Owl the Bionic Cat

owl up close

Owl posing for a recent photo shoot I did.

The day before my birthday something happened that cast a shadow over the rest of the week. My 12-year-old indoor/outdoor black cat named Owl hadn’t been waiting at the door that morning when I got up and despite my calling, she still hadn’t appeared a few hours later. I began to fear that something bad had happened to her.

Finally, when I took Jazzmin out around lunch time and called for Owl again, I thought I heard her meowing in response. It was windy that day, so it was hard to hear her, but I eventually found her sitting on a pile of wood next to my side storage shed. I walked up to her and called her, but she wouldn’t come to me, so I had to navigate the hedgerow prickers to pick her up and carry her inside the house.

After I brought Owl inside, I set her down on the floor and she didn’t stand up quite right. It looks like her rear legs were weak and I felt my heart sink into my feet. I’ve dealt with cats that have gotten suddenly sick before and I feared the same had happened to Owl. I was afraid she had some illness that wasn’t treatable and that she was going to pass away.

I gently placed Owl on the couch where she sort of collapsed and just laid down for a while. Her breathing was rapid and there were gurgling sounds coming from her chest. I had no idea what was wrong, but I didn’t think it was good. When I’d pick her up a certain way, she’d growl at me and her growling set all the other cats on high alert and made a couple of them poof out in confusion.

When I picked up the girls from school, I said I’d found Owl and that she wasn’t doing very well, and I was afraid it might be time to say goodbye. I was crying when I told them and Jaycie started crying to because Owl is really her cat and they’ve grown up together. Wanting to do what I could for Owl, I called the vet when we got home, and they managed to fit Owl in that afternoon.

Owl had no trouble meowing her protests on the way to the vet and she definitely still had some life to her. When the vet examined her, I was shocked when she said that it felt like Owl had broken ribs. Owl had been fine the evening before when she went out and I was bewildered that something had injured her to that degree.

I agreed to the course of action that involved x-rays and pain meds and we all waited in the room for the results. When the vet came back, she said that Owl had at least three broken ribs and that the gurgling noises I’d heard was air escaping, which was common in such injuries. Hearing Owl had broken ribs was actually the best worst-case scenario because it meant we knew what was wrong and had treatment options.

The vet showed us the x-rays and said that it looked like there wasn’t any excess fluid and that her diaphragm hadn’t expanded dangerously as it can sometimes with such injuries. Looking at the x-rays, I could see a broken piece of rib just floating around inside Owl and I was in disbelief that a cat could survive that. The vet said that cats can do miraculous things and that she might recover from her injuries.

With a treatment plan that included taking Owl home, trying to keep her quiet, and giving her pain meds, the girls and I took Owl back home. She meowed the whole way home too and she seemed to have more energy than when we’d taken her to the vet.

As soon as we opened up the cat carrier inside the house, Owl tried to run and find a place to hide. Her back legs still weren’t working right (the vet wasn’t sure if she had a spinal injury too or not) but she was moving just as fast as ever. She eventually found a hiding place under the couch end table and we all held onto hope that she’d recover. The vet said she could have anything she wanted to eat, and she happily gobbled up half a can of wet cat food for dinner that night.

Owl slept under my bed that first night because it was relatively safe from the intrusions of the other cats. The next morning when I looked for her under my bed, she wasn’t there, and I was worried and surprised. I walked out into the kitchen and found her eating dry cat food and I was relieved and stunned.

owl1

Owl wondering why I keep taking pictures of her.

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Owl up on my bed with Daisy and Angel. She doesn’t come up on my bed very often.

While I was still worried about Owl’s health on my birthday, I had hope that she’d recover, and I focused on being glad that she was still alive. The vet gave me pain meds to make Owl more comfortable as she healed but I only got one dose in her and she then hid under my bed out of reach for a day, so I decided not to do more meds. She never showed any signs of distress aside from when I gave her meds, so I figured she was okay without them. I don’t think I’d be so tough if I had broken ribs, but Owl is one very tough kitty!

