2littleprinces

Opal eyes that see so much with paws that have the quiet touch.

Purrs to signal all is well and show more love than words could tell.

Graceful movements touched with pride, the calming presence by my side.

“Vous êtes belles, mais vous êtes vides”, leur dit-il encore. “On ne peut pas mourir pour vous. Bien sûr, ma rose à moi, un passant ordinaire croirait qu’elle vous ressemble. Mais à elle seule elle est plus importante que vous toutes, puisque c’est elle que j’ai arrosée. Puisque c’est elle que j’ai mise sous globe. Puisque c’est elle que j’ai abritée par le paravent. Puisque c’est elle dont j’ai tué les chenilles (sauf les deux ou trois pour les papillons). Puisque c’est elle que j’ai écoutée se plaindre, ou se vanter, ou même quelquefois se taire. Puisque c’est ma rose.”

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you–the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit Prince

Day 1 minus 5

I’ve cried. I’ve cried a lot along the way and then some more when the road of suffering came to an end for the love of my life. My baby Snuggles. Miss Snuggles passed at the age of 13 due to cancer. It all started with a tiny bubble on her belly over one and a half year ago. After too many surgeries, carefully removing the tumors – and every time again praying for a full recovery, we sadly lost the fight. The cancer spread into the lymph nodes and caused her too much pain to journey onwards.

My sweet princess,

You grew so frail, so weak and pain is keeping you from your sleep. I have to do what needs to be done for this last battle can not be won. On this difficult day, more than the rest, my love for you must stand the test. We’ve had thirteen happy years but I can’t see you suffer so. The time has come to let you go. You also understand that we must see this through. That it’s an act of kindness I will do to you. The lymphoma is growing heavy on our hearts and your tail hasn’t waved for quite a while. Your burden and suffering has robbed me from my smile. Yes, I grieve that it must be me who has to decide this day to be. We’ve been so close for all those years, we bravely snuggled on and faught those fears. Don’t be scared, I’ll take you where your needs they’ll tend and I’ll stay with you until the very end. I will hold you firm, so close to me until your eyes no longer see. When time comes to part, I will keep whispering in your ear about all those paw prints you left on my heart.

Snuggles found her eternal sleep on Tuesday, 28th of June 2016.

She is reunited with her big sister now, and I’m sure they will have lots of yinyang cuddles in the afterlife. She will be missed. So unique, so delicate, so full of love and full of purr. I will never again meet a cat as special and dear as she was to me. Because she was my rose.

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sinjan

Dierenartsen Sinjan

Even though we’ve lost the fight in the end, it’s thanks to Nico and Katelijne from Dierenarts Sinjan that Snuggles and I were able to cuddle for as long as we did. If it wasn’t for their top notch professionalism, I would have lost her over a year and a half ago. A grand total of 5 surgeries, done with so much attention to detail to make sure Snuggles had as little discomfort afterwards as possible. Like organic stitching on the inside, like pain treatment. The last surgery was very risky. One of the tumors had attached itself to the muscle as well as the skin so to be able to remove it, the vets had to cut parts of the muscle and stitch the insides of her body to prevent internal bleeding. It could have left my Snug unable to walk or even move her back paws. As by a miracle, she just carefully walked out of her basket like a baws after waking up so the vets had, once again, done a terrific job.
The only downside is that I would advise you to make an appointment and to not try your luck during free consultation hours in the evening. Especially when you have a cat that is extremely scared of dogs. The waiting room is always like a little zoo and you’ll be waiting for quite a while 🙂

Et quand l’heure du départ fut proche: – “Ah!” dit le renard… “Je pleurerai.” – “C’est ta faute”, dit le petit prince, “je ne te souhaitais point de mal, mais tu as voulu que je t’apprivoise…” – “Bien sûr”, dit le renard. – “Mais tu vas pleurer !” dit le petit prince. – “Bien sûr”, dit le renard. – “Alors tu n’y gagnes rien !” – “J’y gagne”, dit le renard, “à cause de la couleur du blé.”

And when the hour of his departure drew near: “Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.” – “It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .” – “Yes, indeed,” said the fox. – “But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince. – “Yes, indeed” said the fox. – “Then it has done you no good at all!” – “It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the colour of the wheat fields.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit Prince

Look at me standing here on my own again. With only the memory of you to keep me warm.

Day 1

A few days prior to the trip, I was browsing the web for a new companion. Yes, I know how weird that sounds, but when you don’t own a car, you’re not necessarily too thrilled about walking dozens of kilometers to shelters located in the middle of nomansland. So I was scouting for the shelters in my neighbourhood but something felt off. Until my friend at work told me about Canina and the good reputation they had. Sure it was quite far away from home but that same friend graciously offered to drive me around, so there was no harm in taking a quick look on their website.

And then I stumbled upon his page:

_Dubio1

“Dubio is three years old. He’s lived in several homes, but needs someone with a lot of patience because he is very scared at first. (Not mean, though!). He lived with a family in a flat for five months but was returned because he was terrorized by the other cat and not allowed to eat. He’s left a couple of times to other families but got very unlucky on multiple occasions. All the moving around isn’t doing him any favors and he really is such a sweet cat that deserves a good home. Please send us an e-mail prior to your visit, to inform us of the opportunities and the life you will be able to give him. “

My motherheart began beating so very fast and I instantly decided I wanted to be the person to take him in and care for him like no other ever had. I knew I could give him the warm nest he deserved and that I would eventually earn his trust. Crazy Cat Lady and all, yo. I mailed to shelter and I got a sweet mail back from Ashley. With more information on the unlucky lil’man. And I wanted him even more. My quiet home seemed like a perfect place for him, so we set up a date to go meet him and see if he would like me back.

On Sunday, I got taxied to Essen. Thirty Four Point Nine Times Two. That’s the amount of kilometers we drove to Essen. More or less. We may have taken a wrong turn here and there. In streets called “the flowerpot” or “the intestine”. It was awkward and fun at the same time, with two excited children in the back seat and an even more excited mom-to-be in the passenger seat.

Then I finally got to meet Dubio and I fell in love with my Mister Tuxedo straight away. He was so scared, he barely looked up at me and when he finally did, it was just for a brief second before he ran off towards the safety of another basket. One second. That was all I needed to feel a strange connection with my Dubidoo. That depth in his eyes, like flimsy layers of jade and amber. That mysterious gray glow in one of them. Like a veil. Such a handsome young man with black paws dipped in white snow, a soft white furry belly and a charming white moustache with long elegant white whiskers. Such a cutie !!

One does not equal two.

No, it does not. But one cat… two cats. Who’s counting, really?
I mean… you’re standing there in the middle of a room, surrounded by at least two dozen furrballs in need of a home, and if Kristien’s car had been any bigger, I’d probably have brought home 7 of them. I’m a sucker for stray cats…. so what? 🙁

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Ashley told me that Dubio was really fond of other cats, found a lot of support in the company of another feline and that they initially didn’t have any intention of placing him into a home alone. And I didn’t have any intention of bringing home two cats but I couldn’t just let him be scared on his own now, could I ? I asked her what other friend he had in the shelter and she showed me Ghana, quietly sleeping in one of the baskets in the corner of the room. “Adult male cat, colour black brown. He is almost 2 years old, is very tame and friendly to people. He knows the litter box and loves other cats.”

