Tags: kittens

International Kittens of Mystery

The Last Tribble - And Then There Were None.

Yes, The Last Tribble has joined the others and headed south. That's all five tribbles re-homed in the Mayenne. Is this significant? Does the Mayenne have a dearth of kittens or a wealth of animal lovers? Is the Orne, the departement in which we live, full?

Enquiring minds will investigate. Surely, this is exactly the subject that government grants were created for:)

Meanwhile, on his final day, The Last Tribble shows off his kitten supermodel routine. First, with a degree of difficulty of 3.3 and off the scale in the cute charts, is the adorable glance upward:

Now the showing off. I'm a kitten supermodel and this is my tongue:

Kai takes the Last Tribble in hand and demonstrates the dangers of young tribbles poking out their tongues. Ever heard of the expression 'cat got your tongue?'

Luckily Kai, ever the gentlekitten, has retracted his claws. But next time, young tribble...

International Kittens of Mystery

Xena and the Hornets

Work was interrupted Saturday morning by the loud arrival under my desk of a cat - Xena. She was growling. Which meant she'd caught something. And, par for the course for cats, she'd brought it back to her squeamish master so he could watch and listen to her torture and tear it to shreds.

Cats are natural born sharers.

I looked down from my chair and ... was that a hornet in her mouth?

It was and it wasn't. Yes, it was a hornet but ... it was no longer in her mouth. She'd presented it to me, dropped it by my foot and sat back to watch.

Of course, I did what any rational adult would do when finding an angry hornet buzzing inches away from an exposed trouser leg. I ran screaming from the room.

And regrouped in the lounge, grabbing stout gardening gloves and a shoe. Of course Xena didn't wait for me to return. She picked up the hornet and started playing with it. A game which did not look like fun for hornets and involved much carrying around in the teeth, some throwing up in the air, a modicum of paw patting and a lot of scurrying. A game which enticed Kai and The Last Tribble to join in.

I was the slow one at the back of the pack, racing around the desk, the furniture and doing all the shouting. Commands like "Drop! Get back! Leave it alone!" hold no sway with cats. I gave up on Xena and the hornet and made repeated grabs for the tribble, not knowing if a hornet sting could be fatal for a little kitten.

But little kittens are sneakily fast and find all manner of narrow gaps to shoot under. Like under sideboards. Lying on the floor with your outstretched hand sweeping under a sideboard, feeling blind for a lost tribble is lent a considerable piquancy when you have two cats and an angry hornet racing around you, over you, and squeezing under the sideboard where your hand was last seen.

If I hadn't had a tribble to save I would have run screaming from the room. When my hands closed on the tribble that's exactly what I did do.

And put the tribble outside, closed the door and returned to the fray. More chasing, more lunging, more buzzing and more futile pleading.

Naturally Shelagh chose that moment to arrive and, opening the door, told me to stop getting the cats excited. Opening the door also let The Last Tribble back into the excitement. Square One was revisited with me lying on it, one hand delving under the sideboard snatching at fluff and tribbles while the other batted at killer mutant death hornets which I could hear buzzing all around me.

The excitement came to an end when Shelagh grabbed Xena and escorted her and the hornet outside onto the lawn. Sharp words were exchanged, jaws were prised open and a confused hornet flopped to the ground. And was despatched.

Five minutes later Xena reappeared under my desk. She had another hornet. Deja vu with yellow and black hoops. Had she found a nest? Was this what I had to look forward to for the next 24 hours. Groundhog Day with hornets?

We ran, we hid, we lunged, we buzzed. The entire household mobilised until once more Xena and her prey were caught and escorted outside.

For the next hour Xena was not allowed outside unaccompanied. I followed her everywhere - into the barn, the garage, the stables. But found nothing. Xena strolled around, looking up at me with a wide-eyed innocence that suggested butter - even the hornet flavoured variety - would not melt in her mouth.

Somehow, I think this story may not be over.

