Cat in Winter Sun

All mine

All mine. Signed, Bud

Our big Bud cat, ace sunsoaker, wants to be the headline for a change. He’s tired of being at the tail-end of posts about the creek, or art, or whatever. Here, impossibly handsome Bud basks in some January rays, on important papers. “Your research is mine, it’s in my sunny spot.”

Bud the smoothie

Bud the smoothie

“Say what? Food’s ready?” My husband and I don’t actually plan to argue with him, but if we really need for him to move, we can break out some canned food.

Budster gleaming

Budster gleaming

Magnificence by Bud, highlights by, Sun, ‘soft focus’ photo by Leah.

Bud gleams and dreams

Bud gleams and dreams

Bud’s dark fur looks black in many photos, but he is actually a deep sable brown, unusual for a street cat. Bright sunlight brings out his true coloration. Bud’s a sun seeker, like most cats. Alabama winter sun is gorgeous, when it bothers to show up.

Having appeased Bud’s pride – for now – I’ll depart for other projects. When I can shake free, or er – Bud gets a craving for attention, we’ll be back!

~  Leah

 

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Wintry Creek at High Water; One Smug Cat

Strong currents

Raging currents

An all night rain amounting to about four inches put every area waterway into flood stage. I decided to come out of hibernation long enough to get some pictures, even though I don’t much like winter. On January 4th, 2015, here’s what our creek looked like.

No end in sight

No end in sight

The temps were mild, but a little on the cool side for me. The sky was overcast. The water was boiling mad, rough and moving fast. Much faster than it looks in the pictures. We used zoom to get these photos. Don’t get close to any flood waters! You could get hurt falling into water like this.

Ruffled water

Ruffled water

We know the terrain alongside of this creek well, and we’re experienced woods walkers, so we felt we could photograph safely.

Those are choppy, strong currents. We’re actually looking downstream in all the photos above.

Looking upstream in the next two photos:

Gulp!

HIgh water close up

High water close up

Currents at play

Currents at play

No worries about our house flooding, we’re on higher ground.

Another view

Another view

San build-up in motion

Sand build-up in motion

Another angle

Another angle

I usually think winter is so blah and drab, but I became fond of the color range in these photos.

Becoming captivated by a flood

Becoming captivated by a flood

Sand bank

The creek had crested earlier, probably during the night some time. We could see it had been out of its banks even further, from the slicked over vegetation, soggy sand, and deposited driftwood. In fact, we had placed two chairs along the banks and the water had washed one of them completely away, before receding to to the level we see now.

Fungus.

Fungus likes the damp

Fungus likes the damp

Leftover autumn color.

Lone leaves over ruffled sand

Lone leaves over ruffled sand

Run-off drains through the forest, opening up rivulets.

Sunken pine needles.

Pine flooring with freshly downed twigs from the night’s wind.

We came back slightly chilled; Bud the Cat made it plain he stayed cozy and toasty warm. The following day the sun was shining through the window, kissing his whiskers.

Bud the Smug Cat

Bud the Smug Cat, sunning himself

 

 

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Leaves Flare; Creek Reflects; Cats Snuggle

Magic reflecting creek

Magic reflecting creek

Floating, Shining

Floating, Shining

In the southeast US deciduous leaves say “So long” to chlorophyll as late as mid-November. Trees slowly add some reds, oranges, and golds to the remaining greens; the water grabs any hue that heads its way, and voila! Radiant bands of color ripple down the creek.

Leaves, every whichaway

Leaves, ripples, every whichaway

Leaf mats jazzin’ up the creek. The view from farther away:

Looking downstream

Looking downstream

Low water this year

Low water this year

The long view:

Heading downstream

Heading downstream

Sounds made by the water are soothing. Leaves got themselves in a jam.

Inside the leaf jam

Inside the leaf jam

 

The gang's all here.

The gang’s all here.

Leaves drifting on their way.

