(Huh, and we wonder why Squeakles spent almost three years referring to himself as "you" and thinking that the way to say yes is "ga".)
(Huh, and we wonder why Squeakles spent almost three years referring to himself as "you" and thinking that the way to say yes is "ga".)
Oh no, the Taco Bell dog (Gidget), who was our inspiration for naming our funny looking kitten Tako, died of a stroke. We named Tako after the Taco Bell dog because he (our kitten) was terribly scrawny at first and had a topply head with big ears.
(We found out later from someone in Japan that "tako" can mean "idiot" in Japanese [in addition to it's actual meaning in Japanese, which is "octopus"], and that also seemed to aptly describe him.)
Poor Tako these days... he's filled out, but he leads a rather sad life, generally wary of J and always in the shadow of his older brother (who, ever since Squeakles was born, has gotten in the habit of periodically viciously attacking him). He spends probably 99% of the time in our bedroom (where we've set up a second litter box and food and water for the occasions when we need to separate the cats). Though every now, maybe a couple of times a month, he'll come out to the living room and lay on an arm chair like it's no big deal, like he hangs around with us all the time.
The cats had had one of their wild screeching and yowling cat fights during the night, which started probably in the living room but occurred primarily on the windowsill in our bedroom. Squeakles was in our bed because he'd been woken up multiple times by the light growling coming from the windowsill, which it turns out were the precursors to the cat fight. One of the times he woke up he turned over on his hands and knees and tried to climb up into bed with me and cried whenever I tried to turn him over and lie him back down (on his own mattress, on the floor next to our bed). So I took him into bed with us, figuring that if the growling continued he was just going to keep waking up if he was on the mattress by himself. So we were all three fast asleep when the cats came screaming into the room and attempted to fight to the death on our windowsill. Squeakles was terrifed and started yelling and crying instantly, I held him tight and tried to soothe him (and protect him in case the cats decided to run across the bed), while J stood up and tried to separate the cats with a pillow while yelling at them (it works, but also scares Squeakles even more). The fight ended quickly, but then it took Squeakles a long time to trust that the fight was over. He lay there quietly but keeping his eyes open (while J and I were falling back to sleep) and nervously looking to the windowsill to make sure it wasn't going to erupt in madness again. J locked Koji out of the bedroom, but unfortunately we have a folding slatted door and Koji spent the next hour or so trying his hardest to break down the door. He banged his paws on it or slipped them under the door and pulled over and over while the door banged back and forth. It was hardly conducive to sleep, but at least the cats were separated. (It's the only way to separate them that works. Another option would be to lock Koji in the bathroom, but then he would yowl from there and get even more agitated, which we worry would just make things worse.)
So this morning J and I woke up pretty grouchy.
I was ready to revisit the idea of giving Koji away, while J was devising plans for keeping the cats separated in our three room apartment. He suggested that we get a spray bottle and spritz Koji whenever he went over on that side of the bedroom, and that eventually he would learn that that side of the room is off limits.
I am skeptical that Koji could learn anything like boundaries (or even if he could, he wouldn't feel obliged to respect them and certainly not because of a few spritzes of water), so I grumpily accosted J about this plan, asking him how he was going to monitor Koji every minute of the day and night, spritzing him whenever he walked over into that side of the room. I suggested that we just keep the spray bottle by the bed and only use it when they fight. By that I meant, whenever the growling starts, but I didn't specify that so J cut me off asking snippily whether I thought he was some sort of ninja and would be able to intervene in a fight and only spray Koji but not Tako. So I raised my voice telling him that obviously I didn't mean that it would work while they were fighting, but I had meant he could spray them when the growling started. And oh by the way, would he just explain to me how in the world he was going to convince Koji not to enter one whole side of the bedroom? Was he going to stay home from work and sit there spraying him?!
At this point J suggested that we both calm down, that we were both grumpy because we hadn't slept well, but that we weren't accomplishing anything useful by griping at each other about how stupid the other person's plan was. And suddenly it all seemed pretty ridiculous and even funny.
