First things first about the whole Buster being returned because the woman who adopted him is pregnant:
1. She has two kids already, an elementary school aged one, and a middle-schooler. She actually contacted Challenger’s House about a month ago saying that she wanted to return him, and the day she was supposed to bring him back, she called and said she wanted to “work” with Buster a little more. She bought an automatic litter box, but apparently he was peeing over the side of it, and that’s when she brought him back last week. So about a month ago I was like “YES! I get my Buster back!” and then “Awww! Okay, well, good for her for being willing to work with him. ::poutyface:: ” and then “YES! GIVE ME BUSTER!”, so it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. And she did say that the doctor said she shouldn’t be breathing in the ammonia fumes or poop from the litter box, but I honestly don’t know if that’s truly what the doctor said, or her interpretation or even an excuse.
2. Yes, toxoplasmosis is dangerous for pregnant women; it can cause miscarriage or birth defects. But it’s not easy to contract, and if you take precautions such as using gloves and washing your hands after scooping the litter box (or even just one or the other), the chances that you’ll contract it – especially from an indoor-only cat – are just about nil. I don’t know this woman or her kids, but I would suggest that they’re both old enough to scoop the litter box. (I don’t know if she’s married/ in a relationship where the other adult could/ would scoop.) You can read more about toxoplasmosis here.
3. KarmaCat pointed out – and is correct – that Buster is #14, not #13. Clearly, I cannot count at ALL. Perhaps when you don’t know how many cats you have, you have too many?
4. If you’re newish, you can read about Buster’s litter, The Bookworms, here. Long story still long but shortened a bit, they were a litter of four kittens (Buster was then known as Bolitar, then there was Corbie, Reacher, and Rhyme) who were found near where Fred used to work. Fred being a known cat lover around there, they called and alerted him to the fact. He brought them home, and we fostered them for Challenger’s House. They initially tested positive for FIV, but that was because their mother was FIV positive, and in time the kittens converted to FIV negative (which has been rechecked several times, and they’re all definitely negative). Once they were determined to be truly negative, they were neutered and started going to Petsmart, two at a time. Reacher and Corbie were absolutely terrified at being in the cage at Petsmart, so we switched out Buster and Rhyme and brought them home, and then I don’t remember why we ended up bringing Buster and Rhyme home, but at this time last year I was pretty sure we were going to end up with all four Bookworms as permanent residents. Only, one day a woman saw Buster’s picture in the book at Petsmart (which has all the Challenger’s House cats who are available for adoption) and wanted to meet him. I did NOT want to give Buster up, so I took Rhyme with me in hopes that she’d fall in love with him instead. She didn’t look twice at Rhyme, but wanted Buster, and that’s how Buster ended up leaving me. (Corbie’s a permanent resident here, of course. Reacher went to live with Kathy in Birmingham and is happy as can be. Rhyme was adopted from Petsmart; I’ve not heard any updates on him, but I hope he’s happy wherever he is!)
I mentioned that we let Buster out to explore the house on Friday. He ventured upstairs, and I think that he was getting overwhelmed, because he was getting hissy and growly. I called up to him to come downstairs, and he ignored me. Then I went upstairs and did the “KittyKittyKitty!” call, and he ignored me. I thought, now how am I going to get him back into the guest bedroom to calm him down?!, then I had an idea…
I stood in the guest bedroom and I called/ sang “Little bitty kitties, little bitty, little bitty!”, which was the song I sang at snack time when the Bookworms were little. I used to give the big cats their snack in the kitchen and the Bookworms theirs in the guest bedroom so that the big cats wouldn’t muscle the Bookworms away from their snacks. I always called the Bookworms to the guest bedroom with that song.
On Friday, the instant I started singing that song, Buster FLEW down the stairs and into the guest bedroom. (And then of course I had to go get him a small snack!) He remembers. It might not be a conscious memory, but somewhere in his mind is etched that song, and for the rest of his life, even if he doesn’t hear that song for months and months, when he does hear it, it will call him to me.
You guys all want to know, of course, does he remember us? I think he does. When he was with us before, if he got all whiny and drama queen-y, I would mock him by saying, in a babytalking voice, “I’m da BAY-bee!”, and he’d respond by meowing some more, and it would go on and on. He remembers that – or he responds as though he does, anyway.
