Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Sad News...

(Warning: this very well might make you cry.)

I just got word this evening (from Matt's mom) that one of Rosie's babies died today -- the little darker grey tabby (pictured below, while still alive a few days ago).

We don't know what was wrong, but we did notice a few days ago that this kitten seemed to be nursing less than the others, wasn't as round in the belly, and was sort of sitting apart from the rest of the family more often than the other kittens were. It is just so hard to tell, when kittens are this young, whether how they're acting is due to being ill or due to just random variation.

But in any case, gah, it is very saddening that this little one didn't make it.

When I heard the news I immediately went and found my (rapidly growing-up) kittens and gave them scritches and told them how glad I was that they'd all survived those perilous first few weeks of infancy.

So, yeah, not exactly the happiest evening ever. Two weeks of life spent snuggled up with Mom and siblings in a nice warm, dry nest is better than no life at all, but still. Kittens have it tough in the beginning, being as tiny and vulnerable as they are, and anyone involved in any degree or type of cat rescue is going to experience the loss of some, but that doesn't make it any easier when it does happen (nor should it).

Rest in peace, little one. I am so sorry you never got to explore much of the amazing world you were born into.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coraline is Clever at Climbing

One of the very first things I ever noticed about Coraline was how observant, and how much of a planner she was. Even as a tiny two-month-old kitten, I could see her looking around whatever room she was in and figuring out just how everything fit together, and how she might be able to use available objects to her advantage (i.e., to get onto interesting-looking high shelves).

And, last night she figured out how to get to what is probably the highest point in the entire house -- the top of the DVD cabinet in the living room. It was really amazing to watch. First she jumped onto the mantel over the fireplace, then she jumped to the entertainment center, and then she made it to the top of the cabinet. And proceeded to sit there like an amber-eyed feline gargoyle as Matt and I watched our pre-bedtime Buffy episode.

Anyway, below is a picture of Cora quite triumphant atop her newly-discovered perch:

...and here is a video I took this evening of her making the upward journey:

I put one of her favorite feather toys on top of the DVD cabinet (when she was sitting where I knew she'd see me). And within seconds she made her way up there, knocked the toy down, and returned to the floor via the same route she'd come...and went right to where the toy had fallen.

I just thought that was pretty neat. And very very indicative of the fact that, yes, cats can indeed have rather complex planning and problem-solving abilities. Not that this is a surprise to me!

Also, it is interesting to see the different interests/priorities/predilections of different cats when it comes to such things as vertical terrain-exploration. Both girl kitties here (Cora and Nikki) are majorly into the climbing and the leaping.

Whereas the boys (Shadow and Brodie) are still a lot more likely to try and grab onto objects with their claws and scramble/crawl their way up. They will sometimes jump high when going after interactive toys, but they're not so much for the indoor climbing-gym stuff.

Cora and Nikki both also seem to do this thing where they jump very high in a manner that looks practically effortless; that is, there's not a whole lot of "wind-up". Which makes it almost look like teleportation sometimes!

Monday, April 26, 2010

On Larval Cats and Worthwhile Feral Lives

As I noted in their introductory pages, Coraline, Brodie, and Shadow all started out as feral. Matt's parents live locally to us, and there's a smallish but fairly persistent feral cat colony in their neighborhood, various members of which I started noticing some time ago, whenever we visited.

Anyway, Rosie (shown below, under a bench in Matt's parents' back yard) is another colony kitty. It is difficult to keep track of all the lineages amongst these cats, but I am pretty sure her mother was a grandchild of Coal (the trap-wise "matriarch" of the colony for the past several years, and the mother of my three youngsters), making her some sort of nth-cousin to Cora, Brodie, and Shadow.

