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My Week in Cats.

Remember how about a week and a half ago, I told you how two new cats showed up within a day of each other, and I hoped they weren’t dumped? Well, as it turns out we’ve only glimpsed Newman once or twice since then, and both times he was heading to a particular house down the road. I’m guessing that he belongs to them (that, or maybe they offer better food than we do!) and was just coming by here to visit.

Rufus, on the other hand, stuck around. We weren’t seeing him all the time, but we were seeing him several times a day, and very often he was either watching or hunting birds in the side yard. He had no interest in making friend with us – any time we set foot outside, he ran to a safe distance and kept an eye on us. But any time he saw one of our cats in the back yard, his tail would pop straight up, and several times we saw him rubbing against the fence with one of our cats on the other side giving him disgusted “I don’t KNOW you, stop that!” looks.

The more I watched him, the more concerned I got. “If that isn’t a pregnant female, that’s a female getting ready to go into heat,” I fretted. And “Doesn’t that LOOK like a pregnant cat? Look at the belly!” Finally, around dinnertime on Sunday, with bad weather on the way, I looked out to see Rufus sitting under one of the bird feeders, eating bird seed that had been knocked to the ground.

“Oh god, he’s so hungry he’s eating bird seed!” I said. “I think maybe you need to get out there and trap him. He’s going to go off and have kittens in the woods, and we’ll never get hold of them!”

“There’s cat food on the side porch!” Fred objected.

“He’s too scared to come up on the side porch because whenever he does, you rush out there and try to touch him!” I said.

We dithered about it for a while longer, and then finally I gave the go-ahead for Fred to trap him. Fred went out to get Newt and bring him inside (so he wouldn’t end up in the trap), and Rufus ran off behind the garage. Fred set up the trap, baited it with mackerel, and then came back inside.

Literally, in less than three minutes, Rufus was inside that trap, freaking out about being trapped.

We got the foster room set up, and then Fred brought Rufus – trap and all – upstairs, opened it, and let him out.

This was Rufus on Sunday.



Fred kept going in and spending time with Rufus Sunday evening – we were still unable to get a look at Rufus’s back end, so didn’t know yet whether we were dealing with a pregnant female or not – and Rufus was pretty freaked out. When we first let him out of the trap, he jumped up onto the window sill in an attempt to get out. He finally ended up under the cat tree for the most part.

At one point, Fred was in there with Rufus, and I was in the bedroom changing my clothes, and he called “I… I need some help in here!” As it turned out, he needed paper towels and cleaning spray, and I brought them in to him, expecting to see that Rufus had had an accident.

Rufus had had an accident, alright. There was poop ON THE WALL five feet up, and several feet away there was more poop on the window sill. Fred mumbled something about how Rufus had jumped up on the window sill and pooped, then jumped up on the cat tree and… actually, I don’t remember exactly how he explained away the wall poop. But he later confessed that he’d tried to pick Rufus up, and Rufus lost his mind, did some ninja moves, and Bob’s yer uncle, there was poop on the wall. Not a small amount either, mind you.

Fred was able to pet Rufus on Sunday and put Advantage on him to kill any fleas, but that was about it.

Monday afternoon, he was able to determine that Rufus was not, in fact, a pregnant female but a male. Rufus wasn’t actually coming out to be petted or anything, but if we pulled him out of his hiding place under the cat tree, he’d sit in our laps and purr.

Rufus Tuesday:





By the time Fred got home from work Wednesday, Rufus was coming over to us (with some coaxing) to be petted. With Fred’s permission, I made the appointment on Friday to have Rufus tested and neutered. Fred and I approach the whole visit to the vet thing completely differently when it comes to the cats who show up in our yard. I prefer to whisk them off to the vet immediately to have them tested and (if they’re old enough) fixed, to get it over with. Fred, on the other hand, doesn’t want to “traumatize” them, and prefers to wait. Since he’s in charge of taming semi-ferals, I usually let him have his way.



Rufus tested negative (thank god) and his fecal showed that he only had some easily-treated worms. This was an amazing bit of news, because almost every cat we have coming through here tests positive for either giardia (HATE giardia) or coccidia (HATE coccidia).

We brought Rufus home and settled him in the guest bedroom. He reverted to his scaredy-cat ways at first, but now he’s pretty much coming out and letting us give him love. Since we know he’s safe for the other cats to be around, we’ve let Jake in to hang out with him. Rufus was very excited to see Jake, but Jake takes a little while to warm up, and so far is only hissing and smacking at Rufus. I’m sure that’ll change in time.


We’ll work with Rufus, and when he’s tamed enough (and there’s room at Petsmart), he’ll go to be adopted.

The vet estimated his birth date as August 1st of last year, which puts him at about 7 months old. Fred prefers to think that Rufus is from the same litter as Alice, who he prefers to think of as from the same litter as Marty.