Pitch black like a dense shadow under the sun, with eyes as bright as a yellow tourmaline. Gorgeous! And a bit podgy too for the extra lovin’ 🙂 He was very sweet, he let me pet him even though he was so scared that the people at the shelter had a hard time getting him into the transport carrier. It took well over an hour before both of them were settled in their baskets and we were on our way to my home. Their new home.

Canina Essen

Every year, about 100/150 adult cats end up in the Canina Animal Shelter in Essen. And just about 200 kittens a year. The nice people at Canina, their volunteers and all the foster homes go out of their way to treat and raise all of those stray/abandoned cats and try to find them a nice home where they can just find the happiness they deserve. They are committed to giving all their animals the best of care, day and night, baby or adult, healthy or disabled.

You probably read that on every leaflet of every single shelter but what usually happens behind closed doors is unfortunately much more appalling. Not at Canina, though. I was greeted at the gate by lots of dogs, both big and small. All of them looked very well taken care of, were groomed and they were all friendly to me. I even petted some and that’s a lot, coming from a cat person who isn’t very confident around dogs. The typical animal smell that greets you at the door wasn’t at all overwhelming, unlike other shelters I’ve visited in the past. Recently (last April), they gave shelter to about 75 dogs that were rescued from a bankrupted breeder who neglected and mistreated his animals. You can read more about it here (in Dutch).

I think there must have been around 30 cats when we went to pick up my babies. And they were all looking dandy ! The cat asylum has 2 heated indoor rooms, 2 smaller covered outdoor spaces and a big garden like open place. No cages, but instead a small arsenal of litter boxes, food bowls and scratching poles as far as the eye could see. Infrastructure-wise, those cats certainly didn’t get the shortest end of the stick.

But you know what I really liked most of all? Ashley, the girl (a young volunteer) that was taking care of the cats and had told me about Dubio earlier through e-mail, knew all the cats by name and was able to shed some light upon all their pasts, characters, trials and tribulations. You can always tell when someone is really invested in caring for an animal.

So if you’re ever looking for a good cause to spend money/effort on, or you’re looking to house a new darling pet, then I suggest you consider Canina because they are doing a hell of a good job !

shelter

Day 2

“Bien sûr, dit le renard. Tu n’es encore pour moi qu’un petit  garçon tout semblable à cent mille petits garçons. Et je n’ai pas besoin de toi. Et tu n’as pas besoin de moi non plus. Je ne suis pour toi qu’un renard semblable à cent mille renards. Mais, si tu m’apprivoises, nous aurons besoin l’un de l’autre. Tu seras pour   moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde…
Si tu m’apprivoises, ma vie sera comme ensoleillée. Je connaîtrai un bruit de pas qui sera différent de tous les autres. Les autres pas me font rentrer sous terre. Le tien m’appellera hors du  terrier, comme une musique. Et puis regarde! Tu vois, là-bas, les champs de blé ? Je ne mange pas de pain. Le blé pour moi est inutile. Les champs de blé ne me rappellent rien. Et ça, c’est triste! Mais tu as des cheveux couleur d’or. Alors ce sera merveilleux quand tu m’auras apprivoisé ! Le blé, qui est doré, me fera souvenir de toi. Et j’aimerai le bruit du vent dans le blé…”

Le renard se tut et regarda longtemps le petit prince : “S’il te plaît… apprivoise-moi!” dit-il.

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”
If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a footstep that will be different from all the others. Other footsteps send me back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . .”

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. “Please – tame me!” he said.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit Prince

Seven Minutes. Until Dubio left his carrier basket and fled under the bed, where he has been hiding and missing in action since.

Fourtythree Minutes. For Ghana to find the safety of the scratching pole basket. His own little space, just for him, where he can gently get accustomed to all the new noises and scents of his new home.

Twelve Hours. The time it took Ghana to open up to me and come claim his first cuddles. He casually walked by the sofa, looking at me then rubbed his nose against my hand. A quick gesture of trust … before running away quickly. But he’s been rince and repeating that every so often, sleeping close to me in the sofa in his kittie basket and on the window seal, just one arm length away.

Fourteen Hours. I heard Dubio miauw for the first time. My heart just MELTED. He only comes out at night to explore the flat and play around with his brother. Vanishes back into the safety of the bed abbyss before I get up in the morning 🙂 Time is on our side, my friend. And time, we have a lot of that.

Day 3

Ghana is a curious man 🙂 He allows petting shortly then lies down next to me at safe distance with that friendly look on his face. He got totally settled in the basket and on the window seal, enjoying is little luxury life. We’re getting there ! He already feels comfortable enough for long washing sessions in the sofa and divine kittie snoozes while watching tv with me. I can tell, Ghana and me… we’re going to be great couchpotatoe buddies.

GHANA

Dubio has been napping under the bed all day again. He doesn’t want to be petted, but he doesn’t run away when I lay down next to him on the floor, peek under the bed and talk to him. He just looks back at me, like a relaxed max, probably wondering why I’m not minding my own business. Sorry Mister Tuxedo, I have official cat business to attend to !

On the third night, Dubidoo surprised me with a spontanious visit ON the bed. I was almost asleep, felt little paws trampling the pillow next to me, thought it was Ghana, but then I saw his white socks and there he was. Rubbing his head against my hand. He ran away instantly when I wanted to pet him back but that moment right there, I knew everything was going to be allright.

And I had one of the best sleeps I’ve had in many weeks.

Day 4

Oh sweet baby Jebus, I unlocked the cuddle monster perk !

Dubio has made insane progress. I got the full set of cuddles, unconditionally, and in complete surrender ! 🙂 He is relentless ! Only in the safety of the bedroom, though and only in the evening when things have quiet down around him. The lil’man has a solid purr ! And he loves laying down on my lap, or like a little sausage alongside my leg… in fact he just loves laying anywhere as long as he can feel my hand stroking his back, belly and tail gently.

The affection is real !

DUBIO

There’s been some massive progress on the food rituals. They both ate from their bowls together, at the same time for the first time. Allbeit in the bedroom, because Dubz isn’t comfortable leaving his safe zone yet.

Ghana, however, has been really social and more trusting too. He discovered where the leftovers come from and likes to follow me around just in case some more drop. Like I’m a living walking, breathing chicken machine.

I love them to bits already.

Day 5

” Si tu viens, par exemple, à quatre heures de l’après-midi, dès trois heures je commencerai d’être heureux. Plus l’heure avancera, plus je me sentirai heureux. À quatre heures, déjà, je m’agiterai et m’inquiéterai; je découvrirai le prix du bonheur! Mais si tu viens n’importe quand, je ne saurai jamais à quelle heure m’habiller le cœur… Il faut des rites.”

“If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit Prince

There are days, where I really miss my Snuggles and the way she was happily waiting for me in the hallway when she heard the front door keys. Or the way she walked upto me, loudly miauwing, when I was a little bit late, telling me that I made Her Highness wait. And the way her tail waved liked a little dog in excitement, when she finally got the cuddles she’d been waiting for all day.

I miss her very much, a bit more every day, but I feel that I’m getting closer to installing new routines with Dubio and Ghana. I have the patience of a coconut hanging in a palm tree. Exactly, they don’t have any. But I must break this pattern, not make ridiculous expectations and allow my two new princes to take their time to find their own rites.

