Archive for August, 2011

The Contenders


In this corner, wearing the brown and gray striped coat, weighing in at 15 pounds, the (so far) champ, Winston. Don’t let the big ears and innocent expression fool you: he’s sleek and lanky and muscular, and at this very moment is probably planning his next pounce. Special skills: Hissing, slinking, growling, and leaping from unexpected places.

In this corner, wearing the black tuxedo look with white gloves and weighing in at 12 pounds, the sweet Mittens (“Gloves” didn’t seem like an appropriate name, I guess) sporting her formerly pink collar, now missing due to an unfortunate outdoor incident of which we do not speak. I do love her little white chin, which I am hoping is not a glass jaw, because she’s the least aggressive of the two. She’s sort of adopting the Rodney King approach to Winston: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

So far, we can’t. But each day brings us closer to peaceful coexistence, I tell myself.

In The Land Of The Feuding Felines


Greetings from hell.

I’ve been trying to formulate a serious piece about a serious topic (death and dying) but in the meantime I thought it would be a good idea to adopt a new cat so that Mittens wouldn’t be alone all day. And really, don’t a lot of things that sound great in theory really work out okay?

While some don’t?

Like introducing New Cat to Existing Cat.


The neighbors probably think someone is being tortured over here. There is hissing. There is spitting. There is slapping, and there is caterwauling the likes of which I have never heard. I didn’t know Mittens even had the kind of voice.

Separately, they are both sweet and affectionate cats. And I think Mittens wants a new friend, which she foolishly displayed by running up to greet Winston when I brought him home. It was too much too soon. He bared his fangs and hissed like I imagine a puma would do when confronted in the forest. There was spitting. There was chasing. There was screaming. (Some of it mine.)

I don’t think there has been any physical contact between them yet; just a lot of posturing and puffing up of the tails. (Which, at first glance, is pretty humorous.) Mittens still has her claws, and they are sharp as x-acto blades. Winston doesn’t have claws, but he has teeth like a pit bull, not that I’ve ever seen those. I’m just guessing.

At any rate, someone is about to learn a valuable lesson about fighting.

I hope it’s not me.

Winston is secured in the guest room overnight and while I am at work. Today Mittens was confined while Winston had the run of the house. This evening they are both out and about, but he will go back upstairs before bedtime so that we can all sleep in relative calm, girding our strength for tomorrow’s battle.

I hope this will work out. I read online that it can take up to six months (or longer, in hard cases) for cats to become acquainted. (It’s kinda like dating.) I probably should have chosen a smaller cat to bring home, but Winston’s story appealed to me, and here he is. Tonight when I was reading on the sun porch, he sat in my lap and rubbed his face against mine. We have bonded.

Well, that’s the story so far. Updates to come. Real photos to come, too, if I can ever get them close enough to one another without bloodletting. Theirs or mine.

Any tips? We need to hear ’em.

Meanwhile, I’m remaining optimistic. Only 5 months and 27 more days to go!

Goodbye, Sweet Friend.


It is with heavy heart that I write about the sudden and unexpected death of Miss Penelope, on Wednesday, August 11. She was my sweet shelter cat that came to live with me in April, 2009.

Penelope had been at the shelter for 2 months when I found her. She looked too big and too sad to be stuck in a cage all that time, so I was happy to rescue her, though I later discovered she was the one who did the rescuing. My old cat Sam and I were missing our friend Mei Mei, who had died at age 19, and Penelope was brought home to fill in the gap.

And so she did.

Large and in charge, Penelope was a sweet, gentle girl. She was affectionate but shy, and though she hid while guests came to the house, she enjoyed watching television with me, or sitting close to me while I worked at my computer. If I was working in the kitchen, she napped on a kitchen chair just to be close. Despite being part Siamese, she wasn’t much of a talker, but she had her moments. My favorite was in the morning, when she’d wander into the kitchen for breakfast. “Who’s a hungry girl,” I’d ask, and Penelope would always respond with “Meep!”

In the past few weeks Penelope had been sleeping more than usual, and one morning as she waited patiently for breakfast, I was shocked to look down and realize how much weight she’d lost. I made an appointment to bring her to the vet’s office the next day. It was there that a large tumor was detected in her abdomen, then verified by x-ray.

There was talk about aspirating the site, or doing exploratory surgery, but at best, any surgery would probably only extend her life for a short time. And what kind of life would that have been? I would never put a beloved pet through major surgery that would only give them a little more time, and I certainly wasn’t going to do that for Penelope. So I made the decision to have her euthanized that very day, to put an end to her suffering.

And so the deed was done, stunningly swift and horribly sad.

So goodbye, old friend Penelope, my little fat princess. Our time together was way too short, but I hope you were as happy as I was to have spent that contented time with you!