What will Sienna do with her sunny morning? The kitchen was so bright that all the cats were busy and looking out windows and doors. Sienna chose to parade back and forth on the bean counter, where I had to pet her. Upward and downward cat stretches, twirls and lots of purrs from Sienna, but impossible for me to get a photo of her because she would leap across to the table when I backed up. I got plenty of tilty and stretchy ones and only a few in good proportion.
Sienna’s purple calming collar was well past the 30 days they last, and Sienna has been doing well, even staying in the room when a visitor comes, not to mention very playful all over the downstairs instead of settling herself into one spot and not moving most of the day. I took it off her and we’ll see how she does. So far, so good.
Sometimes their innocent cuteness just does me in. Hamlet and Mariposa side by side at an open window, smelling the breeze, listening to the birds.
Shall we let her in?
Photos from years past.
Sienna Explores, 2018
Sienna has been meeting each household member one by one in her room and in brief times outside of her room. She finally decided to settle on the bed for a bath and a nap. I know at one time in her life she likely had a nice bed to sleep on, and she was pretty excited the other day when she discovered it, but had too much discovery to do to settle on it then.
Sienna starts her day out with a sun salutation in her bathroom.
I’ve been opening the bathroom door each day when the rest of the household is quiet, often sleeping, usually in mid to late afternoon. The fewer other cats around, the fewer she has to deal with at once, and the less chance we’ll have mass mayhem caused by too many cats a little stressed out in too small of a space, something that can change the dynamics among all household members.
She is already tired of my and my camera. You can see her tail is lashing just a bit and she’s got that look on her face. Actually, I’m being very annoying trying to get her to look at me and she has other things to do than humor me.
I started out with 15 minute sessions to have her door open, and I blocked the access to the steps so she only had the three small rooms upstairs. The cardboard I had blocking the steps was an intrusion and cats would stand on either side wanting past it just because it was there, causing congestion on the landing right outside the bathroom door. Still, Sienna did well, slipping into the studio or bedroom, exploring for a few minutes, then racing back to her room. These sessions have grown a little longer and include the regulars entering her room when she’s in there. She’s met most and aside from a startled hiss or two they are fine. Sessions usually end when I start to hear some discord among the household and I want to keep encounters pleasant.
Along with compassionate Basil and humble Hamlet who clearly understand how she feels and want to be her friend, Jelly Bean is in her room as soon as the door is open. His first interest is food, but not finding that he greets her and offers his forehead her her to lick, being submissive to put her at ease. He’s always been the nurturing type.
Today I decided she had had enough exploration in the rooms upstairs and left the steps unblocked. As soon as I opened her door she hurried out to the landing and looked in the other two rooms, saw the steps, and crouched at the top for a few minutes. She then began a little game of going down a few more steps than the last time, then running for her life back up to her room, then heading out again. I know she made it to the bottom and may have even begun exploring the office, but wasn’t gone long enough to get far.
Then she headed back into the bedroom and went to look out the window. I like to let her explore on her own but decided to join her and pet her there. She was ready for that and the stepped onto the bed. It felt so good she began to settle down and enjoy the softness. I added a mattress topper to my bed last fall, which is already extra high off the floor, and cats have always loved it, and now love it more with the topper. The bed is often the first place they go off the floor when they start to explore, and the first place they return to after they start integrating regularly.
Jelly Bean came in, probably sensing she was settling into another place from her room, and the two smelled each other and he walked around her. I didn’t see any sign of concern from her and they tapped noses a few times, then each settled down for a bath.
Then Hamlet joined them. He likes her. He doesn’t know how to approach her so he just sits near. But even when he started walking around her she didn’t react as if she felt in danger.
As long as Hamlet can have his pillows he is happy. Just three cats on the bed.
He didn’t stay there, though, but came back to nosetap Sienna and then leave. He loves his pillows but I put new cardboard refills in the turbo scratchers so everyone can work off some stress on the landing and Sienna has one in the bathroom, and he likes to sleep on his, so he doesn’t know where to settle down.
