Friday, January 18, 2008

Group Effort

Let’s see, we’ve got a murder of crows, a flock of sheep, a school of porpoises.

There would be a leap of leopards, a bloat of hippopotamuses, a skein of ducks.
You could find a gaggle of geese, a flight of butterflies, a mob of kangaroos.

What do we have here?

A clowder of cats!

On a bundle of laundry.

We have a kyndyll of kittens and two adult female cats, Sox and Drea (pronounced “Dray-uh”). Yes, we know how it “happened.” The one night in six months I “happened” to be out to dinner with some girlfriends, Drea, the mama cat, “happened” to get out when it happened that our four-year-old could not close the door properly behind himself. We were waiting to have her neutralised until the two young kittens she had at the time were done nursing. Ahem.

“We” (that rhymes with “me” ) finally were able to get her back in the house 48 hours later. Approximately nine weeks later… well anyway, now we have eight cats in our house. The youngest four are five months old; the two older kittens are nine months old, and Drea is about a year and a half. We are guessing Sox could be the same age as Drea, but Sox is much bigger.

You could see a run of salmon, an exaltation of larks, or a parliament of rooks. Dodge a bike of hornets, an ambush of tigers, or a crash of rhinoceroses.

There is a feline relay race going on around me right now; the typical early morning exercises. Sometimes I have to put up a blockade to slow them down. On the wooden floors it sounds like a string of miniature ponies galloping through the house. You wouldn’t guess by looking at them that just about a month ago, several of them were at death’s door.

In December, after the effects of the “ice storm” had begun to subside, at least enough that folks could move around more freely on the roads, “we” took seven cats to the clinic to be neutralised. Two males, five females. About a week later, they started sneezing. No big deal, one would think, it’s just a little sneeze, maybe a little head cold or something. My bob, I thought a couple of their heads were going to pop off—seven, eight, nine sneezes in a row! One of the male kittens, Jerry, started hissing and growling at the sneezers every time they sneezed in his face, at first, and then each time he passed them by.

The females seemed to be affected more severely. One day a couple of them were a little slow, the next day they weren’t moving, just sitting there, miserable. I gathered up the two inanimate cats, mother and daughter calicos, and took them off to the vet. Came back with a diagnosis of bronchitis and enough antibiotics for everyone, for four days--renewed four days later, as everyone was still sneezing. The boys, T2 and T3 were great assistants. T2 even helped syringe feed the three girls, Drea and her daughters, Sparkles and Sweetheart, when they would not eat on their own. I made a large pot of chicken soup for them.

The first two nights I was up for a couple nighttime feeds. The three who were down were closed in the bathroom with the heater the second night, to keep them warm. Then next day, they actually walked out on their own. By the end of the day, they were beginning to eat on their own. I was so very worried. I have not had a cat ill to this degree before. I am guessing they picked up the germs at the clinic of neutralisation; the females were under anaesthetic longer, so they were more greatly affected. It’s a theory.

We still have a few sneezes going on, but I am counting on these creatures now being stronger and healthier generally, and that they will get over this soon. By the way, Jerry ended up catching the cold bug last, and soon stopped growling and hissing at everyone else. He was too busy sneezing.

Whether your home includes a charm of finches, a sute of bloodhounds, or a knob of toads, I think it’s important to keep the numbers within reason. Eight cats is clearly too many, nor had we ever intended to have this many. I have come to the conclusion that we will find homes for at least the four youngest kittens, with the caveat that they take the little darlings to a veterinarian and get them a check up. It is much more affordable to do this for one than it is for eight!

It has been a pleasure in so many ways to be entrusted with the care of these kitties. The boys have been very grateful to have them. I get a kick out of the fact that whatever room one passes through in our house, a cat can be picked up and stroked, cuddled. Very soothing. Even my hardworking spouse will stop to caress a kitty.

I had some fun finding the “collective names” I have included here. I saved these for last. They seem to be inspired somewhat by the human panorama:

A business of ferrets; a mess of iguanas; a party of jays; a congregation of magpies; a labour of moles; a plump of moorhen; a watch of nightingales; a pride of peacocks; a family of sardines; a pack of weasels.

