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I work for a large telecommunications company and spend my days in a cubicle.  Today, however, I’m at home. The  office is moving and I’ve been asked to work remotely while they handle the logistics.  So I get to spend the day working at home under the watchful eye of the Oak Court Cats.

Instead of getting up at 5:20 I slept in until 6:20 (not having a commute and being able to have breakfast at the keyboard saves me an hour).  The cats made it clear that my extra hour in the sack was unacceptable and several of them came up on the bed to voice their displeasure.    Once up, fed them and went about my morning stretching and regular routines.  This was judged to be acceptable by the cats.

They were not at all happy when I set up the company laptop on the desk; after all this was where they would camp out in the morning (it sits int he southern facing window and gets a good amount of sun).  I’d work for a few minutes and one of them would climb up on the desk and attempt to push something out of the way. This went on for half an hour;  I gave up and moved to another location.

At one point I went to the kitchen for a 2nd cup of coffee; clearly not acceptable as my walking through the room disturbed the queen who had been sleeping on the floor, in front of the counter where the coffee maker resides.  No coffee for me.

I decide to go to the bedroom and use the writing table.  It’s not near a window so they shouldn’t complain about taking up a sunny window sill.  They follow me into the bedroom and assume positions around the room; some on the bed, others on top of dressers and closets.  Presently three of them are sleeping while the Predator stares down at me from the closet.  Seems they are taking turns monitoring my activities. Are they checking in with my boss?  Are they corporate stool pigeons, planted here to ensure that I worked the entire 8 hour day without taking time off to pick up a non-corporate task?

This is going to be a long day.  I’m already fighting to stay awake, a difficult task.  There must be some research somewhere that supports my theory that snoring cats will suborn any attempts to concentrate on anything other than sleeping.

Somehow I’ll make it, maybe that 4th or 5th coffee will keep me awake.  Maybe I should see if there are any of those 5-hour energy drinks in the fridge…

Later

The Oak Court Cats are not happy these days.  We’re experiencing our regular winter now (lots of cold days and plenty of rain).  This curtails the outside activity somewhat as the cats are not too fond of walking through cold, wet grass.

Normally the Big Guy heads out at 5:30 for an hour.  He patrols the neighborhood, checking to see if anything has changed overnight. Normally the neighborhood is unchanged and he’s back by 6:30. On Tuesday’s, however, he is quite busy examining the trash cans that are out at the curb; he makes it back around 7:30.

The others start to go out around 8:30 and spend the rest of the daylight hours either in the house (sleeping) or out in the yard, patrolling.

With the rain, there are changes. The Big Guy doesn’t head out at 5:30; he sits on the back steps and stares, forlornly, at the back yard.  No reason to go out there as the grass is wet and very cold.  He’ll come back in the house, have a bite to eat and occasionally drift out the back to see if the rain has stopped.

The others go out to the back step and settle down for a while, occasionally taking short walks down the sidewalk and quickly returning when they realize they’re getting wet. They then go in and find a quiet, warm spot, bathe and take a nap.

After a week of this tempers flare and they’ll occasionally swat each other.  The predator will sit on top of a cabinet or dresser and hiss at anyone who comes near.  Missey stalks through the house hissing at everyone else.  The cats, normally used to sleeping through the night are awake at all hours.  They start digging into the flower pots, pushing papers off the desk and, when they’ve run through the list of annoying practices one of them will toss a hairball.

They all slink off into different parts of the house at this point.  I’ll stand there and ask who the guilty party is.  I really think they understand me, or at least understand that after I see the mess they hear the loud voice then they get a dab of the petromalt on their paws. (Petromalt helps them pass the hairball normally). Needless to say they are not fans of the treatment.

Today, however, the Oak Court Cats were happy as we had sunshine.  It was still cold (the high was 56) but they were out in the yard all day.  There were squirrels to chase, bugs to swat at and birds to stalk.  The cats came in for meals then went right back out. They didn’t take time out for naps but were busy all day.

They came in around sunset,  had dinner followed by a good bath.  Right now I hear the Big Guy’s gentle snoring as he sleeps under the desk.  The predator  slipped under the blankets earlier and hasn’t stirred for a few hours.   The others are all sleeping in different places, exhausted by the day’s activities.

Tomorrow’s another day on the court and, hopefully, it will be sunny.  Big Guy will be out at 5:30  and by noon all the cats should be out in the yard sleeping in t he sun.  Hope the weather holds for a few days; nothing worse than depressed cats in the winter time.

