Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Lonely Home

My apartment didn't feel right. After 16 plus years of having cats running around me, sleeping with me, hamming it up, and causing general mayhem. It was weird living completely alone without furry companionship.

It was weird not having a cat loudly demanding breakfast at 4am. It was strange not having to change the litter box anymore. It was weird seeing unopened cans of cat food on the shelf and no one to feed them to. It was strange looking at the kitty kibble bags next the cans. The cat food dishes sat lonely and unused on the kitchen floor. I couldn't bring myself to wash them and put them away. It was like time stood still.

It also utterly freaked me out when I went to the supermarket and automatically went to the cat food aisle, to pick up food and litter for cats who were no longer alive. That's how deeply ingrained it has been for me to live with cats.

So, it was serendipitous that rescue shop named "Social Tees"  opened near my job a few weeks later. They specialize in rescuing both cats and dogs from New York City's high kill shelters, vacinating, spaying, and micro-chipping them, then offering them for sale for a moderate fee.

After a mental and emotional tug of war with myself, I made the decision to stop by and see if they had a cat or cats for me to adopt. It was just a matter of coordinating my crazy nocturnal schedual and my days off with the shop's hours.

Please check out Social Tees  page on Facebook

Dawn Skyy

Ode to Biscuit & Spiral

You can say "Aw, Dawn, they were just cats."  But Biscuit and Spiral, were family to me, even though they were just cats. Spiral and his brother Biscuit were my feline companions for the past sixteen or more years. Through thick and thin with my Mom as she suffered numerous nervous breakdowns and hospitalizations and finally when she was committed to a nursing home.

Biscuit and Spiral kept me company while I dealt with living alone. Truly on my own after living with and caring for my sick Mom for forty five years. I suffered post tramatic stress syndrome and had my own nervous breakdown. They were there to keep me company, provide laughs and memorable moments of joy. My shrink and therapists encourage people in my condition to have a pet. To have someone to care for so one doesn't wallow in self pity and deoression.They were overjoyed that I had two cats, and for so long. According to them, most cats were not that long lived.

Yes, Biscuit and Spiral were both blessed and blessed me with their presence until Mom passed away on August 4, 2010.  Biscuit was very close to Mom was tremendously affected by her death. Even though my Mom died miles away, Biscuit who was living with me in was traumatized by her death. They say cats are psychic. I say God blessed them with super sensitivity to their human companions.

From that day forward Biscuit gave up on life. He acted normally but he started refusing food. To me he looked like he was bring super picky. It seemed like he hated everything I bought for him to eat. I'd put the food into the dish, he would take a mouthful or two then dash off. Spiral would come in and clean up. I comforted myself that he was eating later when I was asleep or at work because the dish was empty later when I checked.

However that was not the case. Biscuit was clearly not eating and by October 2012 he had nearly become a bag of bones. Amazingly he was still a happy cat, running around, playing, butting me with his head, but I knew he was on his last paws. Had I the money to whisk him to the vet, they would've put him down.

The day before Hurricane Sandy rolled in (and I as a "Zone A" resident was forced to evacuate) Biscuit died from a stroke like attack. This left Spiral on his own for the first time in sixteen years. The result was he attached himself to me like a leech. He'd started jumping into bed and sleeping on me. Yes, he literally slept on me! He would stretch out on me like a babe and we would both visit the Land of Nod together. I honestly don't believe he slept a wink whike I was not home.

In comparison to Biscuit,  Spiral was a quiet cat. He prefered to let Biscuit do all of the talking or meowing. However, with he extroverted friend gone Spiral became much more vocal. Crying at the door while I waited at the elevator to go to work,  church, run,  etc.  While at home he would meow, grunt,  mutter, whir at me. The funny thing is,  I understood what he was saying. I had officially become a Cat Whisperer.

However,  I failed to notice the warning signs that Spiral like Biscuit was also refusing to eat. He was being ultra picky and not happy with anything I fed him.  He did however developed a habit of begging from me as I ate my food, and I found out his two favorites were yogart and spaghetti. Yes, Spiral ate spaghetti! And the yogart? He simply stuck his head into the yogart cup and lapped up the dregs.

Spirals last day came quite suddenly. He was hanging out with me on my bed and started gagging. I hurriedly put him on the floor and he coughed up a giant clot of blood. Both Spiral and I looked at each other and we automactically knew like Biscuit, he was a goner. I spent the next 48 hours close to Spiral making him as comfortable as possible. 

At 0430 am on 3/21/2013 I broke down and cried my eyes and heart out. Spirials voice rose as he howled along with me.  Who says cats are insensitive beasts? This was proof positive to me that they are not.

Approximately two hours later, four months after Biscuits death,  Spiral was gone. I will sorely miss both. Thank you Lord, for blessing me with their presence for all of those years.

