27 February 2013

Feb 2013 - Dump the Name, Keep the Cat (2)

Before we even saw Clarabelle in person, I thought I cannot live with that name. It reminded me of Clarabell the Clown from the old Howdy Doody show. It was a kid's TV show that I had watched all though my childhood. You have to be pretty old to remember that one though, as it went off the air on September 24, 1960, when I was 12 years old.

I remember that day, as my mom had just remarried and we had moved to Michigan from Missouri. I had kind of outgrown the show at that point, but my younger siblings were watching it. I heard "this is our last show," so for sentimental reasons I decided to watch. At the end, I remember going to my room and crying heartily. I figured it was the last of my childhood days and I would have to start being a grown up.

Anyway, it was a fun show with Howdy Doody being a red-haired cowboy puppet. He had 48 freckles (one for each state in the union, which I just learned today on Wikipedia). The host was Buffalo Bob and other characters were Indian Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Mayor Bluster, and Flub-a-Dub (a creature combination of eight animals). Clarabell was Howdy's sidekick who did not speak but communicated by honking a horn.

Oh, by the way, the original Howdy Doody marionette now resides at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  

It didn't take long to come up with Bella from Clarabelle. I loved the name and it wasn't too far off so she might catch on quickly. Also, I am an Italian-ophile (if there is such a thing) and Bella means pretty in Italian. Everyone we talked too (including her foster mom) agreed this was fitting. And Bella, herself, seems to like it. She usually responds, but that's a cat for you.

Moving on...
We had a 14-day money back guarantee on this Kalamazoo Animal Rescue cat. Well, not really. They thought she might be hard to adopt out and apparently she was. She had been in a foster home since September (near six months) and she was a "nibbler." So they decided to entice some crazy cat people to take the cat by not charging the usual $50 adoption fee plus medical testing and vaccination charges. So no fees involved, but we still had 14 days to return the cat if it did not work out.

By the time we left the foster home, we had no intention of returning Clarabelle / Bella. We had cat biting experience with our cat niece Widget and felt we could handle it. It is a two way street, we had hoped for a cuddly cat which she appears to be so far, and would try to teach her to be gentler. The foster mom advised she had been using the loud command "ouch" when biting seemed imminent and we thought that was a good idea.

She doesn't really maliciously bite, but clamps down (sometimes pretty hard) and just holds. A big plus is that she doesn't add back feet scratch action. We are still trying to figure what the trigger area is. At one point we thought it was head touching, then tail-connect-to-body spot, but so far can't pinpoint a consistent trigger. Of course, the tail twitch is a big sign. If she does that I just shoosh her off my lap, thus avoiding the bite action all together.

But each day has been a little less and less of the attempted biting. And she seems to enjoy a good short belly scratch. We seem headed in the right direction.

Photo is Bella on Deb's lap.

24 February 2013

Feb 2013 - Cat Trap (1)

This blog is supposed to be about our travels, but today we are going through a "head" trip. In the last year and a half we lost three geriatric cats to lung cancer and kidney failure. It has been quite traumatic for Mike and I and we didn't know when, or even if, we would be able to handle a new pet.

Of course, all our friends and relatives have encouraged us to get a new cat, or two or three. But we just could not wrap our heads around another. There is always a worry that something will happen to it. And if we had gotten a new cat, we would not have been able to take the two fabulous driving trips we had just written about in our blog.

But Mike's persistent sister kept at it. Without us knowing she was checking the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue website "on our behalf." Well, she found one she thought we would like and sent us the link -

Here is the bio:

Tabby - Brown
Age: Adult
Approx DOB: 9/01/2010
Gender: Female

Clarabelle is a sweet and snugly cat who will jump right on to your lap. She came to us as a stray. She will make an excellent companion and would be happiest as an only cat. Clarabelle can occasionally get excited while playing and decide that your hand is a toy. She doesn't hurt you, but it can be startling. We are looking for a cat savvy adopter in a calm home who can help her learn not to do this.

Ok, we are "cat savvy," having 8 cats over 35 years that all lived to their mid+ teens (except Minnie who died as a kitten from FIP). Nice how they complimented prospective owners as "savvy" to get on our good side!!

But was this a nice way of saying Clarabelle is a "biter." Hmm, we can probably get past that as the feral cat we gave Mike's sister is an occasional biter and sometimes even a terror. Hey, this might be payback for that wonderful gift we gave Kathy years ago. Aww, just kidding, we love our little niece cat, Widget. And this cat looks EXACTLY like Widget. They would make cute twin cat cousins. And how did she get that name Clarabelle? Is she a little clown? That could be good.

But what really caught our attention was the video clip on the website. This cat appears to be a guaranteed cuddler. Just our type.

So, with much apprehension and angst (especially by Deb), we submitted an adoption application. A day later, we get a call from the foster mom, who turns out to be a member of the Ladies' Library Association, a club to which I belong. I know her, but had no idea she was involved with animal rescue. But, big BUT, this meant we could count on getting the real scoop on this orphan cat.

So on Friday at 2pm, we drove over to my friend's home and met Clarabelle. She wasn't shy. She was a nipper (not quite a biter). And she was as cuddly as the video showed. And we were sold from minute four. After about a half hour of play time and Q&A with the foster mom, we put her in the kennel we had brought with us (just in case). After a quick stop at the pet store for litter, pan, and cat toys, we headed home.

I think we are trapped by Clarabelle.