Bird Watching Buddy

We have a new kitty and she likes to watch birds. She’s such an avid bird watcher that it tires her out!

We’ve had the new kitty, Lena, since June. We adopted her a few months after our beautiful, beloved Nuri died. He was 15 years-old, diagnosed with heart failure 2 years before his death, but he lived beyond all expectations of his prognosis, living his happy life until the end.

Our son chose Nuri in 2006 from a local shelter the same year our daughter, Shoshana, died. Truthfully, I didn’t care at all about getting a new pet at that time (we had two dogs and our older cat had died), but our son was 11, bereaved, and adopting a new life was a small and positive thing we did to ease some of the pain. Nuri came into our lives and though there was nothing that could fill the abyss of grief, he was a light in a dark time. Nuri was the smartest cat, maybe the smartest pet, we’ve ever had. Lovely, soft and affectionate, he was also quite funny. He got along well with our dogs, made us laugh, and cuddled like a champ.

During the course of Nuri’s life we adopted another cat, a tiny foundling, our sweet Astrud. Named after the jazz singer Astrud Gilberto for her dulcet meows and chirrups, she’s now 8 years-old and has missed for Nuri since his death. Mournful mews replaced musical meows.

I wasn’t sure I wanted another cat, but a nice neighbor was fostering a mama and 4 kittens, and we visited them and, well, you know the ending to that story. As expected, the adjustment between mature cat and rambunctious kitten has had its challenges. Astrud will play with Lena, but the play is limited and only on her own terms. After all, she’s now alpha and she’s the boss cat. There are some growls and hisses on one side and lots of boundary pushing on the other, but they’re figuring out their relationship and generally getting along. Sort of.

Our cats have always been indoor/outdoor cats, with the emphasis on indoor. Nuri liked to tour his territory, but rarely strayed beyond, and Astrud only goes in the back garden, usually in the afternoons, snoozing under select, favorite shrubs. Neither were/are avid hunters, though Nuri was a ratter. Good Nuri! We’d already decided that if we adopted another cat, he/she would be indoors-only; our garden attracts myriad wildlife and we don’t want a feline invasive species messing with the ecosystem. As Lena has demonstrated lightening speed, tremendous jumping ability, and an interest in stalking and hunting, she will definitely reside indoors. Birds, lizards, insects, and toads will be safe from her skulking through the garden, searching for prey.

Though she is a darling, she’s probably a killer kitty.

Lena is named after another jazz singer, the fabulous Lena Horne. Like the singer, our Lena is beautiful, smart and charming, though I don’t know if she sings as well; she does have a quirky, squeaky-sweet voice. Lena is a charismatic little cat and we’re quite taken with her. She’s been a great addition to our household, though Astrud probably has a different opinion.

Like our dog, Asher, who died 3 years ago, we still miss Nuri, and mourn his loss. Accepting the relatively short duration that pets spend with us and grieving when that ends is the price we pay when we love animals and welcome them into our lives.

17 thoughts on “Bird Watching Buddy

  1. Your top picture leaves me wondering how Lena manages to hold her binoculars to do the birdwatching she’s fond of. Actually (and less flippantly), I wonder if anyone has ever trained an animal to look through a telescope or binoculars and make sense of the image seen there.

    My thought upon seeing your alliterative “Mournful mews replaced musical meows” is that no one had ever said or written it before you did. The only hit in a Google search for that string of words is your post.

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    • I was looking for another word besides ‘meow’ and came up with mewling, but also thought of mews. I liked the flow of the sentence.

      Lena is a talented kitten. 🙂

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    • We’ve always had both dogs and cats. We’re down dogs at the moment, haven’t quite been able to find the right one since Asher, but we’re still looking. The cats are very entertaining though, especially the little scamp, Lena!

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  2. Tina I am very sorry for the death of your very special cat Nuri a few months ago, for the moment you adopted her -a light in pain- and for how intelligent, affectionate, and funny she was: one more person in the family. Welcome to little Lena !! Your bird watcher companion! Astrid is now accompanied by her and her meows will once again be sweet and musical, instead of sad for being alone after Nuri’s death. Astrid and Lena will end up getting along very well and being inseparable when Lena grows up a bit and her puppy “madness” calms down. My cats (Musi, Pepe, Mini, Berto, Panchito) have always been indoors and when we went to the country house, they went out to the garden only with us, although the garden door is always open all day. I was born with a dog in my house and I am the youngest of four siblings. Until I was old enough to go to school and my brothers were in school, my playmate was my dog: we played dolls and he would take the dresses off my dolls and tuck them under my chest. The game was for me to say “Estein, where is my Lesli’s dress?” And he made a face like “I don’t know anything”. “You already took it from me, give it back.” And he stuck like limpet to the carpet. Then the game began of putting my hand under his chest, taking his dress, caressing him, turning on his back, laughing … he was my brother with hair. As my mother said and says “I have children and children of hair”: dogs and cats have always been one of the family in my house. And Tina with the love that you talk about your cats and your dogs, I think the same thing happens to you. Love, affection and how they take care of you when you are sick or sad, is priceless: and they give it to you because you are their master and they love you. They are wonderful. Tina apologizes that she has elaborated on me so much, but I really miss having a dog or a cat, but for health reasons my mother and I cannot take care of it and have it, and the house is empty. Congratulations Tina for Lena: I am sure that she will bring a lot of love and happiness to your life to that of Bee Daddy. Take care of both of you a lot. Make your back improve. Strong hugs. Happy week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

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    • Thanks, Margarita. Pets certainly enrich our lives and I can’t imagine my home without some–or many! I would like very much to adopt a dog again, but it’ll need to be the right dog for us and we haven’t found him/her yet. You take care of yourself too!

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  3. Thank you for sharing the story of your cats (it was International Cat Day on 8 August, the perfect time to remember cats we love and cats we have lost.) Lena is beautiful, and Nuri looks to have been a lovely, cheeky chap.

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    • I didn’t know there was an International Cat Day! I’m betting most cats think everyday is International Cat Day. Nuri was truly lovely and absolutely cheeky; I think Lena is channeling him. 🙂

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  4. What a lovely introduction to all of your kitties. I’d love to have another, but it just isn’t practical at this point. Although Dixie Rose was quite a bird watcher, I suspect she would have translated her chatter and lip-licking into real hunting if she’d ever been allowed outside. Nothing pleased her more than tracking and dispatching the occasional palmetto bug that made it inside — and nothing pleased me more than her willingness to do so!

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    • Thanks, Linda. We enjoy them and their antics and affections.

      Funny that you mention Dixie Rose’s hunting abilities, especially with palmettos. The confirmation that Lena can’t go outdoors because of her hunting prowess came when I was sitting in a chair in the living room and one of those palmetto ickies flew directly at me. It was, btw, the first one I’ve seen all year and I would have been happy to not see one at all. Anyhow, the bug landed on a framed piece a bit above my head, I scream and flew out of the chair (I HATE those bugs!) and in a flash, Lena was on top of the back of the chair, with a quick leap to the top of the frame where the bug had landed (about 3 feet up) and she knocked the bug off to the ground. This was in the first couple of weeks after we brought her home, so she was still pretty tiny. I figure if she can do that, what havoc will she wreak on my birds, lizards, etc. So, indoors she is.

      We have a little harness that we’re trying out on her. She’s not wild about it, but if we can get her used to it and add a lightweight leash, we’ll take her out for kitty walks, but very supervised ones. I think that’s a good compromise and she’ll still get some outside time.

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