It’s been suggested I start sharing my experiences of owning a menagerie here as I love to share the antics of my furkids. This way, more people get to read their antics and not just my facebook friends. So here’s an introduction of my menagerie.
I have 2 dogs, both 13 years of age. Cleo is my terrier shih tzu x (although I believe she’s also one part vacuum, one of these days, I’ll do a DNA to confirm this, she’s also one part dish washer and… annoyingly.. 1 part washing machine). Her birthday is in December. I adopted Cleo when she was only a year old from a rescue called Companions For Life located in Portland NSW run by Andrea, a wonderful lady to know. Cleo is my soul mate, my angel, my baby sister who sadly these days, is going deaf and blind but still has a remarkable knack of finding food even where there is none. Cleo is already a star in her own right as you may have already read her story in PetRescue’s first published book, “Amazing Dog Stories”. Look for “Happy Birthday Cleo” on page 67 which ironically, is also my birth year! Weird, huh!
Milly is my maltese shih tzu. By the time I was ready to adopt Milly, I’d recently lost another senior girl, my beautiful Opal, and Cleo was heartbroken and mourning. She was ready for a new sister, and I was ready for a new furbaby, but this time, I wanted one to match Cleo’s age that would put her in her place. Cleo was an 8 year old by this time and was developing an attitude that she was the boss of the house and she could tell all the other furkids what to do, and I was determined to not let this go to her head. Anyway, when we were both ready, I once again let Cleo sit on my lap and look through the images on the computer of the dogs at a nearby pound, Cleo’s done this before, this would be her 4th sister, she had helped me choose two prior to this one. I made note of the ones that got Cleo’s attention, and as it turned out, there was only one that Cleo was really interested in. This adorable little “Cousin It” of a girl. All you could see was a pile of fur and a massive underbite, but oh what a pretty smile. So, through a friend (as my mobility is limited), I adopted Milly who at the time, I wanted to name Missy. But whilst waiting for “Missy” to come home, the name Milly got into my head, and no matter how much I tried to shake this feeling, (I had my heart set on Missy), the name Milly wouldn’t leave my thoughts. So I compromised and when “Missy” came to me, I called her “Miss Milly”. By the end of the week, however, Milly made it quite clear that I could drop the Missy, she was going to answer to Milly, and that was final! Oh she was head strong! Turns out her birthday is in April, 5 days after mine, so she’s an Aries. And on the very first day she arrived, she made sure everyone, including Cleo, know who’s boss. Not in an aggressive way, she couldn’t be aggressive if she tried, she’s got no top teeth, but she used her whole body language in an assertive way to make it clear to everyone that she’s no pushover and she did it in the way a mother controls her pups, much to Cleo’s surprise.
It didn’t take Milly long to befriend all the cats, it was like she said to them, “I’m your new big sister, we’re going to be friends, got it? good!” Don’t know what she actually told them, but all my cats adore her and look up to her… ok, more like look level to her as she’s their size… but you get the gist, and whenever Cleo or the cats gets into trouble and I try to scold them, Milly will come and defend them by placing herself between me and the others so I can’t scold them. She’s their perfect, small sized, “big sister”. It was heartbreaking when I first saw her when she came to me. When I saw her online, she was a pile of fur with a toothy smile, but before she came to me, the vet needed to shear her badly matted fur so they could desex (spay) her. What came to me was an undersized skeletal thin little dog that looked unrecognisable from the little girl in the pound pic. This little girl who’s ideal weight is supposed to be approx. 8kg, was only 4 kgs, and you could see every single bone in her body. She literally had no stomach, I could wrap my hand around her stomach and have fingers left over. For the first week, I had to feed her 6 meals a day, spoon sized, kitten food (just so I could give her extra fat and protein). It took 3 months to give her an appearance of a stomach, another 6 months for her bones to not be so visible, and the next 5 years for me to fatten her up. Now she’s a really good weight and although she still looks quite thin, she has a pretty solid belly under her.
I have 4 cats, the oldest being Misty who started out as a kitten i was fostering, but she had the sweetest most angelic little face that I fell in love with her and she became a foster failure. When it was time for her to be desexed (spayed), because she was small for her age and weight, it took about 3 days for her to recover from the operation. She slept for most of that time having me worried that she wouldn’t pull through. The old girl I had before Milly, Opal was a sweet heart, by this time Opal was about 12 years old (I adopted her when she was 10, she was also a maltese x shih tzu), and she had sensed that Misty was not well, so she would lay next to Misty the whole time, cuddling her and keeping her close, and I think that helped Misty to recover. Misty was initially named Cruiser, but I renamed her because I initially wanted another Mitsy, but having had 3 Mitsy’s in the past, all ending their lives rather tragically, I didn’t want to jinx her with the name, so re-arranged the letters and came up with Misty.
