Mac, Hmandu, And Ridley Too

After the hissing subsided and Hmandu figured out that he was not being replaced, he decided that, “the kid is ok”. Just as we had hoped, Mac and Hmandu are best buds.

We decided to get a Kitten for our Kitten when our two older Cats insisted that something had to be done. Also known as ‘the ‘ladies who nap’, seventeen year old Rhiannon and fifteen year old Astarte are no longer amused by getting chased, swatted at or being put in a random headlock by an adolescent male Cat with a testosterone problem. There was much growling, hissing and ear flattening, not to mention that the ladies’ stress level was at the point that I was going to ask the vet for Xanax…for them and for me.

Mac’s arrival was greatly anticipated and did not fail to live up to our expectations of producing a high level of fun. Exploring the house, playing with a large assortment of toys and the joy of discovering the never empty food dishes had him bouncing around like a furry super ball. Hmandu watched all of this with a mixture displeasure and caution that, when thrown to the wind, would result in a Gorilla Glue kind of bond.

Mac had no reservations what so ever. He was used to being accepted solely on his masterful skill of being adorable. Encountering not only one, but three ‘tough sells’ was a totally new experience for him. The ladies made attempts at filling a tandem mothering role of keeping him in line and spit taming any tufts of unruly fur as most mothers do. Hmandu soon dispensed with his posturing and allowed his inner frat boy free reign. That was when the real fun began and I had to make peace with having a few cherished possessions smashed beyond repair. Boys will, indeed, be boys. Everything was just as we had anticipated and expected. What we didn’t plan on was Ridley.

I had actually wanted a polydactyl. We would have had one when we began the adoption process for Mac if we had not lost Millie to pneumonia. Lauren, who runs Underdog Rescue, and I tearfully dealt with her loss. It was unexpected, painful and fast. One day we were making plans to pick her up and the next, things were delayed due to Millie having pneumonia and then the phone call to say that the measures that were taken to save her had failed. However, when Lauren sent me a picture of a male poly, who was considerably older than the ‘Kitten’ we were looking for, we decided to take Ridley too. After all, how could I say, “he’s too old and not the right color.” We wanted a very young black Kitten, but orange and white six year old Ridley needed a home.

He had to get neutered and had a few dental issues and excessive ear wax, but after seeing the rescue’s vet for all of those things, he was ready to come home. I, again, had an image of everyone settling in without mishap. Introducing an adult male Cat into a household that already had one, was not going to be without issues I know, but I wanted so desperately for Ridley to be happy. He had been through a lot between coming from a distant humane society and a foster home and I was eager to assure him that he had found his ‘forever home’.

For the first two days Ridley hid under the bed in the guest room and any amount of coaxing him out resulted in his being bullied by Hmandu. This really upset me. I can’t handle seeing any animal cower in fear and it broke my heart. By the third day, he came out and sprawled on the sofa demanding, “what’s for dinner?”.  Hmandu found himself on the receiving end of a number of well placed swats and, even though they still have that macho dominance thing from time to time, there is peace in the valley.

In the midst of the chaos and frenetic energy that bounces off the walls most days, we celebrate what has become life in this house of joy. My husband and I agree that a house is only a home to us when it is shared with multiple felines. When we had lost four of the six we had, some for twenty something years, there was a void. The pain of grieving runs deep and sometimes, you just don’t feel that you can go through it again so you think, ‘no more’. Having animal companions, except when you adopt those who will outlive you, comes with a knowing that at some point they will leave you. However, the attempt to protect your heart from pain by denying that which brings you joy is no way to live.

So, we are owned by five Cats and for the most part, they keep us in line, spit tame any stubborn tufts of ‘fur’ on us and each other, and allow us to spoil them rotten. We laugh and smile a lot and pretty much fashion our lives around their needs. Rhiannon was recently diagnosed with diabetes so she needs injections twice a day, but considering that a month ago she was badly dehydrated and near death due to a bladder infection, it’s what we have to do to keep her healthy and alive. We nursed her back with IV fluids and antibiotics and celebrated every bit of food or water she’d take in. Now, at seventeen years old, she looks great and is thriving.

When you open your home to animals it requires that you also open your heart. Then the love flows in and out. Somehow, we always find room for one more.


