Don’t tell my mother, but Perry moved in here Friday evening. She told me once that she didn’t think she should tell anybody I have five cats because it was embarrassing. I know what she would say about six, even if #6 is a foster cat and not for keeps. I simply cannot have another “foster failure,” which is where the person fostering the cat cannot give him/her up and adopts the cat. My five old cats would not forgive me for that.
Since he got here, it’s been exactly four days. This is how he looks now, in his 3 tier cage (identical to the one at the shelter) and in his little cat den.
The room Perry is in is quiet, and he has a window, although he hasn’t seemed to notice it yet. He eats, drinks, and uses the litter box when nobody is looking. He moves between his cat den on the bottom floor and the top shelf which has a little thin blanket around part of it so he feels secure.
Notice how he looked at the shelter. See how his ears were flattened. Now they are raised up more and one of them faces forward and the other partially forward. His whiskers might be a bit more relaxed. When I hold a treat and offer it to him he actually looks as if he is considering it now. Slow baby steps, but I think we’re moving forward.
AT THE SHELTER
Most of my time with Perry is spent with me lying on the floor on two big pillows, reading poetry to him. We just finished the March issue of Poetry, which we both enjoyed although two of the poems confounded me (but not him). I also read him a poem Dianne Gray mentioned: “THE TRIANTIWONTIGONGOLOPE” by C. J. Dennis.
Perry doesn’t require a lot of attention, but I try to go in with him every couple of hours or so, if I am home. After all, the way he will become more social and attached is by our interaction.
Closing comments because this was just a little update. Hope your week is a happy and healthy one!
Most days I’ve been visiting Perry at the shelter. He’s not a happy boy at all. Look at how he’s keeping his ears flattened now!
Yes, that’s a litter box he’s sitting in. One with little poos in it.
Rather than acclimating to the shelter environment, Perry is getting more upset and unhappy. When he hears a dog bark (and they do sound like out-of-control maniacs) he shrinks down further. Yesterday I stayed a little longer than usual and added whispering to him on top of the reading and singing. He liked being whispered to, especially because he recognized the conspiratorial aspect when I let him in on a plan that I am hatching.
There are two choices. Either we can assume the vet that neutered him was wrong and he is a feral cat OR we can figure out a way to give him another chance to prove he can live with humans. We have zero foster families that will take a possibly feral cat. The only option is if WE do it. And I can’t bring him in with my other cats with their age and health issues. The stress would drive them into sickness.
So we can isolate him, but with my lymphedema (and the danger of cat scratches and bites) I can’t let him loose in a room where I could potentially never catch him again.
I ordered a 3 tier cage. I know, I know, it’s a cage. But if he’s going to prove he can be civilized (poor little Huck, I mean Perry), it’s our only option. So we will set up the cage when it comes, trap him in a cat den (that I also ordered) for minimal stress and bring him here to the new cage. We will put it by a window that looks out on the bunnies and birds and lizards (and if he sees a coyote or bobcat he will know that they can’t get to him). I will read, sing, and talk to him at least every two hours that I am home and awake. I will try to play with him with a string-type toy. I will keep setting little toys near him and try to get closer and closer to him without setting him off.
And we will see.
If he truly is feral and unwilling to be civilized we will have to find a place he can go and live an outdoor life.
At the shelter, we’ve got other cats in need, too. Two big litters of kittens are going like hotcakes, but the older cats wait. And new ones come in. Yesterday I witnessed a young couple surrender a gorgeous cat to us. The man didn’t speak and kept his sunglasses on, and the woman didn’t shed a tear and said they were moving and couldn’t keep the cat. Guess who probably insisted on GETTING RID OF THE CAT? What do they think will happen to their cat? She, at least, is probably telling herself that it’s a no-kill shelter, so the cat will be fine. What they don’t realize is that surrendered cats sometimes have to go through more than one more owner before they find a forever home. And will it be a good home? No way to know.
To think about something besides cats, the gardener and I went to see Bullets Over Broadway at Phoenix Theatre. Funny show–and very well done! The acting and costumes were fabulous, as was the dancing. This show was written by Woody Allen and played on Broadway for 100 performances a few years ago. I love the LIMINAL passage to the theatre–that threshold as one passes from the real world to the world of the stage.
No hummingbird nests yet this year, but in a big flower pot somebody created a “scrape nest,” which is a nest where the bird scrapes the dirt and forms a little hollow to receive her eggs. There is one speckled egg, but she has not come back to lay more. Birds like Gambel Quail do lay their eggs one at a time like that, but I think the time for her to come back has passed. The egg seems a little large for a quail, but I can’t think of another bird that could have made this nest. A mourning dove laid her eggs in a hanging pot, but I didn’t take a pic because it would have disturbed her. It’s bad enough that the gardener has to water the plant or it will die, and the bird will lose the green drapery she likes.
