So it came to pass one fine sunny Sunday when I decided it was time for me to try reintegrating the cats again. This time with plenty of positive reinforcement.
First, Wolf, Kitten, and I sat down and hand fed the kids some treats. We petted them and talked to them. Buffy stared at us rather confused. I felt sad.
Tux ate most of the treats as usual and the younger 2 merely peered out. The older 3 explored the kitchen.
Later, Kitten and I said bye to the boys and we went to the bedroom as Buffy followed us expectantly. She jumped onto the stair ledge as she always did and Tux lounged along the stairs.
We went outside to look for the other 2. Sam scuttled to look for Buffy and Tux while we found Kaku lounging on her table in the cat room, probably pleased to have the place all to herself.
To my greatest delight and surprise, she meowed at me and let me stroke her just like before.
She never forgot our bond – she still hisses at daddy and only I have been ever allowed to pet her. I felt so sad and sorry that we’d wasted all this time due to my old complacency and fear of being unable to cope… But here were we.
The sweet girl even rolled around inviting me to pet her and she allowed me to groom her for a good ten minutes then stood up. Buffy had come in.
I realised then Kaku would have been a perfect only cat, just like Boy. Indeed I adore her because she is so much like him, a female him, both perfect. It was love at first sight when I first saw her too.
So we spent the afternoon together. Tux, Buffy, and Sam tried repeatedly to climb onto the bed and get into the closet but was repeatedly foiled by me. They settled for under the bed as compensation.
Kaku wandered as far as the couch where she sat on the couch head, so like Boy. I tried getting close to snap a photo but she hissed and jumped off. Other cats were about.
Buffy watched as I attempted to doze beside a playful Kitten but failed. Tux lay on the floor. Earlier he and Sam played hide under the rug. I nudged him and he ran like a bat out of hell.
Finally it was dinner time and their daddy fed them and ushered them all back to their room.
It wasn’t till the children were asleep and I was in the kitchen that I realised Kaku was still inside. She’d been lying on the same spot on the couch and hissed at me to get my attention.
I duly opened the grille door and indicated for her to go out and she did. Just as Buffy was trying to slip in unnoticed.
I just read in one of my pregnancy books that around the 35th week (and that’s when it began) the hormones will turn expectant mothers into aliens. Yes, this post is proof of that. Unnecessary worrying, strange cravings (for sugary food – yuck!), preoccupation with unnecessary things (finishing the courtyard! and maybe sewing some stuffed animals), excessive purchasing of baby things. Heck, I even started Wolf on cloth diapers (bumGenius – not bad at all but for the PUL), and have ordered some wool diapers after I read that PUL could be an endocrine disruptor. Dang.
Meanwhile I am still figuring out this cloth diapering thing. Prefolds, doublers… heck, I just bought an all-in-one. Then I found out that they take a while to dry if I don’t wring them out properly and air every bit of it. They’re expensive too. $30 a pop (or poop) and we’ll need a lot when the little one is born. Currently Wolf just uses it once a day and we change it whenever he is wet during this feeble attempt to toilet train. I haven’t had to wash out poop yet so maybe that’s why I am still chipper about the whole thing.
Even bought the Seventh Generation size 3 diapers which looked so small and thin I haven’t dared to put them on Wolf yet. They are supposed to fit a child of weight up to 13kg but they look small enough to fit only Kaku! I better try them soon though. Wolf’s growing like a weed. Or maybe I can save them for the baby. Hmm…
The courtyard project is almost complete. The glass roof is leaking in 2 places so that’s gonna be fixed soon – clothes can’t hang there yet but I have populated the place with some sun-loving plants, including a sweet basil that freshens up the place a bit. I’ve given up on Boston Ferns which have all but died on me. Ivies too. They hate the heat. Only 2 survive and I am giving them as much TLC as I can before I pop.
