Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How Gemini got her name

Before I got Gemini I had had a happy three cat home. One of my cats, named after a book character, was called Ingold Inglorian. He was a large orange tabby. He was also in kidney failure. About two weeks before finding Gemini he finally died. He was at home with me and went as peacefully as any ornery old curmudgeon could.

I also had a lovely lilac point Siamese named Simone. She came to me when she was six years old. She was a bit neurotic but a lover. I had worried that there was something wrong but the vets never found anything. A little over a week after loosing my orange cat, she turned yellow. She was in liver failure. She died 10 days after Ingold.

Gemini showed up, as first a pathetic mew outside my very lonely home and then as a tiny baby cat of about 4 or 5 weeks. A friend found a program online that did anagrams. We put in Ingold and Simone and got all the anagrams. Gemini seemed most appropriate as she was filling the shoes of two other cats. We did get some other interesting names.

I quite like Noel and Isolde. While Soiling Demon might have been an appropriate name, it seemed rather inauspicious to name a cat that... however it did show up on our list of anagrams. Other names were there but I have long since forgotten. Once Gemini showed up, it just seemed appropriate for her. She does answer to her name and she is a very talkative cat (much like the astrological sign). She's also very smart (again living up to the sun sign).

I couldn't name the blog just Gemini as that name was taken. It didn't occur to me until too late to have called the blog Soiling Demon. Oh well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Happy kittens

Are all kittens so happy? Gemini seems a distinctly happy cat. Pet her and she purrs. She has settled down enough so that every time you move, she doesn't attack so now when you rub her ears she sits there and purrs and even drools a bit. I so hate it when my cats drool, yet so many of them seem to.

Her eyes convey happiness as well. They are alert and interested and even when she runs from people which do scare her, she never seems unhappy. She is always curious and there is joy in her movements. Everything is fun right now. I think even when she hides behind the plant from strangers she is actually having fun. Watching the other cat is fun. Pouncing on the other cat and getting swatted back is fun. Falling off the bed seems to be quite fun the way she races right back to do it again.

I don't remember if my other cats were that happy. My older cats weren't. My calico cat always seems to have an air of resignation about her, though she can still get excited about a cat toy and start running around. She doesn't have the same level of single minded joy. I don't recall my last kitten having that either, but perhaps I was too young to really appreciate what a gift it is to watch a kitten be joyful.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Gemini has gotten quite shy. You would think a kitten that runs and plays and acts the way she does wouldn't be shy, but she is. A friend came over and she ran and hid. Another friend came by and she hissed at her. I worry about this as I hate the idea that she is frightened of people.

It's not too surprising. She was afaid of me when I found her and took her in. She'd hiss from behind the toilet and then purr when you petted her anyway! I suspect that for the people she's currently afraid of, she'd purr pretty quickly. She's bigger now and can run and hide faster. She knows the house.

I have discovered that she likes her toys too much to completely hide. I had a friend who she was afraid of bounce the feather toy around and pretty soon she was playing happily. She didn't like being petted by her though. Still she will stay in the same room. Hopefully that will be enough for awhile and then eventually she'll enjoy people. I'll be going away for a long weekend soon and I am having some people feed her and my other cat. I am hoping that seeing she is a very food oriented little cat, having someone else feed her might allow her to trust another person.

I've had other shy cats, but they seemed to come to me shy. As time went on and they got more comfortable in their surroundings they became less shy. Still they disliked repair people and such. I've never had a kitten be that shy before though and I'm not sure why or how to work with it. I'd be open to suggestions if anyone has any.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Kitten photos

So this is Gemini. It just seemed appropriate to post a shot of her, seeing I keep writing about her... Maybe later I'll post a photo of her friend and mentor cat, Georgia. We'll see how photogenic they both feel.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Catnip Tea

My little baby cat, my sweet baby cat may already have a drug problem. Yes, it's the horror every parent faces and we certainly don't expect it so young, but this cat is precocious... Gemini has taken to having a fondness for catnip tea.

