The cats on the Court have been quiet this past year; the regulars are still found sleeping on front porches or lawn chairs in the afternoon heat.  On Monday nights they go around the the neighborhood checking out the trash cans that have been left out for pickup.  An occasional jogger accompanied by their dog will stir the cats from their slumbers; some go off and hide behind bushes while others strike a pose on the porch steps and stare at the interloper as they transit the block.  Very quiet.

There are a few strays that reside on the court.  On the north side of the street is a tiger male, maybe 2 years old. He usually makes his way around the houses on that side of the street in the early morning and again just about an hour before dusk.  Not sure if he is a stray or if he has a forever house and likes to patrol the neighborhood.DSCN0499

Behind our house is an old factory that hosts a half dozen cats and possums. I’ve been putting a small plate of Cat kibble out for a few years now.  Paying the cats off for taking care of the mice that used to reside in the back. In past years there were a few Tigers (mostly orange and an occasional gray), white cats, blues and others.  Some lasted a year or two, others came and left quickly.  This year we saw a bumper crop of kittens and adult ferals.

We call her Lilly; a regular for the past 11 months, she’s maybe 18 months old and has recently had DSCN0453a litter of 5 kittens.  Probably had them in early May, at the beginning of the “season”.  The litter contained 3 orange tiger males and a pair of gray and black striped females.  Dad seems to be an older persian blend that has been hanging around for about a year.  Currently he and Lilly are a team, never more than a few hundred feet apart.

She was weaning the kittens and  would probably have a litter in the late fall if Dad had anything to do with it.  Time to look into TNR.

Trap-Neuter-Release.  Kittens are cute when young but, after a 20150729_193105year they are cats, not cuddly little fluff balls anymore.  They are skilled hunters and pro-creators.  Left to their own resources their population will grow quickly. In the past the population problems were handled by animal control by eliminating the feral population.  The absence of the cats allows the rodent population to increase, bringing along disease.  TNR programs handle the problem in a much more sensible way.  Males and females are trapped, brought into a humane shelter where they are evaluated for health issues, neutered/spayed then release back into the area they had been trapped.  The ear is clipped so the neutered cats are easily identified.

By releasing the cats back into their territory they keep the rodent population in check and no longer reproduce so the population won’t grow.  The population is kept steady; new cats drift into the territory as old cats die off.

The local animal control officer who provided a humane trap and instructed us on how and when to bait and set the trap. And how to handle trapped cats as well as possums, young raccoons and others who are attracted to the bait.20150729_200355  In 6 days we were able to capture Lilly, Dad and 4 of the 5 kittens.  Later our granddaughter adopted one of the kittens (and had the cat neutered).  Eventually all 4 kittens were all adopted out.  Lilly and Dad were returned to the neighborhood after they were neutered.  She quickly reconnected with the remaining 20150802_122822kitten (we tried for a week to catch him but ended up with the same possum in the trap 4 days in a row).  A neighbor took in another stray and took care of the surgery and shots.  

A few weeks later, the family has settled into a routine (breakfast in our yard at sunrise, spend the day in the neighbor’s yard sleeping on lawn chairs by the pool) and a quick dinner out on the back steps.  The Oak Court Cats have gotten used to them and are frequently share meals.  There are still a few strays out in the back but they must have heard about the trap and avoid the yard.

Last night I heard 2 cats “talking”DSCN0504 through the front screen.  Dad was having a conversation with our kittens, one of his kids.  Not sure but I believe he recognized her scent and was trying to connect with family. At some point she’ll get outside and I wonder if she’ll prefer to stay with her rather than to return to the house.  For now, however, she is the newest member of the clowder.

And, on a sad note, Missey, the “old lady” on the court passed away in late July, just past her 17th birthday. Missey 2013 1 In ‘cat’ years she lived to the ripe old age of 84; I’ll miss those late nights when she’d nudge me awake so that I could walk her to the kitchen for a snack.  Missey came to us as a kitten, shared her food bowl with the rest of the court and only hissed at me when she felt it was necessary.

 

If you are like most Internet users, you’ve probably passed time looking at many of those videos of cats and boxes. Cat people spend countless hours with smart phone in hand and a box on the floor, waiting for their cat to junp into the box. Maru, the popular Japanese cat who demonstrates the fine art of jumping into and out of boxes, has been viewed over 200 million times since he first appeared in 2007. There are countless Tumblr and Twitter accounts dedicated to the cats being cats.

