Saturday, 31 March 2012

More pages from my sketchbook and news of a new book....

Properly speaking these are more worked up as paintings....

Ginge and Dennis [watercolour]

Felicity, Biddi and Tabitha.[watercolour]

This was the last time we had kittens, we got Felicity and Biddi for our son [from the shelter of course] and ended up with Felix [a ginger boy] who had been thrown out of a car.  Tabitha and Dennis  belonged next door but reckoned they owned us too.  
Their stories will appear in '100 years of cat tales, 365 stories of cats' on which I am working.  There'll be a story for every day of the year and pen and ink illustrations throughout.  I'll be posting some samples.

This one is in coloured pens and is the picture of a visitor we had until her rightful home was discovered, when she was found to be named Cindy; but for me she was always Nefertiti....

Next, Flossie, another neighbour's cat - this one is painted onto paper I've made.

and finally in this offering, some studies of Siameses washing....

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The cats and their pets

Barty the hedgehog is now an outside hog now there seems to be no more serious risk of frost.  He has shown very little inclination to explore far from his food bowl.  Here he is with Worrals supervising, by standing on the front of his feeding station.

The tortoises, who used to overwinter outside before we had all those wet winters, are canny and went out a while ago.  Stones that move are considered a bit weird by kitties who don't really remember them from last year... Merlin's look says it all!

Rebel sleeps on top of the hedgehog feeding station; it's her place. Rebel doesn't really believe in being photogenic but she couldn't be bothered to move.
Hedgehogs and tortoises are old news to Jasper, he's off checking on the smells in his garden.
Biff has his sun spot on his shelves of course.
...when he isn't off out of the garden checking, checking.... down the side steps.

Worrals sees the side steps as a place to writhe in the sun:
She goes out of the garden but mostly over the fence to next door and pops back from time to time, checking up!
[there's a slightly different one posted as I Can Haz Cheezburger]
She likes to help with the garden
And when she comes in she's ready to suggest a picnic by occupying the picnic hamper
Finally, in the evening, kitties are still playing with the box my anniversary roses came in - it's helped them to teethe and that makes a lovely hole to peer over.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Guest Blog: Amanda speaks about Cerebellar Hypoplasia

I had never heard of Cerebellar Hypoplasia until I met Amanda through twitter.  I've signed up for her blog because I think the love these nominally disabled cats can offer is phenomenal - and I want to bring them to the notice of more people in the hopes that anyone dithering over adopting a CH cat will see that there's nothing to dither over, what are you waiting for!
Cerebellar Hypoplasia

By Amanda Maurer Woodhead

As I read a kitten’s profile on a few years ago, I was enchanted. His photo was adorable, and he was described as a sweet boy who loved to play with the plastic strips that come off of frozen orange juice containers. He sounded perfect. And as I read on, I realized that he was even more special than I could have imagined.

The kitten had a condition called cerbellar hypoplasia that made him unsteady when he walked. In fact, the shelter said that he moved around like a “drunken sailor.” At that moment, I knew he was the one. If I was going to adopt and love any kitten, it was going to be one who needed love the most.

Since then, my cat’s condition has inspired me to become an advocate for these special “wobbly cats.” I began a blog about CH in 2009, and thanks to the many people I’ve met through the blog, my husband and I adopted a second CH cat in 2011. It’s my goal to educate folks about cerebellar hypoplasia so they don’t feel uneasy about these cats, and so that they understand that the only things these cats need are a few simple accommodations and lots of love. Unfortunately, it’s a rather unknown condition that leads to many euthanizations each year, simply because it’s not well known or understood.

Cerebellar hypoplasia occurs when a cat is born with an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills and coordination. It results in jerky or wobbly movements and tremors. The degree of the condition can vary greatly from cat to cat -- even those in the same litter. Some may hardly show any signs of the condition, while others may have a difficult time walking, if they can walk at all.

Fortunately, the condition is non-progressive, non-contagious and painless. There aren’t any health complications, and a cat with CH will live as long as any other cat. Nearly all CH cats learn to compensate with their limitations and challenges, and some owners even claim that their cat's CH has lessened in severity over time

One of the best things about CH cats is that most don’t seem to know that they’re any different from other cats. Consequently, it is natural to them to figure out how to overcome their limitations. For example, most CH cats can’t jump, so instead they become incredible climbers.

But they’re not alone in overcoming their challenges. There are many simple things CH cat parents can do to help their cat become more capable and independent. For example, some owners place area rugs in strategic spots so their cat has more traction and stability. Others place step-stools or pet stairs next to their beds so the cat can get up there easily.

