Introducing Fifi and Sunny

We had Beaumont put to sleep a few days after my last post, and it was pretty much as heartbreaking and terrible as I expected it to be. Catie insisted she wanted to be here when the vet came to put him down, and Dave came over too, since Beaumont had been his cat. Catie held it together until the vet and her assistant walked out the door, then she just burst into tears and wailed. I cried, Dave cried, Chris cried. It was awful.

Later, Catie went with Dave to his apartment, and Chris and I buried Beaumont in my parents’ backyard. Well, Chris buried him. Sometimes it’s handy to be in a relationship with someone who grew up on a farm and has a lot of experience digging graves for small animals. I mostly just stood around and cried a lot.

I told Catie that we had given Beaumont the best life a cat could have, and somewhere out there was another kitty who needed a good home, and we were going to find that cat, and give them their best life, just like we did for Beaumont. I started researching shelters and filling out applications within a couple of days, because I knew were going to need a new cat ASAP. That weekend, we hit up some adoption events that local rescues were having. Turns out, February isn’t exactly “kitten season,” so we were finding a lot of older cats, but not many kittens. If it was just me, I would’ve been fine adopting an older cat, but Catie and Lucy have never had the experience of having a kitten. By the time Catie was born, Beaumont was already 4 years old, and Teenie was nearly 11. I wanted them to experience falling in love with a cat when it’s a baby, and watching it grow up.

One rescue group we found had kittens, but their policy is that if you want to adopt a kitten younger than 6 months old, you have to adopt two of them. The thinking is that it’s supposed to help with the cats’ social development, but I wonder if it’s just because there are so many cats out there who need homes, that they made a rule that you have to take two of them. Either way, we had all four kids with us, and they just fell in love with these kittens. For that matter, so did I.

At one point, I looked at Chris, and said, “We… could maybe get two kittens, right?” He just shook his head and laughed. I think he knew that between my kids, his kids, and me, he didn’t stand a chance. He didn’t even try to argue.

So, this is how we got our new babies: Sunny and Serafina.

Our new kitties: Sunny and Fifi

Since they’re both girls, I wanted to name them Leia and Rey, but the kids overruled me. Sunny is named after the baby in Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Serafina is from the book, “Serafina and the Black Cloak,” about a girl who can morph into a mountain lion. Serafina is a little ridiculous as a cat name, so we just call her Fifi.

But man, they are so cute.

We call her Fifi, Queen of the Scratching Post

Fifi has medium-length hair (possibly long hair, hard to tell when she’s a baby), and she’s solid gray except for a little tuft of white on her chest.


Sunny is a dilute tortie, and has the cutest markings with her little nose freckle and white paws. They’re from the same litter, even though they don’t look alike much at all.

And oh, we are so in love with them.

When Catie met Serafina (Fifi) for the first time.

I used to lament how sad it was that Lucy wasn't much of animal person. I think I have to retract that.

(Let the record show that even though Chris acted like he was against the idea of getting two kittens, you can often find one or both kittens in his lap while he’s working. He’s a big softie.)

They’re adjusting really well to Roxie too. She loves cats, and seemed so sad and confused after Beaumont was gone, I think she’s just excited to have new playmates around. The kittens weren’t quite sure about her at first because they’d never met a dog, and even though she’s a tiny 8-pound Yorkie, she’s still quite a bit bigger than them right now – although probably not for long. They’re getting used to each other and play together a lot now, which is hilarious to watch.

I guess Beaumont left such a big hole in our hearts that we needed two kitties to fill it up. But I’m glad we found these two girls, because they’re pretty wonderful.

circle of life-ish (or live fish)

I wasn’t sure how Catie would deal with the loss of Teenie. She’s known that cat her entire life. We talked for several days beforehand about how Teenie was very old and sick, and how it was almost time for her to go to Kitty Heaven. But I was dreading telling her about it when it happened. The poor kid has been through quite enough over the past year, she deserves a break.

She took it all really well at first. She knew it was coming, so it wasn’t a total shock.

But the next day, she walked into the room and said, “Mommy, I just don’t feel like myself without Teenie here.” I told her that I knew exactly what she meant. Then she burst into tears. There wasn’t anything I could do except hold her while she cried for a long time.

She asked if since Teenie had died, could she get a puppy?

I said no way, kiddo, sorry. Mommy is responsible for cleaning up quite enough poop around these parts. We aren’t adding a puppy to the mix.

She said, then can I get a hamster?

I said no, because hamsters stink and Mommy doesn’t want to clean its cage.

She said, then can I have a fish?

Sigh. Damn it.