A couple of hours after this conversation, the cats have returned to normal. They walk past each other without growling. And I fully expect to see them cuddled up together taking a nap on a bed later today.
My friend Chiaroscuro sent me this hilarious video. This is what Tako does every morning (while Koji sits around the room chewing loudly on random things that he knows will bother me). (I recommend watching it with the sound on.)
This morning I woke up when J called me from the airport (after a red-eye flight from California), so the cats thought I was getting up. I did get up to go pick him up actually, but in the end J decided to take the train home and I went back to bed. (Crying because I was so tired, but that's another story.) I didn't feed the cats when I'd been up, but when I tried to go back to bed they wouldn't let me sleep. Fortunately for them I realized that I was starving, so I got up and fed them and also got myself a bowl of Grape Nuts.
When I got back into bed, Tako was a changed and more lovable cat, instantly crawling under the covers with me and kneeding and purring. He quickly settled down in my arms with his back against my chest and his head on my upper arm, and he leaned his head back against my face for kisses. He was so happy and then ... the doorbell rang. J was home.
Unfortunately, Tako still hasn't grown to be as enamored with J as I am, so he bolted off the bed and ran and hid somewhere. J crawled right into bed with me and fell asleep (moments after he'd been telling me that he was perfectly fine and awake and maybe he should just go to work), and Tako relegated himself to the foot of the bed, no doubt grumbling internally about J's return. I guess that's the end of Tako cuddling in the big scary living room (at least, it is scary when J is around - he'll never come in and relax in my lap in that room unless J isn't home). But a bonus for Tako - J is going away for almost a week again for another conference in about a week. After that, J will be home whenever I am and then... a baby. I'm sure that will go over well.
This morning Koji was especially needy and even stood at the door as we were about to leave and begged for more attention. I leaned down and pet him a little just before opening the door, but we couldn't stay any longer. As we walked out the door of our second floor apartment, J and I checked our wallets to see how much money we each had on hand, and then shut the door and walked down the stairs of our apartment building.
As we stepped out into the hallway of the first floor, we heard a very loud wail. We both stopped immediately, and I said disbelievingly, "could that have been a baby?" There is a baby in the apartment right next to the stairwell, and although the wail was louder than I have ever heard coming from that apartment and although it didn't really sound like a baby, it seemed the most plausible explanation.
We stood still for a moment and the wail came again. Now it really sounded like Koji. But could he possibly be meowing that loudly from upstairs in our apartment? Then I thought, what if somehow we caught his tail in the door and he is inside wailing in pain? (You like how I immediately go to the worst case scenario? But in my defense, that wailing was really loud!)
J was sure it was Koji and headed upstairs first. Another yowl came just as J rounded the corner, and he found Koji standing in the hallway, paws up against our door, wailing because he was locked out of the apartment. Somehow he must have snuck out when we were leaving, maybe as we were standing there in the hallway looking through our wallets. I'm amazed at least one of us didn't catch his movement, but somehow neither of us had noticed it at all.
Once inside, Koji kind of ran around, a little unsettled by what had just happened. But he stopped meowing and settled down quickly.
It's a good thing he called out so loudly or we would never have noticed and then he would have been locked out of the apartment all day. I thought it was sort of funny, that after his constant meowing at the door for at least the past year, he finally got to go out and the first thing he wants to do is go back inside. J is hoping that this will stop him now from meowing at our front door all the time, but honestly I don't think he's smart enough to remember what's on the other side of the door and that he doesn't want to be there. I think that he just sees that door open all the time and so when it's closed, he meows because he'd like it to be open. And I'm sure he would love to check out the hallway, just not by himself and not with the return route to our apartment locked!
Today I walked into the bedroom to find the cats asleep on the windowsill, looking like one single elongated cat behind the curtain.
When I moved the curtain, Tako stood up and stretched, while Koji just extended himself into the space where Tako had been lying.
