Tag Archives: Pet Care

Important Lessons in Kitten-Keeping…

12 Jul

So Holly moved in…  We got home, I opened the handbag (no poo-poo, no wee-wee) and she climbed out, looking a little lost and slightly confused at the sight of her new home.  My apartment is not big, but to a tiny animal roughly the same size as my hand I imagine it looked like the kitten equivalent of Berkshire.  She looked at me, at the bag, back at me and then promptly disappeared under the only piece of furniture which was too heavy to move – a solid corner table next to the couch.  And there she stayed for the next 8 hours.  Now, I know that kittens need time to adjust to their new homes, but in my head I’d just brought home my furry new-best-friend and she didn’t want to play.  I felt slightly disappointed, a bit of a failure but mostly terrified of what would happen when she finally decided to move.  And so commenced the longest day of my life.

Of course, I had visions of my fluffy kitten running around, chasing sparkly balls with bells inside and pieces of string before curling up on my lap and sleeping soundly, full of happy little kitten dreams about tasty fishies and shiny things.  I did not expect to spend the majority of our first day together lying flat on my stomach with my head under the couch whispering “Come on kitty, come out from there, please…”.  If any of my neighbours had seen me through the window, I imagine they would have immediately called the police to identify a dead body.  I put her litter tray next to the table, and her food and water, and even a toy.  But no – all she wanted to do was crouch in the corner andstare at me with those big blue eyes looking all teary and frightened.

Finally, she poked her tiny head out from under the table.  She took a few bites of her food, a few sips of her water, a few steps forward…  And promptly shit on the floor before running back to her corner.  Ok, so I didn’t expect her to be litter trained but if this was a sign of her opinion of me then we still had some way to go before we were the perfect duo from the Whiskas ad I had imagined.  I cleaned up her little present for me, disinfected the floor and then returned to my position under the couch.  I’m not sure if it was the excitement of the day, the sheer stress-induced exhaustion or the fumes from the cleaning products but at some point I must have drifted off.  Only for a few minutes, but when I came round – Holly was gone.  WHAAAAAT?!  Shit, oh shit, where’s the kitten?  Where’s the KITTEN?!?!  27 seconds of sheer panic followed before I finally located her, fast asleep, behind the couch.  If this was pet ownership I feared I had perhaps made the wrong move.  Surely having a child would have been a more sensible choice – after all, you just strap them into a basket / pram / chair and that’s where they stay, right?  Where’s the kitten equivalent of that??  A-ha!  The bathroom, yes, I should put her in the bathroom, it’s tiny in there, great idea.

Now, kittens may be small and cute but they are also incredibly fast, and quite violent, especially when they don’t really want to be picked up by a strange person who in their eyes is roughly the same shape and size as King Kong.  Attempting to retrieve her from behind the couch could only result in one thing – a serious injury, most likely to be mine – and it was at that point I received my first kitten bite.  Man, no-one tells you that these cute balls of fluff have mouths filled with hot knives and needles.  Several attempts and a few puncture wounds later, the fluffy terrorist was secured in the bathroom.

Which leads me back to the title of this post, and the fact that there are certain bad habits which you have to change when you get a pet.  Those little clear plastic tags that drop on the floor when you open a new packet of socks?  You have to pick those up and put them in the bin now.  The door to the washing machine?  That needs to remain tightly closed at all times.  The new pair of shoes which you leave on the floor when you get in from work?  Unless you want them to look like a pair of 80’s stockbroker style perforated brogues the following morning you’ll put them away in the cupboard.  Feeling slightly smug that the kitten was now in a place where she couldn’t cause too much trouble, I set about dressing my wounds, making a cup of coffee and doing the washing up.  Wondering how my little terrorist was getting on in the bathroom, I returned to take a peek through the glass door and caught sight of my tiny kitten perching precariously on the edge of the toilet seat, looking as though she was seriously contemplating a suicide jump into the water below.  Cue utter panic, and with the reflexes of a newly qualified ninja I swept her off the seat and onto the floor.  I’m not sure who was more shocked – I’ve never moved that quickly in my life and she certainly wasn’t expecting to be interrupted.  Thus one of my first lessons of kitten-keeping was learned:

You must – I repeat MUST – remember to put the toilet lid down.

Advertisements

A Cat Called Holly…

11 Jul

6 weeks ago, I found Holly.  When I say “found” – now don’t judge me – I purchased her from a pet shop.  I know, I know, there are thousands of abandoned kittens in shelters across the country needing a good home.  But you see, I didn’t want a cat.  Well, that’s not entirely true – I had a mad idea that I wanted a cat at some point in the future, but I certainly didn’t plan to get one that day, and certainly not from a pet shop… But I challenge any of you to resist a sign in a window which says “KITTENS INSIDE!!”.  So I went in and there she was, nestled in amongst her brothers and sisters, the most beautiful calico kitten I have ever seen.  She was the quiet one of the litter and whilst her siblings were screaming at me she just sat in the corner and looked at me with her big blue eyes.  I asked the owner if I could have a little cuddle with her, he picked her out of the cage and as I held her in my palm she looked up at me with those bright blue eyes and I asked her “Do you want to come and live with me?”  She gave out the tiniest little “Mew” and that was it – I was in love.  I had to have her.

