A Dog Named Jasper

I’m totally reminded of that horrible Nickelodeon show from back in the day when I say this, but it’s true. We totally have a cat that is part cat/part dog. Dogcat. Catdog. Weird but totally how he is.

Dave and I were dog people from the start. I had to give up a kitten as a little girl due to severe allergies (which, apparently, come out depending on the type of cat.) We both owned and adored our family dogs and always figured that we’d follow in the same footsteps. And we still may, some day.

But, then Beardslee came into our lives and it was a slippery slope from there. Winston was just begging to be our “second (in his mind ONLY) cat.” Then, Jasper just showed up on our doorstep on my birthday and our trio was complete.

The cool thing about Jasper is that I had always wanted a lap cat. Someone to snuggle with, to allow the use of my lap for a nap, who wouldn’t mind being picked up. He totally fit the bill, 100%. 

As time went on, though, I realized that he was so much more than just a snuggle buddy; he was the family dog.

Since it’ll probably (okay, definitely) be a challenge to handle Hadley + 3 very “unique” cats + any pups, it looks like the part of canine will be played by Jasper for the foreseeable future. And we’re totally fine with that. He’s freaking awesome. 

He’s got total dog tendencies. Here’s just a few:

– He chases his tail. Seriously. Catches it, then does it again. Falls down the stairs trying to catch that darn thing. (The sick joke? His tail is by far shorter than his two brethren. Winston stares at him like “That’s not hard. I could do that. I just don’t want to.”)

– He seems to think what Ricky Gervais (and many others, I’m sure) says that dogs think: Everything humans do is WONDERFUL. His huge eyes show a constant amazement at how awesome we are. The other two? Meh. Big deal, Mom. You made dinner. Whatever. Jasper? In awe.

– He lays underfoot. I’m sure other people have cats that do this, too, but Winston and Beardslee have a tendency to lay where they won’t be bothered; ie not in the middle of the room. JJ, however, tends to lay on his side, comfortably watching me put dishes away and prep food. He’s always nearby. Must. Know. Everything.

 Y’know that dumb stare? Totally a dog thing. The others have stares but they either mean that they’re juuuuuust about to doze off or are plotting evil revenge. Jasper’s stare is completely, utterly blank. Devoid of any thoughts whatsoever. Total “dumb dog.” (Remember: I love dogs! Dumb can be an awesome trait. And, no, not all dogs are dumb. But Jasper is totally a dumb dog.)

– He gets low grades for natural cat behavior. Jasper just isn’t great at BEING a cat, the poor thing. He has mastered going to the bathroom in the right spot (um, most of the time) and TRIES to cover it up, but he really…sucks at it. Beardslee used to sit by him as he went just so that he could hop in afterwards and give it a proper cleaning. And clawing at stuff? Definitely does it wrong. Oh, and he’s not skittish AT ALL. Two-year-old kid running straight at him? Doesn’t flinch. Doesn’t move. Just lets it happen.

– Food beggar. He doesn’t always do this, but when it’s a food item that he adores, he’s ON it. When my father-in-law comes, he always sits nearby in hopes that he’ll get some table scraps. No kidding. He’ll also eat pretty much anything you hand over. (That said, Winston loves Chinese. So, the one-to-two times a year we get it, he comes running.)

What about you? Do you have a pet that has some “weird” behavior? Does it make you love them all the more? Or just scratch your head?

Cat Relationships Be Weird, Yo

A vast majority of the time, our cats ignore each other. Sure, they full-on live with each other and at rare times even make eye contact. But, for the most part, they keep to themselves and seem to pretend that maybe, just for a mere second, they’re the “only cat.” And they’re each happy with that.

But what strange, subtle relationships exist. Staring ahead blankly while your brother cat licks your butt for five minutes straight. Sleeping on the opposite ends of a bed for literally the entire day (or sometimes even curled up near each other…merely for the heat source, of course, Mama; no affection intended here). Bathing each other without actually acknowledging each other. It takes a lot of talent to act that complacent.

Other times, they use each other as a means of getting food. Lately, we are incapable of sleeping past 5am (sometimes far earlier) without one of them becoming a wildcat due to an empty belly. Wildcat is code word for bully, but as we all learned in the school yard, “if someone hits ya, hit ’em right back.” {I, for one, disagree with that logic. My cats do not.} So, we have to hiss or stomp or spray them, which only keeps them apart for juuuuust enough time to snuggle back into our warm bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once fed, they go back to living in their own worlds.

Yet, we know. We know that, while he lives for the moments when his tiger brothers are napping away the day so that he can rub all over us and be the little-do-they-know kiss-up of the group, Winston adores his brothers. He especially loves Hadley. He’s almost always nearby, either watching Hadley play (partly with caution, partly as if to say, “Whatchya doin’?”) or curled up near his bedroom to keep an eye on things. Highly intelligent, I think he appreciates and relates to Hadley’s innate mischievous nature. 

Beardslee watches over him, too, but in a slightly more detached way. Actually, that’s pretty much his role in the house. He’s the boss supreme. Winston may be the brains of the operation, Beardslee has control and power. While he sleeps about 90% of the day away, he’s clearly king. If you pick him up (or do anything he doesn’t prefer), he’s got enough force in his body to push an adult human on their butt. Strong. But, he’s also the soulful, kind orange tabby that reminds us, daily, that our hearts would break without his constant presence. I cry just thinking about the day that he’s no longer with us.

