Tag Archives: cats

Cat update (this is the clowder so far)

Back in February, we said farewell to our beloved eldercat, Grimoire, who was with us for more than seventeen years, ever since the stray who’d shown up at our door in Wales, Eostre, surprised us with three kittens. We had intended to wait until after Ken went on a trip in March to adopt again, but within two days I was looking at cats online. I hated being home alone. Hated it. It was just too weird and sad.

So off we went to Animal Aid, a shelter that specializes in special needs animals. We went to look at one cat in particular, but we had no chemistry with him. Soft-hearted Ken was willing to take him anyway, but I said, “Let’s just meet some other cats,” and asked the volunteer who she’d recommend. She said, “Come meet Clara.” I stuck my fingers out for her to sniff, but she was having none of that. She bonked right into my fingers for scritchies. And she stole my heart right then and there.

We were told Clara didn’t like many other cats, but she did get along with Max, who had been rescued from the same hoarding situation as Clara. So we met Max, and that was that. We scheduled to have them delivered after I got back from a workshop in early March.

Now, five months later, it’s hard to imagine life without them.

Their size difference isn’t clear here. Seriously, he’s nearly twice as big.

Clara (aka Clara Bug, Little Bug, Pudge) is a short-haired dilute calico and Max (aka Maxamillion Purrs, Maximus Cattius, Snuggle Bug) is a long-haired white and brown/grey calico. I suspect Max has at least some Maine Coon in him, given the shape of his furry head. They are like the Mutt and Jeff of the cat world. Clara is pudgy (the vet says she’s at a healthy weight, but she just looks round) and has short legs and a small head, and because she’s mostly deaf, screams as if she’s being tortured to let you know she’s lonely and doesn’t know where you are. She also makes an adorable, indefinable, almost-cranky noise when you wake her up, and purrs really loudly. Max, on the other hand, has long legs, a long body, a long tail, and an enormous head. His head is at least half again as big as Clara’s, possibly almost twice as big. He has a gentle little miaow that he uses sparingly, a quiet purr, and he moves silently; we are often startled to discover he’s levitated on a sofa or the bed or my desk. Whereas you can hear Clara’s every little thumping footstep, especially when she’s running up or down the stairs.

The shelter thinks Max is about 6, and Clara about 8. It’s especially hard to tell with Clara because most of her teeth had to be removed. She has only her little front teeth, and even when she’s unhappy with you, she barely bites you, and immediately comes back to snuggle with you because she can’t hold a grudge for more than a nanosecond.

Worse, her previous owners were neglectful and her claws grew so long they embedded in the pads of her feet, and two claws then started growing in wrong. Sadly, we had to have them surgically removed because they were causing her pain. Even though I know it was medically necessary, it broke my heart, because declawing is mutilation. Then she had to have a second surgery because the ends of the bone were pressing against her skin and causing her pain; her two middle toes have now been amputated and she walks on the center pad and her outer toes with a little limp. She also looks like she’s flashing the rock-n-roll devil horns, which is appropriate for a cat in this house!

Max, although young, is already in early stages of kidney disease. Right now all he needs is special food, but we’re prepared to do subcu fluids and whatever else as things progress. Cats can live quite a long time with kidney disease, so we expect many years with him. He has a flea allergy and lost a lot of his fur before we adopted him, and it’s pretty much all normal now. As I suspected from the outset, he has an extremely fluffy tail.

But the story, my friends, doesn’t end there. Oh no, it doesn’t. Because before we adopted these sweeties, we were debating between getting an older cat (because my heart breaks for elderly cats who get left at shelters) or two bonded pairs, because the house is big, y’know?

Good thing we only got two cats, because more were coming…

In June, a friend of ours was moving in with her new partner, into a household with a dog, and couldn’t take her beloved 15-year-old cat with her. We here at Casa Dermatis-Meese (aka The House That Needs a Name, Dammit) have a No Cat Left Behind Policy, so of course we took Goose.

Is this an angel or a devil on my shoulder?

Goose is named after the Spruce Goose but we are just as likely to croon, “Goose, you big stud…” He’s also known as the Silly Goose, of course.