Off we go

Off we go

Some leaves sink to the murky depths:

Slow currents

Slow currents

Still water running

Still water running

The view thickens

The view thickens

We have to step around twigs and stickers, commonly found in wild woods like these. We slap branches away at face level, too. These woods are dense and the going’s a bit rough, but I can still walk here. Some of the terrain alongside the creek is even more rugged.

 

Treetops

Treetops

Treetops and tangles

Treetops and tangles

We’re leaving it to you, Evergreen … for a time.

Winter greens, always around

Winter greens, always around

Bright accents liven up the landscape

Bright accents liven up the landscape

We hear owls hooting, first one, then another from a different direction, then a third hoot from off another way. A deer snorts as we move closer, rustles the foliage, snorts again. Dusk is on the way.

Dusk coming on

These wild waters and the forest are right out my door, in my yard, and I know them well. I have been fortunate to live here. Why would anyone want to tear down woods like these? We hear of it way too often. Here’s a link to my environmental essay, “Tributary”:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/tributary-becoming-green-warriors-of-the-red-earth-country/

Up close and personal on a small creek: a chance to play with the visuals by zooming in close on the water. These photos aren’t truly in focus, but the rippling creates some color blends I find pleasing. Nature has ways of mixing and placing color that always has painters in hot pursuit. Cameras don’t capture the natural color data exactly as the human eye sees it, but sometimes retain a high degree of that balance, IMO.

 

Leafy dreams

Leafy dreams

Soft floating

Soft floating

Moving along

Moving along

The view upstream:

Upstream

Upstream

Coming in from the woods, we always face this question: “Where y’all been? I’ve been holding down the fort!”

The Bobcat in Autumn

Budster, aka "The Bobcat"

Budster, aka “The Bobcat”

Now we’ve had a night-long rain, and the creek is roarin’. The floating leaves washed away; trees just kept shedding. Nature, always in motion.

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Summer Sun on the Creek; Bugs, a Lizard, Cats, More

Electric Eddies

Electric Eddies

Looking back at the leafy months, I’m drawn to the shiny stuff like a crow would be, at the creek when afternoon sun turn water into neon, the greens in the light.

Sparkles:

Bedazzled

Bedazzled

Creekbanking on a dreamy late afternoon

Creekbanking on a dreamy late afternoon

Creeky views, with the banks and the long flows:

Stream and downstream 1

Stream and downstream 1

Stream and downstream 2

Stream and downstream 2

Onward

Still waters

We keep seeing sudden ripples, hearing splats; my husband gets close enough to see one small green frog jumping from land to water. Rains knock tree frogs out of the trees and onto our door, where we see the frogs hanging on. Their upper bodies are a yellow-green with a sheen like enamel, the underparts are whitish.

Small frogs make big ripples

Small frogs make big ripples

There’s so much to photograph during the months of hot gleaming greens glowing on the branch, and I can’t stand to leave a sparkle unrecorded. So I hope y’all will stay with me for this long haul of a last of summer post.

The tree holding its sparklers

Trees work their solar powered sparklers

The ripples, bold and very green

The ripples, bold and green

Trees and their leaves help the sun make glitter all over branch water.

Sparkles spice up shadows

Sparkles spice up shadows

Hot greens!

Hot greens!

Leaves galore, where it all comes from:

Just out the door . . .

Just outside . . .

I hate to see this go. I’m so partial to this densely packed 3-D mosaic of leaves, pine needles, and light. I even like the heat – far better than cold. Besides, consistent heat during the summer usually means fewer severe weather alerts.

Clouds

Clouds on a rainy day

Seeing the greens looking worn out and fixin’ to leave gives me the blues. Not even the  red yellow and orange mixtures to come won’t fix this. I’ve got verte-igo, as I noted in a post last year. “That old green magic . . . ”

Within those leaves:

In June I saw something with red bouncing through the forest air. When it landed it looked like this:

Underwing Moth

Underwing Moth

Not actually a two-inch spaceship full of tiny aliens! It’s an Underwing Moth, but I can’t tell whether it’s a Walnut, Copper, or Penitent, or Some Other Underwing. It’s not an exact match for any of the photos I’ve found. The red underwings of this species are seen only in flight.