On Tuesday, I got an email from the Challenger’s House manager. We’d emailed back and forth since we brought Rufus inside, getting her permission to make him a Challenger’s House foster, and she wondered if we wanted a pregnant cat to foster as well.

Did I? Of course I did! BUT Fred is still doing the bulk of the work around here, and so I told him it was up to him. That I wanted a pregnant cat, but if he didn’t want to, I wouldn’t give him a hard time. He hemmed and hawed about it, but ultimately said that he didn’t want to put Rufus in the guest bedroom, thus closing off a second room and perhaps causing our cats to go on a rage-induced peeing extravaganza.

So I told her no, but that in a few weeks I’d take any pregnant mamas or kittens that came along.

She understood, of course, but she is a wily, wily one. Because she sent out an email on Thursday to a bunch of Challenger’s House foster moms saying that in recent days she’d had calls from various places and needed foster homes for two pregnant cats and a cat with some 4 month-old kittens and two additional (almost year-old) kittens. I forwarded the email to Fred.

He said that if I wanted to take a pregnant cat it was okay with him, but he was NOT ready to let go of Rufus yet (Susan had said in the email on Tuesday that if we wanted to take the pregnant cat, Rufus could go to the shelter, but Fred is determined to keep Rufus here ’til he’s ready for Petsmart). I said we could put Rufus in the guest bedroom and just deal with the fallout from our cats. He said that as long as getting the cat into our house didn’t make extra work for him (in other words, he didn’t want to have to make a special trip to get her or anything), then okay.

So when we picked Rufus up from the vet on Friday, we also picked up one of the pregnant cats (who had been delivered that morning to be tested) and brought her home, too.

Her story, quickly, is that her owners moved and left her. (Grrr.) A guy who lived in the neighborhood fed her for a few weeks and another local organization referred him to Challenger’s House.

She’s a sweet, friendly girl, to my relief. We brought her home and set her free in the foster room, and she explored, hissed a few times, and then decided we were okay.

She’s carrying low! Must be boys!

I love how it looks like she’s wearing a caramel-colored bikini bottom.

She loves a good belly rub.


Honestly, I kind of thought that by the time I got this entry written and posted, I’d be reporting not that we have a pregnant cat, but that we have a momma cat and kittens! She is huge, and as they said at the vet’s, she’s ready to pop.

She’s eating a LOT. Saturday I gave her a small can of food, and she’d eaten it all in less than two minutes. She’s constantly visiting her bowl of kibble.

Given that Thursday is St. Patrick’s day, I’m going with an Irish naming theme. Momma kitty has been named Mary Margaret McMao, and we’ll be calling her Maggie.

I have a list of Irish names suggested last year that I’m planning to pull from. I’m going to list them below, but y’all feel free to add more! The names that are crossed out can’t be used because they’ve been used in the past by previous Challenger’s House cats.



As a note, the first name that came to mind when I knew we were getting a pregnant cat was Siobhan. I emailed Fred and asked his opinion, and he said:

Absolutely not. a) that name annoys me. If it’s gonna sound like it has a ‘V’ in it, it better have a ‘V’ in it. b) Hell’s Kitchen

(He loathed Siobhan, who was on Hell’s Kitchen last season or the season before or whenever the last season was that we watched it. I don’t remember that season and I don’t remember who won, but I certainly remember Fred’s hatred for Siobhan.)

So those are the names under consideration (obviously, I have no clue how many or of what sex kittens we’ll end up with); if you have a favorite, feel free to suggest it!


And now we’re officially on BABYWATCH 2011.

Signs that she’s ready to go into labor NOW: She’s restless and when we visit with her, she doesn’t spend much time sitting or laying down, she’s always on the move. She’s got prominent nipples (I feel like a perv saying that, but it’s TRUE.)

Sign that she’s planning to wait a while: She’s eating like a horse, and I’ve heard/read that her appetite will drop off in the day or so before she goes into labor. Her nipples are pale pink (I feel like someone told me they’d get dark before she went into labor) and her milk sacs, though defined if you really pay attention and feel around, are not full.

Hopefully it happens soon. I can’t wait to get some babies in this house! (Assuming all goes well, she’ll be taking care of them for the first few weeks, and I get to just swoop in and be Fun Auntie Robyn, with the petting and kissing and none of the bottle feeding or bottom wiping!)

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Maggie has a very distinctive “voice.” When we walk into the room, she comes over and talks to us. I had to get it on video, of course, so y’all could hear her too.

YouTube link

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Loony Jake, enjoying the sun and warm weather. His little face just cracks me UP.