Over the next few days, Owl’s condition rapidly improved and now almost two weeks later, she’s almost back to her old self.

I took Owl to the vet a few days ago and while she still has a protrusion of a broken rib and the rib piece still floating around, she’s doing very well. She’d also gained a half a pound because I’d been spoiling her with all her favorite foods including canned food, cheese, lunch meat, and anything else she wants. She’ll be spoiled for the rest of her life and I hope that’s many more years!

As far as what injured Owl, my best guess is a deer or other animal stomped on her when she came upon it. Owl isn’t an aggressive cat, she stays away from the road, and she doesn’t go near humans aside from myself, my girls, and my mom, so I think whatever happened was just an unfortunate encounter.

Watching Owl recover as she has and be the “tough old broad” I’ve come to know and love all these years that I’ve had her, she’s definitely become my hero. Dealing with her injury and being so worried we were going to lose her put everything in perspective and made things I used to worry about seem rather insignificant. I think this latest incident probably used up her nine lives, but I also think she must be partially bionic to still be going strong. I will definitely never underestimate the amazing abilities of cats again!

 

Darling Daisy and the Dark and Stormy Night!

cat in desk chair

Daisy napping in my desk chair after her adventure.

It was cool and rainy this past Saturday night when I let my oldest cat Owl out for her usual hunting in darkness. Unfortunately, and much to my dismay, my youngest cat Daisy ran out the door at the same time and disappeared under the deck before I could stop her. Not only was it dark and rainy, there were fireworks going off somewhere down the hills. Apparently that didn’t scare Daisy into coming back inside though.

Owl is an indoor and outdoor cat but Daisy is supposed to be strictly indoors. Several months ago, the girls took Daisy outside on a leash a few times and she discovered a love for the outdoors that she acted on last Saturday night. I soon found myself outside in my pajamas in the rain with the house flood light on and a flashlight trying to chase down a little cat that had no interest in coming back inside. I’m sure if any neighbors saw me out there, they were quite amused.

After several minutes of me trying unsuccessfully to coax her to me or back in the house, Daisy took off behind the house and I was forced to give up and come back inside. I left Owl out and told her to retrieve her sister. It seemed unlikely she’d fulfill my request since she’s not fond of either of the rugrats, but it didn’t hurt to try. I went to bed praying to every deity I could think of that Daisy came back inside the house the next day and fell asleep with her unconcerned litter mate Angel snuggling next to me. Feel the sisterly love!

As soon as it was light the next morning, I went and opened my deck door and the first thing I saw was Owl coming up the steps proudly carrying a red squirrel. I was annoyed because that’s not what I asked her to bring me and wondered if that’s what she considered her sister. The next thing I saw was Daisy coming toward the front door from the side of the deck and I was so relieved! I opened the door slowly and called her name sweetly and she came running in with her tail all poofed up and wide eyes. Thankfully, she’s something of a pig so her hunger had overpowered her need for adventure and she ran straight to the food bowl.

By this time, Owl had disappeared back under the deck with the red squirrel. I don’t know how she even caught one of those! They’re like lightning fast and she’s 9 years old! She’s always been a good hunter and I did name her after a nocturnal bird of prey so I guess I was just asking for it.

I swear sometimes that if these things didn’t actually happen to me I wouldn’t think they’re true, but they do so I know they are. I’m hoping there aren’t any further adventures like Darling Daisy and the Dark and Stormy Night, but one never knows in my life…

Kittens in the window

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Daisy enjoying the view

Spring is my favorite time of year. The world is renewing and coming back to life and the last of the winter cold leaves the air.

It’s amazing to think how much has changed in a year. Last spring my oldest cat Aviendha was still going pretty strong despite being deaf and starting to go blind. Now she’s been gone almost seven months and I have two kittens running around that will be a year old next month. They’ve started sitting in the kitchen window when I open it and it’s quite an interesting experience doing dishes with a kitten or two in the window.

