Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nibbler's Illness, Surgery, and Recovery (Part VII)

After a fantastic year of having Nibbler complete our home, improve our lives, and improve our other cats, he got very, very sick. He'd only ever had an upper respiratory infection before, and he recovered from that just fine. So at first we weren't all that concerned. But then one Saturday night he started throwing up bile. The next day he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't sleep, he wouldn't play, he wouldn't purr, he wouldn't use the litter box. He literally wouldn't do anything. He looked absolutely miserable. I didn't want to take him to the vet on Sunday since only emergency vets are open, and I knew that would cost me hundreds of dollars just to bring him in. So we looked up his symptoms, and taking him to the vet would mean lots of x-rays and possibly surgery. That could mean over $1,000, which we weren't prepared to pay. We hoped that he could just work it out on his own. We read that he likely had a foreign object stuck in his stomach and that if you fed the cat hairball formula food, he might be able to pass it on his own. So we went out and bought the food, but Nibbler simply wouldn't eat. He wouldn't even lick his paw when we tried putting some hairball formula liquid on it.

Since he kept vomiting on the carpet, we kept him locked up in the bathroom when we left the house. You can see how miserable he was just from this picture when he climbed into the sink.

First off we were hesitant to take him to the vet because of a previously bad experience. We were burned off of the vet in general in 2006 when we took Leela there for a limp, and they charged us nearly $300 to do nothing for her. They took a bunch of x-rays and told us she'd just have to walk it off. So now whenever I have a cat get sick, as much as I'd like to take him to the vet, I worry about spending several hundred dollars just to be told he'll get over it on his own. With something as serious as this clearly was, we were worried we'd be spending thousands of dollars for a surgery he might not need. But when we realized that there was no way to avoid taking him there, Oscar looked up vets online and found one with really excellent reviews for pricing and customer service.

We learned that when we took him to the vet, they would do an x-ray and then a barium scan. The scan might also help him pass the object on his own, and we really hoped that would happen. In the meantime he just kept getting severely dehydrated, and after forcing him to have some water, we took him in to the Animal Hospital at Murphy's Corner on Monday afternoon.

After the vet called to tell us the news, she informed us that Nibbler's stomach was basically twisting itself into knots, which kept him from being able to take anything in or get anything out. She didn't even bother to perform the scan. She knew from the x-ray alone that this was bad and called for emergency surgery. She told us he would die without it, and that she was surprised he'd lasted as long as he had. She also told us that the surgery had a high success rate and that she'd just performed it on a cat 5 days earlier.

When we came in to wish Nibbler luck and take a look at the x-ray for ourselves, she showed us Nibbler's in comparison to the cat from a few days before. The other cat had actually had complications during surgery. His intestines ruptured from the pressure of all the objects he'd eaten. Fortunately they were able to save him, but only because he was already on the operating table with his belly cut open. We compared Nibbler's x-ray to that other cat's, and Nibbler's was noticeably worse. At that point I really wanted her to just put him under the table immediately and get to work. She had two assistants and another doctor come to assist her with the surgery, and we thought it was hilarious that her name was Dr. Bishop. Dr. Bishop is also the mad scientist on the TV show "Fringe," and we laughed that maybe this was his female, veterinarian equivalent.

We held Nibbler for a few minutes before he had his tummy shaved and went in for surgery. He was so miserable I had to stop myself from crying.

Fortunately the price she'd quoted us was much more reasonable than we were expecting. We'd read online that the surgery could be anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000, and she said $975 max. I was relieved by that price since that's really not bad considering all they have to do for the cat. First off we had two doctors and two assistants working overtime after business hours. They had to cut open his stomach and physically remove the objects. They had to be super gentle too or they could rip the intestines apart. Things like ribbon (which was one of many objects Nibbler had in his tummy) are very sharp on the sides and they had to knead it out tiny piece by tiny piece. Imagine how much that surgery would cost for a human child! And it requires every bit as much care and precision to perform it on an animal.

