TRANSFORMATION

We met the black boy when Katy descended into her first “heat” after she was spayed.  He was one of the clues.  We did not recognize all the wriggling and vocalizing.  Had we an unfixed female in the last 40 years?  No.

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And Katy WAS fixed.  What could she be thinking of?  Her new friend the black one could not stay away.  Katy’s fertile parts were blasting notifications all over the neighborhood.  After the second spaying, the doc said she may have had three ovaries.  She had a more complicated surgery this time with a large incision and a hunt for swollen things inside.

This second operation was very difficult all around.  Katy being a rescue, the longer we live with her the more I know that she had to be a feral kitten when brought to Pets, Inc.  She can tolerate just so much.  She stresses easily, and senses things deeply.

When the second heat came along, we knew she had to be worked in for surgery the next day.  Pets, Inc. , as good as the intentions are,  casts their net in disorganization.  We did not get the OK to bring her in until late in the morning.  By then, Katy knew something was up.

I have used the term “bouncing off the walls”  loosely before, but I had never seen it.  It took 45 minutes for us to contain the feral Katy.  And we were both bloody from the job.  I feared all our work with her to understand love was lost in fear and flight.

We came home with antibiotics because of the large incision.  We both knew there was no way we could administer them to her.  Luckily, she has not needed them.  She spent the first night after surgery inside, and the next morning was just gone, all day.  We both thought she would never come back, but she did.

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Now she is feeling better and playing soccer.  And as in the first picture above, the black boy comes around just to talk.

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Sister does not care to.

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HOT KATY

Hanging on to anything newsworthy that is not depressing, here is my banner:  Progress Has Been Made.

I have had cats most of my life:  let’s just say from around 1960 until now.  Dolly, the first (often my answer to the “secret” question on line)  did not live too long.  Cars in suburban neighborhoods, you know.

After that, we had mostly  Siamese.

Back to now.  We thought last night that our beautiful Katy had an infection or perhaps a twisted colon.  We wondered if she could eliminate at all.  She was low balling all around the house, and vocalizing like a crazy person.  And there was a beautiful big black male outside.

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Very sensitive now because we have had more cat deaths lately than anyone would want to entertain, it SOOO seemed that I had seen this behavior before, but the memory was caked with rust.  Being old, there are all these shadows that cover up former intelligence just like a cat’s third eyelid.  Access is softly denied. My next thought was that this memory was about Siamese (Katy is an American Calico).  Weren’t Siamese especially vocal during heat?  I did remember that.  There was something about her howl.

The old story is as follows.  Sarah and Polly were our two Siamese.  They both were in heat at the same time, and they yelled like banshee women.  Our little house had a detached garage, and it was there they slept when in season.  Dad had to get on the road very early to get all the way to St. Louis for work.  One seasonal morning, he flipped up the garage door and a depleted male cat with eyes detached from his head flew out of the dark space at Dad.  The stinker had been in there all night, wafted by the pheromones of sisters.  He needed out.

The sisters were very cooperative and held a common nursery.  They took turns with the babies.  It can take a village, you know.

That was then.  I never had another female cat who had not been fixed.  It has been so long that I forgot the signs of heat.  Aggressive work on the part of the animal care world has had great success, at least among my cronies.  It was not until after thinking about going to the 24 hour vet clinic, costing a handful you can be sure, that I slowly came into consciousness about what was happening.  Katy, who was spayed in December, was in heat!

Without a doubt.  She is eating, drinking, and emptying normally.  The black cat is installed permanently behind the house, and I now know how far he has come.  My friend on my running route knows to whom he belongs.  It seems that just a bit of an ovary, just a tiny piece, left after surgery is a call to all the local wild.  The black male lives at least a quarter of a mile away.

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And now poor Katy has to have another surgery.

THE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING TWO CATS

When we sat down last October to adopt our four month old babies, Katy and Pastel, we had only about an hour with them before we chose them.  Pastel was easy.

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Her coat feels like silk and she has an amazing dividing line between gray and peachy pinky white down the middle of her face, making her possum-like.  Or as if she has an exoskeleton.  She has exactly the coloring of Katy, a typical calico, only Pastel’s colors were stirred a bit before baking.  Her spots turned to textures, and the black and the caramel brown lost their intensity.  Makes sense:  she is a dilute calico.

She has a third eyelid problem with one eye,  and we are on the road to that solution.

