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Friday, 12/24/2004 - 02:16 PM PDT
The topic: It's almost Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2004 Well, it's almost Christmas. Not a really happening time for us, but it's hard not to spend a little time looking back. After Potter's vet visit yesterday, I started to think about the year for us. And, all in all, it wasn't a bad year. (Clicking on some of the images will take you to the family album.)

We didn't have any health problems that couldn't be treated.

Back in January, we had a pretty bad cold go through the population. The cats got it from a feral who somehow got into our backyard. This was back when Little Bit was in heat and the boys in the hood were hanging around, trying to get a little from her.

That's NotWally at the back

Ciara was diagnosed with IBD back in February. Her stool was so bad that very runny feces just poured out of her, even when she was laying down. It took a few tests to figure it out, but a diagnoses was made and she recovered (although she got pretty sick and had lost quite a bit of weight.) She'll likely be on prednisone for life. One of the side effects of continued use of prednisone, a steroid, is a depressed immune system. Of course, she was hit hard by the cold that was here. She's never quite gotten over it, still has sniffles and sneezing.

In April, Little Bit gave birth to five kittens under our bedroom window. I was able to get the kittens one Saturday morning and three went up to Los Angeles to be socialized and adopted out.

We kept two of the kittens, Rachel and Ross. Ross, because he is black and black cats have a hard time finding a good home and Rachel to keep Ross company. (Watch them grow here.)

At the end of May, Richie started getting out of the yard. It was extremely frustrating for us, because we couldn't see how he was doing it. Brian readjusted the fencing here and modified it a bit there, adding more as he went along, but Richie kept getting out. I finally saw him run up the plum tree and start to make a move over to the top of the shop roof. As soon as Brian got home, I let him know where the problem was and he did a considerable amount of pruning of the tree. And Richie stayed in the yard.

Richie relaxes

We tried for months to trap Little Bit before she got pregnant again. We put out soft food, we put out people tuna, we baited the trap with fresh KFC chicken, with no luck. We caught the same possom three times, the last time it was so scary looking in the trap (I thought it had died), that we didn't set the trap up again overnight. It would be set in the evening, then we'd set it off before we went to bed. Needless to say, Little Bit got pregnant. In August, almost four months to the day of her previous litter, she once again gave birth.

August was a fairly busy month for us. Along with trying to find Little Bit's kittens (she took them elsewhere after having them on the bank and that elsewhere was not in our yard), Marco ended up with a broken leg. He had surgery and was crated for eight weeks.

He's healed up nicely, gotten quite a bit of his muscle tone back. I was a little worried yesterday, he tried to get up into the window in the bedroom and had a hard time pulling himself up when he didn't quite make it. But he did finally get in the window. I'd have helped him if I'd been there, and it happened to quickly for Brian to do anything (his reflexes don't seem quite as quick as mine do at times). Of course, I haven't spoken to the neighbor since and this is the first time in years that she didn't bring over any baked Christmas goodies. Not that I care, they usually end up in the trash. Honestly, I'm surprised that she's brought them over as long as she has.

The week before 9/11, Little Bit brought her kittens up and had them under the car. They weren't as eager to eat from plates I put out as the previous litter was. These guys were a whole lot more wary of this human than their older siblings had been. I realized that if I didn't get them soon (as in days) it might be very well too late to socialize them with humans (think "Jackson", who still isn't fixed because neither of us has the nerve to grab him and put him in a carrier) and if they were ever going to go to a good home, it was imperative I get them quickly. And on Saturday, 9/11, that's exactly what I did.

The three kittens, Joey at the bottom, Monica and Phoebe on the right

On 9/12, Brian made the decision that we'd keep the kittens, as well as their mother. As long as we could get her into the trap. I must admit, I had my doubts, but now, we had kittens to use as bait. The kittens didn't work, but Brian's little talk with her must have, because by three o'clock, Sunday afternoon, Little Bit went into the trap.

