Monday, March 29, 2010

Meet The Cats: Coraline

NAME: Coraline
DATE OF BIRTH: 15 August, 2009 (approx)
SEX: Female (spayed)
ANCESTRY: Domestic Shorthair (Mixed; mother was a black DSH, father unknown)


Coraline is one of a litter of three feral kittens adopted by me and Matt in October, 2009. She and her brother Brodie were trapped at about 7 weeks of age; Shadow (sibling #3 -- another brother) was trapped three weeks later.


Small, compact cat; (approx. 7 lbs as of 8 months of age) Blue (grey on cream-colored background) mackerel/part-spotted tabby. Back is very dark, almost looks solid grey, but breaks up into tabbying on either side of her body and toward her head, legs, and tail. Tail is subtly striped, very dark at the tip. Dramatic, high-contrast facial markings including black "eye-liner". Her eyes themselves are this amazing deep coppery orange color, and are often open wide and round (several people have commented "she looks like the cat from Shrek" upon seeing this!)

Background cream-color fur shades into peachy-tan on her face; overall she exhibits darker and sharper "tones" than her tabby brother, Brodie. Nose and paw pads are all pink shading to black. Long whiskers and eye-brows. Fur length would probably technically be considered "short", but she's fluffier than either of her siblings, especially about the cheeks and tail.


Bird-watching, squirrel-watching, bug-chasing (though I've never seen her kill one -- she seems to be more into catching them, releasing them, and watching them wiggle and run around some more), playing Wrestle & Ambush with her brothers, shelf-scaling, tearing around the house, intensely examining things, attempting to catch the goldfish (I keep the lid to the aquarium taped shut to curtail any diving expeditions!), emphatic snuggling.


Like her namesake (the Neil Gaiman character "Coraline" from the eponymous book and film), she is both very clever and very brave. She got her name after (as a teeny 7-week-old kitten) managing to escape from the kitten-pen, dart out the bedroom door, and scale the bookshelves in the guest room within 2 days of being adopted. (At 5 AM on a Sunday morning, no less!)

From the beginning her assertiveness and strategic planning ability were evident; you could just see her looking around the room and figuring out what was next to what, so she could determine how to get to Interesting High-Up Place. Even as a baby she was very "look before you leap".

Hence, she very much seems to enjoy high places (she and Nikki definitely share this predilection!), soft things (she is SERIOUS BUSINESS about her pillow-kneading sessions), little things that dart around, windows (the household orifice kind, not the Microsoft kind!), sunbeams, boxes.


- Having her nails clipped (she seems to have this near-precognitive sense of when the snipper thing is about to close, because she will just sit there RIGHT up until the point when I merely start to THINK about pressing the lever. At that point, she will jerk her paw away with lightning speed!).

- The Vet. (I know, what a shock.:P)

- The dreaded e-collar (a.k.a. Cone of Shame). The vet stuck one of these on Cora after she was spayed. I personally think this was a bit overcautious -- I've never before heard of a cat needing to wear one of these after a spay, particularly an early spay (Cora was only 4 months old when I got her fixed -- she was precocious and already in heat at that age!). But in any case, Cora absolutely would not tolerate the Cone. As soon as I opened the carrier following her surgery, she rocketed out and ricocheted around the room, crashing into walls, furniture, and quite possibly the ceiling until she was able to remove the infernal thing from around her neck. I honestly hope she never really NEEDS a cone because, gah, she'd probably need to be sedated or kept until a very small cage until she recovered from whatever prompted the cone. Which she would absolutely hate, and justifiably so, and which I would feel terrible about given it's hard enough navigating this whole "the cat doesn't like X/but X is for their own good" business. Cora is NOT the sort of cat to "get used to things". She means what she says, and her opinion of the cone was an unmitigated "oh HELL no!"


Yes, please! Coraline is a catnip fiend. If I fill an old sock with the stuff, she will drag it around the house, roll around with it, drool on it, and push it into her face once it's been sufficiently mashed to release the most potent of the plant's vapors. I am just glad it's harmless and non-toxic to cats because she really has quite a time with it!


