Our “clowder”


So, it turns out that the proper term for a large number of cats, according to AskOxford.com,  is a “clowder,” not a “herd” or “gaggle” as it sometimes may seem.  For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you will recall that back in late August we lost our older cat Tash to a sudden kidney failure.  We waited for a few months before looking for a new cat to take into our home.  Keeping in tradition with all the cats we have, we were intent on adopting a rescue cat or a cat from a shelter.  But what do you do when you are seeking to replace a 23-pound cat?  You get two.  Well, at least that was not our original intent.  We were at the shelter looking at cats and I left a message with my friend Faith, who helped me connect with Tash, and aksed for her input.  We were having a hard time choosing among the dozens of cats at the shelter who could all use a good home.  Faith returned the call while we were still at the shelter.  When we told her what we were up to, she said, “Why don’t you take two; they’re small.”  So Michelle and I looked at each other and said, “Okay.”  That brought us up to five.  It turns out there really is a big difference between four cats and five.   It’s really noticable at evening feeding time in the kitchen. 

As you may also recall from my blog post about Tash, one of the things I realized with considerable heartache after he passed was that I had hardly taken any photos of him during the three years he was with me.  So, I committed to start taking more photos of all our cats.  Some of them are much easier to photograph than others.  Our new long hair Tabby, Jynx, is quite the ham.  He also has the habitat of lying down in some rather odd and sprawling positions, and likes to get into things; all of which make him a good photo subject.  Our other new cat, Kobuk, who is a beautiful chocolate-point Siamese, doesn’t care much for photos.  He just stares at me with this cocked-eared stare that we call “The Look.”  One of the first photos I took of him was shortly after he had his teeth cleaned, and his left foreleg had a near-bald patch of fur where they had to shave for the IV.  The two brothers, Bolshe and Menshe, are often easy photo subjects.  Menshe can often be found waiting longingly at the window for birds to stop by.  Bolshe, while engaging in a lot of silly behavior that does not photograph well, does have a tendency to curl up in a tight little ball while he sleeps – great fodder for the camera.  Harriet, our lone female and quintessential Black Cat, is extremely cute but often difficult to photograph; not only because she is so dark and makes for a tough exposure, but tends to not stay still long enough to get close for a good shot.   Here are some of my recent efforts:

Of course, with the new cats comes new cat dynamics.  Jynx fairly quickly learned to get along with everyone and settle into the new environment, making our home his own.  He quickly bonded with the cat tree, which still remains his favorite place despite finding other havens to lie around or play.  Kobuk on the other hand has been a bit slower to adjust.  It took a while before he would come out from under the bed and integrate, and for the longest time, he would take off in a run if you looked in his general direction.  He is warming up quite a bit now, and generally gets along with the other cats … except Harriet.  For whatever reason that we simply cannot fathom, Harriet and Kobuk have issues.  It started with Harriet stalking Kobuk when Kobuk was still scared and getting use to this place.  Now, the roles are reversed and Harriet is extremely defensive around Kobuk.  We have purchased a water sprayer to help defray any such shenanigans when they occur when we are home.   For when we are not at home, we purchased a product called “Feliway,” or what we call the “Opium Den in a Box.”  Imagine those Glade plug-ins that you put in your electrical outlet, but this is instead a pheremone that is supposed to help the kitties mellow out.  We used it before when Michelle and I first moved in together a few years ago, when we had some integration issues between her cats and mine.  We stopped using Feliway when we found that our cats completely stopped doing anything but lounging around near the stuff.  They were even slow to get up when we called them for evening dinner.  So far, we have not seen similar results and hope that it helps to mellow out the two cats with issues while we are away. 

Which led me to think more about ways to figure out what all of these cats do when we are not at home.  If only there were some way to see what these guys are up to while we are at work.  We don’t have a need for a Nanny Cam or anything like that in the house.  We do have a video camera, but it is fixed on the inside of our bat house, waiting for spring and for the bats to return.  So, what to do … then I thought about using the technique I have used to create time lapse videos of landscapes and applying them to the inside of the house.  The video below is the first capture of the “secret lives of cats.”  Note that I forgot to disable the auto focus on the camera; I simply did not think that it would keep refocusing when on a fixed target.  There are plans for more time lapse efforts in different parts of the house because, as you can see in the video, there must be some activity going on somewhere else.

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2 Responses to “Our “clowder””

  1. Heather Says:

    I definitely had the impression they were aware they were being watched.
    And what were they doing just below the camera.

  2. Carl Johnson Photography - Blog Says:

    […] If you recall, we adopted a couple of new cats last November, adding to our feline family. One of those cats is a […]

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