Category Archives: People & Other Animals

Pet therapy

A dear friend’s beloved dog and long-time constant companion died recently.  Naturally she was absolutely devastated; even more so as the pup had been her comfort and consolation through many many years of incredibly rough personal-health-related times.  The news and the thought of her pain and loss made me sob and snuffle in empathy.  I adore my two ridiculously fluffy Maine Coon cats and honestly couldn’t cope without them in my situation – no matter how amazing and supportive my husband is [and he IS truly amazing and supportive; I don’t know how I got so lucky]. 

I am bed-ridden for so much of the time, for days / weeks / months, and those two kitties are constantly entertaining, affectionate and perceptive.  When I’m especially bad, they will snuggle up on the bed as close as possible to me, one on each side, with a head snuggled into my shoulder here, or paws wrapped around my wrist there . . . aaaaaawwwww.

I’ve had several cats over the years:-  My first cat Rocky was a splodgy black and white mog who had no interest in humans and snuggling whatsoever.  Cat Numero Due was Bella, a dumped, abused stray who turned up on our doorstep and yowled to come in, please.  She was not at all averse to cuddles or snuggles and returned affection with fervour.  I really could have done without the disembowelled rats left for me on my duvet cover as a precious gift, though.  Bella lived to the amazing age of 22, and died quietly in her sleep just a few weeks after we returned to WA from Ireland.  I’m forever glad I had the chance to snuggle those last times and say goodbye.

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Given that most of 2009 was just a blur for me, of horrendous “curled up in foetal position sobbing” pain, some frankly frightening moments, and my need for nursing and care, it was kind of handy that Tuxedo was around to provide that care and support, saving me from several months of hospitalisation, and generally be the amazing supportive and caring partner he is.

Perhaps not so fortunate were the circumstances that led to him being able to spend all that time with me;  he was made redundant back in April 2009 and despite all best efforts, has been unable to find another position.

The redundancy did come as a shock;  he walked in early Monday morning and half an hour, whilst half way through his daily report his boss tapped him on the shoulder.  Half an hour after that he was all packed up and being escorted from the building.  I should note that he was escorted not because he was raving and throwing punches; it is standard procedure for IT guys as if left unsupervised after being treated so despicably, they can do a LOT of damage to the business, with just a few keystrokes*.

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Rock star

We have had some major drama with Ruadhàn over the past few days, when he made a fine attempt at taking on a rock star lifestyle, well the drugs part anyway.  [He seems to prefer the blues, and as for sex, well he’s neutered so that could only ever be a faint dream.]

On Thursday night Tux and I were watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares*, became a little preoccupied and so missed most of the programme.  We also missed seeing exactly where Ruadhàn found the capsule of heavy-duty painkiller that he was disembowelling so flamboyantly on the carpet.  Nooooooo! Continue reading

Aoife and Ruadhan update – 03/08

We took the kitties to the vet last week for their yearly vaccinations and check-up.   Our lovely vet, who saw us through the long bout of cat flu last year [and who was so supportive and sweet to me when Abigail had to be put to sleep] was thrilled to see us – but especially thrilled to see the fluffballs.

He was especially impressed with Aoife.  As I lifted her out of her crate I was coo-ing “come on, little girl …” and Dr A’s eyes widened and he said “oh my goodness!  That’s not little!  Are you sure it’s a cat?”  She is rather magnificent, it’s true.  She weighed in at over 6 kg, a big difference from August last year, when Dr A. wasn’t optimistic about her chances of making it.  He gave her a big cuddle and stroke and she played up to him, like the big tart she is. Continue reading

Wet pussies

Ha, bet that got your attention, or at least a few raised eyebrows.  I’ll probably get sickos looking for pr0n, landing here and being most disappointed.

Because I’m talking about felines.  Felines that have had a close encounter with water.  Our two big Maine Coon clowns* adore the water, as do most Maine Coons, which is to their advantage in the Australian heat.  All cats run the risk of over-heating and dehydrating in summer.  I keep a close watch on our two for signs of stress given they are so big and furry, and the temperatures are so extreme [over 38C pretty much all through February, getting down to a “minimum” of 25 – 28C at night, with very high humidity]. Continue reading

Geek cats; for the love of Dyson and OzPet

The Coonie Cats – or “the fluffies” as they are also known, among many other nicknames and epithets [or would that be epitaphs?  Comes close, sometimes, given their behaviour] are doing well.  Aoife has put all the weight back on since her long, scary illness, and then some.  She’s having another growth spurt at the moment, even though she just turned one, when most domestic cats have finished growing, and is looking pretty impressive.  Except for all the patches where she was shaved for tests etc; they are growing back slowly so she still looks like a sheep attacked by a particularly inept shearer.  Those patches will take a long time to catch up with the rest of her coat, which is excessively long and luxurious.

