Trixie Gets Comfortable

Our tortoiseshell kitten Trixie sleeps on my lap

Our shy little Trixie is getting more and more comfortable with each passing day. This picture is from Thursday, two days after we adopted her. After playing a long game of string the tired kitten crawled into my lap, stretched out, and settled in for a nap. She’ll hide under the dresser behind her when she isn’t feeling so confident, such as after her first vet visit today, but for the most part she hangs out on the bed and plays or sleeps or snuggles. She’s starting to understand that this is her home, and so far, I’d say she likes it.

Four Hours

A close-up view of the head of an American bittern

In December 2013 I visited Ridgefield after a long absence and came across this bittern late in the day as the sun momentarily peaked through the clouds, giving me some beautifully soft light. It lasted but a moment and the bittern was moving as it hunted along the shoreline, so I was thankful I got a nice picture when it paused for a moment in the open in front of water that was reflecting a patch of blue sky.

The funny thing is, I came across this same bittern four hours earlier in a very similar spot and a very similar pose, but then it was completely overcast and raining, leaving some small drops on the bittern’s head. I like each picture for different reasons, but it clearly shows the impact of not just the different light but also the different reflections in the water, as in this picture all of the sky was gray.

A close-up view of the head of an American bittern

Say Hello to Trixie

Our kitten Trixie, a female tortoiseshell shorthaired cat

Our kitten has a name.

Tuesday night and throughout the day Wednesday, I made a list of every name I could think of for the newest member of our family, but none of the names felt right to both my wife and I. Thursday morning she sent me an email containing just one word: Trixie. It quickly became my frontrunner and within a couple of hours we both felt we had found her name.

She was thinking of girl detective Trixie Belden, but my first thought was of my favorite TV show from my childhood: Speed Racer. The adventures of young Speed, his girlfriend Trixie, his car the Mach 5, and the mysterious Racer X captured my imagination like nothing else until Star Wars (my wife nixed Leia early in the naming process). The revelation that Racer X, who was always looking out for Speed even at his own expense, was actually his older brother Rex was only eclipsed in my young life when the secret identity of Darth Vader was revealed.

I haven’t seen the show since those early days but from my memory not only was Trixie strong and independent, but the show to its credit didn’t diminish her as a woman for not being afraid to show that strength. I don’t know if I’m remembering her portrayal correctly but it’s why the name struck a chord with me. Our little Trixie was incredibly shy in her first day and mostly just wanted to hide under the dresser, but then rapidly started to conquer her fear and her playful, snuggly side emerged.

Trixie the young detective had blonde hair, while my hero Trixie was a brunette, so that too seems fitting given that our tortoiseshell kitten is a beautiful mix of both.

Welcome to our home, young Trixie, may you have a wonderful life.

Our Newest Family Member

Adopted

We haven’t settled on a name yet but I took a quick photo of our newest family member yesterday afternoon. I was helping out with some training for work not far from home, and had a break in the middle of the day, so I came home and kept her company. She’s still very nervous so I didn’t want to stress her with too many pictures, this is shortly before she cuddled up beside me and settled into a long nap.

We don’t know much about her history, she’s about four or five months old and was rescued in southeastern Oregon by Harney County Save a Stray before being transferred all the way to Portland. I don’t know if she was a stray or if she had a home but someone could no longer care for her. Her first medical record is from New Year’s Day, so if she was on the streets I’m very thankful someone took her in, there was a cold snap and that day Burns, Oregon had a high of 18° and a low of -6°.

We’re keeping her in isolation in the guest bedroom for at least a week, but we’ll give her as much time as she needs. Now, little one, we just need to settle on your name.

Adopted!

Jemma

Sam has been doing well for several days now so we decided to take a chance and adopt this shy little kitten from the Oregon Humane Society. She’ll be in isolation in the guest bedroom for at least a week. My wife will spend the night with her while I stay with Sam, Boo, and Ellie. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Sam especially to make sure he doesn’t regress.

We haven’t decided on a name for her just yet but I can’t wait to get to know her. My wife met her first when she got off work and she curled up in her lap so I left work a little early to make sure I could meet her before they closed. She cuddled up in my arms and put her head across my arm like she was about to fall asleep.

