Chronicles of Athena – Lockout 2016

There I was, happily trotting off to the cinema to see ‘Spotlight’, when I heard an almighty yowl behind me.

Edinburgh tenements have a common stairwell, colloquially known as the ‘close’, with an exterior door at the bottom. I was at the bottom of my close, two neighbours had just passed me on the way up, when Athena decided to make her unhappiness known. Oh dear, I thought to myself, while my neighbours gave me an odd look. Athena has always been vocal and does call out to me when she hears me speaking in the close, but I always have a sneaking worry about separation anxiety.

Nothing to be done now, I think, and keep on going. Three and a half hours later I return, and funnily enough I don’t hear Athena calling out to me at the usual spot (where I think she must know the sound of my step on the stair).

No, because Athena is sitting huddled on the doormat outside my flat’s front door. And when she sees me she howls again.

Poor little Athena slipped out right on my heels when I left for the cinema and spent the better part of four hours in the close feeling miserable. We’ve now fed her plenty of treats (and she’s been tweeting about the experience . . . somehow). All is well.

But if Athena had been a different type of cat, one who’d decided to explore further, or was less sure of the close that she’s explored before, who knows what would have happened? Thankfully, she’s microchipped. It’s so important for responsible pet ownership for your animals to be traceable.

If you’re in the UK the RSPCA has a guide here. And for the US, the AVMA has their guide here.

Speak to your vets about keeping your pets traceable, make sure your records are always up to date, and double check your doors on the way out. Or your cat tweeting threats of negligence might just be the least of your worries . . .

 

Sorry Athena – will get right on that bacon for you.

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Chronicles of Athena – One Year

This week Athena is one year old! We went from this …

Athena 9 Weeks Old
Athena’s first day with me, discovering Netflix for the first time

To this …

Athena at One Year
Athena as a one year old, not getting into Sense8 on Netflix and very much enjoying the sunshine

 

The aging process is a strange thing, and something me and a colleague have been talking about lately. For Athena, there’s still a way to go. She still has a kitten’s energy, and still finding her own individuality. Purina has a fun age chart on their site here, which suggests that as a rule of thumb, we would consider Athena to be equivalent to a 15 year old human. These kinds of rules are sometimes confusing for pet owners. Athena isn’t likely to start using heavy eyeliner and locking herself in her room (although one night I did walk into the bedroom to find her alone, sitting beside the mood lighting and seemingly listening to the Genesis I had playing), but these companion animal aging rules are more to give you a comparison between the physical maturity and the kinds of behaviours you might expect.

For all my ideas of getting and well-socialising a kitten, Athena has developed her own ideas of how she should behave. Her personality is that of a live wire, cautious and curious bundled up with affection. When we went to stay with our lovely friend Kay while the central heating was being installed, Athena very quickly adopted Kay into the pride and spent the morning accidentally miaowing and making noise outside of Kay’s bedroom, feigning shock and delight when Kay got up (and then looking less impressed when Kay wouldn’t let her in the shower).

I’d love to ask Athena what she thinks of her life, does she enjoy it, what would she change, is she happy with me? But I don’t think she really has any comprehension of a different life, no power to imagine the comparison. What she does know is that she loves her fluffy pillow on the windowsill, she doesn’t know what hunger is, and she’s never felt much pain, and she gets cuddles whenever she asks. I think that means she’s had a good first year. Here’s hoping she’ll have many more.

Happy Birthday, Athena!

Chronicles of Athena – 52 Weeks

Athena is currently trying to climb the bookcase in order to then climb back down the rolled up rug that’s resting against it. The rolled up rug is hugely fascinating to Athena, as are all of the many, many toys that were liberated from beneath the sofa when the rug was taken up.

Why are the walls bare and the floors littered with toys you may ask? I wish I could explain to Athena how much she’s going to love what’s coming. You see, we’re getting central heating installed next week.

This is very exciting for me, never mind Athena. It’s been over five years since I’ve lived somewhere that has central heating, or even a combination boiler (this is Edinburgh, it’s how we roll). The thought of having hot water on demand is pretty intoxicating. As Athena has lived most of her life in a pretty cold environments, I’m not sure how she’s going to handle it, to be honest. But next time she watches the snow from the window, she’ll be able to gently toast her bottom on a radiator. As Athena loves toasting her bottom on laptops, I think she’ll be pleased with the developments.

Chronicles of Athena – Fifty One Weeks

Let me tell you the story of Athena and the big storm.