After trying to wake Koji up by licking his face, Tako gave up and resigned himself to laying up against the glass.
We are terrible, terrible cat owners who always forget to clean the litter box. I don't know how it's possible to forget to clean an amonia filled box that sits in the living room, but apparently we manage to do that from time to time. I had made a cleaning schedule on Google calendar that was helping for a while, but after rushing to finish up my dissertation and traveling to Florida, somehow I stopped checking it. I am back on track now though, after we discovered that one (or both) of the cats had decided the litter box was simply too disgusting and found a new location - J's suitcase, still not completely unpacked from our recent trip to Florida.
It's hard not to suspect Tako, partly because we think he's the one who's left presents for us in the past (unless we've wrongly accused him in the past too) and partly because he chose J's suitcase. Maybe he chose it at random, but it does seem that he tends to go for J's stuff over mine (e.g., one time I noticed him crouch over J's leather jacket and fortunately managed to stop him before he let loose).
I worried that it was because we had just changed the litter yesterday to Yesterday's News (we finally bought some after running through our stash and having received these comments about this litter), but immediately after discovering J's foul smelling suitcase, I watched both of the cats use the litter box with the new litter. So it must have happened shortly before we changed the litter yesterday, and isn't in response to the change in litter.
So I think I will be doing some laundry shortly.
In another cat related frustrations, Koji seems to have decided that he's had enough of this apartment and wants to get out. Ever since we got back from Florida he's been meowing constantly at the front door and reaching his paws up at the doorknob, maybe because he sees us use the doorknob whenever we open the door. (It's funny because this is from a cat who can hardly figure out how to open a door that isn't even latched. He's learned how to push his way through a door, but if he would have to pull it toward him he can't figure it out. He kind of bats at it and at the wall next to the door and sometimes, by chance, he manages to accidentally open it, but yet never seems to learn that if he just pulls it with his paw toward him that it would open every time.)
Anyway, we are not sure why he's so intent on getting out, but can only think that when we left him and Tako alone for ten days (with someone coming by to feed the cats), that he had nothing else to do but hear people going past in the hallway. Or maybe he realized that we come and go through that door and it's finally occurred to him that there must be something on the other side of the door. I really don't know.
Our new approach is to ignore him, which we were sort of doing before, but I think we were giving in to him in ways that we didn't even realize, like trying to distract him with toys. But now we're thinking that responding in any way to him when he's whining at the door might be reinforcing his behavior as successfully getting our attention. So as annoying as it is, we're now just ignoring him while he meows at the door - it's hard because it can get really loud and it can be quite distracting to have a cat yelling just a few feet away from us.
Sometimes I am envious of the cats' luxurious lives, but other times I feel bad for them because they really have no control over anything. I don't entirely blame Koji for wanting to get out and see the world.
After seven weeks (!) at my parents' house, our cats are back home with us.
I had prepared myself for the cats to be terrified of their new surroundings and to completely ignore us. As much as we missed them, I wasn't sure that they would have missed us quite as much.
But I was thrilled to find out that I was wrong. They were so happy to be here, were perfectly at ease, and they seemed to miss us as much as we had missed them.
For the first couple of nights, we slept on the futon in the office while giving my parents the bed, and the cats spent the nights in the room with us, alternately playing with each other, cuddling with me (Tako), or just meowing loudly either to get our attention or each other's. At one point I woke up to see Tako sitting on J's desk, head pointed up to the ceiling, wailing. I have no idea what he wanted, but if it was to wake us up, it worked. So that wasn't so much fun.
But since then they've calmed down and have made themselves quite at home.
Tako still wakes me up in the morning by patting my face with his paw, licking me, and settling in for a cuddle if I don't seem to be getting up. And he loooooooves this window in the office.
Koji still chases his tail in circles on the bathroom mat and stretches out on my desk to sleep near me while I work. And for some reason, most pictures I take of him has him with his head upside down. He is not bound by gravity, that one.