On the first day of 2013, we picked up a mom-cat named Angel and her six kits, who we called the Lucky 13ers. With help from our readers we named the furballs Bunnyfoot, Clover, Cricket, Kachina, Penny, and Shamrock. At first it wasn’t easy to tell the tabbies apart.
Angel lived up to her name, especially during “all paws on deck” nursing sessions.
It took forever to get the 13ers weaned, but they took to the villa’s fun and games right away.
In a “more the merrier” vein, we added bigger kits Jaden (all black) and Ollie (a shy orange tabby) to the mix.
We bought a puppy-feeding bowl and used it as a table for nine.
Male tabby Shamrock showed off his climbing skills.
Penny was voted “most likely to face nuzzle her peeps.” She later went home with Shamrock and kept her name.
Bunnyfoot went home with Clover, to a mom and dad who’d recently lost their 19-year-old tortie.
A young couple visited with the expectation of adopting Cricket and Kachina, but they were smitten by Jaden and his shy pal Ollie, and took the boys home instead. We were thrilled, since shy or entirely black kittens can have trouble finding homes.
Cricket and Kachina played stringball in the villa for another week, then went home with a young mom.
The day Cricket and Kachina went home, we picked up a skinny and congested calico mom-cat and her four week-old kittens. New Orleans was gearing up for the Super Bowl that week, so we named the mom Nola and her kittens Raven, Niner, Dorito, and Bud. We soon found out they all shared their mom’s upper respiratory infection.
Since none of Nola’s kittens could nurse or suck from a bottle, we started tube-feeding them. But when Raven and her sibs started mouth-breathing, we knew the prognosis was grim. None of the Super Bowlers lived long enough to open their eyes.
Bud was the smallest and weakest, but the last to die. As he withered away, we stopped force-feeding him and tried to keep him comfortable during his last hours.
Our consolation was that once Nola was relieved of her maternal responsibilities, her recovery speeded up. She seemed determined to gain back all the weight she’d lost… and then keep on gaining.
Nola’s hormone-driven attack on canines Orrie and Della at the baby gate left Martha badly scratched, but inside the villa Nola was still very affectionate.
We moved Nola upstairs when Queen Isabella and her Sea Questers sailed into the villa. We named the three boys Ernest, Balboa, and Thor.
Ernest was our smallest Sea Quester.
Isabella was another of 2013’s friendly tabby mom-cats.
Thor was the biggest and most adventuresome of the Sea Questers.
Pix of recent alumni popped up in our inboxes, like this one of Bunnyfoot and Clover at home…
…and this pair of 2012 Brewmeisters Blue Moon and Dunkel, sleeping one off…
The Sea Questers learned how to climb the carpet ramp from the floor to the futon.
Recent grad Shamrock hung out with his mom, who named him Lucky. Which he was.
Ernest, Thor, and Balboa grew bigger and began to assert themselves in the villa.
Thor was the first to assess the possibilities of the cat tree.
Ernest had a brief spell of “pirate eye”, with his left eye glued shut, but meds cleared it up and he continued to eat well.
Thor continued to lead the Sea Questers until the morning we found him limp and stretched out in the litter box, conscious but barely able to move. His fluid-filled belly and shrieks of pain led two different vet clinics to diagnose FIP, which progresses rapidly with no cure. We were shocked and depressed to have to euthanize him hours later.
Our surviving Sea Questers sailed together into dreamland in the villa.
After a string of bad luck with the Super Bowlers and Thor, we were worried some dread disease would strike Ernest or Balboa, but it was clear sailing for the rest of their tenure at 50K.
Balboa showed the Cat Dancer toy that he was its commanding officer.
Ernest demonstrated his fancy footwork on the rigging.
And Nola kept on chowing in big-cat country, where she refused to kowtow to Reggie and Yogi.
We heard that our 2012 pal and Brewmeister mom Chimay had gained confidence and let down her guard with her new foster mom, an HT manager who regularly fosters challenging cats.
Ernest and Balboa sailed home together to a home in Alexandria with an older cat and a mellow dog, so we took in a patchy tabby and her four kits. It was May 5, so we named them Guadalupe and the Cinco de Mayo kittens, Ignacio, Puebla, Zara, and Goza.
The Cincos were healthy and good-looking short-timers at 50K. When we headed out to Utah for two weeks in mid-May, we dropped them off at another HT foster home. All four kittens were adopted quickly. It took Guadalupe a bit longer, but she went home during the summer.
After returning from vacation, we brought mom-cat Tatyana to the villa. She was working a second shift with two unrelated singletons. We’re not sure how much nursing Tatyana offered, because Arthur and Lina were already weaned, but she provided plenty of moral support to the furballs.
Lina and Arthur regularly threatened to break our cute-o-meter.