Dubio came straight out from under the bed when I sat down on the floor next to him today. Ghana as well joined him to greet me in the bedroom, after which he ran straight to the kitchen. Cats sure aren’t daft. Ghana already knows when I’m going to feed him. Dubio joined him today, in the kitchen, and they had their very first meals together in the fishbowl, at the place where I intend to feed them in the future.

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I also came to realize that my cats don’t just have food, they have a real freaking buffet.
Who wouldn’t come running for first class Hill’s or Royal Canin and chicken leftover ? What do you mean, they are being spoilt ?

In all fairness, there was a reason to the madness. Snuggles always munched Sheba, because that is the taste she liked most. And Hill’s is only marginally more expensive than Sheba here, yet it’s got a slightly higher ranking on the nutritional value listings. And little Dubio is still suffering from stress diarrhea, so I’m feeding him the best food I could get my hands on, to help him sort out his lil’ intestinal problems. So yes, it’s semi-selfish, because since I’ve been feeding him Royal Canin and trying to help him release the stress tensions, I don’t have to clean up his 4 meter long skitmarks from and to the litter anymore. Win.

As for the daily progress… I fell asleep with two cats close to me on the bed. Dubio loves cuddling up high in my arms and on my chest, but only on his own terms. I tried to pick him up from the sofa, but the lil’ dude made a 2 meter high jump from my arms so I’m guessing we’re going to put that on the long term list of things to teach 🙂

Both of them are much less scared to explore the living room now, the window seals, the empty spots in my bookshelf and they both love taking naps on the sheepwool carpet and in the rocking chair. Ghana is super playful. We’ve been playing with the fish on a string toy for the better half of an hour and he loved it so much.

Day 6

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”

“Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit Prince

There have been days where I wondered why I took both cats home, because they didn’t really seem to be that close. Nor did they really need each other. It’s not that I like Dubio more, or that I ever considered bringing Ghana back. Ofcourse not !! But I guess I did wonder why I brought Ghana home in the first place, if Dubio wasn’t really concerned much about him being around or not. And when he did want to cuddle, he did it with so much devotion that he made Ghana feel uncomfortable.

Until today, when I found them sleeping in the sofa basket together. Or heard them mauwing to eachother, gently playing. They’ve been following each other around for most of the day. Bro’s before ho’s, because they’ve been wrapped up in their own little world and didn’t spend as much time with “mommy” as she would have hoped, on the first weekend together ! 🙂 But that’s allright, I’m glad they are finally getting to know eachother a bit better.

DUBz &GHANA

Dubio got stuck under the sofa today. I have no idea what made him think he’d fit through a 3 inch small gap but he thought he would. I’m sure he didn’t expect to get stuck under there, though. It’s only when Ghana started being agitated behind the sofa and scratching the back of it, that I figured out where he was 🙂 He didn’t look very traumatized tho, he ran straight to me for cuddles.

Ghana allowed some longer petting time while lying next to me on the couch. I was surprised how sweet he was today, he’s been occupied with chasing musquito’s lately.

I also added the top lid on the litter box today and they both accepted that straight away. I’m so proud of my babies.

Day 7

It’s been exactly one week since Dubio and Ghana arrived at Casa Vixxie.

Time for some video’s.

(day 4) This is the very very first time Dubio jumps on the bed to collect his cuddles.

(day 2) Ghana’s Washing Session In The Sofa. The first time he ventures into the living room and immediately settles in the sofa.

Week 2

Spoily time !

I went on a shopping spree. I’ve wanted to buy one of those pretty scratching posts from Karlie Flamingo for such a long time but I could never bring myself to spending that amount of money because Snuggles just wasn’t interested in scratching or sleeping alone for as long as I can remember. She slept on my lap, on my chest, on the desk with me… but never in a basket. Buying one of these for Dubio and Ghana wasn’t much of a brainer however, since Ghana has been napping in the small scratching post since day one. So, on day 8, I eagerly awaited the postman to deliver my 27kg heavy box. I read the remarks on the website before buying, apart from being difficult to assemble and the screws being slightly short, there weren’t really any negative reviews at all. So I thought meh, being a certified-by-experience Ikea assembler, this wouldn’t be much of a sweat. Man, you need a degree in quantum physics to put that bloody thing together !! I think it took me longer to figure out, than the whole sum of my interior did. But eventually, it all fit and there it is:

scratchpole

#Worthit. It looks so very fashionable – just like most of the Karlie merchandise for that matter. It’s very sturdy, stable and it doesn’t wobble too much considering the whole construction is taller than me. I never liked the furry alternatives for my interior decor, so kudos to them for making a pet accessory that is both useful, decent quality AND pleases the eye. Cats don’t even like all the fluffy fleece stuff any more than they just like a good sleek pillow to nap on. Dubio loves the top basket and Ghana has taken a liking to the hanging basket.

scratch-intervention

I re-enforced the construction with an extra weight pillar but that didn’t have anything to do with the scratching pole being unstable. Just thinking of long term enjoyment, hanging baskets aren’t designed for 7kg+ podgy foofies and I don’t want it to break off prematurely.

Making your own scratching pole is very easy, by the way. If you’re on a budget or in a do-it-yourself creative mood, you can just get your hands on a piece of foam cardboard and tape sisal rope around it. Then hang it on your door. Or just wind it around old furniture, although I wouldn’t personally advise to get your cats used to scratching chairs 🙂

One more hack I have in mind is combining a rotan coffer box with the cat litter to hide the ugliness which is basically a poop box. Not that the AniOne Mega Comfy litter box is ugly perse, but you know. It’s a litter box. It will fit nicely with the Omega Paw litter mat I got to make my life easier. It contains spills and removes litter that becomes lodged in the pawpaws of my little furrballs. No more stepping on litter stones in the morning on my bare feet. #hooray

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pet-hacks-7

How to not intoxicate your precious ?

So you’re mindlessly watching some police series on the telly and suddenly there’s munching noises behind you, coming from a place where no munching noises should be heard. And you see a Dubio chewing your spider ivy with a passion. First reaction: Oh no, I just potted those young plants. Second reaction: Shit, hairballs.

The appropriate reaction should have been: Wait, am I killing my cat?

Many houseplants are toxic to pets. I knew this, but my previous housemates weren’t attracted to them, so I never really gave it much of a thought. Until today.
Goodbye beloved Yucca tree that needed hardly any care.  Goodbye Dracaena,  pretty dragon plant. Goodbye, exotic #Ineverknewhislatinname but I called him Phoenix because he died every winter then rose from his ashes and flowered every spring again. Yes, I’m the kind of person who names her houseplants. Thinking of it, the only NON poisonous plant I had in the house, was the one Dubz was chewing on. Way to go little man !

Thus again, more shopping was in order and I ventured to Walter Van Gastel, the flower shop with a collection of plants so huge, it compares to a herbatory ark of Noah.

As I was standing there in the middle of acres of greenery, the courage sank down to my shoes. Me, the notorious and ruthless plant killer that I am, looking for minimal poison and maximal survival chance. I even did some research beforehand but the long list I downloaded to Evernote wasn’t very helpful.

