Friday, 4 July 2008

Aalspotz Kleopatra "Qetesh"

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around sixteen weeks old
[Right - Qetesh at around sixteen weeks old posing for the camera.]

When I first saw the modern Egyptian Mau in the flesh - or more accurately, the fur - I was astounded as to how affectionate and lively the breed are. Obviously, I had read a lot about the breed before deciding to welcome one into my family and comitting myself to such a responsibility, but I thought they would be very shy amongst strangers in their midst, but this breed appeared to be extremely playful and literally throw themselves at their guests! The Maus I visited were a new litter of kittens at the Aalspotz cattery in West Cowick, which I visited in April 2008. I had the intention of asking for the only boy of the litter, as I had been thinking of owning a male Mau for a while, but a beautiful little dark coloured girl Mau changed my mind, as she spent much of the time I was there clambering up onto my lap to be petted. I was told by the breeder that the reason she was being sold as a pet instead of being a show cat or for breeding was due to the angle to which her ears are set; rather than following the planes of the head her ears were more upright, which gives a more startled or alert look to the face, which is something she inherits from her mother. This I was not concerned about, and I could not deny that she had the most gorgeous markings and an adorable personality. It was so sweet that the little girl had chosen me to be her new owner, so I gladly agreed to have her.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around nineteen weeks old
[Above - Qetesh at around nineteen weeks old trying out walking on her harness.]

The Mau kitten was brought to me from the breeder on the 28th May 2008. Officially registered as Aalspotz Kleopatra, but now affectionately called Qetesh, she has quickly become a very important part of my life. She was born on the 12th February 2008 as part of a litter of four. I do not know any of the registered names of her sisters and brother, but their given names from their new owners, I believe, are Maisy, Sparkle, and Albert. Qetesh's sire and dam are both now at the Aalspotz cattery: Pollystar Arethusa "Ari" (born of Bacamamdit's Abydos and Santillo Tameri) and Chantina Esmeralda "Ellie" (born of Emaus Opening Gambit of Mautrix and Newkingdom Aida). The Great, Great Grandmother of Qetesh via both her sire and her dam is called J's Iris Qetesh of Newkingdom, born on the 4th May 1997 and responsible for the first Mau kittens to be born in the UK, which makes my Qetesh's given name all the more special, as she is named after one of her own ancestors. The name Qetesh (written as Kadesh by some) in ancient Egyptian means "The Holy One" and comes from a Canaanite goddess of love and beauty that was later adopted into the ancient Egyptian religion and associated with Hut-hor (Hathor). The goddess Qetesh was often depicted naked standing on the back of a lion holding snakes in one of her hands and lotus flowers in her other hand, representing the penis and vulva respectively. Even her registered name, Kleopatra, has Egyptian connections, as there were a few queens called Kleopatra (or Cleopatra) during the Ptolemaic dynasty, when the Greeks ruled Egypt; most notably Kleopatra VII Philopator, who ruled Egypt in her own right.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around twenty-three and a half weeks old
[Above - Qetesh at twenty-three and a half weeks old prowling around the garden looking for bugs to chase. She has even begun eyeing up the birds that fly overhead as if she is about to leap up out of her harness and grab one from mid-flight.]

25th July 2008
Having now been living with me for nearly two months, Qetesh’s personality and characteristics are much more apparent. She loves interaction with her adoptive family, enjoying spending a long time sitting on someone’s lap to be stroked, being groomed, or just perching herself on your shoulder for a ride around. When she is not lounging around being petted, she is off playing one of various hunting and stalking games: chasing around a laser pointer or hunting for her catnip fish or rattle on fishing rods. Some of her favourite toys include a catnip leopard-print mouse, rabbit feet, and coloured ping-pong balls. Within the first couple of weeks of her being here she introduced us to one of her more frightening games, that of Hide and Seek: realising that all of a sudden your kitten has disappeared without there being any doors or windows open is quite worrying, only to find her appear from nowhere twenty minutes later as if nothing had happened. She has attempted playing the same game once or twice since, but it has never had the same impact as it did the first. Qetesh definitely loves the outdoors, enjoying her long walks out on her harness twice a week very much. When she is not out for walks - or runs - and not out playing in the garden, she is sat on any available window sill to gaze out longingly at the passing dogs, cats, birds, and bugs. A few of her more strange qualities are scaring her reflected self through mirrors (in the dark she will arch her back and try staring herself out whilst walking towards her reflection menacingly), tearing through the house at eleven PM every night, and her weird passion for water. Her odd liking for water means that I get very few shower time and wash time in peace, as I always have a little furry spectator. Though she will never actually submerge herself in any water, she enjoys splashing about and being splashed. Besides batting my toothbrush with her forepaws, playing with the plug, or drinking from the shower floor, basin, or running tap, I have now begun to be blessed with seeing the characteristic Mau worried look whenever brushing my teeth or washing my hair; these two activities appear to be hugely fascinating to her. The worried or concerned look I never saw in her features in the first month or so that she was here, but in the last week or two, as her features and body has begun to mature, the worried look has become much more prominent, and when she looks you directly in the eye with this look it makes you feel very loved; this feature really cannot be done its justice from a photograph. Not only is Qetesh growing extremely well, but her spots over her back are now beginning to clear, so her markings are looking all the more beautiful. She is still keeping me in suspense as to the colour of her eyes, as they have not yet changed from amber, but I have vowed that once they have changed I will be getting some professional photographs of her. Qetesh now has some tarnishing (or what I like to refer to as tea-staining) around the muzzle, cheeks, and neck, but to me this just makes her features all the more attractive; it is a proud fact that everywhere Qetesh goes she always collects herself numerous admirers. She right away decided that my bed was much more comfortable than her own, so her bed has since been given away and she now spends her nights curled up on one of my blankets on my bed. Her behaviour has always been excellent; only ever resorting to slight naughtiness when she wants attention. One of her attention getters is pouncing on my laptop when I am working on it, and then laying down across the keyboard; she has actually crashed the computer on a few occasions by doing this. These past two months have been an utter joy, and I cannot wait for many more!

