Assorted Random Pictures from September!

Yeah, that’s how far behind I am. But hey, I do have some pictures, so that’s a start, right?

There are SO MANY more, but there’s a limit to what I can get accomplished in one day. Maybe more tomorrow!

As the fall has shifted into winter, we officially have turned the heated cat bed back on, and cats have returned to piling on warm things.

(Mac, Nemo, Nightfall, and Mister)

Or trying to squish themselves into beds.

(Mac, Youngsmile, and little Ms Flare).

Or pile upon the dishwasher.

(Nemo, Balance, Mac, Youngsmile, Mister, Squirt)

This little kitten is one of the most amazing additions to our household. Flare is a seal tortie point colourpoint shorthair and is currently tearing up the show rings in Canada, and has already won our hearts (and likely a permanent place in the household). She is astonishingly bold, just fiery enough to be entertaining, and ever so sweet.

She’s also super long and super kitteny.

And obviously very photogenic, even when sleepy.

I love her crazy blaze.

And her beautiful head.

And the fact that she too has created this picture. I think we have at least 4 or 5 versions of this. Yes, her eyes are really that blue.

She loves her Uncle Nemo too, as everyone else does. Nemo continues to be the most important and most wonderful cat ever.

We also have twins atop the microwave (who are, in fact, at least a little bit related).

Mister’s becoming an actual cat as well, even with the fake pregnancy.

She’s long and yawny and likes Macavity quite a bit.

This slightly blurry cat is SiamJewels Parfait, who is currently ridiculously, over the top pregnant with Balance’s first kittens. In this picture, she’s only a little pregnant. :)

She is also Jellylorum’s litter mate. :) Jelly got all the balls in that litter (even from the other boys, I fear) but Parfait’s very pretty and sweet, so that’s a good start.

Last but not least, Camouflage is finally growing up. He’ll get to hopefully actually make kittens with Mister in a month or two.

There you go! Cat pictures! And….

The macaws showing off their new playstand.

And finally, two dogs and a tinycat.

Tah-dah! September!

Posted in Balance, Camouflage, Cats, Crow, Dogs, Flare, Jellylorum, Macavity, Mister, Nemo, Nightfall, Noire, Parfait, Parrots, Theodore, Tlalli | 2 Comments

Introducing Growltiger.

GROWLTIGER was a Bravo Cat, who lived upon a barge;
In fact he was the roughest cat that ever roamed at large.
From Gravesend up to Oxford he pursued his evil aims,
Rejoicing in his title of, ‘The Terror of the Thames.’

(He has a little growing up to do before he can really be a Terror)

Once upon a time, back before the house fell into the depths of the Orientals, we had discussed several different breeds of cats that we might want to have in our household, and eventually narrowed it down to essentially two: Bengals and Orientals.

Obviously, we chose Orientals, which was absolutely the right choice for us and our household. But, those gloriously spotty Bengals are all over the place at cat shows. Some of them had temperaments that weren’t exactly what I was looking for, and for a Bengal, I wanted the best of the absolute best.

Sometime earlier this year, I kept hearing the judges talk about a specific breeder and his cats, and they kept gushing about temperament and how wonderful these cats were, and one in particular.

And, a couple months later, we started talking with that specific breeder (whose name is Alexandre) quite a bit more, as he imported a lovely Oriental stud and wishes to start breeding Orientals.

In talking with him, I also got to meet his cat, Bengallys Achille, who is the most astonishingly sweet, well tempered, beautiful boycat I’ve seen in some time. And, being a boycat, he helped make some kittens….

Somehow, thanks to the wonders of kitten pictures and stories and discussions of how lovely it would be to have a Bengal show alter, and how much potential this one specific kitten had, I ended up the owner of one tiny leopard spotted poofball.

With the very first picture I saw of him, I knew what his name was going to be… one of the only names in Old Possum’s Guide to Practicalcats that I could never, ever use for an Oriental. If you’re not familiar with the poem, I suggest you go here and read it and see why.

