Chronicles of Athena – the ensuite

People like to say that Athena is spoiled. This is plainly ridiculous. All 32 week old kittens need a water fountain to drink from. And a fluffy window pillow. And new toys every week.


And a custom made toilet . . .


I’m a big pinterest addict, but I have a welfare scientist’s interest in the cat litter box hidden solutions you see all around the web. While I love the idea of hiding an ugly litter box, a lot of these are too small, poorly ventilated, or difficult to fully clean. In our old flat, Athena’s litter box was in the bathroom, but the humidity wasn’t ideal. In this new flat, it’s been in the hall as the bathroom’s too small . . . Until today . . .


Continue reading “Chronicles of Athena – the ensuite”

Chronicles of Athena – 26 Weeks

For the second time in Athena’s life, her human has come home early from work and curled up on the sofa under a blanket, and refused to play games. She’s improved on her ‘nurse cat’ routine a little bit, but she did curl up around my migraine addled head and purr loudly in an effort to comfort me. Poor little kitten. She tries so hard, but really doesn’t quite get why I don’t want to play games sometimes.

Nurse Cat was a thing my childhood cat used to do. She had a keen sense for sick days, and would immediately come to watch over the patient, and take advantage of the patient’s bed.

Athena will sometimes do things that remind me of other cats I’ve had, and it must be a combination of innate cat behaviours and the common environment I provide. For example, although it may significantly squick some readers out, she likes to sleep under the covers of the bed with her head on the pillow, another behaviour she has in common with the cats who have gone before her.

She’s beginning to ‘mummy’ (or knead/make biscuits) soft fabrics, but not nearly as much as our old cat, Posie used to do. She loves a fake fleece blanket that lives on the sofa and is torn about how to approach it – should she bite and play with it, or love and cuddle it?  Her love of hunting and ‘killing’ inanimate objects is all Athena, and unlike any other cat I’ve met. Athena never gets tired of killing her toys, hunting scraps of paper, and when I changed the bed clothes this morning I found two wrappers she’d brought to me in the middle of the night and deposited lovingly under my pillows. I pray I never get mice again because my bed will become a graveyard (and I’m rethinking the idea of letting her become an outdoor cat if we ever move again).

She’s recovering well from her surgery, though today there’s some fluid build up under the incision. There’s quite a lot, but as there’s no evidence of heat or infection, she doesn’t seem to bother with it, and she’s been playing about loads, I’m not too worried. I’ll keep an eye on her and contact the vet if it doesn’t go down. Kittens are not very good at bed rest – for migraines or abdominal surgery!

Chronicles of Athena – 24 Weeks

Wednesday’s post was in the post-queue unfinished, and a little impromptu socialising meant that it got posted without its final few paragraphs. Oops. Since it seemed to be liked, we’ll leave it there.

The snow is falling outside in intermittent bursts, Athena is curled up on my lap, and our new home is warm and cosy. It’s a good life.

My little kitten is not so little any more, but she still doesn’t like fish based food – she even turned her nose up at a crayfish tail on Thursday. However, cooking pulled pork in the slow cooker was very intriguing. I have a sneaking suspicion she was cuddling into the slow cooker when my back was turned.

She has settled into the new flat amazingly well, and has a few new routines. The top shelf of the new wardrobe, filled with cosy jumpers and t-shirts is one of her favourite places to be and she cries when she thinks I’m excluding her from the warmth. I ran a lavender scented bath which she fell in, and was most unhappy about. It hasn’t stopped her playing in the bath or preferring to drink from the running taps (which she now does by dipping her paw into the water and licking the water off, having snorted running water up her nose one too many times). She also quite likes the big new window that looks out onto a tree where two magpies roost (although the robin who comes to taunt her is less of a favourite).

She has, in the past few weeks, become incredibly vocal. Always a chirper, she shouts at me for every little thing now. When she’s in the hall by herself, when she wants the birds to come, especially when she spots me getting ready to go out. Her every want is expressed in very vocal style. Sometimes she just likes to sing to the ceiling I think.

The hope is that next Friday a little snip or two might settle those raging hormones . . .

