Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More cat blogging

This is just impossible to resist. Although you can't see it in the photos, the kittens who are twelve days old - have opened their eyes over the last couple of days. Apparently, all kittens have blue eyes starting out. Darling (Aunt) Stella has been in to see them twice so far. Though she hasn't really had any direct contact, she seems to be calm and collected about the whole situation. Curious but totally under control. I've explained to her that in just a few short weeks we're going to be peeling these babies off the ceiling and that no matter what happens, there is to be no running and it is imperative that her mouth remain closed at all times.

These are the moments when I wish I was a cartoonist instead of a photographer.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cherry Blossom Festival

Stella and I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival yesterday. We got there a little bit late, parked about a mile away and walked to the courthouse. It would've been really pretty if the weather had cooperated. This year, they decided to change the angle a little bit and make it a fundraiser in support of Japanese victims of the tsunami. There was a two and half mile walk along the river so we went ahead and walked that too. It was interesting enough that we'll go back do it again when the weather warms up.

Stella met a big gang of kids while we were there. They were all very dog friendly. and proceeded to put some serious big love on her body. They knew all the right spots to scratch and for once, she seemed to actually like it. If she hadn't made such an effort to drag me under the food booths, it would have been a perfect day. I still haven't figured out how to turn her attention back to me when that happens; without the aid of a stun gun.

The kitten report: The kittens seem to be doing great. If anyone ever tells you that kittens double their body weight in the first week, believe it. It's absolutely amazing. Gypsy (the black and orange) just opened her eyes today and I'm betting the others will follow suit tomorrow. I have a couple of pictures that were shot today but they're still in the camera. Soon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The Nursery; Day 5

Alright for the sake of discussion, I'm going to temporarily name the kittens. They'll probably change later on when I'm able to tell girls from boys. I'm almost certain that the first born, the one that appears to be black is really an odd variation of a calico (which would make her automatically a girl) but we'll see. She has very faint orange stripes and an orange and white mask across her eyes. I can't wait to see how that fills out, it's really unusual. For now, the black(ish) one is Gypsy. The middle child (Cowboy) looks a lot like Domino and the baby is (Whiskey Nick) a smoky gray with white feet and face. Sorry but last time we had rescued kittens, they got Hee Haw names, this time we're going with carnies. Those are names I'll never run out of. I told someone yesterday, they're only five days old and they're literally getting cuter by the minute.

So night before last I wake up at 2:30 in the morning surprised to find Domino in the bed with me, snuggled up close, almost totally engulfed by the blanket. She had obviously been asleep there. I waited a couple of minutes for her leave but she settled down again. I lifted my head and she did too, giving me that little burst of a purring sound that cats make as if to say "What?" I said, "Why are you in here and not with your babies?" I felt around her body for any sign of them. Nothing. A little panicky now, I got up and went the short distance to my office. I peered into the closet. There was only one kitten, sleeping alone in the box. "(Insert expletive)", I said heading back to the bedroom. Without noticing, I passed Domino in the hall. When I got back to the bed I turned on the light and there was another, curled up on the blanket. One kitten missing. I carefully peeled back the blankets, and found nothing. "What is going on?" I demanded to know from the next room.

No answer.

She'd carried two of them into the bed and then when I got up, she grabbed one and made a bee line back to the closet with it. She never came back for the one that was left in my bed so I took it back and gave her some kind of grandma-type lecture/guilt trip and didn't see her again all night. Yesterday morning she again started scouting around for somewhere to take them. I got out the spare dog bed and put it under my desk. Within minutes, she set about moving them all in and that's where they've been ever since.

Have I mentioned she's in heat?

That warrants a lecture too but for all the good it does - I think I'll skip it.
Happy spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fresh Kittens

It took about six hours in all, which is pretty standard, and of course it didn't start around lunch time. It was about eleven o'clock last night.

As I said in last night's post, Domino went into the kitten box (in my office closet) and our girl Stella took to her crate, all on her own. She [Stella] stayed there until about two-thirty and then went and got into her bed. When she came into the office this morning, her nose went straight up to the ceiling and she followed it right to the closet door whereupon I took on the role of midwife/mama cat and said something to the effect of: "Git." And she did.

I'm glad it was Domino and not me. She had full on labor for about two and a half hours (I really think two of them, the black one and the one that looks just like her) were fighting to get out at once. Finally, the black kitten was expelled and she jumped out of the box, leaving it lying on the bottom of the box, helpless and alone. I think that may have been the only moment where my attention may have actually helped in some small way. I immediately put her back in the box and she looked at me stunned for a second like "Holy crap, what is that thing?" Then she understood. The other two went pretty fast relatively speaking. Her belly is still pretty big so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of another but for now, there are three kittens, one tired mama, and one moderately confused pit bull.

