Matt never posts, so I’m stealing this picture he sent me.
Matt never posts, so I’m stealing this picture he sent me.
It became obvious that we needed to get rid of the beloved cardboard house we bought for the cats before Christmas. I taped it up several times to keep it together, but even the corrugated scratcher pieces had worn out. You could see where Vizzi sat on it, as it was the only part not scratched. I’ve been looking for another house for months now, and haven’t found a good replacement. So, I kinda gave up. This triangle had a hole in it and I’ve noticed that the cats like to scratch vertically, so I thought they’d be as happy with this as anything.
They are, in fact, happy with it, even when it gets knocked over.
I think this was the moment Aeris realized that she had made a grave mistake.
Between this and the plethora of cardboard boxes that come through this house, I think they’ll be content for a while. Maybe by then I’ll be able to track down another house for them. (HINT HINT TARGET)
Yesterday Buttercup and Vizzi turned two years old, which I can’t believe. I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday that they looked like this:
How did they get so big, so fluffy, and so sweet?
Look at that handsome fluff boy. He should be the next Bachelor. None of the girls would be leaving the show willingly with him there. Granted, we’d have to pry him out of the back room to MEET the girls, but I digress. Still better than Colton.
And this beautiful Buttercup. How can you not love this majestic creature? She KNOWS how pretty she is, and she KNOWS how sweet her meows are, and she uses both like weapons. Works every time. Okay, maybe not every time. If that were the case, I’d never eat anything, because this girl would steal it all.
Not to be outdone, Aeris and Gwen got into a fight. Or, more accurately, Gwen jumped up onto the bed, crashed into Aeris, and started smacking. She lost that fight. I’m not surprised.
We saw blood around her eye after the spat, so we packed her up and went straight to the emergency vet. Eyes just aren’t something to mess around with.
Thankfully, it turned out to be scratches around her eye and not ON her eye, but she’s still not feeling terrific.
Today she had an appointment with the vet for a thyroid test, which came back well for her. I’m very glad for that, because it already feels like we go through ear gel in a blink. I’m hoping that little sass will be feeling better in a day or two and I’ll see more of her again. Right now, she’s hunkered down in my office. I go and visit her every once in a while, but I’m also trying to give her space to rest.
Never a dull moment with the Smyczyncats.
I wasn’t sure how Gwen would react to kittens. She used to run over and seem curious when I played something with tiny kitten meows, so I thought maybe she’d be interested. But then again, she definitely didn’t like Aeris, and didn’t seem to like any of the cats at the shelter, either.
Still, I was a little disappointed when she had no interest in our foster kittens. She wasn’t as awkward with them as Aeris, but I got a “this is not what I signed up for” vibe. That didn’t mean that the kittens weren’t interested in her, however.
Cuppie loves everyone and everything. She’s been a social butterfly from the first day we met her. It still amused me that she wanted to try -so hard- to be Gwen’s friend, when Gwen clearly wasn’t giving off any friendship vibes. In fact, when the kittens became permanent and super into everything, Gwen plunked herself down in the closet. It was the one place the kittens didn’t really go, and she could get away from them.
You know, until Cuppie figured it out.
She started to figure out Gwen’s boundaries, when to back up, when Gwen didn’t -really- mean it, and how far she could push before Gwen would smack her in the face.
I have to give Cuppie credit: she is tenacious. It’s like she decided that Gwen was her bestest friend (besides Vizzi) and she just didn’t know it yet. It didn’t matter how many times Gwen smacked her in the face or grumbled at her, Cuppie just came back later. For a while, I thought Cuppie just wore her down. It was just easier to let Cuppie hang out near her than to continually smack her in the face.
But then they started playing together.
It started out with Cuppie chasing Gwen, and Gwen hissing and sputtering as she ran away. But one day, Gwen chased back. Then they started running around back and forth for a few minutes at a time - I’d hear Gwen growl when she’d had enough. The play sessions got longer. Gwen started instigating. She’s even tried to tackle Cuppie a couple times. (That has not been successful, but I give her credit for trying)
Cuppie can groom Gwen a little bit (before getting hit in the face). Gwen will play with Vizzi now too, but not nearly as often. There’s something of a strange camaraderie here.
None of the other cats can get away with this kind of physical proximity with Gwen. I think she likes Vizzi well enough, and her relationship with Aeris has improved overall, but this?