Goose is lanky and orange with a triangular face, bigger than Clara but only a pound heavier, and not as big as Max. Goose is not a lap cat. Goose is more of a lie-across-your-boobs cat. Or a drape-around-your-neck cat. His goal in life seems to be attempting to force his nose and, eventually, his entire head into your nostril, or occasionally your ear, all while purring madly.

A couple of days after we adopted Goose, I texted his former owner, “Um, did you forget to tell us your cat is a vampire?” Because Goose also likes to jam his face against your neck and knead your neck like he’s a phlebotomist trying to get your vein to pop up. Turns out he was a bottle baby, so his humans are the same thing as Mom. She did, she said, train him to not actively suckle, cutting down on the number of hickies she had on her neck and face for a while.

Goose may be 15, but you wouldn’t know it. He’ll jump from the floor into your arms with a little encouragement. He’s the most talkative of the three with a wide range of miaows and sounds, including one low sound, when he’s separated from you, that sounds like “Hello?”

We were slowly integrating them until the heatwave hit, at which point we bought a window AC, installed it in my office (which is upstairs, along with the master bedroom), and said, “Okay, cats, you now all live together in the safe temperature zone. Deal.” There’s still some hissing, a bit of yowling, and the occasional tussle, but they’ll all sleep on the bed with us, and it’s the happiest feeling in the world. In fact, today while watching TV, I had Clara on my lap, Goose leaning against my left thigh, and Max against my right calf. All within inches of each other. (Of course, there were unhappy noises later when they were all hungry and cranky and in the stairwell, which is a choke point, but still. Triple snuggles!)

We’re already planning on cat #4, a super-sweet, friendly outdoor cat that some friends have been caring for. Lydia has some behavioral issues but we’re confident we can work with her. We just don’t want her to have to fend for herself in an apartment complex parking lot anymore, you know? So that’ll probably happen in September or early October (since I’ll be away for a week at the end of September).

We have wonderful, snuggly, loving, purring cats, and the house is a home once again.

This is the clowder so far… Top: Clara; left: Goose; right: Max

If you’d like to get this sort of information—and more!—directly in your In Box each month, you can sign up for my newsletter. Each issue has publication news about stories, collections, novels, and other fun stuff. BONUS: you get a free short story every month! What are you waiting for? Subscribe today!

Want to chat about this post? Join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Grimoire, June 1999 – February 11, 2017

We said goodbye to our beloved Grimoire yesterday. He was 17 1/2, a venerable age for a cat, and it was his time. He’s young and healthy and purring again now.

He joins his mother, Eostre, and his siblings, Eclipse and Snowdon. Eostre was a stray with a broken leg who showed up when we lived in Wales; nobody, not even the vets during multiple surgeries, realized she was pregnant. We came home from a trip to find a note from our cat sitter that said in part, “Watch where you step.” I still have that note.

Grimoire was the last of his line. He had extra toes and a little notch in his right ear, the result of a kittenhood tussle with his brother. He loved food, laps (and there was a hierarchy to them—he would stomp over people to get to his favorite, and if you didn’t make space for him, he’d sit next to you and tap you on the arm until you did), scritchies, and, for a time, fetching paper.

He’ll always be my baby boy, purring in my heart.

Oregon or Bust

April 1, 2015 (no fooling)

We left Oxnard at 2 pm Tuesday (March 31). Ken drove the whole way because the SUV + loaded trailer could get a little wibbly, and I have no practice in dealing with that.

We were two hours from our destination and making great time, having made our final gas/pit stop, when the left rear tire on the trailer gave up the ghost. It was 4:30 am and almost nobody was on the road, so Ken was able to get it to the shoulder safely, limp to the nearest exit, and then limp to a warehouse facility that had floodlights around it. One phone call to U-Haul and about an hour later, a repair guy came out, replaced the wheel in about ten minutes, and we were back on our way.

I will say that packing the case of toilet paper so that it was the first thing accessible in the trailer was a good idea. And I am grateful for the flashlight on my iPhone and the large rocks just off to one side of the road.


