In the Beginning
To view the album, In the Beginning, click here
With the passing of my beloved soul-mate, Me-too, life became very lonely with only one remaining cat…Smooch, and he was almost always sleeping. I recalled how adding Me-too and Smooch to our lives had made the passing of Rajah much easier to bear. And so, we found a local breeder and inquired about another pair of kittens….even visiting her cattery to meet all the adorable kittens running around underfoot. Eventually the breeder called to say that she had a pair available—this time a brother and sister who had been born on January 17th. The girl was the typical ruddy Abyssinian and the boy was a fawn (a new color for us). It certainly would be easy for everyone to tell them apart this time.
We picked up the new little ones on April 19th and brought them back to their “forever home.”
Their Names.—What to call them was the first major decision—and many names danced through our heads. There were so many to choose from but all were subject to change as personality traits would reveal themselves. Although Simba would have been a great name for Neko since he had that young and upcoming male lion look about him, for the longest time I planned to name my next cat “Neko,” Japanese for “cat,” as in Maneki-Neko, the beckoning cat of Japan. So Neko it was. Rani is the female equivalent of Rajah, an Indian “prince” and the name of our first Abyssinian. And from the way Neko catered to her, she surely acted like a little princess. Smart and active as they were, however, it took them forever to learn those names. No time for it, everything else was just too much fun.
The Introduction.—They immediately proved to be sweet and friendly but extremely curious and a tad uneasy when they first arrived. They didn’t know what to make of Smooch….when they approached him, Smooch wasn’t very friendly or welcoming—I don’t think they had ever been rejected by another adult cat before.
They ate ravenously, inspected the house and litter pan and then spent the first night under the love-seat in the sunroom. The next couple of nights were spent on the couch, all the way over at the end, next to a stuffed-bear (probably for “security”) or under a blanket. After that, they jumped up on the bed but kept their distance from Smooch—eventually they would brazenly challenge him for the most coveted spot. Within several more days, they became much more comfortable: they knew every inch of the house and began soliciting Smooch for his attention and affection. They really wanted to make friends but Smooch continued to look at them as annoying little rug-rats—and I guess they were. In spite of the cool reception, Neko was determined to become Smooch’s buddy—and eventually he would achieve that goal.
To view the album, Kitty Antics, click here
As young, healthy and energetic little kittens, there wasn’t anyplace their curiosity didn’t take them. Right from the start, they proved adept at entertaining themselves or one another—and their antics provided endless amusement to us, their “people.”
The “Chewy” Box—One day the big Chewy box was delivered. It had lots of food, new bowls and great treats. But most important, the big Chewy box had a long piece of crinkly brown paper. And the crinkly paper made lots of noise when they jumped on it. They could hide in it, put toys in it and push it across the room. It was wonderful to play with and they played for hours. They jumped up and down on it and attacked one another over and over again until they got tired. Then they had some of the new treats—and especially liked the tuna flakes—and had food in their new bowls. What a day they had.
One morning I made pistachio gelato. Just like all little children who enjoy “licking the spoon and bowl,” these little “children” had to lick spoons and paddle. It began with Neko, who was promptly joined by Rani. As usual, instead of telling them to get out of the sink, I went and got a camera. Unfortunately, I missed Neko but not Rani.
The kittens are a tad more than seven-months old as of this writing and all their permanent teeth should be in place (the last are the molars and they should be in by six months). But today I had to wonder if Rani was “teething.” She spent 15-20-minutes gnawing on my fingers. She wasn’t hurting me, she was actually chewing softly with her back teeth, biting the hand that feeds her. But she was also rolling around as though my hand was “road kill.” What an odd little thing she is….and that’s why I love her so.
The Little Red Ball—This is Neko’s most favorite possession; it’s his little red ball. He carries it around everywhere and growls as he walks around with it in his mouth—I guess that’s to let everyone know that there’s no sharing when the little red ball is involved. When he’s finished playing with the little ball (or pulling little pieces off), he sleeps with it or “puts it away.” He usually remembers exactly where he put it—most often that is on the bed, between the pillows.
Neko pulled off so many little pieces that the little red ball soon became the “incredibly shrinking ball,” and eventually the tiny red ball disappeared entirely. While I have no doubt that the tiny nucleus of itself will turn up one day, perhaps from under a piece of furniture, in the meantime Neko had lost his favorite toy. When Me-too and Smooch joined our family, we gave them two little balls, one was red and the other green and they played with them all the time—and seventeen years later, when Neko and Rani arrived, the little “Christmas balls” were still here and still good as new. It took a mere few months for Neko to change that. Neko was offered the other little ball, the green one, and he continued right where he had left off, playing, growling, attacking and hiding the ball, pulling off little pieces and carrying it all around. It was obvious that he had missed having a little ball. As a side note, the little red ball appeared again some time later, by which time it had been reduced to a little red marble. Since it was small enough to choke on, I decided to put it away and save it as a memento
Carrying Things Around—But, speaking of “carrying things around,” Neko is not alone in this habit….Rani also enjoys the practice—and indulges frequently. She carts around toys—even ones practically as large as she is (a stuffed kitten), washcloths, paper towels, articles of clothing….basically whatever she can get her paws on. And food, especially bags of treats! That all began with a bag of freeze-dried salmon treats that I found in the middle of the kitchen floor. Apparently the kitties wanted treats and I wasn’t there to serve them, so they helped themselves—little tooth marks, the result of their efforts, were all over the bag.