Does he remember Corbie? I think he does, and I think he remembers all the other cats, too. Because when Fred let Jake in to visit with Buster, they sniffed each other intently… and then they rubbed up against each other. When Fred let Buster out of the guest bedroom on Saturday and Buster ran out into the back yard with the other cats, what was amazing was that the reaction was a complete nonreaction. None of the cats except for Alice (who, let me remind you, wasn’t here when Buster left in December) reacted to him at all.
They were all just like ::shrug:: “yeah, it’s Buster. So?”
I witnessed Corbie and Buster sniffing each other, and rubbing against each other, but there hasn’t really been any snuggling. I expect there will be, and I just hope I have the camera close at hand when it does!
In the past day Buster has been pretty quiet and low-key. I think he might be sad. I think he probably misses his other family – there were two kids, and I’m sure they gave him lots of attention. She sent a big box of toys and a nice cat bed with him, and there are toys in there that it seems like a kid made – a toy with a piece of string around it to use like a teaser – and I’m sure he has no idea what happened. I’m sure he was happy in his other home, and I’m sure he misses his kids and his routine. He’s eating just fine and using the litter box, and even exploring the house, but he’s just quiet and sleeping a lot and I feel sad for him. I know he’ll adjust and I know it’ll take time and he’ll never have to go through this upset again, but I sure wish I could explain to him that everything will be okay.
The little Peppers (or Peppers v2.0, as I’m calling them, heh) are doing well. They are so much more bright-eyed than they were a week ago. I know that Charlie’s actually been playing, and I suspect that Patty might be playing a bit, too. I saw her bat at Charlie’s tail yesterday. He’ll actually run after a toy – he’s acting more and more like a real kitten – but she’s less active than he is. She’s more of an observer at this point, at least when I’m in the room with them. They both purr if you pet them, and Charlie especially loves a good belly rub, but neither of them meows or chirps or makes any noise. I’d really like to hear their voices!
On Saturday I let them out of the cage and set the bathroom up (pile of fleece blankets and cat bed in one corner, litter box in another) so they could be free instead of staying in the cage. I can occasionally hear him batting toys around, and every now and then one of the toys makes it under the door out of the bathroom, and I kick it back in.
We had moved them out of the guest bedroom into the bathroom so that we could put Buster in the guest bedroom; now that Buster’s out in the house 24/7, we’ll probably move the little ones back into the guest bedroom in a few more days, so they really have room to run around.
He is so protective of her – they sleep curled up together most of the time, and he’s always curled around her with one leg over her, or his chin hooked over her. I told Fred, she’s his body pillow! Even when he’s on the other side of the bathroom playing, he stops every now and then to look over at her and make sure she’s okay. Such a sweet little man.
The big Peppers have been given more room to roam, also. I put the gate across the end of the hallway (this is a half-door that Fred made so that we can see over it, but the kittens can’t get over it), and opened the door to the foster room. This gives them most of the hallway, the upstairs bathroom, and my bedroom to run around in. As always seems to happen on the first day when kittens get more room, they came out of the foster room to explore a little, but went back to the foster room to sleep. The second day, they napped on my bed for a while, then went back to the foster room. Day three, they spent more time in my room than in the foster room, and this morning they were waiting at the door to be let out so they could run around.
(They go back into the foster room at night, of course.)
I’ll give them ’til this weekend, and then Saturday morning I’ll open the gate and give them the run of the house. I expect they’ll deal well with that after a few days (they always do), and then it’ll just be a matter of them spending the night in the foster room and their days hanging out in various spots through the house. (I’m sure they’ll end up in the cat beds on my desk. That’s what usually happens!)
They had their last vaccinations Sunday which means they’re ready to go, so it’s just a matter of time ’til there’s space for them at Petsmart. For now, I intend to enjoy them as much as possible!
2010: God, Corby. I wish you’d learn to relax a little. You’re stressing me out!
2009: I told Fred the other night that if we were going to keep Sam (which we’re not), I’d have to rename him Tigger, because he bounces! all! over! the! place!
2008: No entry.
2007: Later, when I relayed the experience to Fred, he said “You realize that during your entire story, the Benny Hill music was playing in the back of my head, right?”
2006: Meeting Maddy.
2005: What is it with kitties loving to chew on wet hair?