with us more.
You may have guessed that they’re no longer confined to a bedroom. We staged letting them out, first giving them play time upstairs – usually with Jackson monitoring or even playing with them – and then giving them supervised visits downstairs. Next we let them out all day from morning til night, putting them back for the night. And finally last weekend we left them out overnight, which predictably ended up with us being kitten-piled at 2:30 am, but otherwise they seem to have adjusted well.
Jackson, somewhat to our surprise, is quite fond of the kittens. At first when they’d run up to him he’d tackle them too hard and they became wary of him, but after a week or so he figured it out, and the kittens would look for him whenever we let them out of their room. Simon in particular loves Jackson and would rub up against him whenever he first saw him after being released. We eventually caught Jackson and Simon sleeping together, with Jackson roughly grooming Simon and Simon purring away in happiness. The next development was hearing cats running around the house and spotting Edison chasing Jackson through the dining room. That chase ended with a hiss, I think because Jackson didn’t think a kitten could keep up with him, but they’ve had some chase time since then and it’s gone well. Jackson sometimes gets a little tired of the kittens and finds a place to get away from them, but mostly they get along great.
Sadie and Roulette… it’s a work in progress. Sadie I think has been trying to figure out how to play with them, but has been having a hard time finding a way to do it without wapping them with her paw. It’s funny because she and they all have their spaz-all-over-the-house moments, but they haven’t played chase yet.
Meanwhile, I think Edison is looking for his special big cat to love, the way Simon has Jackson, and he’s chosen… Roulette, our grumpy 17-year-old cat who has spent most of the time since the kittens arrived under our bed. Fortunately we quickly identified that she came down to eat and use the litter, and finally she started coming down to hang out with us in the evening. But Rou would really like to be an only cat. Which is why Edison giving her the hard sell has been so funny: Sitting near her, watching her, trying to sneak up on her and lie next to her or lick her head. She is getting less belligerent, but I don’t know whether he’ll win her over. But he’s trying so hard. It would serve her right if he does, though, since that’s basically the hard sell that she gave my cat Jefferson when she was a kitten.
We’ve been trying to promote acceptance by giving everyone wet cat food together. Roulette and Simon are both very food-oriented, and Jackson and Edison will also join in. Sadie is not really food-oriented and often sits and watches.
As you probably know California has been wracked with wildfires for the last couple of weeks, and the air quality combined with unusually warm weather this month has led us to keep the house closed up and the A/C on for most of the time since we released the kittens for good. So they haven’t really gotten the full experience of sitting in windows and watching things outdoors. They’ve gotten a little of that in the last couple of days, and it seems Simon is a sunbeam cat, while Edison is going to be the one who tracks every little thing that goes by outside. Hopefully we can make sure that doesn’t include him.
The best part is that both of them like to snuggle with us, and each one will spend time sleeping on our chest or sometimes our lap. Edison in particular will sometimes get up and visit each one of us, sitting on our chest for a couple of minutes purring away before he goes back to whatever he was doing. And sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night with one of the cats snoozing next to us.
Despite the hiccups, these are still great kittens, and I’m really glad we got them.
After a long and stressful week, Jackson is finally home!
Wednesday the vet called to say that Jackson still hadn’t passed whatever it was, and recommended we take him to another, more expensive, vet – a.k.a., the hospital – since they had both an ultrasound machine and the capability to do surgery if necessary. So I picked up the little troublemaker – who had an IV needle in one paw and a cone over his head and drove him over.
Despite the cone and hating the car, Jackson loves the vet – at least, he loves checking out the exam room and the people who come to see him:
At least, he was very excited until it was time to say goodbye so he could go in the back. And I could go to work.
Thursday they called to say that they’d given him an enema (which I bet he loved!) and that he successfully pooped out – a hair tie. Which is kind of what we thought it might have been, although there was a chance it might have been a Lego-like brick. They suggested they keep him for one more night to make sure he was fully recovered.
So Friday I left work early to go pick him up. It was, like, 95°F outside, and he meowed the whole way home. He came right out and checked out the house when we opened his carrying case, and then he spent the next hour or so grooming himself all over (the details of which I’ll leave to your imagination).
