Sunday, February 20, 2011

Management Team, Part VI: Doni

Doni, or Adonis, is Dora's brother.  We're not actually certain of the genetic reality of this, although some of her markings are exactly the same color and pattern as his and their gait is very similar; regardless of the biological facts, they came into the family at exactly the same time from the same place and are the same age, so what else would they be?

His is the longest tail I've had on a cat, which means he's got long legs, too.  He's probably rangier than Rameses but not as bulky.  Doni is definitely a very photogenic fellow and, like most cats (which are amongst the most self-aware animals with whom I am acquainted) he knows it; but he's not hung up on himself.  He's actually quite an affectionate guy and probably the most relaxed personality we've had in the house in quite a while - maybe in forever.  Doni is the antithesis of Meli - very little gets him going; he's very engaged in what's going on in the house without having to get into every little thing all the time.  Where Dora gets wound up about the birds, Doni can become a bit (for him) excited when there's a squirrel in his yard.

He is extremely attracted to food.  All kinds of food.  He has been known to attack containers of quick oats, and bagels, and granola bars.  So he apparently has a special taste for carbs.  We do keep him on a strict diet as we don't want his long, lean frame to run to fat.

All around, Doni's a pretty special guy.  Which is why I sometimes tell him he's downright "adonishing".

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Management Team, Part V: Dora

This is Pandora Grace Diane, or "Dora" for short.  She came into our lives about 1-1/2 years ago, back in July 2009.  I had lost Gus and Isis within less than 10 days of one another the previous March and had thought I might get a kitten or two the next Spring.  I had a speaking engagement at Stone Cottage Gardens in Gladwin, Michigan, run by my good friends David and Mary Moore.  They have a lot of outdoor kitties that folks have dumped on their property; they do the best they can (they're both deadly allergic) in terms of feeding and vet care, but it's a challenge.

Back in July 2009, they had had a number of litters and Dora was among the kittens.  I actually met Doni, whom you will meet next week, first, but it was Dora to whom my heart went out.  When I met her, aged about seven weeks, she had a severe upper-respiratory infection, with her entire nose caked with mucus so she couldn't smell anything, and so was not eating particularly well.  I spent some time cleaning her up and treating her with some silver nitrate Mary had on hand but she was very sad nevertheless.

I decided I would take a kitten home.  But to decide between Dora and Doni was difficult, if not impossible.  Then I thought about the environment from which they were coming - highly social, outdoors, in the country -  and the one to which they would be going (especially as they would both have to be quarantined until their health stabilized)  - isolated, indoors, in the city; I decided to take them both.  My friend Theresa Dearhamer had made the trip up to Gladwin with me; she had the dubious privilege of carrying the two kittens in their carrier on her lap all the way back to the Detroit area.

The "kids" went to the vet on Monday, two days later, and we started to treat them.  Interestingly, although they had prize-winning ear-mite infestations, neither had any fleas.  The upper-respiratory infections were the biggest challenge, especially with Dora, but they both began to recover and then flourish.  When I let them out of their "room", Dora was the first to begin exploring, so I named her Pandora.

She is also the sweetest cat I've ever known.  It seems impossible for her to do anything that is not adorable, including (believe it or not) having a hairball.  So, I named her "Grace" as well, for her grace of spirit.  And she is a great hunter (she brings the mousie back to me so I can throw it again - when we play "Throw" - "Fetch" is a *dog* game) - so I named her Diane as well, which also happened to be my Mother's name.

Because Dora *is* so adorable, we have added a new word to the English language:  "Pandorable".  And she is, thus far, universally acknowledged to be so.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Management Team, Part IV: Rameses (the Great)

This is Rameses (the Great).  His middle name, Enkidu, is in honor of his predecessor, Agamemnon Gilgamesh (or "Memnon") whom we lost back in 2005.  (You'd have to know your Sumerian epics to get it - time for a trip to Wikipedia!)  He joined us at just less than four months of age in June of 2005, about two months after Memnon left us.

Rameses is the most intelligent cat I've even known - and I've known quite a few cats in my time.  I heard somewhere that most cats will only memorize a couple of "routines" (dog people know them as "tricks"), partly because a cat will not learn something if it doesn't feel doing it is in its best interests.  "Training" a cat largely consists of reinforcing behaviors the cat already expresses.  In Rameses's case, he's memorized five or six routines, some of which he executes at the snap of my fingers.  He's figured out how to open the toaster oven and pull out the rack, so I can no longer store anything he might consider tasty in there.  (My friend Catherine very helpfully asks me from time to time if he's figured out how to get in the microwave; thankfully that has eluded him thus far.)  He knows what doorknobs are for and how they work and, if he had opposable thumbs, I'd be in for a world of hurt with this guy.  (There was one time when I think he did manage to open the bathroom door when he was done eating his breakfast but there hasn't been a repeat occurrence, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that was a fluke.)

I've also realized that Rameses has some self-esteem issues.  Even though I give him lots of positive reinforcement (because, honestly, he's very handsome and healthy and lets me give him belly rubs, which I really missed after Memnon passed - among many other things), he does seem to be a bit of a bully with his brother Alex and sister Princess Nur.  (NO ONE messes with Meli.)  So, I'm working on positive experiences and using some different techniques to correct his less than desirable behavioral traits, an approach with which we are seeing some modest success.

But he is handsome, and affectionate, and very social, and has a great sense of humor and is very intelligent - so I'll take the package on this one, too!

Other news - had a great time at the Detroit Garden Center's ("DGC") Winter Gardening Series.  With the support of the attendees, Black Cat Pottery will be able to donate more to support the DGC and its programs than ever before.  Remember:  Make a purchase from Black Cat Pottery between now and the end of March and mention the Winter Gardening Series and 10% of your purchase will go to support the  DGC and its programs.  Also - got the call from Chicago Botanic Garden - and I'm in for the Antique and Garden Show in April!  OMG - that's less than 10 weeks away!  I gotta get to work!