Some of the more evocative terms I found:
A bouquet of pheasants; escargatoire of snails; flick of rabbits; army of ants; a caravan of camels; murmuration of starlings.

I was thinking along the lines of “a hangout of teenagers.” However, son #T1, who recently turned 18, let me know it would be “a gang of teenagers.”

So what would it be, a bevy of bloggers; a colony of chroniclers?


Drea, Sparkles, and Sweetheart
Here are the girls, all quite healthy and obviously bored.


floots said...

really liked the words and pix
i too have always loved those collective nouns - "charm" and "murmuration" being my favourites
thank you

Nina said...

Floots: Thank you, I'm really glad you like it. It's something I've needed to say and sort out. :)

Annie Wicking and Loman Austen said...

I loved a Murder of crows, wonderful.
A 'lot of trouble' with all those cats to look after plus family. Your hands are full, Nina.

Good luck and best wishes

Nina said...

Annie: 'tis true! I have the boys, especially eldest, talking with friends about adopting some of the lovelies. They have each been a joy, but we clearly have too many. Cats, that is. The boys can stay as long as they like.
;-) Thank you, Annie.

donnac1968 said...

Gorgeous little kitties. So glad to hear they are all on the mend, it must have been a rough old time for them, and you!

Nina said...

Donna: Thank you--they are sweet. I'm glad you're back!

blade said...

Great Read.I loved the assortment of the collective nouns ...and the cats


Nina said...

Blade: Welcome, and thanks! :)

Jennifer James said...

I love cats. My husband doesn't. So, no cats in our house. But I do miss having a few underfoot.

Nina said...

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by. We missed having a kitty. We had not had any cats for several years--and now this! :)

Jacqueline said...

Nina, you have such a way with words.... what a great post!

Nina said...

Jacqueline: Thank you, what a nice thing to say. :)

Middle Child said...

Nina, glad you visited mine... definately going to link you...all those lovelly little animals... all that eye shine and softness and life...oh so good.

Nina said...

Thanks MC, I appreciate it. It's good to find a kindred spirit. :)

Annie Wicking and Loman Austen said...

Best wishes, Nina.
Hope life is well with you and your family.

Best wishes

bex said...

Hello Nina, thankyou for your lovely comments on my blog in the past. Your kitties are lovely but you missed an opportunity for an oooer when you stated that even your spouse would stop to caress a kitty. Just think if you had used the term pussy!!! oooooh matron!
Much love purrs your way from this cat lover. Isn't Donna's puppy gorgeous? Nice to finally catch your blog, I have posted today myself despite having loads of work to do. Love your photos too I will try to put you link on my blog when I remember how to do it!

Janice Thomson said...

I love your post! I have a book with all the plurals in it too and frequently look them up.

PS: I'm back online again. It's so good to be reading everyone again.

Annie Wicking and Loman Austen said...

Hi Nina, I hope all is well with you and your family.

best wishes

rilly super said...

hi nina, unsuited as I am to post a comment under 'creative thoughts' they are lovely, and is that the real term and what utterly obscure etymology has a word that isn't even in wikipedia got?

Katie McKenna said...

Wow! What a collection of charming cats! They are beautiful! We have a similar calico cat here "Blueberry" . I'm glad yours are doing better!

Middle Child said...

Haven't seen any new posts for a okay Nina?

Mandragon said...

I think it should be a boudoir of bloggers. Wish I could write like you.Thanks for coming to see my son.

Annie Wicking and Loman Austen said...

Hi Nina,
We've missed you! Thank you for dropping by... Please give us some more of your wonderful photographs soon

Best wishes to you and your family.


Nina said...

Friends: Thank you for all the good wishes! I cannot believe how long I have been keeping us all in suspense. Surely there is some mistake - it is not really July, is it? ;-)

Well, enough of this silence, then! I will just have to post something here this week, won't I?

donnac1968 said...

What happened to all the kittens, surely you didn't keep them all.

PS Are you going to get another post in before you hit January 18th?

donnac1968 said...

Tick, tick, tick, hee hee!!!!!

Nina said...

Donna, you're a bit evil, aren't you? Well, I have beaten your challenge, so There! :)