Since then he’s been, well, I’d call it subdued. Not lethargic, but not completely back to normal. But he’s been eating, not throwing up, and mostly acting like his normal self. And very happy to be home – probably even happier than we are to have him home! He may be a little bundle of trouble, but he’s an important part of our household, and we missed him.
I’m heads-down at work this month making the annual push for our upcoming conference, while Debbi is preparing for an off-site for her team at work later this week. Besides that we’ve been doing some deferred maintenance on our home (perhaps worth a post of its own), we’re planning a vacation this summer, I’m juggling discussions with other family members about things they’ve got going on, and I’ve been sifting through some bills which need attention (almost missed the due date for our homeowners insurance – whoops!).
So with all of that we did not need to have Jackson start throwing up repeatedly on Sunday night, waking us up twice, and requiring repeated spot-cleanings of the upstairs carpet over a 12-hour period. (Speaking of home maintenance, we should really get them steam-cleaned, too!)
By the time I came back from my run Monday morning he seemed to have stopped, but he was definitely a little out-of-sorts, possibly from not having slept enough himself the night before.
So Debbi made an appointment yesterday and took him to the vet. I’d hoped to make time to join her, but even for this time of year yesterday was an especially busy day, so I wasn’t able to make it. The vet took X-rays and – as we’d guessed – he apparently ate something, apparently a small rectangle maybe a half an inch by an inch or two, which the vet thinks was irritating his stomach. We’d learned a few weeks ago that someone – probably him – had eaten and thrown up one of Debbi’s hair ties – which you’d think would be very common, but Jackson is the first cat we’ve owned who’s gone after them. So apparently he got something else and swallowed it.
Debbi left him at the vet overnight, and the vet called to say that the object has apparently passed into his colon already, so there’s some chance that it might just come out the other end, which would certainly be the best case. (The worst case would be surgery to remove it.) So hopefully she’ll call and give us some good news today.
So we spent the night without Jackson, which was certainly a little quieter, since he’s our big troublemaker, often pawing at our venetian blinds at 4 am and forcing us to kick him out of the bedroom. But we’ve been missing him, and his sister Sadie has been especially snuggly; as our herding cat, I think she’s upset when members of her household are unexpectedly missing.
But this is stress we really did not need this week!
Well, not literally. But this week has been nice and cool at night (compared to the over-90s highs we suffered through most of last week), so at night we’ve not had the fan on while we slept. And that’s confirmed that our cat Jackson really does not like the fan in our bedroom.
He doesn’t especially hate fans, but when the fan is on overnight he doesn’t sleep with us. And in fact he tries to wake us up once or twice by pawing at the venetian blinds, to the point that we often chase him out and close the door. This week, he’s slept with us more nights than not, and has hardly disturbed us at all. And at least twice he’s been snoozing on Debbi’s side of the bed when I woke up (Debbi leaves for work before my alarm goes off – we have a time-shifted marriage).
Well either that or there’s some temperature threshold above which he won’t sleep with us, but the correlation seems stronger with the fan. I don’t know what it is about the fan that does it, since he’ll sleep on the couch downstairs underneath a running fan, and he doesn’t seem hostile towards any of the fans. Just some funny association in his little kitty brain, I guess!
We took the kittens to the vet yesterday for their annual check-up. At 14 months, they’re not really kittens anymore, but we still call them that, and probably will for a while.
We also brought Roulette for her check-up. In the past she always rode in our large carrier with her brother Blackjack, but since he passed away just about a year ago, we decided to put her in a small carrier by herself and put the kittens together in the large carrier.
Result: Roulette meowed the whole drive, and Sadie meowed from time to time and even louder than Roulette. Jackson was completely blasé about the whole thing.
