Monday, March 30, 2009

Cutest Thing Ever

Toby and Nik finally actively playing with each other. So darn cute.

I'm leaving the country for a week-ish on Wednesday and have been insane trying to get everything ready. Thankfully very kind neighbor has agreed to feed and play with the kitties while I'm gone so I'm less stressed.

Okay, back to cleaning so I'm not red faced when my neighbor sees my apartment...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Busy Week

I have my final project presentation tomorrow in my technical writing class (I made a guide to adopting an animal in the DC metro area--planning to figure out how best to translate it to the web, seriously so proud of the finished project, there are so many different shelter procedures that it took work to figure out the commonalities--duh, love of animals).

Then I need to give Nikolai a bath when I get home because Thursday is his first Meow Mixer! If you're in the DC area and want to meet Nikolai (and other awesome kitties who need a home) come to the Washington Humane Society on Georgia Ave at 7pm for Mexican appetizers (yay for donors!), information, and great cats.

I love these events and I'm even more excited now that Nik will be there. It'll be his first event since the one I signed him up for the other week got canceled due to weather :(

If you can't come to the Meow Mixer, send good prayers/vibes/wishes/etc that Nik and the other cats meet awesome families and have fun. I'm a little nervous for how Nik will do but his coat is looking a lot better than when I first got him (guess that salmon oil really does work) and he's so outgoing now that I'm certain it'll be a positive experience.

Wish him luck!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


By the way, my mom isn't just an awesome author, she also made the cute shirt in that photo.

I don't have the patience to sew like she does but I am good at patience with cats and dogs--maybe they come from the same place and she really is the source of my talent :)

Attempt at a photo shoot

After a bad shin splint forced me to cancel hitting Dupont with my friends, I was inspired by the photo of a lovely shelter dog (who has since been adopted) and me in my mom's article "Help Wanted: Dogs" (about working dogs) in the March/April issue of Yes Mag, the Science Magazine for Adventurous Minds (Canadian, hence the spelling). Unfortunately the results weren't what I was hoping for!

I was hoping for a really great recent photo of Toby and me to go in the sidebar. I got a photo where Toby looks cute but I'm far too vain regarding my own self to put it in the sidebar. It's at the top for those of you who want to see the reject photo. If I cropped it to just Toby's cute expression, it'd actually be pretty good (in my nonphotographer opinion).

I did get a photo where I'm holding Nikolai who cuddles much more than Toby. However, in the photo where I got the light correct, Nik ended up moving and looks a bit like a furry blur. He's a cute furry blur though, so I'm using that as my photo for now because, well, I am vain :)

I should have learned my lesson with the magazine photos. A professional photographer friend (who is also a vet tech and awesome with animals) and another shelter volunteer both helped me try to get a good photo with one of the shelter dogs. My mom was writing her article and the editor (who seems incredibly sweet and who my mom always loves to write for) had suggested a photo of her daughter with a shelter dog since my mom doesn't play with them herself (this has been explained elsewhere in this blog). I am in awe of animal photographers. We tried two different dogs both inside and outside. We ended up getting a cute photo of Nya and me where she's looking away but still adorable.

I've since learned that patience, treats, a friend, and lucky timing are the key to great human/animal photos. Animals on their own are always cute. It's just more difficult with a person involved!

We humans always mess up a good thing with our vanity.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lesson from Toby (and other animals)

I have scared Toby (on accident!) before and I have given him the indignity of a bath. I have caused Toby to be upset with me.

However, within ten minutes he's always back to being a happy loving kitty who wants me to know how much he loves me by purring as loudly as possible. Even when I brought him to the shelter to be microchipped and he was terrified of the noises and strange smells, he was back to his usual self shortly after we returned home.

Why do I mention this?

Because it's been on my mind from the moment I woke up and debated whether I could wear silver flats with chocolate pants.

I had a bad day yesterday and was nervous. I've known plenty of people who hold grudges and I get nervous when I think someone might hold a grudge against me--regardless of whether I think they deserve to be mad at me. However, I resolved to be cat-like, not catty today.

You know what, it worked. When I started to get irritated I just thought of how Toby always gets past it when I frighten him, how Nik who wasn't used to so much attention has recovered and doesn't hold a grudge against humanity, and how Brody (a badly abused pit) was always full of love toward people.

Now, this is not to say we can't psychologically scar animals and that they don't remember. Anyone who has seen a dog or cat scared of a certain type of person or even people in general, knows that something awful has happened. But for the most part--pets just get over it. You're nice to the puppy now, he'll wag his tail as though you never accidentally stepped on it because you were in a rush and not watching where you were going.

I'm trying to do this in my life and at least today it worked. I'll see if I can keep it up for the second part of Lent--approaching compassion by just getting over it like the cats and dogs I love can do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Think It's Progress...

Nikolai now can get to the top of the bed directly from the floor without using my ottoman as a stepping stool. He still scrambles a little and it's utterly adorable to watch. I ended up giving his butt a boost the first time because he looked like he was about to fall back to the floor tail first.