We got a nice update on Sluggers Cruz and Callie (formerly Molina.) They’re fully grown but still enjoy napping together and on their dad’s lap.
Cruz was never camera shy.
Arthur loved goofing around with step-mom Tatyana.
When we introduced the stringball, the Blinis were ready to play.
A spontaneous Facebook comment propelled us into a 700-mile round trip to a southwest Virginia shelter, where a sweet coonhound’s time was up. We named her June on the drive home, and within days she charmed her way into our family.
Nola continued to make herself at home in staff-cat country. And to eat as much as Reggie, Mia, and Yogi combined.
The Blinis continued to strike irresistible poses in the villa.
It was hard to take a bad photo of Lina and Arthur, so we knew they’d find a home as soon as they were ready.
And they did. Martha gave Arthur a goodbye squeeze.
In mid-July a girl discovered a young mom-cat and her newborn kits under the outside stairs of her family’s townhouse. It had been raining for days, and none of the chilled, undernourished kittens survived. An HT volunteer rescued the tiny mom and named her Marie. We brought Marie to the toasty 50K bunkhouse to recuperate.
Nola, Nola, Nola…
Archer and Lana (the renamed Blinis) posed at home on their cool hand-made cat tree.
We moved Marie to the villa, where she continued her recovery and became a friendly and mellow tortie.
The woman who adopted Fritz decided to start fostering kittens. She sent us this pic and said her fosterlings idolized him. What a great outcome for our biggest Brewmeister!
We transferred Marie to another foster home to make room for yet another tabby mom-cat. Autumn and her four already-named female kittens checked into the villa. We called Boxer, Callie, Daphne, and Hailey the Eves.
Autumn kept her milk-bar open and the Eves had no trouble tapping in.
Our staff cats continued to stalk Nola. It was too stressful for them and her, so we transferred Nola to a more spacious and relaxing foster home where she could be the only cat.
The Eves were not eager to leave the bottle and nipple behind, so we tried a variety of weaning tactics.
The tabby Eves were sometimes hard to tell apart, but Boxer always looked like one of a kind.
Callie (left) and Hailey struck a déjà vu pose on the cat tree.
We tried to give Autumn her share of TLC...
… and the Eves were always happy to be held.
Callie outgrew her weak-sister start and became as healthy and playful as her siblings.
At the end of September, we installed our first orphans of the year in the bunkhouse. Keeping with our topical naming scheme, we called them the Breaking Bad Boys. But our readers gave them Harry Potter names.
Things started off OK for (clockwise from top) Neville, Seamus, and Dean.
All three kittens were congested and needed Azithromycin. Dean was easily the smallest at first.
The Eves romped around in the villa while waiting to complete their vaccination regimens before heading home.
Seamus began vomiting and stopped eating on his own. He fought our attempts to syringe-feed him, which to us suggests pneumonia, and lost weight day after day. We threw every antibiotic and additive in the book at him, but he got wobblier and frailer. At his low point, we thought he had only a few hours to live.
The morning we expected to find him dead, he started nibbling wet food on his own, beginning one of at least three roller-coaster recoveries. His ensuing declines weren’t as scary as his first, but we never felt confident about him until he hit 2.5 pounds.
When the BB Boys outgrew the bunkhouse, we let them out on the playground for a few hours a day.
The boys enjoyed occasional naps with their peeps.
Seamus eventually overcame his health issues, but Dean and Neville remained much bigger. They went home to a family with a young daughter and son in mid-November.
We moved Seamus down to the villa, where he was joined by older kittens Peanut, Pumpkin, and Raemy.
Raemy was fine with other kittens but quite shy and elusive around her peeps.
Pumpkin, by contrast, was one of the most outgoing and affectionate furballs we’ve ever met.
After a few days of hissing and swatting within the previously unacquainted foursome, everybody started to relax and get along.
Seamus and Pumpkin were always ready to hang with their peeps…
While Raemy needed to be persuaded. She usually started purring a few seconds after we captured her.
Raemy’s mom Doe took over the bunkhouse and playground for the holidays while her foster parents were out of town.
And Pumpkin continued her charm offensive in the villa…
…while Archer and Lana enjoyed their first Christmas at home.
Entering the last hours of 2013, Peanut and Pumpkin are getting ready to head home together on New Year's Day. Seamus is barfing and losing weight, replaying a movie that we've seen a few times and that we know always ends on a positive note, like all good holiday movies. And Raemy has decided that maybe her peeps aren't so scary after all, so she's starting to hop onto the futon to hang out with us when we visit.
From all the 50K staff, we wish you a healthy and happy 2014. Cheers!
filed by: Ted, Martha, Reggie, Mia, Yogi, Orrie, Della, and June