We are so excited to announce that Sweetie & I are expecting – KITTENS!
Here’s the story:
More than four years ago, Leo the tabby cat was still alive, I started having visitations from a little white kitten with blue eyes. The consistent message was “I am ready to come live with you.”
Around this time, both Leo & Sunshine started to campaign for a third cat. Sunshine was behaving as though she was going to give birth to this kitten herself (via a surrogate.) She was very insistent. We lived in a small two-bedroom apartment and ran a start-up coffee roastery. We were planning on separating from the business and knew there were uncertain financial times ahead – we could *not* take on a another animal.
(C’Mon Mom! There’s plenty of room!)
So I said no, and no, and no. I put the word out to friends that if they ran across a white kitten that needed a home, let me know, but I continuously asked new the white cat to wait.
As this went on for nearly six months, we got some additional information. Sunshine insisted we needed to bring this white male cat in so she could “teach him”. Leo had been asking for a third cat for years, so the cats would outnumber the dogs in the house.
In 2011 we said goodbye to our business, and it was taken over by friends of ours who are doing really well. I can’t tell you how vindicating that has been, over the long-term. We *knew* it was a great idea and a great business, it just wasn’t meant for us. We were meant to start it up, because our friends, with small children, could NOT have gone through what we did to establish that roastery. We still drink their coffee to this day. There’s a whole long story behind that, story for another day. It was a time of relief, sadness, disappointment and overall uncertainty.
In 2012 my beloved Mocha dog had a stroke and passed away that same day, after we had just spent a solid week together in February. (February is my low-energy month, so I like to take a week off of all work and do nothing but chill. I’m so glad I had this intensive time with Mocha right before she died. Her last mean was even her favourite thing: pizza.)
(Mocha in 2003, about six months after her adoption into our family. She’s about 4 years old.)
In 2013, Leo, a piece of my heart and soul, passed away close to midnight. I held him and begged the angels to take him quickly. I missed Leo like I was missing a limb. I wanted him to come back so badly, but the timing was terrible. By then, we’d given up our series of beater vehicles and moved to Tofino, so I could be within biking distance of my part-time job at the hospital, and Kat’s seasonal job at the gallery. Our housing in Tofino was barely suitable for two humans and two pets, although we observed *much worse* in the months we spent looking for better accommodation. Besides, at this time it became clear that TWO kittens were waiting to come in. Two at one time, the white kitten, and Leo.
(Leo in 2003, in the kitchen cupboard of our Toronto apartment. He’s waiting for Cheese Whiz.)
I’m glad that I waited.
In 2014, my mother’s diagnosis, when the grieving began, and this past April, on the 23rd, her passing. Her funeral was the day before mother’s day. I and the rest of my family have been slowly learning how to move forward without her. It’s still a shock. Longevity runs in our family, we all *expected* her to live into her 80s!
So much change.
We moved again, right in the middle of my mother’s transition through the hospice care and out of her body. And now, it’s been six months.
We’re settled into our new home. It’s so quiet here. Sweetie has her art studio. She’s producing art cards, setting up manufacturing for her knitwear designs and producing more paintings for the gallery. I’m so proud of her.
And I’m proud of me! My schedule is filling up, I have my OWN OFFICE. I’m planning some exciting things for 2016!
(Sunshine, the day after we got her in 2004.)
Sunshine is doing very well so far on her new meds. Her thyroid has shrunk down, and she’s running around and playing with energy again. We’ll see the true evidence in early October when she goes back for her blood test… but she is *feeling* pretty great.
Sunshine made it clear earlier this year she no longer wanted a kitten. As her body got weaker, it seemed like a bad idea, and I was resigned to supporting Sunshine through her illness and being potentially cat-less for the first time since I was 19.
But Sunny is doing so very well. And now, on her new meds, it wouldn’t be the *worst thing* in the world if she got into kitten food. (We had to be careful to restrict iodine in her food before the new meds.) And you know what? *I* want kittens. It’s time. I never stop thinking about it. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for four years, ever since the little white kitten with blue eyes announced his presence. And selfishly, I want Leo to come back!
I talked to Sunshine. Sunshine said okay, as long as they were small enough that she could let them know she is the BOSS cat. Not 6 month old kittens, but only three month old kittens would be acceptable.
I really think that kittens will give Sunshine more interest in her life. Mocha really perked up in her last years after we brought Happy home. For his part, Happy the Dog only cares about lap time, food and walks. I think Team Kitten will give him some new challenges, some new creatures to relate to, and will help take the burden of his attention off of Sunshine.
We’ll have to keep the kittens and the dog separate until they’re old enough to handle themselves. Given Happy’s intensity, and the incident with Sunshine, I wouldn’t trust Happy with the kittens alone. That’s good advice to anyone with young kittens anyway – don’t leave young kittens alone, unsupervised, with adult pets. Not until the kittens are developed enough to have some common sense. So there will be some modifications necessary for the first few months, and kitten-proofing the kitchen is probably how we’ll go. I’ll put a nice tall plywood gate in the hall.
