Monday, June 25, 2012

Their kingdoms come

We finally return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-i-fornia - heeeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

Well, you know you're a delinquent blogger when you plan to write about your new litter of kittens, then realize that you forgot to write about the last litter first. See, the last litter - the Douglas kittens, named after two dear friends - included one with a kidney defect, and the heartache that goes with that. Plus, the background story of how those kittens got their names is a long, sweet one that needs to be told.

So, stay tuned for my next post about the "Dougies." In the meantime, behold the names of my new litter! Due to the right male/female breakdown, I have gone with a long-awaited "World Leaders" name theme, bubbling with silly puns. Are you sitting down?

I have four males, and they are: Meow Tse-Tung, Mouse-o-Lini, NaPawleon and Genghis Khat. And the lone girl? Cleocatra. Funny and cute, eh? Yes, indeed, even if I do say so myself. :)

This litter features four black kittens, and one brown tabby (Mouse-o-Lini). However can I tell four blackies apart? So far, I am going by the amount of white whisps on their chests, or lack thereof. But I can't tell from a distance who is who - except for little Cleocatra, a girly-girl who is more petite than her brothers. And, bless her adoring heart, she is the friendliest of the bunch - just like my Gormly Girl (G.G.), who looked just like Cleo as a kitten. Cleocatra is the first to purr for Mama C, and she gazes up at me with wonder. Oh, to be admired!

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Whiteout, the Sequel

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-i-fornia -- heeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!


Hi folks!

Isn't she beautiful? Her name is Bella, and she is the second white cat in a row that I have fostered. Snowball, the longhaired Angora lion, is happily settling into his new home, while this beauty stays in my guest room, and waits for me to take her to a Petsmart cage. I sleep in Bella's room a few times a week, and love the warm fuzzies she gives me.

As is often the case, I am appalled by how Bella ended up with us. A man called a woman who works at a vet's office, saying that his girlfriend had dumped her cat outside at a farm. Said girlfriend's rationale? The kitty more likely would survive there than at a kill shelter. The vet woman, who later called my organization, told the guy to go find that cat -- unspayed, not surprisingly -- and bring her in. I thank that thoughtful man for helping, and hope he breaks up with that heartless biyatch of a girlfriend. Imagine what kind of mother she'd make!

Bella's short, pure-white fur makes a pretty backdrop for her stark, unusual eyes: one blue, one green. She is sweet, but has a sassy side too, and sometimes gets overstimulated while petting. She might suddenly hiss during a loving petting session, but it's harmless, and she'll purr and come back for more, often within seconds. I honestly don't mind this peculiarity, though I wish I could break her from the habit (I'm trying, that's for sure, and she's made some progress). Bella is so lovely otherwise that I overlook this flaw. She would do best in a home without children, who could easily annoy her with too much, or too rough, petting, and get bitten.

Truth is, I'd keep Bella if I could. I love white cats -- I had two as a child -- and I am falling in love with this fair-headed beauty. Therefore, I must take her to Petsmart very soon, before my heart starts negotiating my cat population limit with my head.

Now, on the spring equinox, I have some exciting news to announce: I am getting my first litter of kittens tomorrow! The four babies come from a nice neighborhood stray cat that a kind woman took in before calling us (Foster Cat, Inc.) for help. Mom and babies are staying in the basement, and I will pick them up tomorrow night.

So long as the male-female breakdown works -- I need at least two girls, and at least one boy -- I am naming this litter after the family of two of my dearest friends from middle school: twin sisters Joy and Erin, and Douglas (their last name, and good name for a male kitten). And the mommy cat will be Bonnie, who is Joy's and Erin's human mom.

Who are these namesakes, you ask? Now, that's another story. It's a loooong story. It's a sweet story. And it's a story still highly relevant to my life, two lifetimes later. Remind me to tell it to you sometime.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hoo-Hoo-Hoo-Hooooo, Whiteout!

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-i-fornia, heeeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog who makes his prediction about the end of winter on Feb. 2, has spoken: it's several more weeks of winter for us. But I protest on grammatical grounds: you can't have six MORE weeks of winter when you didn't have much winter to begin with. It's been a bummer of a winter here in Pittsburgh: often cold, but way too springy, too early, and only two mild snowstorms. So much for that "In the meadow, we can build a snowman" lyric from that Christmas carol!

The deficient supply of the white powder, perhaps, makes the start of Mother Catresa's 2012 all the more appealing: I got a white cat to foster, and another one is coming to my house this week!