She said she'd call us when Nibbler woke up from surgery and said it could be as late as midnight. But she called at about 9. His surgery actually went perfectly and Nibbler woke up purring. He was just delighted to finally be out of pain. And for no extra charge they kept him at the hospital until Friday and monitored his eating and litter box habits. When we came in to visit he was much happier and extremely purry.

We got to visit Nibbler at the animal hospital on Wednesday. By then he was doing good, he was eating, he was purry, sweet, and lovey, and they were just keeping him for a few days to make sure he didn't have any setbacks from the surgery. They also told me he was beautiful, playful, and had been so sweet and purry with them that they wouldn't want to let him go. It was nice to have someone else confirm how I feel about my cat. :)

When we went in to see him, Dr. Sowder said that Nibbler was eating and drinking normally, but that she'd be really happy to see a bowel movement. I noticed the litter box had no litter (just newspaper) and she told me they do that because the cats often flip the box over, and it just makes a mess. But when I told her that Nibbler actually loves litter, she pored a little bit in. He immediately walked around in it. He didn't use it just then, but he knew what it was for and it wasn't long before he used it and was back to his normal self.

When I picked him up on Friday they sent me home with pain medicine, antibiotic, and a lot of prescription gastrointestinal formula cat food. Adding $975 to $30 for the new patient fee, $100 for the x-ray, and more for the medicines and special cat food, I was expecting to pay at least $1200. But the final bill was only $994. They didn't even charge me to have the staples removed a few weeks later. For all the services they gave us, I think it was worth every penny. This is what his belly looked like for about a month after surgery.

We did have to pay an expensive surgery for Nibbler, but he wouldn't have survived without their intervention. He actually had balloon ribbon, rubber bands, and well over 30 of my hair ties trapped in his stomach and intestines. The veterinarian assistants even took pictures of the mess. The doctor said she couldn't believe
he'd been able to survive as long as he did with all that blockage. But now he's all better. Apparently they caught it just in time, too. Nibbler must have organs of steel to make it as long as he did, but even steel has its limits. We don't plan on testing them again! We are going to be more diligent at keeping our house clean and keeping those things away from him. When I went to pick him up at the end of the week, Dr Sowder tossed me a bunch of scrunchy-type hair ties and said "Use those. He can't eat them."

I was really happy to have Nibbler home. He recovered well from major surgery, and he was soon as affectionate as ever. Plus he proved to all the ladies at the animal hospital that he was worth saving.

When we had to put Nibbler on his special diet, all he wanted was to eat the other
cats' dry food. And, of course, the other cats wanted his wet food really bad. Nibbler had to have his special wet food, but the other cats couldn't have it since we wanted to make sure Nibbler was able to eat it for as long as possible after the surgery. Since he could only eat so much at a time, I had to refrigerate it a lot so the rest of the can didn't go bad before he got to it, and he refused to eat it cold. And believe it or not, the smell of microwaved cat food is not pleasant. It was only ever in the microwave for a few seconds, but boy did it make the house reek long after it was consumed. And Fry and Leela about went crazy for it. They would just spin in circles and slam against the bedroom door desperate to get a piece of Nibbler's food. We'd let them lick Nibbler's cans when he was done, but otherwise Nibbler ate all of it. Fortunately he started being willing to eat it cold after about a week.

Fry was grumpy when Nibbler came back. He growled like when Nibbler was new. But he got used to Nibbler much quicker than the first time.

We decided to get a real tree this year so that Nibbler wouldn't eat the fake tree like he did last year. He must have been climbing all over it while I was gone since we'd come home and he'd reek of pine! Plus an added benefit of the real tree is that Nib taught himself to the fetch the small sticks that broke off. How many cats will fetch a stick?!

