Author: Amy

The White Shirt

And, oh my, the clothes. That scene where Annie, dressed again after the tennis match where she meets Alvy, emerges in her loose khaki pants, man’s shirt, waistcoat that unbuttons to reveal a wide tie, her hat framing her face, her sisal tote bag slung over her shoulder — that is the scene that launched a million ill-advised teenaged girls’ attempts at men’s wear.

from Annie Hall and Shopping Menswear

I’ve never owned a bucket bag, but I’ve riffed on the rest of the Annie Hall look at various stages of my life. I was a wee child when the film came out but Annie was still cool in 1988, 1992, 1997, 2003. I could never relate to her nerve-wracking flightiness but I could to the carefully rumpled three-piece suit. It said (and says), “I’m almost too smart to touch down properly.”
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Day 13-14

Day 13. Yesterday was a bustle of activity. The cats came in for most of the day and Jude ran circles around the room, with what appeared to be a mixture of excitement and fear. He wouldn’t actively play with the others but at least he came out. If I feed them in the room, he comes out and devours food along with them. When it’s just me, he hides out of view; however, at the end of the night he fell asleep out in the open on the cat tower. He kept a wary eye on me when I came in the room, but couldn’t keep from dozing off.

Day 14. Thursday. Today was neutering day. I didn’t want to set a trap overnight and generally make his life more terrifying than it already is so I decided I’d start “trap-training” him. I tied a trap permanently open, lined it with a soft towel and put a big bowl of food in before I went to bed last night. It was all gone in the morning. It might take a week but I hope I can get him going willfully into a trap or crate for his own vet visit soon. The rest of the kittens are at the vet today and I’m not looking forward to bringing home three little droggy, coneheaded kittens. It’s always hard to watch animals drugged and vulnerable–even the feral cats, with whom I have less of a bond than my indoor dogs and cats. But at least the vet visits will be done for awhile for these three. Cats really hate being in cars and yowled all the way there, banging relentlessly on their kennels.

Day 9-11: the kitten comes out of hiding (sort of)

Day 9. I introduced Leo without the other cats. Leo’s the shyest with me but the most interested in this new kitten. He batted playfully at Jude and kept trying to get close enough to get a good smell. It doesn’t seem like Leo’s behavior is aggressive, just curious. I don’t want to force it or make things harder, but I wonder if leaving the kitten alone for so long is detrimental to the socialization process–it seemed that the others relaxed when had some comfort and play from their littermates.

Despite his best intentions, Leo just managed to irritate Jude, so I corralled him back out. Jude then disappeared into one of the bookshelves in the afternoon and I couldn’t see him anywhere. He was quiet all afternoon, probably sleeping. He’s much more nocturnal than the other kittens. I put a big bowl of dry food out before we left to visit friends in the evening. We got home close to midnight and while I couldn’t see him anywhere, he’d at least left his hiding spot long enough to eat the entire bowl.

Day 10.Monday, February 28. Tough love day.

I only put food out while I was in the room. Definitely tough. Jude hid behind the bookshelves all day. In the morning, he took over an hour to come out and eat and didn’t eat much. Later in the evening, I put out some especially tasty wet food that the other kittens love. Again, it took him an hour but he came out and ate a whole can so I put another half a can out, which he came back out to eat. On Thursday I have a cat appointment to get all four kittens neutered and am wondering if it will be at all possible to re-trap, since he is still in hiding.

Day 11. Tuesday. All sorts of wonderful developments today!

First, Jude didn’t so much as peep last night–not a single meow or caterwaul.

Second, Leo the Shy opened some new sides of his personality. Leo has been the most temperamental of my original kittens and never lets me pet him unless cornered, pick him up unless cornered, and plays with me from a distance. Today I needed to corral them quickly and Leo actually let me pick him up from the middle of the room without taking off in fear. Later in the evening he jumped up on my chair and cuddled next to me, purring. He has never once done this in three months.

This morning I went in to feed Jude and after 45 minutes he still wouldn’t come out for food. I thought I should try letting the kittens in again to get him motivated by anything but hiding. Sure enough, he came out from behind the bookshelf several times, once out of interest in the little plastic ornament that Leo was batting around the room. But he didn’t eat much.

