Reading Time: 7 minutes About two weeks ago I was contacted about participating in a conference next year at the University of Groningen. In 2014 they are celebrating their 400th anniversary so it seems appropriate it relate to something else from 1614. In that year, Johannes Kepler published his tome on chronology, arguing that Jesus was born several years earlier than was the tradition in his time (on Dec 25 in 1 BC). In that book, he also talked about the Star of Bethlehem, and this is the apparent link for this conference.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

At dawn this morning, I was fishing Bumble off of the china cabinet–like I’ve been doing for quite some time.

Bumble and his littermate Bother are a year old now, and every single day they remind me of how much energy I no longer have.

A rare moment with both of them awake, not moving much, and close enough together to take a picture.
A rare moment with both of them awake, not moving much, and close enough together to take a picture. (Bother – left, girl; Bumble – right, male.)

Yes, indeed! A year! Where does the time go? One year ago, a pair of kittens entered my life in a series of events I can only call “serendipitous.” A few of us around here have theorized that when a vacancy appears in a cat owner’s life, another cat quickly appears on the scene to take that spot. That process began before I even realized that one of my existing cats was making her way from this world.

Fuzzy Orange Couch Potatoes.

This is their "Faith + One" album cover.
This is their “Faith + One” album cover.

Clever readers have noticed that most of the kittens’ photos involves them sleeping. There’s a good reason for that stylistic decision. Well, “decision” is a strong word. I’m not sure there was much deciding going on there at all. It was more like “a stark recognition that I’m not likely to ever take a picture where they’re both awake, together, and not moving like they’ve each downed six cans of energy drink.” There’s really only one thing that gets their attention for any length of time: cat videos.

There’s an entire field of videos devoted to giving cats something to watch. They’re not videos of cats, such as the ones Hillary Clinton has said she enjoys, but videos for cats. They’re videos of birds eating seeds, squirrels scampering around, fish swimming in tanks, or even just red dots flying across the screen. They don’t have any kind of plots or dialogue; usually there aren’t even people in any of them. They’re simply meant to amuse cats in the same way that bright cartoons amuse toddlers.

And these two particular cats adore them. I have no idea who got this idea and made the first ones, but these kittens can’t tear their eyes away when a cat video is playing. A year ago, I had no idea these videos even existed. Now they are roughly half the streaming I do. (As I was looking up a URL for these, for readers who might not ever have encountered such videos, the one in that link began playing. Both kittens woke up and are now staring.)

The candy box and pajama shirt are decorations she scavenged from around the house. Her brother's still on the cat tree, watching.
This was taken just a few minutes ago. Bother heard chirping and woke up. The candy box and pajama shirt are decorations she scavenged from around the house. Her brother’s still on the cat tree, watching.

After this photo was taken, Bother jumped down to her usual perch to hang out under Mr. Captain’s chair to watch the video. Sometimes she chirps to match the birds. If a goose honks or a squirrel explodes into chattering, she’s there for the foreseeable future.

That stuff will rot her brain!
That stuff will rot her brain!

Bumble’s move is to leap out of nowhere to check out the back of the screen in case there are critters there. As long as the action onscreen is mellow, I can hold him on my lap when one of his videos is playing, and he’ll purr and sit there for a while–until the next adventure catches his eye.

I have never seen a cat willing to sit like this, but he's totally happy.
I have never seen any other cat willing to sit like this, but he’s totally happy.

Eventually they sack out again, resting up for the next trouble they get into. Very likely one of Bumble’s cutest habits is how he chirps and mews in his sleep. In the middle of nowhere, I’ll be doing something and hear this soft little kitten-sigh coming from behind me.

Make no mistake, however: this is the calm before the next storm. I have never seen a pair of kittens I’d better describe as “the Twins of Creation and Destruction.”

The Amazing Flying Wallendacat.

Bumble is a “vertical cat.” He likes climbing and jumping his way into high-up spaces like my china cabinet. Unfortunately, most of the really high-up things in my house are not particularly safe for a cat to clamber around on–like my china cabinet, which was inherited from my grandparents and a genuine nightmare to move because it is precariously balanced on four little feet that make it seem as safe to have in the house as an upside-down Eiffel Tower. I’m sure it’s more sturdy than it seems–or else how could it have lasted so long and through so many moves?–but I’m never happy when I hear its glass panes rattle in that way that only means one thing: that a huge, rambunctious cat has managed to find a way up there.

