I thought I’d give you folks a kitten break, and an update on the Boys. For those who are new readers, first of all, WELCOME J and here’s the background on the kittens:
Back in 2013, I said goodbye to my Very Special Boy, Leo. I found Leo at the North Bay Humane Society in 1999, as a 1 year old stray (who was either lost or abandoned after a move – he was always incredibly stressed by boxes and cars. He was the only cat I ever met who didn’t like boxes.) Leo was with me through relationships, through cross-province and cross-country moves, all through my 20s and into my 30s.
We love all of our animals, of course. That’s a given. But there are *very special ones* who seem to connect with us on a deeper level. Leo was that for me. When he died, I felt like I’d lost a limb, and I also felt like I immediately wanted him to come back… But Leo would have to wait. Sweetie and I needed to sort ourselves out, move to better, more stable housing, and stabilize our income. I kept the possibility open for Leo, and I half-expected to see him being given away on a street corner one day. I would see pregnant cats in the neighbourhood and my heart would leap – maybe Leo will be there!
But I held back in actively pursuing it. If Leo really wanted to come back *before* I had all my ducks in a row, he’d have to put himself right in my path. I wasn’t going to go kitten shopping. So I waited.
Meanwhile, ever since 2012, we’d been awaiting the arrival of another special kitten: my Sweetie’s childhood cat Snowball.
Snowball was a white cat. During a conversation with Sunshine, our beloved female white cat who lived with us from 2007 until her passing last year, Sunshine talked a lot about needing a backup / replacement white cat who would take over *her* duties as a white cat in our house, and to Sweetie. This was the conversation when Sunshine said that Sweetie had made it a *condition of her incarnation* that she would have a white cat companion at all times.
It was then that Sweetie realized she had *indeed* had a white cat in her life for all of her life, except when she went to university and was unable to take Snowball with her. (He promptly died after she left home so he could be with her in spirit, until he could come back to her in body. Sweetie always felt grief thinking Snowball died of a broken heart when she left home, but he simply, and cheerfully, transitioned so he could go with her.)
After that conversation in 2012, when Sunshine let us know there was a white kitten in waiting for us (with blue eyes, and I kept hearing the name “Mikey”, and I wondered at the time if this would be the name of a human involved.)
Sunshine was often strongly visual in her communication. She would share images and feelings, and sometimes words, more often than she would share human language or human-style thoughts. It’s what I love about animal communication, actually. It’s more usual for them to share the straight concepts, than translate it into human words – having said that, I HAVE encountered a rare few pets who have a near-complete grasp of the English language! We underestimate cats and dogs, I think.
So when Sunshine was communicating about this future white kitten, I would see a fluffy white kitten with blue eyes – like he had rolled right out of a Royale commercial. I would simultaneously hear the name “Mikey”, I would see a star-like dot of light, and I would also know with certainty this kitten was male. Then she would connect this kitten with Sweetie, (he is coming for her).
I know that when the timing is right, things happen very easily. This white kitten would have to wait, because at the time of this conversation with Sunshine, we still had four pets: Leo was still with us, we had both dogs, Mocha and Happy, and Sunny herself, of course. We were starting our coffee business and taking on a FIFTH pet seemed insane. So we waited.
YEARS later, it was finally time. While I’d kept an eye open for likely kittens falling into my path, what I really wanted for my Leo boy was a safe place for him to be born, where he would get the best possible treatment from Day 1. All of my pets had been rescued – which meant that although they were loving and wonderful, they all had memories of their lives before they came to us. For most of them, these memories didn’t affect their day to day life, but it impacted them when it came to vet visits, travel, moving, it even affected their dreams. Mocha had PTSD nightmares of being left tied outside the SPCA for years after I adopted her.
I didn’t want my Leo boy to have any traumatic experiences on his second journey to me. I wanted to *at least* know the owners of the mom cat. I wanted to mom cat to feel safe and be healthy, too, because mom cats teach their kittens how to feel about the world.
And, honestly, I wanted it to be easy. Sunshine was the only truly *easy* rescue I ever did. The day we brought her home, she waltzed out of that kennel like she had *arrived*. Mocha took six months to settle, and Happy – well, we did our very best for him and he never truly relaxed, ever, in his whole life.
In 2015, I said goodbye to my Mom, and I just didn’t have the *energy* to rescue. The thing I love about adopting rescued animals is it’s so satisfying and gratifying to watch their transformation. Leo unwound from a desperate-to-snuggle, muscles-atrophied-after-months-in-kennels klutz, to a relaxed, happy, goofy, incredibly affectionate companion. Mocha went from a tied-in-the-yard, didn’t even know how to sit, abandoned dog to the *very best* most impressively obedient in the dog park. I still miss Mocha. I’m not sure I’ll ever be blessed with a dog like her again. We’ll see.