Today is my paternal grandmother’s birthday. She was born in 1893, and she is featured in at least one poem in Kin Types. She was the head fitter at the 28 Shop at Marshall Field’s department store in downtown Chicago for many years and raised three children by herself.
What must it have been like to work in such elegant surroundings and go home to children you could barely afford to feed?
Only 3 weeks left to pre-order Kin Types and have it count toward publication. You can order it here. The book contains poetry, prose, and a women’s history.
Talkin’ trash here is more like it. So. You know how I’ve been working on poems and flash prose based on my research into my family history? Well, I have been. I’m working toward a chapbook–maybe 25 pieces.
One of my favorites was taken by a new magazine that looked great. They had one issue out with some excellent and even well-known poets, and I loved what I read, so I was excited for the 2nd issue with my poem in it. It was due out in December.
It’s now April and has not yet been published. And they don’t respond to my emails or my tweets.
If they had to fold, I feel bad for them, but it’s so unprofessional to accept work for an issue that will never be and not to notify the writers. I did send an email accepting their acceptance, so am I stuck now with a poem I can’t send out elsewhere?
I say NOT THE CASE. They seem to have broken any possibly contract that could have existed. But I was happy to have half my already-written pieces accepted and now this sets me back. I need another acceptance to catch up to that halfway point ;).
If I’m not going to name the offending journal, I guess I’m not even talkin’ trash, right? I’m just talkin’ poetry.
In 2004 I wrote a poem that took honorable mention in a competition that had an interesting reading venue. The poems that placed or were awarded honorable mentions netted their poets invitations to read at Carnegie Hall. That impressed me. I always wanted to play Carnegie Hall, but I thought you had to be a musician! I was not able to attend, sadly, and that meant that somebody else read this poem on my behalf.
After the fires came mudstorms
Bulldozing bodies into the mix.
Weeks spent crumpling like dying stars,
Families’ children into science,
Into candlelit commiseration.
Pressure builds in a cauldron
With boiling tar, the three virtues tied
To a wheel and beaten with rods.
Small skulls of infants and bonobos
Commix in the pasteurized fields.
These offerings burst into flame
Larger than Santorini.
Rebuilding over brick, concrete, bones.
And the moon moves farther from us.
The event that inspired the poem was a horrific mudslide in San Bernardino County on Christmas 2003. Nine children and five adults were killed as they ate their holiday luncheon.
Weirdly, although it’s National Poetry Month, I picked my memoir manuscript back up last week. I feel a little split down the middle . . . .
Handsome (and mild-mannered) Rex dreams of a loving home in Arizona
The year is winding down, and it’s been quite a year for me. I guess it was my turn. You’ve probably had your own years with lots of ups and lots of downs. I feel a post brewing about mine, but I don’t feel up to it today. Maybe I’ll write it for New Year’s Eve.
So I’ll show you some other endings: the sunsets in Arizona have a lot of pink and red in them. I took this one at a truck stop along the 10, and the sky was a vivid burgundy. I wish the color here were more true.
This one is typical of almost every December night. Sometimes there are palm trees silhouetted across the pink and dark blue sky.
OK, those were the endings of the day. Now for the hope of new beginnings!
I know a few “special needs” cuties in Phoenix that need a home for Christmas and beyond.
This is Betty. She was born in 2007 and has lived at the shelter for years. Yes, that says years. She is overweight, although you can’t see that from this glamour shot.
Why is she overweight? Maybe because for a very long time she was confined to a cage without exercise. She now gets to roam free in the cat roaming room with the other cats.
Betty (I think she needs a name change) had gotten a reputation for once in a while biting someone. I haven’t been so honored (yet), but I am trying to figure out what causes her to do so. I think it’s when she gets mad because she is being touched when she does not want to be touched. A volunteer might be petting her for a long time and then starts to forget she’s petting her, which means she is ignoring her. Betty might bite a bit to get her to stop over-stimulating her or to pay her attention. Anyway, several of us brush her and she likes it. When I sit on the floor at the shelter, she crawls into my lap and likes me to pet her and then stop and just let her sit there for as long as she likes.
Betty needs a home with an experienced cat person who wants to give someone who needs a chance THAT CHANCE. Betty will reward that person with loyalty and demonstrative love.
Lisa is a sweet black cat with a wonky left eye. Her vision is fine, but the eye itself is scarred so a bit cloudy-looking. Her official name is Lisa Left Eye, but I refuse to call her that. In this photo, I think she’s praying for a home.