Before Mikenna got really sick, Gwen tried to play with her a little bit. It scared the living daylights out of Mikenna, because she was used to Aeris, whose method of playing involved getting Koo to chase -her-, not by chasing Koo or, wait for it, smacking her in the face. (Yes, Gwen has a pattern)
Cuppie has never been intimidated by Gwen. She takes all of Gwen’s quirks in stride. I think that is why they get along so well. Cuppie showed that she was willing to back off when Gwen actually meant it, and that made Gwen more comfortable with letting her close. Cuppie doesn’t want to be the boss of Gwen, she just wants to be her friend.
So, strangely enough, she is.
I love how true this picture is to the cats' personalities.
Vizzi is curious but also terrified. WHAT is he doing? What if there's something scary in the box?
Cuppie is right there and she is ready for it. Also, she's hogging the cardboard box because of course she is.
(The answer, by the way, was an endtable for Matt. Not scary at all, Viz)
I adore this weird little fluffball.
She is a helper cat. By which I mean, she is an almost constant hindrance to anything out of the ordinary. (And many daily things as well) If it's of any interest to you, she's SUPER CURIOUS.
So when I broke out a paper cutter last week, she was ALL over that. And the paper. And the frames. And me. Eventually I gave up and would hand her a scrap of paper as soon as I cut it. She'd grab it, bite it, then wait for the next one.
There are plenty of things that she makes take twice as long. But look at her. She doesn't mean to cause trouble, and I wish that I thought everything is as exciting as she does.
If this fluffy foot doesn't cheer you up, I don't know what to tell you.
But super adorable.
Gwen jumped up onto the crate to look out the door, and Cuppie decided to join her. Gwen was like, *SIGH* Fine.
It's crazy just how much bigger Cuppie is than Gwen. I knew she was bigger - if you pick them up, Gwen barely registers and Cuppie has got some oomph. But I hadn't seen them together at a good angle to compare.
To me, this picture looks so ridiculous - like someone photoshopped Gwen to be too small. Clearly, Cuppie is not THAT big. Except, apparently she is. So weird.
They can stop growing now. I had to buy new bags for Cuppie and Vizzi because they had outgrown the original ones. Granted, the original ones were meant to fit up to 10lbs, and I'm VERY sure they're both past that now. Plus, they're long and sturdy. There's nothing dainty about those two. It's ridiculous.
My name is Maggie Buttercup and I have approved this message.
Do you want an alternative to all those fat cats up on Capitol Hill, only looking out for themselves? Then on election day, remember me, Maggie Buttercup.
Over the last year, I have worked tirelessly to make friends with even the crankiest of kitties. If I can do that, I'm pretty sure I can do anything.
I have a certificate of completion from Cat Tricks, which makes me a highly qualified candidate. I have been working on my public speaking skills, and I'm certain that they will be up to par by summer.
I come from humble origins at the Lynchburg Humane Society, one of six kittens. My brother and I were fortunate to escape a life of endless breeding and wondering where our next meal will come from. I want to pay forward the generosity I have received.
All this typing is really wearing me out, so I'm going to go take a nap now. Remember: Maggie Buttercup. A fluff like none other.
Cuppie and Vizzi send their regards. Also, they're really wishing for more spring-like weather. We've gotten some snow in the last week, so their window viewing has been pretty non-existant. I'm not opening the screen when it's snowing. I'm not that crazy. :)
Sometimes Cuppie does things that remind me a lot of Mikenna. I guess it's inevitable, what with them both being animals. I probably look for things too, since she's so special.
But it's okay, because when I see Cuppie doing something that is particularly Koo-like, it makes me happy. Not only did I have a dog who made me incredibly happy, but I've got a cat (or four) who does, as well.
We're at a pretty amazing place with the cats, these days. The majority of the time, they spend time in the same room - even Gwen is currently passed out on the bed. She's been playing with the kittens now for a couple of weeks, which still shocks me.
What's awesome about the kittens is that they really like Gwen, even when she's a crankybutt at them, and they aren't intimidated by her. When Cuppie gets smacked at, she turns right around and plops as close to Gwen as she's allowed. They seem to understand when Gwen means it and when she's just being Gwennie. The fluffs periodically try to sneak up on Gwen and groom her, with very limited success so far, but I feel like at the rate they're going, they might just win her over.
