Allegra

Allegra’s World: Spring Play

Allegra beautiful tortoiseshell cat stunning markings

If you read my sister Ruby’s post last week, you already know that she’s had quite a few adventures. Ha, and Mom thought I was a handful when I was her age!

Now that the Pettie campaign is over, I have more time for other things again, but I have to admit, I liked having such an important job. Maybe Mom could run for something else. I think Ruby and I made a great team.

Mom said she’ll have some new products for us to test soon. Bring it on – I’m ready!

The nice thing about not having to work so hard is that I have more time for play. My favorite game right now is playing with these little plastic springs. Mom plays that game with us every morning after we’ve had our breakfast. She tosses them for us, and Ruby and I chase after them. Sometimes we play with the same spring and bat it back and forth, but most of the time, we prefer to have our own spring to chase.

Of course, since they’re small and bouncy, they frequently disappear under furniture. Part of the fun of the game is to watch Mom try to retrieve them, even if she’s not very good at it. Usually, she just goes to the closet where she keeps some of our toys, and gets out a new spring. So I’ve had to step in and get some of the springs out from under stuff.

As you can see in the video below, I’m quite good at it – I managed to find not just one, but two springs under the stove!

httpv://youtu.be/q6uQW-8X2RM

A Cat’s Prayer

Allegra cat napping sleeping sunshine

 Now I lay me down to sleep,
the king-size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove.
My human can hardly move!

I’ve trapped her legs, she’s tucked in tight,
and here is where I pass the night.
No one disturbs me or dares intrude
’til morning comes and “I want food!”

I sneak up slowly to begin
my nibbles on my human’s chin.
She wakes up quickly, I have sharp teeth
and my claws I will unsheath.

For the morning’s here and it’s time to play.
I always seem to get my way.
So thank you Lord for giving me
this human person that I see.

The one who hugs me and holds me tight
And sacrifices her bed at night.

~ Author Unknown ~

Allegra’s World: Help from Flower Essences

Allegra The Conscious Cat

I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I last wrote on here! Well, not exactly – Ruby and I told you about our tunnel adventure a week ago. That was really something! I’m happy to report that the evil tunnel has remained calm, and that we enjoy playing with it again.

Everything is good here. I really like having Ruby around and I hardly ever get annoyed with her anymore. I still wish she’d tone it down a little when Mom gets our food ready. You wouldn’t believe the screaming that’s going on then! Like Mom isn’t getting our meals ready as fast as she can. Ruby really needs to cut her a break. But, I guess that’s why I’m the big sister. I’m the patient one. It’s good to be me.

Speaking of food. A pet food company sent Mom some cans of food that Mom says they want her to write a review about. We mostly eat raw food, but about once a week, Mom gives us canned food, too. I like both kinds. I think Ruby does, too, although with her, you’d probably never know, I think she’d eat anything Mom puts in front of her. She’s also very interested in whatever Mom is eating.

But I digress. So these cans of food have been sitting on the counter for a couple of days, but neither Ruby nor I can figure out how to open them. I wish Mom would hurry up already and let us try them. I told Mom I should probably be the one to write the review, but she obviously hasn’t made up her mind about that. But one way or the other, you’ll see a review soon. (Or else, you’ll see a news report titled “Cat Figures Out How to Open Can” because it’s just too tantalizing to have these cans sitting on the kitchen counter, right where we can see them!)

The only thing that’s been happening that I’m not too crazy about is the frequent storms we’ve been having. They haven’t been bad ones, but I hate any kind of storm, even just a rainstorm. The sound of the rain hitting the house really scares me. I run downstairs and hide in the shower stall behind the curtain. It’s dark and quiet in there, and it makes me feel a little safer.

Mom has been giving me magic water twice a day (Ingrid’s note: I give her Safe Space for Cats by Spirit Essences), and when a storm is coming, she gives me even more magic water (Ingrid’s note: I either give her Stress Stopper by Spirit Essences, or a blend of Anxiety and  Animal Emergency Care by Green Hope Farm Flower Essences), and it helps make me less afraid, but during storms, I’m still not comfortable being anywhere else in the house except in my safe shower stall. Mom comes and checks on me frequently to make sure I’m okay and tries to coax me out, but I’d rather stay in my safe space.

What I don’t understand is why Mom can’t just make the bad weather go away. She can do everything else to make my life nice, why not this? I mean, come on, she can even open cans of food! Changing the weather should be a breeze compared to that!

Are you afraid of storms? What does your Mom or Dad do to help you not be afraid?