Ornery after 8 months of changing cat poo, DH banished Boy to the back with the other cats after he peed and pooed indiscriminately outside his pan after the workmen traipsed all over the area. Surprisingly he’s doing quite well and only Tux seems upset about this new arrangement (maybe cos he is now half Boy’s size and the change in hierarchy since Sam and he broke off and Sam grew bigger than he has affected him somehow). Boy nabbed a nice spot on a chair with a soft towel and seems happy there. I do miss petting him in the kitchen.
Wolf has been clingier than normal, especially at night. And that has been so hard cos it hurts ever more now to nurse. Thankfully it is mostly the first minute then the pain abates. There’s still tons of milk, although it looks more like water to me. Wolf swears it tastes the same. “Nan is the sweetest”, he chirps. And then sings me a song he made up about the joys of nan nan. How can I not give him any?
Back to the feeling alien thing. I think it is the girl hormones. There’s been weeping. Lots. Especially during sad Buffy moments. When Angel left. When Joyce died. All very sad. Even when Riley left! The only other time I cried during a movie or TV show was when the guy Lou Diamond Philips played died in La Bamba. Anyway. Hope I’ll feel more myself after baby is born. And that the labour is short, painless, and safe…
The moment I read that plants can remove household chemicals from the air, I went and Googled which ones. Turns out the Areca Palm, Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm, Dracaena (“Janet Craig”), and English Ivy are the top rated house plants among 50 that can purify your air. This comes from a scientific source, Dr B.C. Wolverton who published the must-have book How to Grow Fresh Air.
Now, since we are a multi-cat household, I have to make sure that the plants are safe in case the cats decide to chew on them. I Googled and cross-checked the safe plant list from the plant sciences department at UC Davis and printed that out.
Then I acquired a copy of Wolverton’s book and pored through it. It is worth buying as it tells you how to care for the plants too as well as the crucial which plant removes which chemicals better (aha!). Important for well-intentioned brown-thumbed people like myself who can kill cactuses (my 2 are dead) and have a memory made of cheese. Anyway, I got mine off Amazon but Kinokuniya sells it too (they brought it in too late and I got impatient).
Armed with all the information, I consulted my godmother, who can keep bonsais alive without watering them (evidently she got all the gardening talent in the family) and she told me to buy the plants from the nursery or Ikea. Pouncing on the opportunity to spend nagless hours at the nursery, she volunteered to take us to Far East Flora and in a win-win afternoon, we browsed to our hearts’ content while my godpa wheeled a thrilled Wolf around in the plant carts.
That day I picked an Areca Palm, Boston Fern, Basil and Mint (to ward off the flies who love the kids’ poo pans), and a Janet Craig plus 2 cactuses which are dead now. So are my orchids. Okay, that’s another story.
But anyway, not long after, I went to Ikea and picked up another Janet (the one plant that is flourishing), Areca Palm (which Boy and Buffy love to chew), and another Janet-like plant that I still can’t identify but it was $1.50 and is still alive. I got a mini-Boston Fern or Kimberly Fern (they look alike but the Kimberly drops less) and to date it looks like Batman’s nemesis Two-Face (half dead half alive).
My sister donated a large flourishing Boston Fern and that lucky plant showers with me every few days (it loves to shower) and cleans the air in my room very well. Day time I take all the plants out to sun and in the evening I bring them in to clean the air. Incidentally, the plant which is thriving the best is interestingly, the Janet. Lush leaves are sprouting every day and it is growing taller than a weed.
I’m happy to report all the plants, save for those reported dead already, are still alive and seem quite happy living here, despite the occasional rude chomp from a hungry cat. Perhaps even a brown thumb can turn green with enough information, love and care, and the right amounts of sun and water.
Hmm… maybe tomorrow we’ll go to Ikea with my large Reisenthal bag…
The joys of motherhood are much to behold. I have had such immeasurable joy since I gave birth to Wolf that I’d gladly suffer the 28 hour labour and the trying first month all over again. Many have told me that once I have my own (human) child that I would feel differently about my cats and very easily give them up. I scoffed at such comments, although secretly in my heart I feared that I would love them less, and worse, bear to give them up.