Jasper, on the other hand, has always worn his heart on his sleeve. He loudly springboards into the crib and sometimes shares the end of the bed (or even lays ON the little guy’s legs and belly, much as he does with Dave) for entire naps. He instantly starts to purr when he is paid the least bit of attention. It’s so easy for Winston to goad Jasper into fights; you can just look at the boy and he’ll hop over to know what he can do for you. Craves love, the poor thing. The fact that he’s not the smartest of creatures makes him seem like a foreigner who sometimes doesn’t understand what you’re saying, but who lives life with a great passion. Where Beardslee’s the soul, Jasper’s the heart of the house.

While I know that Dave and I have changed, particularly in our life priorities and life choices, since having Hadley, I am incredibly proud that we haven’t changed in our opinions of our first “babies.” Over time, we’ve either heard stories or been told that “things would be different when we had our own” child. Kind of funny, but we always balked (and were offended) at the thought. No, we wouldn’t love them or treat them any differently. And, boy, am I happy to report that we were true to our word. We spend tons of time with Hadley and try to have fun and let him know how much we cherish him, but we still steal special time with each fur boy, in the form that they each enjoy – solo time [often “naked time” after a shower for Winston (he’s very European)], simple petting and praise for Boo, and cuddling in bed every night with Jasper.

And here I always thought I was a dog person who just happened to have three super special cats (which is true). Turns out, I’m just an animal person. Dave and I can’t wait to continue raising the next generation of animal lovers. 🙂 

Wicked Wicker

On my mission towards organization, I’ve been trying to find little, manageable projects to spruce up the joint. Here’s my latest 5-minute fix-up.



Our diaper-slash-clean-up-slash-miscellaneous station had been the same basket since Day One. It’s not really our style, but it has served a purpose…even if it has found a way to explode every other week. I’ve organized the thing a million times, but I finally had an “a-ha!!” moment. 


This wicker basket (which was wicked cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop) has been floating around Hadley’s room…and the basement laundry area…and everywhere in between. I prefer its neutral look…and it gained Winston’s approval, so there’s that.


So, the best way to do some organizing is to make a mess. Sounds weird, but it’s true! I allowed the basket to explode, picked out the stuff that was in the wrong spot (I’m talking to you, rubber ducky), then layered stuff in order of frequency of use in the basket. Voila!


And don’t worry. Winston moved on quickly after his eviction. He’s flexible…sometimes.


Wait…crap. Does that mean we can’t get rid of the basket now? Huh. Guess so.


Mrow

Upon re-reading (and, ahem, editing) this post from June 11th, the unlit light bulb that usually floats above my head sparked. The result is the following post about how the cats have adjusted to our new life.

Here was my prediction at the time…

“We know that Beardslee is quite mellow, and has dealt quite well with his brothers coming home in the past, AND simply naps when my sister’s little one is around, so hopefully his transition will be smooth. We predict that Jasper will (eventually, at least) be the little one’s “buddy”…especially since he has slept next to the belly almost every night lately. But, he’s a bit spazzy, so that may take time. Eventually, he’s sure to be a toddler’s best friend, though.

Winston, however, is the wild card. He’s currently “the baby.” A very sensitive little guy who has a wicked mean streak (Jasper and occasionally Beardslee get their butts KICKED every morning, usually starting around 3 or 4 am; which I’ve learned must be handled with patience rather than screaming and a squirt gun…parenting tip #1) and is a downright bully at times…but when the others aren’t around, or he gets “in the proper mood,” he’s the cuddliest, sweetest little guy in the house. He’ll simply have to adapt, but I’m hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the little guy. (Although he does think that several of the baby’s toys are his, already…along with other spots in the nursery, LOL.)”

I was pretty much dead right as far as how the lil’ guys have adjusted. But, let’s start at the beginning.

Being away from my “first children” was harder than I thought. It’s been hard in the past even to sleep over at my sister’s for Black Friday, away from Dave and the furries. But, this time they knew something was up when I left, and my emotions were on high from the hormones and disappointment of the scheduled C-section, so it hit me even harder to leave them for several days.

After several days of taking care of a newborn and adjusting to breastfeeding/the incision/lack of sleep, it was surreal just stepping foot back into our house. Instantly, all three boys (even the skinny-minnie Winston) seemed big. Not fat, but BIG. Big paws. Thick legs. Big bodies. Saucer eyes. Everything.

They also seemed to be on high alert. It appeared that they were pleased to have me back home, but the fact that I brought with me a living, moving creature (that smelled like the blanket Daddy had brought home for them to sniff) might have made me enemy #1. I just recall walking in, giving high-pitched squeals of love to my boys, observing their very careful steps, setting down Hadley (uber quiet in his carrier), plopping down into my chair, thinking, “now what?!” and bursting into tears of exhaustion and joy.

The guys didn’t appear “normal” to me for awhile after that. No one hid or howled in sadness or anger, which was my #2 fear; my #1 fear was that they’d hurt Hadley (and none of our boys are declawed). This didn’t happen, either. There was just a slight air of skidishness throughout the house, but that could’ve been from new parenthood as much as from nervous cats.

