kitties

What I'm Doing During my SF Holiday Staycation

burger and shoestring fries at Zuni Cafe in SF

It's hard to believe I am only halfway through  my holiday staycation! Needless to say, I'm definitely finally feeling relaxed, as one should on a vacation. Even the kitties are cooperating by being good.

So far, this staycation has been a busy one. I kicked off the week with getting all my holiday cards completed, and shipping out a few packages. But Tuesday is what felt like the real kickoff.  I treated myself to a long leisurely lunch at Zuni Cafe, long one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. I even splurged on a great glass of pinot noir and saved room for dessert -- the always delicious espresso granita. Despite being a one-top in a sea of larger parties, I was well taken care of, and had a prime seat in the sunny main room, with plenty of people watching.

After lunch, I hopped on the F Market Streetcar and made my way to Macy's Union Square, for my two-hour shift volunteering for the SFSPCA and their holiday windows fundraiser and adoption event. If you're not familiar with the SFSPCA holiday windows, check out the window cams of adorable adoptable kitties and puppies now. Be warned that you may be overloaded with cuteness.

I've volunteered for this annual fundraiser at least a half dozen times over the past 12 years. This year, as with most years, I was on duty to answer questions about the adoptable pets in the windows and the SFSPCA. There was not too much foot traffic, which is not surprising given we were on the O'Farell side of the building, post-lunch and pre-evening crowds. But I still had the opportunity to talk to a number of animal lovers about their pets, which is always one of the nice side effects of this volunteering.

I gathered about $100 in my collection box, and spread the word to dozens of folks. And I think a 4-year-old poodle may have found himself a forever home as a result of our shift too. A rather enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. I highly encourage SF peeps to sign up for a shift. But don't blame me if you end up coming home with a new furry family member...

The rest of this week has been consumed with plowing through the Hunger Games book series (I am 75% of the way through the third book now), and getting started with playing the new Star Wars MMORPG. If you're interested in learning more about that part of my week, peek at the blog I've started that focuses on my SWTOR adventures.

Next week, I am most looking forward to my significant other finally being able to eat solid, chewy food again after 3 weeks of post-surgery recovery, and making a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at home, then heading up to Sonoma for Christmas Day. So nice to have a relaxing holiday season for once, instead of trying to cram in all the to-do's after work in the weeks leading up to the holiday. I hope to have the opportunity to take this time frame off again.


Kitty Climbing City

Marcello and Bolvar Lounging in Kitty TreeWhen we picked up the kitties from their vacation kitty spa, we learned that Bo had spent most of his time in the tip-top of their enclosure, in the bump-out perch that overlooked the hallway.

Marcello, being a shy guy, hid behind the kitty perch. But we did see him get in some super fast climbing action.

And it was at that point that I caved on one of my long-standing biases: we bought them a monster kitty tree.

I've always been against having a carpeted kitty tree taking over my living room. Much like how I didn't have a tv in there until a few years ago.

But I realized that I was being a bad kitty mom. They can't go outside, and without a kitty tree, I was having to chase the off my stereo and dresser and desk. This was my concession to their need to climb and scratch and tower over us.

 Of course, after we rented the City Carshare and drug it home, we realized that only with great effort and high potential for bodily harm (to them or to us) could they launch themselves into the highest perch on the tree. And thus: we bought the second shorter tree as a stairway to the big tree.

That's right -- I went from not wanting a kitty tree at all to having two of them taking up a prominent corner of my living room. But in the end, I know it was the right thing to do.

They spend a bnch of their time playing, climbing and scratching on the trees. And, as seen here, snoozing too of course.

My inner minimalist will cringe as she looks at this carpet-covered monstrosity, but as long as it makes the kitty babies happy, and isn't shredded into bits, it's staying. The things we do for love.


What to Do With Spoiled Kitties When You Go on Vacation?

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

Marcello and Bolvar are a year-and-a-half now, and thus old enough for us to not feel terribly bad about leaving them to go on vacation. Yes, a prime reason we didn't do any overnight travel for the past year was we simply didn't know what to do about the kitties.

That's a pretty unique POV for us to have, mind you. Mister Bill was a very well-behaved old man kitty, able to make do with a one per day visit from a favorite cat sitter, grazing at his dry food feeder, and only mildly annoyed that his kitty water fountain was not up to his usual standards of pristine cleanliness.

These two are a whole different story. In large part due to their age, but also their distinct personalities. Bolvar, in addition to waking me up at precisely 6:30 a.m. every morning (the time at which my alarm typically goes off for work) whines about wanting new dry food at precisely 9 :00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. And he and Marcello's play can get out of hand enough to warrant time outs in separate rooms. thus, leaving them at home largely unsupervised just doesn't seem to be a good fit.

