Archive for March, 2008

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She’s back!

23 March, 2008

Ananda, my queen is back from the stud cat’s at Koonikki Maine Coons.

She was due back on Wednesday, but as we couldn’t get away from work at short notice, Fiona Nicholls kindly offered to let her stay for awhile longer.

We picked Ananda up on Good Friday and according to Fiona, she had been as good as gold. She did try her princess act with Fiona though. During one of our telephone conversations earlier during her stay, Fiona told me that she had to open the door to the shed where the cats had been sleeping, because Ananda didn’t know how to use the cat flap that gave access to the shed. I was mortified! Of course Ananda knew how to use a cat flap – we’ve got one in the kitchen door, leading to the garden. I must confess that Ananda much prefers to sit daintily by the door until I open the door for her, rather than use the cat flap. That, and waiting to be picked up and put onto the kitchen counter space where I feed her is part of her princess act. And of course she had to try it on with Fiona. We shouldn’t take it personally when our cats play up, but of course we do.

Apart from that sudden outburst of prima donna behaviour, she was fine. Vespasian the stud cat decided to help her finish her food, and this led to much good-natured head-butting between the pair. She was also, according to Fiona, relatively gentle with Vespa. Apparently queens on heat have been known to draw blood from the male after mating, and chase the male around the pen! It goes without saying that a good stud cat must be strong, courageous, and canny, able to leap about six feet vertically onto a perch to avoid the swiping claws of an irate, yet sex-crazed female!

An interesting consequence of her visit to the stud cat has been a slight change in the dynamics between her and Maya the Bengal. As readers of this blog are aware, Maya is a typical Bengal, with a need to be top cat. When Ananda returned, she must have reeked of stud cat (not that I could smell anything) because Maya started sniffing her, and when Ananda growled, Maya backed away and walked off instead of initiating a power-fight.

Also, Maya has always occupied the best spot on the bed. Ananda decided to curl up on the bed and fell asleep, a hidden lump under the blanket. Maya saw the lump and started stalking it, but Ananda growled and once again, Maya didn’t rise to the challenge, but simply jumped off the bed.

I’m not sure how long this welcome change will last as Maya’s not the sort of cat to put up with displacement. A friend of mine who has Bengals has reported that her Bengals have become much calmer now that they’ve reached middle-age.

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The Stud Cat – Ch. Noracoon Vespasian

16 March, 2008

 Vespasian1

This handsome stud cat is Ch. Noracoon Vespasian, owned by Fiona Nicholls of Koonikki Maine Coons.  He’s a classic red/silver tabby with white.

His lines are absolutely sterling – his father (Verismo Britannicus) won the Supreme.  The Supreme is the official cat show of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and to qualify for the Supreme a cat must have won a championship show.  As a young cat, Vespa (as he’s known) was a champion in the show ring too.

Vespa has got an amazing temperament (inherited from his father, Brit), and best of all, he passes on his laid-back, bomb-proof temperament to his kittens.  I discovered just how friendly and sociable he was when I entered his pen.  He climbed onto one of his shelves and then put his huge paw on one of my shoulders.  I was very flattered – it turned out that that was his way of saying “stroke me, play with me!”.

Turns out he’s extremely experienced and virile too.  We arrived late evening Wednesday and I later got an e-mail from Fiona saying that he had already mated Ananda that night – twice.

He’s also a gentleman and knows how to handle the ladies.  There’s a heated cat shed in his pen with two cat beds.  Ananda apparently commandeered his bed and lay in it, but he gallantly allowed her to do so.

Fiona is the first breeder I’ve met who has a baby alarm installed in stud cat pens so that she can monitor what’s happening between stud cat and queen, even during the night.  I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was by her dedication and care.  I felt my girl couldn’t be in better hands.

I was also very impressed by the set-up that Fiona had for her cats.  The stud cats and queens (when calling) are kept outdoors in pens in a garden courtyard.  In the centre is an amazing pond, stocked with koi carp.  The garden is totally fenced-in so that the cats can enjoy fresh air.  The pens, pond and fencing had been built and installed by her multi-talented and ingenious husband.

Indoors are her neuters and kittens, living as part of the family.  They were some of the most friendly Maine Coons I’ve ever met.  As soon as my hubby sat down on the chair, one of the kittens climbed onto his lap, then perched on his tummy, purring loudly away.  Two others came and draped themselves on the sofa beside him, and fell asleep.

We were going to pick Ananda up today because we thought that mating had stopped, but it turns out that the happy couple have decided to start up again, and Fiona has kindly agreed to let Ananda stay on for a few more days.

Many thanks, Fiona, for letting Ananda be with Vespa!

(photo of Ch. Noracoon Vespasian used by kind permission of Fiona Nicholls of Koonikki Maine Coons)

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She’s calling! (phew)

15 March, 2008

Well, it looks like my last post worked. 

On the Sunday night after I posted, my queen fell asleep, curled up in the crook between my head and shoulder – she’d never done that before.  One of the signs that a cat is on heat can be increased cuddliness.

My Bengal neuter started chasing her.  Then on Monday night, she started her throaty mew and I scruffed her.  No paddling of hind feet, but she did crouch and look hopeful.  The rest of the night she continued to wander round the house mewing.  By Tuesday she was definitely in paddling-mode.  So I contacted the stud cat owner on Tuesday and fortunately her stud cat was available which was fantastic news.