After that find, I began noticing that treat bags would be missing almost daily—usually I’d find them. A large bag of dried beef treats was located in my bedroom (kitties’ HQ). The bag had so many tooth and claw marks that I had to put the entire bag and contents in a large freezer bag. Eventually I caught the little culprit red-handed—it was Rani, of course; she ran right by me with a treat bag clenched between her teeth as she headed straight down the hall toward the bedroom. It wasn’t really a surprise. After all, between the two of them, she is the little live-wire—and she’s smart.
One day a bag of beef treats disappeared but I was unable to find it until the next day when it was found in the bedroom along with freeze-dried beef treats scattered around. I didn’t know where the bag had been squirreled away but apparently they did. If you are wondering whether or not I ever found out where the bag had been taken, I did, when Rani brought it up from the basement.
I learned a lesson—now the treats are kept in a container with a secure lid. Apparently, however, there was still another lesson to learn with respect to their beloved treats—that was to make certain to promptly empty grocery bags and put any attractive items away or else. For instance, there was one grocery bag that I hadn’t unpacked and put away. Needless to say, when I entered the kitchen, it was obvious that “someone” wanted to do it for me….I’m sure that someone was Rani since she is always involved in the theft of treats and, when I looked down at the basement steps, she was right on top of a treat package……Neko was a couple of steps back, watching and admiring her handiwork….and probably wondering if he would be allowed to have some of them. I must learn another lesson: when all is quiet, go see what they are up to.
Yoga and More—Subdued they are not. They climb on any and everything…and find a myriad of ways to get into trouble. It’s not uncommon to find one or the other of them (I must say, it is usually Rani) standing on a lamp, hanging on the screen or the pair teaming up and playing a “rug game” or doing their version of yoga…on my mat. As soon as the yoga mat is rolled out, they grab it and take over, pushing it up and crawling under it, sharpening their claws on it (after all, it is called a sticky mat) or lying down on it. When, and if, I get to use the mat, they plop down on top of my feet, wrap their paws around my legs and bite my feet and ankles or mock fight one another, with my legs in the middle. The upward-facing dog, triangle or cobra pose usually prompts someone to jump up and rest on my back while downward-facing dog encourages one or the other to jump up and climb inside my t-shirt with me. It’s hard to concentrate.
One day a crashing sound from the bedroom turned out to be the television, DVR-player, Roku and cable adapter all being knocked down—and the kitties jumping over one another as they scurried to get out of the room.
Christmas—Even though the kittens were one-year old when the holidays rolled around, they were still very playful and kittenish and I knew that regular Christmas decorations around the house would be out of the question. In most years, icicle lights are hung at the windows around the sunroom but the movement and twinkling of hanging, glittery lights would be much too enticing for young, energetic little kitties. Instead for their first Christmas it would be a simple strand of colorful lights around the room.
As soon as they went up, the lights were co-opted by the little terrors. They hit them, bit them and tried to pull them down. When the Christmas tree went up and the lights were strung, the kitties once again got involved with the goings-on. For the first year it was decided to forgo the ornaments, especially after seeing Rani sitting on the tree’s branches in the middle of the tree. For the same reason, it was decided to take the tree down the very day after Christmas.
As far as Neko and Rani were concerned, the tree’s skirt was just something for one to burrow under while the other pounced on top. Or it was for pushing around under the tree until it was bunched up into a pile.
To view the album, Sleeping, click here
Cats spend quite a lot of time sleeping and the older they get, the more they sleep. Kittens, on the other hand, take many short rejuvenating naps all day long. Neko and Rani proved to be no different and found many places all around the house to enjoy the experience. However, there were a couple of favorite places such as the soft bed, particularly in the warmth under the down cover. Because of their spontaneous natural liking for the bed, their headquarters swiftly became the master bedroom at night. Cats also spend a lot of time relaxing and basking in the sunshine and again, these kittens fit right into the “warmth and sunlight” habit. Accordingly, the sunroom became kitty headquarters during the day—on cloudy or overcast days, Neko would spend time in front of the faux “fireplace.” Rani liked to start her nap with some kneading—especially on a small, soft pillow. Much of their napping time, whether night or day, would include cuddling—and that remains the case to this day.
To view the album, Buddies, click here
While Neko and Rani, as "womb-mates," were a natural tag-team, from Day-1, Neko really wanted be best buddies with Smooch—and worked constantly to achieve that goal. He wanted—and was determined—to be close to Smooch, but kept a respectable distance at first; then moving progressively closer until they finally touched. Eventually, of course, Neko's persistence paid off and Smooch welcomed him as his new buddy—and then Neko was satisfied.
Not unusually, but certainly much less often, all three cats would get together and either sleep or, at times, mutually groom and cuddle. Whenever this behavior occurred, however, Neko was the anchor, as the trio was comprised of either Neko and Rani plus Smooch or Neko and Smooch plus Rani. Much of their “together time” was spent on the bed—and they always brought some toys.
To view the album, Tidbits, click here
Neko and Rani’s personalities, like and dislikes, habits and activities consisted of a potpourris of interesting odds and ends, like Rani’s fondness for ice cream and gelato (she could even tell when it was being made), or her gentle biting of my hand. How they would both knocked the stuffings out of their favorite toys—the little stuffed hummingbird was a particular favorite; how they constantly jump, from jumping on the wall to jumping clear across the room to my shoulder, and how they played with all the rugs in the house, just they did with the yoga mat—climbing over and under them—often one on top and the other underneath, and pushing them far away from where they belong. The bottom line is, these cats are more fun than a barrel of monkeys and at the time of this writing, when they will be two years old in about one month, they show no signs of stopping!