Rosie's mother only ever had two litters that I know of before she died -- one consisted of two kittens (Toby, who Matt's parents adopted, and another I called Logan, who was fostered and adopted out by a neighbor), and the other consisted of three: Gryffindor, Sage, and Rosie. Gryff is a mischievous and playful tom who still cavorts around outside -- he's definitely high up there on the Neuter Waiting List. Sage was (past-tense, unfortunately -- she was hit and killed by a car out front when she was just under a year old) a sweet, stubborn, exceedingly inquisitive girl.

(Picture above shows Rosie, a brown tabby cat with blackish stripes and some greyish "ticked" fur crouched under a bench. It is night and her eyes are reflecting a lot! She has a somewhat rounded face, and appears wary and perhaps slightly defensive.)

Rosie, though? Rosie is something of a shy cat. She is much less bold than her littermates, who would actually come into the house sometimes to go after a dangly toy. Gryff actually got his name in part from being so brave that he would sometimes dart into the house, steal a toy, and run off with it! And Sage was nearly as bold as Gryff when it came to toys (she seemed like she was competing with her brother sometimes), and even let me pet her (with purring!) a few times. But Rosie was always the one hanging in the background, looking on with cautious interest, but not usually venturing forward.

Nevertheless, she is fairly used to Matt's parents and to me and Matt (seeing as we've been over there to do laundry a lot in the past year, due to not having washer plumbing yet in the new house). She doesn't immediately bolt if she sees humans (at least certain humans) -- and two weeks ago today (April 12, 2010), she chose to deliver her kittens right outside Matt's parents' back door.

It was unseasonably (for this part of California) cold and rainstormy that day, so as soon as Matt's mom saw what was going on, she made a nest (out of a cardboard box and a towel) and brought the kittens inside. Soon afterward, drawn by the cries of her babies, Rosie herself came right inside!

Now, the whole family is camping out in Matt's parents' larger bathroom -- and once the babies are old enough to not need near-constant feeding, Rosie can be spayed (and the kittens can be spayed or neutered safely as early as eight weeks, though some vets prefer to wait until they weigh four pounds.)

Now, for a bit of a tangent: I am a strong supporter of Trap-Neuter-Return (which you can read much more about on the Alley Cat Allies site -- one of my favorite cat-related resources). TNR (in conjunction with "trap-neuter-adopt" for young kittens and tame stray cats who have taken up with feral colonies) is clearly far more humane than the "round up and kill" method common to some areas, and also generally results in the cats going on to live much longer, healthier lives than they would have otherwise.

It is absolutely not true that feral cats by definition live a "miserable" existence -- I've seen and known enough of them to observe that so long as the humans in their midst accept their coexistence and aren't jerks or sadists, the cats are generally quite happy and content. I have watched many of them playing chase games, scrambling up trees, leaping after skittering leaves blown about by the wind, basking in sunbeams, and just generally seeming to enjoy their felinity. And yes there are risks outdoors, such as automobiles driven by careless humans (like the ones who killed Sage), but I do not think for a moment that the presence of these risks mean that the very existence of feral cats calls out for human pity.

In other words, there are good things humans can do for cats like Rosie -- getting her spayed, vaccinated against rabies, etc. -- but to suggest that her life is a tragedy just because she isn't a "pet" is ridiculous. Right now she is working hard (and doing a great job of) caring for her four beautiful children. Once she's done with that, she will get her trip to the vet and then she will be free to re-join her colony outdoors.

(Picture above shows Rosie, a brown tabby cat, lying on her side with her belly exposed. Four kittens -- about twelve days old when this photo was taken -- snuggle in a pile in front of her: a little marble/classic tabby is nursing, a dark grey tabby nestles near Rosie's arm, and a solid black kitty is curled up on top of a light grey tabby sibling.)

The kittens, as they're going to be spending their formative weeks indoors (Rosie has been free to come in and out, but mostly she stays in taking care of her babies), will not be feral -- feralness is a function of where and how kittens are raised, mostly, and how much early contact they have with humans*.

What this means, of course, is that we (meaning me, Matt, and his parents) are scouting around already, trying to find good homes for the kittens once they are old enough (11 weeks or thereabouts**) to leave Mom.