I knew that Nib was eating my hair ties, and I'd try to stop him if I'd see him doing it. But since I'd find a hair tie in the litter box every once in awhile, I wasn't too worried about it. I just assumed they would pass through him eventually. I had no idea so many were still stuck inside him. I'm so glad I didn't let my cat die from my own ignorance.

Ultimately what brought us to our decision to save Nibbler was the thought "would we rather have a new computer/new vacation/new TV or Nibber alive?" We'd spent so much money on trips that year that our funds were much lower than usual. We'd actually just returned from a short trip totally astonished by how much it had cost us, and we'd promised to stop spending so much money for awhile. But we knew we wanted Nibbler alive much more than anything else that was worth $1,000, and I have to say that even though it cost a lot of money, I've never once regretted saving Nibbler. I've regretted spending $1,000 on a television or computer, but never Nibbler. He's as delightful as ever, and if anything I think we love him more now that we realize how much he's worth to us. I know I've had the thought "why did we buy this flat screen HD TV when we already have a perfectly functioning TV, but I've never thought "gee, I wish I'd kept that 1,000 dollars since I already have two perfectly functioning cats." In all honesty, even if Nibbler died tomorrow I'd still be happy that I paid for his surgery if only for the love he's brought into our home since he got back.

This was Part VII of a 7 part post. If you would like to read more, there's a ton more info and a lot more cute pictures in the other posts. Part I tell about never thinking we'd pay a lot of money for a pet and then doing it, Part II tells about first getting our first kittens, Part III is about our cat Fry, Part IV is about our cat Leela, Part V is about our cat Nibbler, and Part VI is about all of our cats and the cute things they do together. Enjoy!

Interesting Kitty Habits and how Nibbler Ultimately Improved my Other Cats (Part VI)

All of our cats eat all kinds of cat food. I've heard of cats that will only eat one extremely expensive type of cat food, or cats that only eat wet food. I'm glad my cats aren't picky.

Leela and Nibbler have particularly keen senses of smell as well. They always know when I'm eating deli meat, even from a room away. I felt really bad once when I forgot to put my chicken in the fridge one night and had to throw it away. I wrapped it up in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. When I came home, the house smelled strongly of chicken. My poor cats had to be home all day with no food while smelling chicken the whole time. Poor kitties. And of course, a cat's sense of smell is much stronger than a human's. That must have been torture for them. They also didn't have any water. I am just a horrible pet owner sometimes!

Leela started sitting on our laps again not long after Nibbler joined the household. She doesn't do it as often as he does, but when she does decide to sit, she can sit a long time. She adores Oscar and sits on him constantly, but every once in awhile she'll sit on me too. This is the only picture I have of her on my lap. She'll never do it while Oscar's here since she'd always prefer to be on him, so I can't just ask him to take a picture whenever she decides to grace my lap with her presence. This is the best I could do taking my own picture of Leela on my lap.

Fry too, started first walking on us while putting tons of pressure in his paws, and then eventually started sitting sometime after Nibbler moved in. To this day, though, he stands when you pet his body so he can feel the pet more, so if I want him to stay sitting I have to just pet his head.

I love that watching us love Nibbler didn't make our cats jealous and bitter (as I'd feared), but it actually made them more affectionate. I assume they observed how happy he was crawling all over us and they realized they could do the same. Maybe if Fry and Leela had been as sweet before Nibbler as they are now, I wouldn't have felt the desire to have another cat.

After 3 years of cats who refused to sit on my lap, it was so nice to get a super affection lap kitten, who became an even sweeter lap cat, and to my complete delight, somehow inspired the other two cats to also be lap cats. :) But there is a downside. Nibbler is now so comfortable on me that he actually jumped 3 feet from my stomach to the top of the desk, which felt like being punched hard in the gut. :(

Now that Leela is a lap cat again, she loves to sit on Oscar's lap and even lets him rest his laptop on her.

Sometimes Nibbler joins the group.

