Our New Family Member

Will it be love at first sight…
…or fight? (And these aren’t our guys in this pic, BTW)

…and, no, we’re not pregnant. (After surviving a rough stomach bug, I’m glad to say that’s NOT why I’ve been throwing up! Heard that question enough, thankyouverymuch. ;-)) We’re picking up our new cat, Winston, from the Herkimer County Humane Society this afternoon! We would have announced it much more publicly, but a) we still had some family to inform about it and, even though it may not be a big deal to everyone, we felt they should be the “first to know” and b) we’re a little nervous about it.

Why would we be nervous? Well, our “already cat” Beardslee (aka Miracle Cat, Wonder Cat, Boo, Buddy, B-B, Boozers, and any other cutesy nickname you could possibly fathom) wasn’t even on our radar when we got him. We weren’t cat people. But, now that we’ve had him since May, we’ve found our lives completely altered — in a good way, mostly. He’s kind of our life. May sound sappy, may sound pathetic, but I’m not sure what we’d do without him. He’s taught us how to love each other better, to be parents. The fact that he overcame his major illnesses (he still has chronic issues, but nothing like what he had) has taught us resilience and perseverance. He’s an incredible cat.

But, so is Winston. We wouldn’t have chosen him otherwise. Our dear friends, B+B (well, mostly B) suggested that we go meet a cat that she’d fallen in love with at the humane society. Strangely enough, Dave and I had been on their Petfinder site “shopping” for a possible playmate (and life to make a little happier) for Boo, and the second she said the name “Winston”, I squealed and our eyes lit up. We had seen the little gray short-hair (due to allergies, he would HAVE to be a short-hair) on the website. I got an instant crush on the little guy — first, he was gray (which reminded me of my early childhood cat) and, secondly, his name seemed to fit perfectly with our Beardslee.

C’mon. You see it, don’t you? Beardslee. Winston. British, right? Bordering on butlers? (Only, as we all know, Dave and I are the ones doing the butlering.) We love how classic they sound. Some day, we’ll have a Roosevelt in there some place, too. (I know, not British, but seems to fit. And, no, we’re not planning on getting anymore animals for a long time — maybe not until we have a farm! *sigh* It’s okay to dream.)

So, the next day after visiting with B+B, we found ourselves meeting him. Of course, he’s a sweet guy. When I held him, I noticed that he was so light compared to Beardslee! Very lovable. He took to me immediately, and seems to just need some attention to make him happy. We’re not sure if he’s ever been a house cat (he was picked up as a stray on Main Street in Herkimer), but there’s a cat that looks almost exactly like him who’s taken up residence in our garage, but who’s incredibly skiddish (as if he’s never been near humans). Winston, however, was just. So. Darn. Friendly! I may just have the cuddly lap cat I’ve-always-wanted-but-never-knew-I-wanted.

Sounds great, right? This is where the nerves and worrying came in. Win’s been around lots of other cats – cats with lots of sneezing and coughing and fleas and other disgusting stuff. Would he bring in a respiratory illness? Beardslee’s HIGHLY susceptible to getting sick again. *sweat drops*

Then, there’s the socialization fear, the biggest fear. Will they get along? They’re both male. They’re both fixed. (So, there are two issues knocked out instantly. Girl + boy would not be good.) They’re around the same age — give or take 6 months. Beardslee’s bigger. I know Winston will gain weight (how could he NOT?! I’m a FABulous cook! ;-)), but the size thing will help the issue of dominance to be decided nearly immediately. Plus, Beardslee’s used to HIS space, HIS people, and only the occasional chat out the window with his neighborhood buddies. Luckily, Winston is great with other cats. Oooohhhh I just don’t know how it’ll go!

They’ll each have their own issues acclimating to life at the McCoy-Dellecese homestead. Luckily, I have this week off for the holidays, so I get to play Mommy/psychiatrist/doctor/nurse/housekeeper/chef to both guys. Spoiled. It’s a good thing since I’m kind of the practical parent, in the sense that I don’t get nervous or anxious about administering medicines, clipping nails, etc. If they get upset or have a fight, I’ll be less likely to get upset – and jump to the conclusion that “it just won’t work.” And, thanks to B+B (and their own vast experience acclimating kitties), we’ve got some great advice and tricks to help the process run smoothly. Love them!