Matt's parents already have three "official" cats (Toby, Harmony, and semi-feral Suzie) so they can't really afford to take on four more, and I've set my own household feline limit at four (any more and we would likely have serious territory issues) so I can't take even one kitten home myself.***

So...I am really hoping we will find people who can maybe take two kittens at once (or someone ambitious enough to take on all four, even!), as littermates have a higher chance of getting along once they grow up than un-related cats (and they are absolutely delightful to see growing up together!).

But if someone can only take one kitten that is fine too, so long as they are committed to providing that kitten with a lifetime home (there are an unfortunate number of cats abandoned every year because some humans don't want them once they outgrow the "cute kitten" phase -- which I frankly can't even begin to wrap my brain around, seeing as cats are adults for most of their lives, and adult cats all seem to sort of "deepen" with age, in a manner that just makes me feel utterly privileged to be in their presence), and so long as they are generally respectful of cats.

In the meantime, though, I am definitely going to be enjoying watching the little kittens grow and develop. I have never actually seen kittens so young in person before -- seriously, that is where my post title came from, as they really do seem like cat larvae (in a cute way!) during the "eyes closed, ears folded" stage. So you can definitely expect more pictures, here and on my Flickr photostream!

For now, though, I leave you with one more image, this time of one particular kitten:

S/he (we don't know what sex any of the babies are yet) is all curled up against Rosie's belly, surrounded by siblings. Eyes are closed, and just the tiniest tip of tongue is poking out of his/her mouth!

* Of course there are some cats just born with very strong temperamental predilections toward either extreme human-wariness (meaning no matter how they're raised, they'll likely act feral) or its opposite (meaning they'll be very bold about approaching humans even if their first encounter is as older kitten or even adult ages).

** Cora and Brodie were younger than this -- closer to 7 weeks -- when I trapped and adopted them, and it would have been better if they'd been able to stay with Mom longer. However, seeing as their mother in particular was/is very feral, it would have likely been much, much harder to catch them the older they got. Shadow, meanwhile, got to stay with Mom for an extra 3 weeks while we worked out how to trap him -- he was very elusive -- so it ended up working out that no kitten was without at least one family member prior to the age of ten weeks.

*** I love cats and want to help care for as many as possible, but I know that caring for cats does not entail presuming every single kitty I encounter needs to live with me. That kind of attitude -- the "I must SAVE them all by KEEPING them all" thing -- is where "animal hoarding" comes in, and frankly that sort of mentality strikes me as both misguided and selfish, not compassionate.

One must be aware of the "cat-carrying capacity" of one's home (I figured mine to be four, and I'm sticking to that, based on the size of the house, number of rooms, and the fact that some of my resident Feline-Americans are way territorial), of one's own own available cat-care resources, and the personalities of the cat(s) involved when one is looking to adopt. And sometimes the best thing you can do is say "no, I can't take this cat, but I will certainly help look for someone else who can!" And participate in TNR efforts, however you are able. Yes, I'm opinionated about this. :P

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nikki, The Guarding Cat

I've found that a lot of the time with Nikki, I have to be very careful of applying any "generalized" cat-theory to her, and to be hyper-vigilant about making sure I stop doing something no matter how many books tell me "oh, cats like it!"

Nikki, you see, defies a lot of "cat-dogma", and until quite recently I found the particular combination of things she reacted "unusually" to rather odd and surprising.

Case in point: the catnip thing. Nikki is a catnip "responder", meaning it's clear she is at least somewhat affected by the stuff. However, she doesn't seem to particularly like the effects of nepetalactone, and in fact will go out of her way to avoid being "taken in" by the Catnip State.

After she'd settled in somewhat, I offered catnip to her on multiple occasions, hoping she'd find it to be a source of fun -- but instead she seemed to get angry at it, sniffing it and then either whacking the scented object away with a hiss, or running away from it in the opposite direction.