Both Nibbler and Leela can stand on their hind legs, and they'll do it for petting. It's rare to train a cat to perform for anything but food, but Nibbler and Leela are comfortable on those back legs. Both of them also know how to lead you where they want you to go. They're excellent communicators when it comes to needing food and affection. And both have good senses and are sound sensitive, much more so than Fry.

I sometimes tried getting all 3 cats to cuddle together, but for the first couple months they refused. In December 2009 I got to watch them all cuddle together for the first time ever! It was so cute. I'd seen Fry cuddle with Leela, and each of them cuddle with Nibbler, but I'd never seen them all cuddling together. Whenever I tried to put them all together one of them would always leave. It was nice that this time they all came together on their own. It was one big purr fest. It was really nice to see after how much Fry and Leela LOATHED Nibbler the first week.

It's amazing how much cuter my cats are when they cuddle on their own than when I try to force them into cute positions. All 3 are asleep on the cat perch in these pictures, which already fills up with only 2 of them. It's super cute!

Nibbler as well as Fry and Leela are convinced that any clothes, coats, and towels that aren't hung up must be their new cat beds. One time we put a towel on our bathroom counter and all of a sudden they weren't interested in any other place to sleep but there.

I haven't been able to capture it on the camera, but when Nibbler and Leela cuddle together and Nib sticks his head off the perch, they look like one monstrously fat cat with a tiny head. It's funny.

On the rare occasion that Seattle gets snow, all of our cats love it. Surprisingly, though, Nibbler is the least interested. But Fry and Leela could watch the snow forever.

All of the cats like watching us while we exercise. Nibbler actually pounced on my leg once while I was doing jumping jacks!

Sometimes while Oscar and I pray together, Nibbler or Leela comes and curls up underneath our arms. Very cute!

When we cut Fry and Leela's nails, they bite them and trim them down, and it makes them less sharp. For some reason Nibbler won't do it. He's way too playful to have constantly sharp nails.

All of our cats are nuts for the laser pointer. I wonder if the inventor of the laser pen ever thought to him/herself "Wow! This would make a REALLY good cat toy!"

There is so much cat hair in my house (especially from sheddy Fry), which I generally don't mind. But I do insist that it stays out of my eyes. I seem to always find it on my contacts. It must be from burrowing my head into their fur.

One night my husband and I woke up to music at 7:00am and were cursing our neighbors for playing music during quiet hours. However, when we opened our door this morning we found it was actually coming from our computer! We'd left it on during the night and the cats must have stepped on the play button on the keyboard. Hopefully our neighbors weren't too mad at us :)

Unfortunately, all of our cats generally prefer Oscar. Though he spun them around as kittens they think the sun rises and sets with daddy. As soon as he gets home they go running to him. And if both of us are available for affection, they always pick him.

I live on the first floor of an apartment building, but it's over the garage so it's not the ground floor. My porch is low enough to the ground that my cats could jump off of it, but they'd never be able to jump back. So I don't let them out just in case they do jump off. But one time I accidentally left the porch door open only to find all 3 of my indoor cats outside. I have no idea how long they were out there before I noticed. I'm glad none of them jumped since I'm not sure we'd ever find them again. One time Fry got stuck outside all day once. I'd gone out to the porch to get something and closed the door behind me without realizing he'd come out too. He was out there a long time. I'm really glad he didn't jump down!

I like that I've had my cats a long time and yet I still find myself just staring at them sometimes and and enjoying their cuteness. The other day Nibbler and Leela got into this adorable Chinese finger trap position.

I love the "cat donut" they made.

And they're just always cute when they cuddle together. They're both so pretty!

I thought this position was hilarious!

He's totally straddled on top of her.

Fortunately, she doesn't seem to mind at all!

And to hear about how Nibbler's procedure went, continue on to the final chapter Nibbler's Illness, Surgery, and Recovery (Part VII).

