Good bye, sweet girl

One month ago, my husband and I unexpectedly lost our 13-year-old cat to cancer.

mishkaOne of my fave pics of our girl, taken in 2010 by the talented Jen Rynda

Her departure was sudden, swift and left a huge hole in our lives.

Sure, we have another cat, one who came to live with us earlier this year. And we love her, but she’s not our old cat, let’s call her Murr.

For the first two weeks, anytime a friend or relative offered condolences or a hug, I dissolved into tears. My face was constantly tear-stained and the skin under my eyes became so raw it peeled. Every one meant well as they offered love and support. To all of you, THANK YOU. I cannot begin to tell you how much your kind words and support and notes meant to my husband and me.

Murr was with me through two jobs, two cities. We were single girls together in Ithaca, NY and were homebodies together in Rochester, NY.

oldMLittle Murr, circa 2003, explores our old apartment.

I met our Ithacat in the newsroom of my last paper, The Ithaca Journal, where I spent three years as a suburban reporter. Each week, the local SPCA brought in a pet to be photographed and featured in the paper. I regularly squealed when I saw the animals. We fell in love straight away. By the time her photo ran in the paper, she was already exploring my then-apartment.

She lived with me well before I started dating my now-husband. (and she instantly preferred him to me once he entered the picture. Humph.)  He taught her to drink straight from the faucet and trained her to let him wear her as a “coonskin cat hat” on his head.

She was an incredible mouse-hunter, even dumped a bloody carcass on my chest while I slept one night. She purred proudly nearby until I discovered her “gift.”

She was tiny, sweet, silly, and beautiful. And she knew it.

mishCat kisses

We constantly told incredibly lame cat jokes and penned silly cat songs about our girl. Her name morphed into our pet name for one another. And trust me, that got confusing!

As Murr grew older, she became far more interested in snuggling. She slept with me every night and snuggled with us both every chance she got, particularly in the winter months, as she grew chilly.

She also loved to sleep on my hubs as he napped or worked.

jmThese two were peas in a pod

In her last months, Murr had started pooping outside the litter box around the house. We thought she was mad about the new furbaby and that the landmines were payback.

Nope.

Turned out she was sick. Really sick.

One month ago, she threw up repeatedly around the house. She was extra snuggly. She had grown smaller. She was clearly weak.  She had just started coming downstairs again (she had banished herself to our second floor months earlier when the new cat came to live with us).

M3Watching a bug on the ceiling in her last few days

We called the vet. Hubs took her in on June 13, after I went to work.

She never came home.

Hubs called me, his voice wavering, and told me the news. I spoke with the vet, who explained the prognosis. She was in a lot of pain and had only weeks left. We made the excruciating decision to put her to sleep.

My brave husband was with her in her final minutes and said she went peacefully. I bawled in the bathroom at work. Later, we bawled together at home and told stories about her.

New cat snuggled up to me that night, she knew I needed extra love.

I wanted to write this sooner, but couldn’t do it. I miss her. A lot.  I’m crying as I type and I repeatedly remind myself that she’s no longer suffering, and in a better place.

She loved us as much as we loved her. And she will always be with us.

Good bye, sweet girl.

 M1My parting shot the day she died

Have you lost a cherished furbaby? Please share a memory of your pet with me.

Celebrating small successes

So much has been a battle in my home lately, including finding motivation to clean, cook and organize.

My hubby has been out of town for work quite a bit in the past few months. (China, Vegas, China, Taiwan, China. Did I mention China?) And while I miss him terribly, I typically use his business trips as my motivation to organize and purge.

I started off well as he left for his most recent two-week trip, and I donated three bags of collected items and some of his old suits to a local secondhand store.

Small success! Stuff left my home and would be used by others. Gently used clothes would be sold and old rags would be given to an animal shelter. Even donated toiletries will go to people in need. I love it when items can be re-purposed.

Then I did all the laundry I could find. You know, everything he didn’t pack to take overseas that was let in small piles all over the house.

Towels, check. Pantry-purging, check. Clutter-clearing, check.

Small successes continued! Huzzah!

Then I hit a snag.

As you may know, last month we took in a new kitten. We love her. She’s tubby but sweet and always under your feet.

And that kitten, she loves to make messes. She unravels the toilet paper nearly every day. She swipes socks and stockings. And everything on the coffee table is daily knocked to the floor – pens, paper, coasters, magazines, napkins, cups.

cat1Oh look, adorable new cat also stole my remote.

Our older cat was less than pleased with the new furbaby. She’s barricaded herself into our loft/attic area and screams (really) and hisses whenever new cat catches her eye.

loftcatUnhappy old cat, perched in the loft

Oh, and she started to poop up there. (And yes, there was a litter box in the next room. She used that too, but apparently leaving piles in the loft was far better.)

Most definitely, that was NOT a success. That was payback.

Let’s just say choice words were uttered and she was temporarily locked in another room far away from me as I scrubbed and cursed. And I repeatedly yelled at the cat as I uncovered each new landmine.