And up until now I've never seen a cat react this way to catnip, ever. All the other cats I've known either ignore it (the non-responders) or love it. But not Nikki. She has her own way of responding, and she's made it clear that she doesn't want to feel however the catnip makes her feel. So I don't offer it to her anymore (though she is free to go seek it out if she feels like it).

Another case in point: "feline facial pheromones". These are supposed to be the "calming" chemicals secreted by cats in their cheek, chin, and forehead areas -- the depositing of which accounts for the feline habit of head-rubbing on familiar objects when they're feeling relaxed.

The first time I saw Nikki's reaction to these pheromones was when I was doing the whole "scent mixing" thing I'd read was important for making introductions between unfamiliar cats. I'd taken a glove and petted the younger cats on their faces with it. Then I went into Nikki's room and let her sniff the glove. She proceeded to remove the glove from my hand with a single paw-swipe, accompanied by a hiss.

At the time I figured she was probably just not happy about smelling (then) unfamiliar cats. But then, a while later, after she'd been given the run of the house along with the others, I got the idea of trying some Feliway spray in an effort to give Nikki some "safe" areas for napping, etc., where she could go and feel comfortable and secure.

I'd read that cats will supposedly interpret these synthetic facial pheromones as identical to their own, and from my human perspective, I saw using the spray as a sort of "prosthetic" means for me to go around making certain objects smell homey and non-threatening (seeing as I don't have cat-glands in my own cheeks and chin!).

But, in what was beginning to look like yet another element in a pattern, Nikki did not seem to appreciate the Feliway. At all. Her reaction to it was very similar to how she reacted to catnip -- the "get this stuff AWAY from me!" response. And then, rather than wanting to go sit in the areas I'd Feliway-ed, she avoided those areas for weeks -- probably until the synthetic pheromones dissipated.

So, for a while those "odd" reactions to things cats are reputed to "like" really puzzled me.

I was also puzzled at Nikki's apparent "moodiness". Yes, I know cats --particularly Siamese cats -- have sort of a species reputation for this, but most of the time it's been pretty evident to me that they aren't reacting randomly to things, and I tend to get annoyed at humans who talk about cats like they're all completely enigmatic and inexplicable. And I wasn't presuming that Nikki was having "random" reactions either, but I was definitely getting perplexed by the sheer frequency and intensity of her emphatic announcements.

Sometimes she seemed to just be screaming at me (using every cubic centimetre of her formidable Siamese lung capacity) for "no apparent reason" (even though SHE clearly had a reason). Other times, she just seemed to be irritated at everything and everyone. She'd go stomping around the house, making these little "harrumph" noises and swatting at the other cats if they got in the way of her circuit.

Some of this I attributed, probably correctly, to the fact that she was still adjusting to having moved (after eight years in the same home, with the same humans), and to the presence of three other cats. But that didn't account for all of it. And I knew it wasn't a medical issue, because she'd been pronounced impressively healthy for her age at her last vet visit in January. And she always has food, fresh water, and clean litter. So I was at a loss to explain what the heck was going on. And I was feeling guilty and frustrated at myself for not knowing what she was telling me.

But then, one evening last week, something changed. Nikki found a way to communicate with me that was...pretty unmistakable (and no, it did not involve urine).

I am still not sure how she did it, or even exactly what she did to get her message across. Maybe someday I will be able to describe the mechanism (as I'm sure it was something perfectly mundane as far as cats are concerned), but I can't yet, so I will just skip to the result. And the result was that my brain completely paradigm-shifted and I realized that everything about her behavior that had seemed "weird" or "frustrating" to me made total sense when I looked at her in the vocation of a security guard.

In other words, the patrolling, the seeming annoyance at the other cats "interfering" with her work, the extreme dislike of anything that altered her perceptions or seemed to "trick" all suddenly fell into place.

So, I did what anyone whose cat has just told them the feline equivalent of "you know, you've been awfully dense about all this!" would do: I said "Thank you".

