Wednesday, November 30, 2011

kitten update

I haven't seen mama or her kittens since Monday night. Come Tuesday morning they were long gone. BK is still here but he's not telling me where his family is or why they left.

I walked around the neighborhood looking for possible places where mama kitty's nest might be and found two potential places that are in the alley across the street. Both are well sheltered, unheated and secured, so I can't get access to them. I'm not sure what else to do at this point than to wait and see if she comes back.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

kittens?? what?!?!

This post was just hi-jacked by kittens. Gosh, I never thought I would be writing about kittens... more on that in a minute. The post was originally going to be about how I played with BK this morning and he loved it. I brought a sparkle wand out on the porch and wiggled it for him so he could chase it, sure enough, he had a good time.

Right after our snuggle/play time, he walked across the yard, snuck up on a leaf and pounced on it. Then he tried to pounce on a squirrel, which got away. So next. he pounced on a branch and then zoomed across the yard. It was like I had unlocked his playful nature and he was letting it all out! Such a delight to see.

BK pouncing after squirrel

Then tonight he gave me the ultimate surprise.

When I came home from work late this evening, it was dark. Laura said she had feed BK already and saw him hanging around the back porch, waiting for me. So, before going to the back porch, I did as I frequently do, I shined a flashlight out into his house to see if he was home. I about fell over when I saw two little black fuzzy kittens hanging out in his house! What?!?! I didn't trust what I was seeing, so I called for Laura to come see. She concurred, there were two little kittens in BK's house!

I freaked out! I had built the house for BK  - so, where did these kittens come from?! They weren't there this morning! In a few minutes mama showed up, a thin, sleek, black cat. She was hanging with the kittens in BK's house. I wondered how BK might respond to having all these foreign cats occupying his house. Would he chase them out?

I went out the back looking for BK and he came right up to me. He settled in my lap and I asked him a thousand questions about these new cats. He ignored all my questions and took a short nap in my lap. He protested when it came time for me to get up.

After filling up the dinner bowl at the dining hall for the second time this evening, I noticed mama cat and one of the kittens ambling over to the dining hall. BK was sitting right there and didn't respond at all. Apparently, BK and mama are good friends. Minutes later I saw BK hanging out with mama and the kittens in the yard.

One of the kittens at the dining hall

BK must have communicated to his lady-friend that he had secured a nice heated home for her and the kitts. I'm guessing the kittens are about 5-6 weeks old. They waddle clumsily in the yard and have been eating the dry kibble I put out. Both kittens are jet black like mama and BK, I noticed at least one of the kittens has a little faint white spot on it's chest, just like BK!

Not knowing what to do, I texted Annie, the person who cat sits for us. She is both a licensed vet tech and an experienced cat rescuer. She graciously responded to my frantic texts with helpful information and advice. Tonight, I don't need to do anything more except to keep the food well stocked. So, that's what I have been doing.

I feel honored BK would trust me with his family. I was under the impression that male kitties didn't play a role in the upbringing of the kittens. BK is certainly no dead beat dad! Now, I hope I can figure out how best to take care of them all. Annie thinks mama might bring other kittens to BK's house if they are still alive. So, maybe when I wake up tomorrow, BK's house will be brimming with more kitts! Thankfully, Annie has offered to help me through the process of trapping them which I am immensely thankful for because I have no idea where to start!

If anyone has any pointers or advice, I would love to hear it. Thanks in advance! I'll keep you posted on what happens next.

BK, the proud papa!

Monday, November 28, 2011

holiday travel

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending the week with my family in a small town in New Hampshire. Here are a few pictures of the highlights:

It was too late to go apple picking this year, but there were still plenty of yummy apples to be had from the orchard! The apple varieties available in New England are so much better than anything I can find here in, Washington, which is known for it's apples.

On Wednesday morning, we awoke to 12 inches of fresh snow! What fun! One of the many things I miss about living in New England is the pretty snow. To me, the holidays are just not the holidays without snow. Where I live in Washington, we rarely get much snow.

Meet Nikki, my parent's new dog. She is believed to be a border collie mix and is around 9-months old. She's got lots of energy and loves attention!

Thanksgiving feast! Very delicious!!

Laura baked the most amazing apple pie ever! 

Once again, while in New Hampshire, I didn't see a single cat. However, thanks to my pet-camera at home, I was able to watch my own cats whenever I wanted! (I'll be writing more about this pet-camera later in the week, so stay tuned.) Annie, my cat sitter, came over and took good care of the kitties while I was away.

Can you spot four of my cats in this photo?

Willow spots the camera

Willow checks out the camera

Willow tries to dispatch the camera!