I tossed box after box over the balcony to the living room below. (They were later broken down and recycled.) Most were already empty and for some reason I’d held onto them. Some contained old clothes I couldn’t bring myself to part with 9 years ago, when I shoved them into the loft. Some were brought by my mother, who in our first year in the house brought boxes of childhood memories each time she visited.

Nearly everything went over the balcony or in the donation box; Even the misbehaving cat. (Don’t worry, I took her out.)

Saved were my old swimming awards, old newspaper clips and a box of my late grandfather’s sweaters. (I just couldn’t discard them even though he’s been gone nearly a decade.) Oh, and Meri, I found some fun stationary, a 22-year-old framed pic of us and my senior prom photo. I’ll share those gems another day.

There’s now an old area rug over the former minefield. And I added another litter box to the loft. (and huzzah! She’s using it!)

loftboxWhatever works!

Unfortunately, she also leaves me extra piles outside the box. I’m hoping that will soon stop.

My typical hubs-is-away-cleaning-effort was officially derailed with cat cleanup – then cat maintenance.

When Hubs came home from his trip on Friday, two days early, I hadn’t quite finished all my organizational efforts. But do I ever?

But with his return, old cat ventured into the second-floor spare bedroom for a cat nap. And last night, I woke in the middle of the night to find her snuggled next to me, purring.

Small successes.

I know this had nothing to do with fitness, but it had everything to do with not wanting to murder my cats. Thanks for bearing with me! How do you deal with a misbehaving pet? (heck, or child?) And how do you introduce two uncooperative animals? Will they ever get along?

Chick Chat: It’s a World Class Menagerie

Well, it’s not quite a menagerie but the Chicks sure do love our pets. With my family’s new addition (who is all over the Scoot a Doot Instagram because I’m obsessed with her) I thought it would be fun to introduce our furbabies! I feel like pets are an extension of who we are as people and so when I see pictures of Sam, Ollie, Walt, Axl, Hannah, Boomer, Ace (just to name a few), they make me smile and feel like I know their owners better.

So snuggle up with your animals and prepare yourself for the Scoot a Doot pet parade.

victorianame

I live with two rescued cats – a 13-year-old calico tabby mix I’ve had since 2002 and an almost 1-year old tabby who came to our home just two weeks ago.

murr

I met the elder cat, let’s call her Murr, in the newsroom of my last paper. There, the local SPCA each week brought in a pet to be photographed and featured in the paper. I often helped out and regularly squealed when I saw the animals. Murr and I fell in love straight away, and by the time her photo ran in the paper, she was already exploring my then-apartment.

She lived with me well before I started dating my now-husband. (and she instantly preferred him to me once he entered the picture. Humph.) But Murr’s in it for the long haul, even though she’s quirky, wiry and most definitely is not a snuggler. She’s an incredible mouse-hunter, she’s obsessed with tuna juice. She’s tiny and beautiful. And she knows it.

New cat was hit by a car last fall. She broke her back leg and had several surgeries to repair the damage. She was rescued by a friend, who couldn’t keep her, so she came to live with us.

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She’s sweet, fat and always underfoot. She loves to snuggle and is ALL about the food. Her food, Murr’s food, my food, my husband’s food. She will eat anything. We still haven’t picked a name for her but have a few frontrunners.

Needless to say, Murr hasn’t taken too kindly to the new cat. She’s currently stashed herself in our loft/attic and throws repeated screaming tantrums whenever she sees new kitty. Please tell me they will eventually be friends?

jessicaname

Reily came to Mister Jess and I nine years ago as an 8-week-old fluff ball. He was this adorable Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix, a tiny, tiny little ewok. We couldn’t walk down the street without getting stopped at least five times by people remarking about how cute he was.

Seriously. Look at this puppy! Gah!

ReilyatOffice-1

He really is our first-born son. We’ve had him for the vast majority of our relationship, and he’s kind of grown up with us. His interests include long walks on the beach, playing with his 80 bazillion toys, and giving me judgmental looks.

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He also really enjoys moping. We like to call him Jordan Catalano because he’s not easily impressed. Case in point: when Bug came home. He was not having it.

Who are you, tiny human, and why have you taken all of the attention away from me?

Who are you, tiny human, and why have you taken all of the attention away from me?

Despite his bemusement, he has been amazing with the transition. We are so lucky to have such a sweet, sensitive (seriously), scary-smart dog-son in him. I hope he and Bug will be best friends as time goes on.

brookename

Yay, pets! We are dog people in this house. Brewser is a terrier mix that Josh adopted before we met and we got our cavalier, Caroline, ten year ago this summer.

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Three kids plus two dogs makes for a full house! Brewser is the gumpy old man of the family- he stays away from the kids and sleeps most of the day. He likes to sit right next to me at night, once things have calmed down.

caroline
Caroline likes to be at the center of everything. She loves to sit near the kids when they play and she has even snuggled right up next to the babies while they’ve nursed. She sits on my lap once the kids are in bed, and sleeps at my feet at night.

rebeccaname

I was raised by the quintessential ‘cat lady’, so it’s no surprise that I’m a cat person. Growing up, we always had cats, sometimes outnumbering the people in the house. We had dogs here and there, but we were definitely a feline family. At twenty, I went out and got my own cat for the first time (yes, I still lived at home, and yes, my mother was away on vacation when this happened). Elmo, my orange tiger baby, moved with me into my first apartment. When I moved to NC to live with my then boyfriend/now husband, we couldn’t have pets, and I was heartbroken. My grandmother graciously offered to take him, and he still lives with her. He’s a big, old, spoiled nineteen-year-old tabby at this point.