The Oak Court Cats aren’t any different when it comes to boxes. I will occasionaly toss an empty box onto the floor and wait for one of the gang to fall into the trap. On the Court, empty boxes are reffered to as “cat traps”. Throw one onto the floor and wait to see what kind of cat you’ve caught.20150129_211733
The Big Guy prefers a large trap, here he makes himself comfortable in a large bos (34 pound kitty litter box). At his size (a full grown 28 pound Maine Coon), he prefers a large box, even through he manages to overflow out onto the floor.

20150215_060625
Fatticus was snared in this particularly large cat trap. I had baited the trap with an old towel, a lure that he couldn’t pass up. He prefers large traps as he isn’t as graceful as most cats and finds that jumping into and out of boxes he frequently ends up in embarrasing situations (ok, he just isn’t gracefull).

The tortie isn’t choosey about the size of the box; as long as she can see over the edge (she’s usually on the lookout for small wildlife(she chases them) or large preditors (they chase her) or small children ( just the site of them will send her running for the hills). She is a little paranoid and sleeps with one eye open.20150124_193910

Oh, the exception?  The old lady doesn’t do boxes. She prefers pillows, cushons and the occasional window sill.

Why do they like boxes? Who knows. I’m sure that a government grant and five years of research could lead to an answer but I would think that knowing why they are attracted to boxes would ruin the moment. The Oak Court Cats won’t share the explanation with me; they don’t wish to shatter the magic.

20141019_120724Oh, this last picture of the Big Guy was taken when he settled on the clothes hamper when he couldn’t find a suitable box. I’ll write about his hamper habit at another time; fortunatly one that the other cats haven’t picked up on yet.

It’s late; the cats have settled down for the night and so must I.

John

It’s been a while since the last update on the Oak Court Cats.  Well, they’ve been busy.

 

Busy doing what?  Busy being cats.

Fatty Sleeping jul 14 FridayCats

It’s mid summer and they’re in typical “cat” form.  Their day begins around 5:00 and continues until an hour or so after sunset.  The Cats also nap.  A lot.  Actually, they seem to sleep up to 20 hours on a really hot day; the most common napping spots are on window sills where a gentle breeze cools them down.

 

The Big Guy has shed quite a bit of his fur and is probably at his lightest weight now, maybe 25 pounds.  Getting him to settle down on the scale for an accurate measurement is difficult.  He hasn’t spent much time outside lately; seems there is a stray Tiger that has gotten the better of him.  Mr. Big, like most Maine Coons, isn’t into fighting.  He’ll go out into the yard but never more than 20’ from the back door.

 

I’ve met the stray a few times, chased him out the cart door more than once.  The tiger looks like he’s been living out in the factory lot behind us for a while and could use a good brushing and maybe a dose of Frontline.

 

With the exception of Precious, the Psycho Killer Cat, the other Court Cats don’t spend much time out back and haven’t mixed it up with Tiger.  Precious, on the other hand, will raise a commotion when the Tiger comes in; spitting, growling and sending a strong message with her movements with her posturing.  I don’t think she’d go after the Tiger; she is, as Filipino’s would say, OA. (Over Acting – a drama queen).

Missey Jul 14

Missey, the alpha of the clan, is approaching her 16th birthday later.  In human terms she’d be 80.  She’s got a touch of arthritis in her right shoulder; her right front leg isn’t as flexible as it should be.  When she walks the leg is stiff and gives her a slight ‘hitch’ in her stride.  Other than that, she’s doing well.  I will have to d something special on the 25th; maybe open up a can of salmon for her.

 

The Cats have asked me to do a better job of posting on the blog.  As they don’t have opposable thumbs they can’t type too well themselves.  With that in mind I’ll be back in a few days with a new post.

Its early September here on the Court.  Being in Northern California, we won’t see Autumn for another 6 weeks or so.  There are a few things that we get to deal with at this time every year.

The cats begin to grow out their heavier fur.  Especially the Maine Coons.  The

The Big Guy in full winter fur.

The Big Guy in full winter fur.

picture shows The Big Guy last January, at the peak of his ‘furriness’.

Come April the cats shed a lot of the insulating fur and begin to battle with the fleas who arrive just about the same time the cats are busy shedding those tufts of hair and their skin is tender from the repeated brushings.

It takes 6 to 8 weeks to bring things to a stable state again.  The cats are ‘doused’ with flea control meds but only after they have their annual bath or shower (some of the Court inhabitants prefer a shower while others prefer the wash tub in the garage).  The goal is to clean the skin with a shampoo that has aloe or some other soothing agent.

