Wednesday 22 January 2020

One small step, one giant leap

Yesterday we fitted the Tabcat trackers to their collars and we were surprised at how well they accepted them.  When we put them on Izzy and Wash, many years ago now of course,  both then-kittens decided they couldn't possibly lift their heads or move with a ton weight round their neck.

Shelby and Lewis act as if theyve always had them on.  We tested them out, and rewarded them when they came up to us with their collars beeping.

Today we took the kittens outside with their jackets on( of course!) and this time with leads attached!

DH and I synchronised ceremoniously putting Shelby and Lewis on to the wet grass, and waited to see what happened.

They sniffed the ground for a while, and then gingerly Shelby went one way, Lewis another.  I had expected that Shelby would be the one to try and chase a chicken. I was wrong.    Lewis did.  He also dragged DH round the enormous pampas grass a few times. 

It was easy to see thatLewis was more comfortable in his Jacky than Shelby was. Once he got going, he was marching around.  Shelby was more measured.  She made me laugh as she stuck her head through some trellis and tried to get the rest of her through as well.  I am a mean mum,  I really wanted one of the Girls to come and peck her on the head (not enough to hurt her, but just enough so she knows not to mess with chickens).

Astrid and Sunshine came up to say hello, the other girls kept their distance.  Every so often SHelby decided that she couldn't possibly walk with Jacky on,  and she would fall overm or roll over.  She managed to cover quite a large area of the garden, sniffing non stop.

Both cats seemed to like being outside, ad both seemed to find it a little overwhelming.   Neither cat really wanted to come in though,  and it took a lot of persuading to get Shelby to go home.

Once back inside  we made a huge fuss of them.

We'll do it again tomorrow, weather permitting.  They won't be allowed out without us until after they've been spayed/neutered and recovered.

Monday 20 January 2020


Summer, one of our two silver duckwing leghorns,  is  going to have to have a name change, which saddens me.  I like the name (it was from both the season and from an actress called Summer Glau) and it suits her, but the name now has some unfortunate connotations.    

Miss Tween, who turned 12 last week, has been subjected to bullying by a girl called Summer,  and Summer's mother has also attempted to bully Miss Tween with a horrendous post on Miss Tween's instagram page.

I'm not sure what kind of person thinks it is acceptable to post a vicious tirade on an 11 year old's Instagram page rather than to take it up with the parent of the child.   The woman was responding to a comment which Summer alleges Miss Tween made about Summer's pony.  Miss Tween did not make the comment;   and even if she had,  the posting she received was completely over the top.
 The woman helpfully ended her comment by saying Miss T or her parents could contatct her if they wanted to discuss it further.

However, when Miss T's mum tried to call,  the mother  refused to answer the phone. She also refused to respond to messages asking to discuss it.

Whatever this woman thinks Miss Tween has said, the rant that she had is just appalling. 

Miss Tween has literally only just turned 12 and has a very strong concept of fair and unfair. Being unjustly accused of something has hit her hard, much harder than being called out for something she had actually done.   She is reeling from the browbeating this woman has given her, and cannot understand the vitriol behind it. 

The irony is that the girl concerned is one of those "Mean Girl" types,  and has constantly been belittling Miss Tween because she loans rather than owns a pony.   

It's a challenge trying to help kids navigate Mean Girl behaviour.   When the behaviour shown by the parent is even worse,  it's even harder to help.


Sasha is out Appenzeller Spitzhauben, and she's a funny little stick.  We hatched her the same year that we bought Fleur (Cuckoo Marans) and Fay (Fayoumi).   The three of them eventually integrated with Poppy and Gloria,  and the 5 of them formed a flock with a strict pecking order.  Gloria>Poppy>Sasha>Fleur>Fay.

They often break into two separate flocks when ranging,   Poppy and Gloria go off as a pair, and the other 3 stick together.

Late last year there was a whole lot of stuff going on, and I think that Sasha was trying to move up the pecking order.    Nothing major happened,  and nothing outwardly seemed to change.

