Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr. Fluffer-Nutter is back!

I don't think I realized how depressed Nahum has been until recently. I think it began when we took Rose in. Nahum was used to having alone playtime, where he could be completely silly and get lots of loves. He seemed to feed on such energy.

Rose, being a kitten, thought play was for her, so she would freely take over any play session. Nahum would slink off to the side and watch her steal his toys. He became much more reserved than he had been. I would try to get him to play and he might for a minute but when Rose appeared he would slink back.

A few weeks ago, as I posted in Feather Toy Play Time, I started taking Nahum upstairs to the bedroom for some alone playtime. After about a week of doing that, he has become his old self again! Now every time someone goes upstairs, he darts up the stairs to the bed, expecting it to be Nahum-alone playtime!


We play string and feather on the bed and he loves it - just like old times. He has become so much more energetic, more confident with his tail always held straight up. He's back to dragging his string over to me and asking me to make it move. When he is on the bed, he is now very generous with head butts, as if he is thanking me. If he is not stalking the string, then he is flipped over wanting his fluffy belly loved on!


I love having my Nahum Fluffer-Nutter back! 

Each cat develops their own routines. Now that Nahum always follows me upstairs, I see Theo feeling dejected because his morning routine is being intruded upon. Every morning as I was getting dressed for the day, Theo used to quietly climb the stairs and hide just around the corner. Then at the right moment in just a flash, he would bound from around the corner onto the bed and onto my shoulders! He always tried to surprise me by his speed! We would both get a good laugh as he purred and snuggled in. The last time he tried his routine, he found me petting Nahum on the bed and he stopped mid-routine. He hasn't tried it since. I miss his burst of silliness. 

I'll need to figure out how to meet all their needs, which will probably require me to quit my job! Trying not to disappoint four cats with vastly different needs is probably impossible, but after seeing the effect on Nahum of him not getting his greatest need met, I am inclined to try harder.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Neko Flies Kragonfly "bug toy" review

Finding amazing cat toys can be a real challenge. There are lots of cheap toys out there that are so cheaply made they break quickly or the cats lose interest after only a few minutes. I am always looking out for quality cat toys and I found a winner with Neko Flies.

Back in Sept 2010, I bought the Kragonfly with wand for around $20. I don't usually spend that much on toys, so the test was on to see if the Kragonfly would prove to be worth that much money.

The first thing I noticed was the quality of materials. These toys are very well made. Even the wand feels sturdy and well made, it has a comfortable handle and the end where the toy connects to the wand swivels - this is a major plus as it virtually eliminates the string getting all twisted up when in play. The bug part is very real looking, I was quite impressed.

But I didn't get the toy to impress me, the true test would be if it would impress the cats. I actually bought it for Willow. She loves hunting bugs in the summer, but there are no bugs for her to hunt in the winter. I was hoping the Kragonfly would keep her hunting skills fresh all winter long. Seemed like a good idea at the time, sadly it would not work out as I had hoped.

The Kragonfly, fresh out of the box. The string is sturdy. Notice the workmanship of the toy, in particular the various materials used. The sparkly wings and dangling legs are both very realistic looking.


How did the cats respond to the Kragonfly? They loved it! Theo in particular, went absolutely crazy over the Kragonfly, which was completely new for him, he never got that excited about any other interactive toy. Willow hardly ever got a chance to play with it because Theo dominated the time. Eventually, the Kragonfly became known simply as the "bug toy". 

Theo, loving on his favorite bug toy.


Whenever Nahum catches the bug toy, he wants to run away with it to a safe place and chew it up.


Theo goes nuts over his bug toy.


Rose is showing she loves the bug toy too.


This is a rare sight. A tuckered out Theo. The Kragonfly is the only toy I have found that can tire out Theo! He usually has boundless energy.


"Bug toy, meet Nahum paw!"


"Ack!! The bug is gonna get me!!"


Focus


After all the other cats are tuckered out, Willow finally gets a turn!


Here it is 6 months later and the Kragonfly looks battered. I think it has lost a few wings and all of its legs. Even though it only looks vaguely like it's former self, the cat's still love it!


I have found the Neko Flies Kragonfly to be the best interactive cat toy I have found. I base this conclusion on both how the cats love this toy above all the others and the quality of materials. Any cat toy that is loved well will take a beating and won't last forever. The sturdy construction of the Kragonfly assures it will accept a beating and won't fail early. Initially, I was uneasy about the price of the Neko Flies, but after playing with it for 6 months, it is certainly an example of 'you get what you pay for' - with Neko Flies, you get a great product that results in hours of shared kitty and human delight!

