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Thursday, May 24, 2012

She Made it a Year

I think you all know by now that I'm a Crazy Cat Lady. And if any of you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you have probably seen my grumblings about my dear, sweet, adorable demon-spawn kitten, Dakota.

That's her in her carrier, AKA cat prison, just last week. She had to go to the mean, horrible, no-good, really-bad vet. It was AWFUL. The humans are mean to her. Very, very mean. They deserve lots of hisses and growls.

She doles them out in kind. Our vet is at PetSmart, and after our visit, I took her over to the cat toy aisle. Silly me, I thought it would help to make up for the awful visit to the mean vet if I got her a new toy. In the process, she hissed and growled at every human we passed, all of whom just wanted to look in her carrier and tell me how cute she is.

Yeah, I know she's cute. Trust me, I know it.

Well, as of the twelfth of this month, Dakota is officially a year old. And as of next Tuesday, she will have officially been part of my household for a full year, even though we only intended to keep her long enough to get her weaned and then find her a new home.

This is her on the day she arrived, in the palm of my sister's hand. My sister has TINY hands for an adult, by the way. Mine look monstrous compared to hers. So really, that's Dakota on the hand of say a 10-year-old girl, by comparison.

She was only two and a half weeks old when she came to live with me. Back then, she spent a lot of time sleeping in the make-shift incubator we made for her (an old bucket from cat litter with a few towels on the bottom, placed over a heating pad set to low).

Dakota had been abandoned by her mama cat on the day she was born--still covered in after-birth and with the umbilical cord attached. The lady who found her took her home, cleaned her up, and she and her husband spent a little over two weeks trying to keep up with the demands of this tiny little thing that probably didn't have any shot at survival, if not for their efforts.

Newborn kittens eat every two hours around the clock...did you know that? By the time she came to live with me, she was down to bottle feedings every three hours. Still a massive undertaking, but at least I worked from home, so I didn't have to make special trips home in the middle of my work day to feed her. Dakota's rescuer and her husband both worked full-time away from home. It was just too much for them to keep up with.

She was teeny-tiny! I don't remember how many ounces it was that she weighed when she came to live with us, but she was as small as the keys to my dad's pickup truck...and they were decidedly heavier than she was.

Not only that, but when it was mealtime, she wanted her bottle, and she wanted it now! I wish I had video of her guzzling her bottles. If we didn't give her a big enough hole in the nipple, she got frustrated, and my hands ended up bloodier than they needed to be, because she dug her little razor-claws into me in her frantic need to be fed, and be fed RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

She literally finished each bottle within seconds. Good thing I knew to burp her. Yes, you have to burp bottle-fed kitties and puppies, just like you have to burp bottle-fed human babies.

After the burping, she immediately wanted to curl up with me and take a nap, as pictured to the left.

Even back then, she had the makings of becoming a devil-kitty. We just didn't realize it. I mean, look how cute she was! See the innocent-sleepy-how-adorable-am-I look? See the cute ears that are barely starting to open and the blue baby kitty eyes and the little white socks and the adorableness just oozing out of her?

How could anything that cute possibly be a bad kitty cat?

How could anyone NOT love her to pieces?

Impossible. Ludicrous, even.

How can you resist this sweet little princess kitty who just wants to love you and be loved by you and steal your heart forever?

You can't.

And if you tried to resist the cuteness (seriously not worth the effort back then), she'd roll around on the floor and be cute all over again.

Seriously. Resistance is futile when it comes to bottle-fed baby kitties, just like when it comes to the Borg.

If that rolling around on the floor because her tummy was so full from guzzling her bottle as fast as she could possibly consume it routine wasn't enough to steal your heart (pictured to the left), well, seeing her tiny little self falling down into the edges of her cat bed while she napped it off would probably do it (below).

See the super-sleepy kitty look here? Yeah, it was an act designed to steal your heart.

Also, notice the tail pulled up between the legs? She started the chase-and-attack-the-tail routine long before she could chase anything very well.

That tail is long and dangerous. It needs to be caught. It needs to be killed. It needs to be put in its place, and Dakota will do it, darn you, humans.

Slowly but surely, though...well, actually, faster than we ever imagined...Dakota started to grow up. And with growing up, she started to get into things.

