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In which I am frustrated by life.

So I’ve gone from three pregnant cats hanging around the Manor to zero pregnant cats hanging around the Manor, with no actual reduction in the number of cats, just the number of pregnancies. Grace and Noodlehead show up every morning like clockwork for breakfast, Briar Rose is a more occasional visitor. Noodlehead just gave birth yesterday. Or at least she looked preggers when I gave her breakfast, and around dinner time there she was, significantly thinner and vastly cuddly just like she was LAST time she gave birth.

The fur around Grace’s nipples is definitely stuck down with kitten spit, we’ll see about Noodlehead who either gave birth somewhere in the immediate vicinity of the Manor, had another litter of stillborn kittens, or had live kittens but is ignoring them. She heavily contemplated coming in the house despite dogs and despite the fact that last time I brought her in she tried to go through a wall. Sigh. If I didn’t have resident cats to protect from potential diseases and parasites, I’d let her wander in at her own speed, but as it is I’m defending the Usual Suspects here and feeling slightly overwhelmed with cats.

At least by the time Grace’s kittens are old enough to be brought around (and possibly Briar Rose’s and Noodlehead’s, if there are any) Daniel will be here and I’ll have some help on the love, attention, and deferalification of small fuzzballs. But Jesus, I need to figure out how to get the girls spayed. The primary problem (well, after the part where I don’t want to take them away from potential kittens for a day and a half) being that all the vets want a week’s notice and it’s not like the girls are amenable to me being their social secretary.

But I’ll just have to figure it out, because I can’t keep doing kittens, and neither can they.

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My Shedder loves me.

The scene: Manor of Mixed Blessings, 0300. I am passed out on the futon in the living room because it was easier than trying to go to bed in my bedroom.[1]

Zille: Pssssst.
Me: Mfgsrkt?
Tink: Shhhh.
Me: Wha?
Zille: I had a thought. What if we played fetchy?
Me: What time is it?
Tink: Sleeping time. #$#* off, Zille.
Zille: I am deeply wounded by Tink’s mean words.
Tink: They will be mean actions if you don’t stop.
Me: No fighting. It is three in the morning.
Zille: Could we play fetchy?
Me: No.
Zille: Are you sure?
Tink: I said SHUT UP.
Beowulf: Are we getting up?
Me: Yes, I am sure. No, we are not getting up. Tink, stop instigating and go back to sleep.
Tink: I didn’t instigate anything. She started it. And I’m not speaking to you, you had adventures without me.
Zille: Just a little fetchy?
Beowulf: Are there squirrels?
Me: No fetchy. No squirrels. Fine, Tink, sulk.
Zille: A teeny weeny bit of fetchy? Just throw it once? Look, I have the ball right. here.
Me: Ow. Thank you for dropping a tennis ball on my head.
Zille: It’s not problem. Maybe you could throw it?
Zille: Can I suck your toes?
Me: Fine. You can suck my toes. Just let me sleep.
Tink: If she gets to suck your toes, I’m going to stick my tongue in your ear.

In other news, Grace skipped breakfast yesterday morning but did show up for dinner, no longer looking pregnant. So now I get to keep tabs on her to see if she’s nursing so I know if any kittens survived. Noodlehead and Briar Rose are still massively pregnant, though.


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A Post Of Happy Things

1) The big yellow dog I pulled out of the road is no longer on PetFinder. His deadline was tomorrow, so I’m thinking this can only mean something good for him. I may never know if his family came and got him, someone adopted him, or he got pulled by rescue, but I’m glad to know he’s out before his literal drop-dead date. And if you’re reading this and you pulled him because of my desperate plea or someone boosting the signal, let me know how he’s doing, k? Also please get him a good fence and let him ride up front in the car because he hates riding in back.

2) The Best Mother Ever saw Emmaline’s kittens while I was in England visiting Daniel. Apparently there’s 3 of them, I’ve seen one at a distance. They’re quite skittish and feral. It’s probably time to buy a cat trap.

3) The Best Mother Ever donated a quilt to be bought by an angel, so Noodlehead’s spay is covered. I don’t want to do Emmaline until the kittens don’t need her anymore, and that will be likely after I start school again and the American taxpayer can fund it. Also if I get a cat trap I can do the toms if I can catch them, although I highly suspect I’ll be trapping Noodlehead and Emmaline and Grace a lot.

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The Epic Turtle Palace

We got the foundation laid yesterday, and all the wood for the sides cut to length, and soaked the dirt down but good in preparation for planting today. I didn’t feel like dealing with 50 cubic feet of dirt right at the moment so there’s no new topsoil, but will be stealing bits of forest floor (complete with bugs) to make the place homier for little Jeremiah Swakhammer. I also got him a strawberry plant and sweet basil and a cantaloupe vine, plus some hastas (we’ll see if they take). And I have weed seeds left over from my attempts to grow a garden for Clover the Departed that I will be planting out there, as well!