Even Happy was a physical victory if not complete psychological success story. Happy was so emaciated when I got him, when I bathed him he looked like those horses look when the SPCA steps in and confiscates them.
Happy was also anorexic, so it was a challenge to even get him to eat.
With Mocha’s help, I had Happy in glowing, physical perfection within six months. He’s my most extreme physical rehab to date.
But all of them were a *lot* of work.
And after losing my mother in 2015, I just wasn’t up for it. I needed kittens. I needed to be cheered up. I needed the comic relief! (I still do!) And so it was finally, finally time to get serious about getting kittens.
You can read about our journey to Mikey and Rupert’s first mom, Tamsin, here. (Check out the previous entries too.)
It was glorious, and easy. I never had Leo as a kitten, and now that he is a year old, I’m recognizing a lot of his behaviours now that he’s a year old. A lot of his recognizable behaviour is because he is, once again, a big male cat with a body that gives him a laid-back temperament.
So much of an animal’s temperament is the result of the signals their body gives to them. Some animals are *super sensitive*. Happy was hyper-sensitive to all stimuli, and instantly reacted reflexively to sight, sound and touch stimulus. He almost couldn’t help it. Through the years, we were able to modify *much* of his reaction, but the cause never went away.
Leo was a big, Maine Coon cross, and now Mikey is a big Ragdoll. Surprisingly though, Mikey really doesn’t remember being Leo. He doesn’t talk about it. He doesn’t ask about Sunshine or Mocha. He knows me as “Mom” – a human who felt familiar and comforting when I picked him up from Tamsins, and with whom he bonded easily and deeply. He’s just as bonded to Sweetie this time around, and he *still* tries to nurse off her ear once in a while.
But Mikey, solid in his new body and the here-and-now doesn’t remember being Leo. He just acts a *lot* like Leo, and my spirit recognizes him. He *feels* familiar to me, just as I feel familiar to him.
Rupert, on the other hand, knows *exactly* who he is. So much so, his past life memories are so clear, it’s as though there was no separation between the cat he was as Snowball and the cat he is now, as Rupert.
Rupert’s self-awareness continues to amaze me. Once in a while, I fantasize about getting a shih-tzu puppy. (NOT going to happen any time soon, so don’t get excited! I do not have the time or energy for a puppy right now. I would need a *big* chunk of time off my hospital job and my business before I’d introduce a puppy into my life.)
Anyway, this fantasy did lead me so far as to research breeders, and I found one in Calgary who looks very good. (As I learned during the Wild Kitten Chase, just because a breeder has a good reputation doesn’t mean they ARE a “good” breeder… but it does further the fantasy at least!) I brought this breeder up on the laptop in the living room to show Sweetie.
“Hey, look at this breeder, honey. They’ve been breeding for x years, they have them socialized and potty trained before they release them to their homes –“
And I was interrupted by a long, LOUD Rupert howl.
Literally, Rupert shouting “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
Sweetie and I were shocked – we’d NEVER heard him make a sound like that!
I asked him, “Rupert! What’s wrong?”
He started streaming me a mental visual slideshow. When a shihtzu came home, she had puppies. The dogs took over. Feeling of frustration, helpless, being displaced.
It was true that when Sweetie left home, her mother adopted a female shih-tzu, bred her once before spaying her, and kept one of the puppies. I was pretty sure I knew that already.
But then Rupert showed me himself, as a white cat, smacking the dogs who were getting in his space, and his smacks having no effect. Rupert (then Snowball) was forced to retreat when it should have been the DOG forced to back off. Rupert felt upset and displaced.
Sweetie then remembered, “Oh yeah. Mom got him declawed after she got the dogs. She was worried about him scratching the dogs.”
Bear in mind folks, this was 20 years ago. Declawing was not seen as cruel in that time, and it was often offered fairly standardly in vet clinics as a side-along procedure with the spay / neuter.
For Snowball, the dogs followed by the declaw led to his de-throne-ing. He never forgot it.
Rupert remembers it like it happened to HIM, as though his kitten form as Rupert was just a different-coloured coat he decided to put on. He is very much aware of every detail of his past life – to the point he reminds Sweetie of things she’d forgotten ever happened.
Which is really cool for me, from an animal communication standpoint. Nothing like getting really cool, verifiable, confirmations!
Yesterday, Mikey was laying on his side, dragging himself along the floor using his claws on the back of the couch to propel himself along. When he gets to the edge, he spins around and goes back the other way. This is something Leo used to do. Mikey doesn’t remember doing this, he just thinks it’s fun! Like the same idea occurred to him twice. Leo’s death and reincarnation as Mikey has been separated by a sort of spiritual amnesia. I think that’s what the vast majority of us have.
