Furry Bambino Foster Academy

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Our lovable tuxedo cat, Panda Bear, one of the original “Furry Bambinos”, passed away a year ago today on January 21, 2018.  It hit us so hard that it has taken a year to write this entry.   
 
In Panda Bear’s last few months he had been valiantly fighting both heart disease and kidney disease.  On the evening of January 20, 2018, heart disease began to win.  On the morning of January 21 we found him too weak to move, and so we made that difficult decision every pet owner wants to avoid.
 
Now, even a year later, sadness still lingers with us, as we lost one of our best cats ever.
 
 
Panda Bear was born in May of 2007, under a porch in a Cleveland, Ohio, neighborhood with seven siblings.  Shortly thereafter, they were taken in by a local rescue group.  Unfortunately, the calici virus passed through the litter and Panda Bear had to have his right eye removed.  One of his siblings had both eyes removed, and one of his sisters had some retinal scarring.
 
Panda Bear came into our lives in October of 2007.  We had lost our cat Clyde to lung cancer in February 2007, and were finally ready to look for a new cat.  We saw Panda Bear and his sister with the retinal scarring at Petsmart.  Panda Bear jumped into Sue’s arms, and we knew he was going to be ours.  We adopted him, his sister and another older cat who reminded us of Clyde.  We named the sister “Meerkat”, and the older cat “Padre”.  We affectionately labeled them “The Furry Bambinos”, and that’s when we started this blog.
 
 
In the beginning, the three Bambinos hung out together frequently, and most of their early life is well documented here on the blog.
 
 
When we captured this photo, it became the header for the blog for several years.
 
 
Over the years, we also took to shortening Panda Bear to “P.B.”, so in shorthand, “P.B.” was an “O.G.” (original gangsta) Bambino.  Here he is working on a new blog post with Sue.
 
 
Panda Bear was impish and could get himself into trouble, but he would lovingly climb into your lap to apologize.  He would follow us from room to room, and camp out and keep us company.  He made friends with every human that walked in our house, and almost every foster kitten we brought through the door, too.  In short, Panda Bear was the kind of cat everyone would love to have, and we were the luckiest guardians on Earth.
 
 
Panda Bear would willingly pose with toys.  In this early photo of him, notice the blue nail caps. We used to use those before simply just getting better at trimming his nails.  
 
 
Panda Bear loved to “help” get work done, but he would easily get distracted and start playing. 
 
 
And he was the reason we stopped putting up a Christmas tree every year. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We tried to do a Halloween card one year in which we dressed all the cats up in costumes.  This was the year Panda Bear was a clown. 

 
Even as a one-eyed cat, he could catch flies, mice, and feather toys without any trouble.
 
 
He loved to jump and play.  In fact, we had just finished a rousing game of “chase the feather on a string”, and he was breathing heavily when we captured this photo of him.  
 
 
Panda Bear was rambunctious and impish, but he was also the most calm and chill cat we’ve ever had in our lives.  He was able to get along with just about every cat and human being that came through our house. 
 
If you know us personally and had ever visited our home, you met and came to know Panda Bear.  He was one of our resident “greeter cats” when anyone came to visit.  
 
He was always calm for his vet visits with his vets Dr. Amy and Dr. Jo at Village Veterinary Clinic, and would confidently walk around the room and allow them to poke and prod him.
 
 
 
When the “Coventry Cats” cat store in Cleveland Heights celebrated its 20th anniversary in May of 2008, Panda Bear went to the party.   He seemed to enjoy the car ride immensely.
 
 
At the store, he had fun browsing through all the toys …
 
 
And the store owner, Sheila Blecman, gave him lots of love!
 
 
Panda Bear purchased a new Catnip Banana at the store.
 
 
In 2011, we attended a blogging conference in Virginia, and Sue attended a workshop where people could create a “flat” version of their pets.  Basically, it involved taking a good photo of your pet and pasting it onto some thick foam board.  The idea being you could then take your flat pet with you everywhere that real animals aren’t allowed!  So, Sue made “Flat Panda Bear”.
 
 
Dr. Amy at Village Vet even played along and once gave Flat Panda Bear an exam.
 
 
He passed with flying colors!
 
 
Flat Panda travelled with us frequently, and ended up going as far west as Columbia, Missouri.
 
Over time, we became involved with the rescue group that saved the Bambinos.  The first two fosters we took in were named Cookie and Caramel.  Panda Bear loved them, and so did we, so we adopted them!
 