The foundation is 12″ x 12″ pavers, the actual enclosure will sit on them to keep Jeremiah from digging out. Hopefully. If he does tunnel over a foot to get out, well, I’m not going to stop him because that’s a hell of a tunnel for a little box turtle to dig. The sides are 2″ x 10″ x 10′ lumber, stacked two high and anchored on chunks of 4″ x 4″ at the corners, the lid will be two 5′ x 10′ sections because I’d like to be able to lift it, made with 1″ x 4″. There’s latches to keep the coons, possums, and other turtle predators out.

I would have pics for you but discovered when I went out this morning to take them that my camera’s battery was dead, so I petted Noodlehead instead.

Confidential to whoever got here googling “where can i buy an eastern box turtle in virginia”: you can’t. It is illegal to import eastern box turtles to, export eastern box turtles from, and sell eastern box turtles within the state of Virginia. Your best bet is to check out The Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society, who may have a rescue EBT that you can adopt. If you do find someone selling them, please contact The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to report them.

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The best puppies belong to other people

Yesterday I went down to Blackthorn Kennel to visit my friend C and socialize with other visitors, and also meet the N Litter. At a whopping three days old, they were the most adorable puppyloafs you have ever seen. Tickling them on the sides, chest, or behind the ear will get you a vague reflexive thumping of one back leg, offering them a finger gets a much less vague reflexive suck. They grunt, wail, and cheep at this age, and have adorable little vaguely feline faces with wrinkly muzzles, plus soft baby fur. They’re also just beginning to be mobile, paddling around their whelping box to find the perfect spot, although occasionally flummoxed by the obstacle of Mom’s leg, and her tail invariably produced a confused halt. At this age, they are probably the best-behaved they will ever be and boy, you should see their rock-solid down-stays (although they don’t maintain a head-up sphynx posture, preferring to do their down-stays on their sides, so I guess it doubles as “play dead”).

I also got to snuggle with Macha, and offer Xita some chicken jerky (I never go to Blackthorn without bribes) which is how I discovered that even though she is looking pregnant, Xita knows how to sit up and beg, which was totally adorable. She’s a level-headed love of a dog, really.

After puppy-snuggling and dog-bribing we all headed out for a movie and then followed it up with some excellent Thai food. I crawled home at 2100 and got a stern lecture from the Usual Suspects, discovered Jeremiah Swakhammer had buried himself in protest at his new surroundings, and then got yelled at by Noodlehead on top of it all. This morning Emmaline came up and explained to me that she hadn’t gotten dinner last night because I wasn’t here, and would need extra wet food. Clearly I am expected to never leave the house.

P.S. C did take puppy pics. I will post a link when she has them up!

ETA: Get your dose of puppy right here, y’all.

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Early morning miracles

I know, I said I wouldn’t be around much. And in fact I am really tired, because once again Zillekins decided to have a barkfest around 0330. Except this morning instead of believing her insistence that she needed OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW, I got up and shut the bedroom door and went back to bed. As it turns out, she was lying to me, or at least there was no emergency so severe that it couldn’t wait for me to get up at 0430. My alarm was set for 0515, but unfortunately I had cats in the bedroom with me. Why didn’t I shut the cats out, you ask? To which I reply: HAHAHAHA you have never had cats, have you. At the first sign that I may be about to banish cats from the bedroom, one or more of them hide under the bed, just to make sure I can’t kick them out without going to more trouble than it’s worth. So at 0430 Roo started tapdancing on my head and screaming, and then lo and behold Aida joined in with her creepy Siamese Wail of Death, and I knew there was no way the little buggers would peacefully leave the room and let me sleep, so I got up and let the dogs out.

But that’s not what I came to tell you about today.

No, I came to tell you that at 0539 I stuck some oatmeal in the microwave for myself and then checked the front porch to see if Noodlehead and Emmaline were out there, and they were, so I grabbed a couple cans of food and some plates and went out to feed them. As usually Zille stuck her head out the door to have a sniff at these fascinating stranger catbeasts she has never met, which is a risky business when Noodlehead is around as Noodlehead has offered to kick her ass six ways from Sunday just for being large, hairy, and a dog, and also standing between Noodlehead and her desire to explore the inside of the house on her own terms.

But Zille stuck her head out regardless of terrorist threats from Noodlehead, and Emmaline was closer to the door anyway, and y’all should have seen it because Emmaline is about the size of Zille’s head, a really tiny kitty, and she stepped forward toward this big ol’ dog head and touched noses with Zille. There was caution but no fear, Emmaline trust me not to let the dogbeast get her, and apparently feels no need to kick anyone’s ass. It was the cutest thing I have seen in a long, long time.