Somehow, every new foster always finds this spot. It’s the spot where I sleep, so perhaps it’s the softest and most worn. Seeing Sienna there told me she’s really feeling confident. She has a long way to go still—meeting and learning about eight new personalities at one time is no small ordeal for a small tortie. She is up to an hour at a time, and that would be fine for a while, to keep her from being overwhelmed, and to keep the rest of the household from feeling stressed. Mr. Sunshine doesn’t like anyone new at first, and Giuseppe feels a little stressed at losing space and attention in the house. For now, we are good, and no signs of a urinary issue from Sienna.
Shared in Previous Years
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Mimi in the Rain, 2017
Mimi wants me to make it stop raining so she can run around in the yard.
We are at the top of the steps on the deck, and both of us are disappointed.
Shared in Previous Years
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Daily Photo: Meet Josephine, 2015
No, the universe did not bring me a new tortie cat for my birthday!
Josephine was found offered “free to a good home” on a Facebook neighborhood site. You may remember last summer the kittens Cookie and Jelly Bean who were trapped and rescued with terrible URIs but nursed back to health by Debby Christy Nicola. They were, of course, named after my kitties, and the name “Cookie” infers that kitty is “on tough Cookie”, as the little long-haired tortie proved to be. It was the woman who rescued and later adopted Cookie who saw this kitty, who reminded her of her Cookie-pie. When I saw the post she reminded me of my Cookie-pie and my Kelly too. This kitty had been taken in from the street but was not fitting in. A lot of discussion ensued of what to do and in the end Cookie’s rescuer went to get her and she stayed the night here last night. Because she was originally found on Josephine Street, we decided to name the petite little girl Josephine. I have always liked that name.
Little Josephine was a little traumatized by her experience, and settled in the corner of the windowsill last night and would not move, nor responded to petting, though she did not object. I welcomed her, gave her food and water, petted her, applied a few soothing essences, then let her rest. A few hours later she had not moved, so I got her started, hugged and kissed her lightly, and showed her the food bowl. Eventually she drank lots and lots of water, then began to gently explore, but though she made progress when I was in the room, she returned to the little cubby storage next to the tub. She came out hesitantly each time I came in but was friendly, just very quiet. She ate well overnight and used the litter box. Dr. Michelle took a look at her today, and she did well with handling, and in a room with two relative strangers. And I took about 102 photos of her.
The plan was to check her out and surrender her to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society today in order to be scanned for a microchip, spayed if necessary, have veterinary care and be put up for adoption. So after I had the joy of spending nearly 24 hours with this precious little girl, this afternoon I took her over, talked to the people I usually talk to, and received her shelter number. I offered to foster if she needed any more socialization or ever became ill or in danger of euthanasia, and I have her intake number so that I can call about her and follow her.
No, I cannot keep her, and even fostering for a long term is difficult for my household right now. I won’t say how many cats I’ve packed into this tiny little house in the 25 years I’ve been here, but my average was nine, and only once, for a week, I was down to four. That’s a lot of cats, and I know the toll it took on my household. Right now, with the Five and Smokie and Bella, we are comfortable. Two in the bathroom was okay while Bert and Ernie were here, but it puts pressure on everyone’s behavior.
The WPHS is an open-door shelter, one that some people might call a “kill shelter”. But rather than call them names we choose to work with them, to help them with their goal of saving as many lives as possible. This is the shelter where Smokie came from, and Bert and Ernie too, surrendered to the Homeless Cat Management Team to give us a chance to socialize and find homes for them, or if that wasn’t possible to then find a community colony where they could safely reside. I regularly pick up cats from surgery in their TNR program and hold them for caretakers to pick up from me.
