On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
First Anniversary of the Balloon Juice Rescue of Orville and Wilbur
by Jenny Howard
I’ve lived with cats my entire life. After my “last” two were gone, I wanted to try the non-pet life. Like Molly Ivins: don’t even keep a plant so you can just walk out the door and not worry about when you’ll be back. That lasted a few months before I accepted that I was kidding myself. I assumed that the cat(s) would find me.
Last August a pet bleg was posted on Balloon-Juice for a couple of senior boys, Orville and Wilbur. I read it and hoped they would find a good home. But when it was still there the next day I started thinking, “Maybe they found you.” Contact was made, arrangements arranged, and two days later I was on the road with my daughter-in-law (best dil ever!) to pick up the boys in St. Louis. I owe huge thanks to Robin, their original mom and serial rescuer.
The boys were cautious and took their time accepting me as their person though they started their training right away. All surfaces are theirs, all doors should be open, the usual cat rules. No, the winter bedding will not be packed away but will be placed in good napping areas. No, we do not want the door to the catio closed but, if you must, at least open on demand.
Orville is a sweetie. He has a cute meow, a curly tail, and minimal dignity. He likes to nibble your hand while you’re petting and scratching him. He’s very food driven so clean counters are a must! When I first started working from home back in March, he set up camp next to me in the kitchen on a plastic tub with a comfy pad on it that catches the morning sun. I assumed the sun was the attraction. I eventually moved my “office” to the dining room and Orville moved with me and left the sun behind. Because he’s a sweetie.
Note the tail curl!
Wilbur is a little more dignified but no less loving. He accepts that though I don’t always do what he wants, I mean well. He usually just mers (mmrs? murrs?) but when he wants to he can sing opera with the best of them. He was first to discover the upstairs with the sun room and the balcony that is perfect for reigning from above.
I’ve lurked at Balloon-Juice for 15-ish years and never commented. Even though you didn’t know I was there, I found refuge in the community. And then you gave me cats! From Wisconsin to Kentucky to Kansas, these guys have led a pretty good life and I’m glad you gave me the privilege of providing them their third and final home. I can’t begin to imagine what the last six months would have been like without you and the boys. I figure a few cat pics is the least I can offer as a thank you for all you’ve given me. Thanks Balloon-Juice!
PS: Shout out to Cat Association of Topeka! CAT is a no kill shelter that can always use some help. Check out their website topekacat.org.
PPS: Have just discovered that Wilbur is losing his sight due to age-related retinal atrophy. Other than that, he’s in fabulous condition for a cat of any age but especially considering he’s 15+! He still gives Orville his weekly beating (down from daily thanks to FeliWay), races up and down the stairs yelling all the way, and disdains the conveniently placed pet steps for accessing high locations. Really looking forward to figuring out how to get Ocu-GLO into a non-food-motivated, alpha kitty.
What a sweet story, thank you!
Such sweet boys!
Balloon Juice rescues are the best. Love Wilbur on the laptop. I sympathize with the eyedrop dilemma – my two make flea drops a nightmare – I have to sneak up while they’re asleep.
What a heartwarming story, and thank you for giving them such a good home. Now it’s time to find a hankie. (allergy season you know)
How wonderful that you found each other!
Love this story and they are the handsomest of kittehs!
Bonus beautiful black kitteh.
If you can pill him, follow up with a Favorite Thing. If gel-caps, ask vet if you can squeeze the contents into a bit of butter or coconut oil, then swipe that on a front paw. They MUST clean it, and the fat will help absorption of vitamins.
The Moar You Know
I got married ten years ago; my wife loves cats but we cannot have them as she gets scary bad asthma from them. So we’re dog people now.
She asked what the worst part about owning a cat was and that is a no-brainer. Giving them any sort of medication, especially pills. Jesus. She has no idea. Our dog comes up dutifully at dinnertime and sits for his pills. Worst thing he’ll do is fake swallow them and then you just do it again. So easy. If I ever got another cat I’d probably pay for daily vet visits just to have them give the kitty pills. Between being worried about possibly hurting the cat, and the dead certainty that you’re gonna lose some bodily fluids, it’s just horrible all the way around.
That being said, I miss cats. They take up a lot less of the bed than our golden does. Of course, he is the most catlike dog I have ever met. I could write a book about this guy and probably will one day; he is something else.
Glad to see these two have a great home. You know you’re cat property when they sit on your laptop.
Well, Orville and Wilbur are beautiful kittehs, and their story is a lovely one. Jenny, I’m glad you’ve emerged from lurkdom, and hope you’ll comment as often as your boys will allow!
Oh, thank you for giving us this One Year Anniversary follow-up! It sounds like they’ve settled in just perfectly – as in: Yes, they now rule the roost and have gotten you properly accustomed to their reign.
So good to see Senior Kitties can flourish after a late-life move.
