Is anyone else familiar with this phenomenon? I imagine it is more obvious in multiple cat households but it can certainly be experienced with just one cat. I love it when cats swirl and when my cats do it all at the same time there is no better feeling. Swirling is decidedly pronounced first thing in the morning or when one arrives home after some absence. It is the whirl of cats around your legs. Trusting, upturned faces and tails aloft they seem to be one continuous curving, twisting line, of purring cat form. It is the best welcome home after a crappy day, and the most cheerful start to any morning. Swirling is acceptance, support, love, validation and optimism all rolled into one delightful gesture.


Molly and the Toenail Caper

I have the hardest time cutting Molly’s toenails. The other cats don’t seem to mind it that much, in fact Casper is so mellow that I can hold him on my lap and clip his nails by myself. Ben and Archie are a bit squirmier and require a twosome for the task but Molly on the other hand could probably use a SWAT team. She has an irrational fear about getting her nails clipped and it is a traumatic event for all involved. Robert has to hold her down on the bed making sure that her head can’t move and I have to work fast to get at her toes before she wriggles free and attacks. It is not fun and as a result her toes are quite neglected and we can usually hear her clicking across the hardwood floors.

Molly takes daily tablets for hyperthyroidism which is quite common in senior cats and occasionally her medication needs to be adjusted. At a recent vet visit for a routine blood test they offered to clip her nails, which were embarrassingly long and made me look like an inattentive cat mother. I readily accepted the offer! At this time I felt it only fair to warn them that the featherweight cat who was cowering on the exam table transforms into 5lbs of raw fury when you try to touch her feet. The vet looked at me disbelievingly and whisked Molly away into the back room, I went into the waiting room. All was quiet for about two minutes; I figured they were doing the blood first. Then the yowling began. Through the closed door of the treatment room, I could hear her murderous howl (at volume eleven). The receptionist looked stricken and I’m sure thought some poor cat was in the death throes! I was not moved by the sound, I had heard it all before and sat composed on the bench and waited for them to return my puma to me. A technician emerged with tiny Molly cuddled in her arms, once again innocent looking and docile. I smiled at her and said nonchalantly “how’d it go”? She answered that all had been fine when they took her blood and that she didn’t flinch, but she had become quite agitated when they cut her toenails (understatement). I smiled and replied “that might explain why her nails were so long”.


Happy Anniversary Benjamin

One year ago today (March 13, 2009) we brought Ben home and he has been making us smile ever since! He was good as gold from the first moment and I still can't believe how lucky we were to find a cat like him.


Meet Archie

Last but not least, I give you Archie, aka Ginger Snap, Peaches, Georgia Peach, Little Man. According to a website of Scottish names and their meanings, Archibald/Archie means bold one or brave warrior, well wow that is fitting! He is unlike any kitten I have ever met – completely fearless. Archie is not a relaxed cat, he is a coiled spring, a bundle of kitten energy and does everything at maximum velocity. His metabolism must be working at break-neck speed because he is an eating and pooping machine! He tears through the house on his lanky limbs that don’t seem to bend yet and is already faster than his older brothers. Casper has always been very loud on his paws (probably because he can’t hear himself), and Archie, who isn’t at all a springy, shock-absorption kind of stealth cat, is equally noisy on the hardwood. When the two of them run around the house it is deafening and I have taken to calling them “thunder cats”.

Wherever we are, Archie magically appears, sticking his fantastic peach nose (AND he has peach pads too) into every activity that is happening, even if that is bathing! He loves water and regularly gets in the shower to play with drips. It is a struggle to relax in the bath and keep him out of the water at the same time. He has fallen in a couple of times but it doesn’t seem to bother him so much that he stops doing it.

I’m not certain of Archie’s beginnings other than he was a stray and found on the street. Strangely, I don’t think he knows how to snuggle, maybe his mum didn’t have a chance to show him. He is very affectionate and I think he wants to cuddle but he just isn’t sure how to go about it. He will purr and walk around me, head butt me, DEMAND strokes, stand on my chest, but he will not settle into the crook of my arm or snuggle into my lap. I have tried gently pushing his “tocks” (buttocks) down so he understands what he is supposed to do but it doesn’t stay down! He just continues to walk back and forth across me. I’m hoping as he gets older the other cats will show him how it’s done. I’m also hoping as he gets older he will grow some hair! Currently he is like a marine with a buzz cut. He’s not just a DSH, he’s a DSSH: domestic super-short hair. I have never had a cat with such a sparse coat, its really more fuzz than fur and even though he doesn’t have much, he sheds. The other day he was walking around on my lap and left many hairs on my black trousers. I was a little distressed, not because of the cat hair which is my constant clothing accessory, but because I didn’t think he had any to spare. I wonder if he has some Rex or Hairless genes in his make up. I’m thinking about investigating kitty Rogaine if his nutritious diet of pediatric food from the vet doesn’t help to fill him out a little. We’ve only had him for four weeks though, so I guess I’ll have to give him a little more time.