As Ecclesiastes 3 says:  "To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the sun. A time to be born and a time to die....."

Dawn Skyy

Fur Faced Lightheadedness

Have you ever had cats as co-authors? I know what you are thinking, and it's about collaboration or writing. Nope, it's nothing like that.  

I just want to honorably mention my two (one time) ever present writing companions who are my cats, Biscuit and Spiral.  If I sat at my computer (“Big Bertha” - which was  situated in my living room) for any amount of time, they will most certainly pay me a visit to provide either inspiration or torment. Mostly torment.

How can an innocent, fluffy, furry, beastie be a torment? When I  attempted to concentrate on a particular story, paragraph or phase, Spiral will do what I called the “runway walk”. This is where he would walk between my feet while rubbing his body along my legs. This ends with his tail wrapped around my left or right calf. Spiral would do this repeatedly until he got my attention.

If no attention was given, Spiral would resort to the next area of torment. He'd kiss my toes with that cold nose of his. If I happened to be sitting at Big Bertha barefooted, my first reaction was to nearly jettison off my chair! I loved him dearly, but I'd give him a scolding. "I need to have my upmost concentration whilest I write, don't you understand, Kitten?"   His reaction was to dash away.

Two minutes later, he was back only this time he'd rub his face on my feet and when I ddidn't pay attention, he'd lay his entire heavy body across my feet. That, I actually loved. I'd often play footsie with him until he started to bite my toes.  "Spiral, now you've got to go!" I'd yell and off he dashed again.

Finally I'd have a moment of peace to write, and you know how you feel someone staring at you? I'f look down to my right or left and there Spiral sat with the most pitiable expression on his little furry face! Awww! I can't help but give him a pat or two or scratch. Then its back to the writing.

This time he pulls out the heavy artillery! The next thing I know, I felt CLAWS on my leg! It's like: HELLO! I'M HERE! NOTICE ME! PET AND STROKE ME NOT TYPE ON THE COMPUTER! More yelling and he scurries off to disappear to take a nap. 

However, he would return with his comrade in arms, Biscuit as backup to “double team” me! One distracted me while the other moved in for the kill. Someone was gonna get attention today, and it was not my writing!

With all of this going on, it's a wonder I was able to get anything done. But, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Cuz I loved my kitties!

Dawn Skyy

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Even though I had two wonderful cats all was not sweetness and light in our household. I made mention of my Mom in a past post. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia as diagnosed by her psychiatrist(s).

Unfortunately for people who suffer such devastating mental/psychological illnesses there is often a revolving door of repeated hospitalizations, especially if there is poor medication maintenance. With my Mom this was the case because she always either refused to take her meds, or hid and threw it away.

As I'd also previously mentioned before, cats are extremely sensitive creatures. Both Biscut and Spiral were well aware of her sickeness and kept her company. Mom loved both cats but doted on Biscuit because he was the quieter of the two.

However, Spiral managed to wiggle his way into my Mom's heart even though she thought he was too rambunctious. In her opinion, cats were supposed to be nice, quiet creatures. So Spiral was an anomaly.

Because both cats loved my Mom, they stuck by and watched her like a hawk. My mom went through phases where she didn't take her meds and decompensated (mental state deteriorated to the point where she had to be hospitalized). Both cats were excellent predictors of when she was about to "have a break" or "flip". I usually knew this when I noted Biscuit and Spiral constantly stayed in my company, or ran and hid from her.

There were also times when I would come home dead tired from work, and fall asleep. I'd be awakened a few hours later to Biscuit's yeowling. I'd investigate and find my mom had fallen either in the tub or in her bedroom floor. On several occasions (especially during her later years) I was left with no choice but to call an ambulance and have her hospitalized.

This cycle continued for approximately 10 years until I had to make the ultimate decision to place my Mom in a nursing home. Biscuit and Spiral remained faithful to the end.

I was relived that Mom was finally in a place where would she would be properly cared for, but I missed her too. But, I had no clue that Biscuit and Spiral would miss her so. Biscuit ran around for weeks looking for her and crying. Spiral was just content at giving me questioning looks. These actions lessened as the months and years passed.  I thought they had forgotten her. Little did I know....

On August 10, 2010, my Mom passed away. Though I live in Manhattan and she had been living in a nursing home in Brooklyn, Biscuit knew she had died and went into an immediate funk. Refusing to eat and moping about the house.  Spiral pulled him out of it, but my poor Biscuit-kit was never the same.

Dawn Skyy

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Cat Named Spiral

My newest addition to our family fit right in with the help of Biscuit. He officially took over the job of showing him the ropes. Biscuit showed him where to get food and water and where to do his poos and wees. Where to get the best scratches, the best cuddles and whose bed to sneak into at night. Since he was an official member of the family the kit needed a name.