I can offer two suggestions regarding the pills: One, Greenies pill pockets may work, as they did with my cats. Two, find out if OCU-Glo can be prepared in liquid form, either by the vet’s office or a nearby compounding pharmacy. I’ve found that liquid meds are a lot easier to give, just use a syringe/eyedropper to squirt the stuff into their mouths.
Bleg turns two moggies into lotto winners! My two office assistants vie for the coveted butts on a keyboard seat all day long. Chet, the slightly used weinie dog can only dream of getting on the desk and so is asleep in what we call his “desk” but is really a comfy bed adjacent to the at home office and in reach for scritches.
Congrats on your 1 year catnaversary.
Unfortunately, Ocu-GLO is a powder. You can mix it in their food but Wilbur can sense a single grain of something different from a room away. I’ve made it up to half a gel cap of the OCU on the dry food and will just keep adding a little more in agonizingly tiny increments.
He’s worth it.
Thanks for the update! Lovely kitties–good on you for taking them in.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@CaseyL: And cats have that convenient gap in back of their teeth, just perfect for inserting the syringe into! Prying open a cat’s mouth to give liquid doesn’t work nearly as well.
@Jenny Howard: You’re such a good mom. I hope he gets accustomed.
This is such a heartwarming story. Thank you!
@A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan): If you can get the syringe/eyedropper into that gap! My cats are pretty good at clamping their lips shut. No, even with a liquid med I still have to pry their jaws open – it’s just quicker and easier than a pill.
Sounds as if you did the Wright thing.
@Jenny Howard: Really nice pictures. Photos of happy cats in territory that suits them is soothing today. Thanks.
Oh, I suppose putting the powder in empty gel caps (sold at health food stores and pharmacies) wouldn’t work because he won’t accept a gel cap? Once a vet gave me a ‘pill popper’ stick (push end) that worked like a charm on a cat who would fight pills. Fwiw
Wonderful story, wonderful cats. You are a great writer — stop lurking!
Thanks so much for the great story. I hope you keep commenting and let us know how the boys are doing.
Thank you for sharing the boys’ story and the photos. What handsome lads they are!!
Mixing the Ocu-Glo powder into a delicious, stinky treat like Gerber Ham baby food (the puree in the glass jar) or Delectables Tuna and Chicken might work. My picky, picky girl has to have a small daily dose of powdered laxative, and Gerber Ham babyfood tricks her into thinking it is just a fabulous treat. (Warning: the ham version has a gag worthy aroma -smells like baby poo- so steel yourself before opening the jar, if it’s been a while since you’ve been around diaper age little ones!)
I second your thoughts about this place being a sanity space. You and your lovely kitties brightened a dark sort of day for me!
Keep us posted on Wilbur’s vision. Sending him good vibes and lots of scritches.
@zhena gogolia: That’s what I thought, too!
J R in WV
Wonderful heart warming story, thanks for passing it along.
Nice photos, also too!
KM in NS
Pretty kitties! Good for you; providing a good home to them. ?
I was going to say “awwww” but got beaten to it, so I’ll just note that the Wilbur side view is statue-worthy. Thanks for the update!!
Oh, Jenny! THANK YOU for being the PERFECT HOME for my boys—OUR boys!—my Pre-Kids! True brothers from the same litter! I am so grateful to you for opening your home! For driving 4 hours to meet me halfway and collect them! For loving and caring for them and really appreciating who they are! You’re one in a million!!!
Thank you – after a horrendous day, this post was lovely! As a longtime lurker, I also am glad that you came out of the shadows with such a happy post!
@Robin: thank YOU for giving the boys good homes not once, not twice, but THREE times. You definitely have a star in kitty heaven ?
Just One More Canuck
i volunteer at a no-kill cat shelter and whenever a cat (or cats) finds a loving, permanent home — no matter where it is — it makes me feel good. So, thank you for taking Wilbur and Orville into your home.
If you don’t have experience giving medication to cats (if you do, then just ignore) —
It looks like Ocu-Glo comes in soft chews (for mature cats). With luck, Wilbur will consider them treats and your job will be simple. But cats evolved to test our patience and flexibility, so he may not think of the soft chews as treats. If not, you can try either Pill Pockets (salmon or chicken flavor) or Tamlyn Pill Masker, which is a paste that you can wrap around pills and I would think around Ocu-Glo chews, even if you have to break them up. I use Pill Masker for tablets. Even though my cat doesn’t like the bacon flavor (yuck!) the paste makes it easier for her to swallow the pill. And the bacon flavor has to taste better than the medication.
You should also be able to mix the chews in with food, but make sure it is a small amount of food so Wilbur will finish it. Once its gone, you can give him the rest of his food.
How glorious that you three found each other. And that you shared the beautiful story with us.
What a delight! Love the laptop photo. Thanks for loving them, they are beautiful.