The only downside to all this cat love is that when I say "you can't go from one end of the house to the other without stepping on a cat" - it can be true. At least one, but as many as three cats will follow me into the bathroom, which is smaller than most half baths I see. If they don't follow me into the bathroom, when I go to leave, they'll be flopped outside the door, like some floppy cat massacre. When the cats are full of energy, you'd better look before crossing, lest some cat smash into your legs or trip you up.
But all this is great. It's like the cats finally see each other as family - or at least as permanent residents that they're better off getting along with. I love having cats that want to be around us, and around each other. But we are definitely at our cat limit for the time being. We've got a nice balance that I don't dare disrupt.
As I write this, I kid you not, Vizzi is sleeping with his paw in one of my shoes. They're a weird bunch.
For the last five weeks, Cuppie has been enrolled in a "cat tricks" class. Sometimes, I'm not sure if I've managed to teach her anything, or if I've just given three cats a way to sneak more treats out of me.
Unless I'm exceptionally lucky, I can't just train one cat. Most of the time, there are three, though sometimes I can get away with just two. The cool thing is that if you station train your cats, you can kind of get them to sit in one place while you work with one at a time. You just have to reward the cats you aren't working with for sitting where they're supposed to. I feel like I have some exceptionally cooperative cats, but then again, if someone were to tell me that *I* could have cookies just for sitting in this one spot while someone else had to earn their cookies, I'd see that I had the better deal.
The important part is that it feels like a game to them, and that you make it as clear as possible what the game is. They'll test it out - do I get a treat for just getting near your hand, or do I really have to touch your finger? Do I have to step over the bar, or can I just walk around it and we call it good?
Make your changes incremental. If your cat starts to succeed at one stage of the game, don't be afraid to make it more challenging - but also, understand that you may have to dial it back down.
Also, the weirdest things can affect whether the cat knows what's going on. I had the chance to work with some humane society cats - and one would get very good at doing high fives through the bars of the cage. But as soon as that door was opened, it was like everything he'd learned flew out the door. I had to walk him back through his queues to get back to the high fives - even then, he was super distracted at now having visual access to his neighbors.
It's been a lot of fun. So far, Cuppie's most impressive trick is a high five. Considering that Mikenna never reliably mastered sitting on command, I feel pretty proud.
With any luck, I'll catch Vizzi up to Cuppie with the high fives, and then we'll start working on spins more and introducing the concept of going through a hoop.
Now, if I can only train them to wash the dishes.
It was only a matter of time before they got nosy about the computer.
The kiddos have been VERY involved in our Christmas related activities. So don't be surprised if there's a tuft of hair in your card this year. We're fortunate that none of them are counter surfers, but they're sure up in our grill for everything else!
I've been a little obsessed with the idea of Vizzi in a bow tie for some time now. He's just such a dapper little dude. So I found a collar the other day with a bow tie on it, and I about squealed. Behind it was a little pink polka dot collar with a pink flower on it, and that was it. It was clearly meant to be. I snapped up those collars faster than you can say "dapper do dads".
I managed to slice open my finger trying to get the collars free from their packaging, and I may have added some unintentional color to Cuppie's collar. (I think it washed off)
I haven't gotten a good picture of Vizzi's bow tie, but you get the idea. He's cute. Cuppie looks like a proper little lady, which cracks me up.
Yeah, I'm one of those people who does crazy things to their cats. At least they don't seem to care about this one. They've been wearing collars since they were tiny, so it was no big deal to them after the first thirty seconds.
For the last ten years, we haven't had our own Christmas tree. It was hard to figure out where we would put one, and I wasn't too keen on the idea of storing one from year to year when we hadn't put down roots anywhere. (Odds that someone would steal the tree out of our basement storage?)
But the biggest reason we gave was ten pounds or less. Aeris. We were sure that she would be all in a Christmas tree, knocking it over, eating things, causing havoc, and it just didn't seem worth it.
But this year we decided that we didn't care. There was a spot in our living room where we could technically fit a tree. Of course it would be a little bit inconvenient, but we could make it work for a month or so. Aeris probably wouldn't cause too much trouble with a tree, but Cuppie has Aery's curiosity x10, and almost no fear to slow her down. So it's not like we thought we'd fare better with this arrangement of animals.