He walked into the house like he owned it, and is pretty sure the whole world belongs to him.

He is the most awesome tiny leopard, full of playfulness and purring and boinging and occasional leaping upon the other cats and delight. He’s absolutely perfect for this house, and a hilarious contrast to the rest of the household.

I love him. And he’s already nearly bigger than Flare (who is nearly three months older than him) and will likely top out somewhere in the higher than 15 pound range. :)

He’s tagging along to a cat show with me next weekend but can’t make his official show debut until February thanks to the winter/holiday break.

Posted in Introductions, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Updates, after falling off the face of the planet.

So many things have happened in the past *sigh* two months since I’ve updated this. I’m going to summarize and then start trying to go through the various and sundry pictures I have.

Parrots:

Strawberry is a boy bird, and is very happily living with Radish, and being red heads together.

Everyone else is still doing wonderfully, eating up a storm, playing up a storm, talking up a storm.

Got a new Austin Air Purifier which I freaking love to death.

Got a new Java tree for the macaws (mostly) to hang out on upstairs, which is also super awesome and they love it.

Have most of a post written about co-housing, but need pictures and things, and to edit more, so it’ll come soonish.

Going to Canadian Parrot Conference next month — come say hi if you see me!

Dogs:

Crow turned 10.

Noire turned 8.

I don’t understand how my puppies have gotten this old. Thankfully, they also don’t understand it, and still act like they’re young dogs.

Cats:

New/old breeding cats, Flare and Parfait, who have been here for several months now. Details on them on the practicalcats webpage — http://practicalcats.ca/queens.html

Had what we thought would be three (one not entirely planned) litters of kittens collapse into one litter of kittens and two false pregnancies. First kittens are due around November 10th.

Currently in the end of the cat shows for the year, with two potentially nationally winning cats (Flare and Youngsmile), which is awesome.

Next post will have more cat news, because he deserves his own post.

Life:

Insanely busy (and very happy) with work.

Dealing with some physical things that seem to be fixing themselves.

Could use some more sleep and at least six extra hours in the day.

Posted in Cat shows, Cats, Crow, Dogs, Flare, Health, Noire, Parfait, Parrots, Strawberry, Youngsmile | Leave a comment

Communal Housing Part 3: The science

This is going to be a shorter post simply because there’s just not that much research out there on the subject of parrots kept in isolation vs those kept with other members of their species.

The few pieces that are out there are pretty clear that social isolation is not good for Amazons and African greys (the two species that have been most researched).

From page 2 – 3 of http://endcap.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Welfare_suitability-of-parrots-Engebretson.pdf:

Birds are routinely
denied two of their most fundamental natural behaviours:
flying and socialisation. It has been suggested that the
denial of these activities can cause both physical (Graham
1998) and behavioural abnormalities in captive parrots (van
Hoek & ten Cate 1998; Garner et al 2003b; Meehan et al
2003a, 2004; Meehan et al 2003b). Parrots kept as pets are
often housed alone or in pairs in small cages incapable of
accommodating flight (van Hoek & ten Cate 1998)

The biggest research on the subject came from UC Davis’s studies with Orange Winged Amazons in the early 2000s. Once upon a time, there was a great summary posted online, but it appears to have disappeared. For now, this is the best link I can find — https://www.infona.pl/resource/bwmeta1.element.elsevier-a899eac9-1f3a-3939-8ba2-114f787b4730:

Isosexual pair housing resulted in a more active and diverse behavioral repertoire, eliminated the development of stereotypy and reduced fear responses to novel objects without imparting significant risk of illness and injury or jeopardizing the ability of parrots to relate positively with humans. Thus, it appears that pair housing can significantly improve environmental quality and positively affect the welfare of captive parrots.

And finally, some more recent research on African greys. From Science Daily:

Scientists at the Vetmeduni Vienna examined the telomere length of captive African grey parrots. They found that the telomere lengths of single parrots were shorter than those housed with a companion parrot, which supports the hypothesis that social stress can interfere with cellular aging and a particular type of DNA repair.