You see she has several favorite catnip mice and she has taken to dropping them in the water dish and leaving them there. I can't imagine what else she is doing but trying to taste the catnip a bit more. Most of her mice, are of course, hand me downs from other cats. My elder cat is probably getting far more catnip than is good for her. It does occur to me that this could be an attempt to get rid of the other cat or to make her too sleepy to fight back when she is pounced on.

Still, catnip mice just don't feel good when they have been floating in a dish of water for 8 hours. I can't imagine they are fun to play with or pick up in your mouth either, but if I got back a few minutes later, they are usually right back in the dish. I can only conclude that this is an addiction problem.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Cat Training

You may think that this is an article about training a cat. Aren’t you funny? I realize people claim to train cats, but I don’t believe them. Really. This is about the cat training the person.

There I was last night, holding my lamp with one hand, trying to read with the other. Gemini was jumping around trying to catch a moth attracted by the light the lamp was giving out. You may think there was an easier answer, but just the other day Gemini had knocked that very same lamp over. It’s not a beautiful lamp but I am quite fond of it. I didn’t want her doing it again for fear she would break it. So I let her chase the moth.

I could have chased the moth myself and let it out, but it was such a fun and engaging cat toy, so I held the lamp so Gemini wouldn’t knock it over, chasing the moth… You see—I have been trained.

It’s taken her about two months to get to this point in training. I’m sure that’s a record, at least for anything obvious like the lamp. Think what she’ll do by the time she’s ten. I shudder.

I realize that people train dogs. Some of them have problems training their dogs. I think these folks could take a lesson from my cat. I’m sure it’s not just that I’m trainable. Every house cat I’ve ever met has that self satisfied look of having a well trained owner.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Growing Up Kitten

Kittens grow up so fast. You figure at seven months they look almost full grown. Their bodies have not quite filled out but they look like the cat that will live with you for the next ten to twenty years. Even at four and half months when they stop playing long enough to nap, they sprawl like the cat they will become and wear an expression on their face that foreshadows the cat they will become.

An instant later, now having the extra connection to an audience they will jump up and run around the house, attacking anything in their way. Gemini is so funny like that. If you look at her, or pet her, it is still like an invitation to play! She still has her big round kitten eyes that are not quite cat eyes and they mirror only fascination with the world. What moves? What needs to be pounced on?

It’s such an interesting age to watch them be cats for a few moments and then back to kittens again in the space of s second. Of course, they still have those sharp little kitten teeth and those sharp little kitten claws that seem to grow more rapidly than any other part of their body and those are things I won’t miss so much. Another three months perhaps? I wonder what she’ll look like then?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Kitten Breath

Everyone says they hate the smell of their cat's breath. Cats do have a strong odor in their mouth and it seems like Gemini's is particularly strong. She can sit on my lap and yawn and I can smell her breath. I read somewhere were carnivores smelled more than vegetarians. This was speaking about animals and general and not just humans. Anyway I think it had something to do with the process by which the body breaks down the proteins? But it makes me wonder about why one cat's breath would smell stronger than another?

I don't have an answer. Gemini just yawned in my face and I was noticing that her breath smelled a lot. Usually that means there is some tooth decay but she's far too young and her teeth were fine a few weeks ago. It can't be diet because my older cat's breath is not that strong and they eat the same things. Really though, I have to admit I don't mind the smell. I kind of like it. It reminds me of kitten kisses on the nose. It reminds me of happy times of going ew ick when the cat of my childhood would yawn in my face. It reminds me of a lot of happy times so even though the smell is decidedly strong, it is no longer particularly offensive.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Shoe lace helper

I was tying my shoes this evening to go on my walk. I put on each shoe and then sat there and proceeded to tie the first bow and then moved to the other. I was stopped short when I realized that a kitten was attached by her mouth to the second lace and was not planning on letting go.

A look of both joy and pride was on her face, as well as a hint of mischieviousness. How on earth could I just take that out of her mouth when she had hunted it and captured it right under my nose? I left it be hers for a moment, realizing as I did so that she will only be this age once and that all too soon shoe laces will hold less interest for her than they do now. She may play with them again but soon enough I will have to entice her to hunt them.