I would rather have the memories of the things I did do, even if they are imperfect or inconvenient, than regret the things I didn't do. Hence, getting a tree. We didn't go for anything too expensive, and we bought minimal, shatterproof ornaments to keep it simple should this go south.
Does Buttercup like to chew on the tree branches? Absolutely.
Does she try to chew on the lights? Ugh. Yes.
Does she bat at the ornaments? Yeah, and it's pretty dog gone cute.
So far, (knock on wood) the cats have actually been a lot better behaved than I thought. The tree hasn't tipped over yet. They all kinda take turns napping underneath the tree, and it's really cute.
It feels cozy. It feels ... like Christmas. If the tree falls over, we'll put it back up. As long as no one gets hurt, I don't really care. But I'll tell you what, in a few years, Matt and I will be talking about the first Christmas where we had to say "Cuppie, nooooooo" about a dozen times a night. Each.
Last night, Matt and I were playing Borderlands 2 in the living room. I kept hearing a noise that I couldn't identify, but made me think that one or more cats were up to something. So when a few generic "Hey, knock it off" calls didn't work, I hopped up and went into my office to intervene.
I found Cuppie standing by the closet door, which had been pushed shut. From her frantic pawing, I knew there was something in there she was desperate to get. So I wasn't too surprised when I opened the door and there sat Vizzi. Funny thing about those kittens - they're pretty good at closing doors, but they are rubbish at opening them. So basically, Cuppie shut her brother in the closet and then went 'oops oops oops!' when he couldn't get back out.
Those two, I tell ya.
I took them to the vet this week, in their stylish new bags. (Cat-in-the-bag.com) They've definitely outgrown being able to smoosh in the same crate, so I had to figure out a new solution for vet visits. I could place them in separate crates, which wasn't ideal because they find being together comforting. Or, I could haul around a large crate for the two of them, which wasn't ideal because who wants to lug around a large crate. I'd looked at the bags before, and been intrigued. The theory is that they feel secure in the bag, but not super confined like in a crate. In my case, if they were each in a bag, they could still hunker down with each other and be comforted. (Okay, let's be honest. Vizzi will chill out because his sister is there. Cuppie is pretty much fine on her own.)
I was pleasantly surprised when the bags did exactly what they promised to do. The cats were comfortable and happy (as much as cats can be when they're taken to the vet). They behaved beautifully for their exams - Vizzi went first, and when they were done looking him over, he just curled up and went to sleep. The vet also thought these bags were amazing - it's a 'stress free' solution for cats who get stressed out by crates, aren't used to them, and so on. I'll admit, I liked the kids being the talk of the building - and not for peeing on someone. (GWEN) Speaking of, next time Gwen has to go to the vet, I'm going to try taking her in a bag as well, since she is definitely not a fan of the crate.
For the record, Cuppie is just a hair over 8lbs, and Vizzi is just about 9.5lbs. Since they turn 8 months old tomorrow, that means Cuppie is right on target and Vizzi is an overachiever. But he's also built differently than she is - I think he's just going to be a larger, solid boy. They both outweigh Gwen now, though. Poor Gwen.
A lot has changed in the last year. I've been reflecting on that fact as I think about this week a year ago.
On Sunday, Mikenna wasn't feeling very well. She'd been started on an antibiotic for a uti, and it's not like she didn't have a fair share of stomach problems anyway. Nothing too much to think about. Matt and I went for a walk at Peaks View Park - we'd never been there before, even though it's pretty close to our house. It was a really sunny, warm day. It was nice to get out of the house and shake off some of the stress that comes from taking care of someone.
Monday, she still wasn't feeling very good, but that wasn't too abnormal. Tuesday was election day, and I was starting to get worried about her. I placed a call to the vet about maybe changing her medicine, because I didn't think we could make it through two weeks of her being this sick to her stomach. That night was long as we stayed up to watch the election results.
Wednesday, I had agreed to help out at a health fair. I set up the booth for the humane society and chatted with people about volunteering for the animals. Several people mentioned that their animal died at 13. Something about it felt really foreboding, as I hadn't brought up Mikenna. By that night, I was very worried. She was so listless, not even drinking much water by that point, which is always a red flag. So we opted to take her to the emergency vet. You know what I was expecting? That they would give her some anti-nausea medicine and some fluids, and we'd take her to the regular vet in the morning. I figured we'd take her home and get her better. But as we sat there after midnight, exhausted and cold, it began to feel like it was worse. They were taking an awful long time with their tests. They wanted to keep her overnight, and said that her kidneys looked off. I was too tired for things to really sink in. I agreed to it in a haze and we went home to snatch a few hours of sleep before picking her up bright and early.
