Fifteen Things About Hamlet with Nineteen Pictures

This is our cat Hamlet.

sweet black kitten

July 8, 2010

Last May a litter of kittens showed up outside our window. Being soft-hearted cat people who hadn’t already learned their lesson trying (failing) to help a stray a year before, we felt we had to take care of them and find them homes.

litter of kittens on ground

May 24, 2010

One of them never left. My husband named him Hamlet Samuel.

kitten sleeping on cat

June 23, 2010

I can’t tell you everything about Hamlet in one blog post, but I want to record a few things that we love about him.

Hamlet cuddling with Tristan

June 26, 2010

At mealtime, while we are getting the tub of food down off the refrigerator and putting kibble in their bowls, he rubs against his brothers excitedly, with a force that makes them stumble.

three cats in one bed

June 30, 2010

Hamlet is quite coordinated and athletic. At eight weeks, he was doing things that Tristan had never been able to do, like climb on top of the refrigerator or get on the counter. The other day I saw him jump from the toilet tank to the shower curtain rod, where he balanced for a beat before stepping to the showerhead, then down to the windowsill, and finally the bathtub. He is my sweet little monkey.

kitten climbing on window bars

July 9, 2010

It took Hamlet a long time to learn to meow properly. Before then, all he said was “eee-ooh,” with varying speed and inflections. This earned him the name “Baby Eee-ooh.”

cat looking out window

August 9, 2010

Hamlet loves paper. He used to chew on whatever was on top of the wooden inbox where I put mail and bills. I had to take a library book to the circulation desk and say, apologetically, “My cat ate the cover.” Fortunately, he is largely reformed on this front.

cat shredding paper

August 12, 2010

Hamlet is a happy, confident little cat. He has always walked around with his tail held high. It curves at the end like a question mark.

cat in hallway

September 15, 2010

He was a little slow to warm up to physical affection with us. It started with little things like me realizing he was sitting on my feet while I stood at the kitchen sink, moved on to him climbing on my husband’s shins as he propped his feet on the coffee table, and then, finally, we would be eating dinner and suddenly one of us would feel a little presence in his or her lap. However, he cuddled with his big brothers from the hour his birth siblings left our house.

two cats cuddling

October 7, 2010

He has always been very responsive. He answers when you ask him a question. Often, you just have to say his name for him to say something back. He answers to “Hammy,” “Hamlet,” “Eee-ooh” (with or without “Baby” or “Commander” in front of it), or just “Baby.” We call Hamlet’s conversational noises “speaking sandwich” (get it? Hamlet Samuel? Hammy Sammy? Ham Sandwich?).

cat hanging out of catbed

October 23, 2010

He plays fetch. He will bring me a bouncy ball and drop it at my feet and wait for me to throw it. If it rolls under something and he cannot get to it, he comes back without it and looks at me expectantly. He knows I will go find it for him.

cat with toy dog

October 28, 2010

He likes the dishwasher. He has figured out how it works, and I think soon he will be able to start it on his own. If we can get it on video, he’ll be the next Nora the Piano Cat.

cats under blanket

November 1, 2010

I think one of the most endearing things about Hammy is that it never occurs to him that he may not be invited or that you may not want to share with him. Your lap looks comfortable, so he’s there. He would like to look at the iPad with you, thanks! And your bed is always his bed. He decides he wants to join you, and so he does.

little cat sleeping on big cat

November 15, 2010

He likes the television. We never watched it in our last house during the three and a half months when he lived there (we had canceled cable and moved to only watching DVDs or Hulu on our laptops), so when we turned it on in the new house, he was transfixed. He particularly was fascinated with basketball and ice skating.

cat blocking TV

November 26, 2010

Hamlet is afraid of shoes. I guess this just proves how uncivilized we are, or how rarely we leave the house, or perhaps how we never have anyone over. But, if we are wearing shoes, he would rather us not be walking towards him. He does not run away from our shod feet as quickly as he used to, but he is still wary and on alert when he hears the telltale sounds of footsteps. It doesn’t matter what kind or who’s wearing them.

cat profile

January 9, 2011

For a long time, he burped whenever he was picked up, but I think he has completely stopped that now.

cat stretching with toilet paper

February 2, 2011

Every since he was little bitty, Hamlet has gathered his toys into piles. He is very organized about it.

kitten lying on floor with toys

March 11, 2011

Hamlet’s mother showed up with her kittens at a time when our household was already stressed and frustrated. I knew when I first saw them that if we tried to care for them that we would be committing time and energy I did not feel I had, and I was hesitant. I was not at all convinced that we should keep one. But now I am so glad we did. My husband once said, “Hamlet fixes something in my heart that was broken.” After I gave him a chance, he did the same for me.

cat on top of cat in bed

May 24, 2011

Where I’m Writing From and Other Stories

This is the condensed version. I may expand on some of this in future posts. I’m fairly confident that anyone who currently reads this knows what I’ve been up for the last few months, but for the sake of posterity and as a way of easing back into writing more often, I’ll summarize.

At the end of May, we happened into a litter of kittens and their adolescent mama. We took them all to the vet and then brought them inside and cared for them.

mama cat and three kittens

In early June, I started teaching a summer class. Graduate-level class + summer school + never taught it before + other job duties = a lot of work.