Then I am sure I visibly relaxed, because she visibly relaxed, and ever since then, there's been a whole lot more relaxedness around here, and a lot less harrumphing.

And as odd as this may sound to some, I actually do feel safer knowing Nikki is on patrol.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Note On Words And Their Uses As They Pertain To Cats

(1) When I use phrases like "my cats" in my writing, I do not mean to suggest that they are objects I "own".

Yes, I am responsible for them in many respects, but as they are living, sentient creatures, they are not really "ownable", at least as far as I'm concerned.

Hence, wording like "my cat" or "I have four cats" should be read here as similar to when people say "my sister" or "I have four cousins".

Also, I don't like the word "owner". I prefer to consider myself "my cats' human" in the same sense that said felines are "my cats".

(2) My personal definition of the word "person" most definitely includes members of the feline species. "Person", in my mind, is not necessarily synonymous with "human", but rather a term that when used connotes (for me at least) a certain measure of respect, and which acknowledges the sentience of the individual in question.

Of course I don't believe that cats perceive the world and interpret information exactly the same way humans do. But I also don't believe that humans have the monopoly on how to do self-awareness. Cats are different from us but that doesn't make them nonpersons.

Hopefully that makes sense. I know some people don't care about making such distinctions, but I do, so I figured I should explain.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Meet The Cats: Shadow

NAME: Shadow
DATE OF BIRTH: 15 August, 2009 (approx)
SEX: Male (neutered)
ANCESTRY: Domestic Shorthair (Mixed)


Shadow is one of a litter of three feral kittens adopted by me and Matt in October, 2009. He was not trapped at the same time as siblings Coraline and Brodie, and very nearly was not trapped at all -- the night we finally caught him, we'd already had an instance of the trap accidentally being sprung by a gust of ill-timed wind, and a "miss" where I activated the trap a split second too late (in that case he was very startled and ran off for a while). But in any case, he got to re-join his siblings in their new home by the time he was 10 weeks of age, and settled right in (albeit with a less-than-warm welcome from Coraline!).


Shadow is a medium-large (bigger than Cora and Nikki, slightly smaller than Brodie) muscular, evenly-proportioned cat. His fur looks solid black in most circumstances, but when you catch him in just the right lighting you can see rust-brown highlights and faint tabby patterning (which I think technically makes him a melanistic tabby). He has one very small patch of white hairs on the bottom of his belly, and one white whisker (the rest are solid black).

Nose and paw pads are black, and his eyes seem to be somewhere midway between Brodie's and Cora's in color -- they're sort of yellow-orange with a greenish band that shows up when viewed from a certain angle. His whiskers are all black except one, which is pure white!


Running around the house, wrestling with siblings, bird-watching, fish-watching, squeaking at the bedroom door in the morning when the alarm goes off (and jumping onto the bed when I open the door and let him in!), chewing cardboard boxes, finding secret hiding places (behind boxes and in closets, etc.), ambush games, hunting insects and spiders.


The humans' bed, sunbeams, windows, naps in cupboards, snuggles with siblings (he's a bit of a "den mother" type and can often be found washing someone's ears!).


The cat carrier (may be related to the whole "vet" thing, but he seems to dislike being confined in the carrier more than he dislikes actually being at the office). He is very smart...when he so much as SEES the carrier, he runs and hides somewhere in the house, and he is extremely talented at evading attempts to get him inside it!


Very occasionally he goes for it with vigor, but usually (as of late) he just seems like he'd prefer to be doing something else. He definitely isn't a fiend for it to the degree his sister is!


I have never seen this cat refuse to eat anything (well, except the pill he needed when he had a tapeworm, but that's another post!). Wet food, dry food, chicken, turkey fish, oatgrass...he likes it all. He knows the word "treat" and will climb my legs trying to get one if I'm holding the bag.

