Basil is feeling much better this week. He does have asthma, but also tested positive for toxoplasmosis, and that might have been the reason for him collapsing in the kitchen Sunday a week ago. He didn’t respond as expected to the steroid for his asthma, so has an antibiotic too. He’s more his active and vocal self, and no more trauma behavior. And he can fold himself in half on his back for a bellyrub.
Aside from some common gastrointestinal symptoms, toxoplasmosis can also have serious neurological symptoms. Where he picked it up is anyone’s guess—nearly all the cats who’ve ever been in my house have been rescues and many in difficult health, Mariposa came from a filthy abandoned house where we suspected panleukopenia or distemper and possibly other diseases lived in the environment.
And then we’ve had that population of volunteer martyr mice who have run into the basement since I’ve lived here, which I’ve often joked about, saying running into the basement was a dare, it was a hazing ritual, it was a sacrifice. With all the cats, these mice have to be aware of the heavy cat presence. Many animals and even humans can contract toxoplasmosis, but toxoplasmosis has an interesting effect on mice. Mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii lose their fear of cats for up to four months after infection. The disease can only reproduce and continue its cycle of infection in the intestinal tract of species of felines, including domestic cats. So I’ve likely had toxoplasmosis in my household population since I’ve lived here. In 1995, the year before Kublai died, my veterinarian suspected he had toxoplasmosis, though his test was negative, after testing for every other possible infectious agent and treating for others to eliminate all the possibilities, because that’s what it looked like. I moved here in 1990, and it’s entirely possible that was the case. And it may be that Basil’s asthma impedes his immunity just enough that he developed a serious infection. That he reacted well to the antibiotic specific for toxo within a day is also an indicator. You can read more about toxoplasmosis here
I’m just glad he’s on the mend. A quiet, tired and frightened Basil is a very sad sight for a cat who’s often bouncing off the walls, telling stories and is wildly affectionate. And I couldn’t give him belly rubs, which he adores. I remember my first night back after my hip replacement last October. My cats were all around me when I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt a cat next to each hip and reached down to pet them. the one on my right immediately rolled over on his back and stretched so I could rub his belly. That was Basil. Hamlet will do that too, and he was on my left side. I often wonder if he imitates Basil.
Thanks to everyone for your purrs!
Turn on the furnace! Yes, it was unexpectedly cold Sunday night–43! I was nice and cozy because all the kitties piled on me. We’ll see if we can get any heat out of the furnace before it gives out entirely.
And photos from the back yard and beyond
A timely essay
I can’t ignore current events. I have a lot of freedom, freedom that we all deserve, because of my race. When I’m out trapping feral cats and poking around in an alley and looking into back yards at night with a flashlight, when the police are called they always accept my explanation that I’m trapping cats, and there are no threats, no arrest just to check on me, no harassment. And when I decide to walk down the middle of a street looking up at the sky to watch the hawk, or walk along the trail through the woods singing at the top of my voice, or act otherwise erratic—or, as they say it when you’re white, eccentric—no one calls the police on me. I have this freedom that everyone should have, to be whoever we are and be given the benefit of the doubt when we explain what we’re doing.
Normally my feed is full of all the beautiful and inspiring things I find each day. I truly believe that looking at beautiful things fills our hearts with positive emotions and that gives us a more positive outlook on each day. I love sharing what I’ve found and hope to help build a loving and peaceful community with my inspirations.
But that doesn’t mean I only see the beauty. I have always been aware of the racism in our country. There has never been a time in this country when we had anything approaching racial equality. I am shocked as now with social media we get to see how bad it really is. .
I decided to write down my thoughts. Please visit my writing website, Paths I Have Walked.
From around this date in past years
What Mariposa Thinks, 2019
I know I’m pretty! I know I have big white mittens! Tell me something I don’t know!
That’s impossible, because cats know everything.
Photos from years past.
A Tiny Visitor, 2017
In my back yard, by the picnic table where Mimi and I have lunch, on my way to the compost bin. Mimi and Mewsette were safely on the basement patio, I saw the little one on the way back to the girls. Guess I’ll have to hold the compostables and we’ll have to stay on the deck for now.
Does place their fawns in a safe place in the morning and often don’t come back all day while they browse, often far enough from the fawn that predators will follow her and not find her fawn carefully camouflaged in dappled sunlight. Fawns have no scent and are actually fairly safe this way. It’s best to keep yourself away from the fawn as well because wild animal mothers can be fierce and white-tailed deer are no exception.
I had the feeling there was a fawn around somewhere; I just kept thinking of a fawn hidden in the grass and taller native plants and thinking one could easily hide in the naturalized section of my back yard, and there it was, but so well hidden that I didn’t see it on my way to the compost, only out of the corner of my eye on the way back. I had my camera with me and paused to take a few photos, then left the area and took the girls inside soon after, though the area where they were was a good distance from the fawn. Dusk was coming and the doe would soon be back.
This fawn’s mother would be the doe who asked for more basil on Sunday.