I’m not made of stone, y’all.

Internet, meet our newest family member(s)…

(See the 3 blobs at the top of the green aquarium plant? Yeah. Them.)

Their names are Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi. Catie named them herself. Obviously.

So, yeah. Fish. At least they’re really low-maintenance pets, right?


Not so camera-shy Teenie

I found my cat, Teenie, sometime around my 21st birthday. I don’t remember if it was a few days before or after my actual birthday. It doesn’t really matter.

What I remember is that I was living off-campus in a house that I rented with two other girls. There was an ice storm, and I came home really late, like at 3 a.m. (I don’t remember why I was out so late – again, doesn’t really matter.) As I was walking up to the front door, I saw something run from the front porch. It was dark out, and the blob that I saw running was so tiny, I thought it was a squirrel. Then I thought I heard a meow. Just to be safe, I said, “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty?” She came running to me.

I searched all over the neighborhood for her owners. It quickly became apparent that someone had dumped her during the ice storm, probably figuring she wouldn’t last through the night. My parents told me that they were already helping to support my living expenses while I was in college, and I was not allowed to keep a cat. I lied and told them that my roommate had decided to keep her. But Teenie was mine from the moment I found her.

(For the record, she got her name because compared to my roommate’s three humongous cats, she was this wee little kitten, so she was, quite literally, teenie.)

I’ve had Teenie for over 15 years now. She’s moved all over the country with me. I found her in Memphis, TN, but she’s lived in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, and North Carolina. She travels like a champ. I used to joke that she needed her own frequent flyer account for all the times she flew home with me.

When Catie was born, Teenie would stand guard in front of me while I was nursing her, and hiss/growl/swat at anyone who came near me and the baby. That included Dave too. She just knew that Catie was “ours.” The same was true with Lucy, too.

a girl & her cat

Teenie hasn’t been doing well for a while, and her health has taken a serious turn for the worse in the past couple of days.

This is part of the deal with pets, right? They typically live shorter lives than their owners. And it’s horrible and heart-breaking, but that’s what you sign up for when you adopt a pet.

I’m having Teenie put to sleep this afternoon. It’s a horrible decision to have to make, but it’s time. She’s been a really good cat and a great companion, and I will miss her terribly.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m just really damn sad about it.

May you rest in peace, Teenie. I hope Kitty Heaven is full of bologna and cheese.

the story of how my cat ended up on mood stabilizers

For those of you who don’t already know this, we have two cats. Beaumont was Dave’s cat way back before we started dating, and I’ve had Teenie since right around the time of my 21st birthday. (Dave also had 2 other cats back when we lived in Washington, but we re-homed them a couple of years ago, before we moved to North Carolina.)

We’ve kind of done that thing of realizing after we had a kid that we don’t much like cats anymore, but they’re ours and we’re stuck with them. It is what it is. But even though we find both cats pretty annoying now, the one thing about Teenie that’s been driving me absolutely insane? Her neurosis. OMG, that cat is a weirdo.

Teenie was probably always supposed to be an “only cat” (like an only child). She has never jived with other cats, and it’s only gotten worse in her old age. When we lived in Washington, it wasn’t so bad. She basically lived in our bedroom and didn’t interact with the other cats much at all. Then we moved to North Carolina. (Dum-dum-DUUUUM!!!)

Not so camera-shy Teenie
Can you sense the foreboding yet?

A big part of Teenie’s neurosis involves the litter box. If another cat has used it, she’ll go elsewhere. Like the floor. She had a few accidents in our house in Washington, but really, she pretty much had her own litter box there, so it wasn’t often. Then, after we moved to NC, she and Beaumont were sharing a litter box, so we had a lot of incidents where Teenie would go pee somewhere else. Her favorite spot was a corner in the dining room. Which is gross, but the floors were hardwood, so I’d spot the puddle, clean it up, and we were fine. No major damage.

Now, we’re in our new house. My beautiful, beautiful dream house that I adore. And within a couple of weeks of living here, Teenie started peeing in the corner of our family room. Which has white carpet. Oh. My. GAH.

(Ok, to be fair, that carpet had about a million other stains within the first month. I don’t know how the previous owners kept it so clean, but they obviously did not have two cats, a toddler, and a Dave. That carpet is going to have to be replaced someday soon, and it’s going to have to be with something at least a couple shades darker. It’s pretty – or rather, it WAS pretty – but it’s completely impractical.)

I tried a million different things to make Teenie stop peeing on the carpet. I made sure there were two litter boxes in the laundry room and that I scooped them at least once a day, so there was always at least one clean litter box available to her. I got one of those Feliway diffusers that’s supposed to help with feline anxiety. I tried spraying that corner of the room with citrus smells that are supposed to repel cats.

