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Happy Caturday! It’s been some time since we last had a FULL KITTEN UPDATE, so I thought today would be a nice time to catch up with the Tornado Twins and Lord Snow. As you can expect, they’ve all been keeping the humans busy chez Cas. So today I’ll let them drive. Consider this a Lord Snow Presides off-topic post as well!

Jus Hangin Out

The cats had their physicals this summer, and we got the results we’d sorta expected. The kittens are radiantly healthy grown-up cats now, and Lord Snow, well, he’s puttering along about as well as one can expect a geriatric cat to manage. This is the same vet office from which we got the kittens initially, and the staff there crowded in to see Bumble especially–he’d stolen their hearts from the get-go.

They’ve grown into their respective roles in their little kingdom: the sweet princess, the captain of the guard, and the king.

If you’re wondering, Mr. Captain and I are the servants. Obviously.

Bumble: The Captain of the Guard.

whatever you do don't feed him after midnight
Buzzing real hard on catnip.

When we first saw Bumble as a kitten, all of us knew that he’d grow up to be one honkin’ huge cat. He had bear paws and bat ears–and bravery and curiosity to match. He fearlessly got into everything imaginable, forcing the humans to close off one room of the house so he wouldn’t hurt himself climbing on stuff he really shouldn’t be climbing on. He got up on doorframes, towel racks, the bureau, bookshelves, and on some very memorable occasions my extremely precariously-tottering vintage/antique china cabinet that probably should be refurbished or retired because it is going to kill someone one terrible day but I can’t give it up because it was my grandparents’.

One day when he was locked in the back bedroom, he figured out how to open the bureau cabinet where his toys are kept. I found the toys scattered all over the floor.
One day when he was locked in the back bedroom, he figured out how to open the bureau cabinet where his toys are kept. I found him up there looking totally mystified.

That promise is fulfilled in spades: he is one honking’ huge bruiser of a boycat. He’s grown into the paws and ears–and his sense of adventure and boundless curiosity has only grown with the rest of him. But he’s also a supremely affectionate cat–very loving, very lovable. He’ll go from chewing on cords (treated with bitter apple, which he seems to regard as a spicy accent taste) to curling up at his humans’ feet. He sleeps on his back with all four paws curled in and his tail tightly tucked along his belly. Though some cats do that and then react explosively to being petted there, Bumble loves having his belly stroked. Actually he likes everything. The more attention, the better.

I’ve never seen a cat leap like this one can, either. He easily clears the 5-6′ needed to get up onto the bureau from the floor–and from there another 4-5′ in the air to reach the top of the door. He startles me at least once a week when I’m walking down the hall; he gets up on the towel rack in the bathroom, cranes his head around the corner to see me, and then meets my eyes. My lizard brain sees eyes meeting mine from a place where I don’t normally expect to see eyes at my own level before it sees adorable huge orange boycat trying to get my attention.

In the household of cats, he is the planner, the strategizer, and the instigator. His sister holds back and watches as he tries the new toys and treats, then cautiously approaches. When he is picked up, he immediately looks around to scope out what’s on nearby bookcases and walls. And if he’s not kept occupied, he entertains himself by jumping up on Mr. Captain’s desk to root around for goodies and toys. There’s almost always something interesting happening up there.

YouTube video

but only in the sweetest most lovey way
Catnip distribution. I’m about to lose some fingers, I think.

He takes his position as the Captain of the Guard seriously, though. When anybody comes to the door, he is the first responder–leading the cats’ charge to the back bedroom to hide. Every morning, he tries to do battle with the shadows cast on the upper bedroom walls by cars going past on the road. He also makes sure I don’t drown in the shower by hiding between the liner and the outer curtain of the bathtub. If I peek at him, he squawks at me in clear distress but stays till I’m finished and then carefully inspects me for damage. Sometimes he seems so distressed about my showering that I’ll pick him up and take him into the bathtub with me–and he doesn’t mind that at all. He inspects the shower head and when he’s satisfied, I put him down again so he can take up his guard position. Water was never a fear of his. The only thing he does seem to fear is canned air, which is appropriate considering that ghosts very clearly fear it too.