Here is Lisa again:
Finally, here is 4-year-old Slupe, a darling Calico that has been at the shelter since long before I started there (which is now almost a year!!!).
Slupe doesn’t like living in a shelter environment and desperately needs a home of her own. Recently, she has lost fur in a few patches on her body, and I think it’s a reaction to stress. She loves to play in water and hide in boxes. She enjoyed playing with the kitten Scarlet, but Scarlet was just adopted so now Slupe needs a human friend and a home. Slupe is considered special needs because she has not been adopted for so long.
Even if you don’t have the right home for one of these adorables, please share their photos and stories in case you know someone who can! They are available here:
On a cat-related note, I gave my daughter my Homer’s Odyssey book to read. I wrote about it in this post Cat Heroes. Now I see that there is a sequel out about the blind wondercat Homer!
I can’t wait to read about Homer’s life as a celebrity :). Raising Betty, Lisa, or Slupe would be a piece of kibble compared with raising lively blind Homer.
Our shelter’s cat newsletter contained the following very important Christmas tip for cat owners:
This holiday season be careful with all those curling ribbons, tinsels and other Christmas decorations. According to Pam Johnson-Bennett, “Cats have barbs on their tongue that point toward the back of their mouth. These barbs are used fo r both grooming and removing the meat from the bones of their prey. These barbs are the reasons cats cannot easily spit items out of their mouth; things get stuck. This is why toys with thread and string can be dangerous if left unattended.” Pam also warns us about real pine needles being toxic to cats as well as the tree water, so you should never let your cat (or dog) drink it. You can use netting or Sticky Paws for Plants over the reservoir to ensure your pets don’t have access to it. To read more about how to deter your cats from nibbling on tree brunches or Christmas lights and more, read Pam Johnson- Bennett’s article here http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/how-to-keep-your-cat-away-from-the-christmas-tree/
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is full of peace and joy. And for everyone, I wish you much peace and joy in your lives. See you next week!
After all my yakking about my new cat Kana you might wonder how she’s doing.
She’s absolutely adorable, and I’m madly in love with her. She likes to follow me around and when I go outside in the yard, she waits for me at the door.
Kana’s Halloween Costume
It’s been difficult integrating her with my other cats. All four cats–the 3 original and the 1 new one–are seniors. Felix, Pear Blossom, and Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi all like to lie around the house all day doing absolutely nothing. Kana, on the other hand, finds everything new and somewhat stimulating, especially the other cats! She has no sense of personal space and gets right up into their faces. Each cat has a different limit to his or her personal space. Tiger likes at least six feet between herself and any other cat, although she is the one who sleeps with hubby and me–pressed up against one of us. Felix likes about three feet–once another cat (except Pear–the two of them face kiss almost every day) moves into that space, he gets nervous. Pear doesn’t need as much personal space, but she is a very independent spirit. She’s a small cat, and my pet sitter says about her, “Little but mighty.”
Kana chased Tiger a lot at first, so we have been training Tiger to increase her confidence. The idea is to get her to stop running away from Kana. Now she is more apt to growl at Kana when she gets too close. The training involves treats, so Tiger doesn’t mind it at all ;).
Some days are good because Kana feels more at ease and less restless. Then everyone finds their favorite place and hangs out. Some days are not so good because Kana wanders the house, looking for a cat to annoy. Sometimes Pear goes out of her way to annoy Kana.
I was worried about the evenings because Pear likes to lie on me when I’m on the couch watching TV or reading. Tiger sometimes squeezes in, too. On rare occasions, Felix comes over and tries to find some room. So I thought Kana would expect to climb onto the couch with me, and it would cause trouble. But actually, she is a doll in the evening. We have a recliner, in addition to two couches, and after I put a soft blanket on the chair, Kana realized it made a wonderful bed for her. So while I am still working for a couple of hours in the evening, Kana lies on her TV-watching bed, next to hubby, who is on his. Eventually, I sit on the other couch to unwind, and Kana will lie on her “bed” without moving until bedtime. It’s pretty cute.
Kana does get put to bed in her own room (my office) each night, so that the others get a rest from her and she doesn’t wander into our room and upset Tiger. She doesn’t seem to mind. I’m sure this has all been a lot for her to get used to, and maybe she likes that secure alone time at night.
Because Kana is still restless during the day so often, I have been making and buying toys for her. For instance, I tape feathers and toy mice onto paper towel rolls so she can bat them around the floor.
I found a robot fish at Target. It’s not a pet toy, but found in the regular toy department. It came with a bowl, and you can see Felix checking it out.
