Posted by barb on Nov 20, 2017 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Zephyr in the grass

Zephyr crossed over the rainbow bridge today. We’re not sure how old he was – we’ve had him for almost 6 years, and he may have been 5 years or older when we brought him home. We were certainly expecting him to be part of our family for longer than 6 years, but I’m so glad he picked us for his forever home.

When we first got him, it was clear he’d had some hard times. He had some kind of eye injury that caused his eye to water frequently – we tried to treat it several times, but could only alleviate the problem, not get rid of it. He also had a chipped canine tooth. We finally removed that tooth, but only when it was clear it was giving him problems – our vet didn’t believe in doing unnecessary surgery.

Despite all that, he was a very cuddly guy. He fit right in at our house, finding his place first with Aurora and Artemis, and then as we added Maia, lost Artemis, and brought in Sirius. He was always easy-going, mostly just looking for a comfy pillow or warm beam of sunshine.

Looks like there's a lot of trouble to get into here!
Zephyr on his first day in our house

Inauspicious beginning

In early 2012, we were in search of a black cat – our house felt a bit empty because we had lost Duncan and Ares in 2011. We had just Aurora (the dog) and Artemis (the cat) at that point. The search took us to an adoption event at the PetSmart in Tyson’s Corner in search of “Pinwheel.” We found him at the event, and the rescue volunteer let us hold him to get to know him a bit. Before too long, he took a swipe at me! The volunteer was horrified, telling us that he wasn’t usually like that and that his foster family had no issues with him. I didn’t mind – he had been in a cage all day with people gawking, kids poking, and dogs walking by. Of course he was cranky. I was in love and he came home with us.

Showdown in the kitchen
Zephyr and Aurora in the kitchen

He let me sniff him!

Our first introductions between Aurora and Zephyr were done with her on a leash until we were comfortable that she wasn’t going to go after him. The first time we allowed them together with her unleashed, he walked right past her. She sniffed his butt and then looked up at us as if to say, “Hey, this one is letting me sniff him!” He was the first of our cats who didn’t seem to mind Aurora. They didn’t exactly become friends, but they also didn’t actively avoid each other like our other cats.

Kitty tongue!
Zephyr’s tongue

What a talker

We were warned by the rescue that Zephyr was a bit of a talker, but they really couldn’t prepare us for how much he liked to talk! Until the last few months, he was terrible at sneaking up on anyone because he would announce his presence! I found the best way to deal with it was to just talk back 🙂

And it wasn’t just with us. Whenever someone new would come in the house, he would have to check them out and announce his presence loudly.

Sunggly Zephyr
Zephyr conquering my leg

Pet me!

He was fairly sure that a human’s purpose was to pet him. If a person wasn’t petting him when they should, he would let them know. We weren’t the best at clipping his claws, which he would use to his advantage. His usual tactic was to put his paws on your leg and ejecting his sharp claws until you pet him. And, of course, it wasn’t just Andrew and me who were object of his demands, but anyone in the house.

Sirius and Zephyr almost getting along
Sirius and Zephyr almost getting along

Curly ribbon

He was already older when we got him, so he wasn’t too big on toys and running around. However, we did have one toy that could get him going for a little while – it was one of those toys on a stick, where the toy looked like curled ribbon. I could walk around the house for several minutes, and he would follow trying to get at that pesky ribbon.

Snuggling Zephyr
Snuggly Zephyr

Prowling in the great outdoors

The one thing Zephyr did love, even this morning after his body had started shutting down, was to prowl in the backyard. We would put a leash and harness on him and walk around. Eating grass was a favorite, but he also just liked walking around, watching, and experiencing all the things. We took him out this morning, and Andrew grabbed a number of pictures – a few memories of my guy doing his favorite thing.

Prowling Zephyr
Prowling Zephyr

Zephyr tongue!
Zephyr versus the branch

The house is going to feel quiet without him. And I’m not sure where I’ll get my kitty-cuddles from anymore…Sirius has chosen Andrew as his person, and Maia isn’t much for cuddling.

Snuggling Zephyr

Adoption date: January 14, 2012
Names: Zephyr, Zeph, Mr. Pants, Big Guy
Favorite feature: He had a tiny patch of white on his chest that looked like a little tie.
Known for: Talking all the time, snuggling




Posted by barb on Sep 1, 2014 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Artemis in the sunshine

My 16-year old kitty crossed over the rainbow bridge early this morning. We’ve known for a while that we would need to make hard decisions soon, so it wasn’t a shock, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Baby Artemis and her mama
Baby Artemis and her brother
Baby Artemis

She came into my life in my last few months living in New Mexico. A friend had found a mama cat with a litter of kittens who were about 2-days old in March 1998. I was leaving New Mexico to move to Maryland at the end of May, just about the time the kittens would be ready to leave their mama. Artemis was the only girl of the litter, and I claimed her, since I already had a boy cat, and he marked.