The butterfly is called a Red Spotted Purple:

Red-spotted Purple

Red-spotted Purple

The Damselfly is called Ebony Jewelwing or Black-winged Damselfly. Last year in (https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/wild-summer-creeks-and-creatures/) I photographed the female with the white spot on the wings. This year I’ve photo-captured the male. There must a have been a male around somewhere last year, but I didn’t see it.

Black-Winged Damselfly or Ebony Jewelwing, male

Black-Winged Damselfly or Ebony Jewelwing, male

Blue Dasher Dragonfly. Dragonflies were known as ‘mosquito hawks’ when my husband was growing up. Chow down, guys and gals!:

Blue Dasher in Sun

Blue Dasher in Sun

Looking for bugs in all the wrong places. And one lizard:

The following guys or gals chose building materials for their hangouts or for hovering. Go figure! Not my favorite surroundings to photograph wild critters, but it’s no use arguing with ‘em. They always just tell you to buzz off . . .

The Tiger Bee Fly:

Tiger Bee Fly

Tiger Bee Fly

Grape Leaf Folder or Grape Leaf Roller on a ceiling! Just so wrong! LOL

Grape Leaf Roller or Grape Leaf Folder

Grape Leaf Roller or Grape Leaf Folder

Blue dasher with board background:

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Lizard, probably Brown Anole:

Brown Anole

Brown Anole

I’m in town some days, where we have Crepe Myrtle that’s still blooming:

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

We feed a crabby tabby of a feral cat, Madame Curious. This is what I usually see of her. Nice view of those pretty hind feet, MC!

Madame Curious, feral masonry expert

Madame Curious, feral masonry expert

Once in a blue moon I get a pic like this:

Madame Curious, feral sweetie

Madame Curious, feral sweetie

At home, Bud is here to remind me that his pictures are the most important:

The Budster helps edit

The Budster helps edit

For my tribute essay to the creek plus environmental activism, check this out:  https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/tributary-becoming-green-warriors-of-the-red-earth-country/

______________________________________________________________

Songs alluded to in parody:

“Blues in the Night”, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1941.

“That Old Black Magic”, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, first recorded and released by Glenn Miller, 1942.

“Lookin’ for Love” (“in all the wrong places”), by Wanda Mallette, Bob Morrison, and Patti Ryan, 1980.

 

 

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Black Cats in Sun and Shade: A Painter’s Eye View

Catwoods:

I’m reblogging my earlier essay about black cats today because it’s Black Cat Appreciation Day. It includes a few ideas for taking photos of black cats.

Originally posted on Catwoods Porch Party:

My Little Buddy, who goes by several names My Little Buddy, who goes by several names

or, The Natural Black Cat

Update: See 2nd photo below, added April 21, 2014; actually taken after any of the other photos in this post.

Over the years we’ve had fourteen domestic felines; five of those have been black cats. They’re glorious, purrsome, and chirpsome; they make me call out “Hey, sweetness”! They’re major snugglers, and adept communicators; I’ve had deep rapport with black kitties. My imagination always sings when I see a black furry creature lounging in the house, busy making sheen from sunlight. Often reported to be some of the most affectionate cats, they walk up with eyes bright and loving, do head-bumps, and always work a takeover of human hearts. My own ‘house panthers’ have been thoughtful muses, taking up lap vantage points at the drawing table and the computer. I adore black cats! I’m tellin’ black cat stories here…

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Our Cat with Feline Radial Hypoplasia

Little Buddy, flattered by green

Little Buddy, flattered by green

Those eyes!

Those eyes!

Update: It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say, Little Buddy went to the Rainbow Bridge on September 19, 2014. He was almost 19, and had lived a long and mostly healthy life bringing joy to all our family. We are holding him close in our hearts. I can only hope his story here will help other special needs kitties find homes. Thanks to everyone, here and on other sites, for your kind expressions of sympathy.