 After asking around, I settled on Feline Wishes on the recommendation of my friend Sharon who had entrusted them with the care of her kitties on multiple occasions. Unlike some of the other places I looked into, Feline Wishes is cats-only, which is key to giving kitties not used to being around dogs a less stressful stay in my opinion. Their reviews on yelp were excellent, save for a few negative reviews that are hard to judge from a validity/truth standpoint (which is a frequently recurring issue I have with yelp reviews, since they don't give any way to vote down an invalid/incorrect/spurious review, unlike ePinions and other such review sites.) 

I took a look around the facilities and was impressed with the setup. Kitties have a good sized space (think a slightly deeper bedroom closet) with a climbing rack with multiple perches, and a top of the enclosure bump out that allows them to spy on the hallway (and any person or feline out and about). And contrary to one yelp review which posited that the purveyors lied about letting the kitties have free roam every day to get some exercise and explore, when we arrived there was a kitty on walkabout.

I was impressed by the depth of their pre-stay intake paperwork. It was on par with registering a child for camp -- asking about the pet's personality, favorite activities, quirks, etc., and allowing you to specify any special dietary needs. They even encourage you to bring in your cat's favorite toys and bedding to help them acclimate more quickly.

It remains to be seen how they actually *do* there on their first stay. But I'm hopeful that they'll have fun exploring, and that they'll play fetch with Marcello and give Bo many belly rubs, and become a place we can leave the kitty babies without worry.


Kittens: One Year Later

It's been a little over a year since we brought home our kittens Marcello and Bolvar. And in that time, they've truly developed their own personalities -- and their own flavor of sibling rivalry.

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Marcello remains as handsome and charming as his namesake. His key traits are his aggressiveness and his playfulness. And the fact that 99.99% of the time he is about to do something very naughty.

What do I mean by naughty? Shredding the notes slipped under the door by our property manager and then soaking them in the water dish for good measure naughty. Drowning grey mousey in the water dish naughty. Luckiy for him the naughty is balanced with his sheer joy of playing.

Although he can entertain himself for hours chasing light beams from the window around the living room, his favorite game is fetch. He'd fetch a flippy toy or a mousey for a half hour if you had the patience for it. He murps and runs and retrieves the toy, running it back to you with immense pride.

Much of the aggressiveness comes out towards his formerly BFF, his brother Bolvar. Gone are the days of the two snuggly kitties on the chair. They are engaged in a full out battle for dominance of the household. And the war is typically started by Marcello walking up to his brother and giving him a slap (or three) in the face. It'w one of the funniest interactions to witness. Especially once Marcello runs away murping, after Bolvar takes the bait and comes after him.

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Over the past year, Bolvar has really come into his own. Gone is the somewhat passive, teeny kitty that would get pushed aside at the food bowls. He's now the bigger of the two, and a real chowhound (every kitty gets his own dish here, and there's no stealing each other's food, thus his bulking up.)

He's nearly as handsome as Marcello, save for a big raised scar across his nose, which we think came from one of his boxing bouts with his brother. Bo's the lover of the pair, always coming up to us looking for pets and chin scratchies. And frequently lolling on his back for belly rubs and gentle wrestling.

He tries every so often to vocally communicate with his humans, sounding off with the most pitiful wails if we are 15 minutes later than usual with dinner time. But his most common sound is that of purring. At about the time my alarm should go off each morning, I am instead awoken by PURRPURRPURR in my ear. I've never met a kitty whose motor sounds as loud as Bo's. And if you pet him...it gets even louder!

These little guys have helped immensely in replacing the void left by Mister Bill.

P.S. for more kitty baby photos, check out their flickr album. I can't believe they were ever so tiny...


*crickets*

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I hate when an entire month goes by without my updating here.

It's not that I don't have anything to share. I come across things I want to write about here, but by the time I get home from work, I'm tired and just not up for it. And I have these adorable little monsters vying for my attention.

My workplace blocks blogs, so there's no spending my lunch break on it either. Thus, the bookmarks pile up and the blog collects dust. So it goes.

But rest assured I am still reading my blog roll, and I haven't given up on this place.

xo


Kitty Babies

On Sunday afternoon, we got to go pick up our new kitty babies. We arrived with our kitty carrier and were pleasantly surprised that our adventurous boys (following resident kitty Rosie's lead) climbed right in, ready to go.

On the short drive across town, the kitties were silent, except for one squeak after about 10 minutes. The boys spent a solid half hour running around checking out all the nooks and crannies in the apartment, only finding three teeny crawl spaces we had not anticipated, all of which were easily blocked.

Born in March, and abandoned in a box with the rest of their litter in the Central Valley, the boys are now at the super high energy stage of kittenhood. They need at least two rounds of feather-on-a-stick per day to tire them out. And I don't mean just 10 or 15 minutes at a time either.

Sunday night, I stopped after about that long to write a quick email. I hit send then swiveled my chair around to find both boys at my feet...and with the feather-on-a-stick in Bolvar's mouth. He made sure I understood that it was still playtime now, thanks.

It's interesting to watch how they interact. Despite their youth, they are already bonded and spend much of their time together. In addition to the vigorous wrestling matches that break out after feather play time, they run laps up and down the hallway and take turns washing each others faces at bath time.