Here’s Panda Bear teaching a very young Cookie how to drink from a human’s glass:
 
 
And he would frequently wash her head.
 
 
Here he poses with a very young Cookie showing her how to sun herself in the patio door.
 
 
With the addition of Cookie and Caramel, The Furry Bambinos were now at total of five!
 
 
And everyone got along great!
 
 
Panda Bear was the explorer (escape artist).  Even in winter.
 
 
This was his favorite Gizzy Quilt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We have been involved in animal rescue since 2008, and just about every foster kitten that came through our household had a chance to meet him, too.  Invariably, they would warm up to Panda Bear almost immediately.  We labeled our foster room the “Furry Bambino Foster Academy”, and Panda Bear was the “Guidance Counselor”.
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He was the one to meet them and help them socialize as they went through the foster program.  All told, Panda Bear was a Rockstar Guidance Counselor to over 150 kittens during his life.  That’s how easy going and lovable he was.
 
 
He was a lap kitty, too, and he regularly would sleep next to us or near us on the bed and on sofas.  When David worked at his computer or sat watching TV, Panda Bear would regularly curl up in David’s lap for scritches and snuggles.  If Sue was reclining on the sofa, Panda Bear would knead her chest for almost exactly 15 minutes every night like clockwork.  None of the other cats have loved us so equally and affectionately.
 
P.B. was talkative, too.  All we had to do was exclaim “Panda Bear!“, and he would bleat out a short happy response to acknowledge his presence.  Then he would flick his tail a couple of times in short, staccato movements like an orchestra conductor waving a baton.  Even as he slowly lost weight and his ailments took their toll, his bleat was music to our ears.
 
Within our own household Panda Bear will be most missed by our other cats Sunny and Sky.  They latched onto Panda Bear as shy fosters, and never let go.  They followed him almost everywhere and would regularly cuddle up with him, walk beside him, and brush up against him.
 
 
Sunny was especially close to Panda Bear, often sleeping with him in the front window. 
 

Panda Bear even made friends with the very shy, skittish, and semi-feral Samoa, who we lost back in 2015.
 
We can’t say it enough: we’ve lost one of our best cats ever, and we are grieving hard.
 
 
 
Panda Bear is survived by his sister Meerkat, his best friends Sunny, Sky, and Padre, and his step-sisters Cookie, Caramel, and Farrah Fluff.
 
 
Panda Bear!” … we were honored to be your guardians.  We loved you dearly, and miss you terribly.  Rest well, dear friend. We’re so happy you’re no longer in pain and now able to run freely.  We look forward to calling your name at the Rainbow Bridge someday and hearing that lovely bleat in response!
 

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With great sadness, we report that our beautiful little tortie girl Samoa went to the Rainbow Bridge on Monday, October 24, after a brief but severe bout of pneumonia. We are still in shock as it seems just yesterday she was bounding up and down the stairs. We greatly appreciate the purrs and purrayers from family and friends.

Samoa came into our life in April of 2015.  She was rescued by a dear friend from Slavic Village, along with her four kittens, whom we named Ginger Snap, Peanut Butter, S’mores, and Thin Mint.  S’mores is the only girl and her tortie markings look just like her Mom Samoa!  Ginger Snap is an orange tabby, Peanut Butter is white with orange tabby markings, and Thin Mint is solid black. This first photo is from our first meeting with Samoa and her 2-day old kittens. The second photo is just a week later, and her kittens have grown so much that they look like they are smothering her tiny 7-pound body.

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In addition to her own litter of four kittens, Samoa cared for four “Cowboy Kittens” (Cassidy, Clementine, Harlee, and Sadie) for a few days until their Mama Mae West was rescued, and could resume her motherly duties. Mae West was particularly elusive, and now resides with a dear friend.

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No sooner than Mae West began nursing her four Cowgirls, than a 2-day-old kitten abandoned by his mother was found in the Waterloo neighborhood. We named this kitten, Snickerdoodle, and he was readily welcomed by Samoa into her little family. Snickerdoodle is mostly white with orange tabby markings, and closely resembles Peanut Butter, so he really looked like part of the family!

