Pet update: The down low of home quarantine with a crazy cat/bird lady menagerie (and a teenager)

Some of this might be repeat for my regular followers, but I thought it would be nice to compile some of the animal news here.

Lord knows happy pet news can be beneficial to everyone’s spirits.

Oz

Opie and Oz, our two male tiger stripe cats, both turned 9 this month. Nine! The teenager and I raised Oz—the big, dumb, cuddly teddy bear—from a three-month-old kitten rescued from the local animal shelter.

The teenager, then turning seven, wanted an older pug but her father said no dogs and certainly not a pug. So we explored the kittens, basically because my husband trusted me more raising cats.

Oz was one of several kittens from a litter the animal shelter named after Pepsi products and his original name was Dasani. Oz was the tiniest kitten with the biggest damn paws. He grew into a big cat, with an even bigger docile personality.

The teenager named him after The Wizard of Oz but also after Scott Green’s werewolf character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then her favorite TV show.

I made the decision to put Oz down when he was three because he had recurring urinary crystals and we couldn’t afford the $1000+ surgery he needed to flush the crystals out of his urethra or the even more expensive surgery to cut off his penis and make him a bigger hole to pee from so he could pass future crystals.

Luckily, the veterinary practice had a young vet who had never performed the surgery and offered to use him as a test case for $600. At that point, that is what I was almost spending to put him down. I think it was $200 more expensive that killing him. So I took the deal.

That’s why Oz can only eat wet food.

And Oz had a fear of drinking water— because he associated it with the pain of passing the crystals when he urinated.

He has since learned to drink lots of water.

But he still has an obsessive desire to eat kibble.

Opie

Opie, our other male cat, is a major badass. Super loyal. Super cat-like. Some cats act more like stereotypical cats that others. Opie is pure feline.

In addition to a birthday this month, Opie also celebrates the one year anniversary of his leg amputation. Opie is a kitty cat bone cancer survivor.

We took Opie in when he was seven months old after friends rescued him from a feral mama. They had planned to keep him but their other cats picked on him.

Oz was still a kitten at the time and the two got along beautifully and look very similar.

Opie is on the top, Oz to the right, Fog left

Opie was our head mouser, but the kittens might give him a challenge.

Mistofelees (Misty)

Misty was the first of three kittens my daughter trapped between late December and late January. They were born probably in late October under my neighbor’s porch.

Misty was the runt. When the others went out to hunt with Mama, he stayed behind.

My daughter worked very hard to tame him and earn his trust.

I think Misty is on the right

We trapped the kitten that later got naked Smoky next. The neighbor named it. And it found a good home. But now a theme was developing.

Fog

Fog was the last one trapped. I named her to fit the theme. She was on her own for about two weeks after Smoky. She would reach into the trap from the side, slip her paw into the food and ladle it out of the trap lick by lick.

When we reunited her with her brother, my heart melted and I couldn’t give her up.

The Budgies: Boo, Wink and Yo

Peek-a-Boo (Boo-boo), so named because she was so spastic when she came home we thought she had a hurt wing, is the dominant bird in the group. And the fattest. She is pure yellow.

The teenager bought her and Periwinkle (Wink) for me as a Christmas present. Wink is the pale blue bird and the most skittish of the group. She and Boo were bonded from the pet store.

I added Yo-Yo (Yo) to the group last fall because I really wanted a traditional green parakeet and to add a male. He is vivid green with some yellow and this amazing navy blue tail.

The teenager made a lot of progress hand-feeding them but hasn’t maintained the training.

And that leaves… Nala.

Nala

Nala is a four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with a lot of attitude. I have no large bird experience but she took to me. We brought her home in early January.

She can be very obstinate, which is very common in cockatoos, but we are progressing well.

In the beginning, toweling too often became necessary to keep her from being too aggressive but now that we have learned more about each other it is easier for me to work with her and I can often get her to do something she really doesn’t think is fair— like go to bed—without even threatening to towel her.

It helps that I finally found a treat she can’t resist. She turns her nose up at everything.

She’s displaying a new behavior that I call the “step up” noise and she uses it when she wants to confirm my step up command or is asking me to come get her or sometimes as a demand, like when I won’t let her have my coffee.

Here’s a video from yesterday:

Nala says, “step up.”

Life amended: Update after week one of preemptive Coronavirus quarantine

It’s Saturday morning. A time when my blog entries normally focus on my birds flying around my room, cuddling kittens and sipping coffee in bed trying to forget the stress of the week.

The vernal equinox came and went and I didn’t even acknowledge it.