My only complaint about the Kragonfly is that it almost overstimulates the cats. As soon as they see the bug toy coming out they immediately go nuts! After awhile of playing, I have to store it away in a secure location. In the end, I am not really sure that is a drawback of the toy though!

I would compare the Neko Flies to the Cat Dancer in terms of guaranteed feline enjoyment, but if I had to choose, I would go with Neko Flies. Being a wand toy there are more possibilities for play and I always fear with the Cat Dancer it may inadvertently poke the cat in the eye. The Neko Flies seem safe, although, now that the toy is extensively used, the backbone of the Kragonfly (a small formed chunk of metal) is exposed. I worry a little about them breaking a tooth as they try to chew on it, which probably means it is time to retire the first bug toy and buy a new one! 

Now that I have the wand, in the future I can buy just the replacement bugs, which will save money. With five or so different bugs to choose, there are plenty of options! The Neko Flies Kragonfly is a real winner here at the fourwhitepaws hobby cattery!

(Note: This is a completely independent review. Neko Flies has not influenced this review in any way. Neko Flies is not a sponsor of and is in no way affiliated with fourwhitepaws.) 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nahum talk

Nahum is very vocal. He always has lots to say.

Here he is on the stairs with his favorite string.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

lettuce snack

Nahum so loves his lettuce! Whenever the lettuce comes out of the fridge he comes running and he can barely contain himself! It's so funny and cute to see.

Willow also is into lettuce, although she doesn't have nearly the enthusiasm as Nahum.


Friday, March 25, 2011

happy reunion!

In my line of work, I get to hear many difficult and heart wrenching stories. It seems many of the stories have sad endings. I try to not pay much attention to the news, because it just brings me down. However, I saw this positive story from the Boston Globe.

Dog found alive in rubble, month after fire

Terisa Acevedo figured she had lost her miniature Dachshund in the fire that gutted her house. She hoped maybe the dog escaped and ran off. Nearly a month after the fire, she visited the house and heard her noises coming from inside the boarded up house. She gained entry by removing the boards from the door and was reunited with her little dog! Yea!

There are also some heartwarming stories of animals being rescued coming out of Japan, particularly from Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support. One such story was posted yesterday about a dog that was found by the Animal Control Center in Miyako, Iwate. A local vet reunited the dog with its owner!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Max memory

I don't think a day goes by where I don't think about my sweet Max.  It is the time of year where I really start to feel the anniversary of his death approach, even though it is still over two months out. May 9th will mark two years.

While walking home yesterday I remembered how Max loved to be held in my arms. He always asked to be held. Whenever I was working at the computer he wanted to be asleep in my arms. It would only be a few minutes later that he would roll over, leaving me with a sleeping upsidedown big bundle of fur in my arms.

As he slept I would gaze at his beautiful sleeping face and tears of joy and contentment would wash over me. Even though this ritual played out often, I knew it would not last forever, so I made sure to be fully present to him each time. I marveled at his complete trust in me. I think he may have trusted me more than I did.

My ability to get my work done slowed. I figured out how to prop one arm on the desk so I could hold him for hours. I eventually learned to put a soft cloth on the desk to cushion my arm. I learned how to use the onscreen keyboard for typing, which was incredibly slow.

Especially after Max was diagnosed with chronic renal failure, I didn't care how much Max upsidedown in my arms snuggles slowed down my ability to get work done, work would always be there, Max would not. Here it is 22 months past his death and my heart aches to hold him just one more time.

The big hole in my heart that belongs to Max continues to hurt. I almost kind of like the pain now, it makes me feel closer to my buddy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

kitty tri-rise

In this weeks packet of store circulars came the Creative Ideas for Home and Garden flyer from Lowe's. The flyer contains all sorts of simple projects including a few for pets. This one looks kind of fun.

Kitty "Tri-Rise"

It is made from using some cardboard concrete tubes and carpet. Step by step instructions are at the LowesCreativeIdeas.com website.

It is interesting to note that in the printed flyer, it says the estimated cost to create this project is $25 whereas the online site states the estimated cost as $36. Either way, it is a lot cheaper than most of the cat furniture I have seen available in the stores.

The site also lists some other simple cat projects under Fur Real Pet Projects. The Window Cat Seat and Kitty Play Station look like possibilities. I like the idea of creating custom toys that I can cater to the cat's interests. If I end up making any of these, I will be sure to post pictures of the finished product.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nahum

Nahum thinks he fits in Willow's basket. The other day Laura found him curled up in the basket snoozing!

I love Nahum's fluff!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

supervisor

I have been working on creating the new mudroom out of the back entry way. Theo just had to help.
Theo has no problem climbing ladders.

He needs to checkout the wiring.