Thursday morning, as the sun rose, we were driving back to the emergency vet to pick up our girl. The doctor came out and told us that she had not improved any over night and that we had to take her straight to our regular vet when they opened. When they brought her out to us, she stared, but didn't make any excited ear twitches or stretch out her paws for us. That's the moment it hit me that she was very very sick. She always got excited about seeing us. We could walk out the door and walk in a minute later and she was thrilled.
We walked into our regular vet and sat on the bench, holding her in my lap. The song "Chasing Cars" played over the radio.
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Will you lie with me and just forget the world?
Oh, how I wanted to just take her home and snuggle up with her. The vet came out and told us that they'd looked over her paperwork from the emergency vet. She definitely had pancreatitis and something was up with her kidneys - prepare ourselves, it did not look good.
We spent that morning and early afternoon trying to keep ourselves occupied. Matt and I shared stories with each other, talking about all the good and bad of Mikenna, how she had made our lives better, happier, more quirky.
When the vet finally called, it was everything I was afraid I'd hear. Pancreatitis, her kidneys were failing, and her heart. There was no way to treat all three of those things at the same time. Two of them, sure, but not all three. There was nothing that could be done. They recommended taking her home for one last night together.
That was the longest night of my life. I didn't want to sleep and miss a minute she had left, but going on a third nearly sleepless night, I was exhausted. I had expected that she would settle down and sleep, but she couldn't get comfortable. She was thirsty, but as her heart struggled, the blood wasn't circulating well and her tongue was turning black. She had a brief seizure because, as the vet warned us, blood wasn't making it all the way to her brain as it should. I told her over and over again that she had done well, and if she wanted to let go, she could. I wouldn't be mad. She'd done her best. We all had.
The sun eventually rose and Mikenna wanted to go outside. Of course she did. She loved the outside. We took her out there and she just sat. Didn't have the energy to do much else. But she seemed happy. Matt encouraged me to go grab my camera and take pictures of her. I didn't want to, but I'm glad I did. I treasure those pictures, even though they show a dog who was very, very sick.
Time went by too fast and too slow. I wanted her to just die at home, peacefully, so we wouldn't have to take her to the vet. I remember when they gave her that injection to knock her out, and I thought, she's never going to wake up again. Everything that we've done together, and this is it. She was so tired.
When I walked in the door after we had dropped her off at the humane society for cremation, it all hit me. Everything I had done to take care of her, to make her happy, it was all gone. It was like my calendar had been full and then suddenly wiped out. But it wasn't relief.
A year ago, I walked into the vet with a dying Mikenna, holding her tight, exhausted.
This year, on the same day, I'll walk into the vet with Buttercup and Vizzi for a checkup. The vet will tell me that they are adorable and perfectly healthy, and I'll tell her how well they get along with their older sisters, and we'll all smile and chuckle at them as they squeak in gentle protest.
This week has been heavy with grief, I admit. I had a dream the other night where she slathered me in kisses, and knowing I'll never have that again, that little paw holding my face still when I tried to move, puts a lump in my throat.
I thought about the ebb and flow of our family over the years. Koo & Aery; Koo, Aery & Gwen; Aery & Gwen; Aery, Buttercup, Gwen & Vizzi. Never has our family felt lacking. There's never been better or worse, just different. I've loved every version of our family. We've never lacked love or laughter, no matter what.
It hurts not to have Mikenna here. Were she here and healthy, she would enjoy chasing Cuppie and snuggling with Vizzi. But if she were here, they wouldn't be. (I love animals, but come on, I have my limits) Because she died, they have a chance to be in our family. Aeris gets to have kitty siblings who adore her as much as she did Mikenna, and even Gwen is amused with everyone. It's not better or worse, it's just different, and beautiful in it's own way.
I miss my little girl, and that's okay. I wish I didn't feel grief as much as I do, but I know that's not a bad thing. Although many holes have been filled with the kittens, no one runs up and pounces on me when I cry, the way Mikenna did. That, I admit, is the thing I miss the most right now.