Nothing worked, she kept peeing in that one corner of the room. Finally I figured, ok, Teenie, you win. I set up another litter box in that corner (if you’re keeping track, that’s 3 litter boxes for 2 cats). I didn’t want a litter box in my family room, I think it’s disgusting, but I didn’t see any other options. Guess what happened? Beaumont started using it, because, hey! Litter box! And then Teenie found a new corner of the family room and started peeing there.

GAAAAHHH!!! *gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, lots of mixing distilled vinegar with carpet cleaner and scrubbing the floor within an inch of its life*

Finally, I took Teenie to the vet and explained what was going on. As much as she annoys me, I DON’T want to have my cat put to sleep because of a behavioral issue. And she’s too old and neurotic to have her re-homed at this point, she’d never adjust. But at the same time, we couldn’t keep living that way. I was embarrassed to have people over because no matter how much I scrubbed, our house always reeked of cat pee. And there is not much worse than cat pee on the Gross Smell Scale.

The vet suggested Kitty Prozac*. I know how hard it is to get this cat to take a pill, so I asked about other forms that it’s available. And lucky me, there’s a local pet pharmacy that will get me the Kitty Prozac in liquid form, and they’ll even flavor it with something called Triple Fish Flavor (gag!) (and please don’t tell me what the 3 fishes are, because I’m sure I don’t want to know), so it makes it kind of tasty for the cats.

Teenie doesn’t particularly like the Triple-Fish flavored Kitty Prozac, but she takes it. And you know what? She only pees in the litter box now. Seriously, not a single accident since we started her on the meds a month ago. NOT EVEN ONE. I can’t believe it.

Of course, this means that I’ll be shelling out $50 a month for Kitty Prozac for the remainder of Teenie’s life, which sucks. But if it means no more pee-stained carpet, I’ll take it.

* Not a paid endorsement. Although if the makers of Kitty Prozac happen to read this and want to spot me a month’s supply for free, I sure as hell wouldn’t say no.

and yes, we're getting a baby-sitter on Saturday night

Stuff from this week:

1. Mother’s Day was almost a week ago, and I sort of completely forgot to mention anything about it. But it was lovely. We went to Charlotte to hang out with my sister, and had a great time. We took Catie to a Children’s Museum on Saturday, which was a lot of fun, then went out for a fantastic dinner.

Catie playing at the kids' museum in Charlotte

And my sister, who is awesome, got me roses for Mother’s Day. It would’ve been nice if I’d remembered to take them with me when we left her apartment, but I forgot them at her place. Oh well. They were lovely.

On Sunday, we went out for brunch, then walked around downtown Charlotte for a while.

Tracy & Catie walking down the street in Charlotte

one of my favorite pics from our weekend

me & Catie on my fourth Mother's Day

It was a great weekend.


2. My stupid elbow still hurts from where I fell on it, and the scab on it is absolutely revolting, but I’m still working out almost every day. I’m just being careful not to do things (like certain yoga poses) that involve putting pressure on my elbow. I’ll be fine. It’s really the food part of the whole diet/exercise thing that I need to work on. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to tackle that. I have a lot of ideas and I’m still trying to sort them out. I’ll write more about it when I figure out what the heck I’m doing.


3. Catie is in this phase where she goes back and forth between being absolutely fun and delightful and amazing and wonderful, and a 37-inch tall hellbeast demon. And you never know which kid you’re going to get at any point in the day. I don’t really know what to do about that, other than just ride out the bad moments, implement discipline when necessary, and try not to lose my temper (that last part is the hardest one). It’s just difficult when she’ll go for like a week without needing to be put in time out at all, then all of a sudden we’ll have to do four time-outs in a single day. Which may be average for a toddler at this phase, but it feels like a lot to me.

But, you know, then she’ll say something that’ll have Dave and me doubled over laughing, because she’s an absolute riot. So I guess we’ll keep her, in spite of the occasional tantrums.

Catie next to (yet another) fountain in downtown Charlotte
She’s kinda cute too.


4. I had a little moment of panic there on Monday, when Teenie wouldn’t stop barfing. Everything she ate came right back up (and this was after she coughed up a big hairball). I called the vet’s office, they said to bring her in immediately. They gave her a shot of some anti-nausea meds and an injection of fluids under her skin so she wouldn’t get dehydrated, and they ran some bloodwork. She’s borderline hyperthyroid (she’s also dropped over 4 pounds since we left Washington in 2008, which seems like a lot for a small cat – she went from 14 pounds to 9.8), so we’ll keep an eye on that and address it as necessary.