Little Buddy, our cat with radial hypoplasia (RH), travels close to the floor. He is nearing 19 years of age. In 1995, my late Mom found a stray cat, along with her two kittens, living in her shed. This tuxie momcat had an elegant face with a white stripe down her nose. Her extra toes put her over the typical feline toe count, making her a polydactyl. One kitten, a tabby, had regular feet. The other kitty had radial hypoplasia, a condition in which the radial bones fail to generate, resulting in bent forelegs. Also known as agenesis radius, most of the literature indicates it’s a rare expression of the polydactyl gene. These cats usually learn to walk on their elbows, crouched, with a rocking and crablike gait. Mom had the momcat spayed, and later found good homes for this sweet cat and her typically-footed kitten. Mom was told the RH kitty was less likely to be adopted. So when she’d walked into the house carrying him, setting him down carefully, he was with us for keeps. Little Buddy proceeded to captivate us all with those big gold eyes. He became a master snuggler.

Household explorer

Household Explorer

Little Buddy was examined by two vets; Mom took him out of town to see a veterinary orthopedic specialist who had an interest in doing surgery on RH cats to straighten the bent front legs. The consensus of vet opinion was that Little Buddy was not in pain and had sufficient mobility as he was, therefore surgery was an unnecessary risk. Now that there are more radial hypoplasia kitties being cared for in homes you’ll see some pet parents who opt for surgery, and some who don’t. I’m not saying one approach is better than another. Every case is different, and RH cats should always be examined by a number of veterinarians. If the first vet seems really quick to recommend euthanasia on the basis of the condition alone, without in-depth evaluation, insist on gathering other opinions.

Sleeping with Bud, his pal, as pillow

Sleeping next to The Budster

Little Buddy is also polydactyl, with six toes on each hind foot. His wide back paws and  long hind legs are very strong and help compensate for his lower functioning front legs. As a young cat, he was bold, adventurous, and skilled at climbing and jumping. We kept finding him reclining on top of the refrigerator. To get there he had to leap up shelf by rack until he was on a high enough plateau to jump over to the fridgetop. We tried to always lift him down from any high place, to prevent him from making the hard landings RH cats can have if they jump down themselves. He moved with astonishing speed, especially when he was on a fast-waddle dash out the door, into the wild green yonder. Who knew he’d be quicker than we were? Once out, he’d hesitate long enough for one of us to grab him and bring him inside. He had no concept of being limited. He was the picture of “bright eyed and bushy-tailed” with his gold irises and floofy black fur. Mom had her house carpeted throughout to give him walking and running traction. He was more active than any of her other cats!

Hind foot with toes galore!

Hind foot with toes galore!

This links to an essay about black cats featuring more photos of Little Buddy: https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/black-cats-in-sun-and-shade-a-painters-eye-view/ The literature indicates that radial hypoplasia appears to be associated with polydactyl genes, although other causes noted are in utero events, such as mineral deficiencies. http://www.vetbook.org/wiki/cat/index.php/Radial_agenesis. RH cats are also known as ‘squittens’, and ‘twisty cats'; they are now being adopted by caregivers who make social media pages for them, and write articles supportive of these cats.