He's still growing. Just imagine that.
He’s still growing. Just imagine that.

In the middle of the night he jumps up onto my bureau, also inherited from my grandparents. He has to scrabble his way up to its top, but that effort just adds to the mystique of being up there (it’s also how he got to the top of the door next to it, detailed in a previous FULL KITTEN UPDATE). So my antique bureau now looks like owls regularly congregate on its sides for card games.

I seriously think he gets up there because he loves jumping down again. I’ve noticed that his form has gotten a lot better in recent days. When he leaps, it’s like watching SuperCat practice. All this cat needs is a cape. (In this video, look for Lord Snow’s reaction at the 33-second mark: Just leave me out of this, you weirdo.)

YouTube video

My job at this point appears to be making these high-up spaces either completely inhospitable or else safe for him to get onto.

A Day in the Life.

This cat tree has so far been the surprise hit of the season.
This cat tree has so far been the surprise hit of the season. Mr. Captain would like to forget the noises he had to make to get them both looking in the same direction for this picture.

I usually wake up with cats sacked out everywhere. Lord Snow’s never been an especially effusive or affectionate cat, but even he’s gotten in the habit of at least sleeping in the bedroom. But the kittens? As you might guess, they’re usually close to hand. Bother’s staked out the pillows, while Bumble is, well, everywhere else. Once they realize we’re awake, Bumble starts climbing the walls–literally–while his sister darts under the covers. I’ve never understood why she times it that way, but she only does it while her people are awake and about to get out of bed–or have just bunked down.

After we’ve repaired whatever damage the kittens caused while the humans in the household slept, it’s playtime as far as they’re concerned. As Calvin noted in a long-ago Calvin & Hobbes strip, it’s hard to be angry at someone who clearly missed you while you were sleeping!

If you’ve ever heard of the “midnight crazies,” these two don’t really get that; they get the all-day-long bursts of energy. I also taught Bother how to play a game Mr. Captain  calls “Runny-Chasey,” and she is always up for a game of that (it’s pretty simple: I run past her and around a corner, then peek out at her–she’ll chase after me, and my job is then to run to another corner and repeat this process). They’ll play well past the point where they’re both panting and exhausted, but I usually hit that stage long before they do.

While I try to get work done, the kittens do their best to interrupt. Every day is like the best tug-of-war you’ve ever had. I don’t mind at all. A year ago, I already knew they’d take over my life.

And I was right.

Lord Snow Thaws–Sort Of.

The third cat in our happy household is not nicknamed Lord Snow for his coloration (or lack thereof) alone. He’s always been a little bit stand-offish. But the kittens got to work on him immediately after joining us. Bumble, particularly, seemed downright nonplussed at the idea of anybody not adoring him.

YouTube video

One thing I’m really relieved about: I never had anything to worry regarding how Lord Snow would take to the kittens. I haven’t seen any fights at all since introducing the three cats. Sometimes Bumble spars a bit with him, but so far Lord Snow has won every one of these friendly little tussles. Mostly he just wants to sleep–and the kittens appreciate a good nap-mate.

Perfect camouflage.
Perfect camouflage.

I can’t say that Lord Snow loves the kittens, but he at least plays with them now and lets them sleep on his butt. I’ve also noticed him grooming Bother. So perhaps he’s thawing a little bit. (It’s hard to imagine a concerted love-bombing campaign by Bumble failing, isn’t it?)

What’s really neat to me is how often my days end the same way they began–by being awakened out of a sound sleep by the noise of Bumble getting into something he knows he shouldn’t be getting into. All that sleeping the kittens do by day is just preparation for the chaos they’ll be causing later that night. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you wonder how I keep the ship steady as she goes, this crew is a big part of the answer. May there be many years ahead with all of them.

I don't see how this could ever be comfortable, but she does it often.
I don’t see how this could ever be comfortable, but she does it often enough that I must assume that it is. (She set the cat toy there hoping to get Lord Snow to play, and when that didn’t work she gave in and went to sleep on him.)

If you have any pet pics you want to share, you know what to do! It doesn’t even have to involve cats. We’re equal-opportunity animal fans around here. (If you ever wondered if marine biologists could squee like little kids over an adorable purple octopus, this video should answer that question:)

YouTube video

I know we’ve been talking about some really serious stuff lately, so I thought today we’d break it up a little. We’ve got a Jack Chick retrospective and critique coming next and I hope to see you then!

See you next time!
See you next time!
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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,...