By late June, we had found a home for two of the kittens. It became apparent that the little black one, however, had moved in for good. His name is Hamlet and he is delightful.

cat and kitten in cardboard box

At the end of June, I flew to Washington, DC, to attend ALA. It was overwhelming but exciting. I’d been home less than 24 hours before I left again for a short campus visit and job interview.

crowded room of people watching presentation

In July, I finished teaching my summer course. In August, I helped my superviser prepare for the start of classes. I am neither teacher nor student this fall, but working for a university meant I was involved in various back-to-school activities.

In late August, the husband and I decided to move 1234 miles west. I flew out to meet a friend in our new city, chose a house on September 1st, and returned home to pack everything up.

We donated several hundred books to a library book sale, threw the wedding china and too many unfinished craft projects in a moving truck, and filled the backseat of the car with cat carriers. By September 15th, we were standing on the porch of our new residence.

cat carriers in backseat of car

kitten sitting in hallway of empty house

I skipped over some things, but that’s the gist. We like it here in our new place. We aren’t quite settled in yet, but so far October’s shaping up to be a good month and the fresh mountain air and sunshine makes us happy.

cat looking out window at sky

Videos to Entertain Your Cat

Or, Videos that Entertain My Cat. No promises about yours.

Tristan is not a normal cat. He loves loves loves to cuddle. He is not one of these stand-offish do-its-own-thing cats. He spends hours and hours a day on top of or right next to one of his humans. He usually spends the mornings with me. When I’m not in a hurry, this waking up computer time with Tristan can stretch into two or three hours. This is the view from the computer:

cat in my arms

Tristan loves the computer, too. He is fascinated by the small movements on the screen. I think he might have figured out that when he leans on the keyboard things can happen. Last week I looked away and the next thing I knew, he was ordering DIRECTV. He had a chat box open and there was someone on the other end asking how he could help him.

cat with chin and paw on keyboard

Sometimes when I tire of the usual parts of the internet, I show Tristan movies.

His favorite is Nora the Piano Cat. She has many videos, but this is the one that he has been most into. The first time I played it, he was transfixed for the whole five minutes. When we got to the end, I played it again full screen and he watched it in its entirety again.

Iggy Investigates an iPad was another hit.

He is not just interested in kitties, however. This morning I discovered that tilt-shift videos captured his attention. These make my brain hurt a little because they feel so much like videos of toy train layouts. It’s called miniature faking.

Today’s find portrays daily life in New York City. (Note to parents of small children: cool bulldozers and cranes at 1:05!)

Here’s another for you locals.

Tristan and I hope you and your lap cat like them.

cat on lap with feet in the air

Flannel Rag Quilt for Cat

I realize this sounds a bit weird, but I made a quilt for my cat.

kitten in cat bed with new quilt

I had been thinking about making a rag quilt and so I decided I’d experiment with that method. I made this before I dove into the denim and pink one.

I used two pairs of old pajama pants that had ripped at the seams.  I saved the first pair because they had a cute kitty pattern and I thought I might use the fabric for patching jeans or something.  Oh, I don’t know, I’m a packrat, okay?  But I’m trying to either get rid of or use up the things I have saved, so when the second pair became unwearable, I decided to combine the two and make a little kitty quilt.

I don’t know why I thought a kitty needed a quilt.  I guess it goes back to when we first got Percy and I brought home a cat bed for him.  I bought him one that had a blanket and mouse with it (because I like things that come with bonus stuff).  I remember saying, “I don’t know why a cat needs a blanket!”  Then it turned out that Percy loved his blanket.

kitten in cat bed under blanket

Especially when it was held by one corner and dangled over him.

kitten pulling on corner of blanket

And then I thought, hey, if cats like blankets, then I have another potential class of recipients for quilts I make.  But I wasn’t going to use high quality materials.  So when I happened to have two pairs of pajama pants that matched (one even with cats and cat things on it) and part of a ripped up flannel sheet that complemented them, it made sense to make a kitty quilt.  And since the materials were all pink, I decided this quilt was for Vivienne (I know, I’m a feminist, they are cats and they don’t have a lot of social baggage about colors, I shouldn’t care if my boy cats have pink quilts, etc., but sometimes you just get tired of fighting the system, you know, and I’d already bought her the pink bed [not pictured–the red bed in the photos is Tristan’s]).

Anyway.  I cut the fabric into 5 1/2 inch squares to make five rows of five, or a final size of about 2 feet by 2 feet.  I lay out the squares and let Percy lie on top of them for quality control testing.

Percy lying on quilt blocks

The stripey squares are a regular cotton, the white kitty squares are flannel, and the back squares are a slightly thicker flannel, but it all played nice together.

I used turquoise thread, which maybe wasn’t a brilliant idea because it sure is a contrast color, but I was thinking of this project as a quirky kind of thing and it matched the kitty fabric. Also, I have about six spools of it because it was given to me as someone else’s discards, so it fit the “no new materials and use up what I have” theme I had going.

I used the drawstring and elastic from one pair of pants and the fly from the other pair to create pockets (I layered each over a plain square).

catnip mouse in quilt pocket

cat toys in quilt pocket

This is what it looked like before washing. You can see that the clipped edges have not frayed yet.

flannel cat quilt before washing

Here’s the back.

back of flannel cat quilt

And the full front, after washing. I’ve since washed it three or four more times and it has held up fine and ragged up nicely.

front of flannel cat quilt

And now Vivi has a place to keep her sparkle poufs.