The fur is a bit of a problem at the moment, actually; both Coonies are shedding a tad more than usual in preparation for summer, and during their wrestling matches and re-enactments of the Battle Of Agincourt around the dog-kennel, the fur flies like snow.  Thank heavens for having bought a Dyson hoover though; that was the day I truly knew I had Grown Up, spending over $800 on a hoover?  We got one of the psychedelic purple and green turbo numbers and it is almost a pleasure to use and see clear paths through the snow fluff. 

The Dyson doesn’t really help when it comes to our clothes, which are covered in drifts of fluff as soon as we dress.  Since most of my clothes are of the black and jersey type, this is somewhat unsightly.  Lint rollers and clothes brushes stand zero chance against the Maine Coon silky fluff.  I find the masking/sticky tape trick the most effective; I wrap broad sticky tape the whole way up and around my hand, sticky side out,  and attack the garment in question, shifting the tape “mitten” around as sections become overloaded. It took me six hands of tape to de-fluff a black polar fleece jacket … which Aoife then decided to pull off it’s hanger and make into a bed.  Sigh.

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They are great companions. Both of them shadow me during the day and just hang out wherever I happen to be, which is very cute.  They’re particularly “in my face” when the laptop or iPod/music is involved, which just goes to show they take after their Mama and Daddy in being total geeks.  Right now, as I type this, both fluffies are sitting on my desk, curled up around me and the laptop in various attitudes of adoration .. that would be adoration of the Vaio, not me.  I am there simply as a cushion, Ruadhàn particularly likes to sit on my lap, resting up against my torso with his face smooshed into my [not insignificant] boobs, with his front paws wrapped around my bicep.  Sickeningly cute. 

My parents have labelled them “the Geek Cats” [yep, another nickname but probably preferable to the GrandCats] for their predilection for curling up on me and the laptop when I’m working … and in Ruadhàn’s case, deliberately [deliberately, I say!] whapping the F1 or power keys.  Little shite.  Aoife seems to prefer the qwwwssdddddddd approach which isn’t quite so disruptive.

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The er, excretions of cats and disposal thereof is a significant issue in every indoor-cat owner’s life.  I’ve tried several different types of litter and never been happy with any of them.  Tracking the stuff outside the litter box, “matter” getting stuck in paws and tails, the smell [and there is nothing quite so bad as cat pee, it makes your eyes water and throat burn], and especially the sheer un-environmentally friendliness of it.  I mean, bagging up huge amounts of litter and cat poo/pee in plastic bags and popping it into the garbage bin?  Eeeeeuuuuuuccchhhhh.  None of it works really well as compost, no matter how carefully you strain bits out, or what the bags say about “recyclable”.  Recyclable as what?  Bio-chemical warfare?

Then I discovered OzPet Litter.  It’s compressed pellets of wood shavings left over from wood-chipping, carpentry etc that would otherwise be discarded.  The pellets absorb all liquid and break down into fine stuff that looks – and acts – just like potting mix.  Loads of essential minerals and good stuff in there, hee, although you DO remove the solids every day, v. important [I flush the cats’, same as ours!].  The special litter tray comes with a sieve insert through which the wetter fine stuff drops – that you can either discard or mix with a couple bucketfuls of water to dilute the ammonia and put that on your garden too.  Not, repeat not, vegetable gardens though.  Apparently native shrubs and trees in particular love OzPet after the cats are done with it, and the bits of the garden I’ve experimented with, and even the patches underneath trees where grass refuses to grow, are responding well.

Recycling AND garden friendly, and no plastic baggies, yay.  Oh, and it absorbs all the gag-inducing odours.  Brilliant.  For more information, the OzPet site is here.

Rhubarb rhubarb Ruadhàn

“Rhubarb” is just one of our new Maine Coon baby cat’s nicknames.   Rhubarb because it sort of rhymes with Ruadhàn (pronounced Roo-ahn; it means “little red head” in Irish Gaelic) – which would however, make Aoife “Custard” which I’m sure she would not appreciate.   A few of Ruadhàn’s other nicknames are Snot Boy, Mr Squiggle because he squirms and wriggles so much, and You Little Bugger.

