A tad late today, we have been celebrating hubby’s newly found employment after almost 6 months of wandering through the wilderness.
Though we are celebrating, it is with some sober consideration for millions of other Americans who are either still out of work or losing their job.
The more I read on Sphynxes, the more I get to understand how typical Mazuzu Whang is… I’m beginning to think of him as our Sphynxy-pooh.
Now a brief word before I continue, to encourage you to play some “golf” and hit some links: check out our blogroll and links on the right for cat and media stuff. We all need the traffic and your comments are always welcome.
Where was I? Yes. I came across this: sphynxforum (requires membership)
And it was comforting to know Mazuzu’s butt-in-the-face wake up call is not of his own invention. It appears these cats need a back up alarm like trucks, so any inventors out there, take note..!
I’d wondered how to tackle this subject but now I realize I’m not alone, I’ll try to ‘splain.
Mazuzu maneuvers in strange ways… When I reach out to pet him, instead of leaning into my hand, he will back up. Without looking of course.
His tail is always up like a whip antenna, which I gather is a sign of contentment, and yes okay, I’m grateful for that, butt…. (pun intended)
That means he, ummm, “contacts” places and things I wish he wouldn’t. I’ve learned to reach from the side and give his flank some scritches to foil the dreaded maneuver.
In a previous post I mentioned it’d be good to stock up on baby wipes, because that butt is gonna need the occasional “once over”.
As in when we give Mazuzu a bath, he straightens out his legs, toes splayed up, knowing his nether regions are going to get cleaned, and I can read his expression:
“Ye gads! NO! GOD NO! Stay away from there!”
But we’re done before he knows it…
Now, before I got used to his “antics”, meaning I learned to sleep with one eye open, the infamous plug incident happened.
On this particular night, I felt him stir between us. Didn’t realize he was moving.
I opened an eye.
My brain tried to make sense of what was happening.
I tried to make out his face but that wasn’t what I was seeing. Before I could even begin to understand, he shoved his butt up my right nostril.
I compensated for my stomach beginning to heave by accelerating towards the bathroom at warp 9 point 8, grabbed the hand-washing soap, upended it and squirted up my nose, resulting in pain beyond the worst brain-freeze I ever felt.
Once it all became clear, my wife couldn’t stop laughing and Mazuzu stopped licking his extended hind leg to look at me as though I was crazy.
I’d rather have locked lips with a jumping crocodile. So beware the butt-in-the-face wake up call…
Paráklētos, “one who consoles, one who intercedes on our behalf, a comforter or an advocate”
Tito was born in the SPCA shelter, and somehow I think this really increased his survival chances. Big as he is now, he was a watchful little runt at 8 weeks old.
Normally, a cat turns his head to look at something and track it, but Tito’s eyes would look you up and down, as though he felt it wasn’t safe to move much and draw attention to himself.
On his early photos, he seems to “cower” a little, as he did when he was brought in for us to meet, a tiny ball of gray fur at the bottom of a big box.
He had a paranoid look in those kitten eyes losing the last of their cloudiness they have for the first weeks of their life.
Tito just turned 2 last month, and how did he change…
We adopted him as a “transition” cat, once Soza had been diagnosed with Lymphoma. The last two years of Soza’s life were skirmishes with the disease, leaving him at times too exhausted to even eat. We became somewhat proficient at administering fluids subcutaneously between his shoulder blades. My wife would keep me posted on his status while I was at work, and even 150cc marked the difference between another day or the final trip to the vet clinic.
I didn’t want us coming home to empty rooms. That’s what brought us home from the shelter that day.
As much as we learned about the economy of a true fighter like this cat, these months took their toll. This month will be the first year anniversary of Soza’s passing.
Once we got he and Tito introduced, they became fast buddies and spent much time grooming each other, which usually deteriorated in wrestling matches.
They even had the occasional high speed chase, making Soza as happy as we all could be. But his stamina was diminishing.
Tito didn’t have the chance to be the rambunctious young cat he should have been, especially as he soon outgrew Soza. His routine became regular checks on the older cat, maybe batting a toy around and always, always looking at us inquisitively with his green eyes. He began putting on weight, even though he never over ate, he simply wasn’t getting the exercise he needed.
After the day came, he would roam the apartment, sniffing at Soza’s preferred spots, and when he gave me that questioning look, it twisted something inside.