If you know of more research for or against pair keeping, please leave details in the comments!

Next up will be ‘setting yourself up for success’ and finally ‘introducing more challenging parrots’.

Posted in Controversies, Parrots | Leave a comment

Introducing Strawberry…

As the previous posts on communal housing make pretty clear, I’m a big fan of having at least two parrots of each genus or species in my household, and if possible, housing them together.

When I brought home my first parrots, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Around the same time, there was a beautiful movie released about the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a flock of mostly cherry headed conures (Psittacara erythrogenys, previously Aratinga erythrogenys). The local rescue had several of the unreleasable wild birds for adoption, and I even asked about one to find he was already adopted. I did get to meet several of them and thought they were just a really neat species.

And then I moved to Canada, where cherry heads are really, really rare. 9 years pass… :)

In March of 2013, a male, untame, unknown age, mostly naked, former breeder cherry headed conure was being rehomed. He came home with us, and for whatever reason (likely due to not taking the camera downstairs as often as I should), his story doesn’t get told on this blog as much. It’s a wonderful story.

We were told Radish wouldn’t play with toys, wouldn’t eat a healthy diet, and was completely untame. When I met him, he spent most of the time lunging at the cage bars. Two years later, with a great deal of patience mostly on my better half’s part, he’s in perfect health, eats a very healthy, varied diet, destroys toys constantly, and has learned to target, is working on stepping up on a perch, and will fly to places on cue. He is a very happy parrot and a lot of fun to work with.

But he’s alone… and a weird size. Most conures for sale in Canada are Pyrrhuras or the yellow-based Aratingas (suns, jendays, gold capped). I was keeping my eye out on kijiji and other rehoming places to see if there were any larger conures that needed a home, but figured it was a long term problem to solve.

Wednesday of this past week, I was looking at Facebook as usual, and saw that The Parrot Hotel had shared a post about two parrots about an hour away who needed rehoming. One of them was a 18 – 22 year old plucked cherry head conure. I nearly sprained something emailing for more details, and went to meet her (?) on Thursday. I’m sure no one is surprised to know she’s now up in my bathroom in quarantine.

Strawberry was purchased from a local aviary roughly twenty years ago, and lived with one family her entire life. She hasn’t been DNA sexed, so she may be a him, but we both feel like she’s female. (If she’s a him, he’ll be Berry for short. :)) Her previous owner had to rehome her birds due to health issues. Strawberry has been cage-bound for a few years due to some rough handling by the owner’s husband, who has now passed away.

She’s pretty plucked, but has a few tufts of down that suggest that she may be able to regrow a little bit of fluff in the belly region. Her diet wasn’t optimal, and she is quite overweight and out of shape.

She won’t step up onto bare hands, but will step up onto a hand covered in a towel, and is very happy to get head scratches and preen people’s hair. She talks, although the words aren’t so clear, and is just considering playing with toys.

We’re currently supplementing her diet with fruit puree and handfeeding formula to hopefully get some good nutrition in her as she shifts to eating pellets from her predominantly sunflower seed diet. Her beak is a little overgrown, but not terrible. In these pictures, as you can see pretty clearly, it’s stained with berry juice. :)

She is a super, duper sweet bird who I think will come around and be quite hand tame in a very short period of time. Once she goes to the vet next week and all the results come in clear (including DNA for our own curiosity), she’ll be introduced to Radish, which I think will go very, very well.

How I managed to find two cherry heads in Canada is beyond me, but I could not be happier about it.

Posted in Introductions, Parrots, Radish, Strawberry | Leave a comment

Communal Housing 2: Parrots like other parrots.

This is part 2 of a multi-part series. Part 1 is here. This post is significantly more personal observation based than the previous one.

If you own parrots, I have a challenge for you. I want you to try to find me an image of your parrot’s species in the wild. And then, I want you to find me an image of your parrot’s species in the wild alone (zoomed out, please, no cheating for super up close focus :)).