I’m amazed how well he has fit in with the others in such a short time. When we first brought him home he spent a week quarantined in our guest bedroom recovering from a cold before he was introduced to the other cats. From the moment we opened the bedroom door it was like he stepped out and said “Ta-da here I am, well worth the wait wouldn’t you agree?” Then he marched down the stairs and left the other cats in his dust looking bewildered. Ben was a little wary at first but when he saw that Casper was not in the least bit anxious, he relaxed too and set about investigating this new arrival. They accepted him at once and it warms my heart to see all the boys playing together or sleeping piled together on the bed, content in the afternoon sun.


Meet Benjamin

This is Benjamin, aka Ben, Benny, Benners, as you can see he is also a very relaxed boy. When we first adopted him we called him wee Ben, then he grew into Big Ben, but now we call him Gentle Ben. He has matured into a wonderful fellow with a great personality. I gather he is what is called a tuxedo cat because of his formal looking black and white coat. He is a short hair cat, but his fur is very thick and silky soft. He has beautiful green eyes and the longest whiskers I have ever seen. Ben is a world class cuddler. If we are watching a movie he will jump onto the blanket with me, throw himself onto his back and start kneading, purring AND drooling. He will do this for quite a while, sometimes an hour or more before he conks out for a snooze. I guess he left his mother too early and this is a throw back to some kind of newborn behaviour. I love it that he sees me as his mum now and mimics that action with me.

Ben LOVES scrunchie balls and will play with them for hours. When I want to find out where he is in the house I just pick up one of these small balls and give it a squeeze and when he hears the scrunch sound he comes running immediately. Conversely if Ben is lying on me and I need him to get off (usually because I have to pee) but don’t have the heart to put him off because he looks so content, I will ask Robert to scrunch in the other room and he will fly like a bullet after the sound. Casper doesn’t really bother with the balls, I imagine because he can’t hear the crinkling noise they make. Recently Ben has had to share his scrunch balls with our newcomer Archie and he does so happily. He is very protective of Archie; he cuddles with him and follows him around the house as though he is the babysitter. However the other morning I think he was a bit fed up. All the cats love to hang out in the bathroom with us when we are getting ready for work and mornings are very crowded in there! Ben brought a scrunch ball upstairs to play with while I was in the shower. When he dropped the ball onto the bathmat he paused for a moment, probably savoring the thought of how he was going to bunny-kick it into submission, and in that instant Archie jumped off his perch on the counter, scooped it out from under Ben and ran away down the hall with it in his mouth. The dejected look on Ben’s face was so priceless we couldn’t help but laugh. We are so lucky to have this amiable cat, he didn’t run after Archie or try to get the ball back, he just sat down on the mat and I swear I saw him sigh. Casper was a patient big brother to Ben when he was a kitten, and now Ben has become the benevolent big brother to Archie.


Meet Casper

This is Casper aka Prince Casper, Casp, Casperator, Casperitis, Snow Cat, Polar Cat. I don’t even know how to start to describe Casper, he is such a great guy. Technically I suppose he is a special needs cat because he is deaf, but aside from the fact he has a bizarre meow, and we can sneak out of the room without him waking up, he is like any other cat. We got Casper when he was nine months old, still a kitten and a bit hyper he has grown into such a mellow, friendly, fella. I guess because he is deaf, he is just so relaxed! No loud noises scare him and he sleeps like a rock. Casper has welcomed every cat we have put in front of him with open paws. A patient and tolerant older brother he endures kitten antics with love. He is a prince in every way! The other boys take their cues from him so therefore intentionally or unintentionally he sets a very calm tone around the house: if Casper isn’t bothered by it then neither are they. I think I have the only cats I know who aren’t scared of the vacuum cleaner.

