Picture this.

I got a new phone a few weeks ago. I’ve gotten plenty of new phones in my life, so this isn’t a huge event, but what I haven’t had before is a phone camera quite this good. Up until now, whenever I wanted to take a “real” photo, I had to break out the good ol’ Nikon. Not anymore.

Of course, the day I got the phone, I tested out the camera on my two favorite test subjects. Berlioz, being the ham that he is, took part in my photo shoot immediately and happily.

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I’m ready for my close up.

Wednesday, on the other hand, played coy.

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No, photographs, please.

I tried multiple times to capture a portrait worthy of hanging on the fridge, but to no avail. Weeks went by, and the photos of Berlioz were piling up, while Wednesday continued to shy away from the camera. I was starting to think that the good people of Instagram were going to think I liked Berlioz better.

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He sure is cute, though.

Finally, one day I was again crawling on the floor and contorting my arms awkwardly to try and capture Wednesday on film (ok, not really film, but whatever), she looked up at me for half a second, and I got it.

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Gotcha.

I’m sure there will be many more photos to come (I can’t help myself), and with the holidays fast approaching,  I definitely see some kind of holiday photo shoot in our future. Did someone say cats in santa hats?

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Wednesday and Berlioz are frenemies. They love each other, while secretly harboring a jealous hatred for each other at the same time. When they think no one’s looking, I catch them grooming each other, or sleeping quietly together on the bed. But more often, a scene such as this unfolds before my eyes.

It starts off with Wednesday going into her favorite cardboard box.

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just a cat in a box.

Berlioz sees her in the box, and slowly approaches.

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just a cat who approaches a cat in a box.

Berlioz and Wednesday both act like they don’t know the other is nearby, even though we all know they have a better sense of smell, sight and hearing than the majority of living things.

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just a cat pretending not to notice another cat.

Without warning, one or the other will decide it’s time to strike.

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just a cat hitting another cat.

And the other will immediately strike back.

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just a cat hitting another cat back.

I’d love to say this ends in both cats snuggled together inside the box, purring in perfect harmony. However, the lack of photographic evidence of this occurrence indicates that no such event has ever transpired.

A girl can always hope.

Gandalf the Great.

Before there was Wednesday and Berlioz, there was Gandalf.

It was early 2003. I had just moved into a small apartment, alone. I really wanted a cat to share my new space with. I grew up with cats my whole life, and as an adult on my own, I decided now was the time to have a cat that was all my own.

I had a few guidelines for the cat I was planning to adopt:

  1. Must be from a shelter. This one was easy, being there are so many shelter kitties looking for a home.
  2. Must not be a kitten. This was also easy – there are way more adoptable adult cats out there since most people want kittens. I, on the other hand, did not want to come home everyday to a destroyed house, so I was hoping for a feline that was a bit more mature, preferably 1-3 years old.
  3. Must be male. This was getting a bit more specific, but pretty easy too, however it eliminated half of all the cats out there.
  4. Must be gray. Ok this one was going to be challenging. But I was not going to budge. I wanted a male, gray cat, so I could name him Gandalf the Gray. Yes, I was very into Lord of the Rings. No, I’m not embarrassed. Yes I also have a LOTR tattoo. I’m still not embarrassed. (ok,maybe a little).

So with my criteria in mind, I began my search. I found a ton of “almosts” – females that were gray, kittens that were gray, males that were 1-3 but not gray. And then, one day, I found him.

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Baby Gandalf.

This was the photo where I first saw him. Yes, I downloaded it. Yes, I’ve saved it for 17 years. It’s small, grainy, and has another cat in it. But when I saw it, I knew. THIS was my Gandalf.

He was in a foster home at the time, so I drove to someone’s house to pick him up. He was 6 months old, so not quite a kitten anymore, but slightly younger than what I was looking for. I arrived at the house, and knocked at the door. A man answered, and a gray cat was there to greet me. He seemed super friendly and almost happy to see me. “This is definitely meant to be!” I thought.

I had brought my own carrier, and bent down to put the gray kitty who greeted me in it. A woman in the other room said, “oh, that’s not him. This is him.” Surprised, but not swayed, I walked over to another carrier with a smaller, scared, gray kitty inside.

“Open your carrier,” the woman said. She and the man then proceeded to turn my carrier so the door was open and faced up, and literally had to dump the kitty in from the other carrier, as he gripped the sides for dear life. This cat clearly did not want to go home with me.

It was too late, I had already made my choice, so I closed the carrier door, closed their front door, and opened my car door and placed Gandalf on the passenger seat, with the carrier door facing me, so we could get to know each other as I drove him to his new home.

I talked to him. I sang to him. I tried to put my hand into the door and pet him. He remained frozen, in the back of the carrier, staring at me, with dark beady eyes. He made no sound for the entire ride home.