Note: Not sure if I've mentioned it lately but we here at Carny Dog advocate the regular spay and neuter of all pets. Rest assured that Domino and her new family will adhere to that policy as well, from this point forward.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Meow :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A variety of charges

Okay, so we were charged by a Jack Russel Terrier named Eddie today. I told Stella she should make a note of it since Terriers are in fact, a part of her lineage (ahem). Thankfully, she didn't kill him. He ran up to her growling, smelled her behind and then changed his tune. We only knew his name was Eddie because his owners were yelling his name (and peeing themselves) from some distance away.

We went to the vet today and got Stella's annual rabies vaccination. They said she was the perfect weight (57 lb) for her size. There was a chart in the waiting room that pretty much blew my mind. Since some of us are determined to treat our pets like children even to the point of feeding them to death, apparently now there's a market for DIET DOG FOOD. Here's a short list of how human food translates calorie-wise to our pets. It's pretty scary to be honest.

Here's another scary (and upsetting) link that brings to light an issue lawmakers have yet to address. Basically, here in Tennessee anyway, your neighbor or anyone for that matter, can take the life of your pet and assuming they did it in a humane fashion, legally - it's about the same as if they picked up a pair of your tennis shoes and threw them in the river. This story can't help but infuriate people but I hope some of you will pass it on if only to help educate the masses and get the right people interested in changing things.

Finally, on a much lighter note, there's the Kitten Report:
Something's in the air. Domino has taken to her kitten box (the original one that I made in the closet) no less than FOUR times today. What's more, Stella is resting comfortably in her crate, which is totally out of character unless of course, she's done something bad or I'm about to leave the house. I still can't make any predictions. The kittens are moving around a lot more but Domino isn't actively in labor yet. She's just lying in the box, calm and waiting; presumably rehearsing her lines. You know the ones: "Because I said so, that's why" and "Wipe that look off your face." or "I can give you something to cry about." Personally, I hope she makes it through to tomorrow or they'll all end up with Irish names. Happy St. Patrick's Day, btw.

Update: It's 10:18 p.m - I'm going to go out on a limb here (again) and say that we're approaching lift off. Mama cat is experiencing some pretty major discomfort in the last half hour..

1:00 a.m. Should be a kitten any minute. I keep having to remind myself that cats have been having babies for generations without me even so much as looking on.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bunny Eater

We got to the ball park and there were kids hitting softballs on the field. I put Stella on the long leash thinking we'd play some fetch outside the fence and she immediately glued her nose to a telephone pole. Eventually, I got bored and walked away still holding onto the handle of the leash. Once Stella realizes she's free to run, that first move is always a joyous one. It reminds me of a little gazelle leaping off the ground. She finally made that move and took off across the way but pulled up short after about thirty feet, her nose fully engaged again. That's when I saw the blood.

A hawk must have dropped it. Young hawks in training need practice. They get distracted, interrupted, they fly away, and drop their kill. The rabbit lay quietly in the grass, recently separated from it's internal organs. In the blink of an eye, Stella chose the carcass. I wasn't positive that it was a rabbit until she turned around and looked at me with those little back feet sticking out of her mouth. She saw my face and tried to run. I stepped on the leash at which point she tried swallowing the entire thing. Thankfully it was too big or we would've gotten to revisit the entire event a little while later. I took a deep breath and relaxed. Realizing I was going to let her keep the prize, Stella did too. Then there was a lot of crunching while I lectured her about how the Easter Bunny wasn't coming to our house this year or maybe ever again and it was probably going to be all her fault. I feel reasonably sure she didn't care.

Kitten Watch: still no kittens (Domino didn't eat today - which is supposedly a sign of approaching labor but we're not holding our breath)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Staff Meeting

I took Stella to a staff meeting earlier this week. Despite the fact that she hadn't had a long walk that morning, she laid down under the big conference table at the meeting and a couple of people who came in late, never even knew she was there. As the meeting ended Stella must have felt the energy in the room change because she stood up and stretched under the table and put her head in my lap for a few seconds. Then, getting a whiff of lemon squares probably, that pink(ish) nose poked up above the edge of the table and one of the late comers squealed: "Oh my God, there's a dog in here?"

Then the meeting was officially over and everyone had a little dog therapy to go with their coffee.

Kitten Report: No kitties yet.

(I can feel them moving now when mom is asleep but otherwise there is no sign of their impending arrival - stay tuned & have a great weekend)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mama Cat and her practice baby

I don't even know what to say about this. Except maybe that my roommates are a bunch of freeloaders and I could really use some new dish cloths.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


For some reason I still wasn't convinced that Domino was pregnant. I think it was the water drinking. It makes perfect sense though, cats are only pregnant for sixty four days. That's a profound hike in metabolism. I had no idea how many days it had been (or has been) but I decided to clear out a closet to give her some privacy. I put a box of soft towels in there with some food and water and left the door cracked. She was doing a lot of pacing through the house and checked it out a few times over the next couple of days but it didn't pass inspection. She wanted in the guest bedroom. I resisted. She sat outside the door for the better part of a whole day and I finally gave in. The only comfortable chair in the house is in there and guessing that's exactly where she wanted to be, I covered it neatly with sheets and towels. Again, I left the door cracked so Stella wouldn't venture in (she could drag a Volkswagen down the street but doesn't realize she can push a door open). Domino however, went right in.