I’m guessing the latter is going to be nearly impossible for most of the commonly kept species in captivity. I’m also guessing that if you do find a picture of a parrot alone in the wild, that parrot is in a nest.

In the wild, almost every species of parrot lives in either small family groups (parents, children, sometimes young adult children that have not yet mated on their own) or in large flocks.

The most commonly kept parrots in captivity are budgies/parakeets, cockatiels, and lovebirds. And they are all huge flocking birds. Check out this amazing video of budgies in the wild narrated by David Tennant.

I won’t get into nature vs nurture, ‘nature’ as a concept, evolution or anything else here. I will just say that for myself, I cannot find a reasonable argument against parrots generally choosing to spend time with their own species given the option.

And yet, in our homes, most parrots live alone. Most parrots are raised alone, and many can live out their lives without seeing a single other parrot.

I, like many others who got parrots in the past 20 years, was told that a parrot could not bond to people and to other parrots, and that you needed to keep them separated so that they would remain pets. And yet, my second and third parrots were a pair of green cheek conures that I purchased potentially to breed. They never did, for a number of reasons, but I got to watch a pair of parrots interact with the world.

I also traveled to Natural Encounters to take the week long parrot training class with Steve Martin which I highly, highly recommend if you can even barely manage. One of the most eye opening things there was that almost without exception, every parrot there lived in pairs or groups, and every single one of them still wanted to play fun training games with polite humans. It completely shook the foundations of what I had been told.

In conversations with the trainers, many of them repeated the same thing — they had concerns about parrots kept in captivity, and wished that people would buy two baby parrots together, rather than one.

In the past five years, my postage stamp parrot flock (one of this, one of that, one of this other) has shifted into pairs. The introductions are not simple (and I’ll go into that in the next post, as introductions and environment make a HUGE difference in success), but the benefits have been astonishing.

This is Theo.

Theo is a 25 year old (nearly 26!) blue and gold macaw. We are his second home, and adopted him in 2004 from a parrot rescue in California. Previous to living with us, he lived with a cockatoo. During the time we’ve had him, he’s lived in a 4′ by 3′ macaw cage, shared the 8′ by 4′ macaw cage with our sadly passed away scarlet macaw, and currently shares the same cage with our greenwing macaw, Tlalli.

Tlalli and Theo moved into the big cage together just shy of a year ago. Tlalli is an extremely social greenwing macaw, who LOVES people, LOVES to talk to people, and LOVES to convince people to play fun games with her. Since they moved in together, Theo has become vastly more social, is learning how to talk for the first time in his life, and has become significantly more willing to explore the world.

Theo has a peculiar behaviour that shows when he’s stressed — he weaves his head in a very stereotypical way in a pattern that almost looks like he’s dancing. It’s the clearest sign that he’s been pushed past his limits for what he can deal with.

In May of this year, we took Theo and Tlalli to a long term care home to talk with the residents, and then took both of them to Dairy Queen afterwards. Theo didn’t weave his head once. He mumbled, he hung out, he tried desperately to steal my ice cream… but no signs of stress.

Don’t worry about the lack of harness in the previous picture — Theo has a frozen wing joint and cannot fully extend one wing, so he’s utterly grounded and incapable of flight. In fact, for years, he barely moved around in his cage, and had serious balance issues.

He has begun moving more, has begun flapping his wings after seeing Tlalli do so a thousand times, and has started climbing up onto the play stands that are nearly 8 feet off the ground. His grip is better. His balance is better. His torso is visibly differently shaped because he’s actually building muscle.

All because of this rumpled creature.

And it goes both ways. Tlalli is vastly more entertained during the day because she has Theo to interact with. Theo has taught her how to play with toys, how to destroy wood, and both of them keep each other on their toes.

This is the biggest success story that I have, mostly because of where these two started. But there are more stories to tell too!

Anisette is a 12 year old green cheek conure, who lived for years with her mate, Stilton, until Stilton died in 2008. She was almost desperate for interaction with people after he died, and very friendly… but she didn’t seem happy.