So, how are we going to do it? Well, Winston will have his own room. He’s got an appointment with our vet immediately after we pick him up, so just in case he DOES have a respiratory issue, at least he’ll be relatively confined for medication (and for proper flea removal and cleaning). I’ve cozied our spare bedroom for him, along with some fresh toys, food/water, a brand new potty (he has his own carrier, too, which will have pheromones to calm him — can you believe they make stuff like that?!). A tip that B gave us was to feed both of them on opposite sides of the door so that the positivity of eating will mix with the smell of each other (on each side of the door). I’m also going to rub a cloth on either guy and put it near them while they sleep or just have them smell it to get used to it. Oh, and LOTS of playtime with each boy will be a must. Mind you, this is even if Winston will want to come out of his carrier. 🙂

Their first meeting will be on their terms. If Beardslee wants to meet Winston, okay. If he ignores the “weird sounds and smells coming from the guest room”, then fine. But, we know Beardslee. He was curious about what I was doing to the point of sitting in the empty cat pan, watching me curiously. He’s known something’s been up for weeks – we talk to him about it and, strangely, he seems to understand. At the same time, he’s had a bout of depression lately (have you ever seen a sad cat? Seriously. Slanty, almost-closed eyes. Head drooped. So pathetic and sad.), so I’m hoping that a new friend gets him out of it — eventually.

Oh, and for the record — Winston got a blue collar. We thought it went well with Beardslee’s red one. Priorities, y’know. Besides collars, we’ve got so much love to give, we just had to give this a shot. Aside from the nerves, I’m truly excited and happy to welcome a new buddy into the house. I’ll be posting an update and pictures this week!

Have you had experience with multiple cats? Any kind advice? Do tell!

Our Cat is Greener Than We Are

While reading up on simple ways to go green in the ever-popular blogosphere, I read a short blurb from a Best Green Home Tips article stating:

“Got pets?: Let them go organic too. Many people forget their pets but currently there are many organic varieties of pet foods, green pet homes, and toys out there.”

It made me think…and furrow my brow…and do some counting (fingers were involved). Given our little guy’s daily life, around 90% of it is completely eco-friendly. Here’s the run-down:

– His very important food choices (which took us weeks to get down pat) are either all-natural, organic, or both. We use Science Diet Nature’s Best Adult Cat Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Dinner for his everyday crunchies (we were ecstatic when we found it while looking at the Science Diet lineup, where our vet had steered us — even moreso when we discovered he LOVES it). We throw the occasional wet food down for him, too — the only brand we try to use is By Nature’s Organics line (turkey & chicken flavors ONLY). We had an issue with anything containing fish meal, regardless of its organic status. So, this stuff is not only organic and fish meal-free, but he loves it. Bonus!

– His potty time is even eco-friendly. You’ve all seen the commercial — we’ve got “World’s Best Cat Litter”. While it isn’t completely smell-free (do you emit zero smell when YOU poop?), it is pretty darn convenient and less smelly than the usual stuff. We keep an old Cool Whip container near the pan so that, whenever he goes, we can scoop it and bring it to the human commode to flush. I usually wait until he’s gone a couple of times so that we’re flushing less (our water usage has decreased A LOT since we went “mellow”). It’s strange to be so happy flushing cat feces, knowing that clay mines aren’t being stripped just for my cat’s poop. Pretty cool shhhh….stuff.

– And Boo’s #1 favorite toy is a green one that I bought for under $4 at a recent vet visit. It’s only a long dowel with a jute rope and a cute mouse (remnant fabric) at the end. He tends to love anything that “hangs” for playtime — including Mommy’s hair.

But, Beardslee hasn’t been a 100% green kitty, I’m afraid. From day one, we had gone into panic mode since he was so sick, just wanted to give him an opportunity to go potty and eat — so, poor Dave went into Hannaford (and *gulp* later, Walmart) to stock up on goods. None of it was eco-friendly, much of it was cheap. So, the cat pan is plastic. Many of the toys we have (several as gifts) are plastic. The cat tower isn’t the DIY project that I’d envisioned using old carpet for. But, we’d rather USE ’em than fill a landfill with them and be unappreciative. 🙂

The “important stuff” that we have to buy regularly, though, is very green. Beardslee’s on his way to being greener than we are — and we’re so proud!

Story of a Cat

I’ve hinted for awhile of a change happening around the McCoy-Dellecese household. Well, here it is! Our last two weekends have been life-changing — we’ve endured some of the happiest, scariest, most stressful moments we’ve ever had as a couple. It all started when…

Two Fridays ago, Dave and I went out for a bite to eat and a drink or two at the bar in the basement of Beardslee Castle [which happens to be the site of our reception (Sign #1), and is undoubtedly haunted — very cool place] with our friends, Tom and Christine. A good time was had and, when it was time to leave, one of the employees told us of a different exit to use. (Sign #2) After ascending the stairs, we turned toward the car, and were immediately approached by a highly affectionate, clearly sick, EXTREMELY smelly cat. He rubbed up against our legs and wouldn’t stop talking. We all looked at each other, wondering where he was from, if he lived at the castle, 3/4 of us thinking about taking him home. Tom talked us all out of it quickly and we left, deflated. On the way home, we chattered about him (Sign #3 — I always refer to animals as females, but knew this guy was a man without catching a glimpse of…anything), deeming him “Dudley” due to his funny, drunk careening while trying to walk straight.

