Sunday, June 28, 2009

Artemis Pictures

Photos from Artemis' first weekend with us:

Cat with Agatha Christie book, so you can see her size compared to Siggy's. (Siggy was pretty much exactly the size of the book.)

Artemis hanging out on roommate's arm:

Artemis hiding between my bins of "purim stuff" and "gift wrapping" and "papers to file someday" aka "the contained mess":

Artemis doing what she does best, hunting normally inanimate objects around the apartment, in this case a crumpled piece of paper we made into her toy (full video at my Facebook page):

Resting after a busy morning of chasing toys and humans:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Introducing Artemis!

Last night I went to the home of a family in Kiryat Moshe whose cat, Vanilla, had had a litter of kittens. The kittens were now 9 weeks old, recently weaned, and looking for homes. They'd been raised mostly indoors but allowed to wander outside when they wanted.

The litter had four kittens in total, but when I got there two were absent: the one female, Spotty -- who had gone AWOL about an hour earlier -- and a male named Blondie who the family were planning to keep, and who was roaming around outside. Since I preferred a male cat (after having been told they are easier to care for and more affectionate), it didn't matter to me about Spotty or Blondie. I focused my attention on the two male kittens who were sleeping on the couch.

I had brought a toy with me, and one of the kittens, named Blackie after his beautiful black and white stripes (you can see this family is quite literal in their pet naming) woke up and had the time of his life with this toy. He scampered all over the apartment, playing with the little stuffed mouse. It was quite entertaining.

Meanwhile his brother, Angel, would not wake up. He simply refused to be bothered. I could totally get that, but it was no way for me to evaluate his personality or energy levels. So I said I'd take Blackie.

In the few minutes after I chose Blackie, a few things happened:

1- Spotty was found in a cabinet and turned out to be nowhere near as pretty as Blackie. A weird mixture of stripes and spots, and something clearly wrong with one of her eyes.
2- Blondie came in from outside.
3- Spotty and Blondie were quite curious about the toy, and tried to get a view.
4- Blackie became extremely possessive of his toy and would hiss at the other cats when they tried to approach him.
5- Spotty licked my fingers so sweetly. Awwwww!
6- The owner was talking about what a nice personality Spotty has.
7- When I went to pick up Blackie to put him in the kitty carrier, he hissed at me and tried to scratch.

I decided that Blackie can stay with this family, and keep the toy, because he's a lost cause! And so Spotty came home with me.

I have renamed her Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the hunt. The name was Liza's idea, and suits this cat nicely.

She is twice as old as Siggy was, and twice as large. When I brought her home, Liza said "she's huge!" Our guest, Liz, who never met Siggy, said "She's tiny!"

She's also so much more energetic that only now do we realize how sick Siggy must have been from the day he arrived. Siggy would just walk around the apartment, begging to be held. The most energetic thing he ever did was climb up the bedskirt in Liza's room to her bed.

Artemis, meanwhile, chases her balls of aluminum foil, she chases the bottle cap she found, she chases her string, she does pushups on the dining-room chairs (because she just can't quite hoist herself up enough to the seat), and she eats without being prodded. She also is fond of naps in air-conditioned rooms, preferably curled up next to a human. And she likes being held for a minute or two and petted, but after a little time she decides she has other things to do. In other words, she's a normal cat - and quite a delightful one at that.

The vet came over today and pronounced that Artemis has worms (normal for a cat who'd been outside a lot) and an infection in her left eye (which explains why her eye looked yucky and she has guck around her nose), but all that can be healed.

What I like to say about Artemis is that she's no beauty queen, but she has a great personality. :-)

Pictures and video to be posted next week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Stuff

1- First of all, I love this video:

2- Still no kitty. Siggy's sibling has been AWOL for days now, so I've given up on adopting him/her. There is a woman in Kiryat Moshe whose cat had kittens 9 weeks ago, so I might adopt one of those. Luckily for me, Liza has decided that we're committed to taking in a cat, whether it's a street rescue or not.

3- I joined Twitter! Um, I guess I can't post my username here because I'm still playing the little game of not putting my whole, real name on this blog, even though I know that most of my readers know who I am anyhow. But if you go to Twitter and type in my name, you can find me. I'm the only one with my name in Jerusalem.