We are already getting a sense of their individual quirks. Bolvar is our hunter gatherer. From bringing me the feather toy when playtime is not long enough to bringing us the miscellaneous cord he finds behind our desks or bookcase, he is always looking for the next shiny object to bring us. And when he catches the feather toy, he restrains it with both feet and bites it.

Marcello, tho he does carry around his favorite mousey, is more of a lounger than a hunter. His naps are longer and more stretched out across the sofa. He makes eyes at you as he tries to fight back the napping urges. He's the first one on the bed at bedtime, planting himself at my feet.

Overall they seem to have settled in pretty quickly, making themselves at home. But don't just take my word for it -- I think this photo of Marcello speaks for itself...


A House Without a Kitty is not a Home

It's been far too quiet around these parts since Mister Bill's passing.

We gave ourselves time to grieve and get used to the absence of Bill.

Once we were ready to let some furry little ones into our heart, we started our research. We never once considered purchasing a purebred cat, or buying from a pet store. There are far too many orphaned and abandoned pets looking for homes to do that in my opinion.

The SF Bay Area has a number of cat rescue organizations, many of which post on craigslist when they have fostered animals needing placements in permanent homes. It was through craigslist that we found Wonder Cat Rescue.

I was impressed with their adoption application and its thoroughness in ensuring a prospective cat adopter understood adopting a pet is a significant lifetime commitment, not something to be taken lightly. After filling it out, I emailed to express interest in a pair of kittens we'd seen.

I received a prompt email back from Stephanie to let us know that although those two sisters had been spoken for, she had two brothers looking for a home. We set up an appointment to meet the kittens and have a playdate under the watchful eye of their foster parents.

When we arrived to meet them, we were welcomed to the apartment by the resident kitty. She did a great job of showing the initially skeptical kittens that we were worth checking out, what with all our chin scratchies and pets.

The boys soon determined that we seemed to be OK, and that we had toys, and surrendered themselves to 45 minutes of mildly strenuous play while we talked to the foster parents.

Fun Fact: You can play with 1 mouse on a string with two kitties at one time provided you can keep mouse end and string end moving simultaneously and with 6 inches between them.

This afternoon, we got the notification that our adoption was approved. So now we're just waiting to hear back from the foster parents as to a good day and time to pick them up. To say that we are thrilled is an understatement.

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San Francisco Bay Area Cat Rescues


San Francisco Bay Area SPCAs and Shelters



goodbye mister bill kitty

You are very much loved and will forever be missed.

I am so lucky to have had 17 years with such a smart and handsome kitty. And believe it or not, I didn't pick Bill -- he found his way to me through my record store boss when I was in college.

You see, she was house hunting in Chula Vista, and saw a Free Kittens sign.

She knew I had just moved into my own place -- an improbable Alice in Wonderland style cottage behind a house, with a couple of acres of canyonlands fenced in. And I missed my kitties at home terribly.

Thus, she and her boyfriend Todd picked up this little guy, and headed back to San Diego.

"Did you still want a kitty?" she asked me on the phone while I was at the counter. "Yes..." I replied.

"Well, stay there!" she commanded.

An hour or so later she walked in with this little guy.

He was so tiny he fit into the palm of one hand. Upon meeting me he mewed until I snuggled him into my neck, at which point he started purring and nuzzling my neck. I was immediately in love with him.

He definitely preferred his spacious SoCal yard to our tiny San Francisco apartments. But he made due.

I will carry him around in my heart always.


why so quiet

Things have been quiet around here lately not due to lack of things to write about, but because I have been preoccupied with RL. After several weeks of issues, my beloved kitty has been diagnosed with cancer(lymphoma, intestinal). I just haven't felt like writing much.



PHOTOS: 2004 SF/SPCA Holiday Windows

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For the past few years, I've gathered up coworkers to participate in the SF/SPCA's annual Holiday Windows fundraiser and adoption event.

From now until December 24, a multitude of frisky, adoptable homeless cats and dogs, kittens and puppies will be frolicking in the O'Farrell-corner windows at Macy's Union Square.

In my opinion, this is a vast improvement over the annoying animatronic Disney Scrooge/Mickey scenario of recent years. Well, except for the inevitable traffic jams it causes on Stockton Street. But I can get over that more easily than hearing the Christmas Carol story over and over and over.

The shelter cats and dogs will be appearing in the windows every day, from one hour after the store opens until one hour before it closes (check daily store hours for exact times). SF/SPCA representatives will be on hand at the Adoption Outreach booth, on Macy*s 1st Floor, to assist potential adopters, accept donations,  answer questions.

If you would like to volunteer at The SF/SPCA Holiday Windows at Macy*s Union Square, contact Kay Harnish-Ladd at (415) 522-3543 or kladd@sfspca.org. Shifts last 2 hours and consist of handing out information on the available animals and The SF/SPCA and collecting donations.

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