Nibbler (Part V)

So in spite of the lack of lap sitting, I still had two pretty great cats for 3 years. They were attractive, sweet, soft, purry, entertaining, never vicious with us or strangers, didn't hiss, decent with kids, and certainly gave us a lot of good company and good times. My sister even had 2 lap loving cats and they'd always sit on me when I went to their house, so I was at least able to have my lap cat desires met when I would visit. But something was missing. I really wanted another kitten since I'd enjoyed it so much with Fry and Leela. But the scary thing with kittens is you never know what personality you're going to get. I've known plenty of mean and/or skittish cats that had been raised by loving families since they were kittens, and that was definitely the last thing I wanted. What if we got a kitten and it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth? At some point I just accepted that and stopped longing for another kitten.

But Oscar had other plans. On Valentines day 2009, he took me to the Bellevue shelter where we'd picked up Fry and Leela. But apparently it wasn't kitten season. They had one, but the first thing it did was hiss when it saw me, and I was immediately turned off by it (though Oscar wanted it). We tried several other shelters since I wanted to have my pick of kittens, but no other kitten was to be found. Though Oscar emailed the guy who fostered that kitten, I told him I didn't want it and would rather have a choice of kittens whenever we picked our next one.

I'd forgotten about it completely in October 2009 when Oscar told me we were going for a surprise trip and we ended up at the Kent animal shelter. He'd found out where the place was with the most kittens, and wanted to give me my pick of choice. The first animals I saw as I walked in were two adorable kittens. One in particular was very, very cute, and looked a lot like our pretty Leela. I did not need to look at any other kittens. I knew that was the one for me. But I took a look around just to be sure. The other kitten he was cuddling with was also very cute (though the first was still much cuter), the next kitten in another cage was long haired and not terribly attractive, there were two other long haired cats that were obviously siblings, and there was another kitten with its mother. We wouldn't have felt comfortable taking one sibling without the other, or taking the kitten without its mother, plus we prefer short haired cats, and the first kitten had definitely been the cutest. So he was ours (we kept calling him female since he looked so much like Leela). We named him Nibbler to keep up with our theme of naming cats after Futurama characters, and we just hoped that he would be an adorable lap cat.

They let us pick him up and get to know him, and he let us hold him without struggling. Then all of a sudden he really started to squirm and we put him back in the cage. He went right to the litter box and used it. We thought this was pretty impressive. This was a cat who knew when he needed to potty and knew where to go. We didn't foresee him having any problems with potty accidents (and we were right!). Then they put him in a little box carrier to take home with us. I didn't like leaving him in the pitch dark box (In spite of the fact that cat's have really cool night vision, I feel bad about leaving them alone in the dark). So after we got in the car I opened it up. He had obviously not moved. I put him on my lap and he stayed still and didn't even meow the entire car trip to Redmond.

We stopped at my sister's since she was on the way home, and he continued just sitting happily on our laps. He even started purring. We'd sent their cats outside so they wouldn't scare Nibbler, and my niece grabbed one of their cat toys so she could play with Nibbler. Though he'd been absolutely still the whole time before he saw the cat fishing pole, he immediately started to play. He went nuts for that feather (while remaining in one of our laps the whole time). This was a good sign.

That evening we took him home and put him in our carrier, one that had holes in it so he could at least see out of it. We let the other cats go up to his cage, and they hissed of course. Cats are generally hostile on first meeting. Nibbler hissed back when they hissed at him, and to this day that is the only time I've ever heard him hiss. Fry in particular was MAD! He growled the whole night and into the next day. Even when Leela would get near him he would hiss and growl at her. He was tense! Leela wasn't too thrilled about Nibbler, and would hiss when he would come near, but wasn't quite as upset. Nibbler, on the other hand, who we'd expected to hide from the big cats once we let him out of the cage, walked around like he owned the place. It was like he'd said "guys, I live here now. Get over it!"