The whole thing was pretty upsetting and scary, and it reminded me of this post I wrote a while back, and oh god, if something is really wrong with the cat, how on earth am I going to explain it to Catie? I had a pretty big freak-out about that. But it seems that Teenie is ok. She stopped barfing, so either the meds worked or she got it out of her system. And her bloodwork is otherwise normal. So I’m thankful that I get to postpone that particular horrible (and yes, inevitable, I realize) conversation for a while.

Of course, if the damn cat doesn’t stop pooping in random corners of our living room, she may not be long for this world anyway. Argh.


5. Dave and I are celebrating our fifth anniversary on Saturday. Five years. I can’t even wrap my head around that. It’s not that much time in the grand scheme of things, is it? It’s almost like, “Really? That’s it? Only five years?” Because in a lot of ways, it feels like we’ve been together forever. (In a good way. I promise.) So, I’m a little early, but happy anniversary, babe. Love you.

P.S. Apparently this is the “wood” anniversary. I swear I’m not making that up. And yes, I giggled when I read that, because I’m a 12 year-old boy.

Photo Essay: Mornings at Chez PooBou

Catie: "Mommy, take my pitcha wif Beaumont." Beaumont: "Is she touching me?"
Catie: “Mommy, take my pitcha wif Beaumont!”

Beaumont: “Is she touching me? Why is she touching me? Make her stop!”

Catie: "Beaumont, say cheese!" Beaumont: "MOW! Now make her let go of me!"
Catie: “Beaumont, say cheese!”

Beaumont: “MOW! Now make her let go of me!”

Catie: "C'mon, Beaumont, we take a pitcha!" Beaumont: "Get this kid away from me, I just want my kibble."
Catie: “C’mon, Beaumont! We take a pitcha! Smile!”

Beaumont: “Get this kid away from me. I just want mah damn kibble. Can’t a guy eat breakfast in peace around here?”

Catie: "Mommy, why Beaumont not smile for the pitcha?" Beaumont: "I will have my vengeance."
Catie: “Mommy, why Beaumont not smile for the pitcha?”

Beaumont: “I will have my vengeance on you, woman.”

a girl and her cats

It occurred to me recently that I haven’t written much (if at all) about the dynamic between Catie and the cats.

When Catie was a baby, Beaumont was her buddy. At first, he was just curious about this new strange thing we’d brought into the house.

Beaumont sniffing the baby

They quickly fell in love with each other. They were playmates.

Two kitty-cats

He would comfort her when she was sick.

Cate and Beaumont having a cuddle

And after she became mobile, he followed her around all over the place. He seemed to get nervous that she might wander off.

being followed by her constant companion

I would take Catie for walks around our neighborhood and Beaumont would follow right alongside with us. This was when we lived in the sticks, so we generally didn’t pass that many people, but a couple of our neighbors stopped and commented that they’d never seen anyone take their cat for a walk before.

I love it when she and the cat exchange a look

In fact, when we moved out here from Seattle and decided to re-home a couple of our cats, it was understood that even though Beaumont is painfully stupid and prone to annoying the crap out of me and Dave, we couldn’t possibly get rid of him because he and Catie had such a bond.

Unfortunately, their relationship shifted when we moved to North Carolina. I’m not sure if it was the trauma of the move, or if Catie just got a little too big and manhandled him too roughly (both, probably), but he’s a little skittish around her now. I imagine that’ll change again, as time goes on.

But the one dynamic that hasn’t changed is the one between her and Teenie. Teenie is my cat, always has been. I’ve had her since I was 20 years old. She seemed to understand from the time I first brought Catie home from the hospital that this new little creature belonged to “us,” somehow.

The Three Nappers

When I was breastfeeding, I’d typically nurse Catie sitting in bed. I just found it to be more comfortable there than anywhere else. Teenie would sit on the bed in front of me, and if anyone came near me while I was nursing (including Dave and my mom, both of whom Teenie knew and trusted), she would growl, hiss, and swat them away.

couch nap

And over the past 3 years, that hasn’t changed at all. Teenie still loves Catie, and lets her totally manhandle her. When we come downstairs in the morning, the first thing they do is curl up on the couch together.

a girl & her cat

Teenie is getting pretty old for a cat, she’ll be 14 this year. And I know it’s part of nature, and that our pets aren’t supposed to out-live us, but I dread the day that I have to explain the concept of Kitty-Cat Heaven to my daughter. Because seeing the two of them all happily snuggled up on the couch together is one of the highlights of my day.