Girls Want Out, 2017
We’ve passed a number of cool, cloudy, rainy days and warm sun fills the basement doorway. All Mewsette and Mimi want is OUT. I’ve been curtailing our out time for my own selfish purposes, or so they think, but I wasn’t going to get away with it today. Still, it was much later in the day when I saw the fawn that we actually did get to go outside for any length of time. I have photos from that event, but this morning was wonderful, and rich in memories of many other cats who spent time at the basement door.
Hamlet joined us. He is friendly nearly all the time now and loves when I scratch my fingers into that deep ruff he has grown, purring, blinking, kneading with both paws. I finally got a good photo of this.
Then in two different views we watched the girls at the door. I love the silhouette of Hamlet’s furs.
And he watches them for instruction.
It’s interesting to compare Hamlet’s fur from last year and this in the photos below. Some long-haired cats take two years to develop their full coat, and he certainly bulked it out.
What other photos have I shared around this date?
Who’s in That Basket Today? It’s Hamlet! 2016
Hamlet and Ophelia have been making amazing progress over the past few weeks. They are out in the house between breakfast and dinner, and along with some vigorous play in my bedroom and studio they visit downstairs and explore and have found some comfortable spots. And, as you can see, Hamlet discovered the yellow basket. And they have also discovered the grapes box, and other special spots where they look absolutely adorable. I have found stern and serious Hamlet to be a total goof, really playful and curious, and Ophelia silly and quite talkative. All the photos in this post are from the past week.
They’ve been with me since mid-September 2015, which is quite some time for them to be in socialization with me and all the other cats. Initially they barely made eye contact and kept plenty of distance between me and them, and most often I’d find Hamlet in the cubby beside the tub and Ophelia behind the toilet. I could handle Ophelia when she was ill in September, but when she felt better that was reduced to petting, now and then. Until recently, the sound of the shower or bathwater sent them into hiding too.
By the holidays and the time I was preparing to take Simon and Theo to Savannah, I could pet Ophelia and she would approach me and ask for affection, purred nicely, meowed now and then and was very playful, but one wrong move and she was back behind the toilet. Hamlet continued to eye me from the tub but at the same time was very playful with toys dragged along the floor and through the air and both seemed to completely forget I was the devil. Neither was ever hostile in any way. I did not push Hamlet’s boundaries to find out if he would be hostile, but instead I noticed he was making eye contact and sometimes gave me a few eye blinks.
Still, by the time I was back from Savannah it had been four months that they’d been stuck in the bathroom. I usually don’t like to release cats in socialization from their foster room until we have a trusted physical and emotional bond; I may not be able to touch or pet them, but they will come to me or at least respond when I indicated it was dinner. Four months was long enough and it seemed their socialization might benefit from a change of scenery and getting to know more of the house and household, and even though I could not touch either of them when outside the bathroom I hoped we could be better friends when they had a little more freedom and could see what they could only hear and smell beyond the door.
Also, I had run out of my flower essences, Feral Flower Formula and Trauma Free from Spirit Essences that worked so well with Bert and Ernie and Alvina, Simon and Theodore and decided to reinvest in them for Hamlet and Ophelia. They responded positively and I could actually pet them both liberally inside the room, though I had to let Hamlet run away from me a few times and then he stood and waved his tail while I massaged his face and stroked his back. From that time until just recently, Hamlet was terrified of my camera, and the way I would “stare” at him with it and track his movements. I stopped photographing them as often, and my phone photos aren’t the best, but all I would typically catch is a blur anyway.
Well, introducing them to the upstairs happened several times in several ways. A slow introduction is like this: I block off the landing with cardboard and open the bathroom door for them to look out for a few minutes for a day or two, then finally they get to go out and smell things. Once they seem comfortable with that I move the cardboard a step each day into my bedroom and then let them have the whole room, then do the same with my studio. It’s understandable if they hide or seem a little scared when they explore, but extended hiding and obvious fear is traumatic. Both of them ended up under the bed after about a half hour, and then after a quick look out the window went straight under the bed and stayed there. Hamlet was a little bolder, but Ophelia was wide-eyed and frightened. I had to block the steps and the studio to shoo them into the bathroom. They regressed in their reaction to me too.
That would last a week, to the point where they would practically run right under the bed, and then I would keep them back in the bathroom for a few days to a week. Because Ophelia was friendlier I tried letting her out alone to see if I could bond with her better away from her reluctant brother. If I had been able to separate them completely for a few days it may have worked better. She was only more frightened when she was alone. Then I tried Hamlet on his own. He did well, but wanted no parts of me.
So I kept them in for a week or more, spent a lot of time with them, lots of essences, treats, and play, until Hamlet started rattling the door and let me know he was ready to give it another try. Around the end of March I gave step-by-step integration another try and they both did very well with the upstairs, and we kept it at that for a couple of weeks. I started out with the upstairs blocked and lured my cats downstairs when I was to let them out, but eventually I let them stay upstairs and everyone got to know each other. I worked in my studio as much as possible so I could play with them and interact with them even more.