We decided to keep the cats in separate rooms for the first few days, and Nibbler came into the bedroom with us that night. We cuddled with him until we fell asleep, and he ended up near my feet later that night when I woke up to go to the bathroom. When I came back, I knelt down, put my face to him, and nuzzled his face for awhile the way I'd seen cats show affection to each other. I thought it might make him feel more comfortable. I was right! As soon as I lay down Nibbler came right onto my chest and nuzzled and purred vigorously. He really has a loud, rumbling, adorable purr. That night he fell asleep on my chest and when I woke up he was still there. I knew we'd made the right choice and definitely picked the right cat. This was a cat that I would love forever. And I would soon find out that Nibbler is a great cat, even among other great cats.

Though we named our new kitten "Nibbler" to keep up with our theme of naming cats after Futurama characters, he lives up perfectly to his namesake. He eats everything. One day he nibbled on my cantaloupe, my zucchini soup, and he loves avocado - things my other cats wouldn't have been even the slightest bit interested in. I have to be careful with my food around him.

The animal shelter had sent us home with kitten food, but he wasn't all that interested in it. He would eat it, but he wanted the adult cat food even more. The vet said that was fine as long as he was eating plenty of it. And boy does he! I'm surprised he's not enormous with how much he eats! As you can see from the picture, he also has this funny habit of stepping right into his food bowl!

One of the first places we found Nibbler after letting him roam free was curled up in the bathroom sink. Cute!

Nibbler actually loves the litter box. We keep three in our bathroom. As soon as we clean them, he'll pee in one, poop in the other, and walk around in the last one. He can't get enough of it. He's never once had an accident, and he even cleans up after the other cats! This makes me incredibly happy since sometimes Leela doesn't think she needs to cover her poop. Also, one time we heard a scraping sound and found Nibbler in the bathtub. Fry had peed in there earlier and Nibbler was trying to clean it up but couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Priceless!

Nibbler is really good with kids. He rarely runs from them. Typically he goes right up to them just like a dog would. I even saw him go up to my friend's little girls (one was 4 years old and one was 4 months old) and let them pet him. He'll play with kids, and like the other cats, never retaliates if they abuse him.

With Nibbler's abilities he would make an amazing mouser. He's so fast and can catch and find anything.

I love how right from the beginning Nibbler always knew who he was. He wasn't intimidated by the other cats, and in spite of forever being the smallest, he's still the dominant cat. He immediately usurped Leela's position.

He is super duper cuddly. He does sit on laps, but even cuter, he sits on chests. He'll climb up and make himself comfortable stretched across your chest and shoulders. I just put my head down to hear his rumbly purr.

Nibbler is the only cat I know that loves to be held. He's like a baby sometimes. All he wants is to be held and walked. He nuzzles you while you hold him. It's very sweet. Leela doesn't struggle while being held, which is already a lot considering many cats won't let you hold them at all (like Fry), but Nibbler's the only cat I've met who actually enjoys it and asks for it. He'll meow until I hold him and then immediately starts purring.

One thing that's really cute is that Nibbler taps me on the back while I'm looking in the fridge. If I pick him up after he taps me he immediately purrs and nuzzles. He just loves to be held and walked. He's like a baby sometimes when he'll meow or tap for it, but won't want to be held while you're sitting down. When he's really happy his purr sounds like he's panting. Though it's not always a good thing that he wants affection. One time I ignored him and he actually jumped on my back, clinging on with his claws. Yikes!

All cats should come equipped with instant purr and love features like Nibbler. I call it the autopurr whenever I pick him up.

Leela didn't like Nibbler much at first, but now she's very much a mommy to him.

Both Nibbler and Leela love to be on the bed and climb all over us.