As time quickly passed, we learned that none of the boys is fearless. Jasper, in his own simple-minded way, is the “bravest” (ie most stupid?) and would hunker down on our bed in the middle of even the worst of Hadley’s tantrums. He has also been the first (and only, so far as I remember) to rub up against Had’s feet or the side of his head. I think it’s one of those “Mommy’s my best friend, and the baby came from Mommy, so I’m his best friend, too” sort of things. Heck, it’s how he took to Dave, too. “If Daddy’s her best friend…and I’m her best friend…I should like him!” So, he’s a definite buddy. I knew he would be.
Beardslee’s the most adjustable cat on earth…well, next to Jasper. He DOES have a rare-but-fierce temper when instigated. Otherwise, do whatchya want. Wanna pick me up out of a bush when I’m too weak to even meow? Thanks, sure. Wanna get me a “friend” who’s a huge drama queen? K. Wanna change what I eat and where I poop? I’ll follow. Wanna get me ANOTHER “friend” who doesn’t know where to scratch or the right way to potty? That’s fine. Baby? I got this.
Then there’s Wee Wee. “They call me MISTER Winston.” He’s been our biggest issue, and it’s not a huge one. More of a huge annoyance. Let’s just say that ever since those binkies (and bottle nipples? Yes, PLEASE, ma’am!) made their first appearance, he was a fan. He is known to prance and run around carrying them in his mouth (nipple first…yep…he thinks he’s a baby) and batting them all over the place. So much damn sterilization’s going on just from his midnight thefts. Oh, and, yes, if Hadley drops it while he’s sleeping, Winston will stretch his paw through the slats of the crib to steal the thing; he’ll never take it OUT of his mouth, though, almost to say, “Oh, you’re not using that right now? Mind if I do? Thanks.” Grr.
But watch them all when Dave’s a few minutes late bringing Hadley home. Watch them strategically place themselves around the doorway (Beardslee the closest on the stairs, Winston squatting near the shoes, Jasper finishing the half circle between them), showing body language that can only be seen as a friend missing a friend. Watch their eyes not leave the door until they hear Dad’s car pull in (when their heads turn to the sound, then back to the door, eagerly). Watch them sniff his socked toes in his carrier and contentedly hunker down for the night when they know their favorite man and their favorite boy are both home safely. We had an incredible family before; we have a perfect family now.

House of Boxes

If I didn’t already have a blog name, I think that’d be it – “House of Boxes.” Lately, we’ve had an influx in the box department, mostly thanks to a) baby stuff that I’ve purchased and b) the insanely generous friends who’ve been sending us gifts. Actually, the boxes seem to come from other areas, too, but it’s mostly baby-related. It’s to the point where I kinda forget they’re there. If you were to walk in our front door and take a quick walk around the joint, here’s a real-life example of what you’d see (note I did NOT clean up before your little visit; and Photoshopping is minimal, aside from the arrows)…
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”…er, rather, the tray full of carbs on the table. That’s actually what we’re calling it. Needless to say, I’ve stocked up on goodies for when the baby comes (for us…not the kid).

Some of the most popular books at school are the “search and find it” kinds (I Spy, Where’s Waldo?, Can You Find It?…yep, real literature). I could make an entire book out of this shot of our living room.


One’s empty…one contains the new dining room table we bought *ahem* after Christmas. ‘Tis my fault. I’ve usurped the old dining room table with my sewing stuff (as you see on the right) for awhile. My poor husband.

Beer box! We’ve had that one for awhile. Oh, and that pack ‘n play box will hopefully be empty soon. We’ll see where it will live, though.
Why do we keep boxes? Well, in a word, kitties. They love ’em. That beer box (Sam Adams, FYI) in the last picture above has been around for a long while, hosting plenty of kitty play dates and near-fights. The huge one (for our changing pad) taking over the living room, believe it or not, isn’t the biggest we’ve kept hanging around the living room; the humongous ottoman one was their lair for quite awhile. When we cut it down, apparently the charm had yet to wear because the saucer eyes we received broke our hearts. Let’s just say that its carcass (a “pyramid” of cardboard left behind) lives in the office for chewing and rubbing.

Oh, and the cat food box (we order their wet food online) is mostly Winston’s, and yes he will curl up in it and wait for you to “take him for a drive”. (It’s been interesting to do with a big belly in the way, let me tell you!) Jasper has curled up in it a few times, but doesn’t like rides. Wee Wee prefers a storyline and description of where we’re going. So, y’know, sometimes it’s a casual “let’s head to the farmers’ market” sort of day, while other days are “it’s a night on the town, let’s pick up some ladies”…with the occasional strip joint or club. Can you tell I’m the one who comes up with those colorful scenarios? Yyyyyep. I’m gonna be a mommy! Mwahaha!!

So, while I’m totally going to pick these boxes up (most of ’em) now that I’ve written about them, you should know that any given visit at our house may involve boxes. What can I say? We love our boys. 🙂

Kitty Pics

Why in the heck am I sifting through kitty pictures?