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Quick update

The Best Mom Ever is still here, so I’ll be quick. We think Noodlehead had another kitten after the first stillborn one, but it probably did not survive given that she’s been hanging out on my front porch pretty constantly since then. I also think Emmaline’s milk is drying up, as soon as she feels totally empty I will try bringing her in even if she hasn’t brought me kittens. We’ll see how it goes, cross your fingers for us. I hate to separate Noodlehead and Emmaline, but Noodlehead won’t come in as she proved with her destructive panicking last time I tried.

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Nature, red in tooth and claw.

One last post and then I swear I’ll stop the hourly posting deal for a while.

Noodlehead was indeed in labor last night, and at some point after the Best Mom Ever and I went to bed, gave birth to one solid grey tabby kitten in the little shelter in my woods. The kitten was either stillborn, or died shortly after birth.

Noodlehead herself is fine, camped out on my front porch digesting her breakfast.

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An eventful Saturday at the Manor

Actually, the morning passed in blissful leisure. The afternoon was happy activity, my friend C (of Blackthorn Kennel) who bred Zille came over, bringing with her puppy Macha, Zille’s half sister. Pictures later, when I’ve had a chance to process them. Macha was a little nervous at first but Zille used her best bounces, play bows, and scampers, and soon the half-sisters were having a grand good time playing bitey-face, smacking each other on the head with their paws, and then Zille taught Macha how to splash all the water out of the wading pool.

Finally, Shedders worn out to good behavior, we came into the house where Macha was adorable and thought the Manor was Disneyland–toys everywhere! A cat who would kinda play with her! New foods like tomato and blueberry and the same kibble the big dogs got at dinner time! She was less than skilled at eating the cherry tomato and eventually gave up at which point Tink took it, but she got the hang of blueberries pretty quickly. Macha was also small enough to fit through the cat doors at the bottoms of the gates that protect the bedrooms from dogs. Whoops! She didn’t LOOK small enough to fit, but apparently can collapse herself partially into another dimension. Luckily, being a good puppy, she did not use her powers for evil and dig through the litter boxes, she just played with Rooney Lee and tried to steal a couple stuffed mice. When we caught on that the cats were NOT the ones giving her the toys and closed the cat gates (the cats can also go over), she decided on a bone to chew and even tried out Zille’s dog bed.

When C left, taking Macha with her, Noodlehead was on the front porch. I gave her food, she ate it, and hung around yelling and also biting and hissing if anyone tried to touch her. She wasn’t giving serious bites, just warning nips, but the Best Mom Ever and I heeded the warnings and stopped trying to touch her. I’m pretty sure she’s in the early stages of labor. We were a bit worried we’d have to sit on the porch with her all night as she got very upset every time either one of us left, but eventually she adjourned to the cat shelter in the woods at the edge of my front yard (not far from where the turtle was Saturday morning) and hopefully she intends to stay there if she really is about to have kittens. Once the sun’s up a little bit, we’ll go out and check on her.

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One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl…

So first there was Noodlehead.
Noodlehead, a small tabby and white kitty with a lot of tabby on her face, stares at the camera resentfully, wishing it would go away so she could finish her wet food.

Noodlehead was very wary, but the dedicated application of gooshy food turned her into a cat who likes her pettins when she comes up for her snacks, although trying to bring her inside proved disastrous. Then one day, Noodlehead showed up with her sister, Emmaline:
Emmaline and Noodlehead stare into the camera over a plate of wet food.  Emmaline is also tabby and white, but her face is mostly white instead of mostly tabby.

And lo, Emmaline was initially skittish, but she too decided to enjoy pettins along with her snacks, and got to the point that she would yell at the front door for her gooshy food if the human seemed slow in providing it. And then one day, Emmaline showed up with her sister.
Emmaline and SisterTwo, only the tops of their heads visible as they eat from the same plate of wet food.  SisterTwo is a calico tabby and white, her grey-brown tabby areas broken up with splashes of orange.  The two kitties are mirror images in terms of head angle and ear position, if mirrors added (or removed) orange spots.

SisterTwo did not really want to hang out with me. She did chat, but clearly didn’t want me too close. She did, however, REALLY want that gooshy food, badly.
SisterTwo displays her lovely calico coat as she sniffs at the gooshy food.

She was also not going to interrupt her eating for anything, not even having her picture taken so I could make her world famous on the Manor of Mixed Blessings. She did, however, manage to work her tongue into one shot. In addition to the fact that she is shaped JUST like Emmaline and Noodlehead, this gratuitous display of tongue is how I know for sure she is related to them.
SisterTwo pauses in the eating of wet food to lick her lips just in time for her tongue to appear in a picture.  This is how you know she is a purebred Manor Cat.  Accept no substitutes.

SisterTwo needs a better name. You know what to do, Internets.