I hoped that it would change when I arrived home and opened the carrier. I set it down, opened the door and….

nothing. He remained in the carrier, as far back and he could squish himself, and wanted no part of me and his new home. I tried food. I tried treats. I tried toys. Nothing helped. After a few hours of this, it was getting late, so I put out a bowl of food and water, set up the litter, and sadly, went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I jumped out of bed and hurried out to find Gandalf. The carrier was still in the middle of the floor, with the door opened, but Gandalf was no longer in it! This was good – he finally came out. He also used the litter box! All good signs. I called him. I began looking for him. Now this was a really small one bedroom apartment, however I could not find him anywhere. I began to panic. Did he somehow get out? I continued to search, frantically, and then finally I saw him. He was under the sofa, all the way up against the wall. He was silent, and again staring at me with beady eyes. I had to go to work so I had to leave him there, and hope for the best.

When I got home, he clearly had eaten and used the box again, but I still didn’t see him. I checked under the sofa, and there he was, in the same spot where I last saw him. He didn’t come out at any point that evening while I was awake, however he again appeared to have emerged while I was sleeping, only to return to his safe spot under the sofa when I awoke.

This went on for two weeks.

I was sad. There was no way I was going to return him – I could never bring myself to do that – but this was not the Gandalf I was hoping for. He didn’t even like me or want anything to do with me. I never had a cat like this growing up. I decided I would get a second cat, one that liked me.

That Sunday morning, my boyfriend at the time and I were hanging out, and again trying to get Gandalf to come out. With treats in hand, we went to the sofa, and peered under at him, calling him to come, like we’d been doing.

He came.

He came out from hiding. And never went back.

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Let the fun begin.

For the next 13 years, Gandalf was my soul kitty. We laughed (sometimes at his expense).

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why do you do this to me?

We cried.

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Life is hard sometimes.

We sulked.

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surly.

We played.

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frisky.

We loved.

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soul kitty.

Gandalf was with me through 5 relationships, 3 moves, and 2 jobs. No matter what, he was waiting for me when I came home, meowing at the door, peering at me out the window. He jumped on my lap when I was sad. He was goofy, smart, soft, shy, surly, picky, loving, cuddly, and charming. But above everything else, Gandalf had one trait that set him apart from most other kitties – Gandalf had fangs.

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vampire kitty.

He never bit, but man, if he did, he’d definitely have hurt someone. He looked like a little vampire. I loved everything about him. There was no kitty quite like Gandalf.  He was purrfect.

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who, me?

Gandalf died on March 25th, 2016, at home. He had been sick for almost three months prior to that. I took him to the vet many times. They tried surgery. It seemed to work at first. They tried meds. They seemed to work at first. But he was slowly eating less and less. He was slowly moving around less and less. He began hiding. He began having coughing fits. But the worst part to me, was that he began to look sad.

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His last photo.

I couldn’t help him. I tried. I still feel today (over three years later) like I didn’t try hard enough. That there was something I should have done differently or something else I could have done that I didn’t.

The day Gandalf died was the worst day of my life, and I will never forget it.

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my favorite picture of him.

However, I have been able to realize that although there will never be another Gandalf, there can be another cat who I can love. Who stole my heart at our first meeting. Who’s goofy, funny, loud, and not at all shy. Who follows me around the house no matter what I do. Who loves me with his whole heart, like I love him.

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I love you, mama.

Although the hurt never goes away, love eventually starts to outweigh that hurt, and that, my friends, is a truly wonderful thing.

Feline Fotography.

So this morning, I had the best idea! I need to somehow break into the world of cat photography. I love cats, I love taking pictures, and as I was mindlessly scrolling back through the 2000+ photos on my phone, I happened to notice just how many pics were of – you guessed it – cats.

Of course, my own cats are my first muses and inspiration. 

 

But I’m finding that there are pics of a lot of other cats on my phone, too. It’s becoming a thing – I see a cat, I take a pic of it. Many of them are from the adoption center where I volunteer for the BCAA (Burlington County Animal Alliance – cat division). I decided to put all of the photos of all the cats I took pics of into a folder, and try to get myself some gigs as a “Feline Fotographer.”  I would do it for free – I really just want to help cats find the purrfect home. Here’s a few of my favorite shots:

 

It was really hard to choose my favorites – there are like over 100 more photos in my feline folder already, and all of them are great, thanks to my adorable subjects.

The only editing I really did was crop some of the photos – no filters or anything like that – just me, my phone and cats. Imagine what I could do with my real camera!!

Anyway, if you have cats, like cats, or work somewhere where cats are, I’d by happy to come take pictures – for free of course. The cuteness is all the payment I need. 🙂

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Say “Meow!”

Berlioz and The Wasp.

Today, I walked into the spare room and found Berlioz seated on the chair at my desk, staring at the air conditioner in the wall above.

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The chair and the air conditioner.

I asked him what he was doing, but as usual, he wouldn’t tell me. So I stood there for a second, walked a bit closer to the air conditioner, didn’t see anything unusual, so I left the room.

Not even 5 minutes later, I heard a ruckus coming from the spare room (I was just across the hall in the master bedroom). I peeked out the door and into the room, and I saw Berlioz in the center of the room, playing with something that appeared to be moving itself. I again walked a bit closer, and then jumped like three feet back when I realized it was a giant bug. I yelled “kill it, Berlioz!” but he didn’t. Instead, he grabbed it with his teeth, and sprinted out of the room and down the stairs. I followed with a book in hand, hoping that I could crush the bug myself when he let it go. He did finally let it go and at this point I was able to see exactly what it was – a wasp.