In late May, just after my undergraduate graduation, Artemis, Ares, and I drove with my parents back to Minnesota. We spent a couple weeks in Minnesota, getting some of the things I would need to start my graduate student life in Maryland, and then Dad and I drove with the two cats to Maryland.

She, Ares and I all went through many life milestones together. I entered grad school with them, got my master’s degree, quit grad school, went back to grad school and graduated with my PhD with both of them. I met Andrew, dated, moved in with him and his cat, Duncan, and married. I also lost my Dad with both of them in my life. Ares crossed the rainbow bridge a few months after I lost Dad, and I think that was the beginning of the end of Artemis – she had known him as long as she had known me, and spent more time with him, since they were always in the in house together. She never quite recovered from losing her friend.

This weekend I told her that if she was ready to stop fighting, I was ready to respect her decision. On Sunday, she stopped showing any interest in food, and lost some control. We knew it was time. Overnight she was in some distress, so we had to let her go. I have to believe that she’s now finding her friend Ares again, sitting in my Dad’s lap, purring and getting pets.

My names for her included: Artemis, Little Miss, Baby Girl, Little Girl

Favorite stories:

Potted ArtemisArtemis in the blinds

Hiding Artemis: Jocco couldn’t find Artemis when he was pet-sitting for me once when we were in grad school. He ended up calling my friend Stef (who was also going to help out with the pet-sitting) for help. She asked him a bunch of questions, like, is food disappearing? have there been poops in the litter box? Since he wasn’t himself a cat-owner, I’m sure these questions seemed odd. I don’t remember if he found her, or if Stef finally had to come over, but in the end, Artemis had been hiding under the ottoman of my comfy chair. Silly, clever girl.

Snuggly Ares and ArtemisCaught!

Alpha Artemis: Artemis had always been shy around humans, so we kind of assumed that she was a submissive kitty. In my apartment, it was just her and Ares, and I never really saw them squabble, so I had no evidence to the contrary. However, Andrew brought a new cat into the mix when he and I moved in together – his cat Duncan. It took some time before we saw them interact much, but I remember one time they both rounded the corner on the landing of our second floor at the same time from different directions. We watched as Duncan started to challenge Artemis, and she put him right in his place. There was some growling, and maybe some paw swipes (I can’t remember), but fairly quickly, Duncan submitted (can’t remember if he slunk away or laid down — over time, we saw him do both). I think Andrew and I had different reactions – I uttered a “go girl”, encouraging Artemis, but Andrew felt a little bad for his kitty. We were both shocked to learn that she was the alpha in the house.

Artemis on the blanketArtemis attacking the catnip mat

Snooze-control: When I was still a full-time student, I had a lot of freedom for what time I would get up in the morning, as long as I was to school on time for class. I would set an alarm to make sure I didn’t sleep away the whole morning, but usually would snooze 1-5 times (it was fairly random). Somehow, Artemis would know exactly when I had decided that THIS snooze was the LAST one for the morning. She would choose the moment when I hit the snooze button to jump up on the bed and lay on my chest. Almost every morning. And often, she would get me to snooze once or twice more.

Artemis' pawArtemis cleaning her earArtemis with the catnip

Laptop patrol: Ever since I got my first laptop (and more recently a tablet), Artemis was sure to let me know when I had spent enough time with it sitting in my lap. She would come and sit on the arm of my comfy chair, and head-butt my hand or bat at my fingers – making it clear that SHE should be in my lap, not the stupid computer. Most of the time she was right…and pretty much all of the time in the past few months.



Posted by barb on Jun 28, 2010 in Cute Pets, Pictures

I haven’t mentioned Aurora here yet, have I?

Back on May 1 my husband and I biked up to Reston for the annual Reston Pet Fiesta. I told Andrew that if we went to the Pet Fiesta that it was very likely that I would want to take a dog home, and that I would probably not take no for an answer this time. He still said we could go.

Once we got to the Pet Fiest, we started at one end of the row of tents filled with dog and cat rescue groups, dog treat vendors, pet charities, and pet product vendors. We stopped at every rescue looking for a dog who would “talk” to me. We made it to the end of the row, with no dog prospects. I was disappointed, but knew that I didn’t want to go home with the wrong dog. We turned around and made our way back to where we started, and I kept stopping at the rescues in case there was someone I had missed.

When we were nearly back where we started, I saw her:

I can’t say what drew me to her. Maybe it was because she wasn’t running around like a crazed dog, unlike many of the dogs up for adoption. Maybe it was her eyes. Somehow, though, she spoke to me, and I went to sit with her. It became clear that she was a real sweetheart. The rescue’s owner suggested we take her for a little walk and get to know her. That’s where I snapped this pic:
Should we take her home?

Long story short, we decided to take her home. We had to bike home first then drive back to pick her up, and I could hardly wait. She seemed to fit right in:
She's settling in!