…other than the fact that these faces are the cutest thing in the world…
…for now. (Who am I kidding? These are our first children.)

Let’s just say that I’m working on some one-of-a-kind nursery art. And we can’t leave our “first babies” out of our “first baby’s” space, now, can we?

I’m still working out which style of art we’ll land on, but introducing our guys to the “little one” is just one more step in this crazy process. What sentimental item(s) or art do you surround yourself with everyday?

Our Fabulous Winston

If you’re not a cat person (and I realize that not everybody is), don’t bother reading this post. It’s a self-indulgent love-fest, entirely about one special kitty. Thanks for stopping by, though, and be sure to come back soon!

We love our cats unconditionally. If not for our cats, we wouldn’t even feel close to ready to emotionally raise children – seriously, they’ve taught us that much. They’re each so special in their own ways that every week or so one of us has an emotional breakdown over the thought of ever losing any of our little guys. Seriously, you’ve just gotta meet them and spend time with them to “get it”. Admittedly, after a short visit (which is what most folks experience at our house), they’re still quite shy and VERY much on their best behavior…which is hysterical given how bold and sweet they usually are. They’ve truly got lots of personality.

There’s a special spot in our hearts for each of them, truly. Beardslee’s harrowing near-death experience when we, by luck, picked him up brings a tear to my eye. The serendipity of friends mentioning Winston as a buddy for Beardslee was simply meant to happen. Jasper’s cuddliness (and complete willingness to steal Daddy’s side of the bed – anything to be with Mommy) proves that he was just what I needed (I always wanted a snuggle bunny – he will share part of the pillow, or use my shoulder as a pillow…seriously, he’s people). He was the perfect birthday present – the one that found ME out of the blue on my special day.

But, this post is specifically for Winston; our special guy. They’re all quite special (as I mentioned). But, Wee Wee is a different type of special.

He’s the type of guy who makes YOU work for HIS love. At the same time, he’s incredibly insecure and can’t stand being rejected when he wants to be held or cuddled. (By the way, that’s almost always after shower time in the morning, while his brothers are asleep downstairs. He’d never, ever allow them to see his vulnerability firsthand. However, he does writhe on the floor in happiness when we get home at the end of the day – THAT, he’ll show everyone.)

He’s our baby, by age. We must tell him this and remind him how special he is. His insecurities are just that bad; you can see them in his eyes and face and body language; it’s clear when he’s in need of a boost. The others would simply sulk until their mood passed.

Strangely, he’s also the most confident cat in the house. Mind you, he won’t sit and clean his crotch for the whole world to see (like *ahem* Tweedledee and Tweedledum). But, he’s got his own, tall model walk. His song is “Moves Like Jagger”; we can totally envision him model-walking and doing the head-over-his-shoulder look at the camera to it. He’s sleek and not overweight in the slightest (unlike the others). After potty time (which embarrasses him to no end, you can see on his face…ugh, people can WATCH me), he “cleans” the window in the French door next to the litter pan. He’s simply fabulous, helping Daddy pick out his outfits regularly, and with his long fangs, we always figured he had a cute, lispy speech impediment. Put those stereotypes together and you’ve got an idea of which way our Winston likes to swing. (Considering how often he likes to “show dominance” over his brothers, I’ve got no doubt.) And, of course, we’re totally cool with it.


Somehow, for as finicky and fabulous as Winston is, he’s the tough guy of the house. He’s the first to sneak his way into the basement when the door’s open, and could spend all day getting dirty and cobwebby, discovering nooks and crannies. When Daddy has a project to work on, especially with my stepfather, he has to be in the thick of it. Seriously, you can see him staring at the project, looking at the men, looking back and THINKING about what the issue is. He’s curious, and by far our smartest boy. (That’s okay, we all have our great traits – Beardslee’s sensitivity and soulfulness, Jasper’s cuddliness.) 


And he’s the biggest bully in the house…the best fighter, the quickest, the cat most willing to fight dirty and bite someone’s naughty bits. He’s a climber (look! I’m the tallest thing in the ROOM!), which wouldn’t be a big deal if he didn’t frequently climb USING HIS CLAWS to the top of my comfy living room chair. It’s enough to make you very angry. If it wasn’t Winston doing it. He’ll always do something quickly to redeem himself. But nothing TOO sweet. That’s not his style.

What else makes him special? His voice. His looks would indicate a high-pitched meow…but, nope. He’s more like a baritone, if his brothers are both tenors (or sopranos, but don’t tell them that). He meows occasionally, but his “noises” make him interesting. When he jumps down and lands, or when he doesn’t like something we’re doing (like not letting him go into the basement), or when he really, really wants to be picked up, he kind of grunts. It’s a throat noise that’s not a meow but definitely a major complaint. It’s hysterical.


He’s also special, to me, because he’s almost 100% gray. His brothers both have tiger (or some sort of patterned kitty gene) markings, but he’s silvery blue with a couple of very small white patches underneath. His face is angular, unlike his rounded brothers. What’s so darn special about a gray cat?