Here she is at about 6 weeks old or so, curled up ever-so-innocently around the power box that keeps one of the laptops charged.

What you don't see in the picture is all the teeth and claw marks all along the cord. I'm telling you, already, she was becoming a devil cat. Do not let the cute, innocent eyes fool you.

Being fooled by the cuteness only leads to more trouble.

Or here, where she's about four months old and looks like she couldn't possibly have been doing anything naughty. Yeah, don't buy it. Do not trust the innocent cat eyes for even a second. This was the look that likely came right after she got caught walking around on the kitchen table (a big no-no in my house) and knocking things off onto the floor. If not that, she'd just been doing something naughty. I promise.

Rule-breaker. That was her from a very young age.

It took a while for my older cat, Kiki, to warm up to her. I should have taken that as a sign of all of the trouble to come.

This picture was one I took the first time they shared my lap. Dakota was five months old by the time this happened. Notice Kiki was asleep, and Dakota came up to join her.

The cuddle session didn't last long. Once Kiki realized that the Bad Cat had joined her on my lap, she left. That was it. She was not going to share my lap with such a rule-breaker, such a demon cat who wanted to take over my life. Nope, the Kiks wasn't so sure about all of that.

She still isn't, for that matter. They don't cuddle. At best, you could say that Kiki puts up with Dakota. Most of the time. I don't think they'll ever be best buddies.

Still, even with everything going against her that she's had, this little demon-spawn, devil-cat, hell-beast kitty has somehow made it to a full year old.

Who woulda thunk it? Definitely not me.

She's decided that I am her human, though. Which only makes sense. Since she was a mere two-and-a-half weeks old, I'm the only mama she's ever known. (Darn the luck!)

Because of that, Dakota rarely lets me out of her sight. Here she is, "supervising" while I write. You can probably tell she takes this job very seriously.

Sadly, her bad habits have only intensified as she's gotten older. And none of the cuteness has abated.

I only wish I had video to share with you all of her leaping against the walls to turn the light switch on and off and on and off and on and off. One of these days, we'll catch it.

In the meanwhile, I'll just keep trying to find ways to deal with this little monster. There's no telling how much past a year she'll make it, though. Her lifespan outlook might depend on how many more times she drools on me when she wants me to get up and feed her in the mornings. :)

Have you ever taken on a pet, or a job or project, that was only supposed to be temporary and somehow ended up having it become permanent? Do you have a demon-spawn cat in your home? Do you want one?

38 comments:

  1. She IS sooooo cute.

    Patoct

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    1. Patoct...she KNOWS she's cute. I think, if she wasn't aware of that, I might be able to rein her in a little better. But since she knows how adorable she is, she rightfully believes she can get away with anything short of murder, and possibly even that.

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  2. Awww...Dakota is adorable! I'd say there is a serious case of kitty love going both ways here!

    We have one very spoiled kitty, whose name is Nosey. Every day, about 17 times a day, she lets me know she needs to go in and out, and in and out. She also requires an escort to her bowl, or she will not eat. But she is very patient with both of the boys when they gather her up for some kitty snuggle time. :-)

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    1. The only way I've found to get Dakota to eat her food in a reasonable time is to lock myself in the bathroom with her, where there's nothing to play with and no one else to distract her. If I lock her in by herself, though? She spends the whole time crying that she's locked up in prison, and not eating. *shaking head*

      That's good that Nosey is patient with your boys. I think kids often expect cats to behave like dogs (I know my nephew does!) and so they try to play with them like you would a dog. The kitties tend to not appreciate that so much. Kiki, my older cat, puts up the the nephew pretty well. The older Dakota gets, the less she wants to have to deal with him.

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  3. Catherine,

    You are never giving away that cat. You love her in spite of her naughtiness. I took in a stray cat before I met my husband. I didn't intend to keep her. She belonged to the neighbor, but he could barely feed himself much less a cat. I ended up feeding her at my apartment, because he let her roam. Then one day he moved and left her behind, so I took her in. She was with me for seven years.

    It was a rocky start at first. She liked to sleep in my hair when she was young, but she kept me awake so I closed her out of my bedroom. Somehow she broke in, hopped on top of me and urinated. I thought I was going to kill that cat. She was vindictive and it was a huge battle of wills between us in the beginning. What she didn't know is I'm incredibly stubborn when it comes to some things. She had no chance of outlasting me. But she was the smartest cat I've ever seen. In the end, she turned out to be a great cat. She was my snuggle kitty when I read at night.