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Finally came the “Charlie Angels” kittens.  Although Jaclyn Fluff, Farrah Fluff Major, and Kate Fluffson did not resemble Samoa or her own babies, they were also lovingly accepted by Samoa and treated as her own. The three black and white tuxedo kittens were rescued from the home of dear friends who have their own little feral family in their garden. By rescuing the tuxie girls, the hope was to give them safe and loving indoor homes, so they were rescued as young kittens close to weaning so they would be easier to socialize.

Samoa was a good Mom (and surrogate Mom) to a total of 12 kittens … patient with her kittens’ antics, and training her babies how to be Good Cats.

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While confined to the “back kitten room” (back bedroom), Samoa gradually became comfortable with Sue and would allow Sue to pet her on rare occasions. Samoa would rub against Sue’s legs and was pleased to accept treats. However, Samoa was still easily startled and would hiss loudly when Sue or David moved too quickly or without advance notice.

The orange marking over her left eye made Samoa appear as if she was always raising her left eyebrow at us, as if to ask “What now?”

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Over time, after Samoa raised her babies and they started to get adopted, we let her into Gen Pop (gave her full run of the house) with The Furry Bambinos.  Samoa was still a foster with us, and would hide when we needed to take her to adoption events.  Finally, David stated the obvious as we rode to the third consecutive adoption event without Samoa because we could not catch her.  “We may have just adopted our eighth Bambino.”  Shortly thereafter, we discussed it over dinner and concluded that she was happy here with us.  “Let’s just adopt her.”  And that’s how Samoa officially became a Furry Bambino, in early 2016.

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Samoa (aka “Shmo”) fit in with The Furry Bambinos very easily.  She seemed content to be the low girl on the totem pole of the cat hierarchy.  She stood in the background and didn’t seem to care if she was the last one to be fed treats.  She never started fights, and always used the litter boxes.   She regularly helped the other Bambinos on “Bird Patrol” and “Squirrel Patrol” from her favorite position in one of the “tubes” of the cat furniture.

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She also liked to explore.  A few times a week we could guarantee hearing a loud “thump” coming from the basement.  It was usually Samoa landing on the washing machine after jumping down from exploring the crawl space under the family room. She would emerge with her whiskers covered in cobwebs, then dash off upstairs.

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For a long time, she would only eat breakfast by poking her head out from the chair covers in the dining room.

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But over time, Samoa became more comfortable and would eat out in the open.  During our morning feeding routines, she began to occasionally brush up against David’s legs, and he got so he could stroke Samoa across her head and back after giving her a food dish.

The rest of the time, Samoa usually kept her distance from us.  If we came within more than 24 inches of her, she would abruptly dash off to another part of the house.  She would sniff a hand extended to her, but we had to move slowly, or else risk a loud snake-like hiss of fear before she dashed off. There were a few rare occasions that Samoa would snuggle with Sue on the sofa.

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Samoa made friends with Panda Bear, our friendly tuxedo cat.  All the cats in the house, and especially our fosters and former fosters, love Panda Bear.  Samoa would walk beside him, brush up against him repeatedly, sleep beside him in the front window or on Sue’s legs on the sofa, and eat next to him.

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Sunny, Panda Bear and Samoa having a snack.

In Samoa’s last nights with us, we had her sequestered to a large cage in our family room so we could closely monitor her and care for her.  Panda Bear walked into her cage, and even in her weakened state Samoa reached her head over to brush against him.

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Samoa also had become a play friend for little Farrah Fluff (another new Furry Bambino, c. 2016).  Samoa and Fluff would chase each other the length of the house, back and forth, chomp on each other and bunny kick each other’s heads, and then dash off with wild abandon.  They both seemed to enjoy the play time.

On Sunday evening, the night before Samoa passed, Farrah Fluff reached a paw into Samoa’s cage to tap (maybe pet?) Samoa on the head, and then came around from another angle to tap her friend on the side.  Fluff was obviously checking in with her friend to see how she was doing.

We are so happy we chose to adopt Samoa.  We were honored to have been Samoa’s guardians for the relatively short time she was with us. We did our best to keep her well fed, safe, and happy despite her efforts to avoid us.

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We wish we had known earlier that she was ill.  Cats have a way of hiding their illnesses until it’s too late to save them.  It’s so frustrating to know we might have done more for her.  We had her at the veterinarian on Saturday, and by late Monday afternoon she was gone. Sue has the lyrics of the Hall and Oates song “She’s Gone” running on a loop in her head.

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It’s amazing that such a little cat could leave such a big hole in our hearts.  We hope that Samoa will be waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. When we get too close, she will probably dash off to hide.  So long as we see her there, that’s all that matters.