Well, it’s special to me. My first cat EVER (one that I wasn’t allergic to – a short-hair, just like Mr. Hardly Sheds Winston) was named Griffy, and she was a great pet to have. I don’t remember much about her, though, since she died a month after my father. We always say that she died of a broken heart, curled up under his cane. I distinctly remember getting a snip of her fur before Grandpa buried her under our swing set, fur that was denser and finer than most cats – just like Winston. Mom still remarks about how he looks like Griffy…and I’m pretty sure that’s why it was hard for me to say ‘no’ to adding him to the family.

It’s clear to me that all three of our boys were brought to us by fate, and there’s no fighting that. After all, I used to be a dog person.

The perfect picture to represent Winston’s First Christmas. Side story: We awoke to shreds of ONE (out of a kazillion) present, already opened, wrapping paper strewn throughout the house and this little “Stripey” toy already disgustingly licked and chewed, and even torn into. Wee Wee had a Stripey that he destroyed and I resewed a dozen times that simply had to be done away with, so he must’ve known this guy was his special toy for the year. (And, nope. There’s no catnip in it.)

Our Fabulous Winston

If you’re not a cat person (and I realize that not everybody is), don’t bother reading this post. It’s a self-indulgent love-fest, entirely about one special kitty. Thanks for stopping by, though, and be sure to come back soon!

We love our cats unconditionally. If not for our cats, we wouldn’t even feel close to ready to emotionally raise children – seriously, they’ve taught us that much. They’re each so special in their own ways that every week or so one of us has an emotional breakdown over the thought of ever losing any of our little guys. Seriously, you’ve just gotta meet them and spend time with them to “get it”. Admittedly, after a short visit (which is what most folks experience at our house), they’re still quite shy and VERY much on their best behavior…which is hysterical given how bold and sweet they usually are. They’ve truly got lots of personality.

There’s a special spot in our hearts for each of them, truly. Beardslee’s harrowing near-death experience when we, by luck, picked him up brings a tear to my eye. The serendipity of friends mentioning Winston as a buddy for Beardslee was simply meant to happen. Jasper’s cuddliness (and complete willingness to steal Daddy’s side of the bed – anything to be with Mommy) proves that he was just what I needed (I always wanted a snuggle bunny – he will share part of the pillow, or use my shoulder as a pillow…seriously, he’s people). He was the perfect birthday present – the one that found ME out of the blue on my special day.

But, this post is specifically for Winston; our special guy. They’re all quite special (as I mentioned). But, Wee Wee is a different type of special.

He’s the type of guy who makes YOU work for HIS love. At the same time, he’s incredibly insecure and can’t stand being rejected when he wants to be held or cuddled. (By the way, that’s almost always after shower time in the morning, while his brothers are asleep downstairs. He’d never, ever allow them to see his vulnerability firsthand. However, he does writhe on the floor in happiness when we get home at the end of the day – THAT, he’ll show everyone.)

He’s our baby, by age. We must tell him this and remind him how special he is. His insecurities are just that bad; you can see them in his eyes and face and body language; it’s clear when he’s in need of a boost. The others would simply sulk until their mood passed.

Strangely, he’s also the most confident cat in the house. Mind you, he won’t sit and clean his crotch for the whole world to see (like *ahem* Tweedledee and Tweedledum). But, he’s got his own, tall model walk. His song is “Moves Like Jagger”; we can totally envision him model-walking and doing the head-over-his-shoulder look at the camera to it. He’s sleek and not overweight in the slightest (unlike the others). After potty time (which embarrasses him to no end, you can see on his face…ugh, people can WATCH me), he “cleans” the window in the French door next to the litter pan. He’s simply fabulous, helping Daddy pick out his outfits regularly, and with his long fangs, we always figured he had a cute, lispy speech impediment. Put those stereotypes together and you’ve got an idea of which way our Winston likes to swing. (Considering how often he likes to “show dominance” over his brothers, I’ve got no doubt.) And, of course, we’re totally cool with it.

Somehow, for as finicky and fabulous as Winston is, he’s the tough guy of the house. He’s the first to sneak his way into the basement when the door’s open, and could spend all day getting dirty and cobwebby, discovering nooks and crannies. When Daddy has a project to work on, especially with my stepfather, he has to be in the thick of it. Seriously, you can see him staring at the project, looking at the men, looking back and THINKING about what the issue is. He’s curious, and by far our smartest boy. (That’s okay, we all have our great traits – Beardslee’s sensitivity and soulfulness, Jasper’s cuddliness.)

And he’s the biggest bully in the house…the best fighter, the quickest, the cat most willing to fight dirty and bite someone’s naughty bits. He’s a climber (look! I’m the tallest thing in the ROOM!), which wouldn’t be a big deal if he didn’t frequently climb USING HIS CLAWS to the top of my comfy living room chair. It’s enough to make you very angry. If it wasn’t Winston doing it. He’ll always do something quickly to redeem himself. But nothing TOO sweet. That’s not his style.

What else makes him special? His voice. His looks would indicate a high-pitched meow…but, nope. He’s more like a baritone, if his brothers are both tenors (or sopranos, but don’t tell them that). He meows occasionally, but his “noises” make him interesting. When he jumps down and lands, or when he doesn’t like something we’re doing (like not letting him go into the basement), or when he really, really wants to be picked up, he kind of grunts. It’s a throat noise that’s not a meow but definitely a major complaint. It’s hysterical.