So I looked at him to get some kind of clue and the name Spiral popped into my head. Why? Because the tabby like markings on his tail resembled rings.

Like Biscuit, Spiral had his own set of endearing qualities. First, he must have been around a dog because he would sit up on his hind legs and beg like one. Yep, with two front paws held up and pleading eyes to boot. I'm so sorry I don't have photos of that. Back then digital cameras were not on the scene yet, so my pictures were 35mm.

Spiral also wagged his tail when he was happy. Not like a dog, but his tail would stand straight up and quiver.  Also, instead of meowing like a normal cat, Spiral would squeak. One had to really pay attention to hear him, whereas Biscuit was the loudmouth of the family.

Biscuit took personal charge of raising Spiral. He tried to keep the little guy out of trouble but sometimes Spiral was too much for him to handle. Spiral loved to climb the curtains and perch himself on top of the curtain rod. Most times he couldn't get down, so Biscuit would run and get me and lead me back to where his charge was. I would take him down and scold him. That usually worked for about two hours and he was back on the same curtain rod again.

One of the most heart rending times was when I took Spiral to be spayed. He had to stay overnight and poor Biscuit was besides himself with worry. I'd made doubly sure when I packed Spiral in his carrier, that Biscuit was not around to see. But you know that cats are extremely sensitive to vibes, and Biscuit knew something was up when his new buddy suddenly disappeared.

Biscuit drove both Mom and I nuts plaintively crying all night and didn't let up until Spiral got back home the next day. Of course, Biscuit had to give Spiral a thorough inspection after I released him from the carrier. After the inspection Biscuit looked like he told Spiral "I see you got one of those operations too, eh? But, its all good because we have each other."

While Biscuit grew into a small fine boned cat,  Spiral grew into a monster twice his size and weight. Even though Spiral was larger he never bullied Biscuit. When he did try, Biscuit gave him a couple of well placed whacks and that ended that.

As they grew older together I noticed a pecking order had been established between them. I fed both cats from one bowl. Both would come to eat at the same time but Spiral would calmly curl up and wait until Biscuit ate his share, then eat after he was finished.

Somewhere along the way they both decided it was preferable to lick drips from the tub faucet than drink from a bowl. So, I used their second bowl which had been earmarked for water, for dry food and left the tub to drip for them.

So far it was a match made in heaven.

Dawn Skyy

Thursday, July 25, 2013

All Good Things Come to Those Who Don't Wanna be Bothered

It had to be about two weeks later when a little give or take, Cara called me all excited. Apparently one of the deacons had found another kitten at the church. Our church has a day school and he went in to open the building and while he was doing that, this little kitten comes running up to him. At a loss for what to do he gave the kit to Cara.

She kept talking the kit up. How cute he was, how sweet he was, how much fun he was. Yada, Yada, Yada.  I was tired and cross and privetely wondered why she didn't keep him. The answer was simple, Moses didn't like him. If I didn't come by to take the little guy Cara would be forced to take him to the pound. Sigh, I wasn't. Exactly feeling this.....

So I agreed to come by her house on Saturday morning after Bible class. After Bible class Cara litteraly dragged me home with her to meet the kitten.

He was cute as a button. A combination of white and tiger stripe. He couldn't be much older than three months old and he was leading Moses on a merry chase all over Cara's apartment
"Oh that's cute they're playing."  said I.

"No they're not. He's running for his life because Moses is trying to kill him." Cara replied. That sealed the deal for me!

Now the next problem was how was I going to get him home? Neither Cara or I had a carrier handy. All I had was a giant tote bag I schlepped my stuff around in. So Cara gave me a shopping bag, and I dumped all of my belongings into that and stuffed the little guy into my now empty tote bag. I hugged and kissed Cara and made my way home via bus and train.  All the while worrying about the kit, was be going to jump out of my bag? Will Biscuit do the same thing that Moses did?

On the train the kit pushed his way out but not to jump. He just wanted me to cuddle him. I distinctly recall passengers smiling at us because he was so well behaved on the subway. I was surprised too.

The real test was when I got home. Before I even got in the door Biscuit was there! It was as if he knew I'd brought home a friend for him. When I put the kit down they immediately started playing! I'd never seen the likes of this in my entire life!

Both my Mom and her home attendant were equally astonished. They probably spent the evening playing because they were both curled up together and sleeping when I left for work that night.

Biscuit stopped crying at the door from that day forth.....

Dawn Skyy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Temporary Solution

Let me tell you about Moses. No, not Biblical Moses.  Moses the cat. How did he get such a name in the first place? 

Lets begin with my church. It is a large flatroofed building with a large air conditioning unit on the roof which has its own house. One day back in 1995 a mommy cat found her way up on the roof of our church and had kittens in there. When she was well enough to move, she moved all of her kittens except Moses. I believe he was too big to get out by mommy cat so since she couldn't get him out,  she abandoned him.

