Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Introducing Ambrosia and Nefertiti

Ambrosia & Nefertiti Spring Rock's menagerie's latest additions.

Nature abhors a vacuum and Spring Rock abhors a lack of cats.  After I recovered a bit from the very sad loss of my two beloved cats, Lancelot and Guinevere, I realised that Tristan was now an only cat.  While Graeme was more than fine with this, Tristan felt lonely.  At first Tristan spent his days searching the house for his two old sparing partners and couldn't figure out what I'd done with them.  He tried all sorts of tricks to get them to come out and swat him, but the lounge room remained Lancelot and Guinevere-less.  Life became a lot more boring for Tristan.

I began my kitten search on the internet.  Up until now the vast majority of my cats have just moved in on us.  They have literally walked in off the street at times and set up house with us.  Others have been given to me by friends who know what a push over I am for homeless cats with sad stories.  I have wanted a Siamese cat ever since I was a child.  I began my search only to find that there was no way I could afford even a pet quality cat, so I lowered my sights to searching for any cat in need of a home.  In my search I also came across Bengal cats and they are another cat I've wanted for a while (if left to my own devices with unlimited money it's scary how many different cat breeds with which I'd fill my house!) but they cost even more than Siamese cats. I added my name to a Siamese rescue list and my one day learn of a Siamese cat close by who is in need of a loving home.

In the meantime found a cute little Siamese cross Moggy kitten in need of a good  home.  She was a dark tortoiseshell and looked nothing like a Siamese, but I made arrangements for my daughter Bec to pick her up and bring her down here when they visited at Christmas time.  My big worry was that Michael and Ethan would end up loving her and want to keep her.  I wouldn't have minded, but Bec would have!  Bec, like her dad is not a cat person (but unlike her dad she is a dog and ferret person) and has a reasonably low opinion of cats.  The kitten spent its stay at Bec's house in the en-suite where the boys visited her regularly and she meowed to be let out all the rest of the time.  The kitten was imprisoned  there for it's own good (sort of protective custody) because Bec's house is open plan with no way to stop the kitten getting downstairs and meeting their dogs, Charlie and Sam.  Charlie is a Labrador who would like nothing more than to open the rumpus room door and get to know the kitten. Whether this would result in a firm friendship or a quick meal for Charlie, Bec didn't want to find out.  The boys were constantly reminded that the kitten was Nana's just in case they forgot.

Michael, aged five, rang me to tell me the kitten had arrived safely.  He was very excited and filled me in on every second of her stay at their house so far.  I told him the kitten's name was Nefertiti.  There was a long silence on Michael's end of the phone (a very rare occurrence all by itself!) and then in a quiet little voice he replied, "We'll call her puss."  we moved on to other subjects less intimidating that pronouncing the name Nefertiti.  By the time they arrived here she was well and truly Christened "Titi" by Ethan (aged three).  As I said, Nefertiti looks nothing like a Siamese cat, but she knows the truth and so do I and that is all that counts.

While Bec was returning the kitten to the en-suite at regular intervals (the boys kept bringing her out to show her something in the house she just had to see), I was searching for a little friend for her.  One kitten is a lonely thing, as I discovered when Tristan came to stay, two kittens are much better.  They have each other to play with and can gang up on humans and older cats alike. It was meant to be!  I found a Bengal kitten that was ridiculously cheap and it lived only 50kms from Spring Rock, in the town we do our weekly shopping!  She was the last one left in the litter so I quickly laid claim to her and made arrangements to pick her up as soon as possible.

To say that Ambrosia was reluctant to change homes is an understatement. She had a blanket that came with her with her mother's and sibling's scent on it but this didn't make her feel one bit better.  Ambrosia meowed this strange feral sounding meow all the way home, demanding that she be returned to her rightful home.  Every now and then a pitiful little kitten meow would sneak in with a helpless little pleading edge to it.  These meows tore at my heartstrings and I felt very guilty about my life of crime as a kitten stealer.  We finally arrived home and Ambrosia was released into the lounge room.  At first she refused to leave her prison, despite the fact that she'd been demanding release ever since she'd entered the cat box. I left her to her own devices and she was soon out of the box, slinking around expecting trouble with every tentative step.  She soon found it.  Juliet (of the famous Mr X and Juliet love story I wrote last time) was still in residence at that time and not yet in season and loving  the world.  Kitten and grumpy cat were quickly removed from each other's company and peace reigned once again. 

When Nefertiti arrived rather than a firm friendship being forged, a kitten war began.  Both kittens spat and swore, using language I was shocked to hear that kittens knew, whenever they came face to face.  No actual blows occurred though and each kitten preferred to give the other a wide berth.  Slowly, day by day, the spitting and swearing receded and sniffs and delicate swats with paws came to the fore.  Eventually small games would break out and end just as quickly as two shocked kittens realised they were having fun together.  By the end of the week they were firm friends, though their relationship with the two older cats, Tristan and Juliet, was fraught with peril if they got too close. 

Juliet eventually returned to her home and just lately Tristan has mellowed where the kittens are concerned and will give them a good morning nose kiss as the kittens emerge from their bedroom (our bathroom) each morning.  Tristan has been spotted trying to play with them, but usually just ends up running alongside the game - he's now five years old and well and truly out of practise where kitten games are concerned.  Kittens can make a game of just about anything, and an adult cat like Tristan has trouble seeing the fun in swatting the base of a chair or chasing invisible balls, but he tries.

Billy and the ferrets have had quick glances of the kittens but I am not trying to promote a friendship with Billy yet.  One good sniff from his huge nose and I'm sure the sniffed kitten would disappear up his nose never to be seen again.  The kittens first encountered Billy on one the very hot days when he came inside to share our air conditioning.  They couldn't believe their eyes, for that matter neither could Billy.  The kittens decided there and then to give him a wide berth and realised quickly that Billy wasn't allowed on the carpet while they were.  They now sit under the dining room table staring at him and making him crazy to get nose to nose with them.  Something they are determined will never happen.

Ambrosia has had one unfortunate encounter with the ferrets.  They too were inside enjoying the cool air when she put her nose through the bars of their cage.  Now anyone who owns ferrets will know that if someone new puts any body part through the bars of a ferret cage the resident ferret or ferrets will nip it, just because it's there.  Ambrosia was duly nipped and has held a grudge ever since.  Eventually, when the kittens are a bit bigger I'll introduce them to the ferrets when the ferrets are set free to roam the house when Graeme is out and about on the farm.  The kittens don't realise this is in their future and I'm not telling them.

So, Ambrosia and Nefertiti have settled in.  They are still enjoying the halcyon days where Graeme likes them.  He pats them occasionally, will allow them to sit on his lap if they jump up and ask nicely and has even been heard to talk to them in a friendly manner.  I keep trying to warn them that he'll well and truly go off them when they are larger, less cute cats and will just tolerate their presence in the house, but both girls remain supremely confident that their cuteness will not wear off they they and Graeme will be BFF's.  Tristan just smiles knowingly remembering receiving the same treatment when he was a kitten.

As I've mentioned before, Graeme was raised very badly.  He never owned a pet of his own in childhood and pets in the family were a rarity anyway.  He came to a life of  a household filled with pets too late in life to change I'm afraid, but we persevere.  I regularly remind him that when he first met me I personally owned a dog, two cats, 10 rats and a galah and within two weeks of going out with me I increased my pet quota with a horse and a pup.  He can not say he wasn't well and truly warned!