Didn't get to go to the Inauguration, but I've got kittens for compensation.
Note: This is a cat post, with lots of pictures.
Back in the beginning of November, my daughter and I visited my mother where she lives in northern Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Both of us were big Obama supporters and had voted by absentee ballot back in MN, but being in the D.C. area during the election was thrilling. We were so excited we *both* wanted to come back in January to go to the Inauguration.
As it turned out, my daughter went but I didn't. As I write, she and my sister are getting themselves set up in the D.C. apartment of a friend of my brother (the friend, a Republican, went to Vermont to ski). Even if they can't get on a bus or the metro, now they can walk home when the celebration is over. Why did I not go?
Cats. Cats that needed nursing, nursing my husband couldn't perform. So when it came time to buy the air tickets, guessing I would be medicating cats, I just couldn't bring myself to risk wasting the money on non-refundable tickets I would be unable to use. It was actually was on December 25th, Christmas Day (the only day it wasn't going to snow) that I drove to the breeder's house in Wisconsin to pick up our long-awaited kittens, Elsa and Charles. They've been here now over three weeks.
As some of you know, my daughter and I first went to visit the cattery back in September to meet and choose our kittens. They were then 8 weeks old. By the breeder's rules, we would not be permitted to take them home until they were 16 weeks old, which wouldn't be till the end of November. So drove the three hours to see them again when they were 12 weeks old, in October, taking lots of pictures, which I posted here.
You regulars may remember that the kittens came down with the cold that swept through the cattery in November. It wasn't a life-threatening cold: the kittens remained lively, eating well, but they were sniffling and sneezing, with red eyes and booger-crusted noses. Because the breeder's contract (a standard feature) stipulates that only 100% healthy kittens may be sold, since the contract is a sort of guarantee, allowing a full refund for cats shown to have been purchased with an illness, she wouldn't let us have them. The breeder was very sorry, but, since they continued to be sniffly and red-eyed, they couldn't be sold.
When we'd waited a month past the 16 week date, she offered our deposits back, if we wanted to look elsewhere or wait for kittens from a future litter. But we didn't want our deposits back, and we didn't want other kittens, we wanted the kittens we'd chosen, of whom we were already very fond. We said we'd wait.
Then, the week before Christmas, the breeder said she'd let the kittens go for just the deposits (which we'd paid way back when), but with no contract and no guarantees, if we wanted to continue nursing them ourselves in our own home. She did not ask for any additional fee, because she felt we'd been so patient--so keen on those particular cats--and because the kittens, now over five months old, really needed to be in a home.* She was getting tired of nursing them, too. They were just two of a lot of kittens that needed her attention. (*Because I didn't think it fair that she should not be better compensated, I offered to pay the breeder more when they were fully recovered.)
The family talked it over (for about five minutes). I wrote back. Yes, we wanted them. I didn't say so, but I didn't want them to stay in their kennel another day, if they didn't have to. I would come and get them on the first good driving day, which turned out to be Christmas. I brought the breeder a Christmas dinner and some tins of treats I'd made, the breeder gave me the kittens' meds and instructions for using them. I packed the kittens into the warmed car, their crate bundled in blankets, and away we went. Three hours later they saw the first little part of their new home. (With cats that have not been raised running around a house, you have to introduce them to what is to them an ENORMOUS space gradually.)
Three and a half weeks later, they both seem to be recovered. I stopped Elsa's meds last week (because she got better first), and Charles's meds stopped yesterday. There are no more blood-tinted boogers anointing the walls and rugs and bedding, and I do not have to compel squirming kittens to take their various medicines. Even Angelo is practically cured.
Yes, Angelo, our adult cat, the Lonely Guy for whom we got these kittens in the first place, got sick. He didn't catch the kittens' cold, he made himself sick, because of his own high-strung nature. Angelo found the new kittens fascinating, but also alarming. He'd been our spoiled middle-aged bachelor for six months. Yes, he liked watching them tumble and cavort, but he also found them an infernal nuisance. Why couldn't they lie in the basket nicely? No, they had to tackle him, jump on him, gnaw his ears and tail, trying to get him to play. Angelo was past the wrestling stage long ago.
Angelo had always been the pampered baby of our cat family, and now he was being asked to become indulgent Uncle Angelo (as Raoul once was to him). He tried to discipline them, pinning them down with a warning growl and a tooth-hold to the neck (which never fazed them a bit). He tried running away, but they'd just follow him. He became so nervous he wasn't drinking enough. He didn't feel relaxed enough to use the box (for fear of being pounced upon), so he became dehydrated and constipated. A trip to the vet's and stool softener twice a day has made him a well cat.
They get on quite well now. The kittens love Angelo, and did love him at first sight. But their idea of showing love is to roughhouse, which is what they do with each other during much of their waking hours. Poor Angelo just wants a buddy to share a bath and a bed. But that's coming along, too, and they are spending more and more time in bed together, and doing a little mutual grooming. Angelo loves that. Watching them getting on so well makes us very happy. Seeing them cuddled up together makes us feel warm and fuzzy all over.
We've taken a million pictures, but I will try to show some restraint, but I've never been good at self-restraint.
12-27-08 (third day in our home): Charles tries to approach Angelo.
Angelo watches the kittens play from the safety of the scratching post.
Angelo watches Charles playing in a basket:
Angelo watches Elsa stretch from the top of a chair:
The pictures that follow were mostly taken last week, the second week in January.
Below are some caps from a video, showing what Angelo has to put up with when the kittens decide to join him:
The kittens love play-fighting, but they also love playing with toys. Elsa is especially good at fetch. She will fetch the "mouse" we throw her and bring it back to be thrown again, just like a dog. Here they are, wrestling in order to determine who will fetch the mouse, lying on the rug behind them.
Besides wrestling and fetch, they both love leaping after toys on strings, such as the "bird" they are chasing here. Angelo tends to find a safe corner in order to watch.
Charles and Elsa do take time out for lounging and sleeping.
If they will settle down, Angelo loves sleeping with them, too. Here Angelo sleeps in the brown chair, Charles next to him, Elsa behind.
Elsa's not very visible in that picture, but here you can see she's holding onto Angelo's back leg as she sleeps.
Here's Angelo happily sharing his basket with a calm Charles:
But they're content to sleep with each other, which gives Angelo a break. Elsa is on the left, Charles on the right.
Last, a few solo shots taken by our daughter (who is giving Elsa the head rub).