Category Archives: my kittens

Sir William Purrington III and Comma, my kittens


It’s November, but after the last two years of half-hearted NaNoWriMo attempts, I learned my lesson and didn’t even sign up this year. On the bright side, I’m 80k words into my current work in progress. (Except that many of those words will need to be changed in the second draft…) I haven’t touched it since mid-summer, but it’s been calling to me louder and louder lately.

This week I got a new laptop and installed Scrivener, so now I really have no excuse not to be writing. However, computers are a great tool for procrastination… instead of writing, here’s how I spent my first night with my new toy:

Doesn't Sir William look thrilled?

Doesn’t Sir William look thrilled?

Then I thought Sir William might enjoy modelling more if he had a sweet new outfit to show off, so I got him ready for the holidays:

Xmas kitty photobooth


You can see that Comma got into the fun, batting the jingle bell dangling from Sir William’s tiny little antlers.

… it’s only mid-November, guys. This is going to get way worse before it gets better. Oh well, as long as I find some time to squeeze in a bit of writing in between all the photo sessions…

It’s 2012!

Someone gently reminded me that I hadn’t updated since November (thanks, HEATHER) and what better time to update than the first week of a shiny new year, right?

A brilliant friend of mine eschews New Year’s resolutions in favour of retroactive resolutions, which is a lovely tradition. My retroactive resolutions for 2011 are:

  • Get married & have a great honeymoon
  • Start a regular exercise regime instead of cutting back on chocolate
  • Read a ton of books
  • Have my own Christmas tree for the very first time and keep the kittens from destroying it or themselves

Success! I rock.

You may notice that “finish my next book” or even “complete NaNoWriMo” did not make the retroactive resolutions list. Alas, that is no mistake. However, I dug out an unfinished manuscript from my NaNoWriMo 2010 attempt and discovered that parts of it were definitely salvageable, so I’m focusing on that for now.

In the meantime, here. Have a kitten.

"Me? I'M not upside down. YOU'RE upside down!"

Cat ownership tips for dog people

As a currently dogless dog person who happens to have two cats (still following?), I feel I’m in a good position to offer some advice to fellow dog people who, for whatever reason (don’t worry, I won’t judge… you poor bastards), find themselves adopting or wanting to adopt a cat.

Cats are furry four-legged companions, but their resemblance to dogs often ends there. So here’s what you should be prepared for when you bring kitty home…

How to Love Your Cat Without Sustaining Personal Injury

Dogs want to please you, but cats want to be pleased by you. Hint: cats find inconveniencing you to be incredibly pleasurable. For example, Sir William wants attention only when I’m otherwise occupied. As I started this post, he started meowing and looking intently at the top of the entertainment unit, threatening to jump up there (and possibly knock over the TV). This was my cue to get up and pay some attention to him (“Sir William! Don’t you dare jump up there, don’t you even think about it!”). Satisfied, he sauntered off.

Another tip: beware a cat who innocently exposes his tummy to you. You might think, “Aw, he wants tummy rubs, just like a puppy!” But there are two options: either he wants tummy rubs, or he wants to attack your hand. You won’t know which it is until your hand reaches his belly, and by then it could be too late. You’ve got a 50/50 chance in our house: one enjoys tummy rubs; one enjoys hand-ambushes (complete with fangs and claws).

Can you tell which of these kitties wants tummy rubs and which wants to sink his teeth into your soft, fleshy hand?

Sir William wants tummy rubs... OR DOES HE?

Is Comma sleeping... or PSYCHING YOU OUT?

Oh, and remember: both dogs and cats have teeth and claws, but cats are far more willing to use them on you. And not by accident.


Some cats are just like dogs and will wolf down their food right away, but many cats will nibble throughout the day instead. As a former dog owner, it was fascinating to give the cats their kibble and watch them eat for a while, then saunter off while there was still kibble left. Trust me, that did NOT happen with my yellow lab. His policy was “eat first, determine whether it was edible later.”

On the other hand, if you drop food on the floor, a cat will sniff it, then give it a little taste, then spit it out, then repeat until they decide whether they like it or not. So unlike a dog, a cat makes a poor vacuum cleaner replacement.

