Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ivan the Clown

Ivan is the biggest goofball in the world. Look at the fake mustache he painted on himself in this photo! We swear we did not paint it on him. We came home and there it was.

Ivan is also very smart. He quickly learned how to open the doors inside our apartment. We started shutting him and Boo out of the bedroom at night because they tend to jump on our heads at 3am and wake us up. Well, shutting the doors alone wasn't enough - they'd break in! So we have to lock the doors each night!

Because we travel occasionally, we purchased two feeding bowls on timers. These bowls have 5 compartments, and the timers determine when each compartment will open to reveal cat food. The feeders work very well. HOWEVER, the last time we used them, which was over one night, we came home to find Ivan and Boo had broken into one of them! Yes, they had somehow pried the top off of the feeder and were able to get to ALL of the food instead of one day's worth at a time! [We'll review the feeder in a future blog entry.]

Do you see a theme here? Cat burglars!

We recently came across a great cat-related item in the Drs. Foster and Smith pet catalogue. It's something called the "Klaw Kontrol". It's basically a straight jacket for cats! It's like a very snug cat-carrier, though one that leaves the cat's head free. Being snug, it tends to comfort cats. There is a zipper for each front leg, and one for the hind legs. You can unzip one zipper at a time to free one leg at a time and cut the cat's claws! It's a wonderful invention! You can also leave all zippers zipped and administer oral medicine, ear drops, eye drops, etc.

We use it for claw clipping and it is the cat's pajamas! We did spend a couple of days getting our cats accustomed to it - we simply unzipped it so that it was wide open, and we laid it on the floor. After they got somewhat used to it, we started putting cat treats inside it. We also dragged the cats' favorite chase toys across it, so they would feel comfortable walking/running/playing on it. Eventually, we decided to try to attach the collar portion around Ivan's neck (of the two, he's the easiest to handle). We let him sit with it attached, and then we picked him up and gently arranged him inside the "bag" and zipped him up in it. He struggled a bit, but we rewarded him with treats when he was calm. We let him sit in it for a while. Then we let him out. We did that for a couple of days, and then on the third day we zipped Ivan up in it and we cut his claws! He struggled a bit, but with plenty of cat treats when he did NOT struggle, he seemed to get the idea and remained still while we cut his front claws. We waited until the next evening to cut his hind claws.

Boo's experience with the "Klaw Kontrol" was very similar. However, when we first got Boo zipped up in it (which was a little more difficult than zipping Ivan in it, because Boo is bigger), he was a little bit distressed. Ivan sensed this and came over to check it out. He must have quickly recognized that Boo was powerless, because he almost immediately gave Boo a nice WOP right on the nose! Only Ivan would wait for the opportune moment to get a good jab in at his bigger, stronger brother!

Anyhow, the Klaw Kontrol is made of durable but extremely lightweight material. It really is THE answer for us as far as cutting Ivan's and Boo's claws. Perhaps eventually we'll be able to cut their claws without it. REMINDER: be careful not to cut into the quick of your cat's claws, because it hurts!

Here's a close-up of Ivan's self-administered mustache:
Nicely focused on the carpet, eh?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Welcome to the Chronicles of Ivan and Boo!

Welcome! I found myself telling stories about my two cats to friends and relatives so often, and eliciting laughs and smiles from them in the process, that I figured I should chronicle the cats' antics. What better way than via a blog?

They are extremely energetic guys, and they are not allowed outside, so we buy a lot of cat toys to play with them and to keep them entertained when my husband and I are away. So I may occasionally review cat toys and cat-related products here.

Ian sleepingA little background on Ivan and Boo: In November of 2006 we had 20 year-old Ian, our black and white DSH (domestic shorthair) cat (that we'd had since the age of about 2), and 7 year-old Aggie, a marble tabby (came to us at about 6 months). They were hanging out and trucking along just fine until a trip to the vet to be boarded while we were out of town revealed Ian had lost some weight. So they ran a few tests and discovered he had lymphoma. However, he was still eating and not in any pain that we could detect, so he was put on oral Prednisone and occasional subcutaneous (via needle) fluids, and he did quite well. Left is a photo of Ian sleeping with his eyes covered. Below is Aggie with a hilarious expression.

The feral female longhair tortoiseshell cat at our farm (a few hours away from our city apartment) had had kittens a few months before, and she was now bringing them around to eatCurious Aggie solid food with her. We began socializing them immediately. We named the black and white DSH "Ivan" ("Ian" with a "V") and his litter mate, a white and gray DLH (domestic longhair) "Boo". Boo's name takes some explaining. He has partial pigmentation of his nose, so that it is part pink, part brown, and a tiny bit is black. It reminded my Welsh husband of what we Americans so delicately call "a booger", so he promptly named the cat "Booger". Well, wishing to be even more delicate, I immediately shortened that to "Boo". Now he gets called "Booper" more often than "Boo".

We decided that we would adopt these sons of a feral mother and take them to our apartment in the city. We knew we would lose Ian eventually, and we figured they would make good playmates for Aggie. Unfortunately, that was not to be. In mid-January of 2007, Aggie suddenly stopped Ivan and Booeating and sat staring at the floor. She had also developed anisocoria, one pupil markedly larger than the other (this is a sign in cats of a serious health problem, often feline AIDS, but it accompanies other disorders as well). Recognizing immediately that this was something serious, we took her to the vet. She had an advanced case of lymphoma, herself. It was in her lungs and other organs. She had been most adept at hiding it from us, as cats are wont to do. Plus, in having to attend to Ian, we may have missed some little signs from her. Sadly, her cancer was so advanced that she was unable to breathe without oxygen a couple of days later. She was euthanized. Ten days later, Ian had to be euthanized.

So now there are Ivan and Boo. And their antics. (Photograph above is Ivan (top) and Boo on their cat tree.)