From Butter to Feliway

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen! As you know, Athena and I moved house just before the Christmas break. We now live in our very own four walls, and it’s very exciting.

Athena, to her credit, was exceptionally well behaved during and after the house move. She gets a bit anxious every time I move a chair, so it certainly wasn’t an enjoyable experience for her – but as kittens go she did very well.

I contribute a lot of this success to my liberal usage of Feliway, the cat feline facial hormone (fraction 3, if that’s relevant). Feliway is one of those cool little body hacks that I love. You’ve seen cats rub their cheeks over people and objects, usually when they’re happy, or trying to greet someone. (I bumped into a cat outside Edinburgh Uni’s geosciences building on Monday who was so keen to rub her cheeks on my new riding boots she fell over twice. I understand, kitty, my new boots are beautiful). They’re expressing the feline facial pheromone while they’re doing this, specifically the part of the pheromone which says “this is mine” (and in Athena’s case it probably also say “and this is mine, and this is mine, and also that thing over there”).

There are a lot of interesting studies out there about Feliway – it is very good at reducing behavioural signs of stress in cats, particularly non-sexual spraying. But you have to think about the behavioural reasons behind this.

Chronicles of Athena – 20 Weeks

This is our last week in this flat. The last mesmerising spin in the washing machine, the last few flirtations with the bathtub (I’m tempted to have a bath at some point and see what she does, but I also don’t want to be scarred for life).

After discovering late last week that she could jump onto the counters we’ve been having an ongoing debate about whether the counter tops are an appropriate place for kittens to be. On the one hand, Athena thinks it is a very interesting place where pens and odds bits and bobs are kept because we’re in the process of moving house and nothing gets put away any more. On the other hand, I think it is a place where kittens might burn themselves if they happen to stray onto the hob. Also that whole hygiene thing. It’s problematic. Athena, however, has discovered I have a new talent: I can read her mind. As she prepares to jump onto the counter, her bum wiggling, her ears pricked forward, and I tell her ‘no’, she is continually astounded that I know what she’s about to do and complains bitterly.

A week of this and she’s learned she’s not supposed to be on the counter, but also that she has the length of time it takes me to cross the living room to get to her. This is both hilarious and frustrating.

But Athena also saw snow for the first time in her life – which possibly fried her little brain. She wanted badly to try and catch it, but also to hide from it, so she slept well that night. When we move to the new flat, I’m tempted to take her to the garden in her harness. We’ll see.


Athena sees the snow

Chronicles of Athena – 16 Weeks

Our little Athena is reaching the cusp of four months old, and is testing all of her boundaries as only preteens can do. This week she has been showing a distinct predilection for fussiness, eschewing all tuna and cod meals and only deigning to sample her turkey and chicken. Unfortunately, other cats haven’t told her that she’s supposed to disdain the dry food as well, but that she’s still quite happy to eat up.

She’d been very clingy and generally needy towards the start of this week (so much so an internal voice started to wonder if I shouldn’t get her a companion . . . but then I’m really not convinced the space I have is big enough for two, the trials and tribulations of having a pet!), but I wonder how much of this reflects my general excitement as Athena and I will be moving house next month. Time to crack the Feliway out again!

Athena also mightily impressed me in the last few weeks with a few odd little traits. This week I was revisiting one of my favourite topics: the human-animal bond, particularly the mutualism vs social parasite theories. This is one of my favourite lectures and I love giving it, so I cheekily sneaked a modified version into one of our MSc courses.

If, in the terms of mutualism, the human-animal relationship is a beneficial one, we have to wonder how we benefit from feeding, sheltering and loving little the bags of disease and farts that are our pets. Well recently Athena’s been trying to prove why she’s good to keep around.

One of my neighbours has a learning disability and was being taken to the respite care home. I noticed first Athena’s very frazzled attitude, running about from window to window, before I heard the poor man screaming. He was deeply distressed by the move and screaming down in the street below. Athena was fascinated, her fur all on end, her whiskers pricked forward, and generally quite alert, but not distressed. She seemed more intrigued than frightened of what was a very upsetting noise.