We found Nibbler had a love for the ties that go around milk cartons, and sometimes he would knock the trash over to get them. Since we didn't want our trash knocked over we just started throwing them to him, and one day he brought one back. Now he's fantastic at it and essentially taught himself how to play fetch. It's his favorite game. Woohoo for Nibbler training himself! I didn't even have to try. It's funny though. If the toy falls out of his mouth on the way back, he doesn't even notice it. He still comes up to me and somehow expects me to throw another toy. If I try to point it out to him, he'll just stare at my finger. I guess he's not quite a dog in a cat's body.

This is why I vastly prefers playing fetch with Nibbler to playing fetch with a dog. It's adorable to see a cat play fetch, he doesn't slobber all over his toy, the toy is a milk cartoon tie so it's easily replaceable, and, my favorite thing - instead of barking at me to continue when I get too busy, he just sits and waits patiently. My only regret is that I can't throw the tie as far as I could throw a ball.

Like Fry and Leela, Nibber loves being pet on his belly, even now after his stomach surgery. He likes all kinds of affection. Like Fry, you can pet him as rough as you like and he'll purr like crazy.

Leela was a prettier kitten, but as an adult, Nibbler is the most beautiful cat. He has an adorable little face and a really pretty coat and tail.

Like Leela, Nibbler gets under the covers and snuggles with us. He has a bit too much energy under there, but when he's sleepy, it's really nice to have him next to or on top of you. While he's there he paws my arm and cuddles up, which is usually a good thing unless we've let his nails get too long.

At Christmas Nibbler was very counterproductive to my Christmas tree decorating by climbing it, playing with the lights, and even getting tangled up in the lights - hanging upside down by them and needing to be rescued. But he's so cute I didn't have the heart to stop him. The other cats bat at the ornaments too and in one night with the tree up, 3 ornaments were already down. I don't know how the cats did it since I tied all the ornaments tight to the tree.

When it's just Nibbler alone while Oscar's using his computer, Nibbler sometimes decides it's not okay for daddy to ignore him. He looks so cute when he puts his head on the keyboard.

Nibbler definitely knows his name, and often comes when called. One time I called "come here kitty" to Nibbler, and all 3 of them came to me. It was too cute!

Nibbler was supposedly a feral cat before we got him, but it surprises me a bit that he stayed alive in the wild. He will actually sniff inside your mouth when it's open. I could see him going up to a salivating coyote and doing the same thing. One time while he was sitting on my chest, he actually used his paws to pry open my mouth, then stuck his head inside and sniffed around. I had to exercise all control to not laugh uproariously.

If there's affection going on between Oscar and I or between us and the other cats, Nibbler wants to be a part of it. I once posted on facebook that "my kitten likes to make out! While Oscar was kissing me goodnight one night, Nibbler came up and started licking our lips."

One of the most adorable things he did as a kitten was chase and bite his own tail. You could twirl it like a piece of string and he'd go after it. He'd then chase it, bite it, clean it, repeat...

He also used to sit on my shoulder as a kitten just like a little parrot.

Neither Fry or Leela likes to walk on the piano keys, but it doesn't bug Nibbler in the slightest. He'll jump on them while I'm playing. Sometimes I have to put him in the other room if I'm playing piano or teaching a student.

I love that he's stayed relatively small for a cat. His little face is so cute!

Nibbler's not afraid of much, but the first time he heard the vacuum as a kitten, we couldn't find him for hours after wards. It turned out he'd hidden on top of the books on the bottom shelf of our bookcase!

He's so much like a dog with how responsive and social he is, and the fact that he plays fetch. He's even been known to lick sweat off our faces when we're working out.

Nibbler also loves the DVR. It's particularly cute when he sits on it with Leela.

Nibbler is sometimes a bit too curious for his own good. One time he climbed on our maintenance man's back while he was installing the dishwasher. I also have to put him in another room while I do dishes since he gets under the dishwasher when it's open. I really don't know how he fits in that 1 inch of space between the washer and the ground.