Daisy and Angel are as unique as all the cats I’ve had before them. My eight year old cat Owl has grown used to them and they all play together, but they always maintain their particular personalities. The one unifying factor among all my animals is their love for me and it’s something I’m always grateful for. When I don’t have my girls, I have my animals and when I have them all, it’s quite a circus!

Angel Cake, Daisy Chain

Christmas kittens

Daisy and Angel being silly snugglers.

The beneficial effects of the antibiotics kicked in this afternoon and I was so happy, I felt inspired to write a silly little song/poem set to the melody of “Jingle Bells” with my darling kittens as the subject matter. I started it before I picked Jordan up and finished it when we got back home. I only wrote a couple versus and it doesn’t perfectly match the song syllables, but I think it’s cute and a definite indication that I’m finally starting to feel better! Enjoy!

***

Angel Cake, Daisy Chain (12/15/14)

Dashing through the halls
Around one room to the next
Two crazy kitten furballs
Make old Owl very vexed.
Stripes on bodies blur
Tripping Jazz and all
Such chaos that they love to stir
From bouncing off the wall.

Angel Cake, Daisy Chain
How you make our day!
Oh what smiles you love to bring
In your crazy kitten way.
Angel Cake, Daisy Chain,
How you love to play!
Oh the mess you quickly make
In your crazy kitten way.

Angel finds all hair ties
While Daisy watches birds
They climb the drapes for flies
Despite Mama’s angry words.
Whiskers on faces move
Chasing critters in fun dreams
They snuggle in the smallest groove
Purring up lovely streams.

Angel Cake, Daisy Chain
How you make our day!
Oh what smiles you love to bring
In your crazy kitten way.
Angel Cake, Daisy Chain,
How you love to play!
Oh the mess you quickly make
In your crazy kitten way.

Tis the season for sappy holiday movies

It seems like the holiday season starts earlier every year, but I don’t particularly mind. Christmas decorations at Halloween are excessive but I’ve grown so used to it, I don’t notice it that much anymore. It also helps that I only leave my house to get groceries and other necessities and avoid the busy malls as much as possible. I’ve been buying my gifts online for years now and it’s ideal for me and anyone else who has ever worked retail and loathes the thought of holiday crowds.

There’s one particular aspect of the holidays that I didn’t realize started so early until this year and that’s the showing of sappy holiday movies. There was a time when I’d grumble and huff about them starting so soon, but not this year. For various reasons, I’m okay with kicking off the holidays sooner than usual. In fact, I already have a string of colored lights up in my living room at the request of my youngest daughter and I rather like the soft glow of them in the evening.

It’s by the soft glow of those holiday lights that I’ve been watching the sappy holiday movies in the evenings when I don’t have my girls. The movies are predictable to put it mildly. They’re filled with attractive single people who can’t find love or who have been scorned by love and then poof! The holidays happen and there’s magically someone new in their lives that they fall in love with. The blossoming relationship hits some sort of snag about a half hour before the movie ends but then everything works out happily within the last 5-10 minutes. Despite the fact that such a sappy holiday movie plot has yet to come true in my life, I still believe in love and don’t mind watching happy holiday endings.

I don’t expect Hallmark or Lifetime to make a sappy holiday movie that even remotely mimics my life. The plot would revolve around a single mother in her late 30’s who lives in the middle of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere), spends her days as a semi-recluse writing freelance from home, has two crazy kittens that alternate trying to snuggle up her nose with climbing the walls, has a dog as her constant shadow, trips over a bowling ball black cat named after a bird, and has basically no social life. Not much of a plot because it wouldn’t go anywhere interesting. No big holiday parties to attend, no social events in town, and no local friends to throw fun bashes..equals a most boring plot.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Nighty night, Mama!

Nighty night, Mama!

Last year I was able to go out to New England a couple of times over the holidays but that’s not in the cards this year. I enjoyed the holiday parties I went to out there and relished in the feeling that I was part of something outside of my little “cave” in Upstate NY. I’ll get back to New England in the New Year and will definitely make more holiday parties out there part of my 2015 plans. Nevertheless, for this year, it will just be me, my girls, and my small family or just me and my crazy household of animals. Perhaps someday I’ll know romantic love again or maybe I’ll just become a “crazy cat lady” 😉 but no matter what, I know I have many blessings to be thankful for!