Into my third month of (human) motherhood now, I find that that hasn’t been the case. If anything, I love and appreciate my cat-children even more and find so much more delight in them. The difference between loving them and loving Wolf is that Wolf needs me constantly. I confess I had neglected them quite a bit those early days. I remember Boy’s forlorn looks, Tux meowing at me for attention. Now that things have stabilised, I’ve been able to spend more quality time with them, without neglecting Wolf as well. That’s what parenthood is about, isn’t it? Loving all your children, adopted and otherwise, each as much but differently.
And cats, like children, change over the years. What a delight it is to watch them every day. The joy of watching Kaku play with her mouse toy, carrying it around like it is her baby, grooming it, swatting it and grasping it with her paw! Coming home to see Tuxie lounging on the sofa like a possum and staring innocently at us. Boy napping on the couch head, contented now that the rest don’t bug him as much. Sam (Mu Child as we call him more and more these days) finally succeeding in jumping down from the rafters all by himself! Buffy, a gentle protector watching over all of us, her family.
I grasp these moments like a lifeboat, knowing that we have such a short time together. Life is, unforgivingly short. Even more so with our beloved cats. Children are not meant to outlive their parents. With my 5 cat-children, the probability is very high that I will outlive them. It would pain me so much to have to see them die one day. But as the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Isn’t that what life is all about? I raised all 5 from the time they were kittens, adopted them with the promise that I would care for them all my life, and give them every bit of love I have. I will not give them up simply because hearsay dictates pregnancy and cats are incompatible, or that cats and children cannot coexist. I have done my research. I know what is fact and what is fiction.
So if you are reading this because you found this entry while Googling “cats and babies” or “cats and pregnancy”, please do your research, check up on the facts. Don’t give up your pet because some “concerned” person says they will cause allergies, malformations in your child, or any other similar misinformed problem. Stand your ground. Those who believe strongly in this myth will persist. I still hear it from many well-meaning folk. From the lips of those who did give their pets up, it is a terrible thing to live with the guilt that you sentenced your pet to death.
Yes, giving them up to the SPCA, AVA, or risk giving him to someone who may abandon it eventually, is tantamount to a death sentence. If you didn’t know, SPCA simply doesn’t have the space so they have to put down (read: kill) most of the pets turned in to them. Similarly, with AVA. You’ll be very fortunate to find a good adopter. There will always be the possibility that the person may abandon your pet (who may get caught by AVA and put down, or worse, taken by an animal abuser) or give it up to SPCA or AVA.
For those still worried about cats and children, my son is wonderful, normal (no allergies, eczema, asthma), immensely happy, and to his family and friends, the most beautiful child, who lives with his Mommy, Daddy, and 5 cat-siblings.
Finally having put Wolf down on his stroller for a nap, I found Boy napping on my work chair. I pondered if it would be a good time to trim his claws. So I sat beside him and began trimming and also petting his head. Shocked that he actually allowed me to finish one paw, I got greedy. Usually he only allows two, three trims at most.
I carried him and began on the other claw, amid soothing words and ear scratches. The poor boy had mangled his ears again but the tummy bites were now healing. He had two claws that had a lot of overgrown and I wanted to redo those, but that was the limit of his patience. He leapt off but followed me to the kitchen. I soothed him and petted him and then returned to the computer.
Interestingly enough, while I was away, one of the other cats (no prizes for guessing who) had marked his couch head. He had been avoiding it since I returned and a quick sniff confirmed my suspicions. Last Friday I got it washed with white vinegar (to kill off any markings). Lo and behold, today I saw him leap up to his couch head toward his favourite spot, but alas, the cushion was still drying… I’ll try to get it fixed tonight when his Dad comes home.