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Until we meet again, Sweet Samoa.  We love you!

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hi furriends!!  Meerkat here.  first of all, i want to purrsonally thank all of you for your kind birthday wishes for Panda Bear and me. it is so nice to hear from so many furriends on our special day.

as some of you may know, Daddy does a radio show on a local college radio station. he plays show tunes and sound tracks. the Tony Awards are awards that recognize excellence in Broadway theatre, and are on tv right now. which reminds me about Antoinette, a former foster kitteh here.

two years ago, on Sunday, June 13, 2010, a young kitteh showed up at our back door and applied in purrson to enter Furry Bambino Foster Academy.

of course, we accepted her application. Mom named her Antoinette because it was the day of the Tony Awards, which are named for Antoinette Perry.

initially when Mom saw Antoinette on the back porch, she thought i had gotten out! Antoinette bears a striking resemblance to me. don’t you agree? that’s me on the futon.

Antoinette has a gold flame mark on her forehead.

i don’t have a gold flame mark on my forehead, but Cookie does.

Antoinette was young, approximately 10 months to 18 months old. as we soon found out, ahem, she was strongly desiring a ManCat’s attention. loudly and repeatedly! not to worry, Mom got Antoinette an appointment for her ladygardenectomy just a few days later!

Antoinette was affectionate, but would abruptly swat at Mom and Dad (with claws extended) when she had had enough petting. Mom and Dad were concerned about how they would be able to get Antoinette adopted if she might swat at somebody!

in addition, Antoinette was VERY unhappy to be confined to the kitten room, but she hated all of us Furry Bambinos, so she could not have access to the rest of the house. she meowed out the front window to complain about her plight.

one evening, our next door neighbor and his girlfriend knocked on our door because they could hear Antoinette meowing. Tiger Lily, the girlfriend’s cat, was missing, and they asked if we had found a cat. the next door neighbor was a young big burly guy who worked at a fitness club. mom was worried what he might do about us having his girlfriend’s cat. (well, most of her anyway. heh.)

luckily they were just happy to have their cat back. so, Antoinette graduated from Furry Bambino Foster Academy and was “adopted by” (AKA “returned to”) the next door neighbor on Friday, June 25, 2010.

Post Script from Mom: When I tell this story to most people, they find it hilarious that I accidentally had the neighbor’s cat spayed. However, another volunteer in PAWS one-upped me and said “I spay my neighbors’ cats on purpose! If they let their cats outside and they have not been spayed or neutered, I catch them and have them fixed. They go missing for a day or two and then show back up fixed.”

Our now former neighbor let his house fall into disrepair (let the gutters fall off and left them off for several years as one example), quit paying the mortgage, and the house went into foreclosure. His house has FINALLY been sold at auction at a ridiculously low price, which has lowered the values of all the houses on our street. The house is currently being renovated by the new owner who we suspect will try to flip it.

So, yeah, we are REALLY glad that we got that cat spayed!!!  Would do it again, on purpose.

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Hello Furriends! Today my sister Caramel (AKA Ms. Floooooofs) and I are three years old.

We are just taking it easy today. Breakfast, then a nap pile. Feel free to join us if you like to nap! Here is a baby picture of us when we were itteh bitteh! This is taken three years ago today – the day we were born!

This photo was taken a few weeks later. Caramel is the black fuzzball, and I am in front serving as a pillow to my sisfurs. See how big my gold flame mark looked compared to my tiny little head?

Mom and Dad brought us some fun nip toys from Coventry Cats, including a new nip nanner!  Rumor has it there is a new Da Bird, but we haven’t seen it yet.  (We dedded our old Da Bird.)  Come on over to play and eat and nap!

Purrs,
Cookie and Caramel

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Back in 2009, someone (!) said there were “too many cats on the internet”!  Egads!  There is no such thing as too many cats!

So The Cat Blogosphere came together to change NO CATS DAY to MO CATS DAY and decided to celebrate every 09/09.

At present, there are 14 felines in the house.  You read that right kittehs, one-four, quatorze, catorce, XIV.  As you may know, there are 7 of us Furry Bambinos:

Padre (that’s me)

Panda Bear

Meerkat

Cookie

Caramel

Sunny

Sky

And we presently have 7 foster kittens staying here at Furry Bambino Foster Academy.

