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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.

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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!

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He was long and lanky when he left us – and now he is very much NOT!

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.

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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.

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Howdy there, Patty Peppers.

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She seems to be growing into her big round belly; it’s not quite as big as it was.

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Tandem giggles.

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“Who, us? What?”

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She’s still quite a bit smaller than he is – but they’ve both gained a substantial amount of weight in the last week!

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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!

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Sally Peppers.

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Harlan Peppers.

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Everett Peppers.

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Wild thang.

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Maxi, hanging out in the back yard.


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?



9-13-11 — 28 Comments

  1. Darn it, Robyn, I’ve been spending much of this morning going over the Bookworms’ pages! (That also means, of course, savoring Maura’s impersonation of a mama-to-be — and then, sadly, remembering that she passed away. What a lovely, and clever, girl she was.) What I noticed first was how much darker Buster’s suave goatee has gotten: he’s really become a swashbuckler, and I hope he’ll be a jolly one in no time, poor sensitive boy. Thanks for filling us in on his prior family. I’m sure he enjoyed the kids, but he’s back in Paradise, where he so belongs! Hope little Patty will heal up soon. Isn’t she lucky to have Charlie. Hail to their half-siblings, who are looking great (unsurprisingly…). Hope you and Fred are well.

  2. I’m so happy to see Charlie and Patty looking healthier. They’ve got some serious kitten fuzz going on, which is so cute. Is Patty still wormy?

    Aw Buster, poor little man! He’s such a handsome lad too; and sensitive. All he needs now is a good paying stable job, a couple credit cards and a car…

    • I need to get a sample to the vet so they can test both of them for parasites and see if the meds worked, but if I had to guess, I’d say she’s probably just about worm-free! 🙂

  3. “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.” – That choked me up!

    Maxi is sooooo beautiful! It amazes me how black cats are least adopted! I think they are stunning!

    Buster will be just fine! I am glad he is back home.

    All the wee babies….kisses to all!

  4. Its complicated isnt it? no wonder you had trouble counting!
    The poor lady who had Buster may well be having a difficult pregnancy, after all she has quite a gap from older child to baby , and Buster must have been well cared for..poor family..poor cat at least you are able to pick him up and keep hom for ever..I hope his previous family are ok.
    In my own expreiance they are much stricter to pregnant ladies about what you should or shouldnt be doing than they used to be, and I know why..historically the USA and UK have a higher rate of neonatal deaths and stillbirths than you would expect and since I had mine they have discovered all sorts of things that can very rarely cause these negative outcomes. This was all just starting to be realised when I had my daughter, the young woman in the bed opposite me lost her baby at 4 days ,probably to Listeria or Toxoplasmosis.Yes its very rare but who would take the risks once aware of them? we shouldnt judge others just pray for them.
    God Bless the good work you do.

    • True, diddleymaz, we really shouldn’t judge. But I have to admit that my judginess on this matter has been way undercut by my joy at having Buster home again. More than being irritated that she would give the Best! Cat! Ever! up, I’m sad because he’s confused, but so so happy that he’s here with us again. Perhaps it was really meant to be. 🙂

  5. Robyn, does Challenger’s House ever insist that a pair of kittens be adopted together? I would hate to see Charlie and Patty split up. They seem extremely bonded.

    • Jen, I believe they do. (I know of an older pair of girls who were so bonded to each other that when they were split up, they had to be returned because they were so sad without each other that they wouldn’t eat!) Of course, things might change as they get bigger, but at this point I’m thinking I’m going to strongly suggest that they have to go as a pair.

  6. I think Charlie and Patty should go as a pair, too. They are so close. I always suggest people adopt two kittens–especially if everyone is gone during work and school hours. The two can keep each other company or just know they aren’t alone while snoozin’ all day.

    • I agree. I have a 2 yr old and a 5 mth old. I have to say, when I brought the baby home, my 2 yr old ADORED her. If the baby cried, he was there, he cleaned her bottom, made sure she ate first and kept her clean and warm. She thinks he is the bee’s knees and they are inseparateable (I even have a pic of them in the litter box together)!

      • GD, when people post comments, I get them in my email inbox, and when I read yours, I thought you were talking about a human baby and a 2 year-old cat for some reason. I am laughing so hard right now!

  7. Do you ever take knit cat pads for when they go to the shelter. I like making them and would oh so love to that they are going with kitties I read about religiously 🙂

    • Mindy, I try to always send them with a little blanket, but if I had some knit pads, I would certainly send one with each of them! 🙂

  8. Cats remember things just fine, and for a long time too. When I was in graduate school I would go visit my family for the holidays and my cat Cassie was fed in one of the bedrooms due to worries about conflicts with the resident cats.

    Every year after that she would wait in the kitchen for food with the others and lead you to the same bedroom to put it down so she could eat it. If you put it down somewhere else she would give you a reproachful look until you moved it where it ought to go.

    Repeat each year for 11 or 12 years.

  9. How funny about the “little bitty kitties” song! I had a litter of 4 kittens that I rescued, and I would sing “All the Little Kitties” (to the tune of Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies) to them when I needed them to come to me. (“If you like it then you need to put some milk on it…”) I still use it when I can’t find Trixie (she was the runt and I fell in love and kept her) and she usually comes out.