He has just turned six months old, and is going to be enormous even by Maine Coon standards, he’ll look like a polar bear by the time he’s through growing.  Maine Coons are the largest breed of domestic cat, the boys can get up to over 15 kg, although 12 kg is more usual, and they don’t really stop growing until they are five years old, so our “little” boy has a way ahead of him still.  I think I mentioned before, he’s a red silver tabby, which is kind of a strawberry blonde* colour, with redder stripes, and white trim – paws, chest, tummy etc.  His paws and legs are huge; his back legs are so long and strong he doesn’t know what to do with them and when he sits down they splay out to the side; as for the paws, well he looks like he’s wearing boxing gloves.

Ruadhàn has a perfect profile, lovely big round head and tufty ears, a big square muzzle, and huge golden almond shaped eyes.  His body too is massive and growing almost in front of our eyes, and his tail is taking on the classic Maine Coon yet rather absurd “tail with cat attached” dimensions.  His head, however, is tiny, very funny to behold on top of this big strong boofy body.  Ah yes, “Pinhead” would be another nickname; cruel yet accurate.  Apparently this is totally normal for Coonie boys; the girls grow much more proportionately and steadily but the boys are all over the place.  The wee face on him is so exceptionally pretty that I can’t tease him for long; he would make a champion show cat but no way am I exposing my cats to any more germs from unknown animals, and I have heard on excellent authority that WA cat shows are particularly rife with bugs and therefore dangerous.  

He’s the sookiest, most pathetic boy cat I’ve ever come across, he loves to roll on his back across my lap, all four (huge) legs in the air and have me rub his chest and tummy and face, while he purrs and purrs.  Yeesh, talk about an impressively loud purr.  Constant too; he purrs if you so much as look at or talk to him.  In general he IS very good tempered, except when he tries and fails, and keeps on trying and failing to get his own way over something (eg, jumping on the kitchen bench, lying on my laptop and deliberately smacking the power button) when he will heave a dramatic sigh and wander off.  And then poop in the shower recess, just to show who’s boss.

The lying on my laptop and whacking the power button is one of the behaviours that’s earned him the You Little Bugger title; I don’t know how he knows, but it is definitely deliberate as is the pressing of the F1 key.  Fucking Microsoft Help, argh.  He’s fascinated by all the computers and hardware in the house, and likes to sit on Tuxedo’s lap following the action on “Guild Wars” or “Command & Conquer”.  I recall Abigail’s favourite was the movie “Star Wars” (Part IV); as soon as she heard the opening theme she’d come running, leap on to the closest lap/chair/sofa to the screen and watch with utter fascination.  Aoife seems to like “Lord Of The Rings”, and “Hot Fuzz” got a good reception.

Blonde is about right, though; he is rather dumb and again, that’s an acknowledged difference between the girls and the boys. All Coonies are intelligent, interested in everything, naughty and playful, great problem-solvers, extremely dextrous with their paws, very affectionate and loyal, and quite dog-like in some of their behaviours.  They love water for instance, and going for walks on a leash!  However, the boys are a bit on the dumb and sooky side while the girls are clever, very mischievous and while smoochy, tend to be a bit more independent.  The strawberry blonde colour is almost pink; amongst Maine Coon fanciers his colour group is affectionately known as “the pink pussies”.  He’s blonde in other ways too.  Tuxedo and I swore we’d never give our cats “voices” – ha, how the mighty have fallen.  Aoife has a posh Dublin accent, while Abigail’s was broad Yorkshire.  Ruadhàn, on the other hand, is 100% Valley Girl.  As in:  “Well, like, whatever, I don’t know, is that my food bowl?  What’s that?  It’s fluffy!  It’s my tail!  Is that a ball, gee I hope it, like, rattles, ooooh hey is that my food bowl?  Hey a fluffy tail!  Like, whatever…“  He seems to get stuck in a loop, looking from food to rattly ball to tail without figuring out what it’s all about or what to do with himself! 

Well, like, whatever, we love him and am so glad he’s joined the family. (if I ever get around to the horrendously difficult task of working out how to insert photos, I shall do so.)

Brain dump

Well the last couple of months have been a bit of a write-off, really.  I had a heap of posts planned for July and August, and see, none of them made it.  Not for want of trying, mind you.  We’ve all been sick, really really really sick.  Tuxedo; the cats; me.  The whole process has been very distressing, tedious and exhausting.  Hopefully we’re all the mend now.

Tuxedo got a nasty ‘flu sometime in July, which developed into an even nastier chest infection, and looked like heading toward pneumonia.  He was off work for two whole weeks, and took another two-three weeks to recover completely, with multiple courses of antibiotics and trips to the doc.  It was definitely the sickest that I’ve ever seen, and the sickest he’s been since childhood, so pretty damn awful.  I did my best to nurse him – and I’m a damn good nurse, plenty of practice! – which I believe helped, but there was plenty of other stuff going on too.