An ubiquitous Ficus so super easy to care for that everyone has one? Toxic. A massive Dieffenbachius with pretty nerving? Very toxic. Oooooh a very dark gothic looking palm called Cycas Revoluta? Deadly toxic. Even to humans, although I have no need of ingesting it, unlike pinkypaws at home. Sanseveria, Aloe Vera or a fucking common hanging ivy? Nope, nope and nope. In fact, all the plants I could recall that I had successfully kept alive for more than a month could also potentially kill my cats. But I love houseplants! I need some! Nothing yells “adult” more than some fancy green foliage in the house that cleans the air.

plants-good

After some more Google Fu straight from the shop’s wifi network, I settled with a very tall Areca palm that almost killed me trying to walk it home (the irony!), a Beaucarnea palm that looks like an oversized onion, and a Bird’s Nest Fern. This last one looked very charming in the shop, but whilst reading up more about it, I found out they are excellent for seasoned houseplant growers and their care is not for the faint of heart. Excellent. Everything which I am not ! RIP fern. Eat it, Dubio, Eat it ! Being a big fan of cacti and succulents too, I added a couple of Peperomia succulents with matching pots to the basket. All the things eco-cheques are great for. Free stuff ! And they are awesome for making a statement, matching the new dinner table chairs.

I’ve already owned an Areca Palm in the past, in my student’s home. And it managed to survive there for the better half of a year, while being watered maybe three or four times during that whole period so I’m optimistic that this one will at least make it until 2017. This one looks very dramatic as well. Ghana’s personal little piece of jungle, hiding between the leaves, while stalking his plush pray on the floor.

All the rest of the plants were moved to the kitchen window or small bedroom, where no kitties are allowed to venture !

plants-more
And I guess I will just keep planting the baby sprouts of my Spider Ivy. My cat can chew on it as much as he wants, it’s as benign as cat grass in his digestive system. But it looks so much better than one of those sad pet-grass containers you can buy at the pet store, right?

Other non-toxic greenery I’m going to scout after I successfully keep these three alive or need replacement are a Fish tail dwarf palm (Chamae-something-elegans), zebra trunks (Haworthia species), a Maiden Fern but they are very rare here or a button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia) because it’s the only round shaped leaf plant I could find between the non toxic variants. I also like the drawings in the leaves of the Peperomia Sandersii.

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has the most comprehensive list out there, but if you’re Dutch like me, it may not be as useful to you being alphabetically organized by their common English names. It’s a really long list, worth the read if you’re looking for plants to add to your decor while still having the intention to scoop the poop of your feline for at least a couple more years.

As to our weekly adoption updates, I can be pretty brief: spoilt, cuddly, and lovin’ it. Both of them are dolls, and I couldn’t have made a better choice at the shelter if I tried. Ghana still needs to open up a bit more and allow himself to be as affective as he wants to be. Unless he’s being fed, then he is the biggest snugglebutt in the West.

more catpics

Week 3

“In summary, it is my opinion that you do NOT need to offer your pet cat cat grass. Cat grass ingestion probably does not have any true benefits for the normal, healthy cat, other than the distraction argument. It does make them vomit, but rarely is that a good thing. It does add fiber to the diet, but it is doubtful that that is necessarily a good thing, either. It is possible it may assist in a cat’s ability to move hair through its intestinal tract, but a normal cat should be able to do that anyway without the added ‘benefit’ of cat grass. And it is very unlikely it actually improves a cat’s nutritional status. But it at least seems to be relatively harmless. So if you really want to feed your cat this vegetation, I will not try to stand in your way, as long as you understand it is not necessary, nor strongly recommended, at least by this veterinarian.”

Geoff Stein, Dave’s Garden

To Catgrass or not to Catgrass ?

So my Dubz is harrassing the plants. Ghana couldn’t care less but if Dubz is munching, he sure as hell will do so too. Heaven forbid there should be food around the house and he hasn’t tasted it ! My podgy likes his food, all right. He’s a bit like me, in that respect. Now I have two plant devouring youngsters.

I went to the animal shop to buy them a genuine jar of cat grass in an attempt to distract them from eating my new collection of non toxic plants, but it didn’t look fresh. Then went on the web, googled “how to grow cat grass yourself”and that’s where it all started. I haven’t seen as much controverse about a jar of grass since the Tarja/Anette comparison on every Nightwish Youtube video.

People just can’t seem to agree on indoor cats being fed grass (Cyperus Zumula) or oats (Avena Sativa). Some others freak out on their blogs instead about their cats throwing up after eating grass and cook up a whole dramapost about how shops should be sued for selling it… (fyi the reason cats eat grass in the first place IS to make their vomiting up hairballs easier). It was very refreshing to see that, in this era of Twitch stream-sluts, one can still stumble upon a genuine dumb blogtroll from 1999, once in a blue moon.

Fortunately, there’s actual bloggers who still like to research their content and that’s fantastic for people like me, looking for a second, third and fourth opinion. After reading his post, I decided to just not bother with the grass after all, and let them cats have at it if they feel like eating my ferns or palms. Truth be said, Dubz only goes catnip-crazy on my spider ivy. The other plants get sniffed at, licked and sometimes chewed on but they don’t seem to be wanting to eat it down to the root. /spider ivy out.

 

 

Week 4

The routine check.

This week, I’ve finally had a few days off work and I was more than thrilled to spend them intregrally at home in my pyjama’s with my darlings. Days like that sound absolutely purrfect to me.

Some time as well to teach my monsters some routine. Cats love them, but Podgy and Squeek haven’t really been able to get accustomed properly yet. Usually, my routine much compares to a boring life stuck in a rut. A good rut. A safe, secure, repetitive and very predictable rut. But I’ve spent the past weeks in a theme park riding all the emotional rollercoasters, sleeping in the sofa, working/gaming way too late, getting up in the middle of the night and feeding us snacks. It was probably not the best of ideas. But now, the emotional state of mind seems to be getting its shit together again.

Cats are creatures of habits who thrive on routine. I am a cat. We have a set pattern we follow every day. Routines are so important to us that having them disrupted, even impact our physical health. Take my little Dubz. His stress levels were so high in the shelter that he developped a nasty chronical diarhea. And even though the stress levels have remarkably decreased, and his panic attacks have completely disappeared, he still suffers from the liquid poops once in a while.

I’ve kind of often wondered why cats seem to instinctively like me. I attract them. On the street, in the parks. Cats just come to me like magnet polarity. Funny enough, dogs don’t. Dogs usually don’t want to know the first thing about me, and that’s most often completely mutual. There are exceptions, obviously. I do have some canine friends ! Like Thai. The small cross-bulldog/pug that greets me every morning at the bus station. He’s sweet allright. And very enthusiastic to wipe his wet paws on my freshly laundered black jeans or trousers. But usually dogs give me the stink eye, and I repay the favor with a loud hiss. Yes I know, I’m limited edition.

But then it hit me.
My basic routine: Sleep. Eat. Work. Eat. Play. Sleep. Rinse and repeat.
Dubio’s basic routine: Sleep. Eat. Play. Eat. Cuddle. Sleep. Rinse and repeat.
Ghana’s basic routine:  Sleep. Eat. Play. Eat. Sleep. Rinse and repeat.

Conclusion: Cats and I, we go together like peanut butter and chocolate spread.

The second month

I will be updating this section less frequently from now on. A couple of times a month, perhaps even less, in order to avoid this lovely diary becoming like the Fluffington Post, with nothing remotely interesting to report. (No offense to the actual thefluffingtonpostdotcom website because I love love LOVE the pictures and the funny entries! Keep up the cool stuff.)