Nite.

It’s mid January on the Court and it seems the cats are confused.  We’ve been experiencing warm weather with the temperature running 10 or more degrees above the usual 53 degree day time high.  When I say they seem to be confused, I mean they are starting to shed some of the winter fur.  This usually comes in March, 2 months from now.  Usually at this time of year they rarely go out and sleep most of the day.  This month they have been spending most of the day outside, coming in to for a quick meal and heading back out; behavior more typical spring time behavior.

The Big Guy has started to loose some of the golden mane he grew for the winter.  It’s still quite full but he’s lost some of the fur on the bottom of his neck.  The young female coon has lost some of hers, as well.  While these two have left a few clumps of fur on the carpet (and anywhere else they happen to be), the real problem is with the other Maine Coon.  He’s started to leave piles of fur everywhere.  We’re not talking about a few hairs here and there; we’re talking about clumps of fur.  I’ve probably vacuumed up enough fur in the last week to spin yarn for a sweater, a XXL cable knit sweater.

Because it’s warm out, the Oak Court Cats are spending more time outside.  There seems to be a direct relationship between the amount of time spent outside and the amount of food consumed.  As they’re more active, they are eating more.  I’ve been putting out 2 to 3 of the 5.5 ounce cans a day along with a pound of crunchie munchies.  A month ago the five of them last maybe half that much.

We’re watching the weather forecast closely as the warm weather is not going to last; we’ll be cold pretty quick and the cats will not be ready for it. They’ll be camped out around the heater again.   While I enjoy sharing my house with the cats, I’m not looking forward to the cold again and having to share my blanket with them again.

Later

It’s winter on the Court and the cats have adjusted to the cold weather.  The court is in the San Francisco Bay Area so our winter isn’t as bad as winter in Buffalo or Montreal.  For us a nightly low of 35 is miserable and a day time high of 55 is just about as uncomfortable as we want to be.  Winter discomfort  is relative to where you live.

The cats are as affected by the cold as we are.  Missey just doesn’t like to leave the bedroom during the morning hours; here she can crawl under the blanket and stay warm.  Ok, she’s getting on in years and, as an indoor cat, she doesn’t grow the thicker winter  fur anymore.  Precious the Predator doesn’t develop a thicker coat either and will spend her days under the same blanket as Missey.  I believe she left a wake up call for April 1.

The maine coons, however, seem to thrive in the cold.  The Big Guy’s mane is gold with black

The Big Guy's mane

stripes and is probably an inch longer than the rest of his fur.  It is also much softer than his regular fur, as well.  One of the other coons, a female, also has developed a mane this year.  She spend a few hours a day outside in the yard in the cold air and her coat is much thicker than it was in October.  The Big Guy spend quite a bit of his day outside and depends on the extra fur for warmth.  Come April, when he starts to shed, the house will be covered with hair.  I may just chase him around with a shopvac for a day or so to get most of the shedding over with.

The court cats spend their evenings on or under the bed covers, occasionally strolling about the house searching for something to ‘investigate’, like a shopping bag or a newspaper. Yeah, newspaper.  Seems they have taken to shredding it while tossing the pages around the living room.  Last week they went through the entire Sunday paper, including advertising supplements, in about an hour.

I’m looking forward to the warm days when I can toss them outside when the get the kitty-crazies again.  Until them I’ll put up with indoor games.

Later

It’s Christmas on the Court and the Cats are celebrating.

The pile of presents around the tree kept them pretty busy for the last few days.  Different scents from different packages have distracted them from their “normal” activities (sleeping, looking out the windows, eating and more sleeping).  The big guy takes an occasional pass at the pile of goodies, hoping to find a stray cat treat tucked into the corner of a present.  Sorry, I didn’t bury any treats, that’s Easter he’s thinking about.

Santa brought the cats a pound of catnip (that will keep them happy for a while). They also got a bag of those little toy mice to play with.  Precious snorts and walk away from the gift; she’d rather have a real one.

The newest members of the community have been staring at the tree for 2 weeks now.  Seems they have only recently been introduced to the outdoors and are still  not sure about the tree-in-the-house thing.  The others are used to the annual living room forest and are no longer interested in climbing the branches.

Missey, the senior member of the community, is not all impressed with the Christmas Morning bustle when we people tear off wrapping paper and leave a pile of gift-debris on the floor.  the others carefully inspect the paper pile, curiously sniffing each and every piece of paper, ribbon or box.  Missey watches the proceedings from the back of the sofa, sneaking the occasional glance out of the corner of her eye.