A few weeks ago, I realized that the day the kittens were born (March 13) is also the day that my ashes ring arrived. Something about it feels significant. The day that the last bit of Mikenna's journey was finished, the kittens arrived. I think that's pretty cool, that there's a bigger picture, even when we can't see it and aren't looking for it.
Here's to Mikenna, and to getting what you need and not necessarily what you're looking for.
Gwen finally has normal thyroid levels, after three tries. It's been very tedious to find a way to give her the pills that is reliable, get her to accept the pills, and then find the right dosage. But since her initial number was 17, and she's down to 1.9, this is really good. I think we get to take a break from the bloodwork for a few months too, which should make her happy.
Speaking of finally, Aeris is not only chilling out as far as the kittens are concerned, she's now also playing with them. She does still hiss at them from time to time, when she feels ganged up on, but she's taking a lot of it in stride. It's nice to see her more relaxed, and to see her actually learning how to communicate and play with other cats. I honestly didn't know if we'd ever see the day.
Cuppie and Vizzi are still growing like little weeds. I fluxuate between thinking that they're appropriately sized and terrified that they're part maine coon or something and will end up being enormous. They're a lot of fun, though. Cuppie has discovered the bathroom sink and is currently enamored with it. Vizzi is becoming a total cuddle bug, and likes to sit under our feet in the evening, which means that we have to be extra careful not to squish him when we get up.
Lastly on this random update, Matt and I have started trying to utilize our gym membership more. Or, you know, at all. Even though Matt's company is awesome and reemburses us for it, so it's essentially a free gym membership, from time to time Matt gets all guilty feeling if we aren't using it. So, we're typically night people. But here's the thing - going to the gym at night, even with your spouse, is kinda creepy. But I don't like being around people at the gym. (Total fat girl hangup) Matt suggested that we could get up on Saturdays and go early, which sounds good in theory until you remember that I loathe, with every fiber of my being, getting up early. But we tried it, and it worked out well, so somehow this has warped into a plan to get up every day and go to the gym. Early. I'm writing this on a Sunday night, so tomorrow is our first workday trying this out.
Why every day, you ask? Because, Gretchen Rubin points out that willpower is exhausting, and that sometimes it's easier to do something every day than to have to use your willpower for it. So if we aim for every day, it's more likely that we'll actually make it than if we aim to go a couple times a week. So we'll see. I'd like to get my legs stronger again, because that lessens the chances that I'll have another double ankle injury.
Anyway, the kittens are about ready to tear down the office door to get to Gwen's leftovers, so I'd better go let them in before I have a kitten riot on my hands.
So, it's July already. The kittens will be four months old on the 13th, and our 10th anniversary is on the 7th. Gwen has another thyroid test this month - so long as she keeps up with her medicine, I'm cautiously optimistic this time. I think she looks like she's put on weight, which is a good sign in this case.
I decided that this month, my goal is to hit my "calorie goal" every day on my apple watch. That's calories burned, not ingested. I was up to a goal of 520 for a while, but it's gone down in the last month to 460. It's a relatively easy way to get that success high, so why not?
The kittens are turning into good little cats. Viz in particular is super affectionate with us. He's our little peacemaker. While both kittens want to be friends with the big girls, Viz seems to understand feline diplomacy a little better. On the whole, they are very well behaved. Cuppie likes to chew on things, which is fine as long as I give her appropriate things to chew on. But they both (mostly Cuppie) like to come see us as soon as they wake up ... which is somewhere between 4-7, and increasingly on the earlier side. She likes to groom Matt's face, so he's taken to sleeping with a pillow over his head. Poor guy. Viz seems to enjoy snuggling between us for a few minutes before we go to sleep, and then he goes off on his own. He sleeps better than Cuppie, so he's not typically such an early morning intruder.
Aery has had a rough few weeks with her little siblings. She likes them on the whole, and she boops noses with both of them often. But BOY does them playing drive her batty. They are practically bouncing off the walls, running around, tackling each other, having a great time. I don't know why, but Aeris can't stand it, but she won't go somewhere quiet. So that's meant a few weeks of Aeris growling, growling, growling at the kittens whenever they play. She has yet to do anything to them, and they don't seem fazed by it - they still want to sleep near her at naptime.