Enter Artichoke, a two year old black capped conure.

They moved in together about six months after Artichoke came home as a baby, and both of them seem so content. They come rushing over to say hello when people are around, and ask for head scratches while Ani mumbles in her conure way. They preen each other, play with toys together, and are always near each other.

And the final success story (for now!):

We brought home Cinereo, our grey parrot, as a baby in late 2003. He’s lived in our house for nearly 12 years, and just turned 12 years old. He’s social and interactive, but has never been particularly energetic, despite being flighted and having a large and enriched cage.

He talked, as greys do, in spurts and babbles, and was happy to interact with people on his own terms.

In February of 2014, we brought home this lovely lady.

Keela is a Timneh grey, approximately seven years old, and exceptionally social. She particularly loves me, likes to stare at the internet, is an amazing flyer, extremely energetic and very, very bossy. She also knows a number of mechanical and electronic noises that she likes to share with everyone.

Even living separately, Cin became significantly more talkative, and immediately picked up on most of the things that Keela says. Cin has never lived alone, he’s always lived with other parrots, and always other talking parrots, but he’s never picked up any of their phrases until he met another grey.

In March of 2015, we moved them in together into a large double macaw cage. Since that time, Cin has lost weight, both of them are extremely active, and both are still friendly and happy to interact with us. Every time I look at them in their cage, they’re near each other, frequently clacking in disapproval at each other, and/or playing what appears to be a game where one knocks the other off the perch. Both come out of their giant cage. Keela does a lot more exploring out of her cage, and Cin still tends to stay more in one place, but he talks up a storm, vastly more than he used to.

Keep in mind, all of these introductions took months, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that it will work out this way. However, I feel (and have seen from Cin’s talking) that even out of cage time together and having a similar species in the household can make a difference in the lives of parrots in captivity.

The next two posts on this will be about what research says to back me up and introductions and setting yourself up to succeed with an appropriate environment.

Posted in Akeelah, Anisette, Artichoke, Cinereo, Controversies, Parrots, Theodore, Tlalli | 1 Comment

Pause for picture dump!

Yeah, it’s been forever since I posted pictures again. This set will be all cat pictures, because there are so many.

Orientals are definitely not cats who enjoy cuddling together.

Their eye colour is so beautiful, it’s almost unreal.

Sometimes, you need to stop and smell the roses. Upside down. Because you’re Balance.

Space Monkey thinks hanging out on a harness is pretty okay.

I love him so much.

Wait? What did you say? I have dubious ears?

Four little Orientals, all in a row, on a hot July day.

I love Nightfall’s head so much. I cannot wait to meet her kittens — we’ll be hopefully breeding her in the next four to six weeks, depending on when she goes into heat. :)

She’s not actually sure how she feels about that subject (but definitely thinks Mac makes a good head rest).

And this creature, oh man. I am a sucker for pretty heads, and Mister has one in spades. She’s not going to be making babies until later this year. She’s off to her second show as a kitten next weekend.

I love her so much. Such a great little kitten, if you ignore the fact that she’s the most demanding creature that has EVER EXISTED.

One small piece of a cat pile. Stripey is almost always squished under things.

Just a small cat pile rearrangement.

Squirt is growing up to be such a beautiful cat. He and Mister are hopefully going to have some very pretty babies this winter. :)

One cat missing from the cat pile, and that’s the Hater, who was on her throne in the library. For all the jokes about her nickname, I love this cat beyond belief. She is one of the most interesting cats I’ve ever lived with.

She is quiet, even demure, as she moves through the world, and yet everything and everyone gets out of her way. Not a single cat in the household will cross her, the dogs are terrified of her, and when people come to visit, they end up lavishing huge amounts of attention on her and ignoring the other cats… AND SHE MAKES THEM THINK THIS IS ALL THEIR IDEA.

I love the Hater, and I’m very, very glad that she doesn’t actually wish to run the world, because I’m pretty sure she could.