While Tito never was a lap kitty, Soza used to entice him to curl up on our bed and sleep there. But then that stopped, too. I never fully understood his thing about shoes: he will drop his toys inside our shoes, bat at the laces and generally play with them. But when we put said shoes on, his pupils dilate and he runs away, low to the ground, hiding until they come off.
A couple months passed before we felt it was time for another cat.
We looked for a cat who was social, playful and highly interactive to hopefully make up part of Tito’s lost year. Even writing this, it feels to me as though this column’s again about another cat when it should be Tito’s time to shine. And maybe that’s his lot in life, he doesn’t like the spotlight.
Still, the complete abandon with which he plays with Mazuzu is a joy to behold, as was his expression of disbelief the first few times they chased each other around the house: Tito only wants to run and run forever.
Tito’s made a few posts about cat adoption and other necessary considerations, but I still hear you ask: what’s a Sphynx like..?
Well first off, stock up on Q-tips, cotton pads, baby wipes and a good, chemical free shampoo. Because that sexy body isn’t gonna lick itself to purrfect cleanliness.
Nope, once a week, it’s going to be bath-time and detailing. Oh yes.
Sorry, I had to get that out of the way. These beasties are a commitment and not one you can neglect. But what a return….
I used to think Sphynxes were somewhat fragile, mainly because of how they look. I know: books and their cover. Well, though they kind of have a similar build to Greyhound dogs, built for speed, the buggers are actually pretty sturdy and very strong. They are very good jumpers and fast runners.
Bear that in mind, because you don’t want them to escape out the door when you get home. I’ve read them described as alpha cats who find humans to be the most interesting thing in the house, and in our admittedly limited experience with Mazuzu Whang, I find this to be pretty accurate.
He will rub against our hands and legs, but he ignores the furniture or wall corners. These cats do need company. It’s good if there is another cat or animal for them to play and snuggle with, provided they get along, but they really need human companionship. I don’t mean 24/7, but most of the day, every day, yes.
They would not be good with a single professional, unfortunately. Remember what I said about escaping out the door? A frustrated Sphynx could well try that. And these cats are too social to survive long outside. For that matter, they could be stolen as well. Much like children, you need to know who you let into your home.
Now, I don’t know that it’s a Sphynx trait, but Mazuzu is very vocal: we get a running commentary about how he feels, what he is doing or thinking about doing. I think most of that is directed at Tito because Tito is emulating Mazuzu’s vocalizations. This runs the whole gamut of purring (loudly), chirping, cooing, meowing and clacking his jaws at birds on occasion. A lot of fun actually, because it is so interactive: we have conversations where neither one knows what the hell the other is saying. Still, that seems to satisfy him.
Most pets require patience, and the Sphynx is certainly no exception. It took Mazuzu a while to stop walking all over us with regularity at 4:30 every morning. It is now occasional, but it still can be painful. If a Burmese could be described as a brick wrapped in velvet, a Sphynx is like a mace thinly wrapped in leather. Mazuzu does not tread lightly. Sphynx cats are very physical: when they rub against you, you will definitely feel it. When they nudge you to be petted, likewise you will have no doubt.
But when they play, as Mazuzu and Tito chase each other, Mazuzu often comes in at full speed and jumps on one or both of us, and I’ll say this: it’s kind of close to being hit with a bat! So yeah. Patience. Patience and stamina: you’ll need them.
The rewards of sharing space with a Sphynx are simple. They are one of the smartest, most intelligent and human centric breeds I know about. When we went to introduce ourselves to him last December, about three other Sphynxes were present, along with their human family. It’s a bit difficult to describe the experience, but the closest I can come to is to say it felt like we were in Jurassic Park.
There was animal intelligence all around us, gauging these unknown humans.
These cats just moved nimbly and very gracefully around us, the queen mother planting herself on the table, sitting in front of us, and every one of them making full eye contact. And those eyes were inquisitive and playful.
They came and went, close enough to get a caress and moving on… Mazuzu, brat that he is, at one point came in at a run from the hallway and deftly climbed up the drapes. He now does the same thing on the cat tower we have at home, and still leaps like a flying monkey. There’s a piece of me that’s still back there in that living room: the buggers stole it.