The Big Guy in summer fur

The Big Guy in summer fur

The house is also treated.  The rugs are shampooed and sprayed with a flea control agent.  The sofa, chairs and mattresses are also treated.

If all goes well, the flea problem is solved for the time being.

During this period the cats complain, incessantly, about the irritation, the bites, the upset stomach (yep, going to see a few hairballs).  The cats will pick at their food, argue amongst themselves and, in general, be most difficult to be around.

When over, the cats are generally quiet until the winter sets in.  Well, they complain about other things, like rainy days, the need to burrow under the blankets at night and the list goes on and on.

This year, probably due to the dry spring and cool summer, we’re seeing an increase in flea activity.  The Cats have been complaining for the past few weeks about the bites and the itching.  We’ve seen them on the comb when we brush their hair and have seen them on the blanket where the cats sleep.

So, here we go again. The beds, chairs, sofas and rugs have been treated.  Several of the cats have gone through the shower and have been treated with the flea meds.  They are still complaining as the skins is raw from bites.  Brushing is not a lot of fun as they are still ‘wearing’ summer fur and there’s not a lot of fur.

Hopefully this round of battle against the fleas will be over with soon; Missey has made it clear that she is unhappy and it is probably my fault.  Precious is so beside herself that she passed up on a fat lizard that was out on the sidewalk this morning.  And, most telling, the Big Guy has been hanging  out with the racoons and possums in the  old factory behind the house. Seems he prefers their company to the complaints of the Oak court Cats these days.

Missey recently celebrated her 15 birthday!!  Not knowing for sure her actual birthday, we (the Vet, my daughter and I) decided that Missey was born around July 25, 1998.Image

According to the Purina web site, she is (in human terms) 77 years old.  She is a Norwegian Forest Longhair, distant relative to the Maine Coon.  Originally Mr. Worf’s room mate, she had a rough time after he died in 2006.  (That’s Worf and Missey on the blog header, she was about 2 years old at the time.) Since then she’s become an indoor cat, only stepping out for an occasional walk around the back yard.

Image

This picture taken in 2000, a much younger cat then, she spent most of her time in the house but would go out back to chase the occasional squirrel who wandered into her territory.

These days she spends most of her time on grooming and personal hygiene (a polite way of saying she does such a wonderful job of cleaning herself that her production of hairballs ought to be listed in  the Guinness Book of Records).  No longer does she race about the yard in pursuit of a squirrel; she now sits placidly on the couch when squirrels come into the room, looking for peanuts.

The other Oak Court Cats remembered the occasion in their way; Precious brought in a lizard, the others pretty much stayed out of her way as she has a bit of a temper now.  Instead of the usual flea “juice” on her back, she permitted us to give her a bath using a kitty shampoo with flea control.  In her younger years there would have been considerable bloodshed; this year she complained about the indignities being forced upon her but didn’t tear anyone up.

Happy Birthday Missey!!!

It’s been a while since I’ve added a post to this blog; I was a bit distracted.  The Oak Court Cats, however, weren’t distracted; they’re still here.  So, what have they been up to?

The queen is still going strong.  Missey is a few months short of her 15thCold morningbirthday; that

would make her 74 if measured in feline years.  She moves a little slower on cold mornings; her preference is to spend the morning

hours on the couch near the heater or taking a nap in a sunny window.

Missey is the matriarch of the chowder and will swat at any of the other cats if they get in her way.  About once a week she’ll whack Blutto in the head. Blutto is a full grown Maine Coon, weighing in at 25 pounds and standing a good 4 inches taller than she.  She has to reach up to hit him and he’ll lower his head just a bit, realizing she is the alpha.

Blutto enjoys the winter; doesn’t mind the cold nor the rain.  With his winter fur, he’s about as

big as a raccoon.  I noticed tonight that he’s starting to shed; the house will be carpeted with a layer of cat fur for the next 2 months.

The big Maine Coon coBlutto 2013 Feb 01continues to be the friendliest cat on the court; haven’t seen him go after the squirrels nor the blue jays that congregate in the yard.

The picture was taken the other week as he slept on the bureau; having found a comfortable spot.  He sleeps a good 15 hours a day; much of it in the yard, under the pine tree.