Later than that,  we divided the walk in run, and put the Littlees in one half with a coop to themselves.  It was a coop that had been shut up and access denied for a long, long time, so wasmn't one the older girls had used for some time. Years maybe.

A few weeks ago, at bedtime, there was a ruckus.  When I went out to see what was happening, I found Sasha in the nestbox of the Littlees coop.  The Littlees would not enter the coop and were complaining loudly.  I moved Sasha back to the big girls coop and all was well.

The same thing happened the next night.   Then it seemed to quieten down.  Then one evening I opened the nest box, on impulse, and found Sasha in there.

It was really odd.

If Sasha was trying to dominate the Littlees, she would have gone in the coop and barred the doorway to make it difficult for the others to enter; she wouldn't have gnone in and hidden herself away in the nestbox.  I wondered if she was having problems with the Big Girls  and was maybe trying to join the LIttlees flock.

But during the day, she is with the Big Girls as normal.  It's just at night that she goes off to sleep in the other coop.  

We don't tend to hear a fuss at bed time, so I guess the Littlees have got used to it.

During the day, they mostly live and let live.  Individuals from eac flock sometimes end up next to each other in the garden, and their is little or no trouble (helped by the fact that the two at the bottom of the Littlees pecking order are very respectful to the Big Girk and move away when they appear).. 

I would imagine that if we tried to force them all into one coop, there would be trouble.   I guess there may come a time when we need to do that, but we will worry about that when the need arises.

In Lay

All the Newbies are now laying.  We'e got some beautiful white eggs,  some off-white,  and one (Sylvia) brown eggs.  Fay has also just started laying, the only one of the 5 older girls to do so yet. Fleur and Sasha will restart at some point;  Gloria and Poppy may or may not,  we don't mind either way as they've earned their retirement.

Fay egg underneath
The eggs started off fairly small, same size as Fay (our Fayoumi) lays.  They are gradually increasing in size and the eggs of one of the Littlees is now much bigger than those of Fay.

They are laying in both coops, and Sylvia switches between the two.  We know this because Sylvia's eggs are instantly recognisable.

Shell-less egg
We've had a couple of eggs laid on the floor of the walk in run,  and we had one shell-less egg in the garden. It was still warm when I found it, and one of the two silver leghorns had been running around just beforehand, so I guess it was hers. 

 It was perfectly formed, just no shell

The Littlees are little no more, they are fully grown.   They've lost their baby running (which is when they run with their necks stretched out), and I miss it.

Sylvia, the silver laced barnevelder, is beautiful but aloof.   Astrid, one of the gold partridge leghorn and top of this group,  is friendly and confident;  Sunshine, the other gold partridge leghorn,  has the prettiest face, and loves meeting new people;   Summer, one of the silver duckwing leghorn, continues to be the aquawkiestscardiest leghorn I've had;  and Blondie, the other silver duckwing leghorn,  is just delightful.

Summer and Blondie  will be moving the allotment as soon as the allotment boys have vacated their coop.  Although they are now part of the big flock, the two Boys continue to sleep in their separate coop at night.    We will force a change if necessary,  but we'd prefer them to make the decision themselves.   They are from a slow developing breed,  so it will take a while before they act like cockerels.   (I don't just mean mating,  I mean all the gentlemanly behaviour that goes with it).

Thursday 16 January 2020

Izzy and the Kittens

Izzy  rarely hisses at the kittens now.

All 3 cats spend their evenings in the sitting room with us.

Usually Izzy is on one of the sofas, and the kittens are in the enormous cat tree.

Izzy won't get on the bed if the kittens are there.  She sustained a few scratches in the recent cat fight, and is feeling a bit sore. I know what I'm like when my leg is painful,  I am always keeping it wout of harms way; I think Izzy is doing the same.  Luckily she's on antibiotics anyway.

 Izzy and Lewis are also getting on well now.  She's been happy to nuzzle Shelby for some time,  and the other day we saw her nuzzling Lewis.  

I'm really pleased.  Lewis has been fascinated by Izzy since he first saw her.  He had many rebuffs as, in his eagerness to get close to her, he ignored all feline protocols.

He loves to lie somewhere near her and watch her. 