International Kittens of Mystery

Tribble Training Camp

It's a tough life for the modern tribble and training can't start early enough. Here we have The Last Tribble at his private gym practising his moves on the 'furry toy suspended from a chair.' Always a favourite.

But sometimes you can't beat gnawing a chair leg.

After the chair session comes the floor exercise. And if the floor's too hard you can always co-opt a human leg or two. Now work those stomach muscles with the tribble spine twist and opposable paw touch.

And rest...

And more rest. This time with all the family. Book spotters will be interested to see the bookshelves in the top left. Not product placement, I assure you, but don't those books look familiar? The bottom two are the hardback copies of Resonance, the middle two are the ARC (Advance Reader Copy aka bound galleys) and the top two are the SFBC book club edition.

And, no, Kai is not a ring-tailed lemur - he just likes impersonating one.

International Kittens of Mystery

Too Fast to be Perfect.

I tried to take an action picture of Kinky Tribble in mid climb but, as usual, she was too fast, swerving at the last second. It's difficult to hold your nerve and a camera when the fastest tribble in the West is racing up your clothing. Almost the perfect kitten picture. If only I'd had a wide-angle lens.

The debate on who was at fault for the last picture turns nasty. "What do you mean it was my fault!" shouts Kinky at her fellow tribble supermodels.

With the departure of four tribbles for catwalks new, the last tribble is promoted to the big bowl. Xena folds back her left ear to make room.

And makes him feel welcome at night.

The Last Tribble is settling down very well. He eats, sleeps and plays with Kai and Xena and knows all the really small places a tribble can run and hide under when the big kittens get too rough. It's going to be another wrench when he leaves in a fortnight's time.

Kai, meanwhile, is auditioning for a new role in the garden. A role on a pole. He's not sure if he sees himself as a weather-kitten or a scarecrow.

International Kittens of Mystery

Communication Breakdown ... A Tribble Tragedy

Communication break down.

Just as I was pronouncing the tribble shop closed ... Shelagh was on the phone giving directions to another tribble-owner wannabe. I couldn't believe it. I thought we'd agreed...

Oh no we hadn't! Oh yes we had! As the conversation approached McCartney- esque proportions and Daily Mail reporters gathered at the gate, Shelagh reached for the high ground. This last couple had lost their cat, they'd rung several times and to quote Spock, 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the husband.'

I'm not sure who I quoted but they were a world authority. And at least seven years old. 'I want my tribble!' I cried, stamping a truculent foot and raising that stamp with a sulk.

Much chocolate was consumed Saturday evening.

And we said goodbye to Kinky Tribble: the fastest shoulder climber, inventor of the butterfly lunge, and an ever present in the morning and evening diarrhoea treatment queue. She will be greatly missed. Except at litter tray emptying time.

But she did go to an excellent home. And will be much loved.

I'm off to scour the hedgerows. Living within a half mile of kitten-dumping central has its advantages:)

International Kittens of Mystery

And Then There Were Two...

Another tribble departs, belongings tied up in a spotted handkerchief and heading south for pastures new. This time it was Big Boy - chosen by a French couple who saw the famous tribble picture at the vets and immediately fell in love with them.

In fact Tribble fame has spread so far that we're now having to turn people away - sorry Madonna. With the remaining male tribble promised to an English couple and with us wanting to keep one, the tribble shop is officially closed.

Until our next dog walk ... who knows what we'll find abandoned in the hedgerow?

International Kittens of Mystery

And Then There Were Three...

Another tribble finds a home. This time it was Targ's turn and yet again it was to an English family from the Mayenne. So we have just the two boys and Kinky left.

Each time it's getting harder to watch them drive away but they're all going to good homes and it's the sensible thing to do.

If only I were sensible:)

Other kitten news - of the frightening variety - Xena has conquered Mount fridge/freezer. Disaster. It was the one place we could put food without finding an army of kitten tasters sampling it. And it gives her easy access to the top of the Welsh Dresser where all our glass jars are stored - an accident waiting to be toppled.