He is incredibly good-looking too. With his ice blue eyes, glossy coat, pink ears and nose he cuts quite a dashing figure. His paws are like gigantic snowshoes with great tufts of fur sticking out from between the pads. He is a big boy, 12lbs of solid muscle and dense white fur like a polar bear. He trains relentlessly for the Olympic sleeping team and I could stare at him for hours while he snoozes, usually on his back with all fours in the air completely blissed out and beautiful. He is so good natured and loves company. I don’t mean our company (although I’m sure he likes us), but real company as in guests to the house. When we entertain friends or family, Casper is the life of the party. He stands in the middle of the living room looking up at everyone, his big bushy tail a-quiver and doing happy paws. Nobody has to be stroking him, he just stands there kneading the floor because he is so happy that people have come over! He will visit each guest individually, spending a few minutes mingling before moving on to the next person. He is very equitable and always careful to spread the love around so nobody is left out.


Meet Molly

Molly aka Molls, Miss Molly, Molotov Cocktail, Mollone, Molly Jones, Molovski the Russian Wonder Kitty. It amazes me to think that Molly has been with me in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Our relationship is long and devoted on both sides, and she knows all of my secrets. When I took her home from the OSPCA 18 years ago, her kittens had already been adopted but she remained there for several months. The shelter staff warned me that she did not get on well with other cats. Furthermore, when they let the cats out in the evenings after closing time, she would have to stay in her cage. Only when the other cats were safely back in their cages, could Molly be released for her turn to stretch her legs. Her start in life had been rough, a litter at six months of age and then three months waiting at the shelter; she was carrying some baggage to be sure! I didn’t care, she was so beautiful. Her fur was a velveteen patchwork of black, white and orange and she had the loudest purr. Everyone who strokes her says she is the softest they have ever felt.

I did not know about the reputation Calico’s had until my first vet visit with Molly. I hadn’t yet purchased a proper carry case and was still using the one the shelter had given me. Sort of like a giant Timbit box, it was made from strong cardboard and had sides that folded up to make a handle. When I took her for her first check up post-adoption, I opened the box and she sat up popping her head through the top. I’ll admit I was somewhat disconcerted when the vet (who sees loads of cats each day) took a big step backward and clasping her hands to her chest said “Oh, it’s a calico”! She explained to me that only females are Calicos and that they are usually, um, how I say this tactfully… bitchy. Well, that certainly is Molly. You can be stoking her and she is blissfully purring one minute, then she is trying to bite you and hissing the next! I have always accepted her this way because I feel it is hard enough to get people to do what you want them to, let alone an animal. But not everybody thinks like that; Robert was appalled the first time he met Molly (when she was about eleven) and she bit him. Very bad manners indeed, especially since he would become her adoring stepfather. He always says if we break-up he gets to keep Molly.

In all fairness, I must say she has mellowed considerably in her later years. Now she is a complete and total cuddle bunny who has forgotten most of her baggage (kitty Alzheimer’s?). She will gratefully accept all the strokes and loving you have to give, UNLESS you try to touch her toes. I don’t know why this quirk persists, but she goes bats if you mess with her feet. For the most part though she is docile and affectionate. Robert thinks it is because she knows she is old and frail and now must rely on the big cats (us) for survival…not that she ever went outside to bag her own meal! All my cats stay inside because when I was young, all (or most) of my cats got hit by cars. Only Molly is allowed outside in the back garden during summer because she is too old and arthritic to jump the fence. One of us is always with her and she just usually ambles around sniffing things then settles in the sun for a snooze.

Molly developed hyperthyroidism a couple of years ago. This has caused weight loss and some significant damage to her kidneys. At her top end, she weighed in at about 15lbs (yes I had a fat child) but now she is lucky if she tips 5lbs. She feels hollow like a bird when you pick her up, even our six month old kitten is heavier than she is. She used to look like a balloon with legs but now only her fluffy coat camouflages her emaciated frame. The vet told me that her kidneys were only one third functioning and she probably just had a couple of years left. Well that deadline has come and gone and she is still with us and quite vital if a little shaky on her feet. She is now on borrowed time, so we enjoy every day that she has knowing there will probably be some tough decisions ahead. I hope in my heart of hearts that when her time comes she will just fall asleep peacefully in her donut and drift away. I do not want to have some big trauma at the vet where she is scared and suffering. I have never in my life had a cat live this long before so it is new territory for me…