In fact, Jackson was perfectly happy at the vet: He came out of his carrier, tail straight up, and checked out everything in the office, and was perfectly pleasant to everyone he met. Other than a brief yowl when his temperature was taken, he was quite comfortable in this new place. He really is the alpha cat, I guess! We also learned just how enormous a cat he is, which is to say, not as enormous as we’d thought: He weighed in at 14-1/2 pounds, well under the 16 pounds I’d guessed, and even the 15 that Debbi guessed. He’s about the side Jefferson was when Jeff wasn’t getting pudgy.
Sadie was also pretty comfortable at the vet, but Roulette was not, and had to be pulled out of her carrier for her exam. And afterwards she jumped down and went into the large carrier and curled up. So we decided to have her and Sadie ride home together, since they get along pretty well (it’s Jackson and Rou who don’t get along – specifically, Roulette does not like Jackson).
(Aside: Roulette is a little lighter than Debbi had expected, at 11 pounds. Sadie weighed in at 10 pounds, fluffiness and all.)
Putting the girls together worked great, as everyone was relatively quiet on the ride home, and Roulette was even up and looking around during the ride. When we got home we let them all out and the three sort of followed each other around looking a little dazed by the experience, without any friction between Jackson and Rou. So maybe there was a little bonding that went on during the trip.
The adventure took a lot out of them as they slept most of the rest of the day.
Oh yeah: And they’re all healthy, which was the point of the trip in the first place.
It’s been a couple of months since Newton passed away. I’m not sure Jackson and Sadie really noticed. I mean, I’m sure they did in some way, but it didn’t slow them down. They both started lying in Newton’s spot on the couch pretty quickly (to be fair, so did Debbi and I). But he was not a big part of their life for very long.
Roulette has taken his passing harder. It doesn’t help that Jackson still chases her from time to time, and doesn’t take her hissing at him as a signal to stop. She spent several weeks mostly upstairs, and mostly under the guest bed, which seems to be her safe spot. She would come down at night and sit on the back of the family room couch and mostly try to avoid Jackson. She recognized that Sadie is not a big threat, even though Sadie would chase her too, sometimes.
But I think she’s been a bit stunned by the last of the three cats she grew up with passing away. It’s been a sad time for her.
We wondered what would happen when we went away for our vacation for 12 days. We found a great cat sitter through a friend, and knew that she would give them all plenty of attention and play time, but still Roulette would be alone with the kittens for at least 23 hours a day.
Oh, and the kittens ceased being kittens early in September, as it turned out their recorded birthday is September 4.
Our first night back we realized that Roulette was coming in to our bedroom, and leaving when she noticed Jackson in there. I suspect she expanded her territory to include our bedroom while we were gone, and that the kittens mostly stayed downstairs.
Also, since we got home she’s been spending more time downstairs, and not a lot of time under the bed. She sits on the couches, and on the dining room table in the sun during the morning. Last week when I sat in the living room reading comics she curled up with me for most of the evening, and even tolerated each of Sadie and Jackson lying with us, for a while.
This weekend she started lying on the family room couch itself, not just on the back, and she’s been cuddling up next to me and Debbi. And there’s been less chasing, and less hissing. And she plays with toys when we bring them out sometimes, too. She’s also joined me in the study to pester me while I’m paying bills. And Debbi even noticed her eating next to Jackson yesterday. Sadie has gone up to her and groomed her a little without any growling.
So I think she’s started to get used to the kittens, slowly, slowly. I think the next step will be to see her and Sadie grooming each other, or at least snoozing together. Perhaps not any time soon, but maybe it will happen.
But we did get some pics of the three of them lying together on the couch, in Newton’s spot, for a little while:
The kittens have had the run of the house for about a month and a half now, and things seem to be going well. There are some expected bumps, though.
Jackson is turning out to be the troublemaker. He’s gone behind the A/V cabinet and chewed on some of the thinner cables, breaking both the AM and FM antennae for my receiver. (It turns out those are hard to replace – no one really carries replacements!) We’ve piled empty boxes back there, but he keeps trying to get back there anyway. Then we grab him and put him in time out (holding him against his will) and he mews pitifully. He tries to force his way into our food at meal time, and yesterday stood on a spoon covered in pesto sauce while licking a plate. He likes to “help” me scoop the litter, standing in the box and batting at the scoop.
