It was a team effort.
All four cats like the balcony, but Roary LOVES IT. He would live out there if he could. He (and Sunny) love hunting and eating bugs, and I’m sure if Roary were an outdoor cat he’d be doing some serious harm to the local bird population. He hasn’t tried to go over the balcony railing (yet), but he’s had a few close calls when chasing after a bug that goes over the side. It hasn’t helped my anxiety.
Unfortunately, Roary has somehow figured out how to get past the screen door on the balcony. Both kittens have been climbing the screens since they got here, no matter how hard we try to dissuade them. They’re both at least 9 months old now, but where Sunny is a squat little round potato, Roary is a Large Cat: he’s all wiry muscle and weighs around 13 pounds. He’s discovered that if he climbs to the top of the balcony screen, his weight causes the door to sink just enough for the track wheels to retract and the screen pops out enough for him to jump through the gap and escape. Since yesterday afternoon, we’ve done near-hourly head counts on the cats and four times now have found Roary (and once, his sister) outside on the balcony even though the door is mostly closed and the screen barely askew.
This morning, we did a test. The screen was shut completely tight and the door left ajar several inches. All cats inside and accounted for. Not long after I went upstairs to start work, I heard some scrambling noises and then suspicious silence so I went downstairs to check: Roary was on the balcony railing, digging in the flower box. He at least had the good sense to look guilty when I found him. Only issue (other than the fact that my cat is fucking Houdini): this time, he hadn’t popped the door out of the track. The screen was completely in place. How did he get outside?!
I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know what he wants. If he’s looking for bugs, I can tell him I don’t have any available. But what I do have are great deal of internet-connected devices, devices that will detect motion, devices that will record his every move. If he leaves the screen door alone, that’ll be the end of it. I will not scold him. I will not post the video of his escape. But if he doesn’t, I will yell at him, I will take pictures of him being a Very Bad Cat, and I will post them online for everyone to laugh at.
I will also shamelessly crib text from a movie because I am too annoyed to come up with my own words to convey the Liam Neeson-esque measures I am taking to deal with this.
There’s a camera set up on the floor with full view of the balcony door. A motion sensor has been set up just outside the door to alert me if it detects motion, which will be recorded on the camera. The video feed is streaming to my phone, and when I need to use my phone (or Roary is on my chair chewing my head so I know the coast is clear) I send the feed to my Alexa Echo. I WILL figure how he’s doing it, and then I WILL set up an elaborate and needlessly complicated solution to stop him (or at least watch).
We have kittens! We’ve had them since December, actually. My Instagram is now a 24/7 all-kitten channel, mostly because I really need a haircut and I miss travel and my balcony, while still my beautiful oasis, doesn’t need to be shared daily.
I’ve had cats almost my entire life, but I’ve never had cats that actually liked each other. Ed had agreed that the next time we were in the market for a cat (so, all the time) we could get a pair. I had tried several times to adopt through our usual rescue associations, but most of BC had the same idea during the pandemic and I didn’t get any responses to the inquiries I submitted.
Then, Chris happened. Chris is the awesome gent who runs the Grist Mill and Gardens up in Keremeos. We met in the early days of social media in Vancouver, and he was always down to show us the proper way to murder people or come to our parties (remember those?) without pants on. Oh, and then there was the shot I invented that had a meatball in it, and the hot dog with a Twinkie for a bun. Suffice it to say, Chris is awesome people even when he DOESN’T have kittens he needs to home.
Close as I can remember, it wasn’t actually my decision to adopt the kittens. Chris posted on social media that he had found some feral barn cats that needed a home, and as there is much overlap in our respective social circles, someone remembered that I had been Desperately Seeking Kittens and volunteered that I would adopt them. I had many thoughts about this, all of them being “YAY KITTENS!!”, but I had to do some fast-talking to get Ed onboard. Ed has a bad habit of sometimes agreeing to things I suggest just to appease me, without thinking it’ll actually happen – this has come back to bite him in the ass many times, because I am a planner. You don’t say “yes” to a planner, because I will find a way to make it happen. I am very stubborn that way.