Jackets and Collars

Some weeks ago we introduced them to collars, and they accepted them much more quickly than we expected.  We've had to replace one already.

Less than a week ago, the day after they had their 2nd jab, we introduced them to Jackys.

When Wash was recuperating, I bought him a fabulous jacket from Mynwood Cat Jackets so that we could take him outside without him running off.  We thought it would be good to introduce the kittens to Jacky so that we could take them outside on leads before giving them free access.

I ordered 2 Mynwood jackets for them, for their size.  This time I went for fluourescent ones,  I'll get something more low key when they've grown.

We let them placy with the jackets first,  and then put them on.   Shelby was a complete drama queen.  Lewis was walking like a Hackney pony,  lifting his feet really high like he was walking in porridge.    The first day, they had them on for 5 minutes and that was it.    From day 2, each time they had Jacky put on, they were carried outside.   They were shown to the chickens,  they were allowed to sniff the air and catnip.  And then they came in and had to wear Jacky for an increasing length of time.   In between times, both Jackys are on the foor in the living room,  and they play with them.

They are now walking normally when wearing them,  so it won't be long before we let them put theur paws on the ground outside.   

Before then, we want to get them used to wearing their loc8tor tabs on their collars,  so that will be happening later today.


I mentioned the other day that the kittens transition to a raw diet was going well.

I went to Sainsburys a week or so ago to get some of the Lily's Chicken.  It was a good price, and I bought loads.  21 packs, which should havebenen enough to finish the transition.  Except things didn't work out as planned. .

When I got it home, I realised it wasn't Lily's Chicken whatever.  It was Lily's Organic Chicken something else.  They did not want to know.  They refused anything that was mixed with this stuff.

At first we assumed it was the raw they were objecting to.  We tried them on just the Organic Chicken and they wouldn't touch it. 

DH ended up feeding them just the raw food.  And they ate it.  All of it.  Since then, they have been served only Nutriment.  They eat the chicken, they tolerate the rabbit, they won't go near the salmon or the venison.     

They are currently eating about 1 and a half of the 175g packs a day, between them.  I've had to get a system going so that we always have a defrosted pack ready to serve, but we don't have lots of defrosted packs sitting in the fridge.  They like it fresh.

We're lucky that there is a company that specialises in raw food and they deliver to our area. I I think we'll end up getting a fortnightly delivery for a while.

Yesterday we decided to give them a treat, and I offered them a defrosted chicken heart, which is one of the additional Nutriment things that are suitable for kittens. .  They tried to eat it, but just couldn't manage it, so I cut it in half.  It took them ages to eat, but they seemed to really like them.  I gave them another half each today, and they devoured those.  Again, it took a lot of eating,  and Shelby speared hers on one paw, and held it up like a kebab to try and eat it.  It was good to see her natural behaviours showing as she worked out how to eat it.

They aso have access to dry food,  as Izzy likes dry food.  We're using Lily's dry kitten food, and only put down small amounts at a time. All 3 cats eat it.

They are growing well.  and now are the size of small cats (although they still have kitten faces).   Shelby weighed in a over 2.2kg this morning,  and Lewis was just over 2.3kg.

We'll be booking them in for neutering in a couple of weeks time.

Saturday 11 January 2020


I have a a very old, very large, sheepskin rug, which has seen better days.

Back when we were working, I had a glorious deep purple 4-sheepskin sized rug in front of the fire.  It was gorgeous,  and rugs from other companies just don't compare.   Our previous cat, Maddie, had an accident on it in her later years, and washing couldn't save it.  I replaced it immediately with another rug in a dark brown, from the same company. 

I keep thinking about replacing this one, as it is getting matted now and it's glory days are long gone.  I haven't because Izzy is getting older and may yet suffer an accident.  And now, of course, we have kittens who  like to pick at the rug.

I'll replace it eventually. And from the same company (if they are still in business!).

Because it's in front of the fire it gets full of stuff.   I have to shake it out frequently.  As is proper, I used to do this in the back garden.  However, the last few times I've done it,  the Girls have gone beserk and last time one of them leapt in the air and flew into next door's garden.