He’s also special, to me, because he’s almost 100% gray. His brothers both have tiger (or some sort of patterned kitty gene) markings, but he’s silvery blue with a couple of very small white patches underneath. His face is angular, unlike his rounded brothers. What’s so darn special about a gray cat?

Well, it’s special to me. My first cat EVER (one that I wasn’t allergic to – a short-hair, just like Mr. Hardly Sheds Winston) was named Griffy, and she was a great pet to have. I don’t remember much about her, though, since she died a month after my father. We always say that she died of a broken heart, curled up under his cane. I distinctly remember getting a snip of her fur before Grandpa buried her under our swing set, fur that was denser and finer than most cats – just like Winston. Mom still remarks about how he looks like Griffy…and I’m pretty sure that’s why it was hard for me to say ‘no’ to adding him to the family.

It’s clear to me that all three of our boys were brought to us by fate, and there’s no fighting that. After all, I used to be a dog person.The perfect picture to represent Winston’s First Christmas. Side story: We awoke to shreds of ONE (out of a kazillion) present, already opened, wrapping paper strewn throughout the house and this little “Stripey” toy already disgustingly licked and chewed, and even torn into. Wee Wee had a Stripey that he destroyed and I resewed a dozen times that simply had to be done away with, so he must’ve known this guy was his special toy for the year. (And, nope. There’s no catnip in it.)

Cats vs. Children

Dave and I aspire to be parents some day. Actually, we’re already Mommy (at times Mama) and Daddy by name. We believe that we’ve had some good practice for the eventual craziness rollercoaster that is parenthood – and Dave still has yet to change a diaper. (Although I’m crossing my fingers that this will change soon-ish with impending future babysitting adventures with our cutey patootie newborn niece, Liz Lemon.)

So, clearly a baby is a HUGE, life-altering addition to any family. Like, a forever commitment. You can’t shove that thing back in. Can ya really compare cats to kids? In our sick, deluded world…in a word…sure. How? Let’s break this down, shall we?

– Meal Time – Like clockwork, we are informed that it is DEFINITELY time to eat (even sooner, at times); what’s more baby than that? This has evolved as we got more cats, but currently, as if elected by the other two, Beardslee bravely sits next to the bed awaiting my cell phone alarm to go off in the morning. (The others sit near the bedroom door, peering in, if they’re not actually on the bed or looking out the window on the nearby chair – placed there specifically for that purpose.) On weekdays, Mommy isn’t the “morning giver of food” (I do on weekends so that they don’t get into the habit of bugging Dave every morning – they are, if nothing, creatures of habit), but the alarm signals that Daddy may just be getting up (on a good day) with the sole purpose – or so they think – of feeding them.

When I arrive home in the late afternoon from work, they’re already clamoring for their evening meal. I make them wait until the scheduled time, which is around 5pm, but man do they cry until they get it. I have recently taken to giving Beardslee his first (he’s a very slow eater, and often walks away unaware that Jasper or Winston will finish it) to give him a head start, which leaves the other two with saucer eyes and a “WHAT?!” look. Their jaws should really be on the floor with the show that they make over it. “Not fair!” Mhmm. They might as well be little kids.

– Potty Time – This is on a schedule, too. It’s well-known that when aforementioned Beardslee wanders away from his food in the morning, it’s generally to take his morning constitutional. It’s also annoyingly well-known that the second after we scoop the litter, he’s in there messing it up. He has some strange sort of OCD (or another neurological disorder that the vet has dismissed…he’ll just have to deal with it) that involves piling the litter but not actually using it…then licking the rim of the pan. Weird.

Oh, and we scoop (ie “change” – like a diaper, get it?) the litter several times a day. Since we use scoopable/flushable stuff, we like to flush small “batches” so that less harm will come to our system (not that we’ve had any problems from using it). So, we scoop it once or twice in the morning, I scoop when I get home from school, then we scoop before bed. On weekends, it’s more frequent. Man, are we trained.

– Grown-Up Potty Time (ahem) – I think the last time I went to the bathroom alone in this house was when we just had Beardslee around. He’s our polite, gives-you-your-personal-space guy. Actually, he prefers it, himself. “Don’t get all up in mah grill, Mama. I nappin’.” I get that look a lot.

ANYHOO, it is IMPOSSIBLE to “go potty” (yes, our language is already skewing in this direction) without someone (W or J) sticking their head through the door (or, at times, pushing it wide open so that they can run in to examine the tub *cough*Winston*cough). It’s just a fact of life. And don’t get me STARTED on how crazy I get if Winston isn’t already in the bathroom when I start a shower. If he is, he prowls around, inspecting the built-in storage for awhile, only to happily settle down on my towel until I’m finished. If he’s not, inevitably he WILL make his presence known, leaving the door wide open in the process. Dave doesn’t understand my frustration, but when you’re shaving your legs and you catch a cold breeze, it’s not a fun time.

On a side note, Beardslee does on occasion traipse into the bathroom, but it’s generally in one of those quiet, “Are you okay? Do you need help”, sweet ways. It involves a rub up against the leg.