She’s hiding under the bed at the moment, we’ll give her the time she needs to adjust. She’s home now, she’ll understand that soon enough.

Finally Some Good News

Bunny Rabbit

After a trying week that followed several trying months, Sam has staged a turnaround. He’s responded well to the medicines he’s been taking (fluids, anti-nausea, appetite stimulant, and motility enhancer to speed the movement of fluid through his digestive system). We started him off on baby food, which he hadn’t eaten much of a couple of days earlier but now he was able to eat, and slowly eased him back to a more normal eating schedule and his regular food. Sam is back to eating his normal meals (just more slowly than before), his energy levels have improved dramatically, and his sweet demeanor seems to be returning to normal as well. Thankfully we didn’t have to resort to force feeding him with a syringe, but we would have had to if he hadn’t started eating on his own, there’s a serious liver condition cats can get if they go too long without getting enough calories.

Which is not to say he’s out of the woods, we don’t know yet if he’s actually getting better or if the medicines are treating his symptoms but the underlying disease is still present. I’m hopeful that he is actually getting better and this may have been a stress reaction after Emma’s death. In less than two years the poor little fellow went from being the youngest of three cats to the oldest of two. He loved having his big sisters look out for him and took a great deal of comfort from them. He wasn’t nearly as close to Emma as he was his best friend Scout, but they were friends and grew up together (we adopted them on the same day), so perhaps it all just overwhelmed him one day.

We have a follow-up phone call with the vet today so we’ll see if she wants to try taking him off the medications.

It’s the first time we’ve had to give him pills and while I didn’t expect it to be easy, I was caught off guard by how much it freaked him out. Granted he’s had a difficult week but he bit me hard in my hand, twice, and eventually it took my wife and I to get pills down his throat, one holding him tightly wrapped up in a blanket or towel while the other worked the pill shooter. My wife picked up some Pill Pockets to try, little pockets of food you can put the pills in, and I was shocked that he ate them right away. I was surprised because none of our previous cats would touch them but as long as he’s eating, he went from being by far the hardest cat we’ve ever had to give medicine to, to the easiest.

It was hard to reconcile when I gave him his pill at midnight last night, that twenty-four hours earlier I was standing in that exact spot, bleeding and in pain, and Sam was as freaked out as I’ve ever seen him, and now he not only took his pill with no effort, but seemed thankful for the extra treat. They may not have worked with our other cats, but you’ll forgive me if at the moment those little pill pockets seem like humanity’s greatest invention.

I took this picture of him last summer, normally he likes to curl up on my wife or I but perhaps because of the heat in our non-airconditioned house he curled up beside me. This pose, one of my favorites of his, I call the bunny rabbit.

Not Bad News

Our cat Sam curls up on the love seat in my office with an array of water bottles behind him on Halloween in October 2014

After not eating or drinking much yesterday, Sam spent the day at the emergency vet getting an ultrasound and some medications. The news from the ultrasound isn’t so much good news as it isn’t bad news. There’s no blockage in his intestines so he won’t need a risky surgery, which we’re thankful for. Based on the amount of food in his stomach and intestines, given that he hadn’t eaten since the previous evening, they think the food may be moving too slowly through his digestive tract. We’re trying some medicines to see if they help, and although we haven’t seen any improvement yet, he’s still a little agitated from the day. We’ll see how he does tomorrow, we have an appointment with our regular vet in the afternoon.

They mentioned that the appetite stimulant they gave him can cause excitability, and given the howling and cage rattling I heard from the cat carrier behind my seat as I drove home, I thought for a moment I had our beloved Templeton back there. Sam reminds me of Templeton too when he steals my spot. If he’s been curled up in my lap and I get up, he can’t resist moving over to my thoughtfully pre-warmed seat. Unlike Templeton, though, he doesn’t try to trick me into giving him the spot, he only takes it when the opportunity presents itself.

Something Is Wrong with Sam

Our cat Sam looks at me as he sits in the window nook of the kitchen of our house on Halloween in Octobe 2014

While he devoured his breakfast like normal yesterday morning, last night Sam wouldn’t eat his dinner. After what we just went through with Emma and given how lethargic he was, we decided to take him to DoveLewis, an emergency vet here in Portland. They ran extensive blood work (which all looked fine) and x-rays (which weren’t alarming but also not conclusive), so I’ve stayed home with him today to monitor him. If he doesn’t improve he will spend the night at DoveLewis getting fluids and an ultrasound tomorrow.