Snowball, as we named him, looks to be a purebred Angora. See the picture: Isn't he a beauty? His hair is long and silky, and pure white. Pure as the driven snow, so to speak (and I'm going by memory here, hehe.) He is very sweet so he definitely was someone's pet, although the calloused assclown turned him loose. A kind woman in the south Pittsburgh suburbs found the terrified kitty wandering through her neighborhood, took him in, and called us (Foster Cat, Inc.) for a permanent solution. I picked him up a few weeks ago, and he spent most of his time hiding under my guest room bed - which, incidentally, has black bedding. The poor guy's coat, undoubtedly beautiful when cared for, was covered in mats - he looked like a shredded wad of cotton.

Last week, I took him to a professional groomer to get him a "lion cut" - where they shave the cat's body, leaving just a mane and at least part of the tail. That's why he looks a bit funny, but frankly, I think he looks stunning even with his hairdo - er, hair-don't. Just wait until that coat grows back and he has an owner who actually cares for him!

Snowball now awaits adoption at the Petsmart in Cranberry Township. I had him for such a short time, but I hated saying goodbye to him. When he came out from under the bed, he was such a lovebug. He would sit high up on my chest, practically throwing himself against my throat. I almost got a few mouthfuls of messy white fur!

I love white cats. In fact, as a kid, I had two of them. Burt was the original, and Smudge - a white kitten, except for an Ash Wednesday-like smudge of gray on her forehead - came in high school. There's something about the non-color color white: It's a symbol of purity, innocence and beauty. A white cat, to me, looks sweet and radiant, like a ray of white light. And it reminds me of my very first kitty cats, those I had as a child.

And now, perhaps to lessen the blow of the crappy winter, a shorthaired white female named Bella is coming to my house. Yeah, another mighty whitey! She is at a vet's office now, after someone found her wandering and gave us a call. My black sheets and comforter will be covered with conspicuous white fur, and so will my black sweat pants and t-shirts. But, I have the opposite issue with my black cat Gormly Girl (G.G.): She gets her black fur all over my light clothes.

But as we animal lovers know, no outfit or bed is complete without a little bit of cat hair.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

P.S. Yes, that is my unpedicured foot sticking out in the picture. Don't laugh.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mama C's 2011 Census

OK, I've been soooo bad about keeping up with the blog that I will just skip my usual opening radio blurb. You know that you're tuned into KITT-FM, and that I'm Mother Catresa, and that it's all kittens, all the -- well, at least some of the time.

Mama C apologizes for her absence again. I have been so busy with the freelancing ventures I have taken on outside of my job - and truthfully, I hope to turn the chronicle into a paid, published venture, so maybe I'm saving myself for that. But no matter. It's been way too long, and I am sorry about that!

I now proceed with my New Year's tradition of rounding up the head count from Mother Catresa's sanctuary from the previous year. Fans, I now present to you the Class of 2011 from the University of Catsylvania at Pittsburgh!

= First, there was the litter of chocolate kittens in the spring: Meltaway, Truffle, Bon-Bon and Lady Godiva. All are happily adopted.
= Then, along came the "Jack and the Beanstalk" kittens, with Jack, and Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum. All happily adopted.
= Then came my pair of adults, Jack and Jill. The gray tabbies patiently alternated between my guest bedroom, where I slept with them twice a week, and a Petsmart cage for several months. A wonderful young couple adopted both cats together just before Christmas, and I was so happy. But, when Jack's and Jill's new parents left my house with the cats, I went upstairs to their room to start cleaning. With "Jingle Bell Rock" caroling in the background, I started to tear up, turned around and went back downstairs. God, I miss those kids, but am happy for them. They deserve to be full household pets, and not be confined to just one room.
= Later in the summer, I took in a litter of six kittens, with an even male/female split. The boys were the Three Stooges - Larry, Moe and Curly - and the girls were a cutesy, girlie Buffy, Muffy and Trixie. Moe and Trixie -- both brown tabbies, with a white chest on Trixie -- are eagerly awaiting their forever homes. Could you be the one?

So, folks, Mama C's grand total of the year is 17 lives saved. May there be 18 or more in 2012!

As always, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Tawt I Taw a Puddy-Tat!

We finally return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia, heeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Meow there, folks!

Again, it's been way too long since I've posted on my blog. I've been so busy with freelance writing assignments and caring for kitties that I've slacked on this. But Mama C is baaaaaack, with a quick update.