The people in the hose had a fine dinner; the cats shared a few cans of a ‘wet’ canned  food, the one with the pampered and finicky  white fluff ball in the ads.  (Ok, the Oak Court Cats have long been fans of  Friskies “Classic Pate Seafood” varieties).  It’s getting late now and the cats have started to settle in for the evening.  Missey is curled up on my pillow; Precious the Predator  is up on top of the cabinet.  The Big Guy is making himself comfortable on my grand daughter’s bed.  The new guys (brother and sister Maine Coons) are still prowling but are making their way to the back of the sofa where they can watch out the front window until they drift off to sleep.

So, the cats made it through Christmas; hope you had a good day as well.

Nite.

I left a note (last week) concerning the fate of the 2 “visitor cats”.  After  weeks of phone calls, e-mails and visits it was clear the cats didn’t have much of a future if they went back to the rescue center.  At 3 years old, the chances of being adopted are not all that good.  Unfortunately people like the kitties but don’t seem to be interested in them when they are older.

I asked the Oak Court Cats if they would accept the visitors as residents here on the Court.  I’m not sure what they really felt but the 3 of them stared back at me as if they understood what I was talking about.  I explained the problem and the alternatives the pair faced.  The Court Cats continued to stare at me, as if they comprehended.

Finally I finished and waited.

I don’t how they really felt, we never figured out the whole human/cat language thing.  The visitors, however, have a new home.  We (the people on the Court) decided to take them in.  They’ll learn the ways of the Court, learn how to go in and out the cat door, how to wake the old man up in the morning when there isn’t any crunchie-munchie mix in the bowl and, most importantly, they’ll learn not to chase the squirrels in the yard.

I’ll post a few pictures of the pride next week, trying to figure out how to get all  of to sit still long enough for a group photo.

Later.

During the summer the Oak Court Cats hosted 2 visitors; 2 Maine Coon siblings spent a few months here while their people found a new home.  It took a little longer than planned but they soon moved into a new apartment and were adjusting to the new place.    They spend their days together, sleeping next to each other, eating from side-by-side dishes together and sitting together on a window sill, watching the birds.

We got a call from their people yesterday; the cats will need to move again. Unfortunately they won’t be moving to a new apartment. Their person is not able to keep them and they’ll have to go back to the rescue center.  This is disheartening as they are close to 3 years old and face slim odds of adoption.  Additionally, they’ve been with each other since their birth and have only been apart for a few hours.  It’s going to be hard.

The Oak Court Cats would like to extend a welcome but  it was apparent, during the summer,  that they just didn’t fit in with the current residents. As they were indoor cats, we couldn’t leave the cat door open for our cats to go in and out during the day.  Our regular cats were not comfortable with the restrictions and we had behavioral issues.

So, what will happen to them?  I don’t know.

I’m a believer in adopting from shelters.  I also believe in giving the older cats a chance.  Of the 3 regulars here, 2 came from shelters; one was 2 years old when we selected him.  If you are interested in adopting, please look at the shelters.  The people there can help you work through a decision on the breed, age and other characteristics.  They can help you find a good lap cat or a good mouser.

I’ll post an update when I hear what happens with the visitors.

Take Care

Summer has ended on the court and that brings the visit to an end.  Last week the 2 Maine Coons who were staying with us this summer were picked up by their ‘person’ and returned home.  The Oak Court Cats took their departure much the same way cats react to most any change:  Indifference.

Missey was the first to “not” notice that the visitors were not sprawled across her favorite sleeping place on the sofa.

The big guy was able to return to the top platform  of the cat tower in the living room, resuming his position as if he’d been there every day during the summer.

Precious returned to the back window sill where she could look out over the back yard; keeping an eye out for any unfortunate critter that tried to cross the yard.

Old routines picked up as if they had not been interrupted at all. Precious was standing on the pillow at 6:00 AM looking for a snack; Missey would wait, patiently, as I put a few treats into her bowl at dinner time and the big guy wold sit by the open back door at sunset, waiting for me to come out back and lite up a cigar and scratch his ears.  With the visitors here we had to skip a number of the routine events but, as soon as they had left, the cats resumed .  Like I said, Indifference; they are not fazed much by change.

So, as the last blast of summer heat bears down on us, the cats are stretched out on the floor, trying to keep cool. Later they’ll head for the kitchen for a meal then back to cool doorways and garage floors.  For the Oak Court Cats, they don’t respond to change; they just ignore it and maybe it will go away.