My normal two-week schedule at the office is 75 hours as a salaried development officer in a human services non-profit. I worked 86 and am trying not to add more hours this weekend.

Our CEO made the decision to close our buildings completely for the next week, assuming our facilities have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. So we will be working from home.

I love working from home, so that’s not an issue for me.

And in general, the pandemic brings me a sense of calm. The empathetic side of me relishes the slow down of the world. It brings me peace.

The only real worry I have right now is my right foot. I thought I had a splinter. My daughter, whose eyesight is way better than mine, assured me no. But it still hurts, and I think it’s been almost 2 weeks. And the ball of my foot is painful and swollen.

I started soaking it in Epsom salts and in my impatience this morning, I clumsily lanced it and am soaking it again. I still believe something is in there and will cause an infection if I’m not prudent.

Bandage and betadine next.

Fog

Of course I have helpers.

Misty

But they have gone on to do their own thing…

Hard to believe these guys were feral.

The first Pennsylvania death from the Coronavirus happened in the hospital where my daughter and her father were born. Cases are now here in our county. And all of the neighboring counties.

I urge you all to remember that every time you come in contact with anyone, you are also being exposed to everyone they have been near.

I know I am healthy. I know I am not in a high risk group. But I don’t want to carry this illness to anyone I care about. I don’t want to be the reason someone else dies.

I don’t want to see the economy and our quality of life degrade to the level of some dystopian fantasy novel.

That will happen soon enough because of overpopulation and global warming.

Overpopulation and Global Warming.

Let that sink in.

So, I downloaded the list of life sustaining businesses allowed to be open at this time. Beer distributors and Wawa made the cut.

Target made the cut. (They have groceries, health items and CVS pharmacies.) But I hear from my former Target colleagues that families are treating it like an outing and bringing the whole gang. People are shopping for bikinis.

We’re in for a long road.

Hear me, bikini people?

Nala learns new tricks

This is a brief entry about my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with an attitude, Nala. She adores me, but tends to be a tad, um, bitchy with anyone else.

I’ve been very impressed with how she’s adapted both to a new life and a new routine in my crazy menagerie/train station of a house.

I brought her home in early January and have no experience with parrots and barely any experience with birds.

During the last few days I’ve noticed a change in her vocabulary. She already knew what sounds like “Mommy” when I got her—said only when leave the room.

She also learned very quickly to return my kisses with her only little kissy noises.

But now she seems to have learned “step up.” It sounds like what I can only describe as a bird hiccough in two syllables mimicking the phrase. But she says it when she wants me or after I ask her to step up and she’s not sure if she wants to.

So this is an exciting development.

Nala and Misty

She can also hold her own very well against our once feral kittens.

Through tired eyes

I. Am. Exhausted.

March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.

Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.

And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.

My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.

So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.

And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.

Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)

Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.

And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!

Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.

To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:

And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):

Universal Yums March 2020

My first Ipsy Glam Bag—pre-unboxing

March 2020 Ipsy Glam Bag and my cat

As you may have been able to tell from my posts about dentists (Tooth and nail) and budgets (Budgeting and Budgeting, part 2), I had a hard week. Not to mention the whole Do I have high blood pressure? issue. So I’m going to lighten it up a bit tonight— we’re going to “unbox” my Ipsy Glam Bag.

And if you noticed that odd photo that is the featured image for this blog post that is Fog, the feral kitten we trapped last trying to get to Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo. Fog is getting sooooo big (as is her brother, Misty) but the teenager didn’t believe me when I said they’d doubled in size.

March 2020 Ipsy Glam Bag without my cat

But anyway… it’s Friday night and I had to work late unexpectedly so by the time I got home, the teen was leaving to have dinner with her grandparents and spend the night with her dad.

Which means I get to have Vanilla Coke Zero and peanut butter pretzels for dinner. I gave one to Nala. Well, more accurately, she demanded I share.

And here is a funny video of us: Nala tries to open a peanut butter pretzel.

But back to the Glam Bag. Focus, Angel, focus.

So I started the dishwasher, and a load of laundry, and took my peanut butter pretzels and my Diet Coke out to see if my neighbor wanted to unbox my Ipsy package with me since the teenager wasn’t home. My neighbor is an economics professor and faces a midterm deadline. I thought it best not to bother her. Nala and I ate our pretzels and opened the makeup.

We also kept Fog at bay, while her brother frolicked in the basement.

Then my neighbor texted she had coffee ready at 6:30ish at night. That’s pretty wild for my Friday night.

I walked out the door and met my other neighbor, whose adorable Yorkie-Maltese mix likes to visit instead of go for a walk. We all went to the professor’s house and even the dogs got to visit.

