Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Story, Part 4: I LOVE Cats...

...and I have 9 of them!

When I was a little girl I told myself that when I grew up I'd have as many cats as I wanted. Once I grew up, I thought four would be a good number but I went from two to too many and then down to six, which was great. I didn't feel a change getting number seven, but I felt the eighth.

I don't have my kitty soul-mate any more. Her name was White (photo above). She chose it herself. I wanted to call her Sugar. She died almost two years ago and recently I realized I'm mourning the fact that she won't be with me when I become a mother. She was an excellent mother to her one and only litter of five kittens and the ones she nursed as her fosterlings (Sunshine, even though she was four months old, Pooch, Darling and their brother Freddie).

Currently, I have the following feline members of my household, in order of oldest to youngest:

Meow (14, F, mother of Sunshine)
Sunshine (13, F, daughter of Meow, half sister of Max)
Darling (13, F, sister of Pooch)
Pooch (13, F, sister of Darling)
Max (13, M, son of White, half brother of Sunshine)
Bianca (10, F)
Rose (7, F, hand-reared from about 1 week old, shown here in the bowl)
Velvet (1, F, hand-reared from 5 weeks old)
Sammy (1, M, hand-reared from 24 hours old)

I make my own catfood, raw, about every three weeks. It takes me 3 1/2 hours and it's a lot of work, but it's worth it, and I've been doing it for over a year. Darling would have died since she cannot eat grain or produce. She suffered malnution for 10 years, with no help from vets, and, eventually, excrutiatingly painful, nearly fatal, infammatory bowel disease, before I figured it out. If you want to see pictures of my first large batch of catfood being mixed in my Big Red Baby Bathtub, click here and go about halfway down the page*. It was the only container I had that was large enough. Now I use a Sterilite blanket bin and have an 18" paddle to stir it all with.

I don't view my cats as my babies, or even my children, but as feline members of my family, best friends and companions. My hand-reared cats, though, are a little different. Even though Rose (in the glass bowl above), who I got when she was about a week old, still sucks my finger at night, it's her only concession to viewing me as her mother and she definitely identies more with being a cat than being my baby. Velvet came to me at five weeks and she'd already had a very good mother. She was very traumatized and took a long time to bond fall in love with me, but she has. She knows she's a cat and feels quite superior to humans. Sammy, the newborn baby on my hand, was no more than 24 hours old when I got him. He still had his umbilical cord attached and it stayed for another 10 days. Even though he's becoming a Man-Cat, he still sees me as his mom and will even still take a bottle if I offer him one, which I don't. He has VERY fond memories of me raising him and, though he seems to know he's a cat, still views me as his mother and gives lots of kisses.

*Update: The pictures on this site have changed, but the testimonial is still there.

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