I thought the Siamese cat fans out there might like an update.
As some of you know, two of our three Siamese cats died this summer leaving our third cat alone. Angelo is an extremely sociable, emotionally clingy, noisy guy (he never stops talking), and he has missed the other cats terribly. He’s lived with cat buddies all his life.
Three months after Pixie and Raoul died, he’s not roaming the house calling for them constantly the way he did, but he wants to held, carried or petted every minute he’s awake. We do what we can, being push-overs for all his "come do me" tactics. But even though we are now a three-human household (our daughter has come back home, and is in the midst of applying to enlist in the Coast Guard), there are still times when there’s no one with a free lap or arms available. He needs other cats!
Below are some photos of Angelo doing what he does past: having his way with us.
October 2 ~ Angelo wouldn't stay in my lap as I typed, but wanted to be up near my face. I compromised, putting him over my shoulder and typing with one hand.
October 12 ~ Angelo in my husband's lap. He was trying to help our daughter brush up on her math for the Coast Guard exam, but Angelo would not be ignored. He cried until he was picked up and cradled.
If we ignore Angelo long enough, he will simply jump onto shoulders, whether we are reading or typing or eating our dinner. He's even done it when we're standing up, doing the dishes or something. He’s a desperate cat. After Pixie died in July (Raoul died in June), it was plain that he needed more companionship. Now the cat beds have only him in them. When the others were alive, they were always cuddling up together to sleep or lounge or groom each other. With no cats to groom, he’s started licking us.
So after Pixie died, I started searching for a Siamese cat breeder on the internet, who was within a drivable distance. The breeder from whom we got our three blue points (Angelo and Friedrich, and later their mother, Pixie) had stopped breeding cats. She remarried and now has a new baby. But through her I found out that the breeder from whom she got her first breeding pair was still raising Siamese cats in rural Wisconsin, the state to the east of us.
After a series of email conversations, I ended up putting a deposit on a Wisconsin kitten that would be old enough to bring home in the middle of November (like many cat breeders, she won’t let them go until they are 15-16 weeks old). Our daughter thought that was a terribly long time to wait, but there just wasn’t another Siamese cat breeder available, and those would be her first kittens available. (The older litter was already all promised.)
So, four weeks ago my daughter and I drove out to the breeder’s country place in Wisconsin (a three-hour drive from here), to meet the kittens and choose one that would be ours. The result was that not only did we put our dibs on one of those kittens, I put down a second deposit for another kitten, a female from a different litter that had been born the same week.
I rationalized the extra expense by taking the fee out of my work savings, because I think it would be great to have two kittens again. My library job ended after city-wide cuts, but I had a bit saved up for “family emergencies”. And wasn’t getting companions for Angelo a family emergency? My husband was very tolerant about it, in fact he confessed he had half-expected it.
This was very spendthrift-ish of me. But I thought two kittens would be better, not just for their mutual companionship, but in the event that Angelo died. Call me gun shy after our spate of cat deaths, but Angelo had dental work done last month and the vet said his blood work showed that his kidney levels were a little high. Alarms went off since Angelo’s brother died very young from a rare kidney cancer. (P.S. Angelo seems fine so far; whew!)
So, here are the two kittens* in photos taken at our first visit, September 21.
Charles and Elsa at 8 weeks:
* Note: Not everyone thinks Siamese kittens like these are cute, so you don't have to say they are if you don't think so. The mother of our daughter's friend, unaware she was overheard, exclaimed over Angelo and Friedrich when they were kittens, "those are the ugliest kittens I've ever seen!" Others have said they look ... different. "Like the creatures in Close Encounters of the Third Kind!" "Like aliens!" "Like Dumbo!" "What are those, miniature chihuahuas?" My own sister, who loves Siamese cats, said looking at these pictures, "they've got the biggest ears ever—like bats! Watch out or they'll be carried off in a strong wind."
Why “Charles” and “Elsa”, you may ask?
Well, Charles—who as a seal point will be dark-haired, and is bound to be handsome and elegant—we thought would do well with a leading man’s name from an older English movie or novel. So you have to say it with a toney English accent. "Chaahhhhlz". Picture the two well-bred leads in a thirties film: good-looking, expensively dressed, their gleaming Marcel waves close to their well-shaped heads. Violins swell under the scene. Perhaps they are on an ocean liner, perhaps at the edge of a cliff by the sea near an aging mansion.