I got home, retrieved the laundry and the kitten from the basement, and fed my mini-pride of lions before hanging the laundry.

Nala joined me while I hung wash, watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. Roomba vacuumed my room.

Now I’m in bed, taking a breath, playing a little Words with Friends and listening to kittens play. I’m going to watch more Gordon. Hell’s Kitchen is not my favorite but I finished Kitchen Nightmares on Hulu, as I also finished 24 Hours To Hell and Back.

I can’t find any more Hotel Hell and for some reason, The F Word is starting to bore me. I think it’s because Gordon Ramsay is a nice guy on that program.

More on that another day. I’m hoping to formally review Gordon’s shows one of these days.

Gordon has inspired me to try harder with my cooking. Last night, I actually trimmed my chicken, made a marinade, and chilled the chicken in the marinade before cooking.

The marinade was:

  1. Low sodium soy sauce
  2. Honey
  3. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  4. Minced Garlic
  5. Fresh Ginger
  6. Water
  7. Sesame Seeds
  8. Lemon Juice
  9. Sesame Oil

I cooked that, and sautéed a bag of broccoli slaw in the leftover marinade and reheated some leftover rice and seasoned roasted chick peas I had made earlier in the week. It was delicious.

But remember that Glam Bag?

I promise I’ll play with it tomorrow. For $12 I received:

  • A studded teal bag (it matches my room!)
  • A full sized eye shadow
  • A full sized chapstick/lip balm
  • A sample nail polish in a mild creamy cafe au lait color
  • A sample “hair mask”
  • A sample primer
  • A sample body lotion

Cuddly kittens and a fresh cup of iced tea

I can’t stand the cuteness in my house today!

I’m sitting here with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and Oz, my teenager’s big, dumb 9-year-old cat who thinks he’s a teddy bear. I just had some ring bologna for breakfast and made myself the best glass of iced tea:

This particular glass is two parts Tazo Organic Earl Grey Noir and one part Tazo Vanilla Bean Macaroon black tea.

In the crock pot, dinner is bubbling. Crockpots are the perfect cooking tools for witches. It’s a cauldron with a plug!

I made a marinade of organic apple juice, brown sugar, Briggs liquid aminos, Chinese cooking wine, fresh ginger and garlic and dropped a pork loin and some potatoes into the mix.

But wow! I totally digress. We’re hear to talk about kittens and cuteness!

Kittens and cuteness

So the teenager is with her dad and I’ve been taken care of the kittens. Fog, the last trapped member of the brood, followed Opie out of the teenager’s room. Opie is our 9-year-old cancer survivor 3-legged cat.

Fog apparently adores him.

Oz tried to join, but he was afraid of the kitten. Opie heard Oz hiss and served as bodyguard for little Fog.

Video here: Opie protecting Fog.

Now I waited as long as I could but I needed to vacuum the dining room. Even though it was in another room, Fog heard the noise and hid behind the cat tube.

Opie stayed on the ottoman as if standing guard. When I finished vacuuming, they got back on the couch together.

I was worried that Misty (short for Mistofelees) might think something happened to Fog. So I brought Misty to the porch.

Misty wasn’t as enthused. But Fog stayed with Opie.

You can’t really see it, but they are touching.

Household update

The kittens still eat as if they don’t know when their next meal will be.

I gave Nala a shower today to evaluate the extent of her plucking. She spent most of the day with me. I even let her have a small piece of Cool Ranch Dorito. She liked that.

I went to Petco and used my $10 off $30 coupon. Bought Nala a perch she hopefully can’t eat and some more parrot food.

I worked myself to exhaustion doing chores today. And had a big bag of Doritos and two slices of ring bologna for dinner.

I did chores all day and the house doesn’t seem cleaner. It still looks gross.

Let’s see if I can recap.

  • I cleaned the kitchen/bathroom cat box.
  • I ran the dishwasher. Did the dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher.
  • Cleaned bird cages.
  • Fed all the animals.
  • Gave the cockatoo a shower.
  • Scrubbed the tub.
  • Tried to unclog the drain. This became a laborious process.
  • Went grocery shopping.
  • Put the groceries away.
  • Folded laundry and put clothes away.
  • Vacuumed my bedroom.
  • Cleaned the roomba.
  • Stripped my bed.
  • Remade my bed.
  • Did a load of linens.
  • Hung the linens to dry.
  • Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.
  • Scrubbed the kitchen sink.
  • Gathered all of the newspapers for the birds.
  • Organized my tax paperwork (my last W2 came so now I’m stressing about doing my taxes).
  • Went to the pet store.
  • Fed all four cats.