Mother’s Day With Cats

I have no human kids, but my cats are coddled and spoiled as much as any privileged child. So what if they shed, prefer sleeping on my folded bathroom towels as opposed to their cat beds, and favor shoelaces over fancy toys? I love them! And today, they have given me the greatest gift… No, they didn’t scratch out a heartwarming message in their litterbox. But they’re actually… getting along!!! They’re not tussling or swatting at each other. They’re not fighting over who gets to lounge in the living room window. They’re being nice to each other, even peacefully drinking from the same bowl of water! And of course, my camera phone is broken, so I can’t document any of it! You’ll have to trust me! Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day from Milo and Jinx!


Happy Birthday To Milo!

April is definitely a special month in my household. Both of my “babies” celebrate birthdays! My sweet black cat, Jinx, turned 5 on April 1. And today, April 15, my youngest kiddo, Milo, turns the Big 1!

I found Milo through Craigslist last year, when I was searching for a companion for Jinx. The young Army couple, who adopted him from the local animal shelter, felt guilty that they couldn’t spend much time with him. I had not set out to get a kitten. I thought an older male cat would be the best match for Jinx. But once Jessica sent me a pic of the lil’ guy, I was in love!

Milo on bed 001
          Milo when he was very small

  “We’re not sure if he can meow,” the uniformed husband apologized as they handed him to me.

My heart fluttered. Was this kitten mute?

“We’ve only heard him bark like a dog,” he elaborated.

I was intrigued. A cat that barks like a dog? How cool! However, I never did witness such a phenomenon. I don’t know why he never meowed for them. He was always quite vocal with me.

Milo’s original name was “Scat.” I gave him his new name because of the “M” mark on his forehead. Adorable though he was, he was a little tyrant when he first came to live here. He chased poor Jinx away with all the spitfire and chutzpa a skinny, tiny, 5-month-old kitten could muster. He countered my loving, gentle words with hisses and growls. I tried not to let it faze me, continuing to speak to him in a calm, cool voice. For starters, I kept him isolated in the spare bedroom in my apartment so he wouldn’t get overwhelmed by so many new surroundings.

On the third morning he was here, a transformation took place. When I opened the bedroom door, the tiny kitten came running to me. Astonished and delighted, I scooped him up in my arms. It was like a scene out of a movie. All that was missing was the theme from “Chariots of Fire” playing in the background.

Milo has grown into a big, brawny, happy, healthy cat. He still has his kitten-like playfulness. I used to get annoyed at how “clingy” he was, always underfoot if I were standing and perennially attached to my shoulder if I was sitting down. Now that he is more independent, I find myself missing the constant cat cuddles. As I type this, he is lying, docile as can be, at my feet. From my focal point, he looks like a tiger-striped slipper that’s missing its mate. So cute!

Happy birthday, Milo.

Milo now.
Milo now.

Jinx, the Birthday Girl!

It seems like just last week when I brought a certain sleek, mysterious, little black cat home. At the time, she was no longer a kitten, but still not fully grown. Today, she turns five!

Jinx wasn’t always Jinx. She is the former June Bug. I’d always wanted a black cat, being a lover of felines, Edgar Allan Poe and Halloween. But occasional trips to the SPCA never rendered that “perfect match” for me. There was always an abundance of black cats in the shelter, but I never “clicked” with any of them. It seemed like the clever kitties would show off for prospective adoptive parents, but really, they just wanted out of their cramped cages. Once I actually got the cats in my arms, I sadly found that they were not interested in me, but in the wide open spaces they could have access to.

Then one day in 2011, the shelter had a “Black Cat Special.” Every now and then, there will be an overpopulation of black cats in the shelter. Why? Well, there is the “bad luck” stigma associated with black cats. Plus, even more ridiculously, in this Facebook/ Instagram crazed age, many folks say that they would not adopt a black cat simply for the fact that “they don’t photograph well.” Ridiculous!

When I first met June Bug, I held her for a bit. She didn’t try to squirm away from me as previous black cats had, but I didn’t feel an immediate love connection, either. I decided I would adopt her anyway, and hoped we would eventually develop a bond. She was put back in her cage while I went to the office to fill out paperwork. When I walked back into the cat room, the quiet black cat I had decided to take home stood up in her cage and stuck her snout through the steel bars. In a loud voice that belied her petite size, she cried out: “MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!” like an alarm that could not be shut off. My heart melted. I felt she was saying: “You’re BACK!!! I thought you’d LEFT me here!!!”

