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Archive for February, 2009

Meet the Newest Member of the Family

February 21st, 2009 at 06:33 pm



This is the story of the first day of the rest of his life...

I arranged to pick up Luther around 7:30 am so I could be home with him all day on his first day with me.

They put him in a new carrier I'd bought for Sitka, black vinyl with a kind of black webbing.

We started out on the 25-minute ride home. Luther started out with little meows. I can handle this, I thought. I kept talking reassuringly to him. Then the little mews turned into alarmed, louder meows. Then without warning, Luther went beserk, desperately trying to get out of the carrier. I was trying to keep my eyes on the road, and when I looked down at him, I saw he had chewed a hole through the webbing and his nose was halfway out.

I knew I had to keep him in his carrier at all cost and I had no time to pull over, so I put my hand over the hole so he wouldn't make it bigger. Then he bit me, but good. I had two small puncture wounds which started bleeding. The cat was still doing a pretty good kamikaze act in the carrier, so, still driving, I grabbed a pad of paper with a cardboard backing and pushed it against the hole. You don't know how glad I was when i pulled in my driveway.

I let him out once inside the house. He was pretty scared. I showed him where his food dish was in the kitchen, and his litter box in the upstairs spare bedroom, then put him in the bedroom figuring he'd feel most secure under the bed. Then I went across the hall to tend to my wound. I was in there for just five minutes, and when I returned to the bedroom, he wasn't under the bed. Before I picked him up I made a point to close all closet doors, plus the doors to the basement and 1 bathroom, just so it'd be easier for me to keep tabs on him. I searched the whole house upstairs and down and COULD NOT FIND HIM. I knew he was hiding somewhere, but figured he'd show when he was ready. Still, I worried he might be stuck somewhere, so I searched the house up and down a 2nd time, a 3rd time and even a 4th time in the next 2 hours. Still couldn't find him. Finally, I did. He was squeezed under a dresser in my bedroom which had a five-inch clearance at most. That's where he spent most of the day. Throughout the day I would take breaks from work in my office, lie down on the floor by the dresser and stick my hand in there (brave, right, after getting bit?) and pet him and he'd purr like mad, but he still wouldn't come out.

Then, at dusk, he found the courage to come out of his hiding place and to move over to under the bed, which was a bit roomier but still secure.

The next day I left for work, wondering how he'd do on his own. When I got home, I found evidence of play. A toy of Sitka's that had been on the counter in the upstairs bathroom sink was on the living room floor. A throw blanket on a chair was on the floor. Evidently he had been exploring when the house was quiet, but he would still stay in the bedroom when I was home, though he was super lovable and affectionate.

He isn't used to the normal noises of the house, having been born outside. My fir floor boards creak all over the place, especially upstairs, and I think that startled him for a while.

I don't think, for instance, he ever experienced a TV before and he has been watching it curiously.

Later in the week, I came home to find some drapes covering my interior French doors down on the floor; I hope the tension rod didn't hit him.

Today, he's really coming into his own. He's been coming downstairs now to follow me and hanging out all over the house. Despite the bite, he is a super-affectionate cat. (I don't think he intended to bite me, he was just trying to get out of the carrier.)

The second night here, he stayed all night with me in the bedroom, sometimes on the bed and sometimes on the rug. I could tell where he was at all times, even in the dark, because i could hear him purring nonstop. Like a beacon in the night. He seems very happy.

Oh, about that bite. I emailed the woman at the shelter to let her know how his first and second days went and I almost wasn't going to mention the bite. She strongly urged me to see a doctor and get antibiotics because she said cat bites are easily infected. I had washed the bite wounds out very well and used peroxide on it; it looked fine to me, though it was swollen and particularly sore on the first day.

But I went to see the doctor yesterday, and I'm really glad I did. He said it was already a "first tier" infection and gave me the meds. He told me he could almost guarantee me that if I'd waited til Monday (they're closed Sat/Sun) I would have been in a lot of trouble. He said cat saliva has a bacteria that spreads very easily and cat bites on the hands are the worst because there's very little flesh there and the infection can spread quickly to the tendons. He said if I had waited until Monday to see him, he'd probably have sent me to a hand surgeon.