Okay so the universe had decided I was going to adopt these kittens, and who am I to bet against the universe. Chris had plans to drive into Vancouver for other, non-kitten related business, so he arranged to bring them by our place. A great plan! Except while loading the kittens into his car, one of them escaped and disappeared. It took four days of webcams and tuna, but the missing kitten finally showed herself and was re-scooped for delivery. It felt kind of weird being so worried about an animal I hadn’t even met yet, but I was well-sold on the idea of this particular bonded pair of kittens so it was a few days of heartache until we got word she had been found. Kitten delivery was a go!
Chris arrived at our place on a Tuesday morning with a box full of kittens, who quickly escaped the cardboard confines to explore their new home. The kittens were tiny little gingers, a brother and sister pair:
They were home, but what they hell were we going to name them? We decided to each pick a name, because Ed leans towards the traditional and I am much more of a long florid name with a complicated backstory kind of person. I mulled over a whole lot of ginger-cat names and liked several, but was still holding back on any food-related names because I have serious issues in dire need of therapy.
When we first got word that girl kitten was missing, I made a deal with myself: if she was found, I would name her Sunny after this song. It had gotten stuck in my head while I was doing all my worried pacing and it seemed really fitting. Sunny’s name was decided before she arrived, but what were we going to name the boy kitten?
Ed decided on “Rocky” for a name, which I wasn’t crazy about because it is very traditional. It also didn’t really seem to fit: Sunny was a very cautious, skittish kitten, but her brother was very .. bombastic. He does everything very bigly. He also looks like a little lion, and deserved a better name than something as pedestrian as “Rocky”. We tossed a lot of names back and forth, but one seemed a little stickier than the others: every time he did something cute, we’d say “Look at him, <doing whatever he was doing at the time> – just like a little Rory Calhoun!”
We shook on it, and his name officially became Roary J Calhoun. The J stands for J. It’s a thing.
The kittens have been with us for six months now, and we can’t really imagine life without them. We had high hopes for an entertaining bonded pair, but Chris somehow accidentally gave us two of the best kittens we have ever had the privilege of meeting: they’re (too) smart, affectionate, cuddly, curious, and stinky little beacons of joy. Sunny is also one of the prettiest kittens I’ve ever seen – just LOOK AT HER:
Gahhh. I cannot even. Roary is much less dainty than his sister, but he’s also the most affectionate cat I’ve ever had: when he decides it’s time to love me, I really have no choice in the matter. If I don’t pick him up when he asks (he asks like a toddler wanting to be held: stretches his arms out and chirps at me, often going under my skirt like a perverted Rory Calhoun), he will jump onto me from wherever he is. It’s his favourite game in the kitchen, which adds an element of terror because I’ll be chopping things or at the stove and the next thing I know a 12-pound flying bear attacks me from behind to roll around on my shoulders like a drunk seal. It’s hilarious and scary and adorable. Even when it hurts.
Both kittens have had all their shots, several bouts of medication due to the parasites they picked up while living rough, and were spayed/neutered in early spring (we already have one inbred cat; don’t need anymore). They’re happy and healthy and while Dilly and Lemon are not 100% on Team Kittens, they’ve made our apocalyptic homebound days much easier to deal with.
If you’ll excuse me, I have some kitten snuggling to do.
We came home from our trip a week early, because:
Basically, something was wrong with Hobbz (oldest kitty and Ed’s one true love). In the weeks before we left, he had started peeing on the floor in the downstairs bathroom. We’d catch him in the act, he’d stop for a few days, then start up again. Nothing else seemed wrong – he would just very deliberately pee on the floor, then leave like nothing happened. He hadn’t done it in the few days before our trip, so we just hoped he was being a prima donna about the state of his litterbox.
Unfortunately, the floor peeing got a lot worse. Our neighbour and cat sitter both reported in that he was a veritable fountain of pee; hosing down the bathroom at all hours of the day and night. He was also being unusually skittish, wouldn’t let anyone touch him, and was looking pretty rough. All of these are highly unusual, but when pee started to appear outside the downstairs bathroom, we knew something was seriously wrong. We asked our cat sitter to please take him to the vet, which went about as well as expected: he fear-peed all over everything to the point where he had no more pee for the vet to take. Blood was drawn, then they were sent home so Hobbz could be put in isolation in an attempt to capture some pee for testing (didn’t work – puppy pads are REALLY ABSORBANT).
