I just spent a deliciously indulgent week off work. I’d planned to do a few around the house projects on the docket, and got to a few of them (unfortunately the wet weather prevented any serious garden work, so I’m once again behind planting and transplanting), but mostly I just hung out with the critters and enjoyed some much needed down time. I read two books this week and finished a third, which is unheard of while I’m working (no time!). And may I just say that Anne Lamott is awesome? I’ve not read any of her fiction, but her memoir/nonfiction is wonderful. Funny, profound, insightful, and geez, I wish I could write that well. The Memorial Day holiday came and went, rainy and grey, as it usually is. The temperatures have been decent though, so that’s something. And the mild temperatures mean the bees can still fly, despite the rain. I’m happy to report that the grafting procedure of two weeks ago (adding the nuc box onto my beehive whose queen seemed to have died) seems to have worked. I did a hive inspection a week afterward and I had both eggs and larvae in evidence. Yay!! RIP Queen Beatrice, long live Queen Celeste.
Of course even now I wonder if I overreacted; did I just not see eggs (they’re pretty small)? Did I
misread capped larvae cells thinking they were honey? It seemed that by the time I got the nuc box that things were more active in Beatrice’s hive. I looked at the frames, though, before I put the nuc box in there, and didn’t see any eggs or larvae. I have to trust I did the right thing, and know that it wasn’t a waste of time and money, and a queen.
In addition to Celeste and her minions, I recently added to the household menagerie and became crazy cat lady. It was a moment of weakness, though really not much more work than just having Peachy, the only cat left after my annus horribilus 2011, where I lost Cutter and Dinah and Paige to old age issues, and my darling Jasper to the busy road out front. He was only seven and my favorite cat. I still miss him and still feel guilty about his demise. I thought about just not having cats anymore. Peachy’s a senior, and though mostly healthy, he does have kidney disease and is a little arthritic. Once he goes I’d be catless. But I like cats, and I like having cats. And I felt bad for Peach, being an only cat. He loves the dogs, but the three I have now aren’t cat dogs (Cutter was the one all my cats loved) and Daisy can be downright predatory at times, eyeing Peach with intent and playing roughly with him. When he tries to snuggle up sometimes the dogs growl at him. So maybe it was stupid to even think of another cat, especially given Daisy’s prey drive. She isn’t a cat killer, but she is relentless.
But I kept ending up at various shelter and rescue websites looking at cats. And Craigslist and Petfinder. I kept returning to one shelter in particular, over several months’ time (this search spanned the better part of a year). It’s a small, well run facility in a remote part of the state, and regularly makes trips over here with adoptable pets. In April they had a special on their older cats – no fee, in anticipation of kitten season, when they, like all shelters, are inundated with kittens due to the nature of feline reproduction cycles. I looked and saw a half dozen or so I liked. But would any of them be good with dogs? That was my big hangup with adopting an older cat or two, due to Daisy’s persistence with Peach. I had to get cats that were at least used to being around dogs, to minimize chaos.
I filled out an application and wrote to the shelter, explaining my situation and the cats I was interested in. The shelter manager told me which of
the cats I liked might be a good fit for my household, and even did a “dog test” with a cat-friendly dog that happened to be at the shelter at the same time, to verify which cats reacted in a normal manner. When it was all done, I’d selected a pair of 8-month-old sisters and a 3-year-old, and though I cringed somewhat at the idea of adopting three cats at once, I rationalized (?) that having four cats was only one more than three.
I picked them up in late April. The sisters seemed to be pretty calm, considering the trip they’d just had (five hours in a mini-van full of puppies, other cats, and dogs). The older cat, Blackcap, was a little more stressed, and had wet her pants during the ride. We transferred them to my crates and I put them in my car (where my Rottweiler, Daisy, was waiting for us – we’d just finished Nosework class) and drove straight home.
I got everyone unloaded and settled in the cat loft. The two kittens, then Thelma and Louise, were doing okay. Thelma was definitely more reserved than Louise, who had no reservations, it seemed. Blackcap was cautious, but sitting on the floor with her and petting her soon had her rolling around in kitty ecstasy. So far, so good. Within the next couple of hours, Louise was coming down the loft stairs to inspect her new home. It was clear her name had just been misspelled – she was Eloise, and she was as bold and friendly as a cat could be. Her sister, renamed Madeline, was a little quieter, more normal in her reserved response to landing on Mars. Blackcap took a couple of days before she ventured down the stairs. She’s taken longer to adjust to the dogs, and has a shorter fuse with Daisy’s antics, but overall the adjustment period has gone quite well. Peachy’s been, well, a peach, with the invasion of his space. He and Blackcap still don’t like each other (she growls at him on sight, he stalks her to start something) and sometimes Madeline hisses at him, or vice versa, but he’s maintained his place without being a jerk about it.
Eloise is an absolute delight, and reminds me of all the reasons I’ve always loved cats. She’s sure of herself, and though not incautious, approaches life boldly and with curiosity. Madeline, too, is sweet and cuddly like her sister, though her fuse is definitely shorter, and under stress she reverts to angry cat responses; she loves to sit with me while I work on the computer, purring like an outboard against my back. Blackcap is a doll, and rolls around on the dining room table like a pin up girl, head butts Daisy, and is a saucy little cat. All in all I got really lucky to find them, and that they all worked out with the dogs is amazing.