Sunday, February 6, 2011

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).

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