Fuck Cancer and Cones of Shame

Birdie is at the start of a two week “no catting” stint post surgery-more on that later. I set up the game camera out of curiosity.

What I’ve determined is, Birdie does not sleep well with the cone. Lots of frequent ups and downs during the night and while I’m at school. Everybody cruises through to check on her, Miles mostly to monitor her food that he cannot access. Olivia looking into the camera says it all: “This is some fucked nonsense, y’all.”

So today on a sunny Saturday, we are saying “Fuck it!” Birdie is having monitored cone and crate free time in her stylish onesie. It is hard to curl up and chew your toes with a cone on.

Our normal vet was all about the onesie however we did the second surgery at the vet who administered her chemo and they are opposed to the onesie: it traps air not letting the wound breath and gets dirty potentially getting dirt in the wound. They basically made it sound like I would leave her in the same onesie for two weeks without ever cleaning it or checking her wound. Eyeroll. I was like: “BITCHES. SHE. HAS. A. FIERCE. WARDROBE.” Insert tongue pop here.

Circa 2018. Here for the attitude.

What I know is that right now she is out cold in the most uncomfortable spot I can imagine, the sunspot got too hot, but she is sleeping.

Casual Caterpillar Cannibalism

The only remaining caterpillar. There were no bodies.

I inadvertently ended up with caterpillars again this year. A friend who had 20 well developed caterpillars going plus another habitat with newly hatched babies, needed milkweed. I handed her a bundle of milkweed and she handed me a baggy of 5 eggs on bits of milkweed. Great. Another thing I have to keep alive: the cats, Vincenzo the sourdough starter, myself, and caterpillars.

Getting them at the egg stage was fascinating. When the egg became a “blackhead” which was actually the caterpillar’s head, it would hatch within a few hours into a tiny cream colored caterpillar. Within a few hours from there, it would start to turn green. From eating leaves? By the next day, the stripes developed. It took longer for the distinctive monarch “horns” to emerge.

Pretty quickly I lost count of who was in residence. A few eggs had not hatched, I had added a couple eggs I found in my yard. Who knows? However I did recognize that the population was decreasing although I was not finding any bodies. While all were within roughly the same age range, I had two who were definitely outgrowing their peers. Because they were eating them???

Leaving for 3 days, I stocked the habit well with plenty of fresh milkweed and moisture. I think I had 4 caterpillars at that point. I returned to one very healthy caterpillar and a sickly one half the other’s size. The sickly one has since passed, but was not snacked on.

There can be only one.

Not my first Catzilla rodeo.

Everyone but Sookie who has fled the scene got flea meds. Miles and Olivia will now lick themselves silly and then try to help each other, leading to my paranoid delusions of them ingesting too much flea medicine.

Pet parent hack: costume bag. (as seen in a previous post)

We’re gonna be Catzillas until the drops dry or until I get tired of watching them destroy Mothra.

Miles is doubly offended because I also trimmed his nails. I do like though that Olivia’s first instinct is to have really good posture.

Even Catzilla needs catnip.

Catzilla gets treats!

If you needed a cat, I had a spare.

You know that fantasy about finding a kitten? Like one magically appears in your yard and it’s the perfect age so it doesn’t need the mother cat anymore. It’s healthy as can be so it’s not going to die as soon as you name it. Also it’s just as quirky and special, but well behaved as all your other cats who accept it as one of the clowder. It just needs a home. Your home. That fantasy? (I cannot be the only person who thinks things like “wouldn’t it be amazing if I found a kitten right now?”)

My fantasy came true and I screwed it up hard! To the point that I discussed with a friend whether or not I was missing a message from the universe because “when the universe gives you a kitten….” you’re supposed to lean into it.

I blame Birdie. She was the one who spotted her.