You see, on Wednesday night we had a big storm. The storm went on for hours, lots of bright, flashing lightning (Theenie loves lightning she has discovered), followed intermittently by rolling, deep thunder (Theenie . . . less sure about that part). And accompanied with not very much rain, which meant that it was still hideously hot afterwards.

Athena woke me when storm started, bouncing between the windowsill and the bed and talking to the lightning in a manner that was suspiciously like “Wake up! You’re missing it! Looooook!” But her tolerance for the storm was such that after about fifteen minutes of watching the lightning she got much too overstimulated and had to come into the bed for a cuddle (of course, she needs to be right on top of me even though it’s roasting), and then once she was reassured enough to be purring loudly and painfully kneading my arm, she was brave enough to go back to the window and watch the storm again.

Rinse and repeat for two hours.

We didn’t sleep well on Wednesday night.

As AskReddit is back after Chooter-gate I’ve been entertaining myself with this thread asking: If your pet took you to the human vet, what would they be worried about?

Best entry so far…

“Doctor, he pees in the drinking bowl! IN THE DRINKING BOWL! I don’t think he’s all there, mentally. He’s like 20 and still not house broken.” –pickmetoo

Chronicles of Athena – Fifty Weeks

Last week, I was in Aberdeen for my sister’s graduation, which meant that Athena had to spend her first ever day away from me. My mum came over to stay at my flat while I was in Aberdeen, and was left with a long list of instructions about how to attend to Lady Athena in the style to which Athena has been accustomed to.

Here are some of the things Athena got up to while being looked after by her granny . . .

  • Athena stole her granny’s toothbrush, taking it into the bath to play with it. She has never stolen a toothbrush before.
  • While granny slept, Athena sat on the ottomon beside the bed and watched . . .
  • When granny was working, Athena got so annoyed she deliberately pushed all of granny’s papers off the table.
  • Then lay on her laptop
  • Athena got lots of treats.

So this week, Athena has been quite affectionate in her own way, as talkative as ever, wanting to be beside me (if not actually wanting to sit on me – my Theenie is not a lap cat, despite a promising start as a kitten), and generally looking terribly cute and behaving like a terribly spoiled princess. I have a cold which has made me lose my voice, which means she is immune to being told off, because apparently I’m not at all intimidating when croaking.

Chronicles of Athena – 47 Weeks

Things Athena truly, deeply believes:

  • Jill has the power to summon fun creepy-crawleys. Sometimes, when Jill is so inclined, she will call my name and a bug will manifest at her fingertip.
  • Sometimes I eat these bugs.
  • Sometimes the bugs will escape and crawl over my lip.
  • Sometimes I need help when this happens.
  • Jill has the power of Sheba.
  • The food in the yellow packets is WAY better than the shitty stuff I used to get.
  • Somehow, Jill has barred my entrance to the Forbidden Cupboard of Mystery.
  • Jill still has not figured out where I’ve stashed my paper straws. Ergo, I can bring her straws to play with.
  • When I am sad about the world/because I can’t reach a bug on a wall/am slightly malcontent, I need only cry for Jill to pick me up and make it all better.
  • Cold mornings mean cuddles beneath the duvet.
  • Warm mornings mean sleeping in the sunbeams on the windowsill.
  • If I am bored, I can get a toy from my toybox. Jill will want to play with this toy.
  • Jill knows when I want to scratch the carpet
  • And the mattress
  • And the curtains
  • She is magic
  • Jill also controls the Hidden Cupboard of Secrets
  • And the Fridge of Wonderful Smells

Things I truly, deeply believe:

This kitten is spoiled beyond belief.

Chronicles of Athena – 42 Weeks

Oh the freedom you feel on a Sunday when you also have the Monday off. I am going to live the life of a short girl on the internet and hem some cute dresses and fix a seam on a kimono I got from a vintage shop. It’s all going to be very pinterest, with a little kitten sitting beside a sewing machine and a freshly made caramel latte (from a machine – I am the definition of bourgeois bohemian).

But of course, the photos I post to instagram will not fully represent what’s happening as I repeatedly shout “Athena! Theena! Drop it! Don’t eat that. Here have this.” and obsessively count glass headed pins and picture perforated intestines. But social media isn’t really for reality, is it?

Several people have commented lately that Athena appears to know her name. I’ve been meditating on this from a scientific point of view. You can certainly catch Athena’s attention with her name, or the ‘Theenie/Theena’ variants of it. But does she know that those words specifically mean ‘small fluffy thing that is me’, or do they mean ‘there might be food or toys or love over there’, or more simply ‘pay attention now’.

But she also has certain chirrups that I fancy mean ‘mum’ or at the least ‘two legged cat who feeds me’. Even if it just means ‘pay attention now’, it gets the job done, right?