For years, we lived in apartments, and couldn’t have pets. So, as soon as we bought our house five years ago, we started talking about getting a pet. My son is phobic about dogs, so cats it was. We adopted Cleo and Coco from a local rescue organization and brought them home the day after our first Christmas in our new home. They’re neurotic and weird and occasionally insane (hello, catnip), and they are very much a part of our family.

Cleo is our shy cat. If you come over, you will never see her, unless you crawl underneath the sofa. She was found outside at just a few days old, and she’s quite timid. She’s terrified of people walking, but oddly loves feet if they’re on the couch next to her. We think she’s part Maine Coon, due to the fluffy fur between her toes, but who knows. If she loves you, and she’s pretty darn selective about who she loves, she LOVES you. Mostly, she loves my daughter. Every once in a while, she loves me.

A rare snuggle moment with Cleo.

A rare snuggle moment with Cleo.

Coco is our nutbag cat. She’s our hunter, our talker and our dinner table beggar. She’s a tortoiseshell, and very pretty. She alternates between viciously playful and attack-mode snuggly. If she wants to cuddle you, you darn well better be ready to let her. She’s relentless. When I’m getting ready to go to bed, she’s right there at the top of the stairs, stalking me.

My personal stalker.

My personal stalker.

Coco was rejected by her mom when she was a baby, which my mom tells me explains her neediness. Whatever, I’ll take it. She’s such a love, and if I’m reading in bed, you can find her curled up on my hip. The rest of the time, you can find her sleeping on something (always on. If there is a single sock on the floor, she will sit on it) or chasing things that aren’t there.

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As much as I would love a dog, and we talk about that being a possibility someday, I think I’ll always be a cat person. I’m sure my mom is proud.

camillename

My pet situation is a little complicated.  I recently moved back home with my mom. My mom currently has three dogs, two cats, and cockatiel. I have a lab named Ruby and two cats, Stella and Sookie.

When I moved in with my mom, Ruby kept figuring out how to get out of the yard. For her safety, she now lives with the ex. Which is the best situation, considering my children didn’t have to say goodbye to their dog. But it’s been the hardest loss in my divorce. That dog once saved my life by alerting me to a gas leak. Not to mention she was the greatest comfort I had during my bout with depression.  I miss her greatly.

Ruby

The Protector

My cat Stella has been with me for ten years. My sister found her as a newborn in a parking lot, the umbilical cord still attached. I fed her a bottle and taught her how to poop. And how does she return the kindness? By biting the top of my feet and attacking me in my sleep. She’s feral, that one. I can pet her for about three seconds before she swats me away. She’ll only drink from the sink and refuses to go in a messy litter box. She’s a total primadonna.

El Diablo

El Diablo

Sookie is the youngest, just 3 years old. She is a very loving cat but complains constantly. My friend once told me that “Sookie” means to whine in Australia. Which is completely appropriate.  But she sleeps on my chest and purrs so I forgive her whining.

The Complainer

The Complainer

 Lastly, I’ve recently adopted my guy’s pup, Murphy.  She’s a big baby and the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.  She has the best disposition and loves my kids.  When she puts her head in my lap, I can literally feel the positive energy she radiates.

The Baby

The Baby

meridithname

Two weeks ago, the only pet in the house was our fish, Fin. And while he’s very pretty, he’s sort of the quiet, not-interested-in-us type. Life was pretty mundane and we were all missing having a four legged pal in the house.

But all that changed when a little over a week ago, we adopted little miss Gemma from Bella Reed Pit Bull Rescue.

familyphoto

Adoption day picture

The first few days, we spent getting to know each other. Finding all the sunny patches in the house. Encouraging peeing outside rather than on the floor. Realizing that I was posting more pictures of her than my children on Facebook. You know, the usual.

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I’ve always been the only girl in the house, so it’s nice to have someone with whom to share my girly things – like my Hello Kitty blanket, for example.

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Intently watching Cesar Milan.

Gemma is still a puppy so we are working on good manners and basic commands. She’s very food motivated and eager to please, so I think she’ll learn quickly!

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I’m hoping that soon, we’ll be able to start running together. She’s got a lot of energy so I think we’ll probably start that soon. She’s getting the lay of the land and I can’t wait to go exploring more with her.

Gemma is a totally different dog than Jack. But when you look into her eyes, the same sentiment is present. Home. She is mine and I am hers.

I think that’s what makes pets so great. That underlying understanding that cannot be said with words because you don’t speak the same language, but it’s there just the same: you are my home.

Tell us about your pets! Anyone have any puppy training tips? What’s your favorite activity to do with your animals?