Birdie was relaxing on my bed more or less unsupervised for the first time in weeks because she had just had her sutures removed from her feline mastectomy, so she was cleared to jump and cat again. I was in and out folding laundry or something exciting like that because whhhooohooooo it was spring break! It was also April Fool’s Day which did not occur to me at the time. but seems important now. (The universe is sending you a cat! HAHA April Fools) I saw Birdie alert to something out the window so, of course, I looked too. A small cat was emerging from under the fence. I tapped on the window and we all made eye contact. Is kitty!

Because I am an idiot, I walked through the house to the garage and opened the side door. Through cat witchcraft, the small cat immediately materialized on the doorstep, bounced into the garage, climbed me like a tree, drooled in my ear, and promptly broke my heart with her love.

The first 5 minutes. Yes, I changed my outer layer to throw off the other cats.

I texted all the crucial people the video of the cat rubbing her personal stink all over me with the all important question: “Well, what the fuck do I do now?” I posted a non-explicit video in my neighborhood Facebook group thinking that this healthy looking, loving little girl had to be somebody’s Torbie baby. Across the board, they all came back with: “You have a cat now.”

No, I had 5 cats now which made even me a little nervous. My theory is that my yard grows calico based cats. It just takes about 10 years in between each one. Birdie showed up in the yard when she was about one. I can’t help but look at that splotchy nose marking and consider the connections.

However I had invited the cat in like a tiny snuggly vampire and it was now late at night and because it was Ohio, there had actually been snowflakes earlier that day. I could not toss her out the door if I ever expected to live with myself. Small Cat ***spent her first night in the garage in a nest on top of my recycling so she wasn’t directly on cold concrete. She did not vocalize which played into my theory that she was street smart, but had a gigantic purr. She ate and drank heartily. When I set up a litterbox for her, she immediately took the longest cat pee ever while maintaining eye contact and telling me that she had been running through yards looking for a bathroom. She was really glad that I had one she could use.

***Here’s the thing. I named her in my head. I thought her name all the damned time, but I never said it because if I solidly named her, then she was absolutely staying. The vet referred to her as Found Cat on all her paperwork. I called her Small Cat at home as in “You guys, (the other cats) what did you do with the small cat?” and “Small cat, your booty smells musty. Take care of that.”

Because the most likely outcome was that I did indeed have a fifth cat who would be interacting with my other cats, we headed to the vet the next day where I invested money in some tests and round one of vaccinations. The vet pronounced her healthy; loving, but not in heat; and roughly a year old. We scheduled for a spay appointment at the end of the month. If she stayed that long and I paid for the spaying, she in the family for sure. Small Cat moved to my small bathroom where she chilled happily for about 24 hours because the shots knocked her for a loop.

In the mean time I had started in on her adoption campaign partly because I was a little stressed and partly because the socially acceptable amount of cats plus middle aged single female is one cat and after that you just become a stereotype that people “worry about.” Aside from the peer pressure, I was also looking at finances and the mental health of the other cats who got along and did not feel compelled to lodge complaints in the form of peeing on things. Birdie had just had an operation and we were heading towards her first chemo treatment which was, of course, more expensive than estimated. Additionally, I had no idea how she would handle the chemo, but I did know that she would be the least tolerant of a new addition to the household. Birdie gave me a demo of her feelings when, despite my best barricading efforts, Small Cat escaped her new residence the spare bedroom.

Note the tiny toes. This door does not latch.

Apparently when cats meet their doppelganger, the space time continuum gets screwy and nothing good happens. Birdie briefly nose booped Small Cat and then went from perfectly silent to full jungle cat scream! I’ve heard Birdie scream about may things over the years, but this was a terrifying new level. Small Cat dropped into a tiny ball, I scooped her up, and we ran for cover.

Birdie vs Small Cat

At the other end of the spectrum, Miles was like, “Hello, you are a lady so I am down. More importantly, I understand that food is being brought into this room so I want to monitor that situation. Beyond that, please have a nice day.”