Somehow, with different brain structures, an evolutionary history giving us very different social structures, Athena and I can reliably draw one another’s attention with certain vocalisations. Pets are freaky.

Chronicles of Athena – 41 Weeks

I’m the kind of person who likes rules (rules control the fun) so Athena should take it as a little victory that she broke me this week.

You see, Athena is a fussy eater.  Athena likes dry food, and treats. Athena will tolerate poultry based foods if it’s grilled and lightly covered in jelly (‘meaty chunks’ are not appropriate, and the richness of gravy based foods gives Athena what we will delicately call ‘the runs’ in large quantities). She will just about accept salmon or sardine if she’s hungry. She won’t eat cod or tuna regardless of how it’s prepared. She won’t even take mackerel off my plate, and if I’m eating salad she’ll try to steal a rocket leaf instead of a piece of a crab.

All of this means that of the range of kitten food available (which the box says ‘feed up until 1 year), there’s only one box where she will reliably eat about 75% of the sachets. For months now, when browsing the shelves I’ve been eyeing up one of the adult boxes of cat food, grilled, with jelly, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb and beef flavours. Just think, I would tell myself. Come July, I’ll be able to buy that box, and my one year old kitten would eat everything I put in front of her.

Well this month, after accidentally picking up a non-grilled box of food that contained BOTH tuna and cod (Athena is so against cod that she won’t even ask for more food when it’s on her plate for fear she might get cod again), I gave up and bought the grown up box 12 weeks early.

Thankfully, Athena didn’t immediately die from being given the wrong kind of food, so that’s a plus. She’s also added beef to her repertoire of nice things to eat.

Although she still has a day or so a week where she’d prefer not to eat. I have no idea where she gets this from. I’ve been on the 5:2 fad diet since Christmas and I still want to kill people when I’m stuffing my face with salad and pickle. Athena daintily turns her nose up and says “No thank you, I’m not hungry today”

Little bitch.

Chronicles of Athena – 39 Weeks

After what’s been a rough few weeks, we’re in need of some family time. So I’ve packed Athena up and brought her to mum’s. The rest of my family is distinctly more theatrical than me so I’ll be spending tonight dressed in forties gear watching their production of Allo Allo, which is very exciting.

Athena is coping very well with the temporary change in venue (and was even extremely well behaved in the car). An ulterior motive for this little bit of family time is to get Athena used to other people looking after her. It’s not outside the realms of possibility that she might have to come here for a week if I’m off at a conference (or, unlikely having just bought a flat, an actual holiday).

It’s a sign of how I overthink every little part of Athena’s care that I very carefully weighed up the pros and cons of taking Athena (who has been here before as a kitten, who has moved house three times, and who has never shown much in the way of nervousness around new environments), before I agreed to the plan. While I’m much more confident with her than I was thirty weeks ago, I still find myself second guessing sometimes.

Is she happy?

Does she have everything she needs?

Am I doing a good job?

When we arrived last night, she found herself a high spot in the kitchen to perch. When I came over she gave me a big kitty kiss, rubbing her jaw over cheek, and after five minutes she was off exploring. As ever, Athena is much more confident about life than I am.

So I take that as a compliment. Over the last thirty weeks I still haven’t irreparably broken the little life I have taken responsibility for. Gold star for me. And for Athena.

Chronicles of Athena – 34 Weeks

While Athena is not my first cat, she is the first cat who is wholly mine, who would absolutely not survive without me. My last family cat, Posie, was euthanised in late 2009, and I went to get Athena on a sunny September morning in 2014.

While Posie had four caretakers who loved her, and Athena has only me, these aren’t the biggest differences in my relationships between the two cats. In many ways, they’re very similar. They both get very excited by cuddle time, they both put up with my restless sleeping by taking up position on my legs, they both chirrup when they say hello and they both have a fondness for crab pate.

But I find myself saying things to Athena that I’ve never had to say to cats before, and I every time I do I can’t help but roll my eyes at how much changes in five short years. For example:

  • “No, lattes are not for kittens”
  • “Take your head out of that gin and tonic”
  • “Please don’t hit YouTube with your nose, now it has paused”
  • “No baby, you can’t text with me, you text gibberish”
  • “The phone is not your toy”
  • “Okay, well, yes, when it’s got your app on it it becomes your toy”
  • “No, kitten, I was talking to the XBox, not to you, you go back to sleep, XBOX ON!”

However, one thing I say hasn’t changed “THAT FOOD IS MINE YOU HAVE YOUR OWN AND IT’S FULL!”