None of our cats are lap cats, but Bumble is our curl-around-the-feet cat.

from infinity to the top of the doorframe!
One of his favorite places to be. He pushes his tail hard against the wall for balance.

Bother: The Pampered Princess.

Yes, she hangs out like this.
Yes, she hangs out like this.

Bother’s always been a bit neurotic. She’s the prim, girlie-girl, fussy little cat in the household. Carefully finding her path on delicate little paws, she clearly believes that discretion is the better part of, well, everything. She distrusts anything new or different.

She has her moments of exuberance, with explosions of affectionate fussing when she feels safe. Unfortunately most of those moments appear to involve the bathroom. I am not allowed to go in there without waiting for her to join me–and if she hears me head that way she’ll dart in from wherever she happens to be, sometimes still blinking and waking up as she trots in with all the airs of an offended monarch.

activated botherletA recent development is her affection for sleeping under the covers with the humans. At first she required a sort of “tent” (formed by a human bending a knee to form a tentpole), but now she doesn’t absolutely require that concession every time. When I go to bed she worries at the covers near my shoulder until I pull them aside and let her slip underneath. She curls up a foot away and purrs herself to dreamland. If she gets a tent, then she curls up all around the feet of whoever’s doing it. There isn’t much as nice as a very warm, fuzzy purring bundle threaded all around one’s feet. If your heel goes to sleep while she’s there, that’s a you problem and not hers.

Bother is also terrified of fresh catnip. I think it’s too intense for her. If I rub the catnip on a toy, she’ll eagerly play with the toy and happily partake of the used catnip afterward, but just fresh catnip by itself gets a very strong reaction from her: she blinks, squints, blinks again, then wheels up like a unicorn and dashes away. Then she creeps close because, well, it’s still catnip, and the performance repeats as often as the human involved lets it.

She’s not as good a jumper as her brother, but she throws herself into play much harder than he does. She’ll leap and race around until she’s literally panting–she lets out this adorable strangled-sounding meow, almost a grunt, when she pushes herself very hard. She doesn’t appear to have whatever cats possess that tells them they’re too tired to play or run anymore and really ought to rest a while. After making her throw up a few months ago from playing too hard, I’ve realized I have to call those shots for her.

We do a head count before getting into bed, obviously.
We do a head count before getting into bed, obviously.

And she’s even more entwined with the humans of the household than her brother is. Right now she’s sleeping behind me on the big pink chair. Earlier today when I took a midday siesta, I woke up to find her dozing right next to my face.

Incidentally, she’s our belly dots cat. Before they grew up and their sheer size differentiated them, about the only way I could tell them apart was by getting a look at their bellies to see which cat had the dots.

sorry was hypnotized by the BELLY DOTS

Lord Snow: The Aging King.

he's probably thinking I taste like chicken though
Old cats often have such a thoughtful and broody demeanor.

I’m sad that Lord Snow may be coming up on the end of his time with us, though. As the kittens grow in strength and cunning, he seems to recede. If Bumble bumps into him there’ll be a half-hearted slapfight (more an expression of startlement from Snow than a desire to have conflict), but Snow is still winning those–barely. His vision has gone south for good, it seems; he loves to play still, but he can’t track small toys or the red laser-pointer’s dot. He’ll dash after the flashlight beam instead. He loves catnip and will sit there, lordly and brooding, after having some. One wonders what’s behind those half-closed eyes as he daydreams in his catnip buzz.

This is seriously one really chill cat. Exhibit A:

These are my new headphones. Snow was curious about them so I let him model. Amazingly, he didn't mind this at all. He was more wondering what my damage was than he was annoyed at having headphones set over his back.
These are my new headphones. Snow was curious about them so I let him model. Amazingly, he didn’t mind this at all. He was more wondering what my damage was than he was annoyed at having headphones set over his back.

We’ve had to get creative with keeping him clean. His luscious white fur has always been a trial for him to maintain, but now he needs brushing more than once a day, dry shampooing often, and rubdowns with paper towels. Whoever suggested that Furminator-style razor-brush, it’s been a godsend. Now if we could figure out a way to keep his face clean without him freaking out….