I rolled her over on her back and let her kick at my hand for a moment while extricating my lace and tying my shoes. She had to help of course and I continued to play with her while she did that. There is something so happy about this young cat that it's infectious. However, my walk couldn't wait forever and exercising a kitten isn't very aerobic for me, so off I went. Oh she's back already while I write this. The letters on the monitor are equally fascinating.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mindful Kittens

Kittens are funny. I watched her playing with one of her catnip mice earlier today, wondering why the tail seems longer. It appears that she has ripped off half the cloth so that it is falling apart and stuffing comes out in pieces as she play now. I should note that I purchased this particular catnip mouse for an older cat who has long since passed on about 5 or 6 years ago. Yes, that cat did play with the catnip mouse, and so did my other cat who is still with us, but apparently without the enthusiasm of the kitten.

Kittens are wonderful zen teachers. They are always fully in the moment when they play. Nothing distracts them. I have a small Buddha who sits on my desk and it mostly lands on the floor, now, being a great cat toy. I let Gemini play with Buddha as I figure the real one would not begrudge a tiny cat a bit of fun in the moment. And she is always mindful as she plays with the toy, until the next toy comes along!

When Gemini is tired, she is tired and sleeps, wherever and whenever. When she is hungry, you know. When she wants to play, she plays. Whatever she wants to play with gets played with, no matter that it’s the pen you are using to pay a bill or the earring you are trying to fasten in your ear. When you are angry with her for pulling on the earring you are fastening or messing up the check you are writing, she just looks at you with her big yellow green eyes as if to say, who me? It’s very hard to be unhappy with her.

I try very hard to be mindful of these moments and enjoy them with her. It’s tough when I have bills to pay and work to run off to. Still, it reminds me that within the busy-ness of our life, we should also find time to have fun.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cat's purr

Cats and kittens are funny about their purrs. Gemini can be hissing at you and suddenly you pet her anyway and there is this huge purr. She can be rolled over on her back and kicking at your hand as she fights and purring loudly. It’s like an acknowledgement that she has attention and she loves it.

She wakes me up early in the morning with this loud purr next to my head as she settles down next to me. However, if I acknowledge her, I will be in for a long play time as she realizes that I am awake! So the purr seems to be a subtle way of testing whether I am awake.

I had another cat who purred at the vet. The vet would try and listen to his heart and he would begin to purr, so she couldn’t hear anything. She says that some cats are like that. Most cats don’t just purr when they are contented and happy but purr for many reasons. Often they do purr when they are stressed. What a great way to self soothe!

I have read that cats purr at the same frequency that bones heal. You have to wonder if this is why younger cats purr so much more. They are healing their bones as they grow and stimulating strong bones. The article where I read this, and I believe it was about three years ago in Best Friends magazine, said that this may be why cats survive long falls—they are healing their bones as soon as they are injured. No one knows how far distant the purr frequency lasts. Is it only good for that cat’s body? Does it help us if we can hear it? Does the cat have to be on us?

At any rate, a purr is obviously more than just a contented sigh, isn’t it?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Howl

Some cats howl when they are hurt. Gemini only howls when she is frustrated. Having proven herself indestructable, I know that when I hear the howl of this cat, there is something she wants that is not accessible to her. For instance, the elder cat in my household occassionally goes outside and right now she is howling at the door to join her.

At first she stood there and howled. Then she came and found me. Shortly after she noticed the other cat outside and went romping over and pawded at the back door for awhile and then began to howl again.

She periodically gets up on railed area on the second floor and howls. I am not quite sure what she wants to do there or if she gets confused but it seems to be a regular thing that she does.

Then there are the times when she doesn't howl but is just persistent. She really wants to play with some blueberries I am attempting to eat, but I keep moving them. I have never seen a cat who so thought human food was just another play toy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

To test for FIV or not

Now here is a question for all cat owners. When they get a new kitten, do you test for FIV or not? FELV, the leukemia virus is a given. About 30% of cats are positive for FELV. FIV is much more rare. Apparently kittens will typically show negative for the first four months of their life, even if they have been exposed. The test itself looks for antibodies to the virus so if their mother was exposed and positive the kittens could test positive in the window of four to six months but have this positve be a false positive.

