Archive for August, 2016

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

I’m a Cat Mommy!


Lounging Cats

It was May 8, 2016 – Mother’s Day.  My family was getting ready for a barbecue to celebrate the awesome job my mother and grandmother have done.  School was winding down, and I was being lazy – napping on the sofa in the den.  All of a sudden, I hear my father scream “Karen, Malka, come here!”  I only assumed they had done something wrong to annoy him, so I ignored the call and continued my slumber. How strange, there’s no more yelling!  Maybe I should check this out.

Out of the den I walked, half asleep, and I made my way to the backyard deck.  There, my sister was crying.  In her hands was a little black fur ball – a kitten!  My dad had found two baby kittens in our coal bin!  Of course, I needed to hold one as well.  “I thought Truffles was looking a little fat,” my sister got out between bursts of crying.  “I want Truffles’ babies!!!”

Being away at college for the past four years, I didn’t know the daily goings-on back at home.  Apparently, there was a black cat roaming around our backyard for the past year.  My sister dubbed her Truffles.  These were her babes.

All of our minds were a blur.  We couldn’t think straight!  My dad went to buy some more coal for our barbecue, and it was up to me, my sister, and my mom what to do next.  We thought the best option was to place these little critters in a tub so that we wouldn’t get our scent all over them.  We didn’t want Truffles to abandon them!  By the time my father returned home from buying coal, Truffles had snatched one of her babies and disappeared.  My dad was distraught – he wanted these kittens for himself!  Truffles didn’t come back for the other baby until she was protected by the dark of night.  Again, my dad was upset that he missed out on the opportunity to snatch them himself.


Fast forward a week or two.  We assumed that maybe Truffles had hidden her babies underneath the shed in our backyard.  We were right, but it took some time to actually discover the little ones again.  I was still going to school at the time, and so I only was able to seek these little guys out on weekends.  On top of all this, five houses down from us was another litter of kittens!  KITTEN SEASON!  I made it my job to walk from my backyard to the neighbor’s house several times a day to check on the beautiful babes.

I crocheted a little doll for the kittens to play with.  I spent hours by my shed, getting bitten by mosquitos, just to see those little eyes peer at me.  I fed them.  I watched them.  I wanted them.

For a while, I really thought that my dad would take the initiative to snatch them for himself.  “I’m doing it this week,” he would say.  That never happened – my mom didn’t want kittens in the house after the loss of Spooky and Mush (the cats I grew up with).  When it finally became obvious that these kittens wouldn’t be my dad’s, I took action.


I’m a bookworm.  I’m a facts person.  I researched.  A LOT.  After doing some basic math, I realized that the kittens were nearing 10 weeks old.  I started to worry that it was getting too late to socialize them and get them used to humans.  I took a stand, and insisted that I capture the two kittens – for their own safety.  It is the natural cycle of a cat’s life, to be raised by a mother, and then adopted out.  Overpopulation is a very real problem for cats – they breed like crazy!  The responsible thing to do is neuter and spay.  In my neighborhood, TNR (trap-neuter-return) is a program that allows strays and ferals to remain in the wild, but limits overpopulation by getting them fixed.

With the help of my family, I went to the  Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter and got humane traps to get my little cat babies.  Unfortunately, I was only able to capture one.  I tried for three days, but the other baby seemed to just disappear!  It was very upsetting for me – I felt like a failure to myself, to the kitten I captured, and to the kitten that was still outside.  After some crying sessions with my mother, I realized that no matter what, I was doing a good thing by taking care of one of them.

I just want to say thank you to Lisa Studley at the  Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter for helping me out with all of this, and calming me down when I worried too much.


For about a week, we had no name for the little black cat that was lodging in our downstairs bathroom.  My mom swore she thought the kitten was a boy, so for a while we were calling it “he.”  It was very shy, and would hide underneath the sink and toilet, and in the corner on the radiator.  My family took turns sitting in the bathroom to keep it company.  The moment we would leave it, the kitty would start meowing really loudly – it was scared and wanted attention!

It was a tough week.  The little thing had fleas, and we couldn’t let it out of the bathroom.  After a couple of days, we tried to remove the fleas on our own, sending my father to the ER with kitten bites.  OUCH!  Luckily he did not need to undergo rabies shots, and he is FINE.

Because of the flea problem, we needed to take the kitten to the vet – North Shore Animal League would not de-flea the kitten for some reason!  So, I paid my first bill as a cat mommy – $550!  At the vet, we found out that “he” was a SHE!  Now to just come up with a name!

Naming the kitten was another problem!  I thought she was MINE, but apparently everyone in my family needed a say.  For me, naming is important.  I want the name to mean something and be filled with symbolism.  Apparently that’s silly?  We finally agreed on the name Slinky, because she is so cautious and scared, she stretches out her neck and her body to see if everything is safe.  The way her neck extends is like a slinky (the toy) and she tends to slink around when she explores.  I also liked the name because it was in the same vein as Mushy and Spooky – an homage to our first cats!  This entire experience has been making us reminisce about them.


I brought Slinky home with me after the vet to Queens!  No longer was she to remain in the tiny downstairs bathroom in Great Neck!

I wanted her to have a companion, though, and was still upset that her sibling couldn’t join her.  The vet suggested that it would be best to get a companion as soon as possible so Slinky wouldn’t get used to being a lone cat for too long.  She also let us know that adopting a male or female companion cat really didn’t matter – female it would be, as my family and I have a bias towards the more dainty sex of the species.

Bindi!  That’s the name of my second kitten.  She came from the shelter with the name Amber, but since I felt uncomfortable with a name I had no say in, I decided to change it.  My brother, however, refuses to call her anything BUT Amber!  Unlike Slinky, she is a tabby cat with orange flecks of fur.  On her forehead is an orange dot, similar to an Indian bindi, hence her name.  Bindi was found on the side of the road, and brought to a shelter where my parents picked her up for me.  She is not like Slinky at all!  She is not cautious or scared, and instead of slinking around, she runs and jumps!


I guess this brings us to present day!  It has only been a couple of weeks since I’ve had any cats in my apartment, but already it feels like forever!  Instead of traveling, taking care of kitties is what takes up my summer days!  And it isn’t easy!

Slinky is still coming out of her shell.  She only allows me to pet her in certain situations – when she is comfortably seated on her preferred windowsill or on my big comfy chair.  She doesn’t like being picked up, but I try anyway!

Bindi, on the other hand, never had a shell to begin with!  Not only will she let you hold her and touch her, she is NOT afraid to touch you back, and I have the scratches to prove it!  She loves to play, and sometimes that includes grabbing and biting me!  Currently her “safe place” is my brother’s room, which leads to her waking him up in the middle of the night, biting his feet!

Introducing the two of my kitties has been tough, and is still a work in progress.  Bindi just wants to play, but her methods can be seen as a bit too aggressive.  Slinky, though, is rising to the challenge, and when I separate them, she occasionally will meow at me to let her have another go!  I bring them together for mealtimes, and have even brought mealtime out from my bedroom and into the common area of the kitchen!  That is great progress for Slinky, as she has really been stuck in my room this whole time!


Truffles and TJ (Truffles Junior – Slinky’s brother) have both been TNRed.  The day I got Bindi, TJ reappeared – Truffles started bringing him to our deck to get food, as we’ve been feeding Truffles ever since May 8.  Even after their capture and return, they still come back daily for their meals!

I am so glad that I made the decision to get kittens.  The responsibility is great, but it feels great too – when I’m not worrying, that is!  And each step of progress is such a gift!

Holding Slinky while laying in bed is the best gift in the world!

Holding Slinky while laying in bed is the best gift in the world!