On another occasion, he actually jumped up to this same open spot on the wall, which is about 5 feet from the floor. He was perched on the thin wall board, which freaked me out! I feared he would fall down into the wall and be trapped until I could tear open the wall to get him out. Yikes! Thankfully, that did not happen and after that stunt, he isn't allowed on the porch until the wall gets closed back up!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

feather toy play time

Before Rose came along, Nahum enjoyed uninterrupted nightly feather toy play. But now, Rose thinks the feather toy belongs to her. She butts right in and steals the toy and poor Nahum just sits back and lets her have it.

For me, this is one of the challenges with having so many cats. It is hard to meet all of their needs. Just meeting Nahum's play need nightly is a challenge, but now to satisfy both Nahum and Rose takes a lot of time!

Since Rose takes over, I have had to be creative to get solo Nahum play time. A few times I have locked her on the front porch with Theo, but she can watch Nahum play and she looks heart broken that she is being left out. The look she gives makes me feel guilty, but seeing Nahum really wanting to play but not getting to, also makes me feel terrible.

So, I have taken to locking Nahum and I in the bedroom and playing feather on the bed. He loves his feather time!

The disadvantage of this approach is he has less running space and he doesn't have anywhere to parade around his feather toy once he captures it. When playing downstairs, he loves to drag the toy out into the kitchen and place it in a special place (in a box, by the shoes or by the food dishes).

Rose has taken to sitting outside the bedroom door and reaching her paws under the door as far as she can. Seeing her do that also makes me feel guilty. But I really like giving Nahum the play he so loves and needs.
He loves diving under pillows!

Starring it down.

Stalking the prey.

This time it is Willow peaking under the door!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

new spot

Willow found herself a new napping spot in the napkin basket.

This is one of the things I love about cats. They are always looking for new spots and new things. This Willow-sized basket has been on this bookcase for years, but suddenly, Willow finds it the perfect spot for a nap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

broken heart

I have seen many images of the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The pictures are horrific, beyond anything I can imagine.

As I viewed the pictures, most of the feelings were coming from my brain. I felt the concept of pain but more disbelief.

Then tonight, I saw these two images and it sent me over the edge.

My heart hurts.


Imagining all the cats who one minute were enjoying their usual lives then the next minute were separated from their humans, scared, cold, suffering and hungry. Damn. I hope this little kitty was rescued and is now safe, warm and happily reunited with it's humans. I have no background information on this image, I found it over at Under Paw.

This image tears me up. I pray for the safety of all the kitties traumatized by the recent events in Japan. May Starclan light your way to safety and comfort.

invitation

Nahum sunning his tummy furs


now, he is asking for tummy rubs


still asking!

No more pictures, had to fulfill Nahum's request. After all look at those soft, sun-warmed tummy furs, resistance is futile!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Theo's attic adventure

I did some work in the small attic above the kitchen. The project consisted of updating a bunch of the wiring in that part of the house. Wiring is fairly straightforward work, but it is made very challenging by the maze of wires running everywhere across the small attic space. The 10 inches of blown in paper insulation doesn't help because it hides all the wires!

This is the attic space.


Getting up into the attic requires putting a step ladder in the bathroom closet and climbing through a narrow hatchway. Anyways, I was working away at one end of the attic when suddenly I heard a weird sound that startled me. I turned around, and there was Theo, working his away through the insulation to the far wall. Somehow he figured out how to climb the ladder and thought it would be fun to explore the dirty attic!

Having my hands full and being covered in insulation, I screamed for Laura to assist. She panicked because she heard my panic-filled scream and figured I must have electrocuted myself!

There was no easy way to get to him as there is no floor, which means it would be easy to fall through the ceiling. It would take a long time to get over to him. I was wearing a respirator to protect me from the insulation dust, and I freaked at the thought of Theo breathing in all that dust as I slowly made my way to him.

Once Laura realized what was going on, she grabbed the treat bag, and rattled in from atop the ladder. Theo waded his way through the insulation towards the treats and she was able to grab him and haul him down. Theo's grande adventure was over. For the rest of the day he was dying to get back into the bathroom so he could continue his exploration!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

one of those days

Some days I just want to hide my face and make everything go away.

Friday, March 11, 2011

an invitation to snuggle


Rose loves snuggling with Nahum. When she's alone in the cat bed and sees Nahum approaching, she makes an unique sound, like she is inviting him to snuggle with her. She is actually calling out to him. And often he accepts the invitation and snuggles in with her. I have not heard her use that sound any other time, she reserves it for Nahum only as she never calls out to Willow or Theo.

I hope this is something that sticks with her forever, because it is sooooo cute. I might need to start a list of all the cute things about Rose.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

cat connections

You may have heard it said, that the way to a cat guy's heart is through the tummy.