Boo vs. Emma

I thought that when we adopted our dog Ellie in 2009 it would be our most difficult introduction, as our three cats were not used to dogs, but it turned out to be our easiest. Our toughest would be in July of 2013 when we adopted a shy little kitten we named Boo. When we met he was so terrified he literally shook so we took his introduction to the other pets even slower than normal, keeping him isolated for a couple of weeks, then slowly allowing him more and more time in the house at large.

With the slow introduction Boo gained confidence each day, which was fortunate, as we fell in love with the little black-and-white cat rather quickly. But one hurdle remained: Emma.

The Watcher

I spent most of that first month with Emma while my wife was with Boo, as Em was not happy with the arrival of the little fellow. Em had become my little buddy after Scout died early in the year and that bond helped when we started giving Boo short stints in the house at large. She’d follow him around everywhere he went, staring him down, and hissing if he got too close. You can see her in the background of the picture above, watching Boo from the base of the cat tree, while he plays with one of her beloved strings.

Boo vs. Emma

We’d let Boo out until you could see on his face that he was getting a little overwhelmed, and then we’d take him back into his secluded room where he felt safe and then Emma (and to a lesser extent Sam) could feel comfortable in their space too. A few days later and she was still staring him down, while he was mostly trying to avoid eye contact, but desperate too to fit in. When it was time for Boo to go back to his room, I’d shower Emma with as much attention as she could tolerate, and she relaxed a bit more each day.

Our cat Boo looks at me as he sleeps on our cat Emma, one of the first times she allowed the young kitten to do so

A few days after the above staredown Boo and Emma were sleeping on my couch when Boo came in and nestled in between them, and I was delighted to see Emma not get up. By the end of August, a few weeks after Boo was given full run of the house, I came into my office and saw Boo using Emma as a pillow. She had long let Sam do this but it was a first for the brave little Boo (I apologize for cutting off her foot at the edge of the frame, but I was shooting quickly while trying not to wake her).

Our cat Boo sleeps with his faced pressed into the stomach of our cat Emma as they sleep beside me on the love seat

But my favorite moment of their introduction was in October when Emma had been sleeping beside my legs as she so often did. Boo came in and at first just curled up beside her, then he got a little more bold and put his head on her. But I was startled when he suddenly put his arms around her and just buried his head in her stomach. This woke her up and I was sure she was going to get up and go into the other room, but instead she stretched her arms down his back and cradled him. He turned his head for a little air and she spooned him and they fell asleep together.

That was our Em.

A closer view as our cat Boo sleeps with his faced pressed into the stomach of our cat Emma as they sleep beside me on the love seat

Emma’s Third & Final Home

Our black cat Emma relaxes on the bed

We adopted Sam and Emma shortly before Christmas in 2007, two weeks after our cat Templeton died. We were her third home, her previous family had adopted her as a kitten but a year later felt they had too many cats and had been unable to find a home for her. I took this picture of Emma two days later on Christmas Eve after she joined Sam in quarantine in our guest bedroom. Initially we kept them in separate rooms until their health tests came back, but Emma was pretty miserable in isolation and it was a relief when she could join her new little brother and they could keep each other company while still being kept separate from our cat Scout.

With Templeton and Scout, my heart was open to loving a new cat before it was finished breaking for the departed one, and so it is with Emma. We went to the Oregon Humane Society this morning to look at some of the younger cats, as Boo could use a playmate. The young kittens got adopted right before we got there but we had a chance to meet a sweet young cat that we are considering, though we have some concerns she might be a bit too shy. An outgoing young cat came up for adoption after we were there that we will meet in the morning, but perhaps she will be too much for Boo (and especially Sam).

It’s so hard to know. After all Boo was a terrified little thing who shook like a leaf when we met him, yet you’d never know it now by watching the confident little fellow who is taking over the household, despite being the youngest by far.

There’s no rush. Whoever we adopt will come to a good home, we just hope it’s the right one.