Exercise is for Suckers

Dogs need to run around outside or they will drive you absolutely nuts. Cats can go either way–some (especially as kittens) need exercise and will love chasing a laser pointer or a bit of string. Others are lazy and think exercise is for suckers. Our cats enjoy a rousing game of catch-the-laser-dot or mouse-on-a-string, and they also enjoy tearing through the house around midnight or one a.m. (I think they give themselves bonus points for keeping us up at night). At least we don’t have to go out in the cold or rain just so they can pee. Advantage: cats.

Toys, Toys, Toys

Don’t waste your money. Cats like boxes, paper (seriously, shred a few sheets of paper and watch them go nuts), bags, empty toilet paper rolls, pens (or anything that they can roll, like chapstick and USB sticks), laser pointers, string/ribbon*, tinfoil balls*, and attacking anything that moves under a blanket. (Confession: I buy my cats toys all the time. Especially little stuffed mice with catnip in them, and little balls they can chase.) *Note: do not leave your cats alone all day with string, ribbon, or tinfoil balls–they may eat them, and that could means a pricey vet bill.

Sometimes, my kittens even play fetch. It’s all on their terms, though: they bring the toy, drop it at my feet, and stare at me until I throw it. They only bring it back until they lose interest (usually two to seven times).

Sir William waiting to fetch the tinfoil ball.

Training Your Feline


No, really. You can train a dog because they want to please you. Good luck with cats. The best you can hope for is that you’ll be able to get them to behave when you’re around. They’ll still wreck your shit the moment you leave.

We prevent our cats from jumping up on the counters by yelling, “NO!” but I’ve heard some people find spray bottles (with plain water) to be effective. The trick is to catch the cat in the act so that they associate their asshole behaviour with the punishment. Anyway, just keep in mind that your cat’s desire to do something is often stronger than your patience to prevent him from doing it. Pick your battles.

Protecting Your Stuff

Dogs may be able to get up on couches and beds, but cats can go ANYWHERE. Have you seen how high some of them can jump? It’s insane. You will quickly learn to cat-proof your house as if you were baby-proofing for a toddler Spiderman. They can climb anywhere and squeeze into the smallest spaces (behind the refrigerator, for example). Anything light enough to be pushed over will be pushed over. Anything that dangles will be batted at and possibly severed. Anything on a ledge or shelf will end up pushed off said surface.

Like puppies, they also tend to chew stuff. Bitter apple spray may deter wire-chewing, but unless you want to coat your entire wardrobe in the stuff, just keep your clothes out of reach. (Some favourite chew toys: tank top straps, headphones, drawstrings.)

 Moody Little Buggers

What can I say… cats can be assholes. With time, you’ll learn to recognize what kind of mood your cat is in, and that will probably save you from a few bites and scratches. But still: expect cats to be unpredictable. They can go from purring as you stroke them to biting your hand.

If your cat seems pretty focused on you and his eyes are dilated, he’s probably all amped up and ready to Attack The Shit Out Of Anything That Moves. Exhibit A:

Comma demonstrates Crazy Kitten Eyes. Beware!

Some cats also hold grudges. I’ve heard of cats who display their displeasure with their owners by ignoring them or pooping in their shoes or on their bed. What jerks.

Sweet Dreams

Your cat will be at his most adorable when he’s exhausted from terrorizing you and passes out. Take pictures.

Don’t bother buying an expensive cat bed. Your cat will curl up in your laundry hamper amidst your dirty clothes instead, just to spite you.

Oh, and cats are nocturnal. So expect to be woken up at three a.m. by your cat doing one or more of the following: jumping on you, sitting on your chest, sitting on your head and chewing your hair, scratching you “by mistake” as he tears across the bed in pursuit of your other cat or one of his toys (or because he’s possessed), scratching your legs on purpose because they moved while he was stalking them, or meowing loudly about something.

Really, considering how long they’ve been domesticated, why aren’t there any diurnal cats? Get on that, cat breeders!

