Today is a special day in our home.
Exactly one year ago, we brought home our two kittens, Cleo and Isis, from the S.P.A.R.E. shelter. They were approximately six weeks old at the time. Weren't they adorable? (Cleo is all gray; Isis has a white belly and paws.)
We had decided back in the States that we wanted a cat, but we decided to wait until we arrived here to get one. Our rented townhouse had punitive fees for pet ownership, and we didn't want to try to move a pet with us on our first international move, so we decided that the wise thing to do would be to wait. But I really wanted a cat, so as soon as our internet service was hooked up, I started looking for shelters.
Of course, it wasn't long before I realized that it really would be better for everyone involved if we were to adopt two cats, not just one. That way, they wouldn't be lonely when both Jeff and I were gone for the day--not to mention over our 3-week R&Rs. And because we wanted kittens, I knew that they'd be high-energy, and it would be helpful if they could entertain each other. Am I glad that we made that decision!
Cleo and Isis are sisters, littermates, so they've spent their whole lives together. They clung to each other during their traumatic ride to our apartment and for many days afterward. They play with each other and fight with each other. Although they usually prefer to sleep separately now, they still curl up together sometimes, especially when they're stressed.
Life with kittens has been an adventure. They had their vaccinations and preventive worm medication--although they didn't get a full dose of that, because we couldn't get them to take the liquid, and the vet almost lost a finger forcing them to take one pill each. They went into heat at the age of 4 months, a full 2 months earlier than the vet had wanted to spay them. He spayed them anyway, but they both pulled their stitches out too early. Cleo got an infection and almost died. Both of them have "pouches" or large folds of skin that hang down from their bellies--we think it's from where they pulled their stitches out, but we aren't sure. They don't seem bothered by their pouches, so we don't worry about them.
After their surgeries and Cleo's recovery from her infection, they turned back into rambunctious kittens. Cleo developed a fondness for video games. She also developed a fondness for water that the pet fountain did not totally eradicate, although the Scat Mat and Ssscat compressed air cans have kept her mostly away from the sink for a while. Then she locked herself into our bedroom and made a bit of a mess, but not until after either she or Isis had kidnapped the baby Jesus from our nativity set. I told you back in February that they both were still getting into trouble.
It hasn't really let up. We tried to put two wall hangings up ... Cleo thought it'd be fun to get the tassles that dangle from them, so they spend most of their time on top of the china cabinet. Jeff says that she has "mad hops"--she can jump as high as his shoulder if we hold up a toy or something that she wants. Isis has put a semi-permanent dent in the top of the cushion that goes on the back of an armchair--it's one of her favorite spots. Both kittens regularly open the lower cabinets in the kitchen, particularly the one that holds their food, but also the ones that hold the pots and pans, the pyrex, and a bag of napkins--the bag that used to close using a drawstring, until it somehow got ripped off. They also regularly open the pantry and climb in there, either to sit on top of the water boxes or to make a mess of the toilet paper and paper towels.
About a week ago, I took their food out of the cabinet and put it on top of the freezer. This was after I walked into the kitchen one morning to find the cabinet open, a hole in one bag of cat food, and food scattered on the floor. Later that day, Cleo was desperately scratching at something in the back of that cabinet. When I pulled her out and investigated, I found a bag of Pupperoni that lives in the drawer above the cabinet. Cleo had reached up behind the drawer and was in the process of pulling the Pupperoni out of the drawer and into the cabinet, where she undoubtedly would have torn a hole in the bag and gorged herself on Pupperoni, sharing with Isis, of course. She had the bag halfway down. (Yes, I know that Pupperoni is for dogs, but we can't find any cat treats that they like anywhere near as much, at least not with the limited selection we have here, so dog treats it is.)
Oh, yes, and food has become an issue for them. Cleo is a skin-and-bones kind of cat. She weighs 4 kilos, or not quite 9 lb. Isis is ... how do I put this delicately ... okay, I don't ... she's fat. Very fat. She weighs 6.3 kilos, or almost 14 lb. We've started feeding them different foods. Isis eats a low-fat food, and Cleo is back to kitten food for a little while, until she gets fattened up sufficiently. So they're no longer allowed to share food bowls like they used to, and they must be supervised while they eat. Isis will eat all the food she can reach, and Cleo will give her food to Isis willingly. Isis lets me know she's hungry by following me into the kitchen and meowing pitifully while looking to the top of the refrigerator, where the food bowls live. I ignore this cue; it loses its effectiveness when it happens each and every time I approach the kitchen. Cleo lets me know she's hungry by rising up on her hind legs, reaching as high as she can with her front paws, and digging her claws into the backs of my thighs. This behavior gets a reaction, but it isn't always the reaction she wants. If she stops before she hits skin, she gets fed. If she hits skin, my reaction is not always polite. But she gets fed anyway.
So for those of you who have been wondering about the kittens, they're doing well. They survived our 3-week absence with the help of our cat-sitter. She came over to feed them, clean their litter box, and provide a little human companionship every day. She also brought the young daughter of our neighbor (her full-time job was as their maid and nanny) over to play with the kittens, at our invitation. We had made certain to let both the girl and her parents know that she was welcome to play with them at any time while we were gone. Apparently the invitation had its desired effect--our neighbor and our cat-sitter both told us that she pestered them constantly to come play with the kittens.
At this point, I'm not sure what I would do without the kittens. I'm so glad that they came home with us. They provide companionship and stress relief to both Jeff and me. Sometimes when he's a little stressed from a long day at work, he just picks up Cleo--Isis won't let us pick her up--and cuddles her. A soft, warm, purring cat is a great relaxant! Isis climbs into my lap most afternoons if I sit down, Cleo occasionally curls up beside me, and both of them are calming influences ... whenever they aren't digging their claws into me, which they still do, since we're not all that great about trimming their claws regularly. Of course, it should be obvious as well that they provide lots of laughter and exasperation along with the companionship and stress relief.
Happy homecoming anniversary, Isis and Cleo! We're very happy to have you as a part of our family!
P.S. Cleo currently is pawing at the leather recliner like a scratching post ... at least she isn't actually scratching it (this time).