As a tiny kitten she would eat pretty much anything she could get, but as she grows up I'm seeing her get pickier (her brothers are another story!). Her Absolute Favorite Thing Ever seems to be chicken or turkey wet cat food where you have actual chunks/shreds of meat with gravy or broth, though often she will JUST lick up all the liquid and leave the meat chunks to dehydrate in the bowl. She seems to be okay with most dry foods (is partial to Evo, though) and tolerates pretty much all of them well as far as digestion goes.

UPDATE: As of August 2010, Cora (along with her brothers) is eating a mostly-raw home-prepared diet. She's a little tentative about trying new things but so far has gotten to like chicken, turkey, quail, and beef. She's also getting quite adept at bone-crunching, which still amazes me seeing as she still looks so little!


Coraline is a big fan of toys -- both commercially-sourced cat toys and random bits of stuff about the house that she makes her own toys out of. While she loves interactive play and will scale the microwave, refrigerator, or closet shelf to steal any dangly-type toys, she is also quite keen on "bat the thingy around the house" games. Favorite subjects for these activities include plastic zip ties, plastic spiders (I had some of these left over from Halloweens past and once Cora found them she quickly started sending them skittering across the floor!), and little fuzzy rattle-mice.

She also has this one really elaborate thing she does (which I can hopefully get on video at some point) involving sort of...batting the object around a table or chair leg in ways that seem to involve some sort of intricate paw-dancing. Difficult to describe, but she's very intent on it when she's doing it, and there just seems to be this tremendous amount of thought going on.


Cora seems like the sort of cat who, had she not been raised with siblings, would have become an "only cat" (as in, totally intolerant of other felines in her vicinity). She is intensely territorial, and had some friction with Shadow when he first arrived (they'd been separated for only three weeks, but when you're a tiny kitten, that's a long time!), and seems to have an ongoing passive-aggressive thing going on with Nikki.

But she and Brodie were adopted together, and I think that prompted them to bond -- they've still never had a day apart in their lives, and can often be found lying in an overlapping pile of paws and entangled tails. I have also seen Cora and Shadow napping together, and they occasionally groom each other, but that has been rather a long time in the making. And when it comes to Nikki...well, Nikki is still somewhat larger/stronger than Cora, and Cora isn't daft, so she generally runs away when she sees Nikki heading toward her. So I would say that overall, Cora likes and enjoys the company of certain other cats (i.e., her brothers) but isn't quick to accept new cats, and is always going to have pretty high standards about who she lets into her personal space!

UPDATE: As of late summer 2010, Cora seems to have reached a kind of truce with Nikki! I caught the two of them napping together -- not snuggled up, but touching nonetheless -- on the futon recently. Which just amazed me.


It's kind of funny...initially Cora was SUCH a little hissy wild beast, but she's calmed down a lot, and is now actually the bravest of the litter as far as interacting with (unfamiliar) humans. She definitely has a mind of her own, and interactions are (as they should be!) always on her terms, but when she's in a snuggly mood you are definitely going to know it! Sometimes she follows me around the house going "nnnnnn!" until I sit down (so she can power-knead my lap). She also solicits head-scratches from both me and Matt, and will usually sit on my sister Katie for a while when she visits too.

She still usually hides at first when someone she doesn't know comes into the house, but will generally be the first to come out and investigate. Overall I would say at this point she's more curious than wary of humans, but still has that initial (and highly appropriate/self-protective) reflex to check things out from a distance first.

(click the video below to see some of Cora's amazing leaping prowess!)


  1. Wow I am happy to share a birthday with such wonderful cats!

    Also you forgot to mention her amazing eyes. And your comment mode is the evil one that makes it nearly impossible to comment

  2. Eeek, thanks for letting me know about the comment mode thing...since this blog is new I am still tweaking all the formatting crap and apparently there are some annoying defaults. I will fix it straight away.

    And, yeah, we are not 100% certain the kittens were born on 8/15 but are pretty sure it was at least around that week. The first time we took them to the vet she agreed on when they'd likely been born based on weight and overall development, etc. I totally forgot that was your birthday as well!

  3. OK the commenting mode is fixed...should work the same as my other blog now, as I applied the same settings (anonymous okay, no word verification, moderation applies to posts over 60 days old).

    And I have also included a description of Cora's eyes now, thanks for reminding me of that! I tried to describe how the cats look in enough detail so that people who are using screen readers, etc., might at least be able to get a general idea.


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