– Illnesses – Thanks to Beardslee, mostly, we’re definitely prepared for traumatic doctor visits. He’s just our chronically ill boy. The fact that he’s still here is a miracle, so we’d do pretty much anything to keep him with us. Same with the other two (but they’re much heartier). So, needless to say, we’ve made lots of doctor visits, and have taken full advantage of emergency services on weekends. Also, at any given time, we’ll be administering an sinus pill to Beardslee (he has what Mommy has! Chronic sinusitis!), a cold pill to Jasper, and keeping up on regular Revolution and ear-cleaning (Boo, in particular, has one ear that makes his entire face smell like stinky cheese. He’s our “stinky cheese man”! Anyone get that reference?)

The thing that bugs us the most lately is the fact that Beardslee has a wheezing convulsion thing that the doctors are currently assuming to be part of his sinus issue – but I’m definite is an asthmatic seizure. It’s terrifying, and the helpless feeling that we all feel (well, Winston takes it as his chance to try to prey on his brother) that we can’t help him will be tenfold when kids come along.

I’ve become an expert at shoving a pill down a throat. I guess the sheer ferocity of such an event has prepared me for SOMETHING involving kids. I know I’m ready for the gross stuff, and the “do I really have to do that?” stuff.

– Quirkiness – Kids are weird. Cats are weird. Their personalities are so distinct (especially before the kids at school have gotten to them and forced them to homogenize) it makes you laugh…and, at times, rip your hair out. Beardslee’s our sensitive soul, but when he actually starts to play (y’know…right before one of his “attacks”), it’s so out-of-character that we can’t help but stare and giggle. Winston seems to have a tortured soul; he’s evil and calculating and makes a weird “mmmm” noise to show disapproval, but when the other boys aren’t around, he’s the sweetest, smartest cat on Earth…it’s like the teen years. Jasper’s our nutjob. He chases his tail like a dog. He gets into EVERYTHING just to find food. He craves affection (from humans; he still won’t return a Beardslee head butt). He simply makes us laugh (or scream, when he tips over garbage cans or begs for food like a dog or jumps on the shelves – which he’s teaching to Winston!) will his silliness. His “duh” and “what’d I do, Mama?” and “OMG!!!” eyes almost never show an ounce of meanness. He just prefers humans to other kitties.
And who can say how strange our KIDS are gonna be one day?! Seriously! Hee hee…just for fun, and to see if anyone’s still reading (blah blah blah, wrap this up, Meg)…if you know Dave and I…what do you think our kids WILL be like?

– Toys! – If you saw our living room right now, you’d see a basket under our coffee table dedicated to a couple dozen toys…then another dozen toys strewn throughout the first floor (and up the stairs). These kids are spoiled…but we want them to get exercise, so it’s not like we’re getting a kitty treadmill! Hand-in-hand with the toys is their other “gear”: two perches on the front porch, strategically-placed furniture for prime viewing through windows, and a huge fish (aptly named “Big Fish” – all toys must have names, says Mama) from our awesome friends B&B that they can run through and crinkle, but only comes out occasionally to play. There are other “dejected” toys that are stored in bins in our cellar, near the 2 carrying crates we have. (We don’t have 3, mostly because they don’t ALL go to the vet at the same time. If we had a fire, I figured they’d all go in the car, one without his crate – probably Boo, since he’s chunky and slow-moving. Wow. I have a fire plan. I’ve thought this out!) Gee, I wonder where all the kids’ toys will go. 😉

– Naughtiness (ie Discipline) – I love our cats. They’re sweet and well-behaved…when company’s over. On an average day, however, I do find myself yelling at them as if they were my worst class at school. The dumping of garbage and the jumping upon countertops (and in the sink) makes my blood boil, but here’s one example of a recent “GAH!” moment:
I was taking a shower in the evening earlier this week, and had left a pile of my clothes on the bathroom floor. Since my hair was in a ponytail, I buried the hair-tie (ie elastic) deep within the pile, thinking cleverly that Winston would never find it in there. Just as I was ending my shower, I heard the door creak open and looked out to see that Winston’s hair-tie radar was in working order; he was nibbling it already. I shouted, and he (as if playing a game) athletically ran out the door and downstairs, hair-tie dangling from his vampire teeth. I threw on my towel and chased after him, leaving everything in my path (floors, carpets, walls) soaked. I didn’t want him to choke on it, after all. He was quite peeved when I retrieved it, but I think I was moreso. My husband couldn’t contain his giggles when I told him, later that night.
Discipline is hard. Tapping a kid (or cat) on the bottom hardly accomplishes anything when it’s done at an age that they simply don’t understand – for cats, this age never comes. A water bottle works, generally, but doesn’t fix some of the hardest challenges altogether. This has to be one of the worst parts of “parenting”, besides being unable to help when they’re sick. And EVERYONE has opinions.

– “Why Can’t I Have Nice Things?!” – I think this is a quote from every mom I’ve ever known. Oh, so true. Our guys aren’t de-clawed, and they never will be. For the most part, Beardslee and Winston have the scratching post thing down (although even Boo occasionally uses my antique trunk…but that’s got a “weathered and worn” look going on, so I’m not too bothered by it). Jasper’s another story, using any carpet, slipcover, etc he can find to “scratch it out.” Heck, it took Boo and Wee Wee awhile to get the hang of it; I’m holding out hope for Jasper…and for the shower curtain that Beardslee snagged when he didn’t have the hang of it. And he did it so casually, as if he was stretching, which makes it worse not to get mad over.