Developping Characters

My friend K. is entertained by the fact that everytime she tells something about her children, I reply with “Oh I know what you mean, my Cat X or Cat Y does exactly the same”. Which sounds a bit goofy (and annoying) but I always treat my pets like individual beings and much like human children, I love to watch them grow. (Mentally. Not physically. If my Podgy grows in width even more, he’ll compare to a Shar Pei soon.)

Over the past months, my felines have been developping their own little characters and their attitudes have been nothing short of majestic.

When I picked them up in the shelter, I feared that I would have to keep an eye on Dubio not being alphapussed by Ghana. The relationship between my two previous cats, Snuggles and Chansey, was never problematic in any way, but when my Chansey deceased 6 years ago, I noticed a dramatic change in Snuggles’ behavior and had not realized until then that she had not been given enough space to develop her own little catmind. When it was just me and her left, Snuggles opened up from a shy, sweet but introverted cat to an incredibly open, talkative, social and curious being. I was not to repeat that same mistake.

The actual situation is quite the opposite. Small but dapper, Dubio is the terrorist at house Vixxie.

Nicknames : David and Goliath

Dubio is the one with the impatient wake up tactics for both Ghana and Mommy. He is the one hiding behind the door, pawing Ghana whenever he passes through. He’s the sneaky one exploring the kitchen table at night. He’s the one who claimed the bed for sleeptime cuddles and will hiss Ghana off if he dares to interrupt these 10 minutes of affectiunz. And even though Ghana is three times Dubio’s size, he occasionally gets beaten up playfully by the little samurai. Much like David and Goliath, really. The little man’s got spunk and attitude. What Dubio wants, Dubio gets. And if Dubio doesn’t get, he’ll make sure to get attention by gallivanting through the flat, making the cutest little sounds.

Nickname: Squeek

Dubio has the widest range of vocalizations of any pet I’ve had in the past, but you need to pay attention because they ain’t loud. Snuggles was extremely talkative and we had conversations literally all the time but her talking primarily consisted of meows and purrs and the occasional yowl/caterwaul calling for a mate. Dubio’s vocabulary extends further than meows. He doesn’t meow often actually, although he can, he prefers to squeek. And not just squeek, he squeeks as if his little life depends on it. It’s mindboggingly adorable. But he squeeks only when you talk to him, when he’s got your attention and you’re looking at him. When not in range, he will just use his “voice” and meow instead. When I’m gaming and not paying attention to him, he begins to roam the territory and chirps. Just happily tiptoeing around the flat, making excited and very declarative little trills. Usually catching Ghana’s attention doing that, they end up chasing eachother or playing together. He also purrs very often, but very lightly. When I pick him up to cuddle him tight in my arms, he purrs the most hypnotic of sounds, vibrating throughout his whole tiny ickle body.

dubio082016
DSC_1061

Nickname: Podgy

So Ghana is the one being pushed around by Dubz most of the time. Except when food is involved. Ghana and his food, that’s a true love story. Do not get in the way of Podgy and his food bowl. You may not live to tell the tale. I’ve been trying for a while to get them to eat together, simultaniously, at the same place but alas, I’ve not achieved this state of feng shui in the kitchen yet. I think Ghana has a deeprooted fear of other cats eating his food – understandable coming from a shelter with 30+ cats I assume. I mean, I protect the fridge with my life when it comes down to things too, who am I to judge!? Whenever I put two bowls on the floor (same contents), Ghana will frantically switch from one to another, pushing Dubio out of the way and claiming a double portion.

Fortunately, Dubio outsmarts the big guy by half a cricket field. When I’m preparing the bowls, he jumps up on the kitchen sink (which I would prefer him not to do, but I allow it out of.. well.. necessity) and he starts eating from his bowl. I then put down Ghana’s bowl on the floor, and all is good. Ghana has no interest in climbing the kitchen furniture and when Dubio finishes his meal, leaving half of the bowl untouched, Ghana gets to finish his leftovers too. Happy household.

Either way, he’s not likely to be THAT hungry, because they both have bowls full of dry food at their disposal at all times and they get meat snacks from the fridge whenever they ask for it.

<<< Eating peacefully together. Unfortunately, that’s rather rare.

Nickname: Goober

Being so fond of Squeek, you may get the impression that I prefer him over Ghana. Not at all ! I love my Podgy just as much, he is SUCH a glorious goober. There is no single bit of malice in this puss. He’s a big softy. Very tame, loveable and kind hearted. Hey, and don’t forget gorgeous ! He may be chubby, but there’s only more to love, right? RIGHT?! He’s got good manners too. Ghana is a real gentleman.

I wish he would surrender to affection (read: suffocation) like my pets do, but Ghana is more like a real manman. He’s not as snuggly but he enjoys petting. Especially in the kitchen when he knows he’s going to be fed. He lies/crashes down in front of the fridge, rolls on his back, paws up and waits for the rubz. I thought it was a rather goofy thing to do, but it’s Ghana’s thing. He prefers to be stroked, tickled and scratched behind the ears in the comfort of his food zone… Food fetish, you say? Funny enough, he only purrs when he’s being fed. They both get a quick cuddle before noms but Ghana doesn’t mind waiting a tad longer before attacking the bowl until I’m done petting him. That’s when he kicks it up a notch. It’s not _just_ a purr. It’s a loud, deep, throaty rumble: the motoring sound of utter contentment. The best of moods occur during Food Time. That’s allright big man. You and me both, mate.

ghana082016

Nicknames: Sizzle and Powerpuff

One easily forgets that my two men are, in fact, still just two boys. Being 2 and 3 years old, they’re still very playful. It took me a while to adapt to the sounds of playing cats chasing eachother all the way to Catmandu. I initially thought they didnt like eachother but I could not have been more wrong. They love playing together. One as much as the other. They are always together, no matter where they are. If Ghana is sleeping on the window seal in the bedroom, then Dubio is next to him in the old scratchpost basket. If Dubio is napping in the top basket of the Banana Leaf, then Ghana naps in the hanging basket. When Ghana sleeps in the sofa, then Dubio hangs around on the window seal, usually napping too or harrassing my plants.
Shit gets real when they start playing together. They get so caught up with eachtother, they end up wrestling like giant wildcats being filmed for an episode on National Geographic. Yet again, notice the big difference between my two fluffies. Dubio hisses like my steak sizzling on the grill at max heat and arches his back. He’s my Sizzle. Ghana doesn’t hiss, he turns into a puffed hairball: poofy tail and flattened ears included. It’s actually very intimidating because he is quite the big boy already. When he puffs up, he’s _really_ massive. He’s my Powerpuff.
When shit hits the fan, Ghana starts growling or even snarls when he’s had enough. That’s my cue to break them apart and remind them of the concept of personal space. Doesn’t happen often, though.

feestbeesten

Nicknames: The Dapper Chaps.

Do you notice that cats look at you in such a way that you can’t help but wonder, “Are you TRYING to be adorable?” They totally know when they’re being all supermodel-ish. I was hyper excited with the latest sales at maxi zoo. I got this cute dress up gadgets for free and I knew just exactly what to do with’em. Mr. Tux and Black Jack are ready to hit the town with some local gingers. I asked the ‘ladies men’ about their plans and at what time they expected to be home, but they refused to tell me. Something about mom not crashing the party. I swear I even saw their sexy snoots on Tinder. (Took a bit of photoshopping to fit them both together in one picture, as it turns out they are totally cool with posing individually, but none of them want to pose together !)