UPDATE: As of August 2010 Shadow (along with Cora and Brodie) is on a mostly-raw diet. Which he LOVES, especially when there are crunchy bones (chicken or quail) involved! He is also developing something of a more refined palate as he grows up; he doesn't eat like a garbage disposal anymore, and has actually turned his nose up at mice and smelt. But he enjoys plenty of other diverse raw protein sources so I am sure he is getting a good balance of nutrients.


Like his siblings, Shadow's favorite toys are of the interactive variety (dangling from a string or attached to a fishing-rod-type device). He is also a fan of the laser pointer dot and will sometimes go into the hallway and shriek at the wall (where I normally project the dot) as if to say "hey, where is that thing I like to chase?"

But...I have to say that his favorite things to play with aren't exactly toys at all...rather, his greatest delight seems to be stalking any spiders, moths, or flies that get into the house (we have an attached garage that leads directly outside so there's plenty of opportunity for things to crawl in). He doesn't usually catch them but he loves to chase them, and will make what I have come to call his "battle cry". It really is a thing to hear, hopefully I can catch it in a recording sometime because it is both mighty and adorable. It's like a high-pitched discordant wail-squeak-chirp.

Oh and another thing he likes to play with is...kitty litter. Definite incentive to keep the boxes clean there, because he sometimes seems to get so excited watching the litter particles move while he's digging that he starts making the Battle Cry. And then proceeds to throw litter around everywhere, whooping with joy. I've read this is a "kitten thing" and cats usually outgrow it...meanwhile, I am keeping the hand-held vaccuum handy!


The main words that comes to mind to describe how Shadow is with other cats are "nurturing" and "solid". Nurturing because he seems to have taken it on himself to keep the family's ears (and everything attached to them!) clean and well-groomed. Solid because he is a kitty who stands his ground.

It was quite hilarious to watch him and Cora together when Shadow first arrived...apparently three weeks of separation is a LONG TIME when one is a tiny kitten, and Cora initially did not appreciate the presence of yet another boy in her house! So whenever Shadow would do something like, say, jump onto the bed, Cora would put her ears back and fluff her tail and growl and hiss in her best THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS manner. While Shadow just...sort of sat there, blinking quizically now and then or pausing to wash a paw (or his butt). Which just irked Cora even more.

Sometimes she would succeed in pushing him off the bed, but Shadow would never gallop away in fear, and he was never discouraged by her posturing. So eventually it was like Cora just gave up, and now she's at least half as likely as Brodie to be seen receiving an ear-wash.

As for Shadow and Brodie? Best buddies, right from the start. They snuggle, play with, and groom each other every day, and have been doing so practically since Shadow got here.

As for Shadow and Nikki, Shadow's approaches have been similar to Brodie's...attempts to engage her in play, and further attempts to sniff or stealth-snuggle her from behind. So far these have been met with mixed success. I think Shadow's "solid-ness" might be wearing on Nikki's snarliness, because the other night I caught the two of them playing a sort of chase-and-hide game.

Overall, then, based on what I've seen, I would say Shadow is a "very friendly toward other felines" kitty. So far he's never met a cat he didn't like, or at least want to play or nap with!


Shadow was a huge surprise to me in this regard. When I finally managed to catch him (when he was ten weeks old) I was all prepared for a lengthy socialization process, or even a cat that wouldn't take to taming at all (and would have to be neutered and returned to his colony).

But, what ended up happening was the following. Shadow hid in a cardboard box for the first day after we brought him home (perfectly expected feral kitty behavior), and then on the second day was mildly traumatized by falling into the water dish when he attempted to climb the sides of the kitten crate we had him in.

On that day I woke up to the sound of "mew! mew! mew! MEW!" and went into the spare bedroom (serving as our cat acclimation chamber), and found a knocked-over water dish in one corner of the crate, and a very wet and terrified kitten cowering in the other corner (actually IN the litter box, as it was the only dry place left!). I figured I should dry him off so I very tentatively picked him up and blotted his soggy belly with a paper towel. I fully expected him to bolt away or struggle or scratch me, but he did none of these things...instead he just sort of cuddled up in my arms and let me finish drying him!

