Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of our friends who celebrate, and to everyone, may you have a peaceful holiday season and New Year!

Here's a repeat of Connor's dreams of Christmas:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Introducing #projectFollowingCats

Happy Friday! I want to tell you about a project I’m starting on Instagram, one that I’ll be sharing on this blog.

The purpose of this blog—and a lot of what I’m all about—is to celebrate living life with cats, to write about the beautiful, funny, heartbreaking, love-filled life I have as I follow cats.

As a way of documenting what life with cats is like, I’m posting a picture each day of one or more of my cats on Instagram, with a little bit of the story behind each picture.

Living with cats is not all sun puddles and purrs. You know that if you have ever lived with a cat. When we take care of a living being, there are hard times, there is sadness, and there is pure grief.

But living with cats gives me joy. What love I would be missing if I didn’t have cats around me. 

In adopting cats, I am giving them a home and, as much as I possibly can, a peaceful and safe environment. I can only hope that I give as much to my cats as they give to me. 

I hope my documentation will help others—even those who never really think about cats—see the beauty and awesomeness of cats.

If you’d like to follow along on Instagram, I’m at tinabarbour9.

The picture of Natasha in this post is the first one I posted for the project. She is staring at the birds on one of the bird feeders on a cold, gray November day. Cat TV at its best.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Long time, no see

Abbey and Natasha at the window one day when I got home from work.
Please excuse the reflections.

I didn’t realize how long we had been away from blogging until I looked at my last post. 

We didn’t mean to be away from the blog for this long. Abbey, Natasha, and Connor are doing fine. But the humans in the house have had a tough several weeks. 

My mother-in-law passed away in August. Though it was expected, it wasn’t expected so soon. And we are never “ready” to lose a loved one, even when they are sick.

Mable Worley Barbour was 94 years old. She was in overall good health until earlier this year. She lived by herself until last August, for 10 of the 11 years since my father-in-law passed away. And she did well for most of the time she was in a nursing home. We are thankful that she wasn’t bedridden except near the end.

Larry is an only child, so he has had all of the responsibility of taking care of the estate and the tasks that must be done. That is hard to do while simultaneously dealing with the loss of a parent. 

A bit earlier in August, I had to have an appendectomy. I got sick at work one morning with abdominal pain that just wouldn’t go away. I went home and tried all of my home remedies for what I thought was a digestive issue. That evening, Larry took me to the ER, and the next morning, I had surgery. I was able to go home the next day.

The day I got home from the hospital, Mable’s health started deteriorating rapidly, and she passed away early the next morning. I’m thankful I was able to get to the nursing home to spend time with her before she passed. 

Through all of this, the kitties have helped to get us through. Of course, all the upset in household routine was hard on them. But our schedules are getting back to normal, and that’s a good thing for them.

I have missed you and have tried to keep up with what was going on in your lives. But I’m sure I’ve missed many things. I look forward to spending more time with you.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Soaking in the Sun

Natasha, Abbey, and Connor soaking in the late afternoon sun. We are all fine and will see you next week!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all of our U.S friends!

The New Colossus
BY Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she 
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cat Relationships: Natasha and Abbey

Relationships among cats who live together can be a mystery. Some cats seem to bond immediately. Others live together for years and still hiss at each other in passing. 

In our household, Abbey and Connor are closer than the two girls or Natasha and Connor are to each other. 

But sometimes I see Natasha and Abbey together, birdwatching or lounging or napping. Sometimes they touch noses, stare at each other, and then they go on their separate ways. Sometimes one swats the other, and then they go on their separate ways. Then they surprise me when one bathes the head of the other.

I guess cats’ relationships are at least as complicated as human relationships.


Nap time

How do the cats in your household get along?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friendly Fill-ins Blog Hop: with Connor

Happy Friday, everyone! We are joining the Friendly Fill-ins Blog Hop hosted by 15 and Meowing and McGuffy’s Reader.

We enjoy participating in this blog hop because the fill-ins always make us think, and we enjoy learning more about our fellow bloggers. 

This week, Connor is helping with the answers.

1. A recurring dream I have is _____________________.

2. Turn ______________ into ________________________.

3. ______________ is driving me crazy!

4. Lately, I have been ________________.

1. A recurring dream I have is one where I have enrolled in college courses, and classes have started. But I can’t find my class schedule or get to class. (Connor: In a recurring dream I have, I’m riding on a skateboard down the street with my squirrel friends.)

2. Turn worries about criticism into opportunities to improve in something. (Connor: Turn a box into a hide-out place so you can jump out and scare everyone!)

3. My hair is driving me crazy! I got it cut short in February, and I haven’t been happy with it. I am growing it out, and this in-between state is driving me crazy. (Connor: My fur is driving me crazy! It is growing back from my surgery, but this in-between state is driving me crazy.)

4. Lately, I have been having a hard time sleeping. I have been taking some allergy medicine, and it seems to make me restless. (Connor: Lately, I have been having a hard time keeping to my nighttime snooping schedule. Mama gets up and down, up and down, all night.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pictures from Home

I love being at home with my cats. During the day, they sleep a lot, but they still find time to follow me around or sit nearby. They let me join them at the window to watch birds and squirrels. I’m around to hug them and make over them.