The poor little kit was probably scared, cold and hungry so he started crying. That constant crying coming from the church's roof prompted several of the deacons go up onthe roof to find out what all the ruckus was about. There they found Moses and brought him down. He was given to one of the female members of our church named Cara. Cara adored cats and took the tiny kitten home to mother. Since he had been "cast upon the waters", Cara named him Moses.

She took Moses home and fed him from a bottle until he was ready to eat solid food. Since Cara was really into healthy eating, she insisted Moses eat the same way. So, he only ate organic cat food or she bought organic beef and cooked her own brand of Kitty Stew for him. I should eat so good......

He thrived and grew into a handsome Tuxedo cat. Meaning his black and white markings made him look like he was always wearing a tux, like a liveried butler.

The first real encounter with Moses was when I had to pet sit for him. I did so two times. One time before I found Biscuit. That time Cara traveled to Ghana, Africa with a group of congregants and our pastor on a mission trip. Naturally she needed someone to take care of her baby and I was it.

It was a pure joy to take care of Moses those two weeks! He was wonderful company to both Mom and I. I also found out that Moses was a fetch cat! But that wonderful time came to an end and Moses went home to Mommy.

The next time I took care of Moses, Cara want to Guayaquil, South America on another mission trip. Only this time she would be away for six weeks. Also, this time I had Biscuit.  I thought this would be great because Biscuit was lonely so I gladly volunteered my home again.

I thought since Biscuit was even tempered and Moses was a fun cat that they would get along. Perish the thought......

As soon as I opened the travel crate, Biscuit rushed to see who it was. He was instantly rebuffed by hisses and swats. I was appalled! Moses couldn't stand Biscuit and even growled at him. I never know house cats could growl! Anyway, it was too late to make other arrangements. Cara had already left.

So it was up to them getting along or die trying. Actually Moses hid in my closet and only came out to eat, wee, poo. Eventually towards the end they came to an agreement to at least tolarate one another. But,  soon it was time for Moses to go home.

After Cara came to collect her Moses, my Biscuit baby was alone again naturally. He ran around the apartment looking for Moses, and no Moses. He'd then look at me with the upmost perplexed expression.....

All of a sudden that problem of Biscuit being lonely was back again. Yes, he was back to crying again when I left for work each night.

So, the search was on again.

Dawn Skyy

Reflections - BISCUIT

Before I made my latest feline acquisitions I formally had two fur babies who lived with me. Their names were Biscuit and Spiral.

Biscuit was named so because when he got really happy he'd "knead". Those of you are familiar with feline behavior know this as "milk treading", something kittens do to stimulate Mommy cat's belly to give more milk (like a farmer milking a cow).  My late Mom said it looked like he was kneading dough to make biscuits, so the name stuck.

Biscuit was a stray kitten that I met one evening on the way home from work. I had just gotten out of the subway and was crossing the street. As I crossed said street I noticed this black and white kitten crossing the street with me at my heels like a dog. When. I asked him where was he going (yes, I talk to cats and they talk back) he meowed at me as if to say "With you.". So I picked the little guy up and took him home with me.

Once I got settled I set him up with an old litter box I had from a previous cat, some food and water and went to sleep. Biscuit found his way into my bed and slept with me. Meanwhile my mom got up and saw him come out of my room and use the litter box. I thought she was going to be angry but she was delighted that we had another cat in the family.

You see my mom loved cats too. Plus, since she suffered from psychiatric issues, her doctor recommended that she have a pet to, keep her company, and keep her mind focussed on something other than her problems.
Soon after I noticed that Biscuit was always scratching his little ears, so I took him to the vet for a check up. I also wanted to see how old he was and if he was ready to be spayed.

The vet told me that he was too young (only 5 months) so I would have to bring him back in a months time. In the meantime she diagnosed Biscuits ear problem as ear mites, a common symtptom for stray kittens and cats who lived in the streets. She prescribed ear drops that I had to give him twice a day.

Up till now Biscuit was a very mild mannered and loving kitty. That swiftly changed when I had to give him his drops! Even though the vet showed me how to do it Biscuit wasn't having none of it. I fought with him for four days straight untill he realized the drops were actually helping him. Then he calmly let me put two drops in each ear twice a day until the bottle was finished.

After he was spayed, Biscuit settled in and was a wonderful feline companion to both my Mom and I.However, there was a small problem, well not so small to him. Biscuit was lonely. Whenever I left for work, my poor kitty would yeowl at the door while I waited in the hall for the elevator. Not only was his cries pitiable, but they were LOUD! I never knew such a small animal could produce such a ruckus! I often ran down the steps to avoid heari g his heart rending cries.
It was obvious Biscuit needed a companion kitty.

I will tackle that subject in my next post.

Dawn Skyy