4- On Hillel Street, two doors up from Cafe Hillel (#6 I think), I found an English Tea House (a new one!) which has a full one-page NEW ENGLAND MENU. They serve corn chowder! Fish chowder! With cod! Apple Brown Betty! I could die. I actually had tears in my eyes when I saw it. Definitely plan to go back. Who here from New England wants to come? I want to make it a New England party.

5- I'm so looking for new work. Income would be good.

6- However, since I'm currently light on assignments, I've gotten a helluva lot done recently. My desk is organized, I had two doctor's appointments, I hung up pictures in my apartment that have been waiting over a year to be hung up, I finally checked out the Emek Refaim Street swimming pool (which I had never seen, even though I've lived a 10-minute walk from it for over 6 years) -- oh, God, that was amazing! I love water! -- I'm taking this Mediabistro course I mentioned in a previous post, etc. 'Tis all good.

7- It is so hot here. Melting!

8- Speaking of melting, I'm reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, and I'm up to the chapter on volcanoes. Bryson is hysterical. Quote of the day: "Volcanologists may or may not be the worst scientists in the world at making predictions, but they are without question the worst in the world at realizing how bad their predictions are." This is no ordinary science book.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Update

1- The beginning of this week was very hard, what with Siggy dying. But as the days passed I (mostly) got over it. At this point, more time has passed since he died than the amount of time he was with us here. I'm 99% better.

2- On Sunday, I'm scheduled to adopt Siggy's sibling, a stripey cat whose sex is not known to us. Right now, Sibling is living on the street, but is being fed by Liza's friend Yuval and his girlfriend, Ira. Yuval and Ira have been terrific, feeding Sibling formula after the kittens were abandoned by their mother, and now solid food. But Sibling hasn't seen a vet and isn't being socialized to be a true indoor/outdoor pet. So we decided to bring him here ASAP, so he can be checked out by Dr. Doni (our new vet) and taught to be our cat. I just really, really hope he is a sturdy creature and won't die on us like his brother did. At least this time I'm prepared for the possibility.

3- Another reason the week got better: I finished a work project which had been hanging over me for a long, long time. Now that it's done, I actually have almost no work to do. Obviously that's not good, but, you know what? It's good. I need some time to do all the things I couldn't do when I was teaching and writing like a maniac. And indeed I've gotten many important things taken care of in the last couple of days.

4- I've started taking an online course with Mediabistro on Health and Medical Writing. A bit of professional tuning-up, getting past the plateau, jump-start, etc. It just started yesterday and will continue for eight weeks. If I like it I plan to take the Travel Writing Boot Camp course.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To My Readers in Florida

A person who is very dear to me, Eric Draper, is running for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. He is currently the Deputy Director of the Florida office of the National Audubon Society, and has been active with Preservation 2000, Florida Forever, the Council of Sustainable Florida, the Florida Soil and Water Conservation Council, and the Democratic Party.

Eric is an expert in environmental and agricultural issues, and is a highly intelligent, humble, respected man who sincerely wants to serve the people. He is extremely talented at building consensus and helping others to work together.

If you live in Florida, please go to Eric Draper's website to learn more about him and/or support his campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

RIP Siggy

Last night he seemed to be doing so much better. He took bites of his new food a few times walked around the apartment a little. We thought he'd turned the corner.

This morning at 3 am Liza found Sigmund lying several meters from his little shoe-box bed, drenched (with sweat? Didn't smell like anything else in particular . . . ), and making an eerie noise. She immediately woke me up and told me he's dying. When she put him in my arms he was completely limp.

For two hours I sat in the salon holding Siggy, petting him and rocking him and willing him to die quickly, and crying. It was terrible. Every so often his head would move a little and he'd open his mouth and make a noise that sounded a little like a scream, like he was crying far away. He sounded like a ghost cat.

At around 4:30 his eyes got glassy and his nose started turning blue. I could tell he wasn't aware of anything any more, even though he was breathing a little and his heart was beating pretty quickly. At 5 I tucked him into his bed, took a shower, and went to sleep.

At 7:30 he was still alive. I petted him a little so that maybe he'd know I was there, and I read him the last few paragraphs of Watership Down, through my tears. He licked his lips a little.

By 9:30 he was gone. Maybe now he's in a place where he has the energy to play with his toys, and everything is made of salmon and warm spots.