Allegra and Ruby’s Great Adventure

Alelgra and Ruby, The Conscious Cat

We had some excitement at our house the other day. I was working in my office when all of a sudden, I heard a strange noise coming from the kitty playroom downstairs. Now mind you, strange noises haven’t been all that unusual since Ruby joined our family and the girls started chasing each other through the house. They get so carried away that they occasionally bump into something or take something off a low shelf as they race by. In the beginning, I would go and check on them as soon as I heard anything unusual, but lately, I’ve come to realize that it’s just the new normal at our house. But that noise was different.

When I got to the top of the stairs, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Our crinkle tunnel had made its way halfway up the stairs, and it was still moving. All of a sudden, two cats came flying out of it in rapid succession, fur and tails puffed up as they scattered in opposite directions. But why don’t I let the girls tell you what happened.

Allegra: Ruby and I were playing in the kitty playroom. We were stalking each other – we love doing that! There are lots of places we can hide behind. We can lay in wait behind the bathroom door, or around the corner in Mom’s Reiki room. There’s also a big crinkle tunnel. It’s really great fun! I usually surprise Ruby when we play stalk each other. She’s not that good at paying attention, she gets distracted by all the toys that are everywhere in the kitty playroom.

Ruby: Not true! I always know exactly where she’s at! I just let her THINK that I don’t pay attention….

Allegra: Anyway, so the other day, we’re down there playing. I was crouched  behind the play house, watching Ruby. She crawled into the crinkle tunnel. Ha! Now I knew I had her. She’d never pay attention to me coming up from behind her, and she was too busy making the tunnel crinkle to even hear me approach!

Ruby: I was checking out the tunnel. I love the sound it makes when you walk in it. Crinkle scrinch crick crinkle – very cool! I admit, I wasn’t paying attention to much of anything except those fun sounds, so it really took  me by surprise when Allegra pounced on me from behind! Yikes!!! I tried to run out of the tunnel, but I couldn’t find the opening. Usually I just shoot out on the opposite side from where I went in, but the exit wasn’t there! Now what?

Allegra: I knew I’d get her! What I didn’t understand was why she didn’t run from me. Doesn’t she know yet that that’s how the game works?

Ruby: The front of the tunnel had collapsed, and I couldn’t get out! Allegra was behind me, so the only thing I could do was run forward. Now I didn’t just have Allegra chasing me, but the tunnel joined in the chase. All the cool noises weren’t so fun anymore all of a sudden. The tunnel had turned into a monster!

Allegra: I wanted to get away from Ruby and the tunnel, but I couldn’t! I got dragged along with the tunnel. It was awful! I yelled at Ruby that we needed to call for Mom to help us, but Ruby told me to shut up, we’d get in trouble.

Ruby: I just kept running – there was  no time to get Mom. The tunnel monster was out to get us!

Allegra: I was getting more and more scared, when finally, I heard Mom’s footsteps at the top of the stairs. But she was too late to help us. Ruby managed to break free and raced up the stairs. I wasn’t far behind her and I tore off in the opposite direction. I was really really scared!

Ruby: I was pretty freaked out, too. Mom tried to grab me, but I wasn’t having any of it. What if the tunnel monster was going to come after all of us? I ran underneath the dining room table. Allegra hid under the sofa.

Allegra: I could tell Mom was worried and just wanted to check us over to make sure we were okay, but I was way too afraid to let even Mom near me right then and there.

Ruby: My heart was pounding really fast and I was still pretty scared, but then I heard Mom shake the treat bag, and I came out from under the dining room table.

Allegra: I heard the treat bag, too, but I was still too scared to even think about treats, and I decided to hide under the sofa for a while. Ruby, of course, was over the whole thing already and was busy gobbling up treats. Mom tried to coax me out from under the sofa. I wanted to, but I didn’t trust that everything was safe quite yet. When I finally came out, Mom praised me for being so brave and gave me treats, and I did eat them. I started to feel a little better. I very cautiously approached the stairs and looked down. It looked like the evil tunnel had disappeared, so I slowly made my way down the stairs, one step at a time. I peeked around the corner. Oh no – the evil thing was still down there! Mom saw me, and gave me another treat. Huh. Okay. So maybe it was going to be okay to go downstairs after all?

Ruby: I wasn’t so sure about going downstairs, either, but there were other things to keep me busy upstairs, so I didn’t even bother. I chased a bunch of toy mice instead. Wee!

Allegra: I finally got up the nerve to go all the way downstairs, and then I sniffed every inch of that tunnel, and spit on it for good measure. There! That surely dispelled the negative energy that thing had taken on all of a sudden!

