My Tidy Cat

I’ve found cat toys in all kinds of fun places: in the wastebasket, floating in the counter top fountain, atop shelved books, once even placed gently in the front paws of a sleeping cat statue .  At least all hundred of them aren’t strewn across the floor.

This one gets an award for Most Comical Use of a Cat Toy.

Someone cracked open the litter scoop’s holder and jammed a furry squirrel toy inside.  Odds are that Monty was the culprit.  He has a track record of going above and beyond normal cat behavior.

In my yoga class, our teacher will give us instruction on an exercise, adding “if you wish more work”, you can modify the pose.  I almost never do.  Monty, though, always wishes for more work.  He really ought to be more fit than he is, as he invariably makes his little workouts more difficult.  Playing with a toy isn’t just batting the thing around, it’s batting the toy while leaping over and around the rungs of a chair.  Stretching usually involves pulling something off the wall.   Hanging off the edge of the kitchen counter and opening a drawer with his dangling front paws, that’s Monty.

There may be another culprit in my household, but I’m putting my money on Monty.

The squirrel, brushed off and ready for more fun

Sacked out. Being a house cat is tough work.

Life After Daisy…Is it time to think about fostering a dog?

It’s been eleven months since Daisy died; seven months since Rusty.  It’s just been me and Luna (and the cats, of course) since then, and I’ve been enjoying how easy it is to just have one dog to worry about.  Feeding, walks, clean up: all so easy with just one dog.

Rusty, enjoying his favorite past time, with Cricket looking on.

In the months that it has just been us two, I would occasionally look at dogs on, but despite the appealing photos and touching stories, I couldn’t imagine bringing another dog into our lives.  Too soon since the losses, too reluctant to give up our easy ways.  And then, I wanted to give our relationship, mine and Luna’s, a chance to develop, to strengthen.

Daisy’s premature death shocked me into a numb automaton who just barely went through the motions.  Although Luna and Rusty were mine, I felt like I was caring for someone else’s dogs: feed, let outside, pat on the head, ignore.  I couldn’t do any more than that.

If you’re a dog trainer, you will be shaking your head sadly when you read what I have to say next:  Luna was really Daisy’s dog, not mine.  Sure, I paid her adoption fee, fed her, nominally maintained order, but Daisy ran the show.  Luna was Daisy’s playmate, not mine.  When Daisy went to the back door to go out, Luna was right there, ready to play.  Daisy had rules.  Why do you think she was affectionately known as “The Fun Police”?  Luna was only permitted brief contact with me before Daisy would intervene.  It worked great when Luna was jumping on me.  Instead of having to train the dog to stop jumping, I would call Daisy over and she would get between me and her maniacally jumping and licking charge and it would stop.

Daisy and Luna

Once The Fun Police was gone, Luna and I didn’t know what to do with one another.  I wanted a big dog to press her head into my lap so I could pretend she was Daisy.  She wasn’t used to having her immediate superior be a human.  We figuratively danced around one another, living in the same house, peacefully co-existing, but not working as one.

Gradually, we learned each others’ rhythms and moods.  I discovered that Luna’s short, high-pitched whimperings are just her way of chatting.  That she only needs to be shown something once, and she’s got it down.  That she prefers to eat with me standing nearby.   That she loves a good belly rub.  She found that I can be approached without repercussion and that I’m actually a fun, if slow-moving and short-throwing, playmate.  We enjoy our time together.

So why add a new dog to this mix?  Partly, becasue of my guilt and unease in knowing that there are wonderful dogs out there who need homes.  Partly, because Luna could use more good doggie playtime.  Partly, because the pain of my losses has shrunk to manageable size and there is now room for one more.

Maybe.   I have not committed yet, but I put out some feelers on a dog who is in a local impound. I’m going to foster, not adopt.  That way, I can help a dog into a great forever home without it being my home.  I can help more dogs that way.  But who knows what will happen down the road? Two weeks ago, I told a friend that I never wanted to get a second dog and here I am seriously contemplating at least becoming a dog’s foster parent.

It feels good to have a heart and mind open to possibilities again.

Lili and Maci

In late August, 2011 I visited an animal control facility in rural Minnesota.  I had volunteered to photograph the animals there, and to try to find rescues to take them.  In no part of my mind was I planning to bring anyone home with me.