Namely, the kitties.  Yes, cats plural.  We returned from our holiday over at Rotto on 23 June, and on 24 June collected our new baby cat from the airport where he’d arrived all the way from his breeder in Sydney.  He’s a Maine Coon just like Aoife, in fact he’s her full brother; same parents but a different mating.  They’re about six months apart; not what the breeder was intending but the mother cat is a trollop and got out just when she shouldn’t have.  His name is Ruadhàn Tighearnach (pronounced Roo-ahn Teer-nakh, yes another unpronounceable Gaelic name), he’s a red silver tabby with white trim – feet tummy etc – and is exceedingly cute and pretty.  More on him another time.

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Rodney the headache, Aoife’s antics, and pink pussies

Things I could have / should have posted about but haven’t in the last weeks include:

        An ongoing headache that has so far lasted five weeks and has developed in consequence pretty much it’s own personality.  It’s a mother-fucking cock-sucking sodding bastard is what it is.  I decided he needed a name and Tuxedo suggested “Rodney”.  Strangely enough – and not to Tux’s prior knowledge – Rodney was a particularly loathsome boyfriend of mine lo, many years ago so it seemed appropriate.  Rodney (the boyfriend) was A Big Mistake; I’d always sworn blind never ever to go out with someone who was (a) called Rodney; (b) Dutch; and (c) younger than 25 (I was 25 at the time).  He fulfilled all criteria and so I should not have gone there with a jousting stick attached to a barge-pole but hey, I was 25 and stupid and an emotional and physical mess so of course I needed more baggage and emotional abuse, didn’t I.  Anyways, Rodney the headache is still going strong.  And yes I have seen the doctor about, yes I have tried every medication/treatment known to mankind, no I don’t know what is causing him.  He’s just pissing me off right now and I wish I could dump him flat.

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More new cats – Welcome Aoife

We finally have our Maine Coon kitten, safe and sound, all the way from Sydney, New South Wales.   She arrived in Perth on 23 December.  This cute widdle bebbeh kitteh has been cause for much anticipation for months, and now that she has at last joined our little family much excitement and mushiness has ensued.  (OMG !!!1!   PON1ES !!!!1!)

She truly is a very precious little cat.  She’s a silver patched torbie with white, a coat colour description that translates as patches of silver and black tabby, with light ginger patches and stripes bordering on apricot, while her legs, tummy, chest and some of her face is white.  She has huge ears with the tufted tips, a pretty little face, big greeny-yellow eyes lined in black (think, wearing kohl eye liner) and at around 14 weeks already has the typical Maine Coon tail-with-a-cat-attached look.  That tail is absurd on a wee thing like her … but impossibly cute.  We both wanted a Gaelic name, given Tuxedo is Irish, I’m part-Irish and Irish by marriage, we both love the country and wanted to celebrate all that in our own little way.  There were several names on our short-list, but we eventually both loved and decided on Aoife, pronounced Ee-fah.  (No, I don’t know how Gaelic works either, seems to be a very high vowel to consonant ratio and the spelling is definitely not phonetic.  I mean, how do you get a pronunciation such as Kwee-vah out of a name spelled C-A-O-I-M-H-E?)

Our little Aoife (who won’t be little for long, if that tail is anything to go by) is a non-stop, full-on three-ring circus.  Anything and everything is a potential toy*, she is extremely inventive, and doesn’t just bat jingly pom-poms around, she leaps and bounds and rolls and flips, just about ties herself in knots.  Her favourite toys are definitely small toy mice, she loves playing in water, plays “fetch” and has invented a number of games, one that can only be described as Reverse Cat Soccer.  The rules of RCS are to leap into a laundry basket and flail around until said basket falls onto it’s side; the kitten (“the player”) then bounds out of the upturned basket (“the goal”), grabs a soft mini-tennis ball in either the mouth or between two paws, flings it into the goal, and leaps after it.  After much flipping, somersaulting, diving, huge vertical bounds and frequent progressive motion of the goal itself, the player finally succeeds in getting the ball out of goal.  Hurrah!  Round two is then commenced with no intermission for massage, coach instruction and encouragement, sucking of orange quarters, etc.  Meanwhile the human audience has all fallen over and are retching from laughing too hard.  

*including a certain male human’s dangly bits that roll about in an exceedingly tempting manner from the point of view of a wicked li’l pusscat.

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