The kittens love using each other as pillows. :)

The kittens love using each other as pillows. 🙂

Zoey’s Story

The moment I picked up the little black and white cat at the shelter, she melted in my arms. She sprawled out, exposed her belly and showed me that she completely trusted and loved me at first sight. The love was mutual and I took her home that day. My then husband was with me and he liked her too despite not being an animal lover. He came up with the name Zoey for her and it seemed to fit her.

Zoey didn’t discriminate, she snuggled with everyone. She especially loved snuggling with my father when he’d come to my house and relax in the rocking recliner. I swear Zoey would instantly appear on his chest the moment he sat down. My dad always hated moving and disturbing her snuggling but Zoey was always good at resettling.

Zoey loved my daughters from the moment I brought them home from the hospital. Why wouldn’t she? They were more warm bodies to snuggle with! The girls loved her back and they were both fortunate to spend the first years of their life with such a sweet cat.

When I found Owl in my barn as a small, scared, stray black kitten, she didn’t know how to meow. She’d hiss but not meow. I couldn’t imagine then what a meowing loud mouth she’d become or how much of a great snuggler she’d grow into. Zoey wasn’t exactly thrilled by the little black kitten trying to tackle her all the time. Sometimes she’d play with Owl and sometimes she’d put her in her place by knocking her down. Eventually, they learned to get along harmoniously and most days I couldn’t tell where Zoey’s black fur ended and Owl’s began.

Zoey and Owl engaged in a very lazy cat fight.

Zoey and Owl engaged in a very lazy cat fight.

Unfortunately, Zoey eventually grew sick and the vets couldn’t figure out why. She was still a young cat, less than 10 years old but something was wreaking havoc on her body and draining her energy. They gave me medication to ease her pain and I took her back home so she could be comfortable. I had such high hopes that she’d recover somehow. I gave her medicine daily, snuggled with her and told her I loved her.

One night I snuggled with her on the couch and then left to go upstairs to bed. I came back downstairs the next morning and couldn’t find her. I then went searching in the basement because there was an old chair down there she loved to sleep on. That’s when I found her. She’d already passed, her spirit was gone from her tired body. As I write this now it’s been over four years since she died but it still makes me cry. I will forever miss that sweet little cat.

Much to my amazement, my then husband constructed a coffin for Zoey out of wood pieces in the barn. The coffin was far bigger than required for her tiny form but he placed her in it and dug a huge hole out in the back yard to bury her. That was the final resting place for her body but I know her spirit is never far from me.

Three months after Zoey died, my father passed. As hard as losing them both in such a short span of time was, I was comforted by the fact that they were together in heaven snuggling on a rocking recliner, snoring happily together.

Just as my father bestowed so many gifts upon me, Zoey bestowed gifts upon Owl. She taught Owl how to be a really dedicated and open-minded snuggler and to love anything and everything she met. Owl used those teachings to stubbornly and determinedly attempt to become friends with Jazzmin until she finally got her way.

Whenever Owl comes in the house from being outside, she seeks Jazzmin out and rubs against her until Jazz can’t stand it anymore and walks away. Jazz pretends not to like it but I know she really loves Owl. I’ve caught her looking for Owl when she’s not in the house and going to the door when she hears Owl outside meowing. Thanks to Zoey, Owl transformed a dog with no history with cats to a dog who can’t imagine her future without them.

A Cat Named Owl

Yes, you read that right; I have a cat named Owl. I receive all sorts of perplexed expressions and responses when I tell people my black cat’s name is Owl. “Owl?” they repeat. “As in O-W-L?” Yes indeed! The story behind her name goes like this…

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a solid black cat. I’ve had black and white cats but never an all-black cat. I see black cats as a sign of good luck and I believe they possess positive mysticism. One winter morning in January six years ago, I went into the barn of the house I lived in with my then husband. I don’t remember why I went in there but I do remember what I found. There was a small, orange, tiger-striped kitten scampering across the floor of the barn. Two stray kittens had shown up in our barn the previous spring so I wasn’t entirely surprised by this new visitor. Those two kittens had found a lovely home so I’m sure I could find this orange one a home too.