But there’s also a boatload of misunderstanding about them. Negative comments have turned up,  including speculation that RH cats exist in the stray and feral population due to escapees from breeding programs. In my opinion that’s false. To the best of my knowledge there may have been one breeding episode in the past, but searches of Internet and general media do not turn up any breeding programs currently ongoing. I don’t say this to argue with anyone, but to establish a comforting truth. I personally believe that RH cats turn up naturally in randomly breeding feline populations. Little Buddy is an example of such a cat. His tabby sister had typical legs and feet. His polydactyl momcat and his own feet may be evidence of the association with polydactylism. This trait was noted to occur at a rate of less than ten percent of cats in most areas by Stephen Budiansky (The Character of Cats: the Origins, Intelligence, Behavior, and Stratagems of Felis Silvestris Catus, p. 53). It’s more common in or near seacoast areas, because polydactyls were favored for ships’ cats. There are also photos on social media of RH kitties’ hind feet that look like our cat’s, with six or more toes. Over the years two more RH kittens have turned up locally. Both were homed; there are no doubt others I haven’t heard tell of. In those cases and some described on the Internet, the RH kittens’ siblings had routine leg formations. There is no frequency data that I can find at this time, but we see RH cats mentioned more often these days. I believe this is because many humans have become more educated, more active and more caring regarding animals. RH cats may not survive in the wild; as neonates, they may have difficulty milk treading, and if they survive that stage they may not be able to defend themselves in the outdoors. More people doing TNR means more of these kittens are discovered, raised, and homed along with their littermates. Another factor is that RH cats found in previous years may have been euthanized immediately by persons who thought they could not have normal lives. Both those factors, lack of survival in the wild plus early ‘euthanasia’ of those who did survive, would blur the true rate of random occurrence in nature. Now we know that the less severely affected cats like Little Buddy can have great lives with a committed caregiver. Sadly, some kill shelters likely still label these cats and kittens “unadoptable”, kill them immediately and never give them a chance to be adopted. Not only would that also obscure the real number of RH cats born, it’s just not necessary because these cats are adoptable. RH cats are a very small subset of the polydactyl population, but I see so many social media pages now devoted to them, in both the US and UK, that I expect they turn up more frequently than is generally known. I personally think that NO healthy or treatable animals should be killed; I also think the RH cats and other special needs animals should not be killed. Certainly no one should be breeding cats for this trait; but those RH cats who already exist can be cared for. We’ve managed with Little Buddy for nearly 19 years. There are people out there who will adopt them and provide special care.

Tips on how to care for an RH cat:

– Get a number of veterinary opinions about your cat and his/her chances of living a pain-free life. It’s best to include an orthopedic specialist. Part of the orthopedics determination about Little Buddy was made through observing his walk. I would suggest that observing your cat’s demeanor while he/she walks is important, too.

– RH cats can’t be outdoor cats, or even indoor-outdoor. They can only go out in the company of a human and with close supervision, and only if there is access to a completely safe area such as a fenced-in yard.

– Watch their forelegs carefully for any signs of sores and abrasions. If this occurs, protective covering can be fashioned. Although skin toughens up as a kitten becomes an adult, it’s best to keep up inspections. Any covering will have to be changed frequently and the limb checked to see that the garment itself doesn’t cause abrasion.

– Lift the kitties down when they get into high places, whenever you see them. Making a carpeted ramp can help for high spots the cat might insist on reaching frequently. Or, make a cushioned floor area near those enticing summits, since there will be mountain climbing when humans are absent. Access to high places can be also be avoided by re-arranging the furnishings the cats use as “steps” to climb to high places.

– If you live on more than one level, prevent access to stairs with barriers that RH cats cannot breach. – Tend the litterbox(es) often because RH cats may not be as agile about avoiding whatever is already in the box. You’d want to do this anyway. – A larger than usual litterbox is helpful for RH cats; it also helps if the box has low sides.

– Rugs and carpets will help provide traction for walking. That said, when we had to urgently transport Mom’s cats to our home because of a tornado, Little Buddy scampered easily on the uncarpeted surfaces. Your RH cat’s results may differ. It’s all about finding what works for your individual kitty.

– Little Buddy is a sturdy character who kept the upper paw in both our multi-cat households. Nevertheless, having an RH cat in a multi-cat household means staying alert to inter-cat dynamics.

– Be extra careful about stepping around in the house yourself, in case the cat is underfoot. We cat caregivers do this anyway, but with an RH cat, it’s even more important.

Awaiting dinner, notice my long sweeping whiskers!

Awaiting dinner, notice my long sweeping whiskers!

Little Buddy has lived a normal cat life, and he’s been beautiful and contented. As an elderly cat, he has now moved into the phase of life in which he has the same ailments as other older kitties. His in-depth story is part of my upcoming book and I hadn’t intended to excerpt part of it for this blog. However, seeing an increase in the numbers of radial hypoplasia cats on the web caused me to post these experiences. I wanted to get the message out there for all those individuals and animal advocates who may find RH cats like Little Buddy: this condition is manageable, and these cats can do just fine in homes with humans who accommodate their special needs. Like all cats, with the right care and understanding, they make sweet and loving companions. Little Buddy is a glorious pet!