He's pretty fantastic, but he's not perfect. Fortunately his good traits far outweigh the bad. But he has frustrated us several times since he can be pretty destructive with chords, blinds, and clothes. I used to say that he was channeling the spirit of some dearly departed puppy since he chews through everything! He destroyed several of my dresses, the strings on our blinds, and our shower curtain. He also really wants human food and will get in your face for it, and he'll force the other cats out of the way if he wants their food. In this pic, you can see Nibbler destroying Oscar's shoelaces while he's still wearing his shoes!

Though he has an adorable purr he also has a really annoying meow which can get irritating. One time I cursed Nibbler for waking me up from my nap with incessant meowing, until I discovered that he was stuck behind the dresser. I think he just slipped behind the dresser since Oscar had moved it to get something he'd dropped behind it. It was just enough for him to fall behind it, but not enough for him to get enough space to jump out.

Nibbler also doesn't respond to catnip at all. We thought he'd be hilarious to watch with how frisky he is already, but eating or smelling it doesn't phase him in the slightest. At least we get to watch Fry and Leela go nuts over it.

One time Oscar was getting ready for work with very little time to spare when Nibbler came by and started trying to cuddle with him. I laughed at what Oscar said to him - "There's no time for cuteness right now!"

One time he walked on the flat top stove when the burners were still warm. He wasn't too thrilled about it.

Sometimes Nibbler does weird things like meowing at the wall. I can't find a bug or anything that might be interesting to him.

Nibbler's cat toys grew along with him. One day he's wacking around little balls, now he's wacking avocados off the table.

Nibbler loves being around the computer and the keyboard. One time he sat on the keyboard and the whole computer froze. I had to restart everything. I still don't know how he did that.

Like Fry's paper fettish, Nibbler has a thing for shoes. One of his favorite places to nap is in between one of my shoes and one of Oscar's shoes.

Like Leela, Nibbler loves climbing up to the mattress in our laundry closet.

Nibbler is so funny when he watches the TV. He really likes watching me play video games. After defeating the first castle in Super Mario Bros wii, the little koopa jumps out of the way and off the screen so he can move to the 2nd castle. This terribly confused Nibbler. He kept looking behind the TV and around the room to see where the koopa went. It made me chuckle. :) Leela does the same thing with the computer mouse. When it goes away she'll look behind the computer to try to find it.

I was terrified at first that Nibbler would stop being a lap cat, like Fry and Leela did. But instead he turned them into lap cats (more about that in Part VI) and became even sweeter. I've always loved when cats jump directly to your lap and stay sitting there. But Nibbler goes above and beyond cuteness. He now jumps directly to my chest, curls up, and purrs contentedly. I have to use one arm to hold him up once he gets there, but it's SUPER cute! This pic of me with Nibbler was actually him jumping from the ground directly into that position, and I just put my arms out to keep him from falling down.

Since Nibbler loves milk carton ties, we have all kinds around the house. Red and green mostly from the whole milk Oscar drinks and the 1% I drink, but every once in awhile we'll get blue for 2%, light blue and yellow for Safeway milk, and orange from orange juice. Once we stop tossing them he'll chew them up into little pieces. One day I tossed him one of the chewed up red pieces, and he returned me a complete red tie intact! And if you throw the tie where he can't find it (like behind a dresser), sometimes he'll bring back a different one.

Nibbler once got caught in a trader-joe's paper bag. He panicked and ran under the bed, but got stuck since the bag couldn't fit in there with him. It was funny!

You're always taking a risk when you get a kitten. You can't know their personality in advance, and we were amazingly lucky with Nibbler. We not only got the joy of having one perfect cat, we also got the fun of raising him and watching him grow. I feared he might make us love our other cats less, but he's been such a good influence on them that I actually love them more. Nibbler really is an amazing cat!

To read more about my kitties and to know how Nibbler actually made Fry and Leela into better cats, read on in Interesting Kitty Habits and how Nibbler Ultimately Improved my Other Cats (Part VI).