Goldie came next, she actually came with her siblings and mum, and arrived into my care when she was less than a week old. For the first few weeks of her life, Goldie survived about 4 bouts of cat flu, sadly, her siblings didn’t. Her mum eventually found a new home through the aid of another rescue (I couldn’t keep her because she was bird obsessed, and I couldn’t keep her away from my finches), but Goldie grew into my heart and I couldn’t bring myself to part with her. I named her for the pattern on her face. Although I try not to have any favourites, I sometimes suspect Goldie is my favourite among the cats as she’s the one who’s rules are more flexible and she gets away with murder whereas the others don’t always.
At the time I was running my own rescue, TC was handed to me as an 8 week old kitten. A tiny little runt of a thing, he was the last one who came into my care and by this time, I’d run out of names, so ‘temporarily’ named him TC after the legendary cartoon character Top Cat, I figured till something better came along. With TC being the smallest, I kept him first in an enclosed area with other kittens but as the kittens, one by one, all found new homes, and as TC got bigger and bigger, he was then transferred to another enclosed area to share with other males. Again, he was overlooked as my other males found homes.. I found this strange as TC, like Misty, has the most angelic face, If he were human, it would perhaps be classed as a baby face, he always looks so innocent, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. So time passes, TC gets bigger and bigger and before I know it, TC grows into his name. He surpasses my other cats in size, and growing to be as big as my dogs. By this time, another rescue offered to help me out with finding him a home which I was more than happy to accept. Unbeknownst to myself or the other rescue, TC had already decided I was his new permanent home. When they tried to match him up with other people, he would suddenly become aggressive, growling, biting and scratching, so they gave up on him and sent him back to me. I mentioned to them that now that he’s been desexed (neutered), I’d let him out, he could be my outdoor only puss and with any luck, he’d find his own home, they thought that was a great idea. By this time, with so many cats in the pound, and kitten season in full swing, it was very hard to rehome cats, so we figured he’d have a better chance finding his own. But soon he’d make it clear to me that I was his home and to prove this, he’d never wander far from my back yard, only to perhaps hang around my front yard, but no further.
Around this time, I really didn’t want a male pet. I’ve had males in the past and found them to be too clingy and I was quite happy having just female furkids who were all temperamental, sulky, tantrum throwing and only loving me when they wanted food, which suited me fine as it matched my character. It wasn’t until one day, several months later, when I was calling TC for dinner (I would let TC in at dinner time and crate him when he’s indoors to keep him away from my birds), he’d wandered a fair distance and never heard my call. I panicked. Every day he’s always there, I’ve never had to call for him, where could he be! I’m surrounded by two highways and one freeway, plus there are yards here with guard dogs, so all sorts of horrid thoughts entered my mind. For the next two hours I fretted for TC until he casually strolled in the back door with a look that said, “is it dinnertime yet?” That’s when I realised TC had grown on me and he’d crossed the line from being a foster pet to a true furbaby. Don’t get me wrong, he’d never have known the difference, I’d treat all my furkids with the same amount of love whether they were foster kids or furkids, but the difference is, with foster kids, I’m REALLY happy when they go to their new home, with my own furkids, it’s more like “touch one hair on my furkids and you die!” That’s the only real difference, but aside from that, they all get plenty of food, they all get cuddled, and teased and tickled, and when needed, disciplined. A couple of other things I find endearing about TC is, as well as the fact that he loves routine and doesn’t mind being locked in the crate at night, he never uses his vocal chords when he meows, despite having perfect hearing, and at the end of his black tail, he has a white tip, so naturally I call him my white tipped shark. His tail is always in the air in a friendly manner, so as he approaches, it’s the first thing you see.
Flick, my 4th feline also started as a temporary puss, but it took me giving her just one tummy rub and her looking up at me endearingly that made me decide instantaneously, I’m not giving her up. Flick had a very mild case of CH (Cerebellar Hypoplasia) and when she first came to me, she bunny hopped rather than walk or run, she couldn’t jump or climb, and although Goldie (yes, Goldie) took it upon herself to show Flick how to act like a cat, Flick still gets her moments were she loses balance, and her back legs are still a little weak, but she’s developing more and more into how a cat should act, and I’m always proud with her new little achievements. Like Milly, she also has an underbite which means her eating habits are pretty messy, but aside from that, she’s still my little treasure.
Then there are my 7 rats who I adopted from a retired breeder, don’t ask me to name them, they came with names, but can’t remember what they are, and I tried to rename them, but can never remember them, so most of them often get called “hey you” and they know who I’m referring to because I point at the one I’m talking to.
Then I’ve got my 6 finches who share a cage with my 2 newest babies, 2 budgies (after much research to be sure they’d get along ok).
Now that you’ve been introduce,. sit back, grab some popcorn and wait for the antics that’ll come your way, either through images or stories as to what my furkids get up to.
I might talk for them so you get to understand the full experience, but everything I translate is not made up, it’s me reading their body language and knowing what they’re saying and thinking. For me this is easy, I don’t have a life of my own per se, my life revolves around my fur and feather kids.
So enjoy the ride. 🙂
Oh, as to myself, well.. not much to say.. I have bi-lateral lymphoedema which slows me down (tie a sack of potatoes around each leg, then try and walk), so 90% of my time is basically stuck at home, hence why I’m a captive audience for my furkids 🙂