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Last Tuesday we stuffed Muriel and Callie into a cat carrier and moved them to Rensselaer, NY, where we will all live while the new house is built. They didn’t take it well.

Muriel hasn’t been out of the house since she was 10 weeks old and we had her spayed. That’s about 20 months. All she knows of the world has been acquired in an 1800 square foot condo. Sure, bugs and birds flew by the many windows and sliding doors, but they were like television - interesting but not quite real. Her world was furniture and walls and litter boxes in very specific places.

After refusing to leave to carrier for 4 hours and then hiding under the toilet tank for another 4, hunger and bowels got the best of Muriel and she began to explore the new place. It soon became obvious to her that she had entered an alternate universe. That LOOKS like the couch, but it’s on the wrong rug. That SMELLS like the coffee table, but what’s that spackle odor in the background? Those are the same humans, but they don’t sit and read, they scurry about moving large objects and making loud noises.

Now it’s a week later and she apparently has decided that alternate universes call for alternate behaviors. We came down to breakfast this morning to find her up above the kitchen cabinets. She must have hopped up onto the counter, then onto the fridge, and finally up over the wall cabinets. Once there, she froze - the house cat equivalent of the cat up the tree. This from a cat who was formerly height challenged - she’d have to pump a few times just to jump up on your lap.

We wouldn’t have noticed her for a while except that Callie was whimpering and looking up - cat language for “I’m telling! You’re not supposed to be up there! You’re going to get in trouble!”

Luckily we have a secret weapon for diverting their attention. They spend long periods of time just staring down the central air conditioning vents, waiting for the creatures who live there to stop whistling and come out to play.

Obligatory Cat Pics

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It's time for an obligatory blogger's cat picture posting.

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Here is Muriel showing off her luxurious tail. She's just getting past the chasing phase and may actually now realize that it belongs to her.

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Callie continues to feel superior to the young whipper-snapper.

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Can't skip Muriel's extremely hairy paws. These make for some very humorous trips across the hardwood floors when she tries to run. Shades of Soupy Sales' pet, Black Tooth...

Muriel's New Noise

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the_girls.jpgOur kitten Muriel is getting bigger every day. No longer the little thing she was when we brought her home in October, she is now almost as long as her older sister Callie.

But up to now one thing has stayed the same - Muriel's voice, or lack thereof. She doesn't meow, howl, growl, or cry. She just opens her mouth and this little aspirated noise leaks out. It is best described by having you do a short sample yourself. Say the word "kick", but leave off the "ck" sound at the end. This aspirated "ki.." signals everything from "Hey there!" to "I'm hungry" to challenges to Calllie over food.

Not so loud that it is annoying, the noise can easily be ignored if the situation warrants. This has been a good thing because Muriel loves to talk. Start preparing dinner and she saunters into the kitchen with a stream of "ki..s". Her fixation with the bedroom ceiling fan would be a problem if the stream of utterances that she unleashes while standing on her hind legs had any volume or power, but fifteen "ki..s" in a row just end up sounding silly when you realize that she is trying to threaten an electrical device.

Yesterday she came up with a new sound. Being consistent, this is not a yowl or a mew. It is more like the sound of a door that is just beginnng to need oil on its hinges - a short, soft, plaintive, high pitched, whimper - sort of an "eep" without the "p" on the end. It comes out in twos and threes when she is perturbed or excited. She gives it to Callie when she wants her to play but Callie doesn't want any part of it. She gave it to me today after she was expelled to her time-out room (under the couch) for losing her head and jumping up onto the bookshelf during a particularly enthusiastic chase session with her sister.

I hope that this is the end of her vocabulary development. She's just at the age where she might begin to talk back. I'd hate to have to head into that problem again. Corie spent an awful lot of time under the couch as a teenager and I think that she still resents it.

Pedigrees for the Masses

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Callie-Hat.jpgWhile browsing the Web a few weeks ago, trying to get a handle on what breed of cat Muriel might be descended from, I came across quite a few pedigree breeders. They all had pictures of their cats and listed their pedigree names and their call names. Almost all pedigree animals have call names because its hard to yell out Come on, Verismo Wotan of Valhalla! or Come on, Kittikmir Cosmic Phophacy of Jenew, when its time to feed them.

After reading about Archibald Mikita Mylordovich, Verismo Wotan of Valhalla, Blazers Pink Champagne Wishes, and Galatia Fallen Angel of Ambar I decided that we just plain cat owners should also come up with our own pedigree names. The typical pedigree name begins with the breeders kennel or cattery name, followed by names which denote the ancestral line, etc. Since pedigree is, by definition, a documentation of ancestry and since 99% of the cats and dogs I know are from dubious, if not unknown, ancestry, I propose that we simply use names that best describe our beasts.

Thus, Callie (shown above) might be Bigbutt Scaredy Rub Me or Shedsalot Pinhead of Buttrub. Muriel is still a kitten but enough of her traits are emerging to call her Hairytoes Longtail of Windex or Twist-ties Catnip Tailchaser .

Here is the challenge. Come up with a pedigree name or two for your pet and drop it in the comments. It can be a past or present pet. There are no rules.

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