That’s all for cat pictures on this lazy July day!

Posted in Balance, Camouflage, Cats, Deuce, Jellylorum, Macavity, Mister, Nemo, Nightfall, Youngsmile | Leave a comment

Communal Housing 1: Parrots Like People

As the title will hopefully show, this is the beginnings of a series of writings that will eventually be collated into a single page on the rational parrot page. However, I’m not currently in a mental or physical state to sit down and write it all at once, and I like the feedback, so I’m going to do blog posts first, refine my ideas, and then create an easy link for those who want to share it.

This information is based on science (studies will be linked in later articles), observations that I’ve done, observations that other people have done, and ethology (wild behaviour). This is, at the heart of it, my opinion, based on what I have seen and what I have learned. As with anything else out there on the internet, please take this with a grain of salt, and take from it what applies to you and what resonates with you. I will, to the best of my ability, back up my opinion with the sources and realizations that created it and continue to refine it.

The topic of this writing is a controversial one, specifically, the idea of keeping parrots in pairs or flocks in our households. Once upon a time, and to some degree still, many people said that a parrot who had another parrot that they lived with would not want to interact with people, that they’d lose their relationship with them.

This is true. And false. There’s two pieces here that I’m going to address separately.

1) Parrots who are empowered to choose otherwise frequently seek out people who are rewarding to interact with.

Here’s a few interesting pictures and videos that make my point better than I could, with some explanations.

This is a picture of a flighted parrot who lives in a large aviary with multiple other parrots flying to me.

Although I do not personally desire to free fly parrots (and please, do not do so without phenomenal amounts of training and preferably a mentor), the fact that parrots regularly can fly away and do not makes my point for me.

Watch this video of wild parrots interacting with Mark Bittner in San Francisco. These are parrots who live and thrive in an urban environment who have plenty of food and plenty of opportunity to avoid people and who chose not to in this case.

Nearly all the videos of Hookbill Aviary in Seattle show this exceptionally clearly. These are birds who live a hugely enriched life and yet still want to interact with people.

Dana McDonald’s video of her insane but wonderful household. All of the parrots in question are flighted and thus have choice to leave and yet clearly are enjoying themselves (as are the people involved).

Cockatoo Downs has an enormous number of pictures of free flighted birds that make my point better than I can.

The grey on the head of this charming man is Bandit, who spends every meeting of the York Region Parrot Club visiting all the people in the room… and he’s not the only one

I could go on for weeks with similar pictures and similar stories. There are many, many examples of parrots who, when given the choice to choose otherwise, desire to interact with some specific people.

There’s two big pieces there that a lot of people miss that are really really key.

a) EMPOWERED TO CHOOSE OTHERWISE.

Every single one of those parrots above is flighted. They can leave if they wish. Giving animals the ability to choose whether or not to interact is one of the most important ways to build a relationship with them, and one of the things humans tend to take away the quickest. Sometimes, it’s for safety (leashes, clipped wings, harnesses, doors, cages, etc), sometimes it’s for our own comfort, sometimes it’s just easier.

There’s a number of ways to empower parrots who are not flighted for various reasons — flight is just an easy, obvious signal that they can, should they wish it, leave.

b) REWARDING TO INTERACT WITH.

When I first started owning parrots, there was a lot of discussion of dominance and a great deal of coercion in interacting with parrots, and at the same time, a lot of people were told that they couldn’t ever have two parrots because they would no longer want to interact with them.

Does this surprise you at all? If a parrot has the choice to interact with a similar species companion and a person who is constantly associated with punishing, aversive situations, why on earth would they want to interact with the person? In that situation, the only reason that parrots do is that they’re often more forgiving than we are… and because they have no other choice for social behaviours.

Whereas, people who are fun, who play games with parrots, who offer them toys and enrichment and food, they’re rewarding and reinforcing to interact with. People who are respectful of the individual parrot’s desires, and who refrain from using fear or force to get their way. They are the people that parrots seek out even when they have similar species options. They’re the ones that parrots drop from the sky to hang out with because they’ve built a relationship based on trust and respect.