I'm not surprised.  When I  flick it,  it both looks and sounds like a ginormous bird, of course it scares  the Girls witless.

I've taken to shaking it out at the front of the house.

I feel like such a slattern. My grandmother would be ashamed.

Saturday 4 January 2020

Goodbye Christmas

All the decorations are down, boxed, and back in the loft.

Despite only having relatively few things up, it took a day or so to get sorted out.    The new wall mounted cat tree arrived, and DH spent half a day building that and putting it up.    Lewis was fascinated, and wtached carefully as DH put it up.

It's big.  It's so heavy, it has to be screwed to the wall in several places,  and that's what took the time.  That and the fact that there were some missing bits, and DH had to make them.

All 3 cats ignored the new feature, which surprised me as the kittens are usually into everything. 

Lewis did decide to try out the Cat Cave this afternoon, so hopefully they will all try using it.

 Their current favourite plaything is a blue Ikea bag, which I used to bring logs in from outside and discarded on the kitchen floor.   It's provided them with hours of endless fun as they use it as a hiding place, a bed,  camouflage,  a sled, and something which makes a lovely crinkly rustling noise.

More progress with Izzy today.  She nuzzled Shelby, no aggression at all.  Later, she was eating from her bowl (which is microchip activated),  and she let Shelby muscle in and eat beside her!  We were amazed!    We had to remove Shelby though, as we're trying to get the kittens on to a raw food diet,  and Izzy was eating Felix.   (We have tried several times over the years to get Izzy on to raw,  but she steadfastly refuses to eat anything that has even a pinch of raw food mixed in.  Wash happily converted to 100% raw after just one meal. At the time Nutriment only did cat raw in 500g frozen blocks so nuch was wasted. We gave up in the end).

The kittens food transition is going well,  and the Nutriment (raw food) proportion of each meal is now just over 50%.   They have Views on which variety of Nutriment they will eat and which they won't ("No  thanks" to the Venison, " F**k off" to the Salmon (honestly, you'd think I'd put poison down), "If I must " to the Rabbit, "Not sure about this" to the beef,  and "nom nom" to the chicken).    It also matters what we mix it withh.  Chicken Lily's is most acceptable.  Lewis will also eat Lily's Lamb Casserole.  No one will eat the Hunters HotPot.     I'm re-trying the Poultry Pie and the fishy one over the next few days.  The local cat charity lady will be pleased to get the unopened rejected packets.

They continue to be amazingly sociable little cats.


Friday 3 January 2020

Big Paw Forward

Last night, all three cats slept on the bed!

At the same time!!

Lewis, the young boy cat, was lying on my legs;   Izzy was lying between me and my husband;  Shelby was lying down nby my husband's feet.  

All was calm,  all was quiet.

This morning, Izzy was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and the kittens were having their pre-breakfast mad runaround.    She watched them.

A strange thing happened

Tired out from seeing in the New Year with our lovely friends (S&K),  DH and I went to bed early on the 1st Jan.

We were woken in the middle of ythe night by Izzy, crying.  We leapt out of bed and DH ran downstairs.

On the bottom step was a rat.  A dead rat.  Not a baby.

But that wasn't the cause of the crying.    Izzy was watching out of the kitchen door, and could see an enormous grey cat in the garden.    When DH arrived in the kitchen, she went through the catflap and attacked,  and there was a horrendous fight.

She came back in, and we checked her over to see if she had been bitten (by the rat or ny the cat).  She seemed OK,  just a bit wobbly.

We aren't sure if the rat was a present for us,  or whether she was staring to teach the kittens about catching things.    We aren't sure if she killed the rat herself, or whether it was already dead.   She'd gone out of the cat flap at ten (I love SureFlap Smart Connect cat flaps!, so ythat's when it would have been brought in.   Rigor had set in, and a quick google told us that the timing meant she might have killed it herself.   

She's never been a ratter, so that was a bit of a surprise.  She's not been a fighter either, so we were bemused by the night's events.