Jinx at age 1
                            Jinx at age 1

I knew that this cat had to be renamed, pronto. “June Bug” is too cutesy, more appropriate for a daffy orange kitty or a whimsical, skinny calico. I considered Spooky, Elvira, Poe, Raven, and other spooktacular monikers. Ultimately I decided on Jinx (with Elvira as a middle name). It turned out to be a very cool, yet ironic name for this precious animal. She has been anything BUT a “jinx.” She has been a friend, a blessing, a familiar, a treasure. Unpredictable, yet reliable. Tough, yet lovable. Sassy, yet sweet.

Happy Birthday, Pretty Girl.

Jinx Winks!
                    Jinx Winks!

Opposites Attack

The more I study my two kitties, Jinx and Milo, the more I am convinced that they are from two different planets. Talk about polar opposites! If I had gone out of my way to find two more dissimilar cats, I don’t think I could have done a better job.

Jinx is laid back and mellow. She gets nervous and agitated by loud outdoor sounds, such as garbage trucks and fire sirens, even though they are a pretty frequent occurrence in our neighborhood. Milo is unphasable. He is a Type A personality, always eager to play, to chase, to discover! The only time he is still is when he’s sleeping. Jinx, on the other hand, prefers what is familiar and what she knows is safe. Here are some more differences I’ve observed…

Because I believe declawing is cruel, both of my cats have the sharp, destructive claws that they were born with. Jinx meticulously manicures her nails on a scratching board. Milo, meanwhile, makes a scratching post out of whatever is handy: the mattress, the fuzzy toilet seat cover, the rubber ball I was using for physical therapy, the once-handsome “pleather” armchair in the living room… you get the picture. Sometimes I get brave and attempt to snip the tips of his sharp claws, but he hates the clippers I bought for him. I’m lucky if I can clip three toenails before he squirms out of my grip.

Jinx doing her nails
Jinx doing her nails

Then there’s feeding time. Jinx is a choosy eater. Her mealtime method is to approach her food carefully, examine it, sniff it, then lick it cautiously. If it tastes good, she’ll eat it with the best of manners, chewing her food thoroughly and stopping when she is full. Milo can best be compared to a garbage disposal with whiskers. He inhales his food. Cat food, people food, any food, every last crumb! I have keep a watchful eye on these two when I feed them together, to make sure that Milo doesn’t take over both bowls before Jinx has her fill.

Even when it comes to purring, Milo and Jinx are once again at opposite ends of the spectrum. Jinx’s purr is very quiet, barely audible. I liken it to a newborn infant softly snoring with the sweetest baby’s breath. Milo’s purr, on the other hand, sounds more like an idling motorboat. It doesn’t take him long to reach maximum volume.

Hi! Love me???
Hi! Love me???

Lastly, my two furpals (I prefer this term of endearment to the hackneyed “furbabies”) have very different ways of showing affection. Jinx is very much a “giver.” She will approach me at her leisure and lovingly rub against my my legs with her luxurious fur. Since she is not normally the most demonstrative cat; it is always a surprise and an honor when she jumps into my lap, eager to be stroked for a few minutes. Conversely, Milo is constantly demanding and “in your face.” He can be a bit obnoxious in his need for attention, and his jealousy of Jinx.

Not knowing the origins of either cat– preceding their time at the SPCA– I can’t psychoanalyze their behavior and blame it on their very early kittenhood. I can only deal with these two very different cats as I know them now. And “now” is but a temporary state… As they are continuously evolving.

2 cats in a row

A Jinx and Milo Update

When I  started this blog, I was very worried about my black cat, Jinx, as she was putting on weight, growing lethargic and acting generally depressed. I’ve since made some little changes in her diet and daily routine, and I am happy to report that she is doing much better!

Let me backtrack a bit and give you some Jinx history… I adopted her from the local SPCA when she was just about a year old (she’s almost 5 now). Her original name was “June Bug,” but I knew that would never do. It was too “cutesy” for such an intense girl. After throwing around ideas like Elvira, Spooky and Raven, I decided that Jinx was perfect for her (with Elvira as a middle name). They told me when I adopted her, that they’d had to keep her separated from other cats at the shelter because of her temperament. She was mean to other cats, a bully, I suppose.