Mikey’s body has nothing to do with his past life – he is in no way related to himself in a past life. But sometimes pets – and people – *will* reincarnate along the same genetic lines, and in those cases, the animal’s new life behaviour can be influenced by spiritual memory and physical cell memory.
Their personalities can be influenced by an infinite variation of past life memories (or not) cellular / genetic memory and instinct, and the unique voice of the physical body they inhabit in this life.
I think the voice of Rupert’s current body must serve only to amplify his personality. He is such a character!
And Mikey is such a cuddly sweetheart.
So that’s the kitten update. I hope you enjoyed it!
EDIT: Sweetie posted this in the comments below, and it deserves to be part of the official post.
Rupert’s so funny. “It is like he’s the same cat in a different coat”. So true. I knew right away that he was the *right* cat, but it took a few weeks before I was convinced that he was the *same* cat. What convinced me was that one day when I was feeding them, I picked up on Rupert’s observations about the “new” feeding routine: He wondered why we didn’t have an electric can opener (we always had one when I was growing up, it was sort of his “dinner bell”). And he wanted the little white packets of moist kibble, the Tender Vittles. And when I mentioned it to you, you were like, “Oh, so that’s why I keep thinking about buying an electric can opener, even though I don’t want one! Rupert’s putting in an order!”
My mom’s also reminded me of what a dominant force Snowball was in the house. Snowball was actually born in the house, so I’d had him since Day 1. Just like Rupert, he made it clear that he was in charge from the moment he showed up. We had a large collie at the time Snowball was born, and when Snowball was a just a few weeks old he approached the dog, climbed up his mane, and clawed him on the nose with his tiny, white paw. The dog gave him plenty of space after that. I thought about that when Rupert began to explore the enclosure outside — and he promptly scaled his way to the top of it, and he attempted to separate the netted roof, and see if he could escape.
He also went fishing in our fairly large family fish tank (I don’t know gallons, it was probably 3″ long and 2″ deep). It had a glass top on it, but was partly open for air circulation. So he’d jump up on top of it and sit there, dip his paw in, and go fishing. One day he flipped a bunch of mollies out of tank like a bear fishing for salmon, and they were just laying on the carpet in front of the tank when we came home.
My mom’s also kept canaries for years. She had a bird cage on top of the fridge (I think she started keeping it there when we got a cat, for obvious reasons), and one day we came home, and there was Snowball — on top of the fridge — curled around the bird cage.
He used to regularly hunt mice as well, so it was a pretty normal thing to come come from school and find 2 or 3 eviscerated mice lined up on the walkway to the house.
To a large extent I think it’s normal cat behaviour, *but*, having had a few cats now I sort of get why you sometimes say that living with Rupert is like engaging in wildlife rescue. Because in spite of his very gentle personality he’s very willful, has a very active prey drive, and he’s super-smart. Sunshine was also very smart and willful, but even though she had regular access to the outdoors I never saw her *hunt* anything (although she would occasionally stalk and capture mice, birds, butterflies, and insects, she’d always let them go). Rupert is a different sort of cat, and Snowball was the *same* kind of different. I see a lot of behavioural confirmation. I sometimes wish we could let him fulfill his prey drive more because he figures out toys and games so quickly, it’s not always easy to keep him challenged.
Oh — right! So, he’s started making his *own* toys now by systematically tipping over the wicker laundry basket, and breaking little sticks off the basket to play with. He bats them around the floor, and when he gets tired of that he pushes the sticks *under* the closet door, to set up the secondary challenge of opening the closet door with his claws to retrieve them. I mean, how do you keep a cat like this engaged?? If I offer him a toy he’ll play with me for like 2 minutes just to humour me, then look at me like, “I know you’re moving that with your hand”. He’ll pin down the pole toys in 2 seconds, and then try to take the pole from me.
Mikey I’ve noticed always lays on his back, like Leo did, which I always thought was hilarious. And he’s taken to *bolting* out the door whenever he gets the chance, but it’s like a game for him: he runs as fast as he can, then stops when he’s out of reach. He wants to make a big stir, then get scooped up and carried back in the house. I saw Leo stir up the house lots of times too — he’d get his bushy tail on, then run around until Mocha would start barking at him to settle down. Or he’d scratch at the door after being outside for a while, then immediaely run under the deck when we opened the door. And he’d repeat the process until we got tired of listening to the scratching, and eventually put out boots on and went outside to collect him.
One other white cat story my mom told me: I was without a white cat between the ages of about 1 and 8 (when Snowball was born). I didn’t know I was waiting for one, but on some level I must have, because when I was a tiny child, like 2 or 3, I would always cry when the tissue commercials with the white kittens came on. *Every* time. I was like this super-sensitive, sentimental, highly emotionally-reactive little person. I wanted the white cats I ordered! And maybe all those fluffy white clouds made me homesick for Heaven. I don’t know — I don’t remember doing that, but my mom sure does.