I think this is progress.

However, now Toby has to share the bed with another cat at night, which makes him look at Nikolai a little differently. I'm sure Toby will eventually get used to this--he accepted Bella sleeping next to me while he was at my feet--but right now it doesn't make him happy.

And it doesn't let me get a lot of sleep...

When I turned in Nik jumped up on the bed while Toby watched from the foot of the bed (and I supported Nik's bum). After a few sniffs, he jumped back down and headed for the shelf where he's been sleeping lately.

I woke up at 3am to a kitty altercation in the hallway where the one of the waterbowls is located. Also, where there may be some random kibble from when we play "chase the kibble!" as suggested by my vet (I throw the kibble, Toby races happily for it, eats it, and then looks at me for more to be thrown). When I got out of bed to check, Toby raced to the bed and leaped up with wide eyes and some mewing. Nik then trotted over to me and rubbed my ankles. I checked both for scratches and went back to sleep with Toby on the bed and Nik on the shelf.

At 6am I woke up to Nik jumping up on the bed and Toby scooting over to the side.

When I woke up again at 7:30, Toby was staring wide eyed from the radiator (4 feet away behind my desk) while Nik cuddled my feet and staring at Toby.

I'm okay with Nik being on the bed, but I don't want Toby feeling scared as a result. Now, I do understand that Toby is a bit of a scardey-cat and knows that he's smaller than Nik. I also am somewhat proud of Nik for no longer being scared of Toby and seeming to gain some self confidence.

Even more so my selfish side hopes that they figure out the bed thing so I can get some sleep tonight.

Every girl thinks she wants two males to fight over who gets to sleep with her, but really, only Angela of the Office wants it to be two cats.

Good thing they're so cute I can't stay mad at them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cats > Negative People

I got home today, my comparatively-short commute having been tripled in length by drivers doing apparently everything except driving, my headache seeming unlikely to improve given the blaring bass from my neighbor's apartment, and the frustration of a long day at the end of the long week making me extraordinarily cranky.

And Nikolai came up to me and mrowed? and headbutted my legs. And leaned into me. And showed me that I had been missed and was loved even though I wasn't perfect.

It helped. It helped a lot.

I made my dinner (sweet potato fries), discovered that my phone still wasn't working, and that the pattern of inconsiderate people was not abating.

And Nikolai began playing with his little bell bll and a stuffed mouse at the same time and I just had to laugh.

Inconsiderate and selfish people are totally trumped by this adorable kitty's antics and affection.

And lest you think Toby wasn't being cute--he meowed his demand for pets after Nikolai had gotten his. And is currently happily playing with his food ball (he has figured out that if he rolls it back and forth like a soccer player he still gets the food inside to fall out, but with far less effort than actually chasing it--not the intent, but it's still at least some activity, and it's darn cute to watch his determined little kitty face).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Training a Cat

Poor Nikolai has some scruffy patches in what will eventually be a beautiful, shiny black coat. Because of this, I'm hoping some special "tricks" will help him be more adoptable, plus give me a way to calm him at adoption events.

I started working with him today and found that he likes food but won't eat from my hand. However, thankfully, he will follow my hand with his eyes when I'm holding delectable chicken. Plus chicken will help his fur.

He seems to be getting it. I'm doing very short spurts, just two or three times so he doesn' t get bored. It took awhile the first time to get him to go from looking up to putting his bum on the ground. After that it seemed to come pretty easy for him. His "first response" (response to the first attempt in a new session) is getting faster each time though still not as good as his third response of a session, but I'm hopeful. He now knows the concept and we're just working on faster recall. I don't think he'll be a candidate for "high five" since it doesn't come natraully to him. Maybe "Lie Down" would work since he loves to do that...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What's New

Apologies for writing so sporadically lately. I've been working on a complete guide to adopting in the DC metro area which is keeping me rather busy.

Also, I've been learning about fostering and now I have a foster kitty! Two cats, one Beth, the inmates will be running the asylum. Right now there's just a lot of purring.

Nikolai was surrendered to Washington Humane Society when his owner got too ill to care for him. However, it was obvious he'd been neglected for a good while. He had been allowed to get so fat he could not groom himself. Instead of grooming him with a brush, his owner just let his hair mat. Matting forms dreadlocks, which while great for people, can pull apart the skin of an animal.

Poor Nikolai had to be partially shaved when he came into the shelter. He was confused and lonely. He still seemed sweet but totally lacking in confidence. He's now lost a lot of weight and can groom himself again but still could stand to lose more to keep his heart in good shape. At the moment he's exercising by winding around my feet and purring up a storm.

He yowled mightily in the car to show his unhappiness and this strange motion but as soon as I set him down and opened that crate he began to purr and show his loving nature. I'm quite smitten with this love bug and hope he finds a home soon

If you or anyone you know in the DC area wants a sweet black kitty, let me know! I'll try to get a picture of him up soon so you can see his smart eyes and adorable face. Once his fur evens out he'll be quite the looker.

I'll let you know how introductions go with Toby when they occur.