Monday, March 21, 2016

Meet the Cat Clan

I know I've mentioned my cats, but I've yet to properly introduce them. So without further ado, the Kooistra cats!

Our oldest cat is Talianna. Better known as Tali You Idiot. She's about 6 years old and we've had her since she was a kitten.

We had went to our local humane society with the intentions of adopting an adult cat, as we figured kittens probably got adopted quicker.

When we arrived, we were surprised to see how many kittens were there. The staff informed us that they had so many kittens coming in that the kittens were growing up in the shelter before they were adopted.

Apparently there's enough superstition about black cats, combined with people not finding them very pretty, that there's a noticeable difference in adoption rates for black cats over other colors.

Don't tell Tali, because it'll go to her head, but I think black cats look pretty elegant!

Anyway, we adopted our little black kitten and she's been with us at 2 apartments and finally our house.  She's mellowed out a lot in her old age.

She doesn't attack my keyboard anymore, or much of anything for that matter. She's a very stately lady and isn't given to such childish fancies.

Tali is our most solitary cat. She likes her privacy, but she also loves her family. She's amazing with our kids and tolerates everything they do to her. Sometimes I suspect she likes the kid treatment. She's the most sensitive to when we're needing some love. She also gets very protective when I'm pregnant.

(recent picture)

She is an idiot though! Hence the phrase she hears so much. She does the most hair-brained things sometimes and no matter how many times I tell her, "don't do that" she just does it and then bolts.

One thing about Tali, though. She hates other cats! She's adopted a policy that goes something like, "You leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone." Basically she pretends the other cats don't exist and unless they try to pester her she doesn't react to their presence. If they try to cuddle with her or play with her, she'll go all ninja on them. For the most part the other cats mind their business and let her be, but as the kittens are getting older they're not as intimidated.

Sometimes I think Tali is incapable of warming herself. She gets a bit obsessive in the winter about blankets, or anything that could pass as one. I can't tell you how many times I've flopped on the bed and jumped right back up going, "Sorry, Tali, you idiot!" And sure enough, underneath the comforter will be Tali. I think most cats would hate being trapped under a blanket, but not Tali. She'll live under ours.

I've told my husband that if something ever happened where we could only keep one cat, we'd have to keep Tali because she'd be the one least likely to adjust to a new home. When people come over she hides until they leave. A lot of people assume she's mean or unfriendly, but she's the sweetest girl. She just knows what she likes, and that's her family. She's really just a big baby.

When we moved into our house, we thought, "All this space! We need another cat." This time we went to Petco where they were hosting a small shelter for cats. It's so hard to settle on just one sad face to take home, but we finally narrowed it down to two. There were two calicos we debated on, but what sold us on Kota was her unusual reaction to being taken out of her cage. Most cats try to escape, or panic, or try to climb up you like a tree. Kota hunkered right down in my arms and snuggled there. Love at first sight!

There's always that adjustment period when moving a cat(especially an older one) to a new place. Kota was no exception, but instead of hiding under the nearest piece of furniture, she would just sit wherever we put her. She spent a good part of the first few days on our bed. We had to carry her to the food/water and litter.

Kota was 2 1/2 when we adopted her and she's probably our sweetest cat, but she has zero tolerance for children.

When we first got her, she was very, very nervous. We don't know what kind of situation she came from, but she would panic whenever someone would get anywhere near her(unless she was on a piece of furniture). If she was on the floor, you pretty much couldn't walk into that room without scaring her.

To work with this, we would walk in a wide berth around her and ignore her. We wanted her to realize that every time someone was near, they weren't coming after her. From there we worked forward: walking closer, walking right past her, occasionally stopping and petting her; until finally we could stop and pick her up.

The whole process took about 2-3 months, but eventually she stopped bolting when we walked by.

Kota still is super antsy around kids, but she's a good girl and is excellent at avoiding them. On the rare occasion where she's been cornered she has given (mostly Luke) the kids a nice little battle wound to remember her by.

Kota loves to snuggle, and is a frequent sneak at nights. The cats aren't allowed in the bedroom at night, because of the baby, but Kota has this genius plan that involves her sneaking into the room during the early evening and hiding. Later, after we've gone to sleep, she'll sneak out of her hidey hole and jump on the bed.

The phrase Kota hears the most is "Not now, Kota." She can be a bit demanding about wanting attention or food. She has one of those squeaky, barely audible meows and she'll sit on the floor and stare at me while begging for whatever she wants.