I don’t like how little he is eating so I thought I’d try something different in the evening–perhaps feed them all together. I put a big bowl of dry food in the room and let the kittens in again. As soon as they started eating Jude was out and waiting for his turn, even pushing his nose into Sasha’s for room at the bowl.

During both visits, Leo was relentless with Jude, chasing him into every hiding corner and swatting at him. While Sasha and Snow wandered off out of boredom and tiring of Jude’s grumbles and hiding, Leo kept going. At first I couldn’t tell if he was trying to play or trying to be dominant (or both). For at least an hour it was all Jude could do to get away from this nagging little ginger tabby and Leo got clawed a couple of times. The persistence paid off, because eventually Jude gave up and launched into a full-throttled game of kitten ambush. Up and down and up and down the cat tower they went after each other, finishing off with a game of spinning tornadoes in the litterbox (Leo’s favorite activity, responsible for a wide spray of litter on the floor every day).

Perhaps his play instincts went into effect when I pulled out The Feather Toy. Take something that you can squiggle, squirm and whip through the air, add kittens and you get the crazies. (Have I mentioned “the crazies” before?) After several minutes of watching from his hiding spot, Jude decided to come out and see for himself. He watched from a safe distance a couple of feet away, but intently and very cat-keen on each flick of the feather.

As I write, Leo and Jude have completely worn each other out and Leo is sleeping next to me on the chair, with Jude sleeping in the cat tree right next to the chair!

So color me red, this cat is actually interested in something other than fear!

Day 8 & 9

Day 8. This morning I put some food into the cage and left the door open. A few minutes later he was out of his hiding spot in the litterbox, eating quietly. This is the second time he’s eaten with me in the room and without any excitement from the other kittens. It only took a few more minutes before he stepped out hesitantly and delicately one foot after the other.

So far he seems intent on finding a way out. He made it through most of my wall to wall bookshelves (not a great idea for a kitten room, but hey, it’s the only office I have), getting as high as he could and jumping on each window ledge crying at the outside.

I decided to let Sasha in for a brief period in the evening to see if that helped. After Sasha went through some initial fright and tail-puffing at seeing Jude out of the cage, he went over to check him out under a chair. Jude turned his back firmly on Sasha–cat language for “No way, dude”. Sasha tried a few more approaches but none of them worked and one ended in a little growling.

Day 9. Jude spent the night out of the cage. I could hear him jumping around in the room and yowling occasionally. I’m just going to have to leave him out of the cage because there’s no luring him back in. He’s spending most of his time under the chair.

This morning, I put some food under the chair and he ate a few bites but went back into hiding. I let all three kittens in the room just to see what might happen and Jude got as high as he could on the window ledge to get away from them. Leo seemed the most interested in playing and tried several times to bat at Jude but all he wanted to do was get away. I could tell mostly from his tail, which was swishing in an agitated way.

After a week, he is still terrified. I really hope things improve this week or I’ll start to wonder again if I did the right thing.

In other news, Titian, momma to all these kittens, has been MIA for over two days. She is always waiting to be fed in the morning and this is the 3rd morning I haven’t seen her. Very unlike her. Last night, while I was in the room with Jude, I started hearing her distinct kitten call, which sent him into a whimpering meow. She must have been out in the driveway trying to find him–he is the last of her kittens and unlike her other litters she didn’t have to leave them at three or four months to go have yet another litter. I’m sure she was very bonded to him… I hope this doesn’t take her far and she comes back home permanently.

Jude doesn’t want to get near his evening meal. I tried putting it under the chair where he was hiding and then back in the cage but after an hour he still wouldn’t touch it. I hate to pull it away but after a week it seems okay to remove the “free lunches”. I want him to associate me with food.

Day 7: Time for Freedom?

Day 7. Jude has been caterwauling at night–the sound that is awfully like a cat in heat. Maybe Jude is a Judette? I can’t get close enough to tell. I’m thinking it’s time to give him an opportunity to leave the cage.

The other kittens are quite used to their cage–they always eat in it. In the beginning, containing them all day in the cage worked because they were very small and not as eager to get out and explore. It was big enough to contain their kitten play, while giving me an opportunity to get close. (Now it’s all I can do to keep them from running through every open door in the house.)