International Kittens of Mystery

A Hard Day at the Office

Kai crashes out on the banisters - the highest and safest place to hide from the horde of tribbles that swarm below.

The tribbles, meanwhile, continue to thrive. Meal times, of which there are many, are especially fraught. There was a time when we could put their bowl on the dresser, stand back and fill the bowl at arm's length - knowing that the tribbles could swarm up your legs and back but at least the bowl was safe. Not any more. Kinky, the female tribble, has perfected her speed climbing to such a degree that she's up your legs, over your shoulders and down your arm, swinging towards the bowl in under two seconds.

Countermeasures had to be employed. Current favourite is the arm switch. I start forking out the food with the right hand, wait to see which arm Kinky goes for then pull that arm away from the bowl. Switching tin and fork if necessary. A tad theatrical as I windmill in front of the dresser juggling a fork, a tin and a tribble but it works. And, who knows, I might have an act I can tour with.

A word about Kinky's climbing technique. It's frightening. And the nearest approximation to the butterfly stroke I've seen outside of a swimming pool. She looks up at you, determination written all over her little face and then throws both front legs over and up, claw and pull. I'm reminded of a scene from one of the Dracula films. The one where the hapless hero looks down from the castle window to see Frank Langella using a similar technique to climb the castle walls.

But just to prove that tribbles do sleep. Here's one of them sunning themselves in the last evening rays.

And here's a tribble nest I discovered under a Rosemary bush. This is their favourite spot. They can spend hours playing under, sleeping under or climbing the Rosemary.

And, finally, we have Xena holding Targ down so she can clean his face properly. Can't have the neighbours spotting a dirty tribble, can we?

International Kittens of Mystery

And Then There Were Four ... Tribbles That Is.

Well the first tribble, one of the girls, was re-homed yesterday. An English family drove up from the Mayenne to see the orange five and the daughter chose one of the girls. Kinky One, or maybe Kinky Two (no one's quite sure, least of all the tribbles) left nestling in the arms of a young girl and, knowing the limpet-like powers of both kinkies, is probably still attached now.

A bit of a wrench to see her go but we tell ourselves it's for the best. And if we don't, Gypsy does.

Had another enquiry this morning - this time for a boy. So things look bright in tribble futures.

International Kittens of Mystery

Tribbles, Xena and the Great Squirrel Conspiracy

The tribbles continue to thrive and are all sworn to their best behaviour - no diarrhoea on a first date - for the arrival tomorrow of the first prospective new family. I think they're only looking for one tribble. Another family are going to take a boy when they return from holiday next month.

Talking about sex, there are three boy tribbles and two girl tribbles. We've tried not to name them but when you're trying to work out who's been wormed, who's missing and who's that swinging from the curtains ... names become handy. And descriptive names the easiest to apply. Big Boy is the largest tribble. Target, or Targa, is the one with the large white ring of fur on his side. 'The boy who is not Big Boy or Target' is ... you guessed it.

For some strange reason all the boys have long straight tails and both girls have short kinky tails. So the girls are Kinky One and Kinky Two. Which one is Kinky One and Kinky Two is almost impossible to tell. They're virtually identical. They both love climbing, they both throw themselves at the nearest leg, curtain or chair and they like to sleep on my shoulder.

Xena, after a lot of initial spitting - I'm not sure which Swiss finishing school she went to but I don't think it was their best - has accepted all the tribbles. She's brilliant with them - licking them clean if they stray within mothering range and she wasn't even fazed when one tried to suckle her. As for Kai, he thinks he's a tribble too and plays with them. Occasionally he gets a bit rough and intervention is called for but most of the time he's excellent. And popular ... the tribbles like to come up and rub against him. Something he quite likes until the tribble numbers exceed three whereupon he retreats and finds somewhere else to be fast. He has a strict three tribble limit.

I don't blame him.

Gypsy, however, takes the Klingon view of tribbles: they have no honour and if they're not already in her dog bowl gobbling all her food they're conspiring - probably with squirrels - to do so tomorrow.