Meanwhile, Ed and I are in Lille and feeling like horrible cat parents and terrible people all around. We discussed it briefly, and made the decision that we would cut our trip short and fly home as soon as possible. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which complicated matters – but I searched through every possible combination of cities, trains, and airports and managed to come up with a return trip home that didn’t cost $2500 each, leaving on Saturday. It was Thursday at this point, so we left Lille and headed to Brussels as originally planned. We’d get a day and a half in Belgium (better than nothing), then leave from Brussels early Saturday morning to take a train to London and fly from Gatwick at noon.
Brussels was truly lovely, but both Ed and I were really distracted with worry about Hobbz so we didn’t get to see nearly as much of the city as we normally would. We made the best of a bad situation with many beers (for Ed), statues of small children peeing, crazy waffle concoctions, and huge epic castley things. I ate a weird taco. Pay toilets are both awful and great. Tourists are fucking rabid about Manneken Pis, which is surprisingly tiny. A great gay store named Boris Boy reminded me of my long-standing grudge against women’s sex toys and roused my outrage all over again. I drank the Diet Coke I smuggled into the country smugly. Angst aside, we had a lot of fun.
I was struggling, though. There’s a 9-hour difference between Brussels and Vancouver, and our cat sitter would arrive around 3pm each day so I’d be awake well after midnight, waiting for updates and passing along information for the vet. We had to be at the train station by 7am on Saturday for our train, so I was up at 5:30 to shower and finish packing and make sure everything was ready to go. Worry for Hobbz, stress about being so far from home, lack of sleep, angst over cutting our vacation short, and wracking internal sobs about having to return to the reality of my work situation a full week earlier than intended has taken a huge toll on me – I am not myself, something Ed has repeatedly noted over the last few weeks.
Still, we made it home. Our plane landed on time, all our luggage arrived, and by 4:30 we were pulling into our garage, desperate to see our cats.
All of whom were totally fine (and beyond ecstatic that we were home).
The vet thinks Hobbz has a slight kidney or bladder infection, or possibly a stone. Most (but not all) of the peeing has stopped, leading me to suspect he was being a complete fucking drama queen because Ed wasn’t home. We had to collect a urine sample from the floor to take to the vet, but that’s happening today and we’ll get a course of treatment for Hobbz .. who, incidentally, perked up a thousandfold the instant he saw Ed.
I am trying very hard to be pragmatic about our melodramatic diva of a cat, but there’s a liiiiiittle bit of resentment there. I’ve STILL never been to Amsterdam, damnit.
I know we did the right thing, and Hobbz isn’t out of the woods yet. Still, I can’t help but feel cheated out of what was supposed to be a complete distraction from the last few months – it kinda feels like I can’t catch a break. I wasn’t supposed to return to work until the 17th, but since we’re home and I don’t get paid time off, there’s no reason for me not to work the week. We’ll also need the money to cover the extra train tickets and flights home, because even though we had trip insurance, I don’t think it covers pet illness or emotional manipulation via floor urine. I haven’t been able to submit the claim yet, but I’m not hopeful. And I feel just weird overall – I’m glad to be home, but at the same time this is the last place I want to be.
I’m trying not to be all fatalist about this maybe being the last vacation we’ll ever take because once I lose my job we won’t be able to afford stuff like this (not to mention this trip was booked with proceeds from the sale of Sparta), but I am REALLY GOOD at being fatalist.
As a member of our PetCare Family we are privileged to have the opportunity to provide peace of mind for you and Sasha. You can rest assured that Sasha is protected from the high costs associated with unexpected and unforeseen medical treatments.
Blah blah blah we’re raising your rates blah bliggity blah
We look forward to continuing to enhance your special relationship with Sasha.
Oh, so many responses:
- FUCK. YOU.