Reality kicked in as I realised I live in an apartment wholly unsuitable for a kitten.  Not the fact that I live in an apartment you understand, I have been doing my research and the experts of the internet tell me that cats can be perfectly happy in small spaces – in fact the life expectancy of a cat kept indoors is far greater than one who ventures out into the big mad world.  What I mean is my flat was full of, well…  Stuff.  Things on the floor, bits of forgotten fluff behind the couch, small gaps down the side of the fridge leading to Narnia.  None of this being compatible with a 6 weeks old kitten, I asked the owner if he would mind keeping her for the night whilst I prepared my home.  He looked at me like I was clearly insane and asked me “What do you need to do?  It’s just a cat”, shook his head and said I could collect her at 10am the next day.

So I went home, and started the biggest spring clean my apartment has ever seen.  I cleaned for 7 hours solid – moving as much as I could, clearing the storage boxes out from under the couch and the bed, mopping every inch of the wooden floor, cramming pillows and boxes into the smallest of gaps to prevent any curious exploring…  My apartment had never looked so clean.  In fairness, I’m not domestic, and there are various stages of clean for my apartment.  They range from ‘New Boyfriend’s First Visit’ which warrants a good tidy, destroying any evidence that I am anything less than angelic – through ‘Parents Visiting’ which means getting the vacuum out, doing the washing up and hiding any evidence of parties the night before – to ‘Girls Night In’ which just about warrants putting my dirty underwear in the laundry basket and lighting some candles (because candles make everything look ok).

But back to the cat.  Finally getting to bed at 3am, I was so excited – the feeling you used to get on Christmas Eve, before that year when you looked out of the window and realised that the Santa Claus who built your new trampoline was in fact your Dad and his friend, slightly merry after a few too many pints in the local.  I never did trust that trampoline.  Anyway, you’re thinking that’s why she’s called Holly, right?  No.  That would make sense – my first cat as a child was called Santa after my Mum and Dad found her on Christmas Eve.  But Holly was in fact originally called Harriet – mostly due to the fact that I had decided that if and when I finally got my cat “he” would be called Harry.

Just like Christmas, I woke up early the next morning and promptly realised that I had nothing for the kitten.  Kittens need stuff, right?  They need food, and a little bowl to put the food in, and another one for water, and a litter tray, and litter, and a scoop…  And, and, and…  Gah!!  I promptly threw on the nearest pair of jeans and a t-shirt and drove off to the closest 24 hour supermarket to investigate the pet aisle.  Now, I’m pretty good at shopping generally and I’ll most certainly qualify for the national Olympic team when they  make it an official sport, but the last time I was in a pet aisle was accidentally, on autopilot, when Tesco moved the wine.  I mean, I had pets as a kid but Holly is my first pet as a grown-up (that’s still questionable) and I really had no idea what she would need.

Out came the iPhone – big mistake.  I read hype from pet food manufacturers promising shiny coats, articles about making your own organic pet food (I need to cook for her?!  I don’t even cook for myself!!), the dangers of onions and potatoes…  None the wiser.  Eventually I determined anything with the word “KITTEN” on it and a cute picture of a fluffy face was required.  I picked up way too much food, a litter tray and all that’s associated with it (including scented nappy bags to dispose of the, erm, waste), dangly toy things, bowls, kitchen roll, dettol for any accidents, a scratching post…  I spent more that morning than I do on my average weekly shop (and that’s including the wine!!)

So – cats are expensive.  Ok, I can deal with that.  One less pair of new shoes every few weeks in return for a fun, fluffy friend to cuddle = reasonable sacrifice.  Feeling smug that I now had everything I needed at home for my new arrival, off I went to the pet shop to collect my little furry friend.  I’m sure the guy was thinking “Oh great, crazy OCD kitten lady’s back” when I started asking about flea and worm treatments and vaccinations and vets.  He told me she’s been wormed and to take her to the vets in a few weeks and that was it.  Except for one thing.  One simple, important thing I had forgotten.  I didn’t have anything to carry her home in.

Now, I’m not a snob, but no kitten of mine is travelling in a Tesco carrier bag.  So, Holly made her way home, wrapped in one of my cardigans, carried in a Longchamps handbag with her little head peeking out of the open zipper trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  The irony of this situation being that I have more than once openly and loudly made fun of those Paris Hilton-esque girls who carry their dogs round in their handbags.  And here I was, with a 6 week old kitten in mine, saying in my most soothing voice “Please don’t wee-wee, please don’t poo-poo”.

Crazy cat lady had arrived.