The Holy Grail: Dog-Like Cats

If you’re lucky, you’ll get a dog-like cat that runs to greet you when you come home, like tummy rubs and fetch, and doesn’t hold grudges. The best way to do this is to adopt an older cat so you can get a better sense of his personality (because it’s hard to really get a sense of a kitten’s personality beyond “hyper,” “insane,” and “sickeningly cute”). Or choose by breed–some breeds are more easy-going than others (I don’t know which… ask a cat person).

Any other dog people out there with cat-ownership tips to share? TELL ME. Or I will sic my cats on you at three a.m.

Tell me about your bookmarks

Today the kittens watched me take a bath for the first time (er, it was their first time watching, not the first time I ever took a bath). They were fascinated (and a little apprehensive) about all the water, but they stayed as close as possible. By the time I was ready to get out, Sir William had progressed from observing the water at a distance to dipping a paw in the tub and splashing around. He’s also been fascinated by the toilet lately, so I should probably keep an eye on him.

Anyway, if you read the title of this post, it’s obviously not about kittens and baths. No, I’m posting because I need to know–readers, what is your relationship with bookmarks?

As an author and an avid reader, I’ve accumulated more than my fair share of bookmarks over the years. And yet, if you asked me to produce one for you right this moment, I don’t know if I could. Nor can I remember the last time I used one. I’m not anti-bookmark or anything–I think they’re wonderful book-accessories, and I’ve seen (and owned) some great ones. I just never use them, and I never seem to be able to find a good place to store them, and therefore they disappear. I’ve probably left a trail of hidden bookmark burial grounds in every place I’ve ever lived.

So what do I do to pick up where I left off? Either I use whatever’s closest at hand–usually a receipt or an empty envelope–or I just remember, somehow. It probably helps that I go through books quickly, so it’s not that difficult to flip through and reach the part that looks familiar. Sometimes, if the book has a dust jacket, I’ll use one of the flaps to mark my place (front cover flap at the beginning; back cover flap as I reach the end). However, I refuse to dog-ear pages. I’m more comfortable writing on a book (in PEN, even!) than bending the corner of a page.

So. Is this common, or do you have a trusty bookmark (or several trusty bookmarks) that are always close at hand? Tell me about your bookmarks. I don’t think I’ll ever use bookmarks regularly, but I’ll always admire them as little bookish treats.

Wedding update

I got engaged on New Year’s Eve last year, and was married in August. We had a book-themed wedding, with books as centrepieces, origami flowers made from book pages, and cupcakes topped with fondant books. You can check out all the details on Flickr.

Here’s my favourite detail: a custom cake topper we commissioned from the talented Sophia’s Workshop. As you can see, it includes our kittens, Sir William Purrington III (on his back, asking for tummy rubs as always) and Comma (don’t be fooled by his calm expression: he’s totally about to bite our feet if we move!).

Behold the author chair

When I’m not hauling my netbook on the subway to take advantage of my longish commute, I’m happily typing away at home, in what I call The Author Chair. Julian hates when I call it that, because it was his chair before we moved in together. And he’s not an author (unless you count writing code). But how can I write anywhere else? Desks just don’t do it for me. All I need is my Poang to lean back in, my laptop pillow to keep my netbook from burning my legs, and my footrest. (No, I do not work for Ikea.)

Oh yeah, and a kitten. There’s often one of those. The picture above features Sir William Purrington III, but I sometimes catch both of them on it, like so:

My fellow kidlit author Hélène Boudreau likes to write while working out on a treadmill, which is much more impressive than my comfy Poang.

Where do you do most of your writing? (Or reading. The Author Chair is also quite suitable for reading.)

Kittens in cones

We took Comma and Sir William Purrington to the vet to get neutered yesterday. They love the carriers; as soon as I bring them out, they jump in. (To play, not because they know we’re taking them somewhere.)

Case in point: Bag O’ Comma.

Bag o' CommaWhen we picked them up post-surgery, they were both wearing cones. Cats use their whiskers for navigation, so as soon as we got them home, they proceeded to walk right into stuff: chair legs, walls, our legs. Add to that the fact that they were walking bow-legged, like little cowboys, and it looked like we’d gotten our kittens drunk.

Then they had to figure out how to eat and drink with the cones on. That was a messy lesson.

They’re not supposed to be running around, jumping, or play fighting, but of course they did all three of those things within minutes of arriving home. YOU try explaining “bed rest” to kittens!