There isn’t a treatment for this condition, but if you ask any CH cat parent, they’ll say that there doesn’t need to be one. They’ll claim their CH cat is one of the sweetest, most personable cats you’ve ever met. And if you don’t believe it, you can read some of their stories here.

If you’re interested in adopting a cerebellar hypoplasia cat, or would like to learn more, please visit my blog, Life with CH Cats

Saturday, 24 March 2012

RIP Fenella

In the early hours of this morning, 24th March, Fenella died after a massive heart attack.
Don't read on if you don't want details, just scroll down to tribute story. 

She had been panting earlier, and had become rapidly dehydrated, so I rehydrated her, and fanned her as she's inclined to overheat.  She seemed to enjoy this, but was plainly still distressed.  This is after midnight on a Friday night - the way cats always manage it, and anyone less ornery than Fenella I have yet to meet.  She insisted on getting off the bed and marching all the way down the corridor to use HER litter tray to do a wee; then she wanted a poo but couldn't make it into the tray.  And then she had her big attack, and died in Simon's arms.  She always was Daddy's girl. 

Here's a piece of FanFiction I wrote for James Bond, from the point of view of Blofeld's cat; I was always thinking of our Duchess of Dhobi, the incomparable Fenella when I wrote it.  I can't think of a more fitting tribute than showing a white cat in control of things. 

The Duchess

Now let’s get one thing straight, all you would-be criminal masterminds out there; I’m in charge.
So long as you remember that, we shall deal perfectly amicably together.  
You may call me ‘Your Grace’ and don’t forget to refer to me as ‘The Duchess’; it is after all only my due.
Naturally, Ernst Stavro Blofeld thinks that HE is the one who runs S.P.E.C.T.R.E. but he’s wrong.  It’s me.  I have my ways of controlling him you understand; subtle feminine charms, the way I sit on his lap and rub against him; he is as wax in my paws. 
He does occasionally make the odd stupid error of course, trying to branch out on his own without listening to my telepathically communicated instructions; like the times he WILL try to tangle with that fellow Bond.  Now it’s quite obvious that there are those creatures that look like prey but turn out to be anything but; and the Bond fellow is one of them.  Cost me any number of my nine lives that dreadful fellow has.  I bet he prefers dogs to cats.  I could tell he was trouble the first time we encountered him; though of course I was NOT about to let him know he had me rattled.
But when my two legged slave does what I suggest all goes purrfectly.
It’s only when he thinks he has a brain that things go wrong.
I ask you; how COULD he have a performance factor better than mine?  He isn’t white and fluffy and he can’t even purr in satisfaction when he has his enemy in his clutches; no wonder Bond always escapes.  The deadly emanations of the self satisfied purr are well known.
So, kittens all, remember this lesson if you never remember anything; never let your humans actually make any decisions on their own even if you permit them to believe they are in charge.  It will only end in needing a lot of washing to put right.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Pages from my sketchbook [and a few photos]

I thought I'd devote this post to a few pages from my sketchbook.

I love the silly positions cats get into when they're washing...

Kitties at play...

And below, a selection of cats sprawling on their backs being most unnecessary....

more silly washing positions!

I finished crocheting Worrals' new jacket in time for the weather to improve, but there were a few chilly nights when she was glad of it!

She loves being with her brother and here they're holding paws, I couldn't resist... below you'll see she has as big an obsession with his lavender toes as I do, as she's washing them for him.

And Merlin also just adores his big brother Jasper... not so much bigger really any more!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Guest Blog: Jessica speaks of the impact of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I do my best to highlight causes that need advocacy, and in my book keeping people aware of what can go wrong with their dear furbaby is one important cause.  This is about the ongoing struggle of darling Brady, whose medical fees chip-in button is on the right of this blogThanks Jessica for a hard task in writing about something so close to you to help others be aware. 

Imagine your kitty full of love and gentleness.  Imagine this innocent kitty sunbathing in the window and gazing at you lovingly before he starts to stumble.  Imagine his body stiffening up and his breathing becoming labored.  He’s looking at you with his eyes wide with fear and crying out to you for help.  He’s frightened and falling over in a seizure type episode.  There’s nothing you can do but hold him and try to ease his pain.  You’re helpless.  HCM did not take him today, but it will be back.  You’ll never know when and you’ll never know how vicious, but it will come back.   There is no cure.  Sooner or later, HCM will win… it always wins.

What is HCM?  HCM stands for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  It is a deadly heart muscle disease that is claiming more and more lives each day.  HCM occurs when the left ventricular wall, papillary muscles and septum thicken, causing stiffness.  This stiffness prevents the heart from expanding correctly and makes it difficult to receive blood properly.  The thickening may also lead to problems of the mitral valve causing it to leak.  The leaking fluid can, and in most cases does, leak into the lungs and causes heart failure.