2010: Hoyt and Bill updates.
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



3-14-11 — 33 Comments

  1. First of all, Fred is a saint. And so are you, Robyn. Second of all (or is it third), that mommacat is just gorgeous. I love the classic tabbies with their rich belly colors. And I think she said that she was going to give you 13 kittens — I’m tellin’ you, she’s HUGE! Third, Fred is a cat whisperer to get Rufus to that point so quickly. The whole poop on the wall thing demands some crime scene string and trajectory analysis. πŸ™‚

  2. What a wonderful and satisfying post! Rufus definitely qualifies as a save and a beauty, and I can’t wait to see how many sprogs your raspy voiced charmer has. Hope you’re mending well!

  3. I just love the Rufus Tuesday pictures! He is a sweetie for sure. And after I listened to the Mama movie, one of my cats started calling from the other room–pretty funny coincidence!

  4. I love finding names. Girls: Mary Katherine, Catriona, Bridie, Colleen, Daraleigh, Eithne, Ena (my fave), Fenella, Finola, Imogen, Keeley, Maille, Neve, Orla, Quinn, Saiorse (pronounced Seer-shah), Tieranae

    Boys:, Callaghan, Callam, Cormac, Connor, Dara, Declan, Donavan, Finian, Flynn, Ganin, Grady, Kavan, Lorcan, Quinn, Padraig, Rohnan, Shane, Sullivan (Sully)

  5. Sorry we haven’t posted lately, we got behind too. We’ve had quite the crisis here with our “baby” (who’ll be 9 yrs old in August MOL), so we’re a bit out of the loop. We think Toby would be a good boy name, but you could get a lot of cool names from sci-fi like star trek and star wars, just PLEASE no jar jar MOL.

  6. As an Irish Lass I vote for Colleen for a kitty name. And a second vote for Bridget. Doesn’t hurt that my name is really Colleen and Bridget is my sister *hee hee hee* My parents were going to name me Siobhan but my Dad veto’d it for the same reason Fred did.

    I like that Rufus was a purr-weasel even before he would generally come over for pets. I hope the Permanent Residents keep their pee where they pee should be cause I’m mega-stoked to see the new kittens πŸ™‚ Gestate well, Miss Mary Margaret!

  7. Rufus is the grey version of my (orange) RD – it’s uncanny! The 4th photo of Rufus on Tuesday had me do a double take: it’s RD’s favourite pose, complete with lovebug eyes… He’s one gorgeous boy!

  8. I just named my newborn son Finnegan so I vote for that!! My husband’s name is Patrick so I’m sad to see that crossed off.

  9. Rufus is one heck of a cool dude, love how he’s laying on your lap and made himself at home…as for the poop on the wall, oh well, if a stranger trapped me and then tried to pick me up, I’d probably poop on the wall too…just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

    Momma cat is quite gorgeous and what a talker…my kitties all perked up when they heard her voice…she was probably saying something about treats or tuna or some other interesting tidbits…and LOL at her caramel colored bikini bottom πŸ™‚

  10. “Absolutely not. a) that name annoys me. If it’s gonna sound like it has a β€˜V’ in it, it better have a β€˜V’ in it. b) Hell’s Kitchen”

    Heh – I knew I liked Fred for a reason. πŸ™‚

  11. Fred needs to learn Gaelic!
    How about Deidre? as a proper Irish girls name.
    and seeing as St Patrick was actually Welsh why not Rhiannon (it means goddess) my daughters name or Dafydd,(yes, Fred in Welsh an f is a V!and DD is TH) Geraint,or Huw ? my sons names .Mind you can anyone in USA say Geraint? I know lots of people in UK cant!!

  12. Wasnt it this time last year you thought Maura was pregnant and she was just hungry?! I’m glad you actually have a pregenant mama this time!
    Name suggestions

    Dafydd/Daffy (we have a cat named this, and I know how much you like nick names!)
    Orla (It means Golden Lady, so if you get and orange or light tabby baby girls)

    And for those who are suggesting Quinn, in Gaelic, Quinn means “Queen”. It’s my sisters name, and I always used to laugh at males with it. Just so you’re aware.
    But can’t wait for the babies!

  13. Yup, I think you’ve really got a pregnant one this year. Poor Maura, I’m still sad about her.

    Can’t wait to see those babies!!!!

  14. that Rufus, what a love!!

    and I hope your babywatch goes faster then my last one. My last pregnant mom was “ready to pop” when I brought her home, and 30 days later she finally “popped”

    Come on Mary Margaret, we want to see those babies!!

  15. Hi Rufus! Welcome to the good life, pretty boy. Glad you’re warming up. πŸ™‚ Yikes about the poo on the wall though, eww.