Nickname: Poppy

Dubio and I are having close encounters of the furred kind. There are kisses. And cuddles. And smooches. I can only guess what the little man has gone through in the past, but I know there must have been some positive experiences too, because Dubz loves tight cuddles in my arms. In fact, it’s his favourite spot for mummy-cuddles so someone must have taught him in the past, how to snuggle with a human! He climbs onto my chest, paws on my shoulder, rubbing his face on my cheeks and starts purring in my ear. And when we lie down in the sofa, just like that, he rests his chin on my shoulder. And yes indeed, I have become his personal living carpet. Soft, warm and it gives free strokes too.

Dubz reminds me a lot of the love that Snuggles and I had. They were/are both sickeningly sweet in their own speshiul way and 100% invested in being pawesome company. As for the “Poppy” nickname… well you can take one educated guess ;).

As you can see for yourself, my men and I have gotten acquainted pretty well ! We’re having a blast.

Keep you posted!

o/

Six months and counting

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the diary of two little princes. But that’s because the two little men have now properly claimed their human and we’re spending a lot of time in the sofa instead of behind the pc writing blog posts! Time flies when you’re having fun and the time spend with my furrballs ain’t any different. 

The cats are doing cat things, which is great and means they’ve gotten totally accustomed to their surroundings and their stereotypes.

 

They play monorail kittie on the sofa. Sometimes alone, sometimes together on the tshoo tshoo kittie mobile. Captain Dubz? Captain Ghana? You never know which one you’re gonna get, they’re taking turns.

monorailcats

They pose like gorgeous majestic fluffles, showing off their supermodellish features and making it all the way onto their human’s pc wallpaper.

wallpaper

They have lazy sunday sleep-ins with their human at casa Vixxie. They take secret naps, thinking nobody sees them …. and look all befuzzled when they’re caught on tape! They try out all the baskets in the house, repeatedly and thoroughly…. If they fits in it, they sits in it. Sometimes they don’t fit, but that’s okay too.

lazysundays

And sometimes, just sometimes, they can’t agree on who gets what basket. So they share one.
Ah, brotherly love. How beautiful. How peaceful…. How rare !

sharingbaskets

They help their human unwrap presents, help her clean the desk, tell her to stop eating pizza, remind her with angry glares and chair camping that it’s time to start cooking (and handing over the leftovers) or when it’s time for bellyrubz in the sunbeam, help her sort and tidy papers, tell her when it’s been nuff playtime and time for bed…. Aaaaah what would become of this human, if not for kitties? Keeping their human on the right track is a big responsibility !

catthings

We’ve passed the six month mark now, and all is good in paradise. So you can see for yourself 🙂

Dubio’s 4th birthday

We don’t really know when Dubio was born exactly, but we know that he was 3 years old when I adopted him. His “official” birthday on the passport is dated on January 1st, so that is when we celebrated Dubdub’s first nameday at casa Vixxie: his 4th birthday.

dubwbday

I bought catnip pillows and kittie treats for both little men, even though Ghana’s birthday is in August but if there is noms to be had, Ghana will not be denied 🙂 There was also a small cake for the human with whipped cream for the birthday puss but his biggest present is one that Mister Tuxido chose for himself.

After my whole toxic plant debacle (if you remember higher up in the diary?), I finally got myself a few small maiden ferns – after a long long search online – and planted them in a big rotan basket. It was so incredibly beautiful. And Dubio agreed. Every day after work, I noticed he had been scratching the dirt from the basket. I caught him doing it a few times during the weekends too, after which I shoo’d him off… But cats will be cats. And a few days prior to his birthday, I came home and found him sleeping ON the fern. Like literally just made himself a leafy bed on top of the plant. There was nothing much left to be rescued :’). I potted the plant down in another basket in the kitchen but it died and dried up pretty soon after. On top of all misfortune, the plant shop I bought it from has been sold out since winter and I haven’t been able to acquire a replacement maiden fern!!!! And Dubio? Well he got what he wanted. He now got an extra bed, because having 17 other baskets around the house just wasn’t enough, he had set his mind on THAT basket and scored himself an extra birthday present.

dubiobirthday

We’re still fighting out a battle of titans about who can keep the new summer ballerina’s. “Shoes for Dubio?” “No Dubio, it’s for human paws, and pink is not the colour for little men kitties !” “Noooooo! Shoes for Dubio!!”
Well at least he’s keeping them warm  :’)

But then you get a love smooch and all is forgiven. Look at that cuteness…. That is one happy felix.
Cats. They can get away with literally everything.

ballerinas

The battle against an army of unsollicited visitors

fleas

When you have puddytats, especially more than just one, the chance that you will at some point be confronted with a flea-situation is substantial. Quite likely, even. If your cats go out into the garden, then you will stumble upon a flea brought home here and there. That’s pretty much a given.
But when your cats don’t go outside at all and you do a regular weekly cleanse of your home on the first floor of a building, it’s quite the shock to the system to suddenly be infested by a plague of fleas out of thin air. Well at least that looks where they come from, but obviously they don’t. It happened to me over the past couple of weeks.

I must have dragged a bug in through my clothes, or shoes, or they may even have been lurking in the hallway while visiting one of my neighbours (who all have cats as well). Or maybe my little men were still carrying some from the shelter, although that’s very unlikely considering it’s been almost a year now. I’m not sure where they came from. They then probably took a while to cleverly hide under carpets and wooden floors and breed during the spring months, I’m not sure either. I am however very sure that, all of a sudden when the first summer heat came to be, so came the fleas. Lots of them.

I’m writing this all up, so that you, who perhaps lands on this page after googling flea-treatments, can get some peace of mind. Sure, you can beat the fleas, but it will cost you an arm, a leg and all your sanity.

Let me start by reassuring you. Yes, fleas are motherfuckers.

 

antiflea

Treat your problem ASAP.

Fleas are the strong, resilient, stubborn and smart filth of the earth. And they rarely come alone. They bring friends, lovers, their Polish grandmothers, larvae and eggs that look like innocent dandruff. They got everything they need to fool you into thinking everything’s okay, but honestly it’s not. Fleas are ultimate freeloaders and carry tapeworm bacteria. They suck blood from your cat, leave them nothing but pain, discomfort and when your furry friend tries to free himself by eating the fleas, they can cause severe worm infections. As for humans, allergic reactions from flea bites on the feet, ankles and legs are THE DEVIL. Like mosquito bites but fifteen times more itch and swelling. I should know, I turn out to be one of the lucky ones with a severe allergy to flea bites. /Facepalm. Hello Mother Nature, did you miss the memo? Crazy Cat Ladies should be exempt from cat related allergies!!

Tapeworms can also be transmitted to humans. The good news here is that flea bites can’t cause transmission: you actually have to swallow a flea larva, which you probably aren’t in the habit of doing.

Treat the flea infection as fast as humanly possible. It only gets worse. And worse. And then even worse before it gets slightly better. A flea problem will never just go away like a bad hairday.

Help, I feel a mental breakdown comin’ up.

I hear ya. Prepare to have at least two more after you’re done with the first.

So how do I get rid of them?