These little girls had other ideas.  They must have known I couldn’t walk by their filthy cage and not make the impulse decision to take them with me.  The tinier one, white with grey markings, especially used her oversized, plaintive meow to let me know that there was no choice in the matter.  They were coming home with me.

Six week old kittens waiting to be rescued, August 2011.

I borrowed a carrier, loaded the pair up and brought them home.  A visit to the vet proved that they were healthy but skinny kittens who needed love and nourishment.  I named the grey tabby Molly and the white one with tabby markings, Meeka.  When they were adopted about three months later, they were given the charming names of Maci (Molly)  and Lili (Meeka)

Molly/Maci at her first vet visit, August 29, 2011.


A couple of days later, I went back to another stray impound and picked up Marlowe, a frightened black kitten.  I had seen him before I met Molly and Meeka but hadn’t yet been informed by the girls that I was again going to be a kitten foster parent.  Two weeks after that, Monty and Marshmallow were jailed in the same place that Meeka and Molly had been.  They came to join the blended kitten family, and the adventure began in earnest.

Feeding frenzy. From top left, Marshmallow, Marlow, Meeka. Bottom left, Monty, Molly.

Meeka was a crafty imp who liked to be held; Molly was the more independent of the two.  One night Luna had come in from the backyard but soon was whimpering and trying to get back outside.  I heard a cat’s meowing not far from the door and assumed it was one of the adult cats who had slipped out under the herd of three large dogs as they went out for the umpteenth time that day.   But no, it was Molly!  She had boldly ventured out under cover of the dogs but decided she didn’t like being outside alone.  She was hiding under a rose bush and was glad to be held that one time.  Other than that, she was mostly a grey streak in the house, racing alone or with the other kittens.

I’m always sorry when the time comes for the kittens to be adopted out, but I’m delighted when they go to a great home and am especially elated when a pair gets the chance to live their lives together, forever.  Gayle was looking for two young sisters, and I had the perfect pair of siblings for her.  The two former impound kittens have it made now.

Meeka/Lili at about 12 weeks

On the year anniversary of their adoption, I received this from their human mom:

It’s hard to believe they have been here a year Thanksgiving.  Time certainly flew. They both are doing just wonderful.  Never a dull moment around here especially when they are on the run.  Lili is a dainty little girl with an iron fist.  She can carry on quite the conversation. She loves to play and brings the ball back for you to keep throwing–whether it fits into your plans or not.  Maci has turned out to be a big girl.  Still hates to be held but more than willing to sit on your lap.  She loves stealing yarn.  She also talks but not nearly as much as Lili.  They had their first experience with a mouse about a month ago.  Poor mouse never stood a chance with those two.”

And here they are today.

Maci and Lili chilling at home and looking great! November 2012.

And more photos of their time in my home.

Atop the cat tree, with Marshmallow

The little girls loved my ‘grandmother cat’, Samantha.

Happy Thanksgiving

We are thankful to have a great indoor home with plenty of good food and lots to do.

–Celayne’s Cats

Thankful kittens gobble up a hearty meal, 2010


I am thankful for all the good treats I get and for the opportunity to be The One and Only Dog on the premises, although I don’t mind a little feline companionship now and again.

— Celayne’s Luna

Luna and Cricket

And I am thankful for my friends; my family, both animal and human; and for the chance to write my thoughts on this blog and have them read by you.  I hope your Thanksgiving Day was fantastic.


My Guard Dog

Last Friday, a guy came to my front door and stood there for a few seconds before ringing the doorbell.  I don’t know what he wanted; I never answer the door unless I’m expecting the visitor.  I knew he was out there because I happened to see him on the front step.  My house’s layout makes it easy to see comings and goings.

“Get off my lawn!”

Luna, brave watch pup that she is, had no idea he was there until he rang the bell. In a millisecond, though, she was awake, off the bed (yes, my bed) and in full ‘get off of my lawn’ mode.  He didn’t stay long after being greeted by seventy pounds of snarling, barking aggression.  Even through a secure pane of glass, it would scare the hell out of me, if I didn’t know what she is really like.