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Katy is beautiful, and stockier than Pastel.  They are women of their times as they both have green tattoos on their abdomen.  These tattoos contain no written message: the shapes warn unknown vets, “I have been fixed, don’t bother.”

As we started the paperwork, the adoption counselor noticed that Katy had already been adopted and returned.  That thought was interesting to me, but at that point we did not know the little standoffish Katy the way we do now.  I thought it was a better than ever reason to adopt her.

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Katy does not cuddle, which is probably why she was returned.  And if we had only one cat,  it would have to be a cuddler.  But we have two, and both can be who they need to be.  We pet Katy often during the day so she will get used to love, and that we don’t expect anything from her.  We tell her she is smart and beautiful.

This is the thing about Katy.  I have never seen a cat so in love with her water.

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Above is the beloved water bowl.  It is sitting on a pet mat that my friend Zoe had manufactured.  It is a patchwork of the images on some of the various patterns of linoleum I found, one beneath another,  when renovating our old house.  The rose pattern seen here is from the thirties.  We got the first  sample created.

Katy sits with her arms around this water bowl.  She stares at it with love.  She pats the water, then she drinks.  She runs when she hears water running, exploring the myriad of sources in the house.  She is in heaven.  At the pool, she pats the water from the side.  I wonder if she sees her reflection out there.  She does not in the sink, tested it.

And of course Katy does not come inside at night until Pastel is accounted for and in.  Pastel is the identified baby of the family and Katy runs herd.  It is her job, and the way she loves.  The cuddling will come around.

Meanwhile, Pastel realizes she needs a raison d’etre as well.  Secretarial.

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KATY IS A HEROINE

Katy is the more quiet of our two new five month olds.  She sleeps at the foot of the bed as opposed to on my head, as Pastel does.  Her motor is more subtle.  She often stands just out of reach.  But she is a beauty and very smart.  So we have one academic and one little spook.

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They were raised in a Humane Society cattery, so especially with Katy, we don’t expect her to come to us all the time.  And she doesn’t.  Pastel (aka: Little Spook, Inside Out Girl, Patches Kittens (yes, plural), Skeleton Girl) is much more actively loving.

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Having been with us for about a month, everything is new.  Outside is new, wind, bugs, sunshine is new.  Laying in grass, potty only in certain places.  All brand new.  People food is an entirely overwhelming concept in which we do not engage too much.  But enough that they must be outside when we are cooking.

Last night they were, and also for dinner and clean-up.

Huge screaming started out in the dark as I finished up.  We bolted out the back and saw the form of a big dark cat and blazing eyes (it was after all Halloween).  Pastel was nowhere and Katy was bolting around like a pinball in a machine.   We chased off the bad guy, and tried to get Katy inside, and then look for Pastel.  Stumbling for shoes, flashlights, and cursing, here was something else our young ones had to learn about.  So frustrating.

Katy wouldn’t come in.  She acted they way they both did the first afternoon we introduced them to  the outside.  On that day we would get close, and they would jet away.  They both were so quick.  To end our first introduction to outside, we had to trap them to get them back into safety.  That was a month ago and Katy was acting the same way, like she had lost her understanding of our back yard.  Like she had lost her mind.

It felt like we would never get her in so we could start the search for Pastel.  Katy ran to the big tree by the barn, Glenn following with flashlight.  Then he heard Pastel, way up in the great tree, thirty or forty feet.  He got the longest extension ladder, put it out all the way and tipped his body to capture Pastel like her mama did, on her neck.  Need I say climbing a tree was also a brand new experience for Pastel?

Glenn brought Pastel in the back door, and Katy followed silently in.  Mission accomplished.

FIGURING OUT CATS

Not possible, you say.  This late summer has been a revolving door of cats.  Not that I wanted it to be.  Meet Miss Katy and Miss Pastel, our two new four month old babies.  We adopted them from a shelter this week, and they have never been outside.  We have ten acres and three buildings and a pool, and wherever we are working, they kind of stay in that area.  So much to learn about, so much to be spooked about.

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Both girls are calico, Katy the traditional and Pastel a diluted one.  Never had heard that term before.  Pastel’s face looks like an owl.  She has some interesting genetic thing going on too.  There is a line going down the middle of her nose dividing the grey from the almost pink color she paints.  Same thing below her mouth, on her neck.  But opposite.  And her eyes are different colors.