There is simply no easy fix. And the answer I’ve written up compares more to a fifteenthousand word essay. It also doesn’t contain a lot of funny wits or clever comebacks, because honestly, there is simply nothing funny about having fleas at home.  That’s why I’m shoving it all in a very neat toggle bar. You can read it, but it doesn’t contain pretty pictures, and it’s quite a long text:

This is how Vixxie conquered the Flea Army Of Doom
  • Learn about the cycle of flees and how to recognize their presence

There is an incredibly complete and straightforward website where you can find pretty much everything you need to know about the different life stages of a flee: http://fleascience.com/

And then you have a gazillion of pet fora topics covering flea problems and solutions. Some of them are truly hilarious. From adding garlic to your pet’s food so their blood will stink, to putting your pillows and clothes in the freezer for a week … just being one of the few brilliant suggestions I’ve read ^_^. I don’t know about you lot, but my wardrobe doesn’t fit in the freezer and by the way, garlic is incredibly lethal to you cat, as is chocolate. DO NOT FEED GARLIC to your cats. Unless you want to kill the fleas by killing your cat, in which case … go right ahead.

  • Take a sprint to your local vet

Get flea treatment for your cat. Maybe you prefer an injection and not bother for another year but my cats aren’t fond of being picked up and put in a carrier. It’s more like a fight to death trying to pick them up on my terms, so I went with Activyl drops in the neck for little Dubio and Advantage XL drops for big Ghana. I was under the assumption they had gotten treatment at the shelter that should have lasted them for at least a year (until July). Nothing is flawless I guess. Don’t forget to ask your vet for tape-worm medication too because one rarely goes without the other, they come in drops as well.

Both medicines worked fine and offered them quick comfort. After a few days, I noticed notably less white “dandruff” in their fur, which I had previously believed to be harmless but then realized they may just have been flea eggs… ew. EW. Well I didn’t know, my Snuggles never caught fleas !

  • Zyrtec, Dafalgan and ointments

Zyrtec to counteract with the allergy. Freaking lifesaver. There is not enough scratch in the world to save you from the itch of flea bite allergy. Dafalgan to calm the pain of your overworked muscles, blisters, calluses, bites, bruises and migraines on overdrive. All kinds of ointments needed to disinfect the debris of the bites on legs and feet and stop the burning feeling.

  • Get a professional exterminator or a chemical bug bomb.

That will probably cause the least distress and would have been my first choice too. But it’s not always an option. You may not be able to remove your cats and yourself from the house for a day. Those chemical fumes are highly toxic. I didn’t have a place to lodge my cats + they are very very scared of strangers and things that don’t belong in their routine. It’s near impossible to put them into a carrier and the temporary change of location would cause them an incredible amount of stress and diarrhea again. That’s why I chose for the hardcore solution. Do it all myself. In retrospect: Fool that I am.

  • Start the religious cleansing

I mean intense, devoted and relentless vacuuming. Three times a day the first week. Twice a day when you notice considerable progress. Keep it up for at least a week or six. The little buggers and eggs are notoriously resilient and can survive really long, even when not feeding. Anything less than religious cleaning will just not be good enough.

Fleas love to play hide and seek. They’re incredibly skilled at it too. In every crack, nook and cranny. In the gaps of your wooden floor or floor tiles. Under and behind the plinths. In AND under every carpet. In and definitely under and behind all the furniture. (I found loads of little fags under the wardrobe, f. ex.) In every corner and space under your sofa’s and seating. In the tissues of your clothes, chairs, blankets, curtains, pillows, shoes, bed and table linen. In baskets, cat beds, scratch poles, rotan furniture. In every possible organic material.

Basically, they’re just everywhere. Once you understand the depth of “everything“, you’re good to go. You can literally leave nothing to chance when you’re cleaning out fleas. Prepare for blisters and calluses on your hands from the vacuum handle after four weeks.

  • Here’s a few extra’s I’ve found very helpful during the war. I would advise anyone with a flea problem to consider this too.

– Have the best mum in the world.
Especially during the first phase of your cleanse, all hands on deck are appreciated. Have a lovely mother, like mine, lend you a helping hand and it will considerably soften the blow to the face which is an infestation of fleas in your home. Honestly though, don’t underestimate the mental blowback of this crusade, especially when you’re quite tidy and keep your place clean (enough). The presence of fleas is not a perimeter for the hygiene in your home. Fleas can happen in the cleanest of homes, but it’s easy to forget while racking up all the disappointment. Every morning after, when you wake up and find new specimens on the floor from the night before (fleas are nocturnal bugs)… that’s the flea life cycle. Not a fail of effort. Mothers are great for comfort ! =)

– Invest in a drying cabinet. 
Washing your clothes on 60° does not kill fleas. It’s a great way to filter the dust and plush but the fuckers will still be there.
But they won’t survive the heat of your drying cabinet. It’s ultimately the only way to kill them by laundry. Not always possible for all clothes, but DO dry all your bed linen, towels, jeans, etc on 90°. They’re exposed to extreme heat, extreme dryness, flooding, detergents, and physical tumbling action. Rest assured, they’re R.I.P.

I didn’t have a drying cabinet, but it was one of the things on my to-get-list when there was some spare money. I guess having flea visitors sped up the purchase, but I’m very happy with my new Zanussi.
We’ve literally hard-dried every single piece of cloth I own in the house: my whole wardrobe, all the curtains, pillows, blankets, all the bed linen and duvets, kitchen and bathroom cloths… Goodbye fleas, Hello electricity bill.

– Invest in silent vacuum cleaner.
Sure you can get the job done with a 90 decibel, 10 year old exoskeleton. After one week of hardcore vacuuming three times a day, take it from me… a silent force vacuum will be taken with A LOT of gratitude by your pets, your neighbours and your own migraines.
I had one of those exoskeletons too. But thanks to a friend, I was able to buy an extremely silent AEG vx-8 vacuum cleaner for a reasonable second hand price. That annoying noise killing your ears and chasing your pets up in the highest curtains are a thing of the past. This vacuum cleaner made cleaning my house a quiet pleasure and god knows I’ve used it a lot. It also comes with an ergonomic handle that you’d never think you really “need”, until you use it and understand you won’t ever be able to clean without it anymore. I got myself a turbo brush too, which works true miracles on my cloth sofa. That turbo brush is loud like an industrial drill 3 feet from your ear, but I was like a turbo removing half a new Ghana worth in fur from my furniture.

– Remove the bag from the vacuum or tape it shut after ever usage
Flea acrobatics will leave you frustrated. They are first class escape artists so just dispose of the bag immediately and take no unnecessary risks.

– Don’t sweep the floor. Don’t clean with water/soap.
Sweeping with a broom will just relocate the cooties.
Cleaning with water is a bad idea, because fleas love to lay eggs in dank, humid and warm places. They are attracted to water so lay off the heavy duty moping until the fleas are gone.

– Bin the carpets.
Yes it’s a drastic measure. But if you’re not emotionally attached to your carpets, the peace of mind you get in return is mind blowing. Consider that you only need 1 flea to survive to restart the whole process in half a year.  I binned all the carpets in the house, and I was quite sad to lose my little sheep’s look-alike cloth under the coffee table, but even after bug-spraying it and vacuuming it a couple of times, fleas were still coming off. Not to mention the big carpet in the living room, that populated a battalion of bloodsuckers on its own… Besides, having carpets on the floor with animals running around is rarely a good idea anyway.

– If your mattress rests on the floor instead of a bed stand, be vigilant.
I didn’t have that problem with my traditional bed frame and fortunately, my mattress seems to have been spared from bug infestation. But I’ve heard and read often that fleas and other bugs nested themselves INTO the mattress. Good luck getting them all out. RIP mattress, to be honest.