- Peace of mind for me and my dead cat? Where do I sign?
- I am interested in hearing how you plan to enhance the special relationship I have with the URN OF ASHES I have on my desk, and I would like to subscribe to your publication.
- FUCK. YOU.
- I’m eligible to enjoy a further 5% discount through your Microchip Registration Program? Excellent! I will endeavor to solder a chip to the dust and bone fragments, all that remain of my best friend ever, immediately so that we are adequately covered in case of unforeseen medical expenses.
- FUCK YOU SO HARD
As you might be able to tell, I didn’t take the letter very well. There were tears. There may have been rage and Hulk Smashing. I’m pretty sure I swore loud enough to be heard in West Van. I was not a happy girl.
We’re dealing with it this morning, because in addition to the 2 months of insurance they’ve taken from my account, we’re supposed to get $100 to offset the cost of death. They owe ME money, not the other way around. Also, they suck. The vet says they’ve sent in the paperwork twice, but the insurance company says they never received it – so I’m sending it in myself. There WILL be justice for Sasha, or I will seriously cut a bitch and enjoy every second of it.
That was one hell of a weekend:
- Bitter ex-boyfriends!
- Skinny dipping in a rooftop pool!
- A gay wedding!
- Making out with a straight woman in the pool!
- Getting to third base!
- A great deal of drinking!
.. unfortunately, all of the above happened to my friend Jim and not me. His weekend was one for the record books; mine was not nearly as fun as I had planned (so I borrowed his instead). I was supposed to go to many parties for various celebratory good times, but instead I stayed home and waited for my cat to poop.
I woke up on Saturday morning to get ready for Heather’s birthday BBQ. I was to load up the Mazdabator with meat and Shan and Miranda, then head out for an afternoon in the sun with some awesome people. Later that night, we would go to Tanya’s housewarming party to meet her new beau and continue the good times with more people. What fun! How social of us! I had been looking forward to the day’s parties for several weeks, so I arose in fine spirits to get ready for the day.
Then Lemon got sick.
He started off by making some horrible noises that freaked us both out. We looked him over to see what was wrong and quickly figured out that he was all blocked up in the bum area. We tried to help – believe me, there IS such a thing as a lube emergency and it was a terrible time to have one – but he flipped out and cried and hissed and it was just awful. Ed called the vet who told us to bring him in immediately or he could die. Well, fuck. I freaked out while Ed took him to the vet, where they extracted the blockage and drew some blood and urine for testing. They sedated him and gave him fluids while looking him over, then eventually released him to us: we were to keep him separate from the other cats to make sure he used the litter box without issue.
Lemon was incredibly glad to be home – he’s never been so affectionate. He was clearly feeling much better – poop excavation is apparently a wonderful thing – but he wouldn’t use the litter box. We watched over him in shifts all day and into the night, and eventually – at 11:45pm – we were rewarded, sort of: Lemon peed. Hooray! Except, that’s not really what we were waiting for – we needed him to poop without issue before we could rule out calling the emergency animal clinic.
Ed spent a hilariously gassy night with Lemon in the spare room, but by the following morning he still hadn’t produced any poop. We were worried, because Lemon had eaten a can and a half of food by now and should have been pooping up a storm. As a last ditch effort, Ed cleaned out all the litter boxes in the apartment and then, just after noon, success! Lemon pooped without a whimper! YAY! We celebrated: Ed went for a long bike ride with Josh, and I went shopping with Shan and then we washed our scooters. YEAH! We are party ANIMALS!
The vet will call today with the test results; they’re worried this is the beginning of a larger problem. Lemon is fine and back to his old self, although a little more affectionate and less of a bastard than usual which I am okay with. Neither Ed nor I had ever been so excited about poop before, and this is probably the last post I will ever voluntarily make on the subject because it is gross.
So, I missed out on all the weekend fun, but my cat is feeling much better and that is the important thing. There will be other BBQs and much more summer fun to be had – it is all good.
Besides, it’s my Thursday today. I’m heading to Victoria on Wednesday to play nursemaid while my mom has cataract surgery. Internet service has been ordered, the DSL modem is in my bag and ready to go, and I’m almost packed. I’m looking forward to it – I’m pretending it’s a mini vacation – but I really need this rain to go away before Wednesday.