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Pastel is uniquely beautiful, and Katy is the expected.  Katy is the foot of the bed comfortable, and Pastel sleeps at our heads.  And they both hold hands; that is important.

We arrived at these girls after my Mouse, my muse, walked into the woods to die after almost 17 years with me.   She inspired my life and my art for a long time.  She was stoic and wise.

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She knew I could not bear to see her go, so she evaporated while we were doing other things, and left a great hole.  Then there were Frida and Carlos.

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They did not live so long with us.  Carlos less than a week, and Frida less than two.  There was a miscommunication between docs at our vet clinic, where we adopted them.  We were not given the meds they needed, and they confirmed this mistake, even when challenged by me.  They died.

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Little Frida’s last picture.

MATH NEVER DID MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME

Awhile ago I wrote about trouble coming in groups of three.  And how we might project which three of a lot of bad experiences were the “correct”  three.   So now we have lost three cats in about a month.  This morning it was Frida.

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We found her having seizures this morning.  The only time she could make a noise was when one grabbed her.  She had an appointment with the vet at eight this morning to check on her loose stool;  she died on the way, in my arms.  Again.  I watched her eyes go from blue to black.

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I guess we never even got a picture of Carlos alone.  He died a week ago; the vet neglected to give us the meds he (they) needed when we adopted them.  So went the two little miracles we had in our lives for about ten days.  Frida was so much alone this last week without Carlos.

It makes the loss of my Mouse all the worse.

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Can I ever establish companionship again with the wisest element of nature that I know?

TROUBLE COMES IN THREES: THE KITTIES

It is difficult to gauge when to start counting for three awful things.  In this last month of August, we have had several events to choose from, unhappily.   Perhaps in thinking this way, we start to “group”, hoping that the three have past and we can now breathe again.

An acquaintance recently died of colon cancer.  It hit me hard.  One of our art community,  I did business with her once a year.  She was 45.  The guilt crept in; at that age I was fighting the same damn thing, and came out the other side.  She never had a chance; by the time her cancer was diagnosed, it had moved to the liver.  She must have not had a history of this in her family like we did.  Colon cancer moves so slow initially;  this problem had been with her for some time.

Days later, Glenn’s mom died.  While we were in St. Louis taking care, my Mouse disappeared, and was never seen again.  Going on seventeen years with her, my son wailed.  She was my sister!  We spoke today about his luck in not losing many family members in his lifetime.  But many had been lost, he just never knew them.  Into my forties, I had three living grandparents.  He only ever had one.  Never knew the others.

So I thought the loss of my Mouse was it, ending the chapter of three.

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She had been around so long, it was unbelievable that she was not here.  Expressive with her white mittens, subtle with a voice more like a scratch in sound than anything else, her presence was everywhere here.  All her places.  All our routines.  At four PM we met at the pool every day to wind down.  She slept with her head on my pillow and we breathed in and out each others exhale.  We held hands.  We were bound at the hip.

The hole in my heart was so huge.  Mouse wanted to be “only kitty” and expressed this idea many times.  We had two other males for short times, they died, one from urology problems and one was bit by a snake.  They were barely tolerated by her.  After Dice died, we promised her that she could live out her life as the only.

Almost three weeks after Mouse’s disappearance, I called our vet to find out the costs of the series of shots and neutering for kittens.  Wanted to compare the price with that of the adoption fee at the shelter.  Had no idea to get kitties this soon.

Someone had found three kittens and a nine month old mother in a zipped up bag at the solid waste site.  He brought them to our vet, and they took them to adopt out.  The receptionist said they had been checked, had a feline leukemia test, were well socialized, weaned and potty trained.  And six weeks old!  We went to see them with our broken hearts.  They had such amazing blue eyes.

frida and carlos                                                  Carlos                                                                          Frida

There was a lack of communication between the two vets in the office.  We were sent off with adorable kitties, Frida and Carlos, Carlos with a little leaky bowel trouble.  They said there was nothing to do until their twelve day booster shots appointment.  Not true.  Carlos died in my arms after being with us six days.

We arrived at the animal hospital with Frida and dead Carlos last Thursday.  They kept her, streamed liquids into her.   They apologized for mistakes.

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Above is Frida about five days ago.  She is not near this fat now.  We are rotating holding her and pushing all kinds of foods and water.  If she survives we will be bound at the hip as well.