Most days he can be seen patrolling the court with Converse, the polydactyl stray.  Not too sure how old he is; looks to be 4 of 5 years old.  We named him Converse because of his black and white feet that are remarkably similar to a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers.  Converse shows up at 5:45 I the morning, spends some time having breakfast with Blutto, takes a hit from the catnip bong then crashes in the corner for a few hours.  Not too sure where he goes in the afternoon; he comes in for a bite around 8:00 then heads out for the night.  I think he has a few homes in the neighborhood where he can get a meal and a warm bed.Converse 2013 Jan 01

I’ll share updates on the other 2 members of the chowder later this week.

Its late spring here in Northern California and that generally means we are in the dry half of the year.   The Oak Court Cats are ready for the nice weather and usually head out at sunrise, coming back to the house for a snack or a drink.  Fatty and the Big Guy will spend 10 hours a day out in the back, patrolling the yard, keeping track of all comings and goings in the neighborhood and, oh yeah, a lot of sleeping in shady spots.

Last Wednesday, however, we had a weather front come through and leave us with close to a half inch of rain.  The rain comes very late in the season; not expected by either the weatherperson or by the Court Cats."Where is my umbrella?"

As can be seen in the picture, the Big Guy wasn’t particularly happy.  I took the pictures around 4:00 in the afternoon, when he usually goes out on the afternoon patrol.  He sat there at the back door for a hour, waiting for the rain to let up; he needed to be out there but wasn’t too excited about getting soaked.

The rain finally stopped after dark and he went out for a while, working his way through the yard, the neighbor’s yard, the front yard and several other places.  When he finally came in he was quite wet.  The grass is long and his coat is shaggy (hasn’t started to shed yet).

He was, however, quite satisfied that he managed to spend a little time out side before the end of the day and found a quiet corner of the bed and went to sleep.The Big Guy is not happy with the rain

The cats were confused, worried and unsettled.

It started out as a regular day on the Court.  The old man was up at 6:00, filled the bowls with canned wet food and topped off the dry crunchie-munchie bowls.  (To the cats the old man was the one who took care of them most of the time, the person they would go to when ever something needed to be dealt with, like a hair ball).  It was understood that he was here to wait on them.

None of the court cats paid attention when the old man put some clothes in a bag and went off in mid-afternoon.

That night the old man didn’t return home.  None of the cats paid attention as there was still food in the bowls.  Nor was he there in the morning to let them out onto the Court at 6:00.  In fact, one of the other inhabitants of the hose opened the door at 7:30; much too late.  Something was wrong.

Food was put out, although not by the old man and not the way they preferred.  Missey complained that her bowl wasn’t filled and placed on the right side of the food mat.  In fact, it wasn’t filled at all; it wasn’t there.   She would have jumped up on the counter to look for it if she could still jump that high.  The Big Guy was happy as long as there was plenty of food; he’d eat it off the floor if need be.

Later that night, at the appointed hour, (they had a schedule to follow for everything) they went into the rear bedroom expecting to curl up against the old man and sleep.  He wasn’t there.  “Come to think about it”, noted Fatty, “I haven’t seen the old man all day”. The cats were worried but went to sleep anyway.  Surely the old man would return in the morning.

But he didn’t.  In fact, he didn’t come back that day or the next or even the next.  He’d been gone for days and the cats were not at all happy.  Missey has been so upset she left a very messy hairball on the bed and wouldn’t sleep there (the old man would clean up these things).  Precious was so worried that she stayed out front until way after dark, hoping the old man would return.

“He must have been kidnapped by dogs.  There’s no other reason he hasn’t come home” she said when the cats gathered in the kitchen that night.  “No, I think not. He is bigger than dogs, he wasn’t kidnapped” said Fatty.  He continued “I think he ran away.  Sometimes people do that.”  The Court Cats grew quiet when Patty stopped speaking.  A real possibility existed in that the old man was not happy with the Court Cats and left to find other cats to live with.

On the 6th morning the other person put the food out, opened the door to the Court and went about his business.  He stopped long enough to give Missey a scratch between her ears and to rub Fatty’s belly then went on his way.  The Big Guy and Precious argued with each other about the mysterious disappearance and blaming each other for the disappearance. “I think you made him angry, always growling and hissing at the rest of us” argued the Big Guy.  Precious retorted that she wouldn’t need to hiss and growl if he had left her alone.  Missey sat on the corner of the sofa and contemplated life without the old man, “who is going to clean my messes up?”

A sad, angry and confused chowder of cats they had become.

That night, just before the appointed hour of sleep a car door slammed out on the court.  Precious was first to pick up the scent, “The old man!  I sense him!”, and she ran out the door to the front of the house.