We’ve had her now for almost 2 months, and she really does fit into our household well. The cats still aren’t completely sure about her, but they are all starting to come around in their own time. Duncan has refused to hide from the beginning, and he’ll walk right past her without flinching (though he will sometimes grump at her for being to close even when he’s the one who put himself so close). Artemis comes out occasionally, even braving walking past Aurora to get onto our bed at night. Ares? Well, he’s been hiding most of the time, but today he did get within a couple feet of a sleeping Aurora by choice.

It’s still a little unbelievable that I finally have a dog – I’ve wanted one since my childhood dog died in 1992. It wasn’t practical until now. And even now I wonder if we should have waited given that Ares is going through chemo and it’s maybe not the best time. But I was tired of waiting, and Aurora has turned out to be the perfect fit for our household. It might go without saying, but I’m so happy she’s a part of our pack now.
I don't mind the car so much now  My boy with my puppy



Just Hanging On

Posted by barb on Feb 23, 2010 in Cute Pets, Pictures, Random Thoughts
Duncan's tries the new bed, too

Ares enjoys the new crinkle bag

Artemis tries their new bed

I keep thinking I should blog more, but when I sit down to do it, I find I don’t have much to say. This year has been so stressful, and I find it hard to be inspired by much. The house has this pall of sadness over it, and every day at home is a slog. I’m watching Ares to see what side-effects of chemo he may develop, constantly watching what he eats and checking the litter box (yes, isn’t that lovely). Also constantly trying to see that Duncan has food any time he shows interest, and that it’s food he likes. One has few external signs that he’s sick, but I know the cancer is eating away at him. The other has lost nearly half his body weight and feels so fragile to the touch. It’s hard enough to face losing one, but facing losing two just seems inconceivable.

Mostly I try to celebrate them, taking pictures and snuggling copiously. Then, of course, I have to make sure that Artemis, our non-sick cat, gets enough attention, too. Often she feels left out because I’m not facing losing her sooner rather than later. So it feels like every day at home is just all about the cats. And all about the prospect of loss.

On the one hand, I know that it’s “just my cats”, not like it’s a human that’s sick. On the other hand, Ares has been part of my life since 1996, and Ducan since 2000. It’s hard to pretend it doesn’t matter because they’re “just a pet”, because I’ve never seen pets as “just pets” – they’re family members.

So for now, I’m just hanging on. Hoping for the best, and often cursing that hope. Follow her blog for any pets reviews.

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Spring is in the air…

Posted by barb on Apr 21, 2007 in Biking, Cute Pets, Pictures

I suppose that spring has been in the air for a while – it’s supposed to be crappy, odd, oscillating weather in the spring, right? But today was beautiful.


We started with a 13 mile bike ride. We took the W&OD trail from Vienna in toward DC. Just after the Falls Church Metro station, there is a small park where I had to stop and play on the swings.

After lunch, we stopped at the garden shop and picked up some mulch, flowers and herbs. I spent the afternoon mulching the front yard and planting flowers in our deck’s flower box. I’ve told Andrew to place bets about how long I’ll be able to keep those pretty, pretty flowers alive. I’m guessing they’ll be overrun by weeds by early June. Any takers?

Deck flower box Ares discovers the catnip



Cat velcro

Posted by barb on Sep 22, 2006 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Ares and Artemis have been very clingy since my busy, busy two weeks has wound down. Today I was trying to write in my thesis, and they had to “help”.

Ares settled between my legs  Artemis trying to get in my lap



Friday Kitten Check

Posted by barb on Aug 18, 2006 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Yup, it’s that time again. Telecommuting on a Friday means that I have to fend off the cuteness of our three fuzzy residents. Ares spent much of the morning following me around, and finally settled near the window in my office, so he was easy to find:
Ares helping in the office

Artemis was on our bed, with the “Vegas chick” toy (a feather and pom-pom toy that reminds me of the hideous head-wear worn by some Vegas showgirls):
Artemis with the

And Duncan was watching out the front window:
Duncan in the front window



Friday Kitten Check

Posted by barb on Aug 11, 2006 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Ares was waiting for me, as if he knew it was time for the kitten check:
Friday Kitten Check - Ares

Artemis and Duncan were both sleeping in the master bedroom:
Friday Kitten Check - ArtemisFriday Kitten Check - Duncan

[Posted a bit late, but the pics were still taken Friday]



Kitten check

Posted by barb on Jul 28, 2006 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Artemis and Duncan are sleeping-clones on different sides of the room:
Kitten clone Artemis  Kitten clone Duncan

Ares was being silly on the chair by my scrappin’ table:
Ares contorting on the chair



Weekly Kitten-check

Posted by barb on Jul 14, 2006 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Duncan and Ares were easy to find, sleeping on the floor in the master bedroom:
Kitten-check, Duncan Kitten-check, Ares

Artemis, however, was hiding pretty well. I looked on the main level and in the basement, even looking under the futon, where she’s been known to hide when we have service people in the house. No luck. I went back up to our second level and called her a couple times. Then I remembered that sometimes she liked to go in our closet. That’s where I found her, but I’d already disturbed her nap (bad mama), so she was ready to jump out. I had to snap quickly:
Kitten-check, Artemis


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