I’m not yet at a place in my life where I can be a stay-at-home cat mom. Larry is retired. I’m glad he’s home a lot so he can keep an eye on the kitties. But sometimes I get jealous.

Like the day I was at work, and I received a text from Larry with this picture.

Natasha was sitting on his nap, and he wanted to share. He loves the cats as much as I do and loves when they hang out with him. 

I was happy that Larry was happy, happy that Natasha was happy. But I couldn’t help feeling a little sad that I wasn’t at home with them.

At least when I get home from work, the kitties usually look glad to see me and tell me about their day. And at least I get weekends off! 

Do you miss your pets when you’re not home?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Happy Father’s Day to our Papa

Abbey, Natasha, and Connor here. We want to wish our Dad, who we call Papa, an early Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month




June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, a good time to remind ourselves and others why adopting from a shelter is so important.

Recently, one family surrendered 30 cats to the animal shelter in my county. Apparently, the people had been trying to feed stray cats, but had not taken the crucial step of having the cats spayed and neutered. So the 30 cats included kittens.

Also in the shelter, among other cats, was a 16-year-old gray girl who had been surrendered by her owner.

The young, the old, the in between: you can find them all at your local shelter. And they all need homes. They all need love.

Our shelter is fortunate to now have two cages at the local PetSmart to showcase our cats, and that has helped increase cat adoptions. From talking with the volunteers who work most closely with the cats, they think part of the reason is because people don’t want to have to visit the “animal shelter” or say they adopted from the “animal shelter.” And frankly, the shelter is not a pleasant place to visit.

Our county has a long way to go to making our animal shelter more pleasant to potential adopters and, most importantly, larger, with more room for the animals. Dogs and cats are euthanized because of no room. That is tragic.

Why don't we have a better shelter? There aren't enough people willing to pay the money needed to do it. There isn't a desire from the governing body of the county, the board of supervisors, to do anything. I want to scream at my fellow county residents and board of supervisors: Why are you letting this happen?

I manage the website for the volunteer group, Friends of Campbell County Animal Control (FOAC) that works closely with animal control officers to get as many animals adopted as possible. I make donations of food and funds. But I’m not on the front line like many of the volunteers, having to make life and death decisions, trying with all their hearts to promote animals to would-be adopters. 

No animal should die because someone decided they didn’t want him or her, because there’s no room for her, because she’s old, because he’s not perfect. Because he or she is in a shelter.

If you want to adopt a cat, please go to your local shelter. Even if your local shelter is No-Kill, continue to support them and adopt. The No-Kill shelter in a nearby city helps our county by taking some of our animals. When you free up spaces in a No-Kill shelter, you are still helping.

Of the seven cats Larry and I have had the privilege to have, four were adopted from our county’s shelter, one was given to Larry by a neighbor who was moving, one was adopted from a neighbor whose cat had kittens, and one was a stray that we adopted. Abbey, Natasha, and Connor all were adopted from the county shelter.

Our cats have been nothing less than a joy to us. We don’t care if they were “owned” before. We don’t care if they don’t have papers to show how “pure” they are. We accept the love they give us, and we give them love.

For information about what you can do to support Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, see the ASPCA website and the PetFinder website.

I am probably preaching to the choir with this post. But please spread the word to family and friends who might not know: adopting a shelter cat is one of the best choices you will ever make.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Going Inside Cat TV

My kitties love Cat TV. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, a chipmunk—they provide great entertainment in a variety of shows and programs.

Last weekend, I decided to take my camera inside Cat TV. I quickly learned that the birds and squirrels and rabbits and chipmunk definitely sense when a human is intruding. I also learned that the squirrels were pretty quick to ignore my presence and return to the food.

This is our backyard. 

After I made my entrance onto the set of Cat TV, the squirrels disappeared, then climbed up and down and around the trees.

Then one decided eating was more important than worrying about that human with the clicky box. 

I couldn’t catch a photo of any wildlife in the side yard. But I sensed I was being watched by critters waiting for me to go inside.

Someone else was watching me. 

Connor said I ruined Cat TV.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A scare, but all is okay

Connor waiting to be seen by the vet.

The scare: Yesterday morning, after running around and wrestling with Abbey, Connor started limping badly and holding up his leg where he had hip surgery.

It wasn’t long before he was walking normally again. But I still called the vet’s office, and they had us bring in Connor this morning.

Verdict: The vet, who is the surgeon is operated on Connor almost eight weeks ago, said it won’t be unusual for him to strain a muscle while he’s healing. The healing process can take up to a year, he said. Some muscles which didn’t have to do much work are not being asked to do more. He thinks that is what happened yesterday.

He watched Connor walk around the exam room, and he examined Connor and rotated his leg joint. He said Connor is doing great, as well as he has seen eight weeks after surgery. He doesn’t feel any rough edges of bone on bone. 

The best thing for Connor if he strains a muscle is to rest. And ironically, yesterday he spent some time of his own choosing in the crate on his bed where he spent six weeks. 

There is nothing that can move out of place or pop out, and his muscles will become stronger the more he uses them.