Indeed, Mama C has tawn many puddy-tats, and is about to tee many more tonight! I just wrote an item about a "Looney Toons" exhibit at Pittsburgh's ToonSeum, so Tweety Bird-style talk is tickling my funny bone. Remember how the yellow, feathered cartoon character used to say "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat!" whenever he encountered, and always outsmarted, Sylvester the Cat? Hilarious.

OK, back to my update. For the past few weeks, I fostered a duo of teenage kittens (about 7 months old) named Jack and Jill. They are so cute and sweet! Although, Mama C is the one who went up the hill to fetch them a pail of water. They are both gray tabbies - Jill with a white stripe on her nose - and they are now back at the Northway Mall PetsMart. I hope and pray that they get a home together. I spent several nights sleeping with my furry residents in my guest bedroom. My own cats were a bit miffed by my infidelity, but they'll get over it.

Now, I received an e-mail this week from the local Humane Society, about how they are completely full and overrun with cats, because of owner surrenders. It is absolutely heartbreaking. When shelters are full and keep getting more animals, they sometimes have no choice but to euthanize. I can't stand it, and will do whatever I can to help. I offered both my guest bedroom for an adult cat, and my usual foster room for a litter of kittens, if need be. Sure enough, tonight, I am picking up an adult kitty, and a litter of six, 10-week-old tabby kittens.

Mama C will have a completely full house - I'll be alternating between two rooms to socialize my fosters - and it's a bit overwhelming. But I am in the business of saving lives, and that is not always convenient. I'd rather be spread thin than see a life lost. Pittsburgh friends, seriously, if you want to "volunteer" at my house and spend some time with my fosters, you are welcome to - and I'll cook you dinner and heat up a cup of apple cider for you!

Until next time, I "we-main," Tweety-style,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!"

We finally return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-i-fornia - heeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

Good Golly, Miss Molly - was my last blog entry really in April? Shame, shame, shame! There's no excuse - no, not one!

Blame my unintentional hiatus on all the writing I do at my job, along with the extra freelance writing I've been doing outside of the newspaper. In fact, my story on Frankie the Trolley Cat - an extraordinary rescued feline that charms visitors at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum - is published in the August issue of Cat Fancy magazine! Subscribers have this issue, but I'm not sure if it's replaced the July issue on newsstands yet. Please go get a copy - and the next time I see you, I will autograph it for you, like I did at the museum for "Frank the Trolley Cat Day" last weekend. Mother Catresa hopes to become a regular contributor to Cat Fancy, which is the purr-fect market for her!

So then - what's with the title of this blog entry? Isn't "Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!" the slogan that giant used to chant when he was hunting Englishman Jack in the fairy tale "Jack & the Beanstalk?" Yes. And, silly me, I thought it would be a hilarious name theme for a litter of kittens that has been staying with me for about six weeks.

These kiddos came from a group of 11 in a Pittsburgh resident's yard. Two feral mother cats had kittens on the porch, and the woman called us (Foster Cat) for help. We split up the litters among two of us fosters, though we don't know exactly which ones come from each litter. I probably have a mix of siblings and cousins.

After I captured five of these babies - some skittish and hissy-spitty - and brought them home, I thought the head count seemed perfect for a wacky litter name I'd had in mind for a long time. I unpacked the 6-week-old kittens from the carrier, and chuckled as I entertained the cartoonish image in my mind of a bellowing voice, a green giant whose footsteps shake the earth, and a colossal green vine. Then, I named the babies, one by one:

= Jack, a male orange tabby and white shorthair.
= Fee, a male orange tabby longhair. (Incidentally, he farted a real stinker by my face last night. But that's neither here nor there.)
= Fi, a female black shorthair.
= Fo, a female tortoiseshell medium-hair.
= Fum, a female gray tabby shorthair.

Now, Jack and Fo have been just the sweetest little dollbabies from the very beginning, despite the somewhat feral family background. Fum was a bit on the fence. Fee, leaning toward the side where I am not. And Fi, bless her grumpy heart, didn't seem to want to get anywhere near the fence.

Well, to sum up the summer with the Jack & the Beanstalk kittens: Jack and Fo have been my cuddle buddies every day, and are just little darlings. Fum started to come around first, followed by Fee a few weeks ago. Fi made some tiny steps, but had a ways to go before she would be an adoptable pet. I would scruff her and force her to let me hold her for a brief time every day, even though she had a teenagerish "Ick!" look on her face as I stroked her.

I kept hoping and praying that she would pull a G.G.: be antisocial, like my Gormly Girl, and then make a dramatic turnaround one day. Fi is, after all, a black female kitten, just like my G.G. I figured that it wouldn't happen until her littermates were put up for adoption, and she was all alone in the room, with only me as a playmate. That's how it happened with Gormly Girl.