Sadie is not quite as rambunctious, and has gotten snugglier as she’s grown up. She likes getting attention in the middle of the night, which is not ideal, but she also likes to check out what people are doing. Sometimes I’ll be in the study and she’ll walk in meowing, and I think she just wanted to know where I am and make sure I’m okay. One morning she climbed through the shade in the front window to watch me leave for work.
Sadie is turning out to be a medium-long haired cat, which I would not have guessed from when she was a kitten. I’ll need to get her used to getting brushed. Jackson is definitely short-haired, and his fur is starting to soften a little. Jackson is going to be long and lanky, as I think I’ve said before, while Sadie will have a more compact body.
(click for larger images)
The kittens get along very well with Newton, and often sleep with him. I think Newton enjoys the attention, and I wonder if he was a little bored, lonely, or even feeling a little abandoned before the kittens, since he now spends time with them in group grooming sessions and seems a little perkier and happier (now that Sadie isn’t pouncing on him). I know he doesn’t like all the medicines and subcutaneous fluids he has to take, so the more innocent attention the kittens give him might make him happy. He’s also taught them about drinking out of the sink in the downstairs bathroom.
Getting along with Roulette is taking longer. There’s still some hissing, and Sadie sometimes chases her, which we can’t really tell whether she enjoys or not. Maybe sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t. Sadie really wants to be like Rou, and we often see her imitating the big cat. They don’t quite sleep together in the sun on the guest bed, but close. Jackson has tried to win her over by being snuggly like he was with Newton, but so far it hasn’t worked. But at least Roulette isn’t hiding under the bed all the time, and Debbi even saw her and Jackson playing next to each other in some brown packing paper we’d put on the floor.
They’ve also been doing very well with guests: We had Chad & Camille and their kids over last weekend and the kittens were quite sociable. Today we had Subrata & Susan and their son over for part of the Super Bowl and they again were quite happy to check out everything everyone was doing. It’s nice not to have either cat running and hiding when people come over.
Yesterday we took the kittens to the vet for their last round of shots. When we were there a little over a month ago, Sadie was around 4 lbs and Jackson was a bit over 3 lbs. Jackson has passed Sadie and is now at 7 lbs, while Sadie is a little over 6 lbs. The vet thinks Jackson will be a 14-15 lb kitty, while Sadie will be 10-11. That’s gonna be a lot of Jackson to deal with!
Jackson is proofreading this post as I type, so I’ll sign off with a picture of the two of us. Carefully taken to crop out (most of) the horrible bed-head I had that morning before my shower:
Frankly my feeling about 2012 is that it shouldn’t let the door hit it on the way out.
The year started quietly enough, but in March Newton spent several days in the hospital. I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it when we brought him in, but he pulled through and is still with us today. It made for a really rough month, though.
Sadly, Blackjack wasn’t so lucky, as he passed away last month 20 months after being diagnosed with lymphoma. We don’t have any regrets about making the decision, but it made for an un-merry holiday season.
The second half of the year was dominated by my Mom’s affairs, which has been very stressful for me – and rather expensive, with three trips back east. In July I flew back to help take care of her while she was rehabbing from knee replacement surgery. This trip seemed like a big disruption at the time, but in hindsight – in contrast to what followed – I remember it as practically a vacation (albeit one where I was working remotely every workday): I had dinners with friends and with my Dad, and went down to visit Debbi’s family at their beach house three times. And Mom’s cat Maggie and I bonded in the evenings.
But this was just the beginning, as soon after I returned we decided that Mom would be moving into an assisted living home. This led to a second trip in August to take over managing her financial affairs. And another trip in October where my sister and I worked on going through her physical stuff. My uncle (who’s done this for family members himself) did give me some good advice, though, that many of the things I had to do are straightforward so long as you attend to them and don’t let them languish, and frankly he’s been right. As much as I’ve disliked having to do many of these things, I haven’t really run into any real problems in getting them done.