Jinx curled up

When I first moved into my new apartment, I was working two part time jobs. I hated the idea of Jinx being alone for so many hours. If I knew it was going to be an especially long day, I would ask a friend to stop by and feed her and give her a few minutes of attention. Of course, I’ve always been of the philosophy that two cats are better than one. I thought she would appreciate a feline buddy… if I chose wisely. I ruled out other females right away. Two dominant Queens under one roof would surely spell disaster! I figured my best bet would be to get an adult male, with a strong personality of his own. Maybe an orange Tom, like Morris. Wouldn’t the orange fur and black fur look nice together? Like Halloween all year long!

But then… Milo happened. I found him on Craigslist, in the “free” section. It was placed by a military couple, both of them in the Army, and they just didn’t have time for this needy little five-month-old kitten. He came with everything: litter box, toys, food bowl, cat chow, and papers showing that he’s had his shots. (Oh, and this adorable Star Wars collar!) How could I say “no”???

Star Wars Collar

I was worried that Jinx might be mean to the little guy. But she was intrigued. She wanted to make friends, but Milo was having none of it! Tiny as he was back then, he hissed at her and chased her off! Over the next few months, as Milo grew, he continued to bully Jinx, especially at feeding time. Also, I have to admit that I spoiled him rotten. He was such a cute baby, and a natural “poser” that I was taking pics of him all the time. Poor Jinx must have started to think that I loved him more.

Upside Down, Boy You Turn Me Inside Out

Lately, I’ve been making sure that Jinx and I get some one-on-one time at least twice a day, without Milo butting his little head in. The extra coddling, plus the switch to mostly canned food, rather than all dry, has made a big difference. Jinx is more active, even a little playful at times. She’s been giving Milo a run for his money, rather than just giving in to him. They don’t seriously fight, but they “box” and swat at each other.

Milo Jinx grass meeting

I still hold on to the hope that they will be buddies one day. I do love to see kitties snuggled up together for a cat nap! It still might happen. 🙂

A Cat In The Window

I love the sight of a cat in the window.

From the outside... It is such a delight to see one or both of my cats silhouetted in the living room window, when I’m coming home from anywhere … Nothing says “welcome” like their furry little faces, anticipating my return. Someone is happy to see me!

2 cats in winter window

From the inside… I enjoy observing my cat perched on my bedroom window sill, staring intently through the glass, thinking deep cat thoughts. Is she remembering a former life? Seeing mystical things that human eyes are incapable of detecting? Planning to conquer the world?

Window Jinx5 side eye

Probably, all of the above.

Black Cat Blues

Things are looking up. Frozen February has meandered into a more merciful March. The North Country’s seemingly never-ending stretch of sub-zero and single-digit temperatures are slowly rising to double digits. And inside the cozy, winterproof apartment that I call home, spirits are improving among the furry natives.

When I last posted here (okay, so this is only the second post in this blog), I was very worried about my beautiful black cat, Jinx. She’s been utterly dreary, and on edge, plus she has gained some weight. I have followed the veterinarian’s advice, putting both cats on a mostly wet (canned) food diet. I can’t tell if Jinx has lost any weight yet, by looking at her, and I don’t have a scale in the house. But I would think she’d be losing weight, because she almost never finishes her food! The vet said the cats should be eating the equivalent of two tuna fish can sized portions (or three Fancy Feast sized cans) per day. Well, Jinx will not finish a can of Fancy Feast, or a half-can portion of a larger can of Friskies, or what have you. She eats a tiny bit, taking her sweet time, and leaves the majority on the plate. Refrigerated leftovers are not met with much enthusiasm.

Milo, meanwhile, is a lean, mean, eating machine. He eats dry food, he eats wet food. He finishes his own food, he hogs Jinx’s food. If I don’t do the dishes quickly enough, he’ll can be found in the kitchen sink, licking the pots and pans. The only thing he doesn’t do is get into the garbage. You’d think I never feed this guy, the way he cries when he smells food that he can’t have (as in, my meals).

It’s also concerned me that Jinx has spent almost every minute of the day here:

cats and charcoal 003

She has been sleeping her nine lives away in this red bin, meticulously kneading a “bed” for herself on the old blue blanket pictured here. I’m happy to report that this morning, she’s instead sleeping at my feet, curled up on a brown tote bag. She was more active than usual earlier today, which I was glad to see. I’ve made sure to give her lots of extra attention. It seems to be making a positive difference. Her lack of appetite still concerns me, though.

Milo is behaving a little bit better. No harassing Jinx this morning… but it’s early. Don’t want to “jinx” things. (Pun intended.) He’s snoozing at the foot of my unmade bed. Yeah, I’ll get to that… eventually.

He looks so innocent...
               He looks so innocent…