And there you have it – Allegra and Ruby’s great tunnel adventure. From my perspective, my biggest fear was that they would associate the experience with each other, rather than the tunnel, and turn on each other. This is why I immediately brought out the treats, so they could associate coming off of this scary experience with something positive. I wasn’t surprised at Ruby’s quick recovery, but I was worried about Allegra, who, even though she’s improved considerably, is still my little scaredy cat. I was very proud of how quickly she came out from under the sofa and proceeded to explore downstairs. Perhaps Ruby’s fearless nature will eventually help Allegra get past her fears just by example.

Ruby: It was actually kind of fun. Maybe we can do it again…

Ingrid: Don’t even think about it, missy!

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The Conscious Cat got a facelift

cat with computer, The Conscious Cat

Since Ruby already has her own column, Ruby’s Reflections, here on The Conscious Cat, it was time to incorporate her into the design of the site as well. Allegra and Ruby wanted to redesign the header themselves, but having both of them on the computer at the same time did not seem like a good idea to me. It was much safer to ask our fabulous web designer Nathan Landis to help us out.

Amber, the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, remains, and always will remain, front and center. Allegra and Ruby obliged with perfect poses on Amber’s left and right. In the interest of symmetry and balance, we made the decision to take Buckley out of the header. Since she has a special place on the site, smiling at us from her book cover just below the header, I think she would approve.

Allegra and Ruby give the new header design four paws up. What do you think?

Photo credit: istockphoto

Conscious Cat Sunday: Moments of Magic

Moments of Magic

That’s the thing with magic: you’ve got to know it’s still here,
all around us, or it just stays invisible for us. – Charles de Lint

Moments of magic happen every day if we allow ourselves to let them become visible. And they don’t have to be big, splashy moments, either. A perfect cup of coffee, first thing in the morning, can be magic. A walk in the park at sunset. An unexpected meeting with a friend. There’s a quiet joy in these moments of magic.

I had a very special moment of magic last week. The fact that it happened on my birthday made it even more special. I was reading, and Ruby was sleeping on my lap. All of a sudden, Allegra decided to join us. Now mind you, the two girls get along beautifully, but so far, there had been a limit as to how close to each other they were willing to get. But in that moment, Allegra jumped up on my lap, and settled down right next to Ruby. Ruby barely opened her eyes. Allegra started grooming herself, and gave one of Ruby’s paws a quick lick before curling up for a nap of her own. There they were, my two girls, on my lap, right next to each other! It only lasted a few moments, a noise outside distracted Allegra and she got up to check it out. But while it lasted, it was pure magic.

I didn’t have my camera nearby to capture my magic moment, but I thought you’d enjoy this shot of the two girls together from the other day. It, too, qualifies as a magic moment: a photo with both of them looking at the camera at the same time!

What magic moments have you experienced lately?

Allegra’s World: Meal Time

Allegra's World The Conscious Cat

I can’t believe I now have to compete with my sister Ruby for time to write on here!  Maybe I need to get my own catputer!

Even though I wasn’t sure at first what it was going to be like having a sister, and having to share Mom with her, I have to say that I really like having her here. She’s lots of fun to play with. I especially enjoy bopping her on the head.

Our favorite game is chasing each other, and I always win. Her little legs aren’t as fast as my long ones, but I pretend to let her win every once in a while so she doesn’t feel bad. That’s what big sisters do. Of course, she’s got a way to get me back for winning, and I haven’t figured out how to stop her from doing it. The little stinker vaults right over top of me! Sometimes, she does it when she’s on a mission to somewhere (don’t even ask what she’s so busy running around for, half the time, I think she forgets where she was going before she gets there!). Other times, she does it when we stalk each other. All of a sudden, it’s like she’s coming out of nowhere and there she is, jumping right over me! The nerve!

I have to say, though, she can be a little annoying when it comes to meal time. As soon as Mom goes into the kitchen, Ruby races in there after Mom and starts to scream her little head off! I know Mom always gets our meals ready as fast as she can, but it’s never fast enough for Ruby. The racket she makes! It hurts my poor  ears. Do they make ear plugs for cats? I’ve learned to just sit at a slight distance and watch her make a fool out of herself. Hasn’t she figured out yet that there’s always going to be enough food for both of us, and that it’s always served to us on time? And she’s not polite at all about waiting for Mom to put the dish down, she practically leaps at the dish before Mom even has a chance to put it on the floor. I’ve learned to accept that I get my dish second. I’m the big sister, so I guess I have to be okay with it.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn to eat faster than I used to. Ruby inhales her food, she’s just too immature to understand that savoring your meal is one of the great pleasures of a cat’s life. The first few days she was here, when she was done, she’d march right over to my dish, while I was still eating, mind you, and stick her head right underneath mine and start to eat my food! I was so fed up (hm – poor choice of words, because actually, I wasn’t full yet!). Anyway, I just walked away in disgust. Mom grabbed Ruby and held her so I could finish my dinner, but that wasn’t fun for anyone. So now I just eat fast.