The whole year wasn’t bad. Debbi’s parents visited us in February, and my Dad came to visit in April. I got to see a lot of Dad this year with my trips back east; as I said at the end of the August trip, it was good to see him and Mom (and Debbi’s family), but the rest of the trip sucked.
And in November we expanded our furry family with the addition of Jackson and Sadie, who have been a handful but have also been a nice distraction from some of the other things going on.
So I dearly hope that 2013 will be a better year, with less stress and less sadness. I still have some worries about things I have to take care of, and I think I’m just going to be worried about Newton’s health from here on out (he will, after all turn 19 in April).
My hope for this year is that the tasks I have to accomplish for my family go smoothly, and that Debbi and I can take a few vacations. That and healthy kitties is all I really ask from this new year.
The kittens have been a nice distraction from Blackjack’s passing. They’re getting big so quickly! A about two weeks ago we started letting them out of their room to start exploring. First we let them have half the upstairs hallway and a bathroom, then the whole upstairs (guarded by a baby gate and a human sitting at it at the top of the stairs). They loved chasing each other back and forth through the hall and bedrooms, and they explored the bathrooms, and the beds, and various other things.
A melancholy moment was when Sadie went to the laundry basket where she’d encountered Blackjack before, and we’re pretty sure she remembered him and was looking for him, as he was the first kitty she’d really met. I like to think Sadie and Blackjack would have become friends, had things gone differently.
Last weekend we opened up the whole house to them (except for the study and the laundry room). They careened down the stairs and suffered a major traction loss when they got to the hardwood floors downstairs, but since then they’ve loved it! Jackson likes hanging out under the Christmas tree (and we have to stop him from chewing on it), and they both like to scale the cat tree.
I think it took the better part of the two days last weekend for them to finally calm down enough to sit and snooze with us. At times we’d see Sadie walking around looking absolutely exhausted, but she was still so excited that she didn’t want to sleep because she might miss something! But eventually they napped: Sadie sleeps loafed up on a couch cushion, while Jackson sleeps on his side with his legs sticking out. And then they wake up and do it all over again.
(click for larger image)
We still put them in their room overnight or when we’re leaving the house (and sometimes just to give the big cats a break from them), but they’re totally looking forward to being out all the time. And we’re being really careful when we go outside when they’re out to make sure they don’t try to dart outside.
The big cats are doing okay with them. There’s been some hissing. Jackson seems to back off when hissed at, he doesn’t want to get smacked down. Sadie, though, runs after Roulette and paws at her even when hissed at; I think those two are going to have to throw down at some point. If Roulette would just smack her a couple of times that might resolve things, but so far she hasn’t. Sadie has even tackled Newton on the couch a couple of times!
Roulette ran upstairs the first few times we let them out, but now she stays downstairs and is usually either under the futon, or on the back of the couch, watching them. Newton followed them around a little, but now isn’t very interested unless they disturb his sleep. Jackson likes to go sleep with him sometimes, and he gives Newton a bath when he does (Newton has mostly stopped grooming himself in his old age). One time I heard Newton meow, and I went over to find him ready to jump off the couch, while Sadie was upside-down, on her head, back to the couch cushion looking at him. “Extreme kitten flirting” I called it.
Debbi’s started giving all four cats wet cat food together as a treat, and they’re all pretty accommodating. Jackson is a bit of a bully trying to get the others cats’ food, and Roulette is torn between wet food (her favoritest thing) and staying away from the kittens – the food wins. To her credit, she’s also played with Debbi and the kittens when Debbi brings out a toy, so she’s starting to get used to them.
The kittens’ personalities are slowly emerging. Jackson is full of energy, is easily distracted, but is also the snuggler when he finally winds down. He’s also got the extra-loud purr. Sadie paces herself a little better, isn’t quite as aggressive, but also interacts with the humans less. I think she’s still trying to figure out how to get people to love her. I hope she becomes more snuggly because she has extra-soft fur which is great to pet.
The kittens have been a lot of work, but they’re also a lot of fun. They keep themselves entertained a lot, and then crash and hang out with us for a while. The big cats are still not too happy about it all, but I think they’re slowly coming around.