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    1. I don't know that I would have kept a cat that peed on me in bed! You are a very kind cat mom, Samantha. I've had a vindictive cat before, too. If I went away for even just a night, when I came home, she let me know how unhappy she was with me--usually by peeing on my clothes just before they made it to the hamper. I swear, she wouldn't pee the whole time I was gone, holding it in for that moment when my clothes hit the floor. She loved me so much that she smothered me constantly with her love.

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  4. Catherine ~ I've had cats most of my life, and I tend to love the more rotten ones. There's just something about a spoiled cat that I can relate to. NO COMMENTS.

    My current cat is eleven and for the first several years, she and I were not on the best of terms. She loved my son and my then husband. She and I tolerated each other. Barely. Then the ex-husband left and Geri realized *I* was the one who'd been feeding her all those years. NOW she cannot get enough of me. She follows me around. She talks non-freakin'-stop (which is VERY annoying when you're trying to write.) She sleeps with me every night, and acts as though her life has meaning when I return from work or a trip.

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    1. He he he..."no comments." Whatever. You're opening yourself up, there, my dear.

      Cats tend to go through spurts in terms of who they love most, in my experience. Well, maybe not all of them, but some of them. Kiki started out loving my sister the best. Then she loved me the best. Then Dakota arrived, and she started blaming me for Dakota's presence and loving my Dad the best. Just last night, though, she might have found a new favorite person. My other sister was over, and played a song on her iPhone for my Dad...well, she thought she was playing it for Dad. Kiki decided she was playing it just for her. This sister is now the bestest human in the world, in Kiki's mind. At least until the next favorite comes along. :) She can be a bit fickle.

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    2. Comment. Comment. Comment! Make of that what you will. :-)

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    3. Oh, you're funny, Deb! LOL

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    4. LMAO! That should say enough!!!

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  5. Awww...I love rescued pet stories. :) That's how I ended up with a dog. I didn't want a stinkin' dog, would have much preferred a cat, but he's our youngest child now--and our best behaved. ;} Cute post, Catherine!

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    1. I think it is easier to train dogs than it is to train children. That said, it is easier to train children than it is to train cats.

      Have you ever watched that show on Animal Planet where they have a cat whisperer sort of guy? Can't think of the name of the show. But I need him. I need him to come and train Dakota for me. (Of course, usually, he trains the humans, and then the cats are better behaved. Hmmmm...)

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  6. Aww... I loved reading about Dakota. Part of me is curious, though. I always thought the mama cat taught the babies about the litter box. So I wonder how you got around that obstacle.

    I had a devil cat once. He'd lurk outside our bedroom and attack our ankles when we came out. And I could never cut up chicken with him in the kitchen. He'd jump right up and steal a piece. He also got on the roof of the house we were renting, and some HUGE crows were dive-bombing him. He stood up on his back paws (the same way he attacked our ankles in the morning) and was all, "Bring it. I can take you suckers."

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    1. Ah, yes, Ashlyn...Dakota is a chicken thief, too. We do NOT allow cats on the kitchen counters in my house. She doesn't seem to have gotten that memo yet. She's also a fan of latching onto the ankles of whatever human is trying to walk past her and being dragged along, biting and clawing and otherwise making the human bleed as they go. Fun times.

      As to the litter box...That was something I had to learn. Since there was no mama cat, *I* got to be the mama cat. After every feeding, a real mama cat will lick the tummy and bowel area of her kittens with her rough tongue. This stimulates the kitten's system, and then poop and pee occurs. (I won't tell you what happens to that poop/pee with real mama cats. BLECH!)

      Since there was no mama cat, we had to simulate that experience. We took a rough wash cloth, got it wet with warm water, and rubbed. That took place after every feeding. Then when she got a little older, we put some litter in a small litter box and held her over that while we rubbed. Then we'd take her paws and dig around in the cat litter. After a while, she figured it out.