One thing that surprised us about Kota, was when we got the kittens. She was so mad, she hid under the bed for a week and when the kittens walked in the room you'd hear her growling. Kittens aren't the brightest and who can resist a fluffy momma looking cat? Eventually they wore her defenses down and the three of them are terrible! Kota was such a well-behaved cat before they came into her life. Now she gets a little crazy. They(and they're doing this now) bolt around the house in the most insane game of tag ever. They cuddle together, eat together, hang out together, play together. Despite our initial thoughts, Kota LOVES those kittens.

(recent picture. My daughter has just come down the stairs and you can kind of see Kota's "get ready to flee" look.)

Which brings us to the kittens. This is the first case of "buyers remorse" that I've had when it comes to any pet(s) we've owned. At the time we had Kota and Tali, and our oldest two kids. We were expecting our youngest, but I figured since we already had kids and cats that I wasn't setting myself up for trouble.

The kittens weren't planned. I passed a sign for free kittens one day and thought my daughter would love one(which she does). They only had two left and I couldn't just leave the poor little boy alone! And I decided kittens need a playmate anyway.

It'd been a long time since I had kittens, and last time I did, we didn't have any kids or a house. I clearly forgot how much trouble they are. By the time I regretted the decision, it was too late. No one wanted them and we already had them. I didn't want to take them to a shelter, and really I had made the choice to get them and now I'm going to have them.

That's all just honesty in regards to the kittens. I would love to encourage people to adopt. There's so many cats out there who need a home. But please, before you do, think about everything it entails. An animal deserves to have a forever home and if you decide to bring in an animal, it's good to keep them barring something you just can't help(allergies, moving where they can't go, etc.).

There's a lot of people who get all excited to get an animal, and then they end up dumping them at a shelter when the fun wears off. Trust me, I know how tiring cats can be! So while I'm saying, take time to consider adopting a cat! I also want to say, "be informed and ready for the responsibility."

Now, that's the story of how we got the kittens, here's the fun details about them.

First is our little girl, Smokey. Smokey is all sweetness. She loves, loves, loves attention. She's actually been laying on my arm most of this post. It's hard to type with her tail on the keyboard and my arm pinned. Smokey's life should've been as the pet of some rich socialite who wants a cute little dog to carry in her purse. Smokey's phrase is, "Smokey!!! MOVE!" Because she is always underfoot. ALWAYS. She purposely puts herself in front of a person and becomes a tripping hazard, so that we get tired of dodging her and carry her. I can't tell you how many chores get done while I'm holding Smokey.

Smokey is very good with the kids. She's a lot like Tali in that sense. We have to keep an eye on her when she's with them just to make sure they're playing nice with her. She's still pretty little and she's so docile that the kids can get away with a lot if they want to.
Overall, Smokey is a great cat and I'm hoping with age she'll calm down. Right now the kittens are in the "teen" stage and still causing quite a bit of havoc and destruction.

(recent picture)

And then there's Merlin. I can sum Merlin up with a short story.

When I took the cats to the vet to be fixed, I had to leave them there over night. I came back the next day to get them and the vet came out to talk to me about how things had went.

She says to me, "Miss Smokey is such a sweetheart. She was so good the entire time. But Mr. Merlin . . ."

It's at that point I got that feeling parent's probably get when they're called in to talk to a teacher and it's that child's teacher.

She then regaled me with Merlin's antics and yes, Merlin needs less than 24 hours with a person for them to see what a handful he is.

In Merlin's defense, he is a very sweet cat. He loves people and will get all mushy on just about anyone.

That's about where his defense ends.

Merlin is the ringleader of the troublesome trio. He's also the one that's most likely to be causing trouble. He's the one knocking over flower vases at night because that water is better than the communal bowl. He's the one that will get himself locked in the closet. He's the cat responsible for most of the cat damage in the house.

He's a bundle of energy that makes me think we should've named him Havoc or Ricochet.

He's the one cat that doesn't have a "commonly used phrase", because he does so many things that the only thing in common in each phrase is "MERLIN!!!!!"

He's a very big boy and will probably rival Tali in size someday.
 (recent picture)
He's okay with the kids. He's well-behaved around them, but he'd much rather be left alone and is quite whiny. For example: Cheyenne sat down in front of the window next to him yesterday and he started crying for me. It's his, "Mom!!! She's sitting by me!" cry. I'm like, "You big crybaby, she's not doing anything to you."

"But mom! She's in my sunlight!"

Cats are a fun part of life. They're tiring, annoying, pesky little creatures. But there's nothing quite like a cat who's cuddled up purring next to you.