The next morning, Dave awoke to my staring eyes. I’d been up all night, wondering about the cat. Once it got brighter outside, we threw on crappy clothes, grabbed an old towel, and (without thinking much about it) hopped in the car. On the way there, I called my sister for advice — whether or not to bring him to the humane society (we decided against this, thinking it’d cost money, he might get put down if they needed to do lots of surgery, etc.), could I catch any diseases by handling him, how would I know if he was rabid, etc.

Upon arrival, Dave took hold of his senses, realizing that we were probably trespassing and that we could be arrested if anyone was there. My quick temper flared up at him, knowing that we had to just LOOK; I didn’t expect in the slightest for him to still be around, given that the area was farmland and woods (and that he was probably just a barn cat). While in the middle of exchanging spats, Dave followed my frantic searching. In mid-sentence (about the fact that a gardener was on-premises) he turned and saw the cat, asleep (and near death) in a self-made nest within a large bush/tree. His voice changed instantly and his words made no sense — “You mean, THAT?! *pause* I’ll get the car!!!” (Sign #4)

Our hearts were in our throats; he pulled up and I still hadn’t gotten him out of the brush. I made noises to get the little guy’s attention; the only energy he had was to look up with his eyes, meow silently, and put out a paw. (Sign #5) I burst out in tears and scooped him up (using the towel). He was so frail, his nose was running, he reeked of his own urine, but he seemed 100% trusting. He meowed, a little scared of what we were doing with him, but his energy was gone; he seemed as if he’d been preparing for death, and we interrupted.

Shortly after grabbing some food and a couple of items (by the way, we’re not cat people — you’d think I’d have mentioned that by now) we brought the kitty home, where we stayed for a few hours. It was pretty clear that he was sick in the terms that we were used to — coughing and sneezing. But there was more wrong. I guessed that he either had ear mites or an ear infection since he still couldn’t “walk a straight line.” Knowing that he was starving, he still couldn’t eat or drink without having a sneezing fit. We decided to call around for an animal hospital that was open on a Saturday.

Luckily, we could get into the New Hartford Animal Hospital, so we quickly jumped in the car. He was on my lap, in a small new bed Dave had bought him, and quickly failing. While he was bothered by the car earlier, this time he was calm — thanks to the 1940s XM/Sirius radio channel (Sign #6 — what other cat likes oldies and classics?!).

Upon arrival, we brought the still-nameless cat to the exam room, where he was weighed, checked for a temp (nada), and eventually just taken from us. We had lots of questions, and the doctor was great. It turned out that his kidneys were already failing, so he was being put on an IV immediately, and given antibiotics for an upper-respiratory infection. In the end, he was hospitalized for several days, brought back for an emergency visit the next weekend (he wasn’t responding right to the medication), and we’ve been fearful about his health ever since, but that’s mostly because we’ve been on the look-out for issues.

But, he’s massively improved. Although he has had setbacks, we’ve got an appointment coming up (and I’m praying we won’t need to visit the ER before that!) to see what we might have missed. His breathing is still a little strained at times and his balance may never be perfect (he has a head tilt, too, that may be permanent — but it’s adorable and doesn’t bother him), but his personality and ability to show his gratitude and happiness is infectious. Oh, and he’s got a name — Beardslee. (Although, we call him “buddy” and I, especially, call him “Boo” ; I found out from my mother last weekend that, apparently, that was a nickname that people called my dad and, now, my brother. My dad passed away when I was young and I’d never heard the nickname. Sign #7)

And, I’m still concerned that we took him from some family. He’s a year old, has claws (and will continue to — we’re not declawing him; we DID get him fixed, however, but his “friendliness” and chubby testosterone-induced cheeks will stay with him forever) but never uses them, gets picked up without being too bothered, and is just the sweetest cat I’ve ever encountered. The nurses and doctors assured us that someone outgrew the “cute kitten” phase and made him an outdoor cat (or got rid of him) — an outdoor cat in the boonies, where male cats will chase female cats for literally many, many miles, only to get lost. He’d been in fights. He was on his death bed. I have to be resigned to the idea that he’s ours, that we spent a fortune (as Dave calls him, “the most expensive free cat EVER”, but we could care less about the cash) saving his life, that whomever had him before didn’t find him fast enough. *sigh* I’m even a little scared to post this in case the family happens upon it — but it needs to be announced, ‘cuz it’s HUGE for us.

We’ve learned a lot, especially as our future as parents. I’m the disciplinarian but the provider (usually of food, and I’m generally more attuned to his health issues); Dave’s the worrier but loves with 100% of his heart. Dave has also overcome some of the icky stuff of “parenthood” — potty time and the surprises brought on by illness. We’re working on giving him enough attention but still maintaining our relationship; for awhile there, his illness was ALL we thought about, talked about, worried about. Took a bit of a toll, but it’s a healthy, good lesson to learn.

So, help us welcome Beardslee to the McCoy-Dellecese household. We hope he’ll be here to add continued humor and warmth (and countless other positives!) to our family for many years to come!