      Honestly, the more difficult thing turned out to be weaning her. Everything I'd read said you should start by mixing some of her formula with soft kitten food. Once she would eat that pretty well, then you could try some of the crunchy stuff mixed with formula, and then eventually just the crunchy stuff. Well, Dakota did NOT want the soft stuff. She wouldn't eat it. Eventually, though, I tried her on a piece of the crunchy kibble...and she gobbled it up. She just didn't want the soft stuff. She wanted to be a big girl. She was still so tiny that we had to break her kitten chow up into tiny pieces, or she'd choke on them. Just like with everything else, she refused to slow down for long enough to chew it up properly. LOL.

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    2. Well, the BLECH pretty much tells me what the mama cat does with the kittens' waste...

      This is really interesting to me. What did you feed her when she was on formula? I don't imagine it was straight cow's milk any more than you'd give straight cow's milk to a human. But then human baby formula is probably not quite right for a kitten, either, since cats are carnivores and human aren't.

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    3. At all of the pet supply stores, they carry KMR--Kitten Milk Replacement. It's got all of the nutrients that a growing kitten needs that you can't get from just milk of another animal.

      In a pinch, goat's milk is a good substitute. But it wouldn't be a good idea to use on a regular basis for more than a day or two, without risking permanent damage to the kitten's developing sight, etc. Cow's milk is a definite no-no for kittens, as it really is for any cat. Cats are naturally lactose intolerant, and cow's milk can seriously upset their little tummies. I don't know enough about the differences between human baby formula and kitten formula to give a knowledgeable opinion on that.

      The BEST solution would be to have a lactating mama cat around and get her to foster the baby kitty, but that doesn't happen too often. There are things in the mama cat's milk that you can't even get in a good quality formula that help protect against life-threatening diseases.

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  7. Hey Catherine- I love reading Dakota's post on twitter. They are too funny. She is so adorable, makes me want one. Then I think I don't want demon spawn no matter how cute they are. Plus, my husband is allergic to cats. Plus, i don't bring home stray animals for that reason. Sorry no demon spawn for me.

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    1. Hi, Melody! Dakota almost got another Tweet this morning. She was in my closet, and it looked like she was about to CLIMB MY DRESS. She's very lucky that she usually responds to the tone of my voice, because she was about to get drenched with the squirt bottle for this crime.

      Dakota is free to a good home! Or any home, really. I'll ship her to you, and even send her with a great big bag of cat food. Just take her. LOL.

      Seriously, though, if your husband is allergic, she is probably not the cat for your household. I'm allergic to cats, too (some more than others). My Dad didn't think he was, until Dakota arrived. He's more allergic to her than he is to any of the other cats I've had. I haven't noticed an increase in mine with her...but she's not a Persian. Those are the ones that I seriously can't live with, no matter how cute their squishy faces are. My lungs seize up, and I can't breathe, and my eyes swell shut. Not pretty.

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  8. My husband ended up with an adopted a blue-silver cat (we think it may have been a Russian Blue but since it appeared after a hurricane and never left...we don't know for sure). He feed it outside and then suddenly it became an indoor cat.

    A cat that could only drink water from a running faucet. And liked to climb Christmas trees. Nothing else in the house...just the Christmas Tree.

    The cat and I tolerated each other. We shared by boyfriend (who became hubby) but didn't like each other. The cat sniffed at me and turned away...I routinely tried to pet the cat.

    Hubby kept us both until cancer took the cat away. Now we have a dog and I'm much happier about my pet. No more having to watch my hand for claws whenever I want to cuddle.

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    1. My first cat preferred drinking water from a running faucet, Beth. And not just any running faucet--the one in the front bathroom, with cold water only, coming out as a dribble. He was terrified of Christmas wreaths, though. I have no idea how he felt about Christmas trees, since he hid in the bedroom the whole time the wreath was out.

      I'm glad you've got a pet that works for you now, though. Cats are not for everyone. :)

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  9. LOL -I never get tired of hearing about that cat's exploit ;) Demon kitty indeed! But as you said, she had the market cornered on cuteness - Resistance was definitely futile!

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    1. Lucky for you, Erin, there will likely never be a shortage of Dakota's exploits. At least as long as she survives. :)

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  10. I just can't fathom how so many of you indulge your pets.... Be strong, be a firm disciplinarian like me.