What she is really like is a silly marshmallow.  Jumping up on people, just to give kisses.  Tail waggling. Excited whimpering.  She has given a few scares to people who startled her, but as she’s been getting out with me more and more, and introduced to all kinds of people in a variety of settings, she’s learned to accept surprises with more equanimity.  Today she even met a new sales associate at It’s A Pet’s Life today with a happy playfulness that made me proud.

When we first started venturing out together, Luna was nervous once we got out of the car, and so was I.  I hadn’t exactly had easy experiences taking my fearful German shepherd Daisy out and about.  Even in the car, she felt she had to warn away walkers, runners, other dogs, bicycles, motorcycles, anything that moved.  You should see the doors and upholstery in my poor Subaru Outback!  Big nails dug into doors while dog rages doesn’t enhance the value of an automobile.

Luna, perfect princess that she is, has only barked a couple of times while we were driving.  And, she actually stopped the noise when I calmly told her to be quiet.  Nothing I did or said could shut Daisy up once she started.  With Luna, when an old lady crossed the street in front of us with a Shih-Tzu on leash, silence.  Those of you who have always had well-mannered dogs might not appreciate this, but to me it is close to a miracle.  A miracle that left me wondering how to react, because it was such an unusual experience.  There’s nothing to be done in the face of a miracle of this magnitude so I just drove on, telling Luna what a wonderful girl she is.

She nibbled daintily on a treat given her at the Caribou Coffee drive-through, and curled up for the rest of the ride.


Cause and Effect: Temps Go Down, Cats Get More Cuddly

During the warmer months, the cats are mostly solo acts.  They’ll hang out together, but they don’t want to get too close.  If the bare trees, grey skies and Christmas ads on  TV were not clue enough, I would know winter is coming by these scenes of tranquil togetherness.

Monty and Juliet

Cleopatra and Nimue 


Patient Big Kitty with foster kitten Meeka curled up on his neck

Isis, James, Juliet

Halloween is Over: On to NaNoWriMo

We survived Halloween.  I did not go into a sugar coma and Luna only had four groups of kids to threaten with her bark.  The ringing doorbell really sets her off.  Dog trainers will tell you there are ways to desensitize your dog to the bell, so she won’t act like a maniac when someone presses the button, but I prefer to have a large, barking dog there when someone comes to the door.  Who am I fooling?  I could barely train her to sit, much less ignore something as annoying as a doorbell rung by a stranger.  But, it suits my purpose to have her there, letting stray visitors know that it’s not worth pushing their way into the house.  Truth be told,  if they did, she would probably just do a lot of jumping and licking, but on the other hand, I am not really sure what she would do if an actual stranger tried to come in the house when I was not here.

November 1st means it’s NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that participating writers will churn out 50,000 unedited words during the month of November.  This is about the number of words in a typical novel.   NaNoWriMo is the clearest illustration I can think of where you succeed by producing quantity rather than quality.  Editing is to be done after November is over.  I suspect that many writers who make the 50,000 word count are so sick of cramming 50K worth of words into 30 days that they celebrate the Day of the Happy Deletion on December 1.  I would.

There are websites where you can post your progress.  You can sign up for daily inspirational emails to keep you going.  OCD writers can keep charts and graphs.  At the end of the month, you have something you can be proud of — or not.

Me, I’m a cheater.  Give me rules to follow and I can’t help myself.  I start thinking of ways to circumvent them.

The way I write is to edit when I need a little break from creating the story, which can be as often as every couple of pages.  I can’t imagine blithely moving along from a really terrible paragraph, spewing out more junk and not going back to fix it.  My other habit, which makes NaNoWriMo an extreme challenge, is that I jump from project to project.  At any given time, I have seven stories going, one near complete and the rest have terrific, really terrific, beginnings.  I lose my focus too easily to stick with one story for a whole month.  I also fear the horrible possibility that I would pick the wrong storyline for NaNoWriMo and be stuck with it.  If I was going to follow the rules, that is.

I have started work on a November novel maybe three or four times in the past ten years.  I’ve never made it past the 10th day.  Last year, I thought maybe I would but Daisy the German shepherd got sick suddenly, had surgery and was diagnosed with hermangiosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer.  She didn’t have much time left and I was unable to write, to do anything but worry and be scared, after getting the bad news.

This year, no excuses so far.  I pulled out  the story I started two years ago.  Edited the first two pages, and yes, I counted those as my words for the day.   I told you I cheat!