We both sleep with Mom at night, and I really like that.  Ruby is respectful of my space, so we can both be snuggled up on opposite sides of Mom. It’s almost the best part of our day.

That’s all for today. I think I’ll go wake up my sister so we can play.

In loving memory of Amber, one year later

Amber The Conscious Cat

A year ago today, I had to say good-bye to Amber after a very sudden, brief illness. I was devastated. Nothing ever prepares you for unexpected loss. In hindsight, I’m grateful that she got to spend her final few hours at home with me, and that she died peacefully in my arms. At the time, those things did not bring much comfort.

A year later, the pain of losing her has dulled a little, but I still miss my beautiful girl every day. She was in my life for ten years, and they were some of the best of my life so far.

My love for Amber grew slowly. Unlike all of my other cats, it was not love at first sight with her. I had lost my first cat, Feebee, to his battle with lymphoma in April of 2000. He had been with me for almost sixteen years. I didn’t think it was possible to hurt as much as I did after he died. I had had other (human) losses in my life before, but nothing was as painful as losing him. There were days when I wasn’t sure I’d make it through.

What saved me during those dark days was my work at the animal hospital, my office cat Virginia, and the daily contact with all the feline patients we saw every day. But coming home to an empty house night after night was becoming increasingly difficult. 

A few weeks after Feebee died, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  She was a dark tortoiseshell color, with an amber-colored heart-shaped spot on top of her head, which became the reason for her name.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession. 

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat. 

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I thought it would be a good way to try and see what it would feel like to me to have a cat who wasn’t Feebee at my house. I also wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens. 

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she had relaxed a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer. 

The wound from Feebee’s passing was still raw. I wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, so I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. I had flyers all ready to go to advertise that she was available for adoption. Remember flyers? This was in the dark days before social media!

Somehow the flyers never got distributed. Three months later, I finally realized that she wasn’t going anywhere. 

My love for her grew over the years in ways that I never would have thought possible. She was my heart and soul. She reflected back to me the limitless possibilities my life could hold if I opened my heart and allowed things to unfold. She was my inspiration for so many things, including this site. She was the original Conscious Cat.

There are so many things I miss about her: the way she would curl up in my arms each night and sleep there for most of the night. The way she’d purr if you so much as looked at her. The way her tail would twitch when she got excited about something. I miss her gentle presence and peaceful energy.

Allegra came to live with us about five weeks before Amber died, and she was a great comfort to me during this past year. Her joyful, kittenish presence and her quiet love helped my heart heal. Now that Ruby has joined our family, my heart, and my life, are expanding once again.

And Amber’s gentle spirit and eternal love are never far from me.

Ruby’s Reflections: First Post

Ruby's Report

Hi everyone! It’s Ruby! I’m so excited that I get to write here, too! I’ve been here almost three weeks now, and it’s so great here! When I lived with my human foster parents and two big foster brothers, I didn’t know what a forever home was. Now I know: it’s kitty paradise, right here on earth!

I love my mom, and I love my big sister Allegra. I’m so happy! Sometimes, I get so happy that I have to jump for joy. I jump straight up in the air!

I know that my new big sister wasn’t too terribly happy when I first arrived here. She hissed and growled while I was exploring my new home. But even then, I knew we’d be best friends in no time, because I realized quickly that she wasn’t mad at me – she was mad at our mom! That’s who she was hissing and growling at! Thankfully, it didn’t take her long to stop being mad at Mom, and then she started making friends with me. At first she’d just watch me closely. After a few hours, we started to hang out together in the same room. Two days later, we were touching noses. You get where this is going – we’re definitely friends now, and I think this is only the beginning.

Neither one of us really knew how to play with other cats. I was too intimated by my two foster brothers to play with them, because quite frankly, they were giants compared to me! I was afraid I might get squished by one of them! Since it had just been Allegra and Mom for a long time, Allegra didn’t have any practice playing with other cats, either. But we’re both very smart, so we figured it out pretty quickly!

Our favorite thing is to chase each other through the house. We pretend to stalk each other around corners and from behind furniture, and then we pounce on each other. We run like the wind! Up and down stairs! Up and down cat trees! Up and down furniture! Wee!!!