I mentioned this to Miss Tween, and she reminded me that we had had a big grey cat visiting before,  and I had called it ThunderThighs because it had jumped on the fence and made the fence wobble.  MIss Tween also found a load of cat fur (both Izzy's and Thunderthighs) at the scene of the battle.

We checked her (Izzy, not Miss Tween) over again in the morning, and she seems OK.

It occurred to us that maybe Izzy went out to fight to protect the kittens?

Thursday 2 January 2020

Kittens second week

Our guests left on Saturday afternoon.  We carried the kittens into the sitting room so Izzy could see them on her territory.  She was unimpressed.

On the Sunday morning, we opened the hall door so they could have the run of downstairs.   Once the dor was open, it will stayed open.    Izzy, our older cat, kept trying to get away, so we took her upstairs and she stayed on the bed.    Shelby tried the cat flap, but its microchip operated and she isn't programmed in to it yet so she couldn't get it to work.  

They've went everywhere, in everything, under everything, and they are fascinated by the christmas tree (I didn't put any baubles of decorations on the bottom half, so they are just biffing the branches).

Shelby followed me upstairs into the bedroom, and Izzy just glared at her.  A bit later, Shelby jumped on the bed,  and edged closer and closer.  Eventually she tried to sniff Izzy's face, and Izzy growled a bit and then just got off the bed.     We think that went really well!    Not ready for unsupervised mixing, of course.      Geoff took Izzy into his study, which is one of the few remaining kitten-free zones (and it will remain an Izzy only space for the forseeable future),  so she didn't get overwhelmed.

Downstairs, Izzy would sleep on the cat tree, and Shelby slept on the sofa opposite. Mostly, Izzy ignored the kittens.  

The kittens were fascinated by Izzy.  They kept wanting to get close to her, climbing on the back of the sofa or up th cat tree to reach her.  She would growl at them,  and then hiss or biff if they got too close. 

If they persisted, we removed them.  We didn't want Izzy to get stressed out. 

Downstairs again,  Shelby had been watching the chickens in the garden  and could hardly contain her excitement.   We're currently slowly merging a flock of 5 pullets from this years hatch in with our existing old ladies, and none of the garden is fenced off so there is plenty of room.    This means that, from time to time,one or other of the two flocks congregates around the back door (anfd, if its the youngsters,  they peck on the cat flap).   Shelby came round the corner to see a few hens stadiing just the other side of the glass door,  and she charged at them, ending up standing on her back legs with her body against the glass.   The pullets are used to being ignored by my other cats, so being charged at by something was a bit of a shock.  And of course once the alarm went up, they all started!

 Shelby is definitely the bolder of the two.  She's fearless in her investigations;  she's happy to be stroked,  but has no hesitation in mobving off when something more interesting comes along, or she's had enough.  Lewis is a purr monster,  and loves having his tummy tickled.    He likes to look out of the window, but isn't fascinated by the outside

More visitors arrived on Christmas Eve, and the kittens didn't bat their eyelids.  They continued to be happy, payful, well adjusted kittens.    

Izzy was brilliant with them.    As the days progressed,  we saw that she would sometimes let them pass without growling.     Yesterday (New Years Eve), Izzy and Shelby nosed each other.  Shelby was so excited she came back a second time.  On the 3rd time, Izzy had had enough and growled at her,  and she backed off.

We also noticed that Izzy started to watch with interest from the safety of the cat tree, rather than watching without being seen to watch.

We aren't home and dry yet,  but we are really happy with the way it has gone so far .

Getting ready for Chritsmas

It was a struggle this year.

It took me days to put up half the normal amount of decorations. The tree was only half decorated (we kept the bottom half free of baubles because of the kittens).  

I did manage to make a wreath.  I forgot to take a pic until just now,  and the batteries have run out on the very discreet lights.

I also made and decorated some cakes. One was fully marzipanned, iced and decorated.    The cakes for us and for Miss Tween's Mum were not iced, they had glazed nut toppings.  I used only Almonds this year: Miss Tween has an allergic reaction to walnuts and pecans

Somehow I managed to not take pictures, which is a shame as I was quit eproud of the artwork (considering the limited nature of one type of nut)

I also made a few puddings, and I'm pleased I did.