Then, later that day, I finally got him to eat something -- a relief, since I'd read that cats could experience serious liver problems if they went for more than a day or so without food. As it turned out, he was the opposite of his siblings when it came to early eating habits...where they initially would not eat unless Matt and I were out of sight, Shadow would only eat out of my hand. While sitting on me. It just goes to show you, all cats are individuals!

Anyway, Shadow only took a few days to get confident enough to eat on his own, and he took to the litter box straight away with no mishaps. And within four days of his moving in, he was crawling all over me and purring, and doing that "walk up to human, arch back, present backside for top-of-tail scritches" thing.

I was completely boggled by certainly was not due to any Cat Whispering talent on my part. I did not "tame" Shadow, or even "socialize" him in any systematic fashion, and yes, I'm sure he was 100% feral when we brought him in. The nearest I can figure is that his innate disposition combined with the circumstances just compelled him to figure maybe these particular humans (that is, me and Matt) were okay.

In any case, he remains a super affectionate kitty to this day -- at least with the humans he knows and trusts. Around the house, when there are no visitors, he acts, well, like a cat...a happy, relaxed, playful one. The vestiges of his feral-ness remain in that he is still very, very shy with strangers, hides when visitors come over, and will not let anyone touch him except me and Matt. However, he does seem to be getting a bit bolder...the last time my sister visited, he came out of hiding when he heard me get out the treat bag (for Cora, who was already out).

UPDATE: As of Summer 2010, Shadow has started emerging from hiding nearly to the extent that Cora does when visitors are present -- that is, as long as there are treats to be had. Apparently he's decided that hiding is good, but snacks are better!

(click below to see a video of Shadow, when he was about 4 months old, having a cat-conversation with me. :D):

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meet The Cats: Brodie

NAME: Brodie
DATE OF BIRTH: 15 August, 2009 (approx)
SEX: Male (neutered)
ANCESTRY: Domestic Shorthair (Mixed)


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


Brodie is a long, lanky, yet solid and muscular (feels a lot heavier than he looks!) grey mackerel (striped) tabby cat. His coloration is a bit lighter and more subdued than sister Coraline's, and he has more in the way of pure-white background hair (where Cora has more of a buff-tan). His ears are on the large and pointed side, and he also has a somewhat long and pointed nose/profile (which makes me suspect he's got some Siamese or Oriental Shorthair bloodlines in there somewhere, especially given that his meow is VERY Siamese-sounding).

Nose and paw-pads are shaded pink and black. White "eye-liner" fur around his eyes. Extremely long, slender, whippy tail with a slight kink near the end. His eyes are a clear limeade green.


Batting toys under the rug, curling his paws under him, making sporadic but impressively Siamese-esque meowing sounds, bird-watching, playing with his siblings, trying (unsuccessfully but enthusiastically) to entice Nikki to play, batting toys under rugs, leaping about (he seems to store a ton of potential energy during his naps!). Shredding cardboard and paper wherever he finds it. Napping in the laundry basket.


Where his sister Coraline is Serious Business, Brodie tends to be quite silly, and is utterly shameless in his enthusiasms. And he is very enthusiastic about everything he enjoys, from napping to snacking to running around after toys and such. (Occasionally he will get so excited he will run into a wall or clip a corner whilst gallivanting about the house, but this never fazes him; he just rights himself and keeps going!)


Sudden movements. The Vet.


Another "yes, please!" Though not quite as enthusiastic as his sister Cora when it comes to the catnip, he is nonetheless generally very pleased to see (or rather, smell) the stuff. He also enjoys eating it.


Brodie loves eating and will eat practically anything he can find. I have to watch him in that regard because he has a penchant for chewing on string and other fibrous matter. He is very curious about "human food" and will steal your dinner if you leave it unguarded!