    Oh gosh, Mary Margaret McMao! I keep goofing and wanting to say/think Mary Margaret McBride, which is just lovely. *pets the awesome, raspy-voiced momkitty*

    As for kitten names, let’s see. Callahan makes me think of Spider Robinson’s Callahans series of books, but if there’s a big ginger/orange boy kitten, it could totally work. Then again, there *was* Diane Duane’s A Wizard Abroad in the Young Wizards series, where one of the Callahan girls ended up on temporary assignment in Ireland… πŸ™‚ Ahem. I rather like Tara, thanks to the Hill of Tara story. Ditto Fergus for a boy, though it’ll forever remind me of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee’s Fergus. Aww. πŸ™‚ What about Kathleen or Claire, for County Claire? Hmm, or Ronan, for Ronan Nolan. There I go with Young Wizards again.

    @Diddleymaz I can pronounce Geraint, thanks to a suspected Welsh heritage (not confirmed, but I like to think it’s true) and a Welsh choir director! I’m no relation to that choir director, but she did teach me to pronounce Geraint properly.

  16. I immediately thought of Bridget, but I can see some folks beat me to that one. What about Erin for a girl?

    Wow, you guys really went from 0 to 60 with the fosters over the week! Good luck to you and Maggie. I totally love her voice — so quacky.

  17. Oh, and Rufus is freaking adorable. What a beautiful fellow! And what ninja skills with the poop!

  18. That picture of Rufus lying against your chest and looking up at you was so lovely, given his skittishness, that it made me cry. I’m totally smitten with him.

    Sending Miss Maggie lots of good kitten birthin’ vibes and belly rubs.

  19. Oh my stars!! The change in Rufus is amazing!! Aawwwww he’s adorable!! He’s lovely, thank you for watching over him Robyn and Fred!!! Lovely,lovely cat!!

    Awwwww Mama Cat is AMAZING!! She’s utterly, utterly lovely!!! Awwwwwwwwwwww wow!!! I love all your names for the kitties to be!!!! What an amazing time to be waiting for!! Yay!!!

    Hugs to you all – special hugs to mama and Rufus!! take care

  20. Big, big hugs to Rufus!! I know you’re just going to stay on track for becoming one cuddly lap cat!

    And… squeeeeeee! No matter how many babies the lovely Maggie delivers, they’re in one of the best places in the world… St. Robyn and St. Fred, indeed!!!

    Looks like you’ve got oodles of names, so I’ll refrain. May I suggest NetFlixing “Ballykissangel” so that Fred can shed his Siobhan phobia? Siobhan is a terrific vet in this series!

  21. I have to tell you, the poop story had me laughing so hard that my one cat who happened to be sleeping alongside me had to sit up and stare at me like, “What in the world are you doing? Have you completely lost it?”

  22. Rufus is a doll and didn’t take long at all for him to learn this inside gig is good stuff!

    I love Maggie’s name. I have a Maggie, your Maggie looks like my Leo and she sounds like my Scully (who was my first foster and a momma with 5 babies). Love the Irish theme! Can’t wait to see these babies! I thought you’d already seen that e-mail when you said you weren’t ready yet so I was surprised to read you took one of the mommas.

  23. i’ve always liked the names kiera and brendan, and i’m fairly certain they both have irish origins.

  24. Awwww, Rufus is beautiful!! And wow towards Maggie’s belly. My old family kitty used to sound somewhat like Maggie. Except he did it only when he was hungry. It meant, “Look, I’m so pitiful and I’m starving and my voice is crooaking, save me! Save me with food!”

  25. Wow, leave you alone for a three day long weekend and you’ve got cats comin’ out of the wood work when I check back in – wow!
    I like the squeaky mumma – Deidre is a nice name. Rufus is the name of one of my wizard characters. OK, so i haven’t quite written the story yet but i know he’s at a convention and i know he’s having fun…

    Corbie is a genius. And, as I have hinted at the approaching motehrship before, he’s teleporter creating capabilities should surprise no-one. He’s just waiting for his command to be formalised…

    In case anyone was wondering, I hear cat island in Japan is ok – phew!

    oh,and Callum, Quinn and Connor are pretty cool boys’ names. Though Quinn could be a girl…

  26. I agree that if you have a girl kitten (or a few), you need to use the name Deidre!

  27. If you need someone to help you cuddle and kiss kittens….just give me a call! [swoon]

  28. You could go with geographic names…cities-Dublin,Killarney,Wicklow,Galway or counties-Cork,Limerick,Clare, Kerry,Donegal,Kilkenny.

    I’m not from Ireland, just have an affinity for it. Take a look at a map – might be some fun names for the kitties.

  29. holy crap, the poo on the walls has me rofling over here!

    are you still considering irish names now that it’s the 22nd and counting?

    • Yeah, I’m still going to go with Irish names. God knows when I’ll ever get the chance to go with that naming theme again. πŸ™‚