Are there symptoms?  Sometimes you’ll have symptoms such as a heart murmur, trouble breathing, weight loss, loss of use in back legs, lethargy and others.  Sometimes you’ll have no symptoms at all and your kitty may die suddenly and unexpectedly. 

How is HCM diagnosed and treated?  An ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) is the most recommended way to check for HCM. If HCM is present you may need other tests done to rule out other possible causes and to check the function of other organs.  Again, there is no cure for HCM but some medications may help to control the symptoms and hopefully prevent it from progressing rapidly. 

This is probably the hardest blog that I have ever written because it hits so close to home.  My Brady has HCM.  What I described to you in the first paragraph happened to my baby just a few short months ago.  HCM has also tortured him with congestive heart failure and pneumonia.   Brady is only two and a half years old.  He continues to fight everyday and is on several medications to keep his symptoms at bay.  He is the sweetest kitty you have ever met with a purr and head bonk that will melt your heart.  Every day I snuggle him knowing that it may be the last time I’ll ever hold his warm body in my arms, and every night I pray to God asking Him to give Brady the strength and comfort that he deserves. 

As animal lovers, we are some of the luckiest people in existence because we get to witness the love from some of the most amazing creatures on Earth.  They are not our pets, and calling them so will get you the stink eye and a correction with quickness!  They are our family.  They are our children.  I end with a request to you… Please remember my Brady and others suffering like him.  If you are a breeder; please scan your babies before breeding them, if you are buying a kitty from a breeder; make sure that they have scanned the parents for HCM.  HCM breaks more hearts than you may think.  Please help us spread the word.

You can follow Brady’s story and adventures on Facebook, Twitter or his website.!/TheloveofBrady

More about HCM on wiki at

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Fenella - not good news.

There's no easy way to put this.
Fenella has mammary cancer; and our vet said that as it's likely to come back if he operated, and with the risk of an operation to an old lady of 17+, while she was comfortable there wasn't a lot that can be done besides love her to bits and keep monitoring it and bring her in to be put down if it became painful, or ulcerated. So there we have it.  Fenella is on borrowed time. 
Mammary cancer is fortunately fairly uncommon in cats as apparently it's more of a problem than in dogs or humans as 90% of tumours are malignant [cf 50% in dogs].  I've also been told [though not by my vet] that the risk of contracting it is four times higher in a cat who has had a season before being neutered than if neutering takes place before a season, so you can bet I'll be monitoring Worrals pretty closely too.  Especially as Worrals has a voice and face shape that suggests Siamese heritance and Siamese cats are apparently more at risk. 
Fenella hasn't got a clue however and is a happy girl, she notices her skin condition more and is going to need regular steroids for keeping that under control.  She's thoroughly Frontlined for her flea allergy and can I please take the opportunity to point out that Frontline, Stronghold or Advantage from the vets are the only safe flea treatments, over the counter proprietary brands may actually be toxic as well as being ineffective, one brand causing up to one third of cats to have seizures. 
Here's a list of ingredients to avoid in products you use on your cats: List of toxins
We don't Frontline all year round either, as there's a risk of developing an allergy to that too! As we don't have central heating our house drops below the breeding temperature for fleas in the winter.
However, on to a celebration of Fenella.  Fenella loves her Dadstaff and likes to lie in his arms, either way up whenever she can corner him sitting down....
"Well you weren't planning on going anywhere were you?"
And of course she has to share his breakfast milk - and often insists that he holds it in a more convenient position for her.
Big mug holding a mug

We don't know how long Fenella has.  She's old enough that she might die of something else before the cancer progresses far enough to need to be put down.  I just want everyone to know that she's a dear girl, if cantankerous and ornery as usual, and she's enjoying life while she has it.  We won't let her suffer.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Brittney - my life as a cat.

This is the story of a stray and his forever home with Carol Foster, his story and photos.
Carol is a wonderful caring lady and she's one of the troopers for Trooper, [who continues to do well and is now living with Delores Samms and is shared by Gwen Samms, his own special angels].
Brittney is diabetic and this lovely book has practical advice from Brittney's point of view.
 Autobiography of Brittney, "My life as a Cat" Brittney tells his life story as a Cat, he is courageous, and has adventures to share with everyone. Illustrations and Brittney’s photos shown as the narrator tell his life story as a Cats point of view. 

Brittney's home page 
 Brittney's facebook 
 Brittney on twitter!/BrittneyTheCat