Links for thought:

Articles on Behaviour Change at Behaviorworks.org by Susan Friedman”

Natural Encounters articles on behaviour”

And with all that true, here comes the false.

2) The relationship that most people seem to want with their parrots is very similar to the relationship between mated parrots… and parrots don’t always give that same sort of relationship if they have other options.

Go to any parrot forum that’s ever existed, and search for ‘cuddly’. You’ll find a thousand questions about which parrots are the most cuddly, which parrots want to be touched the most, which parrots want to snuggle and cuddle and do all those very mammalian things.

Now, go watch some videos of wild parrots. Here’s a full length video on Australian Parrots if you need a start.

How many of those parrots are lying around and cuddling? Now, go find a video of lions or tigers or wolves or sea lions or any other group of social mammals, and see how much time they spend cuddling. Mammals, in general, seem to enjoy skin to skin contact very much, and it does not always appear to be sexual in nature.

If you want some real entertainment, hit up google images for wild parrots cuddling, and count how many pictures you find of parrots having sex. I found three on the first page — parrot porn! :)

In the wild, from every video I’ve seen, parrots will regularly preen each other on the head (a body part they can’t easily reach themselves) and do some very intimate preening with their mates, frequently as a precursor to mating.

Some parrots will do some very specific physical interactions as part of play (macaws frequently beak wrestle from the videos I’ve seen), but they’re still usually head-based things.

What does this mean for a parrot who has a companion? If you’re looking for the super cuddly, mate based behaviour, and the parrot has a more suitable option, they will probably reserve that behaviour for their parrot mate.

It weirds people out regularly when I tell them that I generally don’t touch my birds. With the exception of them stepping onto and off of my arm or shoulder, I regularly go days without touching any other of their body parts. Tlalli, the greenwing macaw, loves to beak wrestle and lick fingers, so she gets touched on the beak more than any other parrot, but I still don’t tend to touch her body much at all. Usually, my interactions with them are vocal (calling back and forth), physical mirroring games (I do this, you do that, repeat), and training (you try to guess what I want, when you’re right, I give you a treat or a head scratch or a particularly exciting sound).

In fact, the most people-centric of my parrots are really good at teaching other people to play these games with them. Every time anyone comes over and my macaws are out, the macaws end up encouraging them to play mirroring games with them without me saying a word.

I go to some lengths to discourage mating behaviours between me and my parrots because, simply put, I don’t want to have sex with them and I give them other options for sexual behaviour should they wish to engage in it. My parrot pairs (of which there are three, and I’ve had five total in my lifetime) range from ‘occasionally grumpy interactive roommates’ to ‘we mate non-stop in the spring and do all levels of indepth mating behaviours’.

And yet, all of them have been willing to interact with me when given the power to choose otherwise and when I’ve made interacting with me worthwhile.

Does this mean that all parrots want to interact with all people? Absolutely not. Behaviour is, to quote Susan Friedman, a study of one, and behaviours have been built on past experiences. Parrots who have had bad experiences with people, parrots who have been made to fear people, parrots who have never interacted with people in a respectful, positive way do not necessarily want to do so.

However, I think they’re a lot less common than people think. I have a number of parrots in my house with less than ideal pasts, and all of them want, in some fashion or another, to interact with people. It’s my job to teach them the way that I want them to interact with me, and my job to learn the way they want me to interact with them… whether that be a single parrot living alone, or a group of ten budgies in a huge aviary.

Posted in Controversies, Parrots | 1 Comment

Sexycat needs a home!

Sorry for the radio silence — I’ve got a post I’m working on but they’re not up yet. :) For the meantime though…

Please share widely — a 10 year old cat is often challenging to rehome, and the more people who pass this along, the more likely she can find her new people.

I have a friend who is looking to rehome his adult cat due to some life changes. She’s located in Brampton, Ontario. Here’s his writeup and some pictures.