Jett (with sister Joan watching)

Panda

Domino

Louisa

Kurt

Brigitta

Marta

Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, and Marta’s Mom Liesl is being fostered at our sister academy:

And, we have two outdoor feral kittehs who show up for dinner just about daily:

Mama

Daddy.  (We STRONGLY suspect that Daddy is Sunny and Sky’s biological father. Mom and Dad trapped him this summer and he got his hoohaectomy.)

And then there are all the fosters who have graduated from The Furry Bambino Foster Academy in the past year, since Mo Cats Day 2010!  I don’t know if I can count that high … it’s about elebenty squillion.

Dakota

This is Marigold, now called Mia by her adoptive family.

Rusty

Woody (adopted with Rusty)

Hunter (just look at those toes!)

Silver

Rico

Lilia (renamed Karen), adopted with Vitaly

Vitaly (renamed Jack), adopted with Lilia

Nadia, adopted with Bart

Bart, adopted with Nadia

Joan (renamed Lursa), adopted with Braveheart

Braveheart (renamed B’Etor), adopted with Joan

Friedrich (renamed Furball)

Gretl (renamed Teeka)

And last but not least, Ones Who Came Before: Clyde

… and Mohawk, AKA “Mo”, the Mo-iest Mo Cat of all!

Happy Mo Cats Day, everykitteh! Purrs!

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Hi Effurryone!!  ::waves paws excitedly::

Today is my first birthday!!!

And that means it’s Sky’s first birthday too!!

We do just about everything together!

We got borned together. Happy Mother’s Day,  Mama!

We got trapped together in the very same trap. We got to hang out in the kitty condo together (at first).

We got to stay at the Furry Bambino Foster Academy together.

We like to swarm Panda Bear together.

We got adopted together!

We nap together!

We beg for treats together.

We drink milk from Mom’s cereal dish together.

In honor of our birthday, we will be holding a Comment-a-thon! For every comment we receive on this post between now and next Sunday, July 31st at 11:59 pm, Mom will donate green papers to the Cleveland APL.

Enough about that – time to party! Make yourselves at home! We have noms, nip, niptinis, nap spots, toys, and brotherly love to share!

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Greetings, furriends! It is me, your Floofy Furry Bambino, Caramel, with today’s update on our second class of Kitten Season 2011.

Meet Joan, Jett, and Braveheart! Sisters Joan (back) and Braveheart (front) are huddled together in the kitten bed. Brother Jett is sitting next to the kitten bed. (Mom and Dad considered naming Braveheart “Blackheart” to be consistent, but thought that was too unkind. Plus, Mom hopes that little Braveheart’s name becomes self-fulfilling.)

That’s because Joan, and especially Braveheart, are feral. Presently, Joan is “semi-feral” and Braveheart is about 90% feral. Brother Jett is the most trusting of the three siblings. They were found in a cat carrier along with their three other siblings in a local park. Because all six kittens were all skittish, the litter was divided up between two foster homes to socialize the babies.

Soon after enrolling in Furry Bambino Foster Academy, Jett developed some weird lesions on the bridge of his nose. About the same time,  Daddy casually mentioned to Mom over dinner that (another PAWS volunteer) “Eileen called this afternoon, and said that the other three kittens in the litter might have ringworm”.

Mom stopped eating, and replied: “R-r-r-ringworm? Do you know what that is? It is SO contagious! Aaahhhhh! That must be what the lesions on Jett’s face are!!!” She fled the dinner table and immediately called Eileen.

At the time, Daddy didn’t understand how serious ringworm is. He thought Mom was just being melodramatic (again). A lot of people think that ringworm is a parasite because of the name. Actually, ringworm is a skin infection that is caused by a fungus, the same one that causes Athlete’s Foot. Its spores become AIRBORNE and it can spread rapidly, and the spores can survive a long time (like a year) outside the host.

So Mom and Dad removed Joan, Jett, and Braveheart from the kitten room and moved them into a cat condo in the garage. Unfortunately, Nadia and Bart got exposed to Joan, Jett, and Braveheart, and would need to be quarantined for 14 days to see if they developed ringworm, too. Luckily, Lilia and Vitaly had just gotten adopted, so they were not exposed.

Next time: Treating the feral threesome for ringworm! Good times, kittehs, good times.

P.S. Joan, Jett, and Braveheart are the 13th class in the history of Furry Bambino Foster Academy. Not that we’re superstitious or anything …