Gwen seems to be improving overall. Her mood is a lot better. She enjoys going in the closet for a time out, but is spending most of her time outside of it, by her choice. I think we'd see more of her in the rest of the house if Aeris would stop trying to run after her every time she sees her. Yes, Aeris is our problem child, we know it, and we love her. She has been taking her pills pretty dilligently, and I hope she keeps that up for the next week. If her numbers finally come back normal, we can switch her to an ear gel rather than the pills, which should take stress off of everybody. (By everybody, I mean me and her. The other cats LOVE pill time, because they all get treats.) I'm convinced we'll have everyone comfortable and happy at some point.
I've been taking the kittens up to the humane society for summer camp on Mondays to talk to the kids about cat behaviour and how to take care of cats, stuff like that. I'd like the kittens to be okay (relatively) with car rides and being handled by other people. So far, it seems like a good thing. The kids love them, and the kittens are tolerating it. I won't say that they're excited about getting passed around by kids, but they're being good little kitkats.
They definitely know that they're part of our pack now. They 'mark' us with their mouths and swish around our feet, getting their scent all over us. They want to be with us, and will often come running when we come home. It's a sweet experience.
Speaking of sweet, you know what I found at the grocery store today?
I love summer.
As I've no doubt explained before, I am terrible with nicknames. I give them out freely and with little regard as to whether they make sense. I don't really do this to people, but animals, oh dear...I'm sorry.
Of course, Buttercup and Vizzi have not been immune to my nicknamery. Here are some of the things they've been called over the last several weeks:
Cuppie Jo (Cuppa Joe)
It's really just a matter of time before I come up with something worse. After all, Aeris is regularly referred to as some variation of Bean, and Gwen is BooChinSki. (Or just Boo)
I'm sorry, kittens. If you wanted actual, sensible names, you let the wrong person bring you home.
I love the joy that the kittens bring to the family.
The week Mikenna died is without a doubt, the worst week of my life so far. That whole week was just brutal.
It's nice to see that after such sorrow, we can have so much fun again. I love taking the kittens up to see my mom (even if they keep beating us at games of hide and go seek). I love watching them bolt around and pounce on each other, as well as curl up in the same perch and snuggle. I love that Vizzi has the loudest purr on a kitten that I can remember, and that he purrs at the slightest bit of affection from us. I love Cuppie's antics, that I REALLY never know what she's going to be up to, but it's going to make me laugh.
It feels like my tears have finally (mostly, knock on wood) stopped. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss Mikenna. There hasn't been a day when I don't think of her. I can really only stand to wear rings on my left ring finger, which means I have to choose between my wedding ring and Mikenna's ring. I feel a little guilty about that, but Matt doesn't wear his wedding ring ever, so I probably shouldn't. I just like the thought that she gets to come with me when I go places. I'm fairly sure she'd be ticked that it wasn't an option when she was alive.
But, looking through Facebook memories, I swear I can see Mikenna not feeling well in pictures taken even before her diagnosis, and I see it again towards the end. She just looks weary. And she had filled out quite a bit - partially because she had stopped throwing up so much (yay), but I don't doubt that it had a lot to do with fluid. I mean ... It's just that I knew her. And I can see in many of the pictures from her last six months, that westie spark was really diminished. Her intense spirit was there right until the end, but there was so much that we lost. I don't know how to describe it.
Nobody can take Mikenna's place, nor would I want them to. But the kittens have that energy and that spark that I've been missing for so long. It helps to have that again. It's not the same energy. This is brother-sister pounce on each other and run around kitten energy. It's not westie jump on you and maul you until your face is raw energy. But it's joyful. Neither of these kittens have been "tainted" by the grief of losing Mikenna. It's nice.
I'm not sure any of that made sense, but there you go. Kittens good, miss Mikenna, life goes on.
The littlest miss (for now) is not short on attitude. From the first time she scampered over to the pen and started squeaking at me for attention, I knew she was something.
I don't know what that something is, but Cuppie is full of life and attitude and charisma. She is going to keep us entertained for a looooooong time.
They keep growing. I tell them not to, but they go to sleep anyway and their little bodies grow. I guess it means that we're doing something right, but still. They're looking a lot less like kittens these days and more like miniature cats.
Viz in particular is turning into a rather solid cat. I don't mean fat, I mean when I pet him, he's a sturdy little guy. Cuppie still feels like I might blow her over. I fully expect that next time we go to the vet, he's going to weigh more than his sister. He started out smaller than her by quite a bit (more than half a pound!) and he's done nothing but grow ever since.