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Spring: Creek, Flowers, Critters

Light fading on creek

Light fading on creek

Chilly air really stuck around this year; that’s odd. I went to the stream only a week or so back, for a warm, gala evening. Colors are back on the water. They’re more muted than in the creek photos from autumn, in this post: https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/autumn-creekside/

Notice there is no creek post for winter. Not even snow, a rarity here, was enough to get me outside in the cold. I don’t do winter.

Twilight glitter

Twilight glitter

Water and rocks perform the audio tonight. Slanty sunrays do the light show.

Blooming was slightly out of sequence this spring. But the earliest budders were nonplussed by the chill, “What the hey, we’re comin’ on”.

Violet sweetness

Violet, sturdy and sweet

 

A wildflower that vounteers all over town, spiderwort can also be cultivated

A wildflower that volunteers all over town, Spiderwort can also be cultivated

Spiderwort bloomed in April, in town. Although an urban heat island is always warmer, to my thinking that’s still early. We usually don’t see it until June. The fig tree made fruit at the same time it was putting out leaves; highly unusual. Now blackberries are bursting out amidst my Mom’s vinca, they probably blew in with the 2011 tornado.

Spiderwort with leaves of unknown identity

Spiderwort hangin’ out with red leaves of unknown identity

Tree of mystery

Tree of mystery

This early bloomer was right on schedule. The tree’s most likely a crabapple, but has never fruited.

Wild Wisteria

Wild Wisteria

Out at the forest, wisteria was late, and scarce, although timely and profuse in town. A hint of the scent on a light wind can be maddening – in a good way.

March meeting of birds

March meeting of birds

Starling

Starling

A month or so back, birds swarmed these trees. Cool temperatures didn’t faze them. I identified one male cowbird and one starling; I believe the rest were mostly female cowbirds.

Iris bud ready to burst

Iris bud ready to burst

Three phases of iris

Three phases of iris

I prefer wildflowers, except for the purple glory of iris. These are my late Mom’s.  The sun puts a near metallic sheen on the bud in the first picture.

So many gray days this spring! Right after sunset on March 16th, the anniversary of the infamous pet food recall of 2007, the forest sky was slate gray along with a deep blue. The contrast doesn’t really show up in the photo:

Spooky spring sky

Spooky spring sky

Reflections come from the opposite creekbank

Reflections from the opposite bank

Cloudy evening

Cloud effect

Cloudy evening makes for pastel creek shades, two days before the severe weather night of April 28, 2014. For each tornado radar signature, the weathercasters read out towns and places in the possible path, bringing to mind names of people we know living in those places. Then suddenly we were in the polygon for a tornado; an F1 went right over a neighbor’s house. It was aloft, not reaching ground. In town, it had been on the ground and had done damage; it lifted before it got here. That was a day after the third anniversary of being in the F4 of 4.27.11.  Story at link:  https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/tornado-on-the-ground-tuscaloosa-april-27-2011-3/

I am not pleased. I’m sick of playing whack-a-mole with tornados; we are the moles.

Madame Curious likes scaffolding

Madame Curious likes scaffolding

Madame Curious scrutinizing and supervising

Madame Curious scrutinizing and supervising

While I snap pictures and my husband repairs damage to the house in town from the F4 three years ago, the feral cat Madame Curious stays with him and meows instructions. She’s quite helpful. It’s astonishing how much that cat knows about masonry and even carpentry. I had to break it to her gently that I have the sayso about choosing colors, though. She didn’t like hearing that humans have a broader spectrum of color vision than cats do.

Creek's edge

Creek’s edge

Back to the forest and the creek for breathers, for perspective, and to refresh the spirits, always. This post from last spring expresses our feelings for the creek: https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/tributary-becoming-green-warriors-of-the-red-earth-country/

Appalachians

Appalachians

And, this is not far away. We’re in the southernmost part of the Appalachians, USA, Earth.

 

 

 

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