This might be explained away by her general good confidence and experience with people, but just a few days prior, my friend Claire was robbed. She came to stay with us for a night and Athena stuck to her like glue, cuddling up to her and purring, not asking to be played with. While she’s very fond of her Aunty Claire, she rarely naps on anyone else’s lap and I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew Claire was upset. Of course, she was mightily perplexed to find Aunty Claire still in the living room the next morning and didn’t quite dare go in by herself. When she did find Aunty Claire on the couch with a duvet it was as if a whole new realm of delight was opened up for her and I think she’d petition for the duvet’s return to the sofa if she thought it would make a difference.

While Poor Aunty Claire probably does not take much solace in my pride for Athena, I’m convinced this is evidence of her ability to adapt her behaviour based on the cues of the people around her. She’s turning into a proper little lady.

Though she still likes to fart in peoples’ faces.

Chronicles of Athena – 15 Weeks

I was very insistent this week that I write my own blog post. After all, who knows what I do better than me? My human put up a bit of a resistance, but I won. Of course.

This week I want to talk to you about my favourite games. I have lots of them. I think its good to split them into categories (I was reading an article about how to blog and it said that humans have short attention spans, they need things broken into lists. And titles that will make them think). So, without further ado . . .

You Won’t Believe These Five Games I Play With My Human

Games To Play Without Your Human

Sometimes your human abandons you. To be honest, I usually spend this time sleeping, but sometimes there will be a seagull outside or a strange human will push something through the door – this is a good opportunity to mention one of the best games you can play without your human: Attack the Carpet.

Beside the door in my home there are lots of stray threads and even a little hole in the carpet. When your human is not around you can attack these threads and pull them up. I like to take them into the kitchen where they slide around the slidey floor and I can roll about on them.

It’s very important you don’t play Attack the Carpet in front of your human as she’ll get very worked up about the whole thing (their egos are fragile and they must not think you have fun without them). My human starts getting very focussed on the litterbox when I play this game, so you do need to be aware of these strange little side effects.


Another great game to play by yourself is Climb the Bathtub. This is an excellent test of your climbing skills, and you lose a bunch of points if you fall off into the bath (you’ll also probably get a bit wet and need to clean yourself for a while, but the challenge is part of the fun). I try to make it from the top of the litter box, around the bottles, over the narrow bit, and onto the windowsill without falling. Sometimes I can even knock every bottle off. It’s good fun, and your human will set it up for you to play the next day too.


Games To Play With Your Human

Of course most things are better when your human is home. I’ve been training mine very intensely and she’s got lots of tricks. For example, there’s a game I call ‘Chasey Twix Wrapper‘ where she will throw one of my toys across the room as many times as you like. The danger with Chasey Twix Wrapper is that the human will not give up, even when the game is clearly over. Some people say you should accept your humans limitations, but I think that’s quite narrow minded. With appropriate training, all humans can be taught to play properly. When they continue to play when the game is stopped, simply sit down and watch them. Sometimes they might try playing the game by themselves, but they usually give up.

Now one of the best games ever is ‘Duvet Monster‘. This is a game that humans play in the bedroom. You have to protect them from the thing that lives under the duvet. Sometimes humans can get quite agitated so you have to remind them its just a game, they get scared very easily when you do your biggest, best pounces on the monsters.


And finally the best game to play with your human, well I think we can all guess, it’s a classic after all – ‘Climby Legs‘. This is still the classic game that will have you bouncing about and your human jumping around with excitement. I like to pounce from a high up place and try and catch my human’s shoulders or her chest, but we’re particularly skilled. I’d always advise you to start small, use your claws on their legs at first, but really, the possibilities are endless.



It’s really time to play I think . . .

Chronicles of Athena – 14 Weeks

Not to brag, but I’m writing this post sprawled out of the sofa, with a nice coffee, some freshly baked pumpkin spice cookies, a cosy blanket and a purring kitten, with the tv on and the last of the day’s sun shining in the window. It feels all very domesticated and wonderful.

But you didn’t come here to hear about my amazing ability to take recipes from the internet and cook them, even with a kitten hanging onto my apron strings (literally). You come to hear about Athena’s development.