It's bittersweet to see them grow, but one thing is very nice - they're getting less fragile. I worry less about rolling over on one of them in the middle of the night, or breaking their little kitty paws if I step on them. (Seriously guys, get out from under my feet, wouldja?)
Side note on Cuppie's picture: That's Aery's perch she's in, and this is the first day she's been able to reach it. She just settled in like she's always had that perch, and I have this feeling that she and Aery are going to be tussling for supremacy in the coming months.
Cuppie is such an overwhelming personality, it's easier to overlook Vizzi. It's not that he doesn't have any good stories to tell, it's just that Cuppie is an extravert who drips charm.
So here's a little bit about Viz.
Vizzi loves being brushed. If he sees you holding the brush, he'll likely stop whatever he's doing and wait for you to brush him, or flop on his side, whatever.
He loves to investigate things, but he lets Cuppie take the lead. He adores her. I think she's his security blanket of sorts.
He is pretty passionate about food. He'll come running if he hears the food bowl get filled, or if he hears the treat dispenser get kicked by one of the humans. It's a smart move, really. Get the treats, minus the effort. When he was smaller, he would sleep with his chin on the water bowl. It worried me because I was afraid he'd drown himself.
Viz does not love being held - not like his sister. Depending on his mood, he might sit in your arms for a minute and let you pet him, or he might squirm out right away. But he is the sweetest little love bug on his terms. Lately he's been "sleeping" with us at night. For periods of time, he'll creep up on the bed between us and try to get comfy. Only, being an energetic little kitten, he gets "comfy" for about 30 seconds at a time before he has to try out a new spot. More likely than not, you'll wake up to his motorboat purring in your ear. Then he gets tired of the whole thing and scampers off to a tried and true spot so everyone can sleep. It's really sweet, and at least on my end, not -too- disruptive.
He loves to play with his sister - and trust me, he'll give as good as he gets, but he's such a sweetie. He wants very badly to be besties with the big girls, and truthfully, his more gentle approach has won him more points than Cuppie. She has more of a 'bull in a china shop' approach to diplomacy.
He's a really good little dude. I think he would be far more timid if he didn't have Cuppie around, and I think that having him as a calming presence keeps her from constant trouble. They even each other out pretty well.
So, while he might not get as many stories or pictures - because I won't find -him- playing with the bathmat at 11pm - it doesn't mean he's any less loved. He completes our little circle very well, and I think that when he gets older, he's going to find himself with three cats who love him.
Sometimes I think Cuppie is a trope.
Like, she must watch youtube videos at night on "how to cat" and studies them. She's a very ardent student of the feline way. ( ;;; z <- Comment inserted by Vizzi)
In this case, Cuppie decided that the packaging was way more fun than the toy I'd put together for them. In fact, she was so happy about the packaging that she came and snuggled up on me after she had finished playing.
Oh Cuppie. I hope you never lose your sense of curiosity. (Just try not to get too curious about the outside world)
If you'd told me that I had a "type" of animal, I would have assured you that it was not true.
But when I took this picture of Cuppie the other day, I said out loud, "OH WOW. I have a type."
Because, you see, when I snapped that picture there, I thought of the picture above. I remembered Mikenna laying on her side, fresh spay incision, looking at me with her charm and attitude.
So apparently, I pick confident animals with lots of personality. Little firecrackers. I mean, look at Aery and Gwen. They may not be the same amount of outright swagger that we've got going on here, but those girls know what they are about and they stick to it.
I didn't really pick Vizzi, Matt did. That must be why he's shy and sweet and nothing like the little hellions I bring home. :)
This, I am sure, is the cover for the kittens' first rock album. Since they were "fixed" on Tuesday, now they have something sad and broody to sing about. Tracks include:
01. What is Catnip?
02. Grumpy sister cats
03. I'd be lost without you
04. Pounce pounce pounce
05. Let me tell you about my belly tattoo
Limited edition, call now! ;)
The kittens got to experience their first Bond movie tonight.
To be honest, I'm not really sure what they thought.
Vizzi liked watching things zip by on the screen. He thought that was pretty interesting. Buttercup largely napped on one of us or played with shoelaces. Not really her cup of tea, I guess.
But at least they made it through the movie.