– Leave absolutely no clothes or towels on the floor. 
Not even a split second. Just be very anal about it. You can rest assured that if a piece of cloth is left on the floor, the fleas will have found it.

– Invest in 10 cans of different exterminator sprays. 
There’s a lot of variety.
– There are mechanical sprays sold by pet shops that will cripple fleas from mattresses and textiles and paralyse them, unable to jump or breed. Although not extremely efficient (it didn’t appear to kill them), it’s useful for sofa’s and cat baskets where cats are roaming because it’s not chemical and thus completely harmless for your furry friends. After 30 minutes, the treated surfaces are no longer toxic to animals but the spray works for 2 weeks. Because you know for a fact that your curious cat will go wander around the sofa you just cleaned anyway, and then start washing itself. You can not have any heavy-duty insecticides near your felines. Hell, you can’t even breathe in the fumes yourself. Imagine what it’ll do when your purrpurr ingests it. Just need to … yes you guessed it, vacuum the paralysed corpses off the surface.
– Then there are the different chemical bug sprays that are toxic to your pets, but indispensable in your battle against the terrorists of all bugs. I’m not fond of chemicals but one way or another, you’ll have to use them if you want to truly get rid of them. In rooms where your pets are (temporarily) not allowed. Bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, wardrobes. Just make sure to clean and ventilate properly afterwards, before letting the pets back in. (It has been reported that fleas have grown resistant to different kinds of sprays in different parts of the world so depending on where you live, you may want to try out different brands.)

I tried different variants of household bug-sprays first: Ti-tox Total and Vapona. Even when it states on the canister “kills any bug in three seconds”, I came to find this is usually not the case for fleas. I guess they did a good job chasing flea populations out of their hiding spots where I sprayed, but they only got groggy and some were still happily jumping around the day after, so I went to look for another solution.  (You can put clothes in a big plastic bag, spray the shit inside and zip-lock the bag. My mum found that effective too).

Here’s the line-up of exterminators that worked very well for me:

  • I vacuumed everything very thoroughly first, then used Sectolin’s ” Vlo & Mijt” (mechanical) spray on all the textiles that frequently come in contact with the cats. The sofa surface, the mattresses, the chairs and all the parts that I could not remove from cat scratching poles and cat baskets. Since my cats are devoted curtain huggers, I’ve sprayed those too after washing them. I did not want to use hard chemicals on surfaces that are trampled by kittiepaws all the time.
  •  I removed all the pillows, pillowcases, basket pillows and cloths from all possible surfaces, washed and dried them all and then sprayed them with Bio-Kill Plus. I then left them to detox for a couple of days before putting them back in the proximity of cats. I also sprayed them inside the (empty) wardrobes, cabinets, linen baskets, shelves, drawers and basically every single container where my cats are not known to venture in. The spray has a known efficiency for 4 weeks, so that gives you ample time to finish off your whole house in one round of debugging.
  • Then apart from the devoted vacuum cleaning a couple of times a day, I started spraying Bolfo Flea Guard from Bayer along all the nooks, crannies and plinths of my floor. I basically just pulled all the furniture to the middle of the rooms and sprayed along the whole bottom wall all alongside my wardrobes and closets, to make sure that any flea left under or behind furniture would not be able to reproduce. Bolfo has a known efficiency up to 6 months (!!!) so you can imagine the degree of toxicity should your pets inhale the damps. I double checked if the spray was safe for pet contact afterwards and it is safe for your pets after 30 minutes of soaking in, followed by 30 minutes of good ventilation. A nice lady at the support desk of Bayer answered all my doubts with clear answers.
    Fortunately you can do one room at the time, which I did, while locking the cats in a room at least two doors away from the sprayed environment. Together with the monthly drops in the neck, it should protect my home and my sanity against those invasive little fuckers.(In retrospect, 3 months later, both my cats are healthy and have not in any way reacted against the chemicals I’ve carefully applied.)

– Be selective with who you tell about your problem. 
Some people will treat you as if you just told them that your scalp is housing fifteen thousand lice. You’ll feel like a pariah, even if fleas don’t even survive on humans, some people still believe they do. And some believe that fleas only happen to people who don’t wash. Don’t clean. To hobo’s. Just keep to yourself for a few days, it’ll make your social life a lot less awkward.

Last but not least… good luck. God knows you will need it.

Couchpotato and Spritzer, 1 year at Casa Vixxie

July 2016, that’s when my little heart passed away and I brought my two lovely goobers home from the shelter.

So how’s it been? Great, I tell you. Ghana eventually managed to make his own comfortable, defined sinkhole in the couch pillow he always sleeps on, right next to mine. Dubio is happy, sparkling and bubbling with energy like a spritzer. And we all found harmony and developed our own ‘sofa psyche’. Me, claiming the majority of the couch with my notorious ‘paint me like one your French girls Jack’ poses. Ghana is the snoring sofa Zen-buddha and Dubio does an amazing impression of the floppy koala on my belly. 

Apart from the elaborate couch sessions, both of them firmly believe they were put on this earth to be decorative and be worshipped by their human slaves. And worshipped, they are. 

handsome

Yeah …. what a year it’s been. We’ve survived the projectile diarrhea (solved by premium food diet, even though normal diarrhea still occasionally occurs), we’ve gotten on top of the shedded-cat-hair-everywhere situation (solved by a miracle vacuumcleaner), we found alternative cuddling methods for two little princes that don’t like being picked up but like hugging and do permit kisses on their shiny black heads, AND we won the war against parasites. That’s just about as much excitement as this ailurophile (cat lover, fyi) can handle !During my battle against the fleas, casualties happened. Which ultimately led to a lot of pretty casa upgrades in the end!

Curtains and pillows shall not be washed and dried on 90 degrees.

Of course I knew that. Of course I didn’t care, as long as the pesky fleas would just die. And of course all that was left was a tissue the size of a handkerchief. Fortunately there is super-mum. She jumped on the first train to Vixxieville, packed like a mule with sowing machine and survival material.

My curtains came out of the drying cabinet looking like a big crinkle with dreadlocks. My mum salvaged what was left of the textile and magically turned them into (shorter) curtains 2.0. The kind that actually has the same length everywhere and drapes like a real curtain. I also decided to invest in shutters.

That cats love the summer sun is nothing new. But those two fluffies of mine take sunbathing to a whole other level and can spend hours lounging about the window seal, in the blistering heat, looking at the great outdoors. Their human however, is not very impressed when she comes home in a living room of 30 degrees or higher. And the previous owner of the flat decided to hang a darkblue sunblind that compares more to a nuclear radiator in summer. Out with the old, in with the new. It looks amazing and it’s Curious Cat approved.

The first thing you want to wash when you’re flea infested, are all the cloths that cats sleep on. If you’re an attentive reader, you may have seen in one of the previous pictures up above, that something was wrong with the Banana Leaf (scratchpole). Yes, the pillows that came with it did not survive my 90° craze =)

Buying them new would have costed me another 100 euro and I just didn’t want to spend that kind of money on pillows so in came super mum. Look what we cooked up together during a lovely weekend of creative problemsolving!

baskets

1 year of images worth a thousand words.

I’m cooking up a video at the moment to summerize the first year of love with Dubz and Ghana, but I have zero editing skills so I will upload it when I’m done ! 🙂