Also, I would like to have Jim’s weekend.
Sasha’s been taking a series of pills for the last couple weeks in an attempt to combat the various things inhabiting her body. As soon as she started feeling better, her appetite was frankly hilarious – she would eat upwards of a can and a half of (very expensive, damnit) specialty food a day and STILL scream at us for more every time we went near the kitchen. She would even take her pills with hunger, because of these little things called Pill Pockets – a treat with a hole in it for you to drop the medicine into. Things were awesome. She was hungry, she loved the treats, I didn’t have to struggle to get pills down her throat, and the vet was buying a new Ferrari every week.
Sasha’s appetite is finally slowing down, which means she isn’t eating everything in a 3 mile radius. Unfortunately, this is allowing her to be more picky with her food. She now KNOWS that there are pills inside the treats, and will do one of two annoying things: refuse the treat outright, or eat around the goddamn pill. She spits them out and looks at me as if to say “I know what you’re doing, and I will not play along”. Last night she would. not. take her medicine, and this morning – because I’m not running around trying to get to work on time; I have the day off – I tried to bribe her with her favourite treat: tuna. 1/4 can and 30 minutes later, the tuna plate is clean save for three little partially digested chunks – she spat them out. Fucker! I hand-fed her two of the pills wrapped in tuna, but the last one I had to bodily force into her mouth. I don’t think she’ll let me do that again – this is the cat that made the vets settle for less-than-ideal x-rays because she would not allow them to put her on her back. She’s like an angry old lady who hits people with a cane.
How the hell am I going to get all her medicine in her? She’s got at least two weeks of pills left, and I can’t spend half an hour each morning fighting with her. If she’s spitting out tuna, it’s going to take an act of frickin’ god to get those pills down. Any cat owners have any tricks for me short of heating the damn things up in a spoon and making her freebase them?
I think Sasha’s feeling better – she’s growling at the other cats again.
In a fit of wanting to be a children’s book author, I made Sasha her own page: it is here. Cans for Comments was such a success that now I’m doing Kisses for Komments – each comment left for Sasha will result in extra love and belly scratches for her. So, y’know, comment. Think of the children, by which I mean the cats.
Unfortunately, the vet is almost certain Sasha has cancer. Her blood work came back yesterday, and it’s not good. She wants Sasha to get an ultrasound immediately to find out how bad it is, but there’s a catch: an immediate ultrasound will cost $1500. On the other hand, if Sasha can wait two weeks, it’ll be $300 – there’s a traveling ultrasound technician who does vet visits, as opposed to taking her into the animal version of the Mayo Clinic. The thing keeping us in check – other than the incredible expense – is that we don’ t know how badly or how quickly she’s failing. I’m taking her in on Wednesday for more blood work, which should tell us if she’s getting rapidly worse or if it’s a slow decline. Once we know what she has and how bad it is .. well, I don’t know what comes next. How do you treat cancer in cats? I’m afraid of the answer.
Miranda and Jeanie surprised the hell out of Ed and I by setting up a donation page for Sasha – the link is at the bottom of Sasha’s page. I’m blown away by their generosity and the gesture itself – it’s very comforting to have all of you around, virtually or otherwise. Please don’t feel obligated to donate – every little bit helps and we absolutely appreciate it, but even just knowing people are thinking of Sasha is amazing.
My mom is here, and we’re going to do some wandering around town. I don’t know that Ed is aware he will be coming with us yet – he’s very comfortable watching HD sharks (much more scary than regular sharks), but he’s going to have to get off the couch soon. I don’t know why he’d be so reluctant – isn’t it the dream of every guy to take his mother in law and petulant wife to the busiest mall in the city on a rainy Saturday to wander around looking at shoes and purses all day? He should be thanking US!
I love my dead gay son evil cat:
I hope I look that good at 98.
The old cat eats the kitten’s food.
The fat cat eats the old cat’s food.
The kitten eats the fat cat’s food.
CUT IT OUT.