Just a few minutes later I returned to find what could only be described as a work of natural art. It amazed me and erased all doubt. She had pulled both a towel and a sheet down from the back of the chair and formed them into a nest for the kittens. If someone had drawn me a diagram I'm not altogether sure I could have done it myself and certainly not in such a short period of time.

That happened Sunday morning. Since then, the size of her belly seems to have doubled. I can see the forms of at least two kittens although they don't seem to be moving. She already has milk in at least two of her teats. She's been asleep in my bed for most of the last forty-eight hours only getting up to eat, use the litter box or sit for a few minutes in her new bedroom. She's also been pacing through the house apparently looking for something (kittens, enemies, hiding places?) I said yesterday that she could deliver sometime in the next forty-eight hours. The fact is I have no idea what I'm talking about. If you go online and look up all the feline signs of impending labor, she's had them all at some point since about Saturday, with the exception of panting or yowling. When either of those things happens, me and Stella are going to make a pot of coffee and stand back.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The road goes on forever..

and the party never ends. ~Robert Earl Keen

Well, it is officially spring here at Casa de Stella.

Just in case anyone is inclined to debate the issue, I submit the first in a short series of posts that have little to do with raising dogs and everything to do with cats and nature and so-called "animal rescue". Before we move on to the good stuff, I should say that although I've occasionally managed to tease out the negative aspects of various local pet owners on this page, that doesn't always translate to them being bad people. There are most certainly other factors involved, things I don't personally know about in their lives and things that they themselves can't control so I'd like to go on record as saying this isn't about them so much as it is about things moving forward, whether you're ready for them to or not, whether you're qualified to handle it or not and whether you like it or not. One day you're bored out of your mind and the next day it's your turn to get thrown into the swamp; you swim, you get out and you clean up the mess and maybe you're still alive and wiser than you were when you started. Maybe.

With that in mind, somewhere in the neighborhood of last Thursday, a light bulb went off over my head. It blew out immediately because of a little thing called denial. I think my exact words at the time were: "Oh God, no".

Domino, our (catnip junkie) squatter from the neighborhood recently took up what seems to be permanent residence here. My original cat Gigi isn't that crazy about her but she and Stella are sweet on each other so I decided to extend her lease. Her owner still leaves food out on the porch (presumably for the one cat that stayed on) but all of the cats and probably a raccoon or two, stop by regularly for a meal. They eat here at my house too, so life is pretty good. I noticed the other day that both Gigi and Domino had put on a couple of pounds and I threatened to cut them off if they weren't able to regulate their own impulses. Gigi is going on nine years old and according to Domino's (former) owner, she's about three, a "rescue cat" who lived in an apartment prior to their moving here sometime the middle of last summer.

So one morning not long ago, we all get up and Domino stays in bed half a day and I didn't think much of it. Then for a couple of weeks she takes to napping at my feet when I'm sitting at the computer and I don't think anything of that either. Then one day she starts drinking water and she does it probably five times that same day and now I'm worried. My last cat died of kidney disease and excessive water drinking was one of the first symptoms. Domino isn't losing weight though, in fact, quite the opposite. In my mind that rocks the boat back to another wonderful cat I lost to a strange illness that causes cats to retain fluids until they literally drown in them. So I ponder this for a couple of days and while I don't have a lot of experience with dogs I tend to think I'm fully proficient when it comes to felines and therein lies the problem. With those two exceptions, my cats have lived long and carefree lives. No diabetes, no cancer, no seizures, nothing - save a few scrappy tom cat encounters and the occasional hairball.

Last Thursday, Domino threw up in the living room. I picked it up in a napkin and when I walked back into the room I found she was relaxed but lying flat on her stomach with her chin stretched way out in front of her. I hadn't ever seen a cat lie down in this position. She looked like the top of a long, fat exclamation point.

"Domino" I said,"it might be time for you to go to the vet little girl."

And with that I reached down and picked her up. There it was: "Oh God, no!" I set her down immediately, like she'd caught fire or something and studied her with a disbelief that would last two more days. Her girl parts were engaged.

Colorful words followed. All this time I assumed she'd been spayed because she was "a rescue cat." She stayed out all summer and fall and now that she is living with me and her real parents are (oh did I forget to mention?) moving out of state - she's managed to go out and get herself in trouble. Suddenly I remembered a day back in early January when she bitched me out at the back door. At the time, I compared it to a cat in heat but without all the rolling around on the ground. A day later, she was fine. If you all will please excuse me I have to go now and hack up a hairball myself.

That was then
Today is Tuesday.. I'll be very surprised if we make it forty-eight more hours. Meanwhile, she's busy practicing her new mama skill on a pit bull. I'll keep you posted on the state of the white bedspread. (Update: I removed the bedspread for now and replaced it with a giant towel)