Well this week we had our second round of vaccinations and our microchipping, neither of which we were too pleased about, but both of which mean I can take her out with her harness like we’ve been practicing to do. I’m not sure what she’ll make of it. Most challenges in Athena’s life can be overcome with a cuddle and a game with Mr Ducky, which is how I’ve been conditioning her to tolerate the harness. But she’s also a stubborn lady and if she takes it in her head to freak out about the outside world, she won’t calm down until she’s been able to get a nice quiet cuddle somewhere safe. We shall see. I was thinking at one point that if she responds well to the harness training I might volunteer us for working in a Pets As Therapy capacity, but I’m not sure if she’d like it to be honest. She does find meeting new people to be intimidating, although she’ll happily cuddle them after getting to know them. Again, we shall see.

Athena is also, as Freud might say, orally fixated. She loves to chew, taste and just occasionally nibble bits and pieces here and there. I’ve heard professional trainers say you should never allow a young animal to use its teeth with humans at all, because they should never view it as acceptable. I personally believe that cats and dogs are clever enough to learn what gentle play is. Mouth-orientated play is an important behaviour for both species, and I’ve regularly been amazed at how great some animals are at regulating their play with different kinds of people. My childhood dog, for example, was nothing but gentle with me, but much more rough and tumble with my dad. As I got older, he changed his playstyle with me, while still remaining gentle with my younger sister. Our dogs and cats, I’m sure, know what ‘appropriate’ play is.

Athena is testing me though. She loves to bite things. Be it Mr Ducky, Mr Imp, Mr Cat or Ms Cow (Ms Cow is a particular favourite of hers as she can fasten her teeth around Ms Cow’s neck and gut the holstein with her back paws. It is truly disturbing and makes me think that in a few years time when we live somewhere she might be allowed to go outside she’ll be fitted with a truly massive bell). She likes to bite people too, and so I’ve become very strict with her lately and refused to engage whenever she uses her teeth on me.

Thankfully this is working. Much to my amusement, when Aunty Claire and Aunty Suzanne visited on Tuesday night for an impromptu gin session, Athena was quite cautious about how she played with their fingers, even sometimes checking with me in a way that looked like she was expecting a telling off for being too rough.

Asides from charming delivery men who come to the door, Athena has spent most of this week causing trouble and climbing onto things she shouldn’t. Essentially, all is as it should be.

Chronicles of Athena – Thirteen Weeks

Athena likes to play on my laptop, and my phone, resetting things and sending strange, garbled messages to all and sundry. The internet really is full of cats, it seems. So if you are a cat and you want to be informed of new FluffySciences posts, you’re in luck, because we now have a facebook page here!

As a student of kitten development in the last couple of weeks, I have a handy quiz to help you decide if you are in fact a cat on the internet.


Are fridges…

A) Dangerous, cold boxes holding stuff that could poison kittens or suffocate them?

B) Fantastic forbidden boxes of mystery to climb into at every opportunity?


Is the toilet?

A) A dangerous, slipper bowl of water that might also sometimes have bleach in it?

B) Curious, forbidden bowl of water that you one day intend to thoroughly investigate?


Is bedtime?

A) One of the best times of the day where we lie quietly underneath the covers, maybe watching a YouTube video, staying nice and calm?

B) Extra playtime to bite at the creatures that live underneath the duvet (under-duvet explorations have only found feet so far but hope springs eternal)?


Is morning times?

A) A time when we have begun to rely on kitten to wake us up?

B) An excellent time to lull humans back to sleep with purrs and cuddles until she is late for work?


Is fish?

A) Really quite yummy and one of the best foods?

B) An abomination unto Bastet and we’d rather eat dry food than cod or tuna flavoured kitten food.


Are laptops?

A) Enjoyable devices to allow us to work, blog and internet?

B) Somewhat uncomfortable beds we will lie on regardless?


Are phones?

A) Wonderful little mini laptops that mean we can check our emails before getting out bed?

B) Chew toys?


Is Brussells pate?

A) Human food, get the hell away from my toast.

B) Wonderful ambrosia of the gods that must be tasted at all cost?


If you answered mostly or all Bs, you may in fact be a cat. Get off your owners laptop. You’re not helping.