It was such a lovely time away from routine-life but sadly, vacation is over, so it's back to the grind. I love coming home to the kitties, but I miss my family and the beauty of New England.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


On this day of Thanksgiving, I pause to take stock of my many blessings. I am deeply grateful for my amazing wife Laura, our health and our delightful home. I am filled with gratitude for the privilege to share my life with such wonderful kitties.

Thankful for Max for opening my heart up to cats

Thankful for Buddy and his endless snuggles

Thankful for Theo and his warmth and silliness

Thankful for Nahum and his endless playfulness

Thankful for Willow and her flirts

Thankful for Rose and her squeaks and cutes

Thankful for BK and his sweet cuddles and delightful nose bops

Thankful for you all and your kind comments

As always, there's much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

impossible to choose

I need your help again. I recently took a few pictures of my gorgeous Willow and I can't decide which picture is the cutest. You can help me by voting for the picture of Willow that you think is the cutest! Thanks!

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

Ok, now it's time to vote! Which picture of Willow do you think is cutest?

Thanks for your vote!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

puddles and cuddles

Rose, melting in a sun puddle

A quick update on BK. 

Before picking him up from the vet on Sunday, we debated about what to do with him. In the end, we decided it was best for now to release him back into his yard. We will need to capture him again in about a month to give him vaccine boosters. I didn't want to bring him immediately inside because I didn't know if he would trust me again after his ordeal and I didn't want to risk him spraying inside my house.

So, we released him and he disappeared for the remainder of Sunday. It wasn't until about dusk when I saw him saunter back over to his house and go inside. My heart leapt with joy, he still viewed his house as a safe place! Then I wondered if he would be around in the morning for our routine of breakfast and cuddles.

The last time I tried to capture BK it was very traumatic for everyone and he didn't want anything to do with me for weeks. I was heartbroken to have lost his trust. This past experience, which involved visiting the vet and the loss of certain body parts might have been a bit more traumatic for him.

My heart danced with delight when in the morning he was waiting for me on the back porch. He greeted me with his usual hiss followed by a bunch of sad meows. I invited him into the enclosed back porch and we visited - he really wanted to cuddle. He was always somewhat friendly but now seems even more friendly. I have heard that neutering makes male kitties more affectionate and friendly and that is certainly the case for him. I am so thrilled that he still trusts me even after all he went through.

Last night when I brought him his dinner, he actually ran across the yard to me. I couldn't believe it! He then left the food at the Dining Hall without eating any and followed me to the back porch where he asked for more pets and cuddles. He's quite the cuddle bug! 

As he took in all the scents of the other cats from the back enclosed porch, I watched to see if he would spray. So far, he has only marked things by rubbing his head on them, a very acceptable behavior. I am hoping that the nasty spraying went the way of his testicles. Paws crossed.

Later in the evening I realized the true challenge of integrating BK into the hobby cattery, might actually not be BK, but Buddy. He has never liked BK from the start. And last night, after I let Buddy out on the back enclosed porch I noticed he was riveted to sniffing all the places BK had rubbed against. Sure enough, right before Buddy came back inside, he raised his tail and sprayed just a bit on a spot that BK had rubbed on. Argh!

A parting thought: If neutering cats makes them more friendly, might the same be true for humans? Just wondering.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Dinnertime is always a bit crazy around here, thanks to Theo. How does this compare to your dinnertime rituals?

7:17am update: Thanks Linda for bringing to my attention about the privacy setings. I just changed the video to public, so, it should now be available! Also, if you want to see the video bigger, you can click the "watch on YouTube" button.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

test results

The results are in, BK tested negative for FIV, FeLV and heart worm!!!!!! Yea for BK! I was so thrilled to hear this news.

He's under the knife at this very moment, getting his little testosterone factories removed. Several huge steps closer to him becoming an indoor kitty. I'm hoping the neutering will take away his desire to spray, because spraying and indoor kitty just don't mix!

BK will spend the night at the vet, so he will stay warm and cared for while he heals. I'm not sure what we will do with him once we pick him up, I'm inclined to keep him inside for a time to see how he does with being inside and then start the process of finding him his new home. For now, I'm just gonna enjoy knowing he is well.

the trapping of BK

It's been a long emotional road, but finally, I can happily report that BK has been trapped! He is currently hanging out calmly in his trap, under a blanket in the basement as we all wait for his afternoon vet appointment to come around. Getting to this point has been quite the challenge.

I have been trying to use the drop trap, because it makes me less anxious. I have heard trapped cats can thrash about in their traps, and seeing that would be too traumatic for me.

  With trap baited, BK happily eats his lunch.    11/9/2011 1:55pm

BK tells me what he thinks of the trap!   11/9/11 1:54pm

I went out yesterday morning to feed him breakfast as usual and we spent about an hour or more together loving on each other and cuddling. Using an old shoe lace, I learned that he likes to play string! He also enjoys bopping his nose to mine, something I used to adore about Max. Each day he gets more and more relaxed with me, it's very lovely. And each day he doesn't want our visiting time to end. He has tried to follow me in the house and when I don't let him in he makes very sad, pittiful meows and gives me his saddest looking expression.