I think the bowl is unsafe because the opening is small, so I put the fish into a regular bowl of water. Here is Kana with the fish. She seems a little more cautious of that scary goldfish.
I’m posting a day early this week because of my excitement.
Last Sunday night I had a dream that my cat Mac was still alive and playing with my other cats. They were frolicking with a cat from the shelter. Her name is Nakana, and I had fallen in love with her the first night we volunteered at the shelter. In my dream, Mac came up to Nakana and and wrapped one of his front legs around her, giving her a big bear hug.
I woke up ready to go pick up Nakana to give her a family (our family!). At PetSmart, where Nakana had languished without finding a home, they put up a sign. You can see her inside the blue box.
PetSmart is truly wonderful for the work they do for homeless animals. Look at how beautiful Nakana’s kennel was. But it wasn’t a home. She’s eight (eight!) years old, has been in the shelter since November, and she’s a pure black cat in a sea of homeless black cats.
Monday afternoon hubby and I brought her home with us. She’s my 60th birthday present, a little early!
And here she is:
And here we are:
OK, peeps, head on down to the nearest shelter and pick yourself out a sweet adult cat or dog (if you have the ability to do so).
My father passed away two weeks ago. That is when the hummingbird returned to her nest with the intention of starting a new family. She did lay two more eggs before I traveled to Michigan for my father’s funeral and to spend time with my mother. When I returned this week, she was still on her nest. I am awaiting the new babies.
Many times I’ve read stories where a bird visits when a parent dies. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection here.
The funeral was good. Many people spoke about my father, and my daughter sang “At Last” (the song popularized by Etta James). A military ceremony was held at the National Cemetery. The flag that draped his casket was given to my mother. My uncle put it in a hand-crafted flag case (made halfway by my father and then finished by a friend of his) and then my brother added the casings from the gunshots fired during the ceremony.
The days that followed the funeral I organized my mother’s basement, particularly the family photographs that were strewn throughout. I discovered 150 photo albums and collected loose photos into two cartons, in addition. Hubby bought my mother hanging plants and a rose bush and replanted an indoor plant for her. He taught her how to take care of them. He fixed her front door and her toilet.
I feel very far away from writing now. But hubby and I did make it to the shelter last night for the kitties. It had been too long. We have a new mom and her five babies. Her name is Galaxy as she is all black–and so are all five babies. If I had named her I might have called her Dionne after the famous quintuplets.
We have a lot of all black cats right now. If you’re in the Phoenix area, think of how much one of these little guys could add to your home. We have Nakana, Milo, Ebony . . . .
Please excuse me if I’m slow to get back to blogging. I hope to be fully back next week! xoxo
Did you think that all the time hubby and I have been spending at the shelter playing with the kitties was going to increase our cat count at home?
A lot of people have mentioned that they expected me to bring home more cats.
But nah. I did spring one of the cats, but not for me. My son and his girlfriend saw the photos I had taken of some of the shelter cats and fell in love with an 8 month old kitten called “Precious.” They have a beautiful black velvet cat named Meesker. He’s already two years old–a fact I have trouble processing as it seems he was just a little kitten a couple of months ago. The kids decided they wanted Precious as a little sister to Meesker.
So I sprung the little sweetie two weeks before I would be seeing my son because the cat room had become so crowded at the shelter. We had a lot of new kittens and the anxiety level of the “roaming” cats was fairly high. I decided on the spur of the moment to bring Precious home to my house. She lived in my office.
On Monday, hubby and I drove Precious (now called Lily) from Phoenix to California so that Lily can live at the beach with her new mom and dad and big brother Meesker. Lily traveled in a large dog kennel that belongs to my oldest cat Mac.
She was so good the whole six hours, although for the last 1 1/2 she lay face down and it seemed clear to me that she had a tummy ache from the bumpy ride.
Imagine our surprise when we put two very sweet-natured cats together, and they didn’t get along very well. Lily played in Meesker’s favorite toy, his long fabric tunnel, and it made him sad. Lily chased Meesker, and he hid under the bed.
For awhile, Lily lay on the couch and Meesker on the floor, but it didn’t last long.
My son is going to get a gate for the bedroom so that the cats can sniff each other without worrying about losing any fur. I’m hoping that my son and his girlfriend will go very slowly in reintroducing the cats to each other. Then they can all live as one happy family.
So, no, I didn’t get a new cat for myself. However, if this works out well for them, there is a sweet black cat at the kennel who has been there far too long. Actually, there are two, but how many will I be able to slip past hubby without him really grasping how many cats live at our house?