“Oh, Julia!” he cries, clasping her shoulders and pulling her close. “Oh, Charles!” she swoons so that he has to support her (he's much taller, of course; this is an older movie). Their lips meet in a fervent but chaste kiss....
Charles has a a crooning sort of Siamese meow, very high and light, rather soulful, as if he were saying with soft passion, “Noooooh, noooooh, noooooh...!” (but meaning "Yes, yes, yes...!") I think he is going to be a very sweet-natured cat. Maybe that's why I wanted a romantic name for him.
Elsa is named for Elsa the lioness, the orphan cub fostered by Joy Adamson in “Born Free”. It so happened that my daughter and I had just watched a DVD of the film the week before we drove to Wisconsin, loving the old film all over again (I used to get the VHS from the library for her to watch when she was little). Elsa, Joy’s voice-over said, was the littlest, but bravest and boldest and smartest of her sisters—and Adamson’s clear favourite.
I fell for Elsa on sight. She was actually not one of our breeder’s kittens, and hadn’t yet been offered for sale. Her mother, a beautiful lilac point Siamese on loan from a breeder friend in Illinois, wound up trying to deliver a first litter of too many kittens—eight—too many even for tried and tested mothers. She had trouble, had an emergency caesarean section, and died. Only two of the eight kittens survived, Elsa and her brother. Providentially, a female owned by our breeder had just given birth to kittens that were stillborn, so she was pining to nurse and care for a litter. She became the foster mother to the orphans.
Elsa is extremely pretty, but her main attraction is that she’s going to be a real character. She’s climbs all over everything (we foresee a lot of busted tree ornaments and ripped curtains). She's already a noise-box, sure to vie with her "Uncle Angelo" as most noisy. She meows at the top of her lungs, as if she were shouting "HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!"
I think the two will make a complementary pair, and be very entertaining companions for Angelo, although he may be balky at first. As soon as they start sleeping in the same basket, like Angelo did with Pixie, Raoul, and Friedrich, there will be no separating them, I am sure.
I should note that the breeder really astonished us. She had said in her emails that she was thinking seriously of winding down her cat breeding, or at least greatly reducing it, because was getting too old for it. I could understand that. Pet breeding really is a 24/7 job, one of the most time-consuming hobbies ever. A breeder can never go anywhere, unless they have top-quality back-up, since the needs of the cats or dogs and their kittens or puppies is constant. And there's emotional stress to deal with when things go badly (and they do).
A retired nurse, our breeder has been doing this for thirty years. The person we met was a good-looking, well-groomed woman with snowy hair and a slight limp. A recent widow, she cared for her disabled husband for the last few years, as well as the cats. My daughter and I guessed her to be in her early seventies. We were open-mouthed, though, when it turned out she was eighty-six. Here she is in this house in the country, with only a couple of neighbours within miles, and she’s keeping up the house (which looks pretty good) and property, plus doing all this work with the cats all by herself — at eighty-six! We were amazed.
She said a breeder friend in Illinois (the one who owned the cat that died, the mother of Elsa) calls her every night to check on her. She said plans are in place should she not be able to carry on; the cats all designated to be taken by various breeder friends who have agreed to do this. If I lived closer, I'd help her. I don't think she's going to be able to keep this kind of work up much longer. But she sure does love it.
Anyway, to let you see our breeder, here’s a funny series of photos of her holding up Elsa, who is meowing lustily.
The breeder holding Elsa:
And that’s the selection. I hope you enjoyed it. We are looking forward to Nov. 15-17, the days designated to pick up our kittens, the exact day depending on the weather and our daughter’s work schedule. More photos when they actually arrive? You bet.
Oh, here’s a bonus for the garden fans.
You might remember my garden post, showing the gardens this summer. Here’s how it looked here earlier this month, including a shot of the *back* of the giant rock. We didn’t put any garden at the back because the neighbourhood kids liked jumping off it so much. I didn’t want them landing on my flowers, after all. Besides, the back has some really nice colours.
Front yard, October 14 and 19, 2008:
The two photos below were taken three weeks ago in the creekside park I wrote about a few posts ago, in Rivendell Pt. 3. You can see one of the little bridges that crosses the creek where it's swift in the top picture. It feels so secret down there! In the second shot you can see where the path and creek slows and widens out a bit (the creek is the dark mirror in the right of the frame).
The trees are almost all bare now, but it still smells great, and the creek is still rushing over the rocks. It's a wonderful thing to have so near by, and so little used.