I think this was kind of an accident, but Snow played that ball where it lay.
I think this was kind of an accident, but Snow played that ball where it lay.

One of his favorite tricks is to come up to me or Mr. Captain while we’re sitting at our desks and rub one of his fangs across our legs–OUCH–to remind us that he’d like something to eat. He gets very fancy-schmancy grain-free canned food, while the kittens get a bit of less-expensive canned food to keep them from stealing his. I feed the kittens first to get them out of Snow’s hair–putting their two bowls in the furthest room from Snow’s feeding-spot. He trots after me as I take the kittens their bowls, watching me worriedly–will this be the time I forget all about him?

No, it won’t! I get his bowl and he trots ahead, leading me to the room where he gets fed.

All three cats know what it sounds like for me to get cans out of the pantry. I don’t use a lot of canned food for human meal preparation, so chances are that if I’ve got cans in my hands, it’s for them. They all materialize out of thin air to congregate casually around the kitchen. Oh, is it dinner time? We were just hanging out. We’re all cazh here. We’re fine, we’re all fine. How’re you? (STOP LICKING YOUR CHOPS, BOTHER!)

The charm offensive may have actually succeeded at last.
The charm offensive may have actually succeeded at last.

Snow’s gotten way friendlier with the kittens as he ages. When we first got them, he was decidedly not enthused with the situation. He didn’t try to hurt them, but he just wanted them to please leave him alone. Bumble tried his best to make friends, but Snow wasn’t ready. Now Bumble sleeps next to him often and sometimes even rests his head on Snow’s butt. Snow allows this without complaint. He never got along with his littermate, Monster, who hated everything alive with a passionate fury almost her whole life, and most of the other cats I’ve had as he grew up weren’t particularly friendly with him (he was the interloper kitten for most of them), so maybe this is a comforting friendship for him as he finishes his journey on this earth. I like to think so.

Mr. Captain is taking Snow’s slowdown as hard as I am, I think; Snow was born right as we were getting together, and he is now the very last of the colony of cats we put together when he moved in with me (like The Brady Bunch–right down to the genders and numbers involved). Lord Snow gently reminds us of beginnings and fresh starts–and his aging reminds us that everything has a beginning and an end.

I remember thinking to myself when Snow was still in that weirdly-disproportional stage of late kittenhood that one day I’d see him get old. I was still young (30 is the new 20 and all that), and he was just a kitten. Now I’m quite officially middle-aged and he is reaching the last loop of the roller-coaster.

I’ll make that last bit of the ride as pleasant and companionable for him as I can.

We were watching bird videos and Bother got a little excitable. Snow isn't used to that.
We were watching bird videos and Bother got a little excitable. Snow isn’t used to that. We finally got the materials to fix the tree’s columns – hopefully they’ll have it back in action soon. Bother leapt up onto the chair and then I began playing the bird video.

The Bird Video.

This is what happened last night when I put a bird video up for the kittens. When the video began, Snow was on the cat tree and the kittens were on the pink chair.

YouTube video

First the kittens decided that the noise was coming from somewhere else in the house. Bother probably was the first to pick up on it coming from my Mac monitor. You can hear Bumble purring like mad as he tries to figure out what’s happening. The video is interesting to me because of how the three cats navigate shared space and figure out who’s going to get what real estate to a favored view. Eventually Bother ended up on the same chair with Bumble vying for a good view, but it took a while for her to work up the nerve.

but she'll get it eventually, I'm sure
She’s just so worried about this whole thing.

(As I’m typing this and watching the video, Bother just leaped up onto Mr. Captain’s chair to watch herself. She’s fascinated with seeing it–I wonder if she can tell that one of those kitties is her? I’m just surprised she didn’t end up on my shoulder. Also, I’m aware that Mr. Captain’s desk is a wreck. I pick my battles.)

So overall, I reckon we’re doing about as well as can be expected. Lord Snow is sliding into his dotage and the kittens are now fully adults, with their own little weird personalities and habits. I know that folks were starting to ask after the Tornado Twins especially, so hopefully today’s been as fun for y’all to read as it was for me to assemble!

before she tries to turn my computer off again
A goodnight from Bother.
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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...