But, on Saturday, I took Jack and Fum up to a Petsmart cage. And yesterday, even though Fee and Fo are still there, it happened: Little Miss Fi came up to me, cuddled up to my side to be petted, and p-p-p-purred! I gaped in delighted disbelief. It's such a triumphant feeling when that first purr happens; it's like a baby uttering "mama" or "dada" for the first time. Once they've broken the purr barrier, there's no going back. The kittens are now official, loving, adoptable pets!
 
So, tomorrow night, Fee and Fo will go to another open cage at a Petsmart. Only two per cage are doable. I'll keep Fi with me for a few more days, and give her more remedial "How to be a rock star" lessons in social graces, until another cage opens.

May the spirit of G.G. continue to transform Fi into a fiercely affectionate, outgoing kitty that will make someone a lovely pet.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"911, What Is Your Emergency?"

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-i-fornia - heeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

I knew that the 911 operator would send help for me. She just had to. Remember all those old shows that showed firefighters rescuing cats out of trees?

And besides, I didn't know what the heck else to do but call.

"Allegheny County 911, what is your emergency?" the female dispatcher's voice said as I nervously paced along my front lawn, after checking out the second-floor window to the kittens' room. It was just after midnight on Sunday.

"Can you hear me?" I said.

"Yes, maam," she replied. "What is your emergency?"

"This is a weird call," I warned her. I then explained the peculiar - but, to me, scary - nature of my emergency.

"I have a litter of kittens trapped in an upstairs bedroom," I said. "They knocked down this baby gate inside their room, and the gate wedged itself against the door. It's stuck, and I can't get in. And the only other way in to this room is through my upstairs window. And I don't have a ladder!"

Now, I know that 911 operators surely have had far more bizarre calls than this one. Still, I could hear her confusion during a pregnant pause.

"Let me make sure I understand," the operator continued. "You said kittens are trapped in a room because of a baby gate?"

"Yes," I confirmed. "They have a baby gate just behind the door to keep them from running out of the room, and they knocked it over, so it's stuck between the door and the bookcase. And I have no way to get to them. They're really small!"

Just minutes before, I was heading upstairs with the kittens' goodnight dinner of canned chicken and ocean whitefish food when I made the scary discovery. The door would not budge. So that was the thud I had heard while watching TV!

Trying not to panic, I started kicking at the door, hoping to dislodge the gate - but scared of hurting the kittens, whom I could see eyeing me curiously through the little crack I managed to create. But that's as far as the gate would go. I could not reach my arm inside. And after kicking several times, I could hear the wood start to splinter on the bottom left corner, by the hinge.

"Help me, Jesus!" I prayed. "Help me break into the room without causing severe damage to my house."

The only other option, I knew, was somehow climbing up a steep ladder, squeezing myself through the long, skinny, upstairs window, and jumping down, hoping not to break anything or land on a kitten. The phrase "between a rock and a hard place" came to mind.

I felt relieved when the operator responded.

"Alright, maam," she said. "They said they'll come over to help."

I was expecting to see a fire truck, but instead, a police car pulled up to the curb, and a nice young officer stepped out.

"Thank you so much for coming, officer!" I said. He took a look at my outside window, and then asked to look at the inside, because he didn't want to call the fire department unless necessary.

I showed Officer Friendly inside and up the stairs. He started doing the same thing I was - kicking at the door - but he's a strong guy, and I worked on pushing in the upper portion, while he kicked the bottom. I told him, while he worked, that this must be one of the weirdest calls he's had in awhile.

"Oh, you'd be surprised," he said. "We get a lot of calls like this."

"This" probably meant calls about animals, or people being trapped. I'll bet this particular circumstance was unique.

After a couple of minutes, he barely snaked his hand through the door, and pulled up the gate.

"Hallelujiah!" I exclaimed, just thrilled to see the kittens' sweet faces, safe and sound. And to see this incident end without having to file a homeowner's insurance claim (one that would probably be denied, anyway).

I thanked the officer profusely and gave him a hug.

"You're the best," I said.

Then, I went upstairs to play and cuddle with my four new babies, whom I named with a chocolate motif (read my last posting for more about that.) I have Truffle and Bon-Bon (black and white males), Meltaway (orange and black male) and Lady Godiva (orange female.)

And from now on, their gate - meant to catch them when they burst out of the open door and run under my legs -  will remain outside the room, to create a holding pen for kitten overflow.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")