Leonardo da Vinci was quoted as saying “the smallest feline is perfection”. As we watch Mazuzu, whether at rest or in motion I really wonder what he would have thought about Sphynx cats. They are simply fascinating. Just be prepared to make room for them in bed: they won’t be denied…
And watch your dinner: they eat easily twice as much as other (furred) breeds to maintain their body temperature. Plus they burn a lot of energy playing. They’re not above sampling your food, whether or not you’re looking, or whether it’s even good for them, so be careful and grow eyes in the back of your head..!
Friday evening is the time for the boys to shine. They inspire us, after all.
Tito is showing off his white gut. That gut is MUCH smaller now that Kitsy is giving him a run for his money every morning and evening.
Next, we have Kitsy looking like the shameless, nekkid golem that he is. He was daintily dancing pirouettes while escorting me to the kitchen earlier. They weren’t the trip-you-up kind either.
And last, but never least, we have the kitty who gave us the inspiration we needed to adopt the other two and start blogging. He inspired us and made us better people. We lost him last year to lymphoma. I suspect that he is watching over another kitty named Lil Goober. I’m sure they’ll be waiting at the rainbow bridge for us.
One of our favorite TV programs here, and to be honest I can count them on one hand, is Classic Arts Showcase. This is a really varied and quality selection of music and dance programs, for the most part, in segments of maybe 3 minutes to the occasional bit of 20 minutes, well worth looking into.
Maybe because I have two left feet, I really enjoy the dance segments. Particularly the Paso Doble, Fandango, and oh yes, Flamenco. Thankfully, I also have three laser pointers.
Better yet, Tito loves chasing the red dot across the floor (hardwood floor, no less, as in a dance studio).
Butt up in the air, hunched forward, he chases the elusive dot by slapping his forelegs down on it, as fast as any dancer I’ve seen. Pour a glass of Sangria, turn the pointer on and watch the spectacle begin. He even taught Kitsy-Mazuzu how to do it, except I don’t think the pupil’s very apt: way too violent. He’s got the moves, but he doesn’t “dance” so much as try to “obliterate” the dot.
Oh but, with TWO pointers going, we have quite a performance going. With the occasional collision, naturally… Which of course is followed by Mazuzu exclaiming “HMWAH!!!” loudly. If I read Tito’s expression correctly, I believe we agree the naked brute doesn’t get the spirit of the dance.
Okay, so it can go either way with Kitsune a.k.a Mazuzu Whang: tuna will either make him sleepy, or turn him into a crack monster.
After feeding him maybe a spoonful in hopes of calming him down and going back to sleep, nature called and I had to get up again.
Outside the bathroom, something sat in a crouch, waiting for poor, unsuspecting me in the doorway: the hunched back, the basket ball sized eyes, the ears, big enough to outfit the Mayflower.
Right: Mazuzu Whang, the Benjamin Button of catdom.
The unsettling part? He was making this weird clacking sound he usually makes when staring at birds, like the Predator.
After maybe half a minute, he trotted away back to bed. Neither rhyme nor reason.
You gotta respect something about a tenth your size, standing in your way and looking up at you as though it could just as soon kill you. Christ, even Schwarzenegger might have to check his drawers…
I’ve often (and unfairly) complained about the way cats get named in shelters. Not that my method of naming them after dictators is much better, Kitsune being the exception.
Originally, Tito had been named Capri, and Soza (short for Somoza), our Burmese we lost to lymphoma, had been Kobe.
Truth is, it’d probably be best to wait until you know your cat before you settle on a name.
Going by physical characteristics can work, I guess, but then in Kitsy’s case, that might have meant calling him Sydney: as he lays down in the padded basket we have atop the computer tower, the only visible part of him are the huge flappers he has for ears:
… And from the side, they really look like the Sydney opera house. But in fact, he has come up with his own name.
See, he yammers.
He flaps his jaws.
The only time he ever shuts up is when he’s asleep, otherwise we have conversations all day, every day. He announces himself as he leaves the room, when he returns, when he goes to the litter box, sometimes as he uses it, and it’s when he trots away that he makes a modulated “HMRAOW” sound, followed by what sounds like a question.
He is therefore known as… Mazuzu Whang.
He and Tito coo at each other, but when Tito addresses us it is with a high pitched “MEE”, usually ending with a yawn. My more limited conversations with Tito usually go like this:
– I’m sorry, am I boring you?”
Maybe we should have called him Sluggo…