At his age, Jude just looks trapped, and that could be why all the caterwauling. If I let him out, he’d have at least one room to explore and choose his approach. I let the kittens in the room once or twice today which gets his interest but I’d rather let him choose how to interact with them rather than be ambushed. Thankfully, he ate twice today and both times while I was in the room so he’s definitely hungry enough to show himself now.

I spent the evening arranging and kitten-proofing the room. We had to move his cage across the room and this really sent him into a spitting and hissing freak-out–he hid in his litterbox for over an hour. Once things were all organized, I put some food in his cage and left the door open. After 30 minutes I heard him eating and looked up to see him standing tentatively at the opening. Don’t think he’ll come out with me there, so I’ll try again tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll even let Sasha in to show him the ropes. What if Jude is in heat? And what if I can’t get him into a cat carrier in time for his appointment next week?

Day 6: Kitten Ambush

Day 6. I like routines, even just a micro-routine. I’m starting to want a little bit of one so I can manage our seven animals and all their food, toys, cages, kennels, litter accumulating in my tiny house. So I cleaned out one of my old clothes wardrobes and turned it into a cat closet.

Routines are laughable with kittens, but at least when they were in my office I could contain the madness. They had a semi-routine, napping long into the afternoon on my office chair, playing in the evening, then going back into their cage. We moved their cage out into the living room when Jude moved in. They spend most of their freedom running like banshees all over the house. This morning they woke up with a serious case of the “crazies” and immediately upon getting out of the cage launched into the notorious kitten game of ambush–one hides or gets in what seems to be the “castle” of the moment–a box, a drawer, under the couch, on top of the bookshelf, the others vigorously go after him. Kittens are hysterical–they enact mock battles with defender and attacker.

Meanwhile, in my office, Jude was sleeping up in his hidden corner of the cage. He’d been crying half of the night again. I really needed him to finish his food so he could take the worming medicine I put in it. He was looking like it might take him hours to move so I let the crazies in the room to at least stir his attention. Before I knew it, Leo was on the top of the cage, trying to bat playfully at Jude and Sasha was circling around the cage. Kitten ambush. I’m not sure if he liked this or not but he made a bunch of chirruping sounds and came down to eat!

Taming Adventures: will this kitten ever eat?

This time around, I’m a little more prepared for the semi-sleepless nights listening to a kitten yowl for freedom. Little Jude (his temporary name since we can’t really see his personality yet) is starting his fifth day and still works up a good loud cry every hour. Yesterday he slowed down a bit and I managed to sleep through last night without worrying.

Jude has beautiful soft velvety paws and a mixture of chocolate and tan stripes. He’s fluffy and fat and his head is twice the size of his brother Sasha’s. That extra month of mother’s milk must’ve been like kitten steroids. And there’s no doubt who his father is; he’s the spitting image of the dominant tomcat we like to call “Bob”.

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Taming Adventures: the 5-month feral kitten

Today I trapped a kitten, the last from a litter of four that I have been socializing for several months. The first three were barely 8 weeks old when I caught them in my driveway on Thanksgiving weekend. The fourth escaped from our hands and hid under the shed for a day until his mother came back from her spaying appointment.

The capture of the first three was such a traumatic experience, listening to the cats crying all night alternating with mom crying for her kittens in our driveway for three days–and living with several weeks of timid cats who wouldn’t return any of the love I wanted to give them. I had to resist the urge to feel I had done a terrible thing, by taking them from their only sense of care and love.

{left to right: snow, leo, sasha at 8 weeks}

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That 70s Thing in Yellow

I’m in the mood for yellow. And that would make sense for half of the planet, which seems to have been experiencing the most snowy, dreary, plane-halting winter ever. But this mood has nothing to do with cabin fever. Here I am in a part of Texas which, until last week, frolicked around the 70s for most of December and January. My roses had barely stopped blooming since October, my front garden was spilling over with the sweet fragrance of alyssum, jonquils and violets.

And then came a terrible arctic front–a record-setting freeze over 3 days that just about killed half of my very un-hardy garden. So long, alyssum, snapdragons and all of my beloved sweet pea vines. I think I may have just lost my lemon tree but I haven’t the heart to look into my back garden to consider all the damage.

Normally, when I dream of spring, I dream of coral and pale shell-colored roses. Yellow is just not a color I like to paint, plant, photograph or wear. But seeing it in Marc Jacobs fun spring collection got me rethinking my aversion.

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