As far as "cat food" goes, he likes it all, wet or dry, though (again) I have to be careful because as a kitten we found out he was intolerant to corn (which shouldn't be in cat food anyway, IMO, but that's a whole post unto itself). It gives him the runs, to put it somewhat politely. So basically he isn't picky but his digestive system is. He seems to do best on foods like Orijen and Evo (which are grain-free) as far as the dry stuff goes.

UPDATE: As of August 2010 Brodie has been eating a mostly-raw diet, and this has so far been amazingly beneficial to his digestive system. He has also proven himself to be the most adventurous eater of all the cats here...he will try pretty much anything, and is so far the only one in the household who will actually consume mice. Though he prefers the heads to the back end (not that I blame him!).


Brodie's taste in toys is similar to his taste in food...pretty indiscriminate! Like his siblings he is fond of "Da Bird" and other interactive toys, but he also has a greater-than-average tendency to, for instance, go after the string or the handle a toy is tied to rather than the toy itself on occasion. He is what one might call a "detail oriented cat" in this regard. He also tends to get very attached to certain particular particular, several of those little fuzzy toy mice that have had their tails ripped off. He will carry one of these around in his mouth, from room to room, for hours. And if he loses one of them under the sofa he won't be satisfied with a different mousie...he will wait for me retrieve his "favorite" and accept it delightedly once it has been liberated!

Temperament-wise, he's a bit more sedate than his siblings in general. But when he gets into playing, he really gets into it. He also seems to have an excellent memory / sense of "object permanence" (see the video below for this!), and has been known to "cache" toys for later, i.e., via sticking them in the food bowl for storage!


From the very beginning, Brodie has been the resident peacemaker/negotiator. His general attitude toward other feline-people can probably be summed up as "oh hai, want to play (or nap) with me?" He gets along splendidly with both Cora and Shadow, and can often be found snuggled up with one (or both) of them, engaged in a vigorous round of ear-licking. Back when Shadow first arrived (3 weeks after he and Cora), Brodie seemed delighted to have another playmate and I am sure that his instant acceptance of his "briefly estranged" brother helped Cora eventually warm up to Shadow as well.

Because of his easy-goingness with other cats, he was the first I trusted to physically meet Nikki when she moved in in January 2010, and (all things considered) that ended up going fairly well.

Overall Brodie is very sweet, generous, and gentle with other kitties but certainly has a mischevious streak as well and loves the Stealth Ambush. :P He also has a tendency to "push his luck" with Nikki, as if he's determined to bring her into the Inner Kitty Circle. E.g., if she is napping on the couch in front of him, Brodie will sloooooowly extend a paw out and lay it on Nikki's back, or very delicately start licking her tail. And he seems determined to keep trying even though he usually gets a hiss or a face-swat at some point!


With me and Matt (though moreso with me because I'm home more) Brodie is very affectionate, and recently has taken to curling up on the couch with us while we're watching "Buffy" (yes, again...I will never tire of that series!) and purring like a low-flying helicopter. He is also quite fond of jumping up on my desk while I'm sitting at the computer and sort of sauntering back and forth in front of the monitor, soliciting back-scratches (and going "NYEOW!" at me if I stop petting him too soon!).

One thing that seems very particular about his interactions is that, once he trusts a human, he seems very emphatic about treating you like you're another cat. Not that I think he actually THINKS humans are cats...I mean, we look and smell and sound so different from cats that it's unlikely they'd make such an egregious identification mistake! Rather, it's more like...(and I don't claim to know this for sure, it's just what it looks like to me) he is saying something like "oh how very CAT of you! Now let's touch noses!". And you get the sense that there's something almost...not "sacred", exactly, but it's got something to do with respect. And you feel (well, I feel, at least) very much like it's something that should never, ever be betrayed. If that makes any sense.

With human people he doesn't know well, though, he is still very shy and skittish. He usually hides if visitors come over, though if someone gets out an interactive toy, he will occasionally come out (on the heels of his brave sister Coraline!) to investigate.