Oh, and I’m still trying to determine how to get crusted-on cat snot out of fabric. I’ve washed it off the walls, windows, and woodwork, but our comforter and several other fabrics are another story. Thank goodness Jasper’s feeling better, at least.– Snugglability (new word, 10 points!) and Cuteness – As with kids AND pets, it seems, cuteness, lovability and the deep connection from snuggle time together can make any altercation or infraction, no matter how big or how little, melt away. Most of the “negatives” I noted above are now thought of as funny anecdotes…most. Our Jasper Dale will let me hold him in the fetal position and purrs to show he won’t scratch my eyes out for it. Our Winston Churchill helps his daddy pick out clothes for work (you think I’m kidding) and shows his trust by laying on his back and stretching out. (Both of our naughty boys have taken to finding a spot to sleep next to and/or on our legs late at night…) Our Beardslee Moore looks directly into our minds and souls with his eyes and can read that a head butt is highly necessary.

So, while I’m fully aware that parenthood is a different sport altogether, I think that we’ve at least been playing the Little League version for awhile. I hear the varsity game is rough, but a lot of it is a learning process that takes on the field, during the game. And our little mascots will help us keep it real along the way.

Bruthas from Anotha Mutha

After over a month with a third kitty in the house, distinct personalities are coming out – and not just in Jasper. The entire cat relationship has shifted, which is to be expected whenever you introduce a newbie. In our case, clear similarities and oh-so-blatant differences have arisen.

We’re lucky to have three very different personalities. It definitely makes for an interesting life. 🙂 We also, literally, have three different cats. Beardslee is a liger – lion/tiger. He’s meaty. He’s orange. His paws are like chunky fists of “me-so-strong”. When I pick him up, he puts his front paws on me and it HURTS – so much strength! He’s got soulful eyes. All a combination of tigerhood and lion-ness (not to be confused with “lionness”; he’s all man. Boy, is he.).

Winston is a panther. His dark “Halloween cat” coloring. His sleekness, length, and general sexiness. He’s got a fabulous model walk. He’s tall with a long tail. He’s bony, even when overeating (hides it well). He’s quick. He’s got a mean, moody streak, for better or for worse. That man’s a panther, hands down.

Newbie Jasper is a bobcat/wildcat (shout out, ODY!). His coloring is the biggest giveaway; he’s got almost every color, from brown to tan to gray to black. His ears and appendages have black tips. His eyes are sweet but with a wildness about them. He’s relatively short-bodied but has broad shoulders and wide-set front legs. Whatchya think? See? Even a cute pink nose!

Personality-wise, the similarities are interesting. Winston and Jasper are both really fast (literally and in their thinking); Beardslee, not so much. Beardslee and Jasper are uber food-oriented; Winston, not so much. Winston and Beardslee are just as friendly as they ever were, I think because Winston feels threatens and wants to make allies wherever he can get them (he’s quite the little conniver). Beardslee and Jasper could sleep all day long, easily; Winston seems to need maaaaybe an hour of sleep each day. They all like windows (of course). Winston and Jasper like soft toys, but for different reasons. Oh, and they’re all on diets (the doctor has actually said that Beardslee’s just meant to be heavy, it’s his body type, but he can’t gain anymore weight; Winston doesn’t LOOK it, but he can’t gain anymore, either; Jasper was used to grazing at the humane society that he’ll have to get used to having distinct meal times).

The differences are interesting and reminds us that, well, personalities are like that. Jasper almost never covers his, um, “potty”, which bothers Mr. OCD Beardslee, who is known to get in and cover it FOR him. Winston seems to be fighting a war that doesn’t exist, loving to remind Beardslee of his dominance and letting Jasper know from the first moment that HE was boss.

I guess their love of different types of toys explains it best. Beardslee has always loved playing with balls. They roll easily and if there’s a human around, he doesn’t have to do much (we roll it to him, he whacks it back, etc) – so he exerts lots of energy at one time and then crashes. He’s lazy, but sweet. All he wants is a head bump from one of his brothers…who, 99% of the time, don’t return it.

Winston’s a hunter. He has a mouse toy that he has torn apart twice already. He has a Kickeroo (“Screwy Louie” – Screwy Louie Kickerooey…yeah, each toy has a name), but he prefers it because he can pretend it’s dead pray, biting and kicking the oh-snap out of it. He tries to do that to Beardslee’s head, but not often (because I loudly punish him). Sneaky, sneaky boy.

Jasper likes anything SOFT. We bought him a miniature Kickeroo, but he just tends to lick it, use it as a pillow, and rub his face on it. From day one, he adored cuddles and chin scratching. He hardly ever uses the “fun toys”, and would much rather spend time with the humans than the other cats. His heart is as gold as Beardslee’s, but he doesn’t show it the same way.

So, that’s an update on our little guys. Sweet, sassy, silly. We’re lucky to have them in our lives. Now, if we could just get rid of Jasper’s upper-respiratory infection. It’s hard to get snot off of…well, everything. 😀