I decided to investigate the possibilities.
Here’s the thing: I really want to get these kittens from their birth place, and I really, really want them to have strong, healthy bodies. I want to apply everything I’ve learned about feeding cats to these beauties from day 1. I want them to never know a moment of uncertainty in their lives. I want them to be joyful little embodiments who expect the best from everything and everyone. I want them to have the best start.
I had previously resolved to only adopt through rescues…. But.
But I worry about my little Leo cat, coming through as a teeny vulnerable kitten. Where will he appear? How would I find him? How long would he have to be in a rescue or a humane society before I found him? How stressed out would his mom be? How good would his nutrition be?
This is a situation where you really could just let go and trust that it’d all work out. It would work out just fine… But.
I have had so little control over things relating to my pets in the past few years. I couldn’t control Leo’s death experience, or Mocha’s short life. I tried but couldn’t control Sunshine’s hyperthyroidism without the medicine that’s likely to send her into kidney failure further down the road. I certainly couldn’t control the factors surrounding my Mom’s death. Hell, I’m struggling to regain control over my eating habits!
You know what gives me a sense of control? Selecting a home of birth for my kittens. I nice home where the cats are born and raised in a family setting. An experienced home where the Mother cat was born, and knows everything is going to be just fine. The Mother cat has been fed the best food all her life, and SHE comes from a line of ancestors which can be traced and shown to be reasonably healthy, of good temperament and long-lived.
I can pick that home and say to the white kitten and Leo Cat and say, “Ok guys, GO FOR IT!”
And so we have! We found a well-established breeder of ragdolls, who have been genetically screened to be healthy and reasonably long-lived. They have a good reputation and have been quick and forthcoming with email answers to my numerous questions, which is more than can be said for every other breeder I’ve contacted. They have many glowing testimonials a great deal of transparency, compared to other breeders.
Why ragdolls? Well, I’ve been researching ragdolls for a couple of years. They were, at one time, extremely inbred, resulting in some genetic defects not unlike the other very popular breeds like Himalayan / Persian, Siamese, and don’t even get me started on the Bengal and Sphynx.
Leo was part Maine Coon, and I would have loved to get a pair of Maine Coon kittens – but there aren’t any Maine Coon breeders in my area. There are some weird things happening with Maine Coon breeding too – breeding for cats so large they’re almost deformed. The ones that are breeding responsibly, for healthy, non-mutant cats, are extremely expensive! AND none of them have responded to my email enquiries about their breeding program.
I thought “Maybe I should just go for a mixed breed from the humane society?”
But then I started all those worries again, and the trouble out here seems to be many of the available kittens are born to feral, inbred wild cat colonies. I know two local people whose rescued cats died from inbreeding-related genetic defects before 2 years of age. And I know many people whose kittens have grown into cats that really prefer not to be handled. Sunshine herself loves to snuggle, but she hates to be picked up and held. It triggers her survival alarms of feeling trapped.
And then there’s the spay / neuter question. Kittens who go through the humane society in British Columbia are spayed / neutered before they’re released to homes, no matter how old they are. Even if they’re only 8 weeks old! I’ve done a lot of reading on pediatric spay / neutering and there’s no real evidence right now that there is any adverse effect of early altering… but the idea just alarms me.
I think, it’s my desire to control their experience. I want to select the vet who alters my pets. I want to discuss with the vet and decide when the time is right. Me. Because having this little bit of control makes me feel a hell of a lot better. For whatever cumulative series of reasons, this is what feels right to me.
So today we committed to the breeder and said we’d like to get in line for a pair of littermates.
Our fluffy little white guy? He’s identified as Sweetie’s childhood cat, Snowball. Snowball was born to a litter in Sweetie’s childhood home and was with her since she was a kindergartener. He died shortly after Sweetie moved out on her own to attend university. He says he left his body so he could be with her as a spirit cat. Then Sunshine came into my life shortly after Sweetie did, her white cat contingent kicking in just as soon as a pet-friendly apartment was available! It’s very clear Sunshine is Sweetie’s cat. She loves me and all, but it’s Sweetie she snuggles with in the morning.
As much as I felt like Leo was coming as an orange tabby, he was always pretty flexible. He’ll go wherever I can get him. Besides, it’s nearly impossible to anticipate the mature colouring of a ragdoll cat. They’re like Dalmatians, you just have to wait a couple of years for all their spots to come in. As for the white boy kitten? Well, did you know that ragdolls are born all white?
I’m very excited. Now that we have selected a breeder and gotten in line, we’re just waiting for the word that our boys are here. (I’m assuming at least one of them will be a boy. We’ll see how this turns out.)
I’m pretty sure we’ll have kittens by Christmas. Maybe sooner. We’ll see!