I also love when Mom plays with both of us. One game that Allegra and I love is when Mom brings out these little plastic spring things. She says we can only play with them when she can watch us. I don’t know why, they’re totally fun and we could have a blast even without her watching us. Allegra says Mom worries that we might chew on them and maybe swallow little pieces if we’re not being supervised. Allegra says that’s what Moms do – they worry. That’s sweet. Anyway, we both love chasing these little springs all over the house, and the best part is that when we manage to bat them underneath a piece of furniture, we get to watch Mom retrieve them for us! Great fun for all, especially for Mom!

When we’re not playing, I like to look out the windows. There’s so much to see! There are birds, there are people walking by, sometimes, there are dogs out there, and the best part is that I can watch all of that and be safe inside our wonderful house! I have no desire to go outside. I lived outside for a while after I was abandoned, and let me tell you, it was scary out there, and there was nobody to take care of me.  Take it from one who’s been there: being outside is highly overrated.

That’s all for today. Mom says I can write here again soon. Besides, I have to go chase my sister now. Life is good! Wee!!!

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New Family Member: Introducing Ruby

Ruby The Conscious Cat

The Conscious Cat has a new family member! Allegra and I are excited to welcome Ruby into our hearts and home. Well, right now, I might be a little more excited than Allegra, but considering that Ruby only came home yesterday morning, things have been going really well. Initially, Allegra was really mad at me for bringing this little intruder into her house, and she watched suspiciously as Ruby began to explore her new home. Whenever Ruby came too close for comfort, she made sure Ruby knew that Allegra was in charge!

By late afternoon, both cats were exhausted, and ready for a companionable nap in our sunny living room. I was amazed, and thrilled, that after less than six hours, they were that comfortable being in each others’ company. And yes, it’s almost uncanny how much alike they look. In the photo below, Ruby is on the floor, Allegra on the loveseat. On some of the photos I took yesterday, I actually had to look for identifying marks to tell them apart. Even though at eight pounds, Allegra is bigger than Ruby, depending on the camera angle, it was sometimes hard to tell!

Ruby and Allegra

I met Ruby on March 31 (coincidentally – or maybe no so coincidentally! – the same day I met Allegra a year ago). She was fostered through the SPCA of Northern Virginia, and lived with a lovely young couple and two big male cats. Her foster parents named her Cinnamon. The SPCA’s vet estimated her to be between six months and a year old – I’m leaning toward the lower end of that range, she’s tiny! She’s a total lovebug, in fact, her name in her initial vet record is Lovebug. She was found in someone’s backyard literally “asking” to be rescued. When the kind woman heard the little kitten crying, she opened the door and Ruby ran right up to her without any hesitation.

When I met her, her foster parents had just gotten home from work, so she was all wound up and eager to play. I spent about half an hour with her, and even though she was mostly focused on playing, she still occasionally jumped up on my lap. I just knew she was “the one.”

Everyone deals with loss at their own pace, and almost a year after losing Amber, I was finally ready to open my heart, and my home, to a new baby. I could have taken her home sooner, but wanted to wait until I had a few days in a row with few outside appointments so I could help Ruby settle into her new home and help her and Allegra adjust to each other.

Ruby is a very self-assured little kitten. She’s super affectionate – she likes to rub up against legs so affectionately that she tumbles over! I don’t think she knows how to play with other cats yet, the two big boys in her foster home were a little intimidating to her, but she’s able to endlessly entertain herself. Yesterday, she spent most of the day in my family room, which is really the kitty playroom. There’s no furniture, just cat trees, scratching posts, and toys everywhere. Allegra watched her every move, but didn’t participate in any play (although at times, it really seemed like she wanted to, but then she remembered that she was mad at me and the little intruder). After a while, they chased each other occasionally, and I’m hoping that as they get used to each other, they’ll learn to play with each other. In the meantime, I’m working on my hand-eye coordination so I can play with interactive toys with both of them at the same time!

She also had fun exploring stairs – her foster parents live in an apartment, so this was new territory for her. After the first few, somewhat klutzy, attempts, she now flies up and down both sets of stairs as if she had done it all her life.

Allegra is still withholding judgment as to whether all of this was really a good idea, but I’m sure you’ll hear from her in her own words in just a few days. And you never know, once Ruby settles in, you just might find her blogging here, too.

You can see wonderful “baby pictures” of Ruby (formerly Cinna), along with photos of her two foster “brothers,” on her foster parents’ photo blog.