After reading quite a bit online today about multicat family conflicts, I have learnt much.
This evening, all were well-behaved till close to supper time. Tux sat on the couch head in the living room with me and had a nap. Buffy on the floor although she ran in and out of the room. Boy remained on his chair next to the shoe cabinet and took a nap. Sam walked in and out without disturbing him at all.
At one point, he leapt up to lie with Tux but Tux wasn’t in the mood. He left Sam there and went to lie on the floor. Could that be the problem? Rejection from the object of his affection? Shortly after, the movie ended and I turned off the TV and started packing up. All the cats came into the living room then and I called to Kaku while Boy jumped off his chair and wandered near the door.
Sam didn’t hesitate to rub himself against the chair legs and understandably, Boy leapt up again onto the chair. Sam immediately swatted his legs and Boy jumped down. Boy moved into the doorway next to Tux and I walked through to go to the bathroom.
When I returned, Boy leapt to the ledge under my computer table where he likes to rest, probably feeling safer even a few inches off the ground (vertical territory). Sam paused and stared at him briefly as he walked past and then walked away.
Clearly Sam tried to claim Boy’s territory and then remove him from it. It is also possible that rejection from Tux (yes there was something in one of the cat psychology books I read last night about gay cats, although they never engage in sexual activity) caused him to vent his frustration on Boy (or Buffy, which he is doing right now).
Both are possible as I noticed that Tux, especially recently, is usually the one who ends their physical contact, leaving Sam high and dry.
Solutions I discovered online and pieced together:
* I should keep a close eye on their interactions from now on. With new insight, I understand better what is going on.
* I should give Boy more attention, but preferably away from the jealous eyes from Tux, Buffy, and Sam.
* I should give Sam more attention to distract him from his spurned or short-lived and unsatisfactory advances towards Tux.
* I should use a towel and rub Tux, rub Sam, and then rub Boy to mix all their scents up.
* I should bathe all the cats (at least the boys) to mix their scents up.
* Should none of the above work, separate Boy from the rest for a while to give him some peace and quiet.
After a spate of chasing Buffy, he just went up to Boy, sniffed Boy’s nose and then ran off. It is evident it isn’t a perpetual conflict. Just only when he is most likely feeling unloved and unimportant.
Reviewing the evening, Boy makes me smile. While I watched telly and he sat on the chair, he looked at me most lovingly, blinked, and I blinked back. Who says cats are incapable of love has surely never lived with a cat.
This morning it was Sam’s turn to block (from entering the kitchen), swat, and get the better of Boy… twice. Boy just edged into a corner and winced. I felt terrible for Boy but he didn’t hesitate to jump up onto the counter as always to have his breakfast. I have him half a can of Merrick’s and the remainder to the rest. No one bothered him right up to till the end of his meal and he was contently licking his paws when I saw him.
I remember reading somewhere that cats are less territorial when they have sufficient food to go round and don’t have to fight for food. Could this be primarily a breakfast thing? Is that why Boy never comes into the bedroom when I open the door? Perhaps Sam can’t battle Tux (his lover) and Buffy (more aggressive) for territory so he has to vent his frustrations on Boy. He does seem to be very insecure, probably because he lost his natural mother so young.
Why didn’t Boy fight back this morning? It wasn’t that he wasn’t bothered. He was. What made him fight back last night? Confidence or nonchalance? How can I raise his confidence without the rest’s ire? I must study more cat psychology I think. The eternal conundrum of balancing the attention I shower to all the cats (or rather lack of) and giving Boy the confidence he needs to fight for his rights. The solution must be out there.
Kaku attempted a little territory grabbing after breakfast. I suspect Sam stole her food again while she was eating and edged her out. She sat on the bedroom ledge for around 5 minutes, even allowing me to pet her albeit warily, before jumping off. She seems to be gaining confidence these days and I am just so proud that she is not a bully like Sam.