So we went down on Wednesday afternoon and Ananda is now enjoying her Club 18-30 holiday with the stud cat, Noracoon Vespasian, owned by Fiona Nicholls of Koonikki Maine Coons.  I will post more about the stud cat in a future post.

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Why is she not calling?

9 March, 2008

The title says it all.  After calling like clockwork in the last weeks of December and January, and after I was determined to breed her the next call and had the stud cat lined up and raring to go, Ananda has decided to go on strike in February.

I’m not sure why this has happened.  A breeder friend said she would start calling again once the weather warmed up, but as she previously called in the depths of winter, I’m not sure if the weather was the cause for her hiatus.

Perhaps it’s the plant propagator tray that I let the cats use to warm themselves.  I’ve wrapped it in a pillow case and the cats love it, taking it in turns to toast themselves.  Perhaps the electro-magnetism in its electric currents have affected her inner cycles.  I don’t know.  Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been keeping the curtains drawn in the bedroom where the cats sleep – I have black-out curtains, so it gets very dark and womb-like.  Maybe having fewer hours of light is tricking her system into thinking it’s not time to call.  Or maybe she heard me moan and rant about her calling and spraying and has decided to give me a break.  Or maybe she’s just a typical cat and being unpredictable.  It’s just ironical really – when she was calling I couldn’t wait for her to stop, and now that she’s not calling I want her to be.

So I’m writing this because you know how it is:  you say something will not/does not happen, and next thing you know the Gods Giggle, and it manifests.

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Fantastic Catnip Sampler from Kittybags

9 March, 2008

As you may have read from previous postings, I’m always on the lookout for new and better catnip products.  I thought I’d found nirvana in the form of the Gato Catnip Cigar, but thanks to Denise Laurent my cats have been introduced to a new brand of premium, extra strong catnip.  As usual with all the best cat products, it comes from the US, made by a company called Kittybags, but (fortunately) available in the UK from Purrs in Our Hearts, an online shop with profits going to UK cat rescue or Mypetgoods.

I bought 3 different variants:  The Six Pack Sampler, the Gourmet Flower Buds and the Select Gourmet Blend (which is organic).

What got me excited is the Six Pack Sampler which contains six individually-wrapped packets of different types of catnip and other herbs like valerian and honeysuckle that apparently drive cats crazy.  The sampler pack allows your cats to test drive the herbs, so you can buy a full-sized pack later on.

Here is a photo of the contents of the Six Pack Sampler:  Gourmet Catnip, Premium Blend Catnip, Catnip Flower Buds, Catnip Pellets, Valerian Root and Honeysuckle.

 

(photo taken while cats were out of the room and door was locked.  Shortly after door was opened cats came charging in sniffing the air suspiciously.)

I haven’t tried the Honeysuckle yet – I never knew that Honeysuckle had any effect on cats, so I’m going to be interested what happens to my cats when they get hold of it.  It looks like a dried slice of either the root or stem of the plant, and I think it has to be soaked in water for the active ingredient to be activated.

So far the catnip variety that has had an astounding response from my cats are the Catnip Flower Buds.  These come in the form of long stalks holding dried catnip buds.  According to Kittybags:  “Aromatic Premium Catnip Buds are the most potent form of Catnip available. Dripping with oil at the time they are picked and cured naturally.” [cue folksy music and vast golden fields of catnip swaying and weaving in the sunshine, oozing catnip essence, lovingly hand-gathered by cat lovers]

My cats can’t read but their reaction said it all.  All the catnip products come in nifty tins, sealed with insulating tape.  I peeled off the tape from the Catnip Flower Buds tin, and started levering the lid off.  Suddenly the heads of all 3 dozing cats lifted in unison.  I dropped one bud each in different locations of the room.  My queen Ananda who was on the bed, started writhing as though in some sort of x-rated feline movie, and my other two couldn’t get enough of it, squabbling over the last micro-shreds of it.  In the end I had to dispense some more of it because they wouldn’t stop nosing around.

Kittybags claim that they choose the world’s best growers of catnip for their products and harvest only when catnip oils are at their peak.  My cats give it a definite paws-up.

(The only other thing I wanted to add was the excellent service I got from Mypetgoods.  I’d originally ordered the Six Pack Sampler and three tins of the Gourmet Flower Buds.  They e-mailed me to say that unfortunately they only had one tin of the Gourmet Flower Buds in stock, and could they offer me either a refund or two tins of their Select Gourmet Blend (which was more expensive than the Flower Buds).  Of course I couldn’t resist and accepted the Select Gourmet Blend.  I’ll definitely be coming back for more!)

Update 28 July 2008 – I’m pleased to announce another source of Kittybags:  it’s Purrs in Our Hearts, an online shop with profits (after costs) going to UK cat rescue.  They also sell the fantastic Da Bird cat toy, the quickest way to your cat’s heart, and many other toys.  Tanya who runs Purrs is always open to suggestions on toys to stock that drive your kitty crazy so do drop her a line.

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(And if you’re wondering if the look-and-feel of the blog has changed slightly, you’re right.  I’m now using Windows Live Writer to write the blog and it has a wonderful facility for uploading the photos – it resizes them so they don’t take forever to open,  and even adds professional-looking drop shadows to them.  Plus I don’t have the usual problems I have in aligning the photos that is one of my bugbears with WordPress.  WLW is so user-friendly, I didn’t even need a manual to figure out how it works.  As highly recommended as Kittybags Catnip.)

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