Having a cat at four months old and considering adding another cat makes the decision difficult. I would like to test now, but my veterinarian has said that because the positive doesn't really mean anything at this point I shouldn't. Reading Cornell University's site, they suggest testing and retesting but for some reason my veterinarian's office is reluctant to do that.

Statsitically, about 1.3% of cats are positive for FIV (according to Cornell's website) and most of those cats are intact males who typically get and pass the virus by fighting.

I have been told by the technician to keep any cats in my household from fighting. I have an elder cat with the kitten and have observed that so long as the older cat doesn't move, Gemini doesn't attack. However, movement is fun! I suspect any cat that I acquire will want to move as well. It's just this funny thing--sometimes they do. So that leaves me to the great debate of whether to add another cat or not. Both the technician and my vet say they would add the cat to the household in these circumstances as the kitten does fit the profile of an FIV cat.

If this were a polical blog, I might have to get into my stance about profiling too.. but I'll leave that to other minds..

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My Cat, the Einstein.

People tell me I'm getting old when I say I don't remember kittens being this active. It's been 16 years since I've had a kitten. I do remember him being into everything but I don't remember random toe biting in the middle of the night. I don't remember that the other cats couldn't move for fear of being attacked. I don't remember them digging out toys from behind large furniture where I have hidden them so they don't destroy them when I'm not around!

Gemini does all of this. Dog trainers say that active dogs who people say are stupid are usually the smartest dogs because they think for themselves and don't necessarily do what their owners want. This cat must be brilliant. I don't know how she manages to think that some of the stuff she gets into would be fun but she does think it up.

Of course, she does have her moments. She thinks that pushing around the empty water or full water dish is a great joy. It's a soup dish and she just pushes it around with her nose. She seems to find it great fun. Okay, so maybe she isn't that brilliant?

Friday, August 12, 2005

How I found her

I found this cat two days after loosing the second of an elder bonded pair of cats. I heard this mewing throughout the night but couldn't find the kitten that was making the sound. My last elder cat and I convinced ourselves that someone else in our condominium complex must have gotten a tiny kitten and it was an echo. I felt comfortable doing only so much wandering around at night to find her!

The following day, during my lunch break I searched around again. At the far end of my building, I heard the mew as I approached. Looking that way I saw a tiny pair of eyes looking at me from under a fence and then as I approached it scampered away. It cornered itself in the square of the turn of our fence and I picked it up. It was filthy and covered in leaves. It was also terrified of me. Her legs were so tiny, I didn't think she was much more than 4 months old.

I took her home and locked her in my bathroom while I got some newspaper to make a small litter box and gave her some food and water. She was too sacred to eat much and it was only a couple of hours later when I tempted her with some food on my finger that she finally got the idea that there was something to eat. And eat she did. She about took my finger off before I had managed to lure her to eat out of the dish. Her short front legs couldn't quite get over the side of the soup bowl that held her food and she crawled right in and at perhaps half a can. I removed it so she wouldn't over eat and make herself sick.

It was a Friday and I immediately called my veterinarian for an appointment. Upon reaching the clinic, she was leukemia tested and found to be negative. My vet thought that based on her weight she was closer to six weeks, but I maintain that the proportion of leg to body that she was a week younger... I'd have never thought that the tiny cat with the big voice would become such a love and a terror as she grew into my household!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Four months

At four months this kitten named Gemini still runs all over the house. She likes to climb on high places, giving me a heart attack thinking she'll fall but I have to let her, as at least she'll fall when I'm there to rescue her. She hasn't done damage to herself in ages though. The last time, was it when she wrapped the metal cat dancer toy around the surge protector? Or when she wrapped the string around her neck and tried to jump off the table? Maybe it was when she fell behind the television cabinet?

She's a wild little brown tabbie and I've had her for three months now. I await her getting older but I have to wonder if she really will.