Then my cats discovered how to push my cardboard around and Hamlet and Ophelia were regularly appearing downstairs, but would run back upstairs when they saw me at my desk. I decided it was time to add the first floor to their repertoire and blocked the basement door, but only let them explore for a short time each day, confining them to the upstairs again. Hamlet was reasonable with exploring a little bit, then running back upstairs, a little farther the next time. Ophelia was frightened again, but found her way around, though she was terrified of me when she was out of the room. I still had to shoo both of them into the bathroom, and nothing would help me lure them toward me, not even food.
Then after a couple of weeks it seemed appropriate for the basement to be available. This worked well for Hamlet who did the same quick explorations as he had with the first floor, but Ophelia was really traumatized by all the extra space (in this little house). After a couple of days of quick explorations she would disappear and I would find her crouched under one of the tables down there, and I would have to wave her out of her crouch so that she would move out from under the table and then run upstairs. When I would let them out, she would run straight down to the basement and hide, much as she had done with hiding under the bed.
I again confined them upstairs for a few days, then once again let them both downstairs but played with Ophelia for ten or fifteen minutes after I had let them out. She did end up in the basement a few times, but then decided to spend all her time upstairs, but seemed happy and confident, and finally I could approach her, most of the time, and pet her, and she would run into the bathroom when I stood in there and called her.
Hamlet continued coming downstairs for quick explorations and discovered more catnip toys, other toys, the windows, the kitchen, the basement door, at first staying on the floor but finally getting up onto my desk and tables, the cabinet and table in the kitchen, I just found him everywhere. Last week they both began coming downstairs together and settling by the big window. Each day they are more comfortable and spend more time down here, then go back up and play upstairs, usually staying together. I can pet them all the time in the bathroom, and Hamlet comes over to me and gracefully walks in circles and figure 8s to get his pets. Ophelia talks to me all the time and waves her plumy tail happily when she greets me.
At the rate we are moving now I don’t think we’ll regress at all. Hamlet has lost the startled, distrustful look in his eyes. He is absolutely silent, but Ophelia communicates with me all the time, and today I heard meowing from upstairs that I didn’t recognize, and it turned out to be her walking around and talking. I think we’ll just keep moving forward, and I hope they are as relaxed when they meet other people. Adopters are interested in both of them, but when they kept regressing I had asked for them to be taken down from our Petfinder page because I had no idea when or if they would be socialized enough to go off to be adopted. In a few weeks and meeting a few other people I think I’ll feel confident about their socialization.
In the meantime, it’s fun to watch them explore.
And a few more photos, just for fun!
I ran some errands and came back to it later.
“A friend gave me this tee about 25 years ago. Sometimes when I go to clean up at the bathroom sink I look at myself in the mirror and see that I’ve been literally immersing myself in my work. Mimi insisted upon adding a little fur to it too. “
Finally, getting to the fun part.
“Sewing buttons on each bag while Mimi gives herself a luxury bath on the rest of the bag and she will.not.be.moved. I’m honored she wants to be close to me, I guess.”
I enjoyed all the moral support, and I did manage to get everything ready!
What was I working on in some of these photos? See below!
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Other Photos Posted On or Around This Date…
Must be good days for working in the studio.
Warm and Cool, 2016
So how many colors are in a black cat? I see many colors in Giuseppe, especially the warm sunlight flowing in the window and the cool blue light reflected from the sky right next to it, along with all his wonderful mahogany and burgundy and even green and purple tones in his fur. Black, like white, contains many colors. But I don’t think Giuseppe cares at all about what colors are in his fur. I think he’s thinking about Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite on the beginning of this Memorial Day weekend.
Not at all like Mewsette, below, from 2014.
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Other Photos Posted On or Around This Date…
Wordless Wednesday: Surprise, 2014
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Studio Cats, 2012
Sorry to bore you, Jelly Bean, as I earn your daily bread!
Mimi sits over on the windowsill looking dazed and confused.
Am I the only one around here having a productive day?
But then, what is a productive day for a cat?
Actually, both of them are miffed at me because I wouldn’t let them on my work table. Sorry, black cats, other people don’t find your fur charming when it’s framed into their pictures. You only want to be on the table when I’m using it, otherwise you have no interest.
You know I eventually lost this argument, as you can see below when Mr. Sunshine took over my framing tools.
My mom thinks I’m helping her work, but I’m actually doing a lot of the work myself. Look how well I’m handling both the spool of that really fun plastic-coated wire—and you know how I love my plastic—at the same time as I am tasting one of those long metal things. I can do this! Just lay everything out in front of me and I’ll take care of things.
Everything must be tasted; mom laughs and says I relate the the world by chewing on it. I don’t know what that means because how else could I determine anything about an object I’ve never seen? Or one I have seen but haven’t seen in a while? Or one I see all the time but just feel like I have to bite it?
I even let mom use my tools as long as I’m not using them already.
Here I am when the work is all done. I’m very proud of my work.
Feline logic, it just can’t be argued with.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Basil must have thought the yellow basket was a gift for him because he owned it from the day it came into the house, which was the day I was running errands and saw it…atop someone’s trash pile. I sprayed it down and rinsed it in the basement and let it air dry, then brought it up to the magic basket spot, and Basil was immediately IN THE BASKET, looking totally cute, big, long, white whisker and all. Read more and purchase.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!