Friday, January 23, 2009

Cats In the Kitchen

Lyra, with no sense that a cat does not belong on a kitchen counter

Lyra peers down from the counter

Koto, in a rare moment of innocence

Lyra gets mats on her belly, but she'd rather eat the comb than be combed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Showing Their Coats

It's tough to photograph a black cat (at least for me and my digital camera -- too often they are just dark blobs with eyes) and even harder to show that your black cats aren't all black. But Koto (foreground) and Lyra were good enough to stay fairly frozen so I could snap the photo below, and the sunlight did a pretty good job of showing the variations in their coats.

Both were fixated on a bird (or two or three) in the backyard, and Koto was chattering away.

You can see Koto has a silver and black tabby pattern on his body, but mostly solid black legs, tail, and face (with very faint brown tabby markings on his forehead.)

Lyra has much more black, although her belly is starting to silver up. But then she's got these crazy long silver patches that spring out behind her ears - reminds me of Grandpa Munster's hair (am I dating myself? If you are too young for this reference, see picture below.)

Anyway, not knowing the lineage of my sweet shelter kittens (or even what their mother looked like) and not being an expert on cat genetics, I can only guess that Koto and Lyra's darker face, legs, tail (points) mean that somewhere in their heritage was a Siamese or Burman (Birman.)

Both kittens have full tails that look ready to completely plume out at any moment, but Lyra's coat is a bit shorter, shinier, more dense (except for those crazy behind-the-ear tufts)...whereas Koto's coat is longer, fuzzier (you can see I don't have proper cat breeder terms done) and downy soft.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Usual Routine

See Mr. Koto looking innocent. Sweet little Koto.

See sweet Koto cleaning his sleeping sister. A sign of brotherly love?


Young Koto was looking for someone to play-fight with.

Awakened Lyra - let the wrestling begin!

Lyra exacts her revenge.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cats on My Lap

It's nice when your toughest problem with your cats is that they are constantly fighting for lap space.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mother's Day

The cat, not yet having mastered reading, naturally assumes the newspaper is a special sleeping mat whose cryptic symbols mean "Lie here, please."

Koto is more than happy to oblige, while Lyra patiently waits her turn.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cone Be Gone

We had a vet visit on Tuesday -- for FVRCP shots, and to have Lyra's spay incision checked.

While the incision still didn't look completely healed to me (still a sliver that looked raw, plus about a dime-sized area under the skin was very hard, like a scab) the vet deemed it okay, took out the stitches, and - most importantly - told us Lyra didn't have to wear the e-collar anymore.

After more than ten days of plastic ring-around-the-neck that made it hard for her to play (and when she drank water, the cone got wet and she'd invariably go straight into the litter box and get clumps stuck all over it - blech) Lyra could go back to being an unfettered kitten.

She was now free to attack my camera strap.

Koto avenges his sister's former imprisonment by attacking the e-collar...

...and then the blind cords, for no reasons other than their existence and his kittenhood.

The vet staff has made a huge fuss over our fuzzy felines every time they've been in - about how adorable they are, and how friendly. And as Lyra and Koto's appointed guardian, I agree...and beam through all the compliments as if somehow I were responsible, instead of just lucky that we happened to snatch these cuties from the shelter before someone else got a chance to.

Of course, their beauty is too elusive to be captured by mere photography. But I try anyway, as I hang out on a sunny loveseat with the pair.

Lyra looks all sweet before she claws her way up my leg.

Koto, working on becoming teacher's pet, sneaks up behind me to purr in my ear.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kittens on the Keys

Astonishing -- Koto and Lyra want to play the piano! Here Lyra is gingerly touching the keys with her front paw. Well, I could tell these kittens were smart...

Oh. Turns out they were only trying to use the keys to get on top of the piano.

As Koto climbs up, his back paws lower cover or whatever you call the thing that lowers to cover the keys, and he scrambles up to onto the piano's desk (music stand area.) Considering the loud bang the cover makes as it falls, I don't think he'll be trying that again.

(Wrong again, silly human. The photos here were taken last night, and as I am typing this I hear a single piano note. A trip to the parlor reveals that Koto is balanced on the music stand -- he got up this time without a bang -- and Lyra is on the bench debating her own path to the top.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Incredible Two-Headed Cat

I think I have the start of a sideshow act - a lifelong ambition! (Click photo to enlarge and see the beast in all its glory!)

Okay, well...closer inspection shows it's just Koto with his back leg casually thrown over Lyra's neck. She doesn't seem to mind.

The photos above were taken before the e-collar entered Lyra's life. Below is our hero and heroine just a few moments ago:

Lest the repose of these photos fool you -- be assured a very healthy portion of Koto and Lyra's day is spent dashing across the downstairs like a couple of lunatics, stopping only to engage in fierce mock-battles.

But that is harder to photograph.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why "Koto" & "Lyra"?

We didn't intend to give our kittens names that would make everyone go, "Huh?" It just worked out that way.

At the shelter, the male kitten was called "Whispers" and the female "Buttons." Or, as my husband put it, "those stupid names."

So, there was no question our new cats would be remained. Unfortunately, when it came to the naming process, I had criteria, my husband had criteria, and each daughter had an opinion. So our little furries' names are the product of much debate and perhaps a bit too much brainstorming.

My parameters were that the kittens had to have real (human) names -- and the names should be short (2 or 3 syllable) and end in a vowel (in my experience, cats respond better to those types of names.)

And, yes I am a bit, um, particular. But that's why I own cats.

My husband wanted the cats' names to work together - or play off each other if you will (and don't most of us prefer "play" to "work"?) and that made things even more complicated. Not that he didn't have plenty of interesting ideas. It's just that they didn't fit within my narrow parameters.

For example, he suggested quite a few classical composers' names -- we all liked Vivaldi, but couldn't think of another name that seemed to go along with it (um, that I liked.)

I thought "Philo" (as in Philo T. Farnsworth) was a perfectly wonderful cat name...and how about Nikola or Tesla (for Nikola Tesla, naturally) for the female? But the fact that Tesla was a man sorta made that a stretch.

We batted around other ideas that included "Boris" & "Natasha" (cute, but weren't B & N evil?) And "Karen" & "Richard."

(Come to think of it, our female kitten is on the thin side...)

Somehow we managed to forget "Donny" & "Marie."

After an hour or so, I started making a list of just about everything mentioned. We also had: Draco, Casio, Mellotron, Chamberlin, Oberheim, Lute, Scarlatti, Staccato, Fugue, Aria, can see my rule about using human names was ignored at this point.

Our youngest wanted to name the kittens "Candy" and "Licorice." "Those can be their middle names!" I said in my cheeriest Mom voice. Because all cats do need full names.

The older daughter was also cooperative. She came up with Melody for the female kitten -- which we liked. While trying to think of a way to make "Lyrics" into a male name, I thought of "Lyra." For the female, naturally.

Not only was "Lyra" a nod to the Golden Compass (and also a reference to my alternate reality as a virtual steampunk - yeah, we won't go into that silliness here)...

...but more significantly Lyra was also a stringed instrument (we're big into music in our household)...

...and the name of a constellation...

...which seemed especially appropriate for this tiny kitten whose big eyes shone out of her dark fur like stars in the night sky.

Still, we went to bed that night without agreeing on a suitable name for our male kitten.

But the next day, through the marvelous power of the internet, my husband had found a companion name, "Koto."

Not only was it also the name of a stringed instrument (as is "Lyra") but evidently "Koto" is also the Japanese name for the constellation Lyra (or at least that's what the internet told us.)

Ah, the symmetry!

Koto (above) & Koto (below)