Her name is Sexycat and she is a 10yr old female calico in perfect health. She has the softest fur and loves to have it stroked while laying in a sunbeam. She is quite intelligent and know several words including “birds”, “what’s this”, “up up” and of course “bang” (she will fall down on her side). Her favorite foods include triple chocolate cookies, ringalos and fresh baked blue berry muffins. When she came into my life she saved me, now where my life is going, I need to save her. Please, help me to give her the home she needs and deserves.

Please contact Nick at barcas03 at yahoo dot com if you’re interested in giving Sexy a home.

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Six weeks of cat pictures.

From the end of March to the end of April, I was at a cat show almost every weekend. During that time, the posting here fell to nothing, as you can see… but the pictures didn’t stop. This is going to be photo heavy, and by that I mean ‘brace yourself’.

Brief summary of how we ended the cat show year (which ends on April 30th):

Deuce is now Grand Champion SiamJewels Doppelganger.
Nightfall is now Champion ClassicOri’s Noble Nightfall
Macavity is now *brace yourself* Champion and Supreme Master Grand Premier SiamJewels Macavity. He also ended up the 10th best all-breed alter for 2014-2015. :)

Showing won’t start again in any real earnest until July, so now you get to have me update things again. :)

Also, we now have a cattery website — Practical Cats Cattery where you can go and get a cheat sheet of who is who. :)

Nemo loves the cozy cave cat bed we got at one of the shows recently.

All of the boys in the house were having a quorum.

Just about every sunny day involves all the cats in the library soaking up the warmth.

Orientals live in cat piles, and sometimes, cat piles involve cat foot.

Life is not all cats though. Sometimes there are naps in front of the fireplace with dobermans.

The cat piles don’t always look so comfortable for everyone. Poor Youngsmile.

And finally, finally we’ve found it. The holy grail of cat pictures.

NINE CATS IN THE WARMY BED.

Nine cats sounds like so many until you realize they effectively take up about two square feet.

In no way whatsoever does this look comfortable.

It’s a good thing he’s so pretty because he’s also so, so scary.

Admit it. You’re going to have nightmares about this face.

Five points to anyone (who doesn’t breed or show Orientals) who can tell me what these cats have in common. Only these four in my household have or are this thing. :)

Hint: It’s the same thing these two have in common.

Can you spot all nine of them?

Sometimes, when it’s cool again, you need to hang out with your dog. (Mac and Crow)

And of course, we’ve now lived with this creature for six weeks. It feels like so much longer. Mister is turning out to be an utterly gorgeous cat, demanding, sweet, randomly adoring, randomly running.

She also generally looks less evil than these three. Seriously, this picture.

So much better. And yes, their eyes are really that green.

Balance is so gorgeous when you stop to really look at him. In person, he’s usually too busy having love crisis, flopping in your lap, or trying to steal your food. In photos, you can pause and see how lovely he really is.

There are cat beds in nearly every corner of my house, as well as furniture and other things to rest on. And yet, they all seem to want to pile in the same place over and over again.

Sometimes, they just lie on top of each other.

Another day, another game of ‘how many cats can you fit on your kitchen island’.

If only the kitten was visible here, we’d have the full set.

Speaking of the kitten, Mister is growing up to be an utterly gorgeous girl.

And I am absolutely in love with her.

Even if she is the most demanding creature on the planet.

This expression says ‘give me food. Or love. Or food and love.’

You should come rub her fat little belly.

Once, people worshipped cats. Mister believes that would be an excellent habit to start again.

You should also appreciate how fierce she is in attacking the largest and strongest cat in the household.

And last, but most assuredly not least, Nightfall looks on. She is still a little less pushy than, say, Balance, but loves people and loves the other cats and is so, so beautiful.

And that, ladies and gentlemen and everyone else, is the end of the pictures to post!

Posted in Balance, Camouflage, Cat shows, Cats, Crow, Deuce, Dogs, Jellylorum, Macavity, Mister, Nemo, Nightfall, Noire, Youngsmile | Leave a comment