It’s early September, still a few hot days but the nights are cooler.  The Oak Court Cats are starting to change habits to reflect the temperature changes.

The big guy ‘s fur is starting to fill out, his face is fuller and he’s not shedding as much.  The tonkinese has stopped hunting lizards and is focusing on the moles now.  Without the warm days the lizards don’t come out as often.  And Missey has made it known that she is reclaiming the corner of my bed.

Missey is 12 now and likes to spend 18 to 20 hours a day sleeping.  As the weather cools down she can usually be found curled up on a fleece throw on the corner of my bed.  She’s not particular about which fleece; her biggest concern is that other cats not sleep on it.  When she catches one of the other cats sleeping on it she rewards them with a swat on the face, a loud hiss followed by a growl.  “Yo! What are you doing? Get out of my spot!”  While she sleeps a lot, she wakes up int e early morning hours and  is patrolling the house while the rest of the cats sleep.

Precious, the tonkinese predator, is also spending more time in the house as it cools down.  In the heat of the summer she wants to be out by 7:00 AM.  As the seasons change, however,  she’ll not venture out until 10:00 or so; preferring to wait until it’s warmed up a bit. Ats the sun goes down, she is ready to come in, eat and settle infor the night.  She’s not nocturnal; preferring to spend the night sleeping. On really chilly mornings she’ll burrow under the blanket to keep warm.

And the big guy, Blutto, well, he likes to sleep, usually sound asleep by 10:00.  He rarely wakes up during the night; only when there’s activity in the house.  Most mornings he’s still where he settled the night before.  As mentioned earlier in this blog, he starts to fill out his fur in September.  During the heat of the summer he shed quite a bit of fur; by the end of August he drops to maybe 18 pounds and his fur is thin.  As it cools down he starts to fill out, starting with the collar around his neck.  By January he’ll fill out to where he resembles a porcupine.   Now, as to sleeping, in the warmer weather Blutto prefers to sleep on the foot of the bet, no blankets or fleece.  When it starts to cool off, however, he has a preference for throws, fleece or an electric blanket.

The cat’s eating habits also change.  During the summer they drink a lot of water and prefer dry food.  Int he cold weather they drink less but eat more of the wet  food (the preferred meal is ocean white fish).  There is also a drop off in the quantity of fresh food (Precious doesn’t bring as much in from the hunt.

More later, the cats are asking for dinner.

The Oak Court Cats enjoy a relatively good life.  There is always crunchie-munchies in the bowl; the water bowls are always clean and filled (only bottled water please, we don’t like tap water) and, of course, the daily ‘wet dish’, the canned cat food.

Ahh, the canned cat food.  What delights are safely packed into those little cans? Hmmm….

Two of the regulars have long preferred to have a bit of wet food first thing in morning.  So, instead of finding the coffee pot when I enter the kitchen, I first need to clean the bowls, open the can and spoon some of the wet food into 2 bowls, setting them on the floor exactly a foot apart.  (Seems that Missey doesn’t want to have any other cat within a foot of her when she is eating).

As I prepare the meal Missey sits on the floor, patiently waiting. The sound of the pull top ring being pulled back will result in her standing up on hind legs.  She awaits that first scent of the mystery meal  as I toss the lid into the trash (yes, the lid is recycled; wash it off before tossing  it into the recycle bin).  Her tail switches one side to the other in anticipation, as I drop a spoon full of the meal into the bowl. Finally, the moment she has been waiting for, I lower the bowl to the floor and offer it to her.   She approaches the bowl slowly at first, cautiously sniffing the dish.  She lowers her head into the dish and takes that first taste of breakfast – then – just then – she stops.

The look on her face when she looks up at me  is one of disappointment.  She slowly backs away, looks up at me again as if to say “What’s in the can?”  I’m speechless; don’t know what to say. “Missey, what do you mean, ‘what’s in the can?'”

Missey slowly turns away, not happy with what I’ve put int he bowl but she doesn’t bother to explain the problem to me; she just walks away, back into the dining room.

Don’t worry though, this is the daily routine for Missey.  Every morning we go into the kitchen and run through the same script.  She walks off then comes back in 5 minutes and eats whatever is in the bowl; if there was something wrong she quickly forgets about it and cleans the bowl.  I’ve long since given up trying to find new flavors from this or that manufacturer.  No matter what I put down I get the same reaction.

Maybe I should try fresh sockeye salmon?   Or mahi-mahi on a bed of rice?   Hmmm…

Later