I can tell you that this is true! And apparently Rose knows this as well. Tuesday morning, she was lying in the cat bed on top of the dishwasher and I was petting her gently. She feels safe in this location and often is approachable there. I had just started to pet her when she just flopped over and asked me to pet her soft tummy. Of course I did! She purred away as we both soaked up the loves. She even mixed in a few little nose bops in the love fest. It was delightful and filled my heart with joy. So what if it made me late for work!

My work involves trying to connect with people and in particular, helping them connect more with their own heart. I had sat for 40 minutes with this fellow, looking for windows into his heart where we might connect but had made little ground. Having remembered a few weeks ago that his face lit up when he mentioned his cat, I simply asked, "tell me about your cat." I had found his heart.

Tuesdays are the day for errands and the occasional haircut. Haircuts are one of those things in life, like changing the oil in the car, it's gotta be done, but I don't get much enjoyment out of it. For several years now, I have been going to a classy walk-in place, where you may get a different stylist each time. After getting through the challenges of communicating what I want for a haircut, comes the small talk time. Figuring out what to talk about can be a challenge.

The stylists always have a few personal pictures or stickers near their supplies. Scanning the items, I see pictures of cats and a sticker that says, "Purr More, Hiss Less." So, I ask if she has cats. She does. Then comes, endless conversation about her cats and how they make her happy. I sneak it bits about my cats too. Time is lost in the conversation and before I know it we are saying goodbye.

Later in the afternoon I found myself with a little bit of time, so I ran into a grocery store to pick up a few things. As I was standing in line to check out, the lady behind me starting offering a commentary of the items in my basket. In New England, where I am from, everyone knows to leave the people around you alone. There is never any "friendly" chatting in the check out line. Even though for the last 10 years I have lived in the super-friendly northwest where people are happy to chat you up in line, it still takes me by surprise. So, I politely bantered about the items in my basket and turned back around to signal the conversation was over. It was then she started with an extended commentary about the items in her cart. 

Figuring this was going to go on until the end of time, I realized I needed to steer the conversation out of banal-land and into something I could withstand. I seized my opportunity when I noticed she had cat food in her cart, I asked about her cat. Somehow she squeezed hours of story in only a few minutes, I think time had stopped. I learned all about Boris, her cat, a charcoal-gray cat with white paws. He had appeared on her apartment doorstep several years ago during a particularly nasty winter storm. She couldn't let him suffer and so took him in. She asked all around and no one recognized the cat, so she claimed him. Boris loves wet food with gravy and sometimes licks off the gravy leaving only the dryer morsels.

When Boris gets cold, the color of his paw fur turns from white to charcoal-gray. This was clearly the climax of the conversation as it required her repeating it a second time for emphasis. After what felt like hours, it was finally my turn to have my order rung up.

As I was leaving the store, I realized I had left with a lot more than what I had come in for. I left with gratitude in my heart for ladies like the one I met. She wasn't looking for a cat, but she opened her heart, her home and her wallet to help a cat in distress. In her generous giving she also received great blessings from her life with Boris. The world needs more people like her and less people who abuse their cats.

I am thankful to have a day of many different types of cat connections where the cat becomes a means for engaging with humans more fully. This is my goal for animals in my life. Too long have I lived where the goal was relationship with the animal in place of human connection. Animals can provide a wonderful catalyst for deeper connection.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Willow Wednesday

I was looking through some recent Willow pictures and I couldn't decide which one was the cutest. So, I post them all and you can decide!

Photo 1:

Photo 2:

Photo 3:

Photo 4:

Photo 5:

Photo 6:

Photo 7:

Photo 8:

Cast your vote for which Willow picture is the cutest:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

mourning Carrie


I got word today that my parents's dog, Carrie, has passed on. She was 11 years old and lived a very full life. I didn't have a lot of personal history with Carrie, but I certainly enjoyed her on my visits.

I am most thankful for Carrie for her role in being a personal therapy dog for both mom and dad. Carrie helped my mother in her battle with cancer by encouraging her and providing lots of emotional support. And even though I haven't heard my dad admit it, I think Carrie also helped him in his recovery from heart surgery. Carrie was friendly, loved to go on walks and liked a good romp in the snow. She was the only dog I ever knew who would lay upside-down and hold a toy in the air with her front paws! She really enjoyed her squeaky toys and all the special human-food treats mom would bring home for her.

I don't know if there is an dog-equivalent of Starclan, but I believe Carrie is now playing with Penny, Lassie, Tinker, Misty and Kimmie in heaven, all dogs I have loved dearly.

Thank you Carrie for being a great dog and for so wonderfully blessing my mother and father. I hope you can play and run free now in your new perfect body. Enjoy rolling in the snow and I look forward to seeing you again in heaven.