The orange kitten was somewhat friendly but uncertain so I went back inside the house to make him a bowl of warm milk. The two cats I owned at the time, Avi and Zoey, knew the sound of milk being poured and were not impressed when I took it outside the house. Once back in the barn, I put the milk down and the orange kitten began eagerly drinking it. As he lapped up the milk, I noticed movement from the far side of the barn. There wasn’t much light in the barn and it was very dark over there, so all I saw when I looked were two big glowing eyes. That steady gaze reminded me of the intent eyes of an owl. I could then make out the shape of an even smaller, all black kitten huddled among motorcycles and wheelbarrows. When I tried to get close to her, she hissed at me and backed away.

Owl my Howloween cat!

Owl my Howloween cat!

I went back in the house and fetched another bowl of warm milk much to my cats’ annoyance. Back in the barn, I set the second bowl of steaming milk down on the floor between the orange kitten and the hiding black kitten. The black kitten wouldn’t come any closer but I hoped she’d come drink before the rounder, orange kitten drank all the milk.

Zoey and Owl lounging in the sun..with some owls.

Zoey and Owl lounging in the sun..with some owls.

The next day I went out and bought some kitten chow for my new guests and again the orange kitten was friendlier and came to eat. It took a while but eventually the little black kitten would come over to drink the milk and eat the food. She seemed to be warming to me. The funny thing was she didn’t seem to know or remember how to meow. She’d obviously been chased away a lot so when she came over to eat and drink, she’d hiss at me instead of meowing. I could hear her purring loudly so I knew she meant to be friendly but she’d forgotten how to meow.

I named that black kitten Owl because those big, glowing eyes were the very first part of her I saw. The name suited her somehow. I named the round orange kitten Pumpkin, though he’d come to any name if there was food involved. I was so happy that an all-black cat had found its way to me! I bought them a cage so they could live inside the bathroom of the warm house. I would have been happy to let them roam free in the house but my then husband wasn’t a big animal lover. He also told me I wasn’t “allowed” to have more than two cats so I put an ad in the paper offering the kittens for free. I was not happy to have to give the little black kitten away.

Avi and Owl tolerate each other.

Avi and Owl tolerate each other.

When my then husband was at work, I’d let the kittens out of the cage so they could play in the house and they were so much fun to watch! I knew I was going to miss them both immensely but I hoped they’d have a loving home. Eventually a young woman called interested in the kittens and we scheduled a time for her to come over and pick them up. I put both kittens in the bathroom, but not in the cage, and closed the door. The woman arrived and I took her into the bathroom. The moment I opened the door, Owl ran back behind the dryer and hid. Coax and call as I might, Owl wouldn’t come out. The young woman was content with just Pumpkin so I let her take him alone.

Zoey and Owl involved in a lazy cat fight

Zoey and Owl involved in a lazy cat fight

I wasn’t about to give Owl away all by herself because she’d bonded with Pumpkin and was skittish to begin with. Despite much grumbling on my then husband’s part, I got to keep Owl and I finally owned my beloved all black cat! By then she had remembered how to meow and she’s so “talkative” now that my nickname for her is “Owl the Mouth.”

Owl fell asleep on the phone again!

Owl fell asleep on the phone again!

She and my youngest daughter Jaycie practically grew up together and Owl adores Jaycie to this day. These days when Owl starts loving up Jaycie she says “Owl’s bugging me” but every now and then Owl gets a pet or two.

Jaycie and Owl when they were "little"

Jaycie and Owl when they were “little”

Named after a bird or not, Owl is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever owned and she even taught Jazzmin to like cats! Though that’s a story for another day…

Owl and Jazzmin snuggling on the couch

Owl and Jazzmin snuggling on the couch