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    1. Ha ha. And this, dear Lady Scribes readers, is my father. :) The very man who gives Dakota and Kiki all sorts of goodies every time I leave.

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    2. R Moore - I don't think I indulge my cat. There's only room for one spoiled female at my house, and that's me. She knows it too, and she accepts the way things are. ;)

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    3. Too funny that that is your father, Catherine! I've heard about him spoiling the kitties whenever you're away. Pot meet kettle, right? ;)

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    4. If you've ever wondered where I got my sarcasm bone, wonder no more. You've just met him. :)

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    5. Pay me no mind ladies; I'm only serious....

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  11. Such a cute blog post detailing Demon Kitty's exploits. hee! Maybe one day I'll have another kitty. *sigh*

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    1. Do you want one? I can ship her today. :)

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    2. Oh, you are SO full of it, Catherine! You know you love your demon kitty! How can you not? Just look at those big eyes, those adorable whiskers, that sweet face.... and ignore the rest of what's going on behind her back... ;D

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    3. I know she loves me! Good grief, I can't get away from her. When we're going to bed at night, she paces back and forth over me, shoving her head into me and drooling, always coming back no matter how many times I toss her off of me. She keeps doing it until she falls over asleep. Then in the mornings, as soon as the sun comes up, the routine starts all over again until I finally get up and feed her. Drives me bonkers! I think I would have a far easier time putting up with her if she'd stop with the drooling routine.

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  12. Catherine I've had two kitties in my life and they were the absolute best animals ever. As a teen during my really rocky years I took in two little kittens and named them Star (she has stars in her eyes) and Snuggles. They stayed with me through thick and thin, even during the years that I lived out of my car. It was tough but I couldn't have made it through all that without them. When I moved back in with my mother one of my kitties disappeared and I think it was due to a rotten neighbor. The other one died shortly after that in what I think was a broken heart. She missed her play buddy so much that she just didn't want to live anymore. I've never gotten over that either and I've never had another cat since. It's so hard when you lose an animal.

    The dog I have now is the first animal I've had since my cats. He's been with for eleven years now. After him, I'm swearing off animals for a while because it's so hard to lose them. Great blog! I love the pictures and Dakota is adorable!

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    1. It is very, very difficult to say goodbye, even to devil-cats. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they stick by us through thick and thin, whether we want them to or not. :)

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  13. She is adorable. I had planned on having NONE. My husband had three cats when we met but they were all long-haired adults and I was allergic to them. There was no way I could live in the same house with them. So, before we married hubby gave them to a good home. I felt horrible but maybe I would have felt worse had he chosen the cats over me. Then he found out about 2 kittens that needed a home. We had two children (one an infant) and he figured a kitten for each would be great. We took them and it was clear that this may be temporary given my allergies. But they were kittens, short-haired and we got them at 6 weeks old, and hubby got into the habit of bathing them. Cats really don't mind it so much if the used to getting a bath from infancy. As they grew my allergies stayed in check. I could live in the house them as long as they stayed away from my face and did not sleep on my pillow. That was 21 yrs ago and both cats are no longer with us. Again, I was not going to have a cat. Then I saw a mouse. I was the one who was at the pound and found a beautiful calico kitten. We started with the baths and again, my allergies were fine as long as she stayed away from my face and off my pillow. We now have a total of three. So, you see how temporary my cat plans were - LOL. Oh, and every cat we have had has climbed the Christmas tree at least once and knocked it over. We stopped putting on glass ornaments until they broke the habit.

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    1. LOL, Jane. That's great that you've been able to handle the cats as long as you bathe them. I've found that, over the years, I've become more accustomed to the allergens my cats produce. Even when a new one comes along, if their allergens are more pronounced than the other cats I've had, I can often acclimatize to them. The only cats I've ever been so allergic to that I can't even be in the same room as them for more than a minute or two are Persians. I doubt bathing them three times a day would do the trick for me there.

      There is something so appealing to cats about climbing up high. We only have a little Christmas tree each year--not big enough for a cat to climb. We decorate it with little balls, though, which for my first two cats was no problem at all. They did not play with balls, no matter how many balls I bought and tried them on. The current two, though? Balls are their favorite toys in the world! I have found many of my Christmas tree decorations hidden in random places over the years, after the cats have stolen them and played.

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