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the bad guy.

Upon this realization, I lost it. I grabbed a water bottle and tried to spray the wasp, but also sprayed Berlioz in the face. He snatched up the wasp (who I don’t think was able to fly or move very well anymore) and darted back upstairs with it, still buzzing in his clenched teeth.

I ran back upstairs, and frantically texted my husband, while the events unfolded before my eyes.

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True story – Berlioz ate the wasp. I saw the whole thing. He saw me, he looked me dead in the eyes, and he began chewing. I heard a “crunch.” Then another “crunch.” He chewed a few more times, then began licking his chops. 

The wasp never had a chance.

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savoring his victory.

I panicked again, because I never saw a cat eat a wasp before, and I had no idea what could possibly happen. I assumed after the two “crunches” that it was sufficiently lifeless and unable to sting him, but would he get sick? Would he have trouble digesting a stinger? Who knows??

Google knows. Google always knows. Unless it stung him inside his throat (which I’m pretty sure it could not possibly have) it’s just a bit of extra protein and he should be fine.

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post-hunt nap.

Looks fine to me.

What Breed Are They, Anyway??

My cats are mutts. They came from shelters, they have no certifications other then they are certifiably crazy. But of course, that’s why we love them. But sometimes I wonder what their kitty heritage is. So I started doing some internet investigating, and I think I found the breed that is  most prominent in both of them. We’ll start with Wednesday.

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What breed is she??

Wendesday is pure white (aside from a black spot on top of her head), is small, friendly (ish) and has bright, striking eyes that are two different colors. After reading up on a few breeds that match these traits, I concluded that she is definitely part Khao Manee. 

The Khao Manee is known for it’s white coat, and bright eyes which are either blue or two different colors (Wednesday is a match so far). They are friendly and outgoing, and get along with people (Wednesday is mostly a match…if biting people is considered getting along with them). They are intelligent (she is) and playful (she can be when she wants to be). They are considered royalty (she is also known as “the Princess”). So minus her sometimes grumpiness and black spot on the head (which is probably the source of her grumpiness), Wednesday is most likely an ancestor of the rare and royal Khao Manee.

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You should see me in a crown.

So then, Berlioz. What is he?? I did the same thing with him as I did with Wednesday – I looked up different breeds and narrowed it down to the one that most matched his looks and personality traits: the Bombay.

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How Bombay is he??

Berlioz is playful, affectionate, and glued to my side at all times. He fetches (and we never taught him – he was born knowing how to do it), he snuggles under the covers, and he likes everyone and everything he meets. Oh, and did I mention that he loves to eat? Like he would eat all day if there was food available. He even eats Wednesday’s barf (which makes me want to barf). He also has a shiny black coat (except for one small white patch on his chest) and bright yellow eyes. All of these are traits of the Bombay.  Bombay’s are typically social, playful, and very attached to their owners, earning them the title of “velcro kitty.” Bombays love to eat and food intake needs to be controlled to avoid overfeeding.

You don’t say.

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I often dream of food…

Anyway, by no means am I claiming either of these shelter mutts are purebred kitties, but honestly, I would’t want either one of them any other way. They’re purrrfect, just the way they are.

The Luck of the Cat.

Earlier this year, I started volunteering with a local animal organization (The Burlington County Animal Alliance – Cat Division, also known as BCAA Cats). I help out at the adoption center in PetSmart, once a week. This is wonderful and rewarding for me, but also heartbreaking at times, when I see the same cats there week after week, just waiting patiently for their future adopter to happen to walk in and find them, whisking them away to their magical mystical furrever home.

Just a few of the cats that are waiting, as we speak:

They are all wonderful, loving cats who deserve an equally wonderful, loving home. It causes me to contemplate the luck of the cat – both of our cats are from shelters, and both were chosen after we arrived at the shelter, mainly because they both seemed to also choose us. How does that work? How did our cats get so lucky, that they spend each day spoiled and pampered and petted and well-fed (probably too well-fed).

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Can I have some more?

I wish I could take all the cats from the adoption center home, too, and spoil them, but unfortunately, that’s just not possible. Our house is small, and it barely meets the size requirements for the two that already live here.

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This place isn’t big enough for the both of us.

Our guys got lucky – they were in the right place at the right time, and we found each other. Now they get to spend the rest of their lives doing whatever the heck they want, in complete comfort.

I am concerned sometimes, that maybe this isn’t enough, and they are missing out on life outside of these four walls…

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And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

But I see the cats who don’t have a home yet, and I see my guys, with their bright eyes, shiny coats and full bellies, and I know at the end of the day, these are two very lucky felines, and I’m pretty sure they know it, too.

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We love you, mama.

I am a strong believer that all cats (and all animals for that matter) deserve a home as loving as ours, and that those homes are out there. So if you have a loving home that you can share with a fine four-legged furball of fun, please visit your local shelter. Your purrfect pet is waiting for you to come and find them.

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How could you say no to this face??