Merry Christmas to all!!
Usual Disclaimer: What you are about to see contains images of cute fluffy kitties. It has nothing to do with appliqué, so be warned if you must. Welcome to the Fifth Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!
In the spring, the Mackenzie Finishing School for Felines opened its doors for the season. Dana and I had the joy and privilege of taking care of a total of 10 groups of cute baby kittens for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.
The kitties we take in are big enough to eat on their own, generally five to six weeks old, and we keep them until they’re at least eight weeks, two pounds, and in good body condition. It’s so much fun, and so rewarding to watch them grow from sometimes shy, teensy little klutzes with short stubby legs to sturdy confident pre-teens who sprout legs and run thumping and banging around the house.
The first batch consisted of two solid gray fuzzballs and one gray tabby fuzzball, all boys. They were so much fun.
The next batch were Donovan, Duncan, and Desirée.
These guys were scrawny and didn’t display much of an appetite. After a week of no weight gain, I hauled them in to see the shelter vet, who recommended syringe feeding. That’s where you water down canned food so that it will squirt through a wide syringe, and feed them like baby birds! I had never done this, but I was determined to make it work, and Dana says I have nurse’s hands.
This protocol was a huge success. After less than three days, they found their stomachs and started eating like there was no tomorrow. Nom nom nom, no problem!
As you can see from this naptime photo of Donovan and Duncan, they soon became plump and sturdy.
When we get a new batch, Max is always very curious and wants to check them out. Big (and I mean big) guy that he is, it’s a tight squeeze to take a peek.
The wee ones that he was peering at were Arlo, a darling gray tuxedo, and Marigold, a rather rare orange girl.
When these guys went back, I told the foster coordinator that I had a two-week window should any kittens come in needing that relatively short amount of time. I hadn’t even gotten home yet before she had called and spoken with Dana. Another foster family had to go out of town and had brought back two that needed… guess what… two weeks! I sent Dana down to pick them up while I prepped the house for a new batch.
Lucky me! Mellie and Chelsea were sweet, sweet girls.
Mellie, a pastel tortie, and Chelsea, a black cutie with a white locket.
Would you like to see how Max gets downstairs each morning?
The next group, you have seen before if you’ve been reading this blog. Mimi and Maddie caused the Stash Cat-Astrophe that I wrote about in July.
These girls went back after their colds had improved, and got adopted one by one.
Next we had three boys. We gave them British prep-school names: Oliver, Digby, and Poindexter.
Following the three boys, we had three girls. These were all single stray kittens who came into the shelter at about the same time, and were about the same size, so we formed a tabby sisterhood.
All three were different types of tabbies. Brandy was a gorgeous classic tabby, April an exceedingly cute mackerel tabby, and Buttercup was actually a torbie… a combination tabby and tortie.
More tabbies! I named them Penny and Paige, which if you watched Desperate Housewives you’ll know were the names of Lynette’s daughters.
Except that… oops. One day when they were playing in the sunshine, rolling around and having a high old time, I noticed something. I told Dana, “I think Penny is a boy.”
Dang, the shelter had released him to me as a girl, and now we had to rename him LOL. The first thing that popped into my head was Penrose. Okay, to be fair I am married to a mathematician, a geometer in fact, and Penrose Tiling is very famous in our house. The kitten formerly known as Penny became Penrose.
Next up: more tabbies! What’s going on here? We’ve got a tabby streak going here. Two more singles ready for foster.
Obie is short for Oberon, King of the Fairies. That’s right, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My husband thought it would be brilliant to open the dictionary to a random page to look for a name.
Hermione was one of the nicest, most mild-mannered and affectionate little cats we have ever had. Here she is hangin’ out in Dana’s hoodie while he works.
Obie, on the other hand, was terrified when he first came to us. They were unrelated, and obviously had had widely differing experiences in their young lives. In the photo above, you can see the slightly backward-pointing ear that indicates he’s still a little worried.
It’s a testament to the wonders of foster care that this little man got over his fear and his shyness in a matter of days, and became a happy cat. He worshipped the ground that Max walked on and followed him everywhere.
That peach cowboy fabric had been set aside for my guild’s Ugly Fabric Contest, but then we didn’t have it this year.
For a long time, an old friend of mine, Helen, was in the market for a cat. I invited her over to meet Hermione, and sure enough, that kitty put her best paw forward. She climbed up and gave Helen a head butt, purred loudly, and settled down in her arms. The deal was sealed. As soon as Hermione was big enough, she was spayed and adopted through the shelter, and home she went with Helen!
Obie was smaller, so stayed with us for a couple weeks longer. He turned into a one-cat party! Seriously, when he wasn’t sleeping, he was playing.
When Obie was ready to go back to the shelter, I stayed with him for awhile to see if he would revert back to his shy ways. At first he was nervous, but within an hour he had climbed up into the windowsill of the get-acquainted room and was watching the world go by. The kitten who hid for the first two days in foster now immediately jumped into anybody’s lap, for all the world as though he was seeking comfort in this new environment. Obie was adopted very quickly.
Sigh. What a difference fostering can make.
The same day that I brought Obie back, the foster care coordinator asked me if I wanted some more. Yes! I love having kittens for Christmas. There were two at the south-county location. I was going that way the next day, so I swung by and picked them up.
Giselle is a darling little tortie. I have a string of alliterative names going for the torties… let’s see if I can recap them all… Gypsy, Gigi, Georgie, Genevieve, Gingersnap, Giselle. (Mellie came with her name already.)
Here’s her brother Gunther, a sturdy gray tabby.
Like our Christmas kitty Sparrow last year, Giselle made it her personal mission to get to the ornament on the Charlie Brown tree.
By this time, Max was starting to be a little bit over the babies underfoot thing, so we hired a nanny. Our recent graduate Hermione, now named Minnie, came back to stay with us for a week while Helen went on a family trip.
The little kittens LOVE her and she is having a blast playing with them.
As of today, Minnie, Gunther, and Giselle are still here with us. It won’t be long before they all go their ways, and then the Finishing School will close its doors for about five months.
The very best to you and yours, including all your furry friends!
Until next year,
By Kay Mackenzie
P.S. If you didn’t see Peanut’s video, here’s a link: Doggie Skedaddles
Christmas Day marks the annual Cavalcade of Kittens. But this year, we stared off with a D-O-G! So here’s a little canine Christmas Eve.
In February, the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter called to ask if we would be interested in taking care of a little one-year-old dog who had come into the shelter hit by car. The owners weren’t able to care for him financially so had surrendered him. This little guy needed several weeks of rest to heal a fractured pelvis.
You may know that despite all the kittens, we are total dog people. Dana went right down and picked him up.
Peanut had been an outdoor dog his whole life, and he quickly learned that he loved being a house dog. At first he was stiff and sore, but every day he improved a little more. He could go on short walks, but was not to run or climb stairs.
As he started to feel better, his impish personality came through. As a part Corgi, he was a herding dog, and all toys were taken back to home base. And everything he could get his teeth on and carry away was considered a toy.
Home base got chewed up, so I got him a durable plastic nest. One day I opened the closet to get the broom, and the next thing I knew, Peanut had dragged out a plastic bag of packing peanuts, opened the bag, and dumped them into his nest.
Peanut improved so much that it grew increasingly difficult to keep him down on the farm. After about five weeks, the vet approved him to run around the house and it’s a good thing, ’cause just look at him go!
Peanut went back to the shelter not long after that, and was quickly adopted into a happy family who had another small dog. What a lucky dog he was that he lived in a place with a caring, open-door shelter that would take him in and see to his recovery. Happy ending.
Merry Christmas Eve! Tomorrow: the 5th Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!