Late September, I tried cleaning the sofa and loveseat in the living room, to try to get them presentable for when the catsitter came to stay. They were so bad, I ended up telling Brian I wanted them out of here and I called and made arrangements for the trash to get them the following week. I'd tried for years to keep them clean (the problem was the cats urinating on them), using pee pads under the sofa covers, but everything I tried failed miserably. We'd discussed not having anything out there for us to sit on, we rarely used that room anyway. So, Brian hauled the furniture out, I washed the cement floor (the carpet was removed a few years ago) and we started putting cat furniture in it. Now, it's a cat room. Well, I was finally able to get a rocking chair I've wanted for so long. It's comfy and cozy, a nice place to just relax and watch the goings on in the backyard.



And the cats don't seem to mind it either.

Sadly, a few weeks after we trapped her and brought Little Bit in, SpotTee, a neighborhood feral who'd been around for a while, disappeared. We felt really bad for KittyMeeze, who's lived in front of our house for years now. He was all alone. We really want him to come inside, but we don't know how we're going to get him in. Little Bit's mom, Carla started coming over again (Little Bit always used to chase her away) and KittyMeeze was beside himself with joy. It broke my heart to see him running and jumping and so happy to see another cat. Not that he was happy, but that he was so sad here by himself. And he left. He went away for a couple of weeks and I was very worried about him. But, he came back, I would think because this is a very safe place for cats, since the entry way has a gate on it and it would be difficult for anything to get to him. Yes, he was back, but he was afraid of us. We'd sure like to know what happened while he was gone. He's more afraid of Brian, he's almost back to normal with me.

KittyMeezer, back home, December third

After our yearly October vacation to Disneyland, we returned to find Little Bit out of the yard. It seems she'd snuck past the petsitter when she opened the door to take the very vocal Potter out (the cats stay in when we're gone for any length of time). And once she got into the backyard, she knew exactly how to get out. It took Brian and me hours to get her back in, but she was back in the yard, in the house, safe and warm by late evening (it had started to rain on Saturday and didn't let up until mid-week). And the next day, I saw another cat in the yard. That was Chandler. We don't know how he got here, but we think he picked a grand place to live. He was out there in the rain and thunder, with no food.

His first weeks here were spent under the sofa in the family room or under the bed, but little by little he's loosened up. Now, he spends most of his time on a cat tree in the living room and if the doors are open, he'll go into the backyard and check out the catnip garden, taking the occasional snooze back there. He runs from me outside, which I'm working on. Time and patience is what is needed with so many of these cats.

Then on the 6th of December, it was time for the kittens to get fixed. Little Bit had been fixed the day after we trapped her, but the kittens had to be at least four months old for my vet to fix them. And since their four month birthday fell on a Friday, I made the appointment for the following Monday. Phoebe and Monica would be spayed, Joey would be neutered and also have an umbilical hernia taken care of. The surgeries went well, what didn't go well was the recovery. Joey and Monica did nicely, but Phoebe pulled out her stitches and four to five inches of her intestines. She didn't do any permanent damage to herself, but she had to stay an extra day and also got to wear an e-collar, which she hated (and the other cats weren't really pleased with it, either).

Now, life seems to be running pretty smoothly. DeeJay gets his fluids every night between eight and nine, along with a quarter of Pepcid A/C (regular strength) to help with his CRF (the Pepcid helps calm his tummy). He's still maintaining his weight gain of this year, almost a half of a pound. His stools are much, much better, better than ever since he had most of his colon removed five years ago (December 1999). His back legs hurt him, I wouldn't doubt he has a little arthritis, so he can't jump as well as he used to. But he likes to eat, begs for food, demands attention and loves to sleep in the warm sun. There were times this year I thought for sure he wouldn't be with us much longer, so I thank God for every extra day we have with him.

All the new cats seem to be settling in nicely. There is the occasional spat, but it's not too bad, rarely is there much fur. Autumn lets me know she's still around by pooping and peeing under the sofa and loveseat in the family room. Lonee and Red now spend most of their time in the house. Brian even remarked that Lonee actually came up to him in the kitchen, wanting to be petted (she likes to hang out on the counter in the evening). We did have a little cold going through, Chandler and Georgie both seemed to have gotten the worst of it, sneezing out little bits of blood, but that's almost over. It looks like the year will end on a smoother note than it started.

And for those of you who missed it earlier:

Have a wonderful holiday season!

And this coming Sunday, be sure to visit the Carnival of the Cats, a collection of blogs all about our favorite critters.

lisaviolet is fifty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

December 2004

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