Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Oh... "hai," as they say.
Click on any image to see a larger, higher-resolution one.

More than ten years ago, I was active in campus "governance" (read: political) activity at DeAnza. In 1994 - 95 I was President of the faculty Senate (Diane has threatened -- no, promised -- to divorce me if I ever go back to that sort of thing, but that's another story.) During my time in the Senate, I grew to appreciate and enjoy the company of a Senator from the History Department who is a Burmese cat breeder by avocation.

At that time, our beloved, tiny Max (who was a non-show-quality tossoff from a breeder in Southern California) was little more than a kitten, and this History prof was one of the very few faculty members I could freely and happily talk to about this incredibly cute thing that my little cat did yesterday! The three of you who are cat people know what I mean by that; the other four may want to skip this blog entry entirely.

Yes, SherWords readership appears to be up to seven.


Whatcha got?

Fast forward a decade and more:

When Max died after his long battle with renal failure earlier this year, I told my colleague about it, just because she knew Max vicariously. Soon thereafter, a little miracle appeared in one of her litters: a sable (very dark-brown) tiny guy afflicted with pectus excavatum, or "flat-chested kitten defect." While severe at first (my friend said they weren't sure for several weeks whether he would survive or not), he grew out of it well, and the only continuing setback seems to have been that he was about a month behind his litter-mates in development -- but stayed just that far behind, as though he had just gotten a late start and then charged along at a normal pace. (Subsequent meticulous examination by the Ft. Harrington vet shows nothing of concern -- his heart and lungs have developed normally, and the only slight remaining manifestation is that his chest is a little flatter than a normal kitten's... which serves to make his little round Buddha-belly even more comical.)

I like this big ape's chair. A lot.

When she was sure that the little guy was going to survive -- and pretty sure that he would be a normal, healthy cat -- she gave Ft. Harrington a call. Clearly, she couldn't breed, show, or sell the kitten, but she wanted to place him someplace she felt comfortable with. She asked us to take him.

We had to think about it for a long time. Thirteen, maybe even fifteen seconds later, we said "yes." His name is "Guinness," because of his color and to continue the Irish theme of his orange mate-in-newness here at the Fort, Finn McCool.

Unlike Finn, Guinness had absolutely zero trouble melding in with the menagerie. His obvious baby-ness probably helped him a lot, even with the dogs, but the rapidity with which he became comfortable with everyone was just astounding. We did the same preps we did for Finn -- isolation, introducing the other animals one at a time after he felt comfortable in his room, etc. etc. -- but trashed that routine after about two days. There was no point; he was just confident and accepted by everyone within 48 hours.

Two days after Guinness arrived (left to right: Cooper, Guinness, Alnitak).

He took a quick, special affinity to the Maine Coons, Al and Cooper. Comical at first because of the crazy difference in size, it sort of makes sense in hindsight: he's a kitten, and those two huge, gentle, fluffy cats may have had (and continue to have) a mom-like attraction for him.

Al, Guinness, and Cooper.

He even tries to nurse them sometimes. When that happens, they just gently push him away, but not very far.

My, what big... oh, to hell with the teeth. Your mouth is bigger than my head!

Breakfast with the bookends (Alnitak, Guinness, Copernicus.)

Even Oolie, the Black Freighter, grudgingly thinks he's ok, maybe.

But his special friend is turning out to be Finn McCool. Finn is still young enough (at about 15 months, but nobody's really sure about that) that having somebody to play with in a kitten way is a fun thing -- and it's helping Finn's long adjustment.

Buddies in a cat tree.

Not that Finn is having a bad time -- he's not; it's just taken him a while. Finally figuring out that the 'Coons are too tough to be messed with probably helped a lot:

On my command... unleash heck!

... but we're still not particularly happy that he likes to ambush poor Jax:

Why doesn't that orange cat like me? Everybody likes me!

But, for now, Guinness and Finn are the best of buddies, and that's going to be good for...

... everybody.



ronnie said...

Awwwww! Congratulations!!!

He's adorable! (And obviously adored.)

And so little compared to the others! How cute!


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

What a beautiful little guy! And how i envy the animal harmony in that house!

Jill said...

Glad to meet you. We have had a similar year, with the cats and the trip to Ireland. I will read on...

Theriomorph said...

Desperately cute little applehead guy. I love the picture with him and the Maine coon cats - all beautiful critters.