Olivia and Sookie landed somewhere in the middle alternating between hissy and curious. Small Cat was on lock down while I was out of the house, but by about the fourth night, had the run of the house from when I got home until the next morning when I left. This is not an ideal cat introduction time line, but I also value sleep and if she wasn’t quietly crying and banging on the door, Miles was opening it from the other side just fuck with me. So in the evenings, I got to watch her attempt interactions and explore the house. She would start at one end of the room and then seconds later meerkat up at the opposite end( cat witchcraft!) Eventually she would settle in to hang out with me because I was the most amazing person she knew.

She’s in to middle aged women, old cd racks, and tattoos.

She even offered to help with bedtime reading, but Birdie shut that down pronto.

She’s a pro! Look at that form!

Possible adopters came up and fell through. I wavered between stress that she would be staying and relief that she would be staying. I was confident that her loving and sweet personality would ultimately blend with my crew, but Birdie’s level of stress and expenses were still a concern.

I’ve been looking at dates on pictures while writing this. Small Cat was only in my house for 10 days! Just 10! At the time it felt like forever because I wasn’t sure of her fate or what I should do. The day her adopters came to meet her, every cat in the house was completely calm and accepting of her the whole morning. Even now I have some regrets, but I know she found a good home.

Ultimately a connection was made through a friend. A young couple was looking for a companion for their two year old cat. Small Cat was uncertain about them which did not help my state of mind much. I had not thought about the fact that I was the only human she knew and certainly new people in the house were scary. She retreated to her room, but the couple was willing to spend time sweet talking her and offering toys to introduce themselves. I got a report back that their cat immediately started following Small Cat around and there was some snuggling. I’ve allowed myself to ask my friend for an update only once, and reportedly things were going well.

When they left with her, I cried and vacuumed for an hour. I don’t know how fosters do it. She took up so much of my mental and emotional head space for the time she was with me then tore me up when she left. I guess if you are fostering through a shelter, there’s a bit more certainty to the process and you know the end goal. I cannot praise enough the fosters who are able to open their homes, hearts, and minds to regularly connecting with animals so they can find their furever homes.

Day 9: Just trying to watch tv.

A relaxing day with cats

Started with “Dear Mommy, thank you for holding me over the tiled flooring while I puked and then washing my paws which I flicked puke droplets from on route to the sink even though you were completely topless the whole time.”

Beginning the day that way seemed like a really good excuse to try out a Christmas present: vodka and Bloody Mary mix from a local distillery.

It seemed heavy on the pickle juice.

Did Day 1 of Yoga With Adrienne because it’s always possible that I could get my physical shit together.

Somehow disappointed everyone in the process. “We see you. But we wish that we didn’t.”

Might take a bath later. Provided that the tub is free. Probably not gonna happen.

Turkey Redemption

Due to last year’s turkey monstrosity, I got MomBert a cake pan for Christmas that has the appropriately doubled turkey forms in it.

This happened.

It’s not that she likes Pinhead from Hellraiser, there were just issues.

A lost foot. Some middle bulges. We’ve all been there. And the heads. How do you budget for baking the shallow end that is the turkey’s head when the body is almost 3 inches deep? Directions? Naaaaahhhhh.

Then MomBert whispered, “We’re going to cover it in chocolate ganache.”

OH, YES! I swear this is all they do on baking shows: cover, fill, layer everything with ganache. Even ganache with flavors! It sounds fancy as hell.

Turns out a ganache is exactly two ingredients: heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate. The End.

We doused every part of that little turkey cake with ganache and then tucked it in the fridge next to the world’s oldest bottle of orange juice.

I’m not sure if you know this; but when ganache cools, it essentially becomes fudge. Fudging amazing fudge. That little turkey is sitting in a pool of fudge. It’s little bulgy middle? Fudge. Fudging amazing fudge.

What my cats got…

After the post about the Hyde and Eek Target Halloween houses, some people wanted to know what my cats got.

They got this monstrosity.

Much like the days of Boxtonia, it has been taking up premium real estate in the living room since August. I bought a slightly pricey and large outdoor Adirondack chair. Retail quarantine therapy. Their prize was the box.

In its latest iteration, it was the last Artober prompt that I successfully completed. It was “Two” because it is over two feet wide and serves two purposes.