I gotta say, this is an awesome way to start the day…any day. It began when I loaded the coffee pot and pushed the button. I wouldn’t say that our water is hard, but it sounds like marbles dropping when it fills the glass and I’ll need to cut the stream of coffee with a scissors. I guess it’s time to decalcify the coffee maker again so that it takes less than a half hour to make 5 cups. We do have a water softener, but of course, it’s only for the hot water and using bottled water gets to be a drag, so…I run this ‘stuff’ through the pot every other week or so…but I’m out of the ‘stuff’.

I decide to go down to the great room and amuse myself until I can hack off a chunk of the potent brew and peer out the window as all women in their ‘crone’ years do. You never know what neighbor might be doing something interesting…like standing there watching his Dog take a dump as he patiently waits with a plastic bag. Did I mention that I’m a Cat person? I’d have to devise some kind of apparatus that would attach to the Dog…like duct tape the bag to the business end to avoid this situation.

Any way, I begin the wait as the coffee pot goes through its medley of hit songs that all sound like some old whino gargling until it comes to a stop and a pshhht of steam signals that the end has finally arrived. In the mean time, what to do? It’s too dark yet to watch the Dog lover and  we, …ok yes, I, made the executive decision to take the TV out of the room as our daughter, the interior designer, suggested when we put in the wood flooring.  This means that I can’t watch some infomercial featuring a woman shoving her ample ass into a groaning pair of spandex underpants, and for this, I am grateful.  I could go down to the Green Man pub in the lower level and watch the big screen, but it’s so realistic down there that the idea of sitting in a pub at this hour, 5:30 AM, seems a bit seamy.

Our teen aged ‘Cattin’, Hmandu, is sitting on the floor looking for amusement as well so I decide to combine our efforts. He has yet to be introduced to the laser pointer. I dig it out and discover that the battery is low, but it emits enough light to produce a little red dot if I don’t go too far out into the room. I move it around the floor and find that he is watching the thing in my hand because he has already discovered that the ‘dot’ has its origins there. Smart little bastard. Finally, I get him to look at the dot…yes, it’s like going to a contrived haunted house on Samhain. You know none of the stuff in there is real, but you scream anyway because it’s more fun that way. Ok, Einstein, chase the friggin’ dot!!!

Finally, he takes part in this ruse and begins to hunt the dot. Yea. This is fun and he’s being extra cute so I start to chuckle. All of a sudden, Rhiannon, our 16 year old senior citizen who usually joins me in ‘window peering,’ jumps on the dot and starts to chase it. Hmandu stops mid chase because he can’t believe it either. Any time he initiates play with her, it consists of a swat to the head, a sneer and a haughty retreat.

Rhiannon is my ‘familiar’ because she was the understudy and took on the role when Isis crossed over at the age of 21. For those of you who are not familiar with ‘familiars’, this is usually an animal companion that assists a Witch when doing Magickal work and forms a deep bond. They know there is something different about you, they figure it out, and form a special alliance. For this reason, they feel superior and if there are other animal companions in the house, makes sure they know it.

I begin to rock with laughter because this is so uncharacteristic of ‘the Queen’, but she’s apparently discovered the joys of undoing her tightly wound bun and romping barefoot through the meadow and at this point, doesn’t care who’s watching. Hmandu looks down right confused as he sits at the edge of the rug and watches cautiously, expecting this spontaneous outburst of merriment will come to a screeching halt and a paw will thunk the side of his face.

The game ends when Rhiannon decides she’s had enough of this ridiculous display, satisfied that she has managed to show the boy how it’s played and that she is still the reigning champion. I simmer down and the laughter subsides, but not until I take a moment to realize what a glorious experience this has been. Silly? Yes, but then most joy is conceived in the silliest of times. Monty Python’s ‘Confuse A Cat’ skit played out before me and made me laugh just as much.

I decide that I will attempt to start every day with a burst of laughter. If I can’t orchestrate a scene such as this, I have plenty of memories that will get me going. This one will join the ranks, for sure. How very grateful I am.

Ah, I managed to finish this just as the coffee pot emits the shot of steam that signals the Grande Finale.  Now, where did I put that scissors…