Shelby and Lewis Meet the Vet

Each time our visitors went out,  we tried to get Izzy to take a look at the kittens.  We didn't force them to meet each other.  Izzy did well.  There was a bit of growling, and some hissing,  but that was only to be expected.

On Thursday the kittens went off to the Vet.  Shelby got into the travel bag, but Lewis refused.  Given their history, we wondered if he thought he was being moved on again.  They behaved beautifully at the Vets and were given a clean bill of health.  They were jabbed, and chipped,  and we filled in lots of forms.

Back at home, the kittens were very sleepy, so we left them upstairs.

They were both really good natured with the visitors.  We've started moving them on to a raw diet (the kittens, not the vistors).

We also gradually switched them over from a normal litter tray to an electric litter tray.  We started with a normal litter tray with normal (ish) litter.    The first change was to put a lid on the litter tray.   Then we put their normal (ish) litter on in the base of the electric one.  Then we switched them to the crystal litter.  Then we put the front on.  Then we moved the litter tray.  Then we plugged it in.

A couple of days later we found Lewis making himself at home in Izzy's identical litter tray downstairs, so that worked really well.

It amazes me that they take so many changes in their stride.

On Friday, Miss Tween came over for the afternoon and stayed overnight.  I'd expected that my overseas giests would be gone, but it turnedout that "Wednesday to Friday" really meant "Wednesday thru Friday".   She knew one of the guests so had a good evening.  We got to try out the new self-inflating, very sturdy, bed that I'd bought a few weeks ago. 

We'd been trying to get her over earlier, without letting on why,  but that was the earliest. we could arrange something.   It worked out really well,  she was completely besotted with them from the start.

Shelby and Lewis - first days

Shelby and Lewis spent their first evening in the bathroom.  They had a cat tree, a litter tray, food water,  two beds,  a bath with towels in, and lots of space where we'd cleared the room of damageable things.

On Tuesday,  we let them in to our bedroom.   And then put them back in the bathroom.  And then let them in the bedroom.  We temporarily barricarded the bannister,  but had nothing to block the stairs,  so we couldn't let them free range.

We made sure Izzy started to become aware of them.  She'd been aware of them since Monday, and wasn't happy.     On Tuesday evening,  I took her in to the bedroom, while Shelby and Lewis were playing.  I sat on the bed with Izzy, stroking her and talking to her.  She was Not A Happy Cat.  She tried to hiss,  she made that "intruder" yowl,  which I tried to cover up.  After a few minutes, I took her out.

I repeated the exercise later.  More hissing and growling,  but the kittens seemed oblivious.  Later, when the kittens were back in the bathroom,  I took Izzy upstairs.  She refused to stay.

She ignored me for the rest of the evening,  and was a bit more cuddly with her Dad.   She also refused to come in to the bedroom that night (she normally comes in when we are safely in bed).  And she refused to stay when we brought her in the following morning.

We got some cardboard out of the loft, and fashioned a barrier for the bannister, which folded round to block the top of the stairs.   With all the other doors shut, we were able to let the kittens free range between the bathroom and our bedroom.

Later in the day,  I cleared the stairs and hall,  and now their free ranging area included the stairs and hallway.   It's a bit of a challenge when we need to answer the door.

Izzy is not happy.   No surprise.   Despite lots of cuddles and reassurance,  she is busy being Not Happy.  She went out into the garden, and tried to climb on the (collapsed) swing bench.      Sunshine,  our friendly little Leghorn,  watched her with interest.  Izzy interpreted the interest as a bit of a threat, but was unable to escape.

Sunshine decided to go and say hello.   She climbed up the broken bit of swing to get closer to Izzy.  Unfortunately, it was an awkward climb, ad she had to flap her wings to help her balance.  Izzy tok that as an attack and ran off.    She's back in the house now, and is lying on one of her (many) beds on the sofa.   I picked her up for a cuddle, and she purred for a while... then she remembered she was cross with me, and leapt off me.

We did a couple more "take Izzy into the bedroom to watch the kittens" things,  and then our overseas visitors arrived.