    Poor sensitive Buster…I hope he gets back to his happy self soon. And I’m sorry for whatever circumstances caused the mom to give him up, especially if the kids were attached to him. But obviously Buster had some issues there if he was having litterbox accidents. (Hope it isn’t urinary tract related – my Baal had FUS issues his entire 16 years, and it made him pee more upright than straight down. I found that a high sided, covered box stopped the over the side problems.)

    Sweet Charlie and Patty! They definitely need to stay together if at all possible! I look forward to their pictures and to them feeling more playful every day!

    • Your song is cracking me UP, Amy!

      There actually weren’t any litterbox issues at his other home until she bought the automatic litter box, which was apparently lower than the ones Buster was used to. He hasn’t had any problems since I brought him home, he’s using the litter box just fine and believe me I’ve been watching (probably making him paranoid!)

  10. Some doctors are very paranoid about pregnant women and cats, this is becoming a problem on this side of the water with some people really believing their cats will kill their babies if they don’t give them up.

    I try to explain to people that while there is a small danger, just using gloves and a mask (or even better have another family member clean the box) solves the problem nicely.

    When we had a pregnant (and later new baby) here at the house (friends living with us for a few months) we had to hide the at pans from the social worker (they always do at least one home visit here) because some social workers will “report” cat pans, or so the rumors go.

    Buster will be fine, I’m sure he misses the kids (who probably are desolate at this point, if I were Mom I’d worry about them blaming the baby for losing their kitty) but he will remember his friends and his old house. We’ve had a few “returns” over the years (usually from circumstances totally beyond their new person’s control) and they always settle back in after a few weeks, as if they had never left.

  11. Awww, poor Buster. He is such a beautiful, sweet boy. I’m sure he will settle back in just fine after awhile.

  12. Aw, how sweet that Buster responded to your song! He’ll settle in soon and won’t be sad any more I’m sure. The fact that he remembered and ran outside right away sounds like he was happy about that! I hope hope hope you get a picture of him and Corbie together soon!
    About those automatic litter boxes, I know of two types, the ones that rake it when they leave and the one that tumbles so the stuff goes into a little holding area. The rake ones can freak them out because of the noise if they havent left the area when it starts, making them afraid to use it. (One of my cats stands outside the box for about five minutes when she’s done, scratching walls and floors like she’s still trying to cover even though she’s not actually IN the box any more…) The tumble ones coat all the sides until it’s like being in a tunnel of poo which most cats can’t deal with, so they’ll tend to hang out the side. I used to think one of those would be great, but now I don’t think it’s worth trying.
    Peppers v2.0 are too cute! I hope they get adopted together too. Just curious, why the same last name instead of a new one?

  13. Oh I hope the tiny pepper duo is adopted together. So sweet how he looks out for her.

    Buster- Can you play him the song “Ooh Child?” by the Five Stairsteps while petting him? Maybe it will make him feel better.

    Do you think he was an emotional eater at his old place? Maybe he knows he is going to be put on a little reduction diet now and that is sad for him too. 🙂

  14. is it wrong of me to adore the fact you miscounted your kitties?? I just can’t stop smiling over that.. Seems wrong, I’m not sure why, but I do.. so I hope if you think it is wrong you forgive me.. 🙂

    And I love that Buster came running for the song.. so precious!!

  15. How nice to see Buster home again and being treated welcomingly by the other cats. I wish I had so much luck with a large population. I have four, and I feel like their hierarchy is rather fragile…

  16. Awww, poor Buster but he’s back in his real home now. You know, I truely believe they understand everything we say to them. Whether they choose to act on it another matter altogether…So tell Buster that he’s home and with his brother and his forever mum and dada and he’ll do ok. Yeah, he will probably still need a few days but it will ease his little heart to know he’s safe and loved. And maybe give him some ressue remedy? Eh, just put it in the water, it won’t work for the kitties that don’t need it.
    Oh, yay, it’s a happy and sad thing that Buster has come home.
    And Charlie and Patty are gorgeous together…till she grows up and he has to smack her! Brothers can be like that, you know? (Isn’t that right, Bello?)

    • his forever “dad” that is unless of course Fred wants Buster to call him ‘dada’…

  17. I sing “She Drive Me Crazy”, the Fine Young Cannibals song to my two, but change the lyrics as necessary.

    You drive me crazy, ooh ooh./I don’t like it. Ooh ooh./ You drive me crazy / you’re such a yowly ca-ah-ah-at. Ooh ooh…”

    It calms my cats right down. I even sang it to my oldest at the vet’s a couple of weeks ago. The vet loved it, too!

  18. Buster was always my favourite, and I was seriously considering about driving from North Dakota to Alabama to get him way back when. I realize now that he’s all grown up that it has to be because aside from his little goatee, he looks IDENTICAL to my childhood cat, whom I miss more then anything, even years since he passed. I must have sub consciously known how he’d grow up to be the spitting image of Pepper.
    Anywho, love seeing old kitties happy, and baby kitties happy and teenaged kitties happy. YAY HAPPY KITTIES!

  19. That’s so cute that he remembered the song. I remember you singing it one day when I was there or was that a video you posted…both? Anyway, glad he’s doing so well and the memories are coming back to him. When you mentioned the kids I am kind of sad for him and them because if they made him toys I bet they miss him, too. He’ll do great there with you once he settles and finds snuggle buddies and play buddies.