The old man was coming up the walkway when she got around the front of the house.  “Hey!!  Where have you been?” she shouted at him.  Of course all he heard was some meowing as people can’t understand nor speak cat. She paced back and forth in front of him, blocking his way into the house and continuing to demand an explanation.  He bent down and scratched her ‘tween the ears and, all of a sudden, she didn’t care where he was, as long as he was home.

Once into the house he went to the rear bedroom and got ready for sleep.  The Court Cats were glad to have him back and decided to forgive him for running away.

The next morning the old man was awake at preciously 6:00 to feed and clean up the cat’s mess.  The Court Cats went out on early patrol as they had for years and life quickly returned to normal.

The cats tried to be nicer to the old man and didn’t try to get him out of bed early. Missey made an effort to be in the kitchen before tossing up the next hair ball.  Even the Big Guy tried to quit scattering crunchie-munchies when he ate.  Everyone seemed to be settling down into old routines.

Except Precious.  She had picked up the scent of another cat on the old man’s luggage.

Thought I’d update on a previous post.  It’s been over 2 months since the Little Princess passed away and her brother is still looking for her.

Most mornings he’s at the back door at 6:00, wanting to go outside.  When he finally gets out he’ll sit on the top of the steps, looking out across the yard toward her favorite spots.  This goes on for maybe 2 hours before he slowly comes in, snacks then curls up on the bed where she’d spend her mornings and sleeps.  In the evening he’ll want to go out at dusk and repeats the process.

We’ve tried to make things a bit easier; scrubbed carpets and pillows where she used to be so that he wouldn’t be reminded of her scent. We also rearranged chairs and pillows differently so he’d not look in the old spots.  Not working out; he continues to wait every morning and evening, hoping the Little Princess will come running up the side walk.

Now, he’s not wasting away or anything like that.  A recent trip to the vet reassured us that he’s healthy and just as heavy as before.   The gray fur ball (or boulder)  has his preferences (“yes, I like that salmon shrimp flavored snack but don’t give me the crunchy cheese snack, please”) (“what, the water bowl is empty, Oh the humanity”) (“That’s my sleeping spot, you can sleep on the floor”).

The other court cats are just fine.  The Queen is battling the winter cold by refusing to go outside, even when taunted by the squirrels scampering about the kitchen.  The predator awaits the warm weather; she’s not been foraging for a while and I’m sure the lizard population is growing.  And the big guy is enjoying the weather.  His coat is full now; he now resembles a small bear as he trundles across the back yard.  He was a bit depressed in early January when a neighbor moved out and took their little black and white kitty with them.  A week later the new tenants moved in and he can now be seen patrolling the neighborhood with their black cat in the mid afternoons.

All is well on the court.

It’s been 10 days since the Little Princess passed and Mr. Fatty is missing his sister. He used to spend his days with her sleeping in a warm spot or out in the back yard warming in the sun. This past week he’s moved through the house, stopping to investigate her favorite spots. Sadly, he looks around then turns to look at one of us and lets out a long and plaintive meow. We’ve had a few cats who’ve passed away and, while we deal with the loss, we have found it more important to help the remaining cats deal with it.

Cat fanciers have always knows that Cats feel the loss of a sibling as strongly as a human does. The old queen, Missey, went into a deep depression after her pal died; it was a year before she began to go back to her self. So we expect Mr. Fatty to need some help. In the last week Mr. Fatty has been sleeping in my room at night, something he never would have done before. He’s also been spending time with the Tonkinese, which he would never do before. He’s trying to fill a void. The big guy (he’s about 25 pounds) is also asking to be scratched move than in the past.

The Oak Court Cats are starting to settle into cold weather habits now. Fatty doesn’t spend much time outside (he’ll go out and sit in the morning sun for a while but comes back into a warm spot near a heater vent. The Tonkinese sits in the front window and stares intently at anything moving on the street. In warmer weather she’d be lying down under the bushes out front. Mr Big’s coat is thickening and the ‘collar’ (or mane) of light colored fur around his neck is filling out. Missey has reclaimed the corner of my bed (it’s by the window and has a southern exposure for more sunlight).

The cats go out later in the morning and tend to come back in an hour. They’re also eating for winter; unlike the summer when they take in a fair amount of food, in the winter they eat less as they tend to be lethargic this time of year. By 5:00 they’re all in for the day, settled into their favorite spots. Tonight 3 of the 4 have decided my bed is the place to be.

Nite!