After BK avoided the trap on Wednesday, I again set it up yesterday, although this time I used sardines as bait. I expected him to ignore it again, but he went in. I stood there, cord in hand. All I had to do was pull the cord and I would have had him and yet I couldn't bring myself to do it after our delightful hang out time just minutes before. Moments later he walked away, having enjoyed his sardine snack.

I worked hard at not beating myself up for not pulling the cord. I tried to tell myself, that now he will be more comfortable going into the trap the next time. I also reminded myself that everything happens for a reason. Maybe I didn't pull the cord because it wasn't meant to happen that day. It helped a lot to discuss my feelings of fear and shame with Laura, so I could release those feelings and not remain bound by them.

This morning the same routine unfolded. Except this time, I felt I had greater emotional strength, drawing from yesterday's experience. It also helped immensely to have Laura assisting, in fact she was the one to pull the cord and drop the trap. BK had a brief moment of panic as he tried to escape the trap but quickly he realized resistance was futile. He curled up and remained motionless until Laura approached when he started to panic again.

The plan was for Laura to transfer BK from the drop trap to the wire transfer trap. That way BK's experience of me would not be tainted by the trapping trauma. But, in an instant, I realized I could not just stand idly and watch him be terrified, I had to be there to calm him as best as I could. And I think my presence and voice did help calm him. Once we got him into the covered transfer trap, he stopped his resistance. 

Empty drop trap after a successful capture!

So, now that the deed is done, it's a matter of waiting for the vet appointment and hoping that all his tests come back healthy. The next step after the visit to the vet is not known. As much as I would love taking him in, six cats is just too many for us. Actually, five cats is probably too many. But for now I must focus on one moment at a time and therefore I will not dwell on the matter.

I really appreciate all the supportive comments, thanks everyone! Also a huge thanks to Laura for being such an awesome supportive person - she is an amazing woman and I'm so thankful to be partnered with her for life's crazy journey.

neighborhood kitty

Now that my back is feeling better I am starting to walk more. I have seen this pretty kitty several times now hanging out in front of an abandoned former assisted living facility.

I'm hoping it has a home and just likes to spend time hanging out here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

technology upgrades

Over the past few weeks, I have installed a bit of technology in the outdoor kitty village. I grew concerned about mold, something we have a lot of in the Pacific Northwest. Whenever a kitty was occupying it's kitty house and the temperature was cold outside, I noticed a lot of condensation on the window of it's house. And since I have heard that straw can mold easily, I grew concerned about the humidity level inside the kitty house.

I have also been wondering just how warm the kitties are actually staying in their houses. In order to address these concerns, I did the logical thing and bought a bunch of wireless temperature and humidity sensors. I went with a La Crosse Technology WS-9023U Wireless Weather Station, two combination temperature/humidity sensors and one temperature sensor.

Now from the comfort of my house, I can know exactly how warm the outside kitties are inside their cozy homes. What I have found is that the insulation in the kitty houses does a decent job of holding some of the cat's body heat, which keeps the inside temperature around 5 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. This means when it's cold outside, it's still cold inside too.

This reality didn't sit well with me. I'm sure this won't come as a huge surprise, I broke down and bought an outdoor heating pad for BK. After some research, I really like the Kane Manufacturing Poly Pet Heat Mats, but I couldn't swing the higher cost. So, I settled for the K&H 3093 Extreme Weather Kitty Pad with Fleece Cover.

To call this a pad is a bit of a stretch, it is more of a heated rigid plastic board with a fleece cover. It's suppose to be thermostatically controlled to warm to the cat's normal body temperature and when no cat is present, it heats the space to 12-15 degrees above ambient air temperature.

Of course the inside kitties had to try it out first.
This'll keep my paws as warm as my ears

Does this heating pad make my butt look big?

BK's now heated outside home.

The air temperature inside the kitty house hasn't dropped below 50°F (10°C) since installing the heating pad. I sleep better now knowing BK is staying toasty warm. I still don't have any data yet on the humidity levels inside an occupied kitty house because I installed the humidity sensor in the smaller kitty house, as that's were BK was sleeping at the time. But as soon as I installed the sensors, he moved over to the bigger house!

Now, if I really wanted to spoil my outdoor kitty, I would pony up the big bucks and buy this super-deluxe unit from CozyWinters for $579! It comes with both heat and air conditioning!

I haven't given up on someday trying to convert BK into an inside kitty, but for now, while he remains living outside, he'll be warm, dry, and well fed. Oh, and he'll be well loved too!

11/8/11 12:44pm

11/8/11 12:54pm