There are so many cats like Josephine, and many of them don’t find the best homes when given away free, or if they are out on the street they never find the help they need. This shelter, as well as others I’ve known, used to be a hell for animals, and I would never have considered surrendering a cat I’d rescued to them, one of the reasons I had so many for so many years. But with their own hard work and the help of the public they serve, they have turned their numbers around, and I know that, next to my quiet little bathroom, Josephine will get the best of care and love from the staff, and if she needs anything I can give her, they will let me know.
And you can bet you’ll see more about her too! I hope to help little Josephine find a very loving forever home!
Josephine was adopted very soon after this!
Basket Seat for the Big Fight, 2017
It’s time for Basket Studio Wrestling with Mr. Sunshine vs. Jelly Bean! Hamlet has a basket seat to watch it. Right now Mr. Sunshine is using the basket handle to his advantage, but Jelly Bean knows it’s his advantage because Sunshine’s arms aren’t as long as he thinks they are.
Hamlet used to be alarmed by these little brotherly brush-ups, but apparently he’s over that.
A few minutes later…
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Innocence Lost, Regained, and Avenged, 2013
I’ve often wondered about Jelly Bean’s mellow personality and sleepy expressions. Now I know.
As a responsible cat parent, I should have been more aware…
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“Come on,” said his brother, “It’s really cool! She opens the stuff when she puts the wood things together. You go and smell that stuff in the bottle, then come over here and sit inside the wood thing.”
“It’s way far out!!”
Bean always listens to his brothers. So he sniffed the glue and went to sit in the frame.
“So when does it happ—”
I didn’t have the heart to tell them it wasn’t that kind of glue.
They were having such a good time being bad boys.
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Innocence Regained, and Avenged
“That’s what you get for getting me in trouble.”
“What trouble? You get yourself in enough trouble! What did I do?”
“You had me sniff that glue stuff the other day, now it’s all over the internets that Jelly Bean sniffs glue.”
“Well you did sniff glue! What’s the problem with that?”
“I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t led me astray!”
“Astray?! A-stray?! I led you a-stray? Where did you learn that big word? Do you even know what it means?”
“It means you made me do a bad thing I wouldn’t normally do!”
“I hardly had to pull your tail to get you to do it.”
“You know I trust you! You’re my brother!”
“Look, little brother—”
“Don’t you ‘little brother’ me!”
“You’re acting like one, like a real little brother. Real little. Anyway, it wasn’t a bad thing to do.”
“I heard sniffing glue was bad!”
“It wasn’t that kind of glue.”
“What kind of glue is that?”
“The kind that makes the room look like a psychedelic painting.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it was all in your head.”
“In my head? But the room was all different! And I felt different.”
“You’re making fun of me aren’t you?”
“You set me up to look like a fool, didn’t you?”
“Some brother you are!”
“Go ahead, hit me now, you fall for it every time, it’s almost no fun.”
. . . . . . .
Sunshine on Sunshine, 2014
The sun shone fervently today from dawn to sunset, and I took sooooo many photos of the snow, the light, the animals, and of course my cats. I had my DSLR upstairs with me so I could get photos my smartphone could never catch, once again starring Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine. The last group of their photos was fun and silly, in this one I let the light play around and let the glare flash out details and fill in on the edges of silhouettes, blurring Giuseppe and the lace curtain and now and then Mr. Sunshine.
These three are a few of my favorites. While I was trying for anonymous silhouettes much of the time, I also caught some gentle details as in these two above and below.
Sorry for posting all these slideshows—it’s only because I can’t always decide which one I like best, and if I wait I never get back to the group of photos. I just took photo after photo, manually adjusting the focus, trying to get Mr. Sunshine silhouetted against Giuseppe, catch their shadows on the top of the wardrobe, use that big rectangle of light as an object and flash out all the detail to simplify the whole composition: cats, a few shadows, lace curtain, light. Here’s a slideshow of all the photos from this little section of today’s photo shoot, just rough, no retouch or light adjustments or filters. It was so hard to choose, there were so many!
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