I was rather shocked. Also shocked at the meds. I remember years ago if you got sick or needed antibiotics, you'd get 200 milligrams, or maybe 400. I'm taking 875 milligrams twice a day! I shudder to think what it's doing to my system, but at Costco today I bought a case of Stonyfield yogurt and am also taking acidopholus.

One thing i especially like about Luther is that as a long-haired cat, he has these tufts of long hair growing out of his ears, so long they kind of curl up at the ends outside the ear, kind of like a cowlick. It's very cute. Did you ever see an old man with really bushy eyebrows? Kind of reminds me of that. Smile

He loves to play and is just today getting into wanting to explore everything. He really seems to be relishing having the space and freedom to explore more than than the tiny room he shared with 5 other cats.

I was a little alarmed the 2nd day because when i cleaned out the litter box, there was pee and no poop, but i smelled poop in my office. OH NO, i thought, i CAN'T deal with another cat that doesn't poop in the litter box. This is just not possible. This can't be happening to me. I searched the office everywhere but couldn't find the poop, but my nose is very good. I finally found it. I have a large potted dracena with some florist dried moss covering the dirt. The cat had scratched off the moss and pooped in the dirt. So I cut a corrugated piece of cardboard into a circle to cover the top of the pot with a slit for the plant's stem, then used clear masking tape to keep it on.

Next day, I found poop in the litter box. I was thrilled. It's the simple things that make me happy.

I'm still considering whether to get a companion for Luther, but I'm a little afraid of rocking the boat with another cat who either may not get along with him or else create a situation where one cat dominates the other. (I've experienced both before.) So i don't know. There was a female tortie that lived in the same room at the shelter with Luther, and i know they got along, so she might be a possibility. But Luther is a needy cat, he is constantly with me looking for attention. I don't know if he'd be willing to "share" me with another kitty.

Help Me Name the Orange Guy

February 16th, 2009 at 03:39 pm

Yes, I can say it now because it is official. The shelter checked out my references and I "passed." I am now free to adopt the long-haired orange cat I went back to see a second time today.

He is a mush. Very sweet, gentle and mellow personality. He's just five months old. He and two siblings, both of whom were already adopted, were found with their mother living under a house in a not so nice town.

He's been there about a month and I was surprised no one had taken him yet, because he's very cute, but maybe it's because his photo was not up on their website yet. So no one would know about him unless they came to the shelter, and I think a lot of people like me browse www.petfinder.com before deciding which shelter(s) to visit.

The parents are still feral and loose, but I think they caught the mother and spayed her. I'm told that my cat is the spitting image of his dad, while his mother was a calico.

So would you like to help me name him? I have settled on two names that I like, though if you have others I'm all ears. Since he is a beautiful rusty orange, i was thinking either 1. Apricot, or 2. Luther.

I always wanted a cat named Luther. Don't know why. As for Apricot, it's a bit long, but I could see myself calling him "Appy" for short, which rhymes with "Happy."




Reconnecting on Linked In

February 3rd, 2009 at 02:32 pm

I'm on LinkedIn, the professional networking site. What a blast it's been "rediscovering" old friends or colleagues from long ago. Today I reconnected with someone who worked as a news reporter at the same paper I did, about 25 years ago. Since then, he published a book (fiction) and has a contract to publish two more. He's a "success." I would be tempted to tell you his name, because he is the son of a very famous musician, but I will respect his privacy.

I also had a nice online chat with my very first editor at the very first newspaper I worked at on Cape Cod. She still works and lives on the Cape, but at a different paper. I had the opportunity to tell her how her solid editing skills taught me a lot as a young writer, and really set the stage for my future career. How often do you get to thank someone for changing your life in some way? I was grateful for the opportunity.