So even though Larry and I panicked (or maybe it was more of me who panicked) yesterday, Connor is fine. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friendly Fill-Ins Blog Hop: with Abbey

Happy Friday! We’re participating in the Friendly Fill-Ins Blog Hop, presented by 15 and Meowing and McGuffy’s Reader. This week Abbey is helping me.

We would like to express our condolences to Ellen and family of 15 and Meowing for the loss of their Snowball. We are so sorry. 

1. A law I would like to see passed is _________________.

2. My favorite card game is ____________________.

3. With Summer unofficially here, __________________.

4. A favorite Summer memory is _______________.

1. A law I would like to see passed is one that would make abuse of animals a more serious crime. (Abbey: I want the same thing Mama wants.)

2. My favorite card game is Uno, if that is considered a card game. It has been years since I’ve played any card game. (Abbey: My favorite card game is Go Fish!)

3. With Summer unofficially here, I am already tired of the heat. (Abbey: With Summer unofficially here, I am liking the birdies that come visit us.)

4. A favorite Summer memory is riding my bike up and down our long driveway on the farm. (Abbey: A favorite Summer memory is watching birdies and squirrels and then taking a long nap, every day.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day

To our friends in the United States, we wish you a happy Memorial Day. And for all of you, we wish for peace.

I will be taking a few days of vacation (a staycation) next week, so we won’t be here on Tuesday. But we’ll be back next Friday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Six weeks

Six weeks ago today, Connor broke his hip, which I chronicled here. He had the surgery for the femoral capital physeal fracture the next day, and he has been recovering ever since.

Any time Connor was out of the crate over the last six weeks, we have had to monitor him closely to make sure he didn’t jump, run, or make any explosive movements. 

Gradually, over the last week or so, we’ve been giving him more freedom from the crate and from our constant surveillance. I think he’s glad we’re not following him everywhere in the house.

Every night since he came home on April 13, he has spent the night in the crate. Last night was his last night in the crate. Also, each weekday before I left for work, I would put him back in the crate after breakfast .Today at work, I received the following text from Larry:

We’ll leave the crates in the den for a few more days in case we need to give him a rest or if he needs what he may now see as a safe refuge.

Connor still has healing to do. The vet said he will get stronger over the next six months or so as his muscles holding the femur in place grow stronger. 

But he’s feeling more like his old self. He is again trying to conduct experiments with the picture hanging in the living room. *How much can I make it swing back and forth?*

Thank you all for your prayers and support over the last six weeks. You have helped to make this an easier time for us.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friendly Fill-Ins Blog Hop: with Natasha

Happy Friday! We’re participating in the Friendly Fill-Ins Blog Hop, presented by 15 and Meowing and McGuffy’s Reader. This week Natasha is helping me.

1. I have googled __________________.

2. I have_____________________ on Ebay.

3. I think ___________________.

4. _______________thinks _______________.

1. I have googled every known symptom of illnesses in cats when my cats have been sick. (Natasha: I have googled the very best toys that Mama should buy for us.)

2. I have never bought anything on Ebay. (Natasha: I have seen some things I’d like to buy on Ebay, but I don’t have my own magic plastic buying card.)

3. I think all people and animals are connected. (Natasha: I think humans can learn a lot from cats.)

4. Natasha thinks she should be able to invite the squirrels to lunch. (Natasha: Mama thinks that’s a bad idea.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Stubborn Squirrel: A Story in Pictures

Introduction: The squirrels seemed to be eating more of the bird seed in the bird feeders than seemed fair. So Larry got baffles to put on some of the poles. 

Does this squirrel understand the purpose of a baffle?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Connor Update

It has been four weeks since Connor had the FHO surgery, and he is doing well. He is still in a “controlled” environment: he is in the crate all night (I’m still sleeping in the den with him) and when we can’t monitor him closely. He jumps up on the bench to watch the birds and squirrels and up on armchairs and sofas to snooze. His appetite is good. He wants to run and play with his sisters, which usually involves a chase, but we try to keep that to a minimum. 

But Larry and I were concerned with his walk because we didn’t know how much of a limp was normal. So I made a very amateur video of him walking and emailed it to the surgeon. He responded that the way Connor was walking four weeks after surgery was how he would expect. 

He said that “cats are never normal after this procedure. They don't have a hip joint after all. He will always walk with a bit of a limp and not have quite the range of motion as before. He will have steady improvement over the next 6 months or so as the muscles get stronger to help support the leg. For me, the success of the surgery is more determined by the animals pain/activity level - he seems pretty darn happy in the video! That tells me that the lameness is more "functional" and less painful. 
Overall, he looks like he's right on track for this point post-op.”

So if Connor is feeling good and is happy, then we’re happy.

If you’d like to see the video, you can check it out on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What are those kitties looking at?

Bird and Squirrel TV! They are looking at the bird feeders in the back yard. Since the pictures of the feeders were taken, we have added more feeders for the birds and one for the squirrels. 

Those squirrels will be another story. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, Connor!

Happy 2nd Birthday to Connor Romeo! We are so glad he's part of our family.

Love you forever, sweet boy!