Some fun photos of the cats!


I'd love to hear about your furry companions!


  1. Yay for cat pics! You know I love that last pic :) And you know all about my cats already so I won't bore you with any more details for now!

    1. That is still my favorite picture of them. It's so cool how the kittens colors = Kota.

  2. I love black cats! But you know that's because of my personal relationship with Salem. My sister's cats are both black, except one has a white bit under his chin. That's how we tell them apart.

    1. They just seem so stately! I find that even with cats that seem identical, the owners at least can tell the difference from some little thing.

  3. Black cats are so beautiful. I volunteered at a cat shelter back when I was in Girl Scouts and I was so sad to see how many of them were there--more black cats than all the other colors combined, it felt like. I would have taken one home (more than one if I could), but unfortunately we had dogs and my dad doesn't like cats.

    When my sister and I have our own place, though, we're probably going to have cats. (Fish, too, if I can convince the cats they're not food.)

    Your cats are so gorgeous, btw! I think Merlin's name is perfect, makes me think of Merlin when he was a young rogue in some of the Arthurian legend retellings I've read.

    1. They are so beautiful! I never knew people didn't like them until I adopted Tali. They're so sleek looking, like panthers! If Tali had been male I probably would've named her Bagheera.

      Fish are awesome! I had two tanks of freshwater fish years ago. A lot of fun, especially with live-bearers. Someday I want to get a big tank and have fish again, but it's low on the priority list for now.

      Thanks! Merlin is a turd! It's probably a good thing he isn't a wizard or he'd really turn the house upside down.

  4. I adore black cats. My grandma had one. He disappeared on Halloween. :(

    Hahaha I see aspects of my cat in all of yours. She was born to my first cat. That poor cat was so sickly. She only managed one live kitten and a stillborn. The same was true the second time she was pregnant. I don't have that cat anymore because, and in my defense I was still a kid at the time, I took him outside to play not far from the house and then went back, figuring he would find his way back, but he never did. :( So much guilt.

    Anyway, my current cat is sooo sweet and snuggly, but only on her terms. Otherwise she's standoffish. She hates to be held and hates strangers, especially kids. I held her so the neighbor kids could pet her one time and she was shaking so badly.

    She's very willful and will meow (loudly!!) to be let into my room for 10 minutes or more until I give in. She loves getting under the covers and will scratch at the edges or headbutt me until I let her in and also loves to sit on my pillow when I leave the room then complain when I tell her to move then lay down on her when she won't.

    She loves it when I pet her fur backwards and when she's really relaxed I can pet her belly, but she hates her feet touched. She's calmed down a lot since she was a kitten, but she still loves to play with newspaper and hair ties. Any toys we buy from the store will be ignored.

    Ah, cats. Crazy creatures we can't help but love.

    1. I had rabbits when I was little, and I gave one of them a bunch of alfalfa and you're not supposed to give older rabbits a lot of alfalfa. Anyway, the next morning she was dead and though it's possible there was another cause, I struggled for a long time with the guilt.

      It's great that your current cat is cuddly! Of course it's nice when they will let you choose, but cats know their own minds lol.

      Tali does the "let me in" thing too! She'll paw and meow at the door until I let her in. We had to change the handles so that she couldn't open the doors, since she kept doing that.

      Haha, yep, mine are like "you bought me cat toys? No thanks."

      It's kind of funny because my 4 month old loves the cat toys and the cats love the baby toys.

  5. This was a very sweet post and makes me think I should do one for my three animals (four if you count the one that belongs to my roommate, lol).

    I appreciate your honesty about how you got each animal and your regrets about some of it. I had to learn some hard lessons about pet ownership when we just kept getting more and more, as well. We ended up actually deciding to move rather than give away our pets when one apartment had a problem with it. I also learned to always get pets approved beforehand!! Well, we all learn lessons the hard way sometimes.

    1. You should! I think a lot of people enjoy hearing about pets.

      Ah yes, I had to ask my apartment manager if it was okay to have a pet for a few months while we looked for a new place. They didn't normally allow pets, but they let us get Tali since it was only for a short bit.

      I'll be honest, I struggled with whether or not to post this because people can be harsh if you show any signs of regret or less than complete happiness with a pet.

      But I wanted to be truthful and encourage people to think as much in advance as possible. And I'm sure I'm not the only one with pet regrets!

      Smokey is terrible for my allergies, which normally are bearable. She's such a cuddler, but lately I just keep moving her away from me so I don't keep sneezing.