Karate Kitten Cuteness.

People keep sharing articles with me about Hisakata Hiroyuki’s photography project with street cats. He captures what every cat owner knows: cats are amazingly bendy and can dance through the air. The photos are colorful and dynamic. I particularly like the one where a cat appears to be dancing in a twinkling field of flowers.

Every once in awhile, I try to recreate popular cat related experiments and photo shoots. I can assure you that my cats do not care about cucumbers. They spent most of the time licking them. We’ve tried Maru’s slide through a box: meh success. Years ago, Bella and I spent some time playing around with black and white photos after I attended a photo exhibit by Tony Mendoza of Ernie the Cat.

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Practically as cool as Ernie the Cat.

So when Olivia Wigglebothum was begging for play time in a convenient sun spot, I gave kung fu kitty photos a chance. It became immediately clear that Hiroyuki has a better set up and/or far more coordination than I do. I’m right handed so the camera was steadiest in that hand, but my left hand’s ability to flip the string in an alluring way was suspect. However, 50 photos later there was some undeniable karate kitten cuteness.

Airborne, but blurry.

DSCF2245Caught it, but seems confused. I love her planted hind feet.

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Had it! Cat tongue!DSCF2250Anticipation. Whiskers at the ready.

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The Winner!!

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A Caturday Cattoo

In the name of my cats and their shelters, I’ve bought t-shirts, catnip pillows, spent ridiculous amounts on yearly calendars, dropped off donations ,and petted strange heads. All pretty mild mannered ways to support the kitties.

However last weekend I was offered a bolder option: cattoos!

I really like tattoos and I love cats so…yea…this sounded like the best combination fundraiser ever. (Based on the profit, I’d even propose it for my high school publication if my audience wasn’t 1500 under-aged students.)
Colony Cats & Dogs, former shelter to Sookie and Olivia Wigglebothum, and local tattoo shop Envy teamed up for an amazing fundraiser. All profits went to the shelter; the shop got tips and foot traffic, essentially donating materials and labor. The shop prepared nine flash options-small tattoos that can be applied quickly without variations-at $60 a pop. I was in the chair maybe 10 minutes and most of that time was the artist prepping his station. A couple of lines later and I was on my merry way.img_2948

Miles says it doesn’t look like him, “That cat could be ANYONE.” His classic cat disdain pretty much mirrors Bella’s impression of my back piece which was inspired by her and some artwork purchased on a 17 day road trip. If there aren’t treats, nobody cares.

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While the cats may not have been impressed, the shelter reported an impressive $2600 in the four hours that the fundraiser lasted. The artists cranked out 40 cattoos (there were also a few dog options), and the shelter set up a table in the lobby with pet related jewelry, magnets, stickers, and, of course, catnip pillows.

You know what I bought for the fur kids.

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Kitten Therapy 

The Kitten Room at the shelter is not much bigger than my bathroom; but like the Tardis, the Kitten Room’s power is way bigger on the inside.

In the Kitten Room I am a benevolent tree, an Ent if you will, being climbed by a horde of tiny, squirming creatures, all vying for cuddles. One rooted leg is assailed by a miniature black panther who gives up around my knee. The other leg supports a tiger who may have hit the weight limit for climbing jeans, as his needle-sharp claws dig deep into my hip. Meanwhile a tinier, wiggly tiger is running laps around my neck and periodically sticking his nose in my ear to demonstrate purr potential.

While the slightly larger tiger makes sleepy eyes at me from the crook of my arm, tinier tiger keeps zooming. He stops once in each lap to settle on the convenient shelf my chest makes and nose boop the calmer tiger. Then back to zooming.

Whenever I manage to sit down or bend over, a black and white, cow-spotted kitten gives me “soft pets,”patting at my face with insistent paws. This tears me up a bit as it immediately reminds me of Bella Luna’s possessive paw to my cheek when we first met at her shelter. Cow kitten then hangs out on the elevated foot of my crossed leg.

Forty-five minutes later, I’m covered in strange cat hair and strange smells. I will have to leave my shoes and clothes in the garage when I get home. Windowless, attached garages are essential for extended shelter cat petting. My cats will know I’ve been cheating on them with younger, more enthusiastic versions of themselves. 

Forgiven.

Since I didn’t fall madly in love and bring home a fifth,- this is the miracle of the day– they’ll forgive me.

A New Game.

Like everyone else in the world, I have an alligator head sitting on a shelf in my house. A tiny plastic cat who looks like my first all-mine kitty Bella Luna sits inside the alligator’s mouth.

I don’t know why.

Both items were gifts from the same person and I think it became a question of what exactly I should do with a tiny plastic cat. My nephew HATES the feng shui of the combination. His first move at my house is to relocate the cat from inside the alligator’s mouth.

Everyone gets stuff like this as a present, right?

Everyone gets stuff like this as a present, right?

The cats have been only mildly interested in the gator/kitty set up. There is a scratching post beside the shelf and if they’re feeling wild, they can climb to the top of the post and smack the kitty off the shelf and out of the gator’s mouth. This usually only happens if I’m gone for a couple of days and they only see the cat sitter. Color them bored and creative.

However, yesterday I came home to this.

Kitty on Kitchen Rug

Kitty on Kitchen Rug

 

Plastic Bella was in the kitchen a whole room away from her origins and the gator head was on the floor by the shelf. Clearly someone had an exciting day while I was at work. Olivia is my most likely suspect. Throwing a jingle mouse will even distract her from food right now which is a pretty powerful cat statement to make. Her obsession with chasing and carrying things has most likely extended to Plastic Bella. Thankfully, not the gator head. I put everything to rights and didn’t consider it much more until this morning.