We got to the apartment around 8 am, I think. Ken was at work by 9, and it’s a 15-minute walk. So 17 hours on the road (including the tire issue and some very brief pit/gas stops). What follows is the ongoing blog I kept up throughout the day, because it amused me…

9 am. Ken has gone to work. I shower, set the alarm for 2 pm, slide into bed with the Kindle and read a couple of chapters of a Dresden File. Grimore finds his kitty stairs, gets on the bed, and finally, finally stops singing the Song of His People.

Somewhere between 9:15 and 10:35 am. Grimoire tries to wake me up. I pull the comforter over my head. He steps on my head with his enormous paw. I make some incoherent noise and he settles back down.

10:35 am. My mother calls. (I hadn’t muted the phone on the off chance Ken needed something.) I mumble something incoherent and hang up. I try to fall back asleep.

12:42 pm. Ken texts that he misses Grimmy and I already and wishes we could all curl up for a nap. What follows is this exact exchange:

Me: Garblzornk…
Ken: I’m too tired for Vogon poetry right now. Maybe later, my love…
Me: No tea. No milk. No will to live.
Ken: Do you have tea bags? That you can get to?
Me: i don’t know, do i?* fire bsd tree prtyy**

Understand that from my end, I have to close one eye and hold the phone approximately 6.3 millimeters from my other eye. I’m Mr. Magoo without my glasses on.

Also during this exchange, Grimoire attempted to get my attention by patting me on an exposed, sensitive portion of my anatomy. His claws need trimming. My responses was less than gentle.

A few minute later, as I am lying on the bed, having given up on falling back asleep and listening to the gentle rain on the leaves outside, I receive another text:

Ken: Come to the front door now, my love.

I wrap myself in a spare sheet, immediately turning into the female lead in a romantic comedy, and go to the front door. It’s raining and lovely. Did he tell me to look at the rain? Instructions unclear. I head back to the bedroom to find my phone and ask when the doorbell rings.

It’s Ken. He’s holding a cup of English breakfast and a small container of milk. Apparently there are tea/coffee facilities all over work (although he had to buy the milk somewhere). He tells me he loves me, kisses me, and dashes back off into the rain.

Although the tea is almost cold by the time I drink it, it’s the best-tasting tea ever.

Time to do some unpacking.

2:33 pm. Find my own tea stash. Unfortunately, have not yet found the electric kettle or a pot for boiling water. Or mugs.

2:37 pm. Do I own all these spices? When did that happen?

2:49 pm. [in Count von Count voice] Three! Three boxes unpacked! Ah ha ha!


3:15 pm. Run out of boxes to unpack. Have created ongoing list of things to find in storage and things to take to storage.

3:36 pm. Sitting in bathroom, playing a game on my iPad. (Do not judge me.) Struck by the sudden realization: Oh shit, I live here now.

(I stopped blogging after that.) Ken came home, we napped, and then went to the storage unit and unpacked the trailer and SUV…in the rain. Then we came back to the apartment to unpack what needed to go into the apartment, and an incredibly wonderful young man from an apartment across the way saw us and volunteered to help. So I lay on the bedroom floor with a stressed Grimoire until they were done. We tried to take him out to dinner a few days later, but somehow he ended up taking us out to lunch. (No, I can’t quite explain how that happened.) (Which reminds me, we still owe him dinner.)

Grimoire did fantastically well, all things considered. He had his carrier to hide in, his sheepskin to lie on, and a litter box, as well as access to the front of the SUV. We did give him Kitty Xanax, which helped, although he still frequently sang us the Song of His People. Sometimes he napped on my lap or on the console between us. Sometimes he lay in the litter box. Sometimes he tried to squeeze into a hole between our stuff to get further back into the SUV, necessitating that I remove my seatbelt and dive after him before we lost him forever. It took him a few days to get acclimated to the apartment, and he still follows me from room to room, but he’s a happy boy because his people are here.  🙂

*The depth of my exhaustion is clear from the fact that I have given up on capital letters. Normally this would appall me.
**An attempt to quote Buffy’s “Fire bad; tree pretty.”