Goodbye, Siggy. I'm glad we could make your last days a little more comfortable.

Liza and I have decided that we might take in Siggy's sibling, but only 3 weeks from now, since then the kitten will be 2 months old already -- and therefore more likely to live long-term, says the vet. We don't want to go through this again right now, watching a sweet little kitten take hours to die.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Sigmund is Sick

Siggy didn't eat for 24 hours so I took him to the vet again this morning. Diagnosis: infection in the GI tract. Prognosis: Not good. Siggy is very little and very sick. Not a promising combination.

His energy level has dwindled over the last day or two, and now he is sleeping almost all the time. The only positive indication we've had lately is that we did manage to get him to eat something at the vet's, and he had a few small bites just now.

The vet gave him an infusion against dehydration, and said that it's not uncommon for young street cats to simply be too fragile to withstand being abandoned by their mother; only when they've lived for 2 months can you be reasonably sure that this is a sturdy cat. He said to keep giving him small amounts to eat (of his special new sick-kitty food, mixed with a teeny bit of water) every few hours, and hope for the best. If he makes it for another few days, it will be a good sign.


Reader RivkA M. asked for a photo of Siggy with a reference object. Here he is with my paperback copy of the Hercule Poirot mystery Cat Among the Pigeons.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1,001st post!

Siggy got sick today. Apparently he hadn't been eating much because he wasn't quite ready for solid food. Tomorrow he goes back to formula. Meanwhile he's drinking lots of water from the bottle, which is so cute.

A few pics from today:

Siggy nodding off next to fridge.

Yes, he is this small.

Liza's friend Naomi giving Siggy some TLC. Siggy loves it. Good thing, because Naomi will be babysitting Siggy when I go to the States at the end of August.

Siggy eating up the attention. You can see that he's got some skin problems and is quite scraggly, a result of being a street cat. When he starts eating regularly he'll get some medicine for that in his food.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This post may be filled with typos

because I'm trying to write it while a kitten sleeps peacefully in the crook of my left elbow.

I have named him Sigmund. A nice, distinguished, slightly ironic name, which can be shortened to Siggy at appropriate moments of utter cuteness.

Sigmund seems to have two needs in life: sleep, and proximity to a warm human. If he is not sleeping, he's begging to be picked up. much like a human baby, actually. However, unlike a human baby, Sigmund does not seem to need food. In the last 24 hours he's eaten about 5 tiny bites of cat food and a few sips of egg yolk. This concerns me because his medicine is in the tuna and therefore he's not getting the proper dosage. He's also not drinking. My local cat gurus are telling me not to worry about it, that he'll eat when he's hungry.

Meanwhile, am I a Jewish mother or what? Putting food in front of his face and begging "please eat, please eat"?

Sigmund also has a habit of climbing up onto my shoulder, therefrom to better view the world at large while I walk around. Very cute, but I'm working on breaking him of the habit so that I won't have a huge, heavy cat later who thinks my shoulder is a nice perch.

Also, Siggy hates being washed with a damp cloth, but he'll have to deal because he's a rescue kitten and really filthy. With every wash we remove another layer of grime. (also it doesn't help that he gets himself covered with tuna and egg yolk. Not so dexterous yet, that Sigmund)

OK, gotta go. But if you want something fun to surf, click here for the new blog of my friend Miriam. She's hilarious.

Monday, June 08, 2009


On Friday, Liza got an IM from her friend Yuval: "Are you lonely?"

Liza responded "Um, what?"

Yuval: "Because if you are, maybe you want to adopt one of the abandoned kittens I rescued."

Apparently, something about the kittens' story tugged at Liza's heartstrings -- probably Yuval's description of them as fitting in the palm of his hand -- because out of the blue she -- she, who has repeatedly rebuffed my suggestions that we get a pet -- asked if I want to adopt a kitten.

So, now I have a kitten. It is *my* kitten, but Liza's enjoys the benefits of his yummy little ways. Last night, his first with us, he fell asleep in my hand.

I have small hands!

The plan was to name him Yuval, after his savior, but Yuval the Human wasn't keen on that so now I'm not sure. I'm also not sure that he is a "he." We're going to the vet today, so perhaps that will become more clear. :-)

There are more pictures and video at my Facebook page, which I made available to "friends of friends." (If you are not a friend or a a friend of a friend, sorry.)