This morning I woke up to the return of Plastic Bella to the kitchen. I guess I stumbled past the gator head on the floor on my way there.

Plastic Bella must have been hungry.

Plastic Bella must have been hungry.

The frequency of this now dictates that I needed to relocate things before SOMEONE hurts herself or breaks my alligator head which has been surprisingly tough so far. I texted Grammie about the new game and she, of course, added to my paranoia.

Thanks, Grammie.

Thanks, Grammie.

No teeth marks, no gnawing on the enticing plastic tail or legs, but it’s always a possibility. So I relocated kitty and gator to the most logical place: the “voodoo” area. The “voodoo” area is really just a conglomeration of weird and a cool owl shelf, but I thought it might give Grammie pause. Wrong.

Really? "Better place" Thats all shes got?

Really? “Better place” That’s all shes got?

It’s official. I have desensitized my mom to all things weird and unusual. Must try harder.

In other news, Miles really wanted to write this post; he is inspired by me sitting at the computer trying to work.

His typing is worse than mine.

His typing is worse than mine.

 

Bella Luna 2000- December 28, 2013

Bella Luna 2000- December 28, 2013

Napping, Christmas Day 2013

Napping, Christmas Day 2013

We are never so lucky as when an animal chooses one of us to be his or her pet.

When I relocated for a new teaching job, my first two purchases for my new home were my own washer and dryer and a cat. The cat was the more important purchase.

The day after moving in all my stuff, my mom, sister, and I visited Cat Welfare http://www.catwelfareohio.com/ on the recommendation of a friend. It  was Crazy Cat Lady heaven with dozens of cats roaming freely around the shelter while small kittens and those who had just had surgery or needed meds were staying in stacked cages. It was wonderful and overwhelming.

August 2, 2000

August 2, 2000

 

Her second day home. Much more comfortable.

Her second day home. Much more comfortable.

I was bent over looking in a cage at a vibrant calico named Sarah, when something from above snagged my hair. A smudged white paw had shot through the bars and latched on to some of my ponytail. I stood up and looked in at green eyes, a black mask, and white fur dirtied by the newspaper print lining her cage. We checked each other out and I kept on moving around the shelter.

I was across the shelter, when I noticed a couple looking in at the black and white caged cat. For whatever reason, I bee lined across the room and made their personal space my personal space. They moved on and I asked a volunteer if I was allowed to hold the cat who was caged because she had recently been spade. I baby cradled the future Bella Luna who calmly gazed up at me and worked her shelter cat magic for all she was worth. She reached up and patted my cheek with her paw, a move she would use for the rest of our life together.

Sometime during the car ride home Bella Luna officially became Bella Luna my beautiful moon. She was named for a line in the movie Moonstruck; a film where many of the characters’ love lives are turned on end by the power of the giant fantasy moon (la bella luna) that shines over Brooklyn. The grandfather character urges his pack of dogs to howl at the moon: “Guarda la bella luna.” Look at the beautiful moon.

During her first day at home August 2, 2000, Bella spent her time hiding under chairs and boxes, avoiding her new people and getting the lay of the land. Exhausted from moving and unpacking, I fell asleep while reading in bed with the lights on. At about 4 a.m., I was awakened by Bella walking up across my body until she settled on my chest and tucked her head in under my chin to go to sleep.

For 13 years, she has been sleeping on my chest, my back, my shoulder, beside my head on the pillow, tucked into my armpit, whatever part of me she could comfortably get to. If I slept on my side, she would somehow slide herself in between my arms and body. On more than one occasion, she demanded that I lay down for a nap so that SHE could have a place to sleep.

For 13 years, she has tolerated traveling, moving, costumed photo shoots, other cats in her house, questionable boyfriends, loud music, the vacuum cleaner, so many other things, and me. Most of all she tolerated me. My other cats can be selective with their purrs, but Bella always purred when I petted her and best of all she purred simply when I was there in the room with her.

For 13 years, I have been in love with my Principessa Bella “Bunny” Luna. I loved her soft bunny fur and tendency to hop. I loved her big green eyes framed by her “Batman” mask of black fur. I loved that she stole pizza toppings with her left paw. I loved her black spots that were markers for scratching and petting. I loved that I was allowed to fall asleep with my face against her side as she purred. I loved that she wanted little more than to burrow under a blanket or make  a “cat burrito” with a piece of fleece. I loved that she would press her face against mine when I carried her. I loved her pink nose that changed from pale to bright depending on her mood. I loved her tiny paw pads that were a mix of black and pink. I love that my best friend is owned by Bella’s fur twin. I loved that she was opinionated and grumpy at times.

I loved that she was mine and that she chose me.

While Bella survived the lung surgery and removal of a tumor in October, her health deteriorated during December and test results showed that a whole new cancer had appeared in her swollen lymph nodes. This made her yet another statistical oddity, as her oncologist said that this cancer did not typically manifest this way in cats. After an ultra sound on December 28, it was revealed that the cancer had filled her, giving her  a week to two weeks of getting progressively sicker until she died. I could not stand the idea of making an additional appointment later to essentially drive my girl to her death. Worse yet, I did not want her to suffer. She had put up with so much already.

My mom and I buried Bella in the evening on December 28. I’m not sure what to do with her food. My house is covered in photos and artwork of her. I forgot that her chemo meds were still under the sink. I’m offended that the other cats don’t seem to care that she’s gone. Every time I walk down the hallway to my bedroom, I automatically expect to see her on my bed or in the window seat. The other cats don’t sleep on me the way she did. I’m just so terribly sad.