They love it when we scratch them inside the cones, though. Pure bliss:

More pictures of the adorably-coned kittens on my Flickr!

Bonus kitten pictures

Ok, so I promised to post weekly and then let over three weeks go by. In my defense, fiction writers are very good liars. Technically it counts as “honing the craft.”

But writers are not immune to guilt. So please allow me to bribe you with some bonus kitten pictures. I even lolcat’d them for you, because that’s how much I care. They’re all of Sir William–what can I say, he’s just more photogenic than Comma. (Don’t tell Comma.)

In other news, both kittens are getting neutered tomorrow. I don’t know if they’ll be getting Cones of Shame, but if they do, you can bet there’ll be pictures. Don’t worry–I’ll be giving them all the catnip they can handle until they’re back to their old selves!

Happy holidays

So, how did everyone’s holidays go? Toronto escaped the snowstorms that incapacitated the east coast–even the light snow forecast for Christmas Day never showed up. I spent a quiet Christmas at home with Julian and the kittens. They’re settling in quite nicely, and I have high hopes that they will learn to stop stepping on our heads when we’re trying to sleep.

Here they are as reindeer, bugging Santa-Julian:

In book news, Fractured received a wonderful review from Pamela at At Home Between the Pages, and I was also interviewed by the lovely Claudia Osmond on her blog.

My big Christmas present this year was an ereader: the Kobo, to be exact. The first ebook I read on it was Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.


  • I found the eInk reading experience to be just as satisfying and immersive as reading on paper–no eyestrain
  • Kobo is lighter than a book, and more compact than Kindle or iPad
  • Don’t have to hold Kobo open–much easier to read one-handed
  • Can carry around thousands of books with you: great for travel
  • Can download books without going to a bookstore (I looove bookstores, but I also love getting to read a book the minute I decide to buy it, rather than having to go pick it up or wait for it be delivered)
  • Can add multiple bookmarks
  • Can sync between computer, ereader, and iPhone so that I can pick up where I left off even if I leave my ereader at home
  • More space on my bookshelves! So much easier if I ever move again!

Cons (of ereaders in general and the Kobo in particular):

  • eInk is black-and-white, so covers/illustrations look horrible
  • Can freeze or run out of battery power, cutting off access to your entire library at once
  • No touch screen: can be annoying to have to use buttons to scroll through a long menu rather than just tapping the option you want (the iPhone has spoiled me!)
  • Somewhat slow page refresh can break the reading flow sometimes, especially when starting a new chapter
  • No lending capability yet, nor can I re-sell my “used” ebooks
  • Prices still seem high (about the price of a paperback), considering that I can’t re-sell, lend, or give away an ebook once I’ve bought it

Do you have an ereader? If so, which one? What do you love about it, and what do you wish was different?

Meet the kittens!

I am a dog person. I swear! But dogs require more time and attention than I can spare right now: they need to be housebroken, trained, taken out to pee at least twice a day, and exercised at least an hour a day. Otherwise, you end up with a frustrated, unhappy pup on your hands.

I finally had to bite the bullet and admit it: if I wanted pets, my lifestyle was much more suited to cats. So I perused the “kittens available for adoption” section of the Toronto Cat Rescue website, and lo and behold: there was a litter of 3-month-old kittens who the foster person described as “cuddle machines.” My partner Julian, a crazy cat lady in his own right, agreed that we should adopt two brothers (so they’d have company when we were off at work).

Yesterday my cat-loving coworker (the one who introduced me to the Toronto Cat Rescue website in the first place) took me to go pick up the kittens. There were six in the litter, and as soon as we entered the room, they all ran to us and started purring and cuddling. I took home a black one with a tiny white patch on his chest (Comma) and a black and white one (Sir William Purrington III–don’t blame me, Julian named that one!).

They’re settling in nicely. They quickly converted Julian’s winter accessory shelves into beds:
Comma & Sir William Purrington III

It’s pretty hard to get clear shots of them, as they don’t stay still very long, but here are a few more pictures.

Comma chilling on a cushion:

Sir William Purrington III takes his turn on the cushion:

Many more pictures on my Flickr!