13th October 2008
Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around twenty-four weeks old
[Left - Qetesh at around twenty-four weeks old posing for the camera.]

The past three months have been a huge journey for Qetesh. I shall start with which came first. On one very hot summer day I came home from shops and opened up the living room windows to let some fresh air in the house, as it had gotten incredibly stuffy. I was sitting opposite the windows the entire time, and I saw Qetesh walk along the window sill; fearing the worst, I was just about to get up and shut the windows so she could not get out, but she leapt up onto the television cabinet and I thought nothing more of it. Ten minutes later, however, I realised that I had not seen anything of her in a while so I went around the house looking for her. She was nowhere to be seen, so I called to her for a while, taking her favourite toys around with me, figuring that she was just playing her old game of Hide and Seek, but I did not even hear the slightest whimper from her. I thought I should probably check out in the street just in case she had gotten out of the window, even though I did not believe for one second that she had, so I went up the street checking every garden that I passed, to no avail. When I got back I checked in our garden down the side of the house, and there she was, playing on some freshly chopped down tree barks that she had been playing amongst the day before whilst out on her harness. As soon as she saw me she darted for the back door and waited to be let in. This was when I found out what a little monkey she really is, and realised what a mighty hand-full she is going to be over the coming years!

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around twenty-seven weeks old
[Right - Qetesh at around twenty-seven weeks old after being spayed, wearing a Buster collar.]

Poor girl was suffering with some particularly bad teething problems for quite a lot of weeks, which made her a little ill for a time, as it put her off much of her food. On a recent trip to the vet, it was noted that her upper left canine tooth was missing and had been gone for more than a month. The vet said that he guessed that it was some kind of unfortunate birth defect, but that she will live fine without it, as she is an indoor cat; still another month on and that canine tooth has not made an appearance, so it would seem that the vet was correct in his assumption. Not long after she had started to recover from her teething, she was taken in to the vet to be spayed. Qetesh came home the same day of the operation completely full of beans until she realised that she had to wear a Buster collar. She was supposed to wear it at all times for two whole weeks, but after two days of seeing her miserable and bumping into things all the time, I just had her wear it during the night when she could not be constantly watched, so she soon perked up. She has been ill over the past month, too, due to a bacterial infection, which has seen her in and out of the vets for various test; it would seem like she is a walking advertisement for getting your pet insured. Trying to get herself stung by bees and wasps, and getting sardine bones stuck down her throat has been a constant reminder to how mischievous kittens will be.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around thirty weeks old
[Left - Qetesh at around thirty weeks old drinking from her water bowl.]

Qetesh still enjoys her walks on her harness and her playtime in the garden, where she often sits beneath a tree overhanging into the garden to watch the birds and to periodically moan at me for not letting her go chase them. Being trained to walk on a lead can be difficult for some cats, but Qetesh took to it easily, and there are some tips for doing this on Catnips cat sitting service, with a link leading to Qetesh’s story. She has a new habit of sitting by the front door after the postman has been to see if there is anything of interest for her, and she especially likes it when delivery men bring parcels around, even when it is not for her - which it often is; cat food, litter, trees, and toys - as she usually ends up with a nice big cardboard box to play in for half an hour. Qetesh has recently got herself a new favourite toy, a cuddly snake with a rattle and catnip in its head, that she will happily play with by herself or with others for quite a long time. She loves stalking the snake, pouncing on it and attacking it, but is not too pleased when it decides to attack her back; this will result in her storming off to lurk behind something, awaiting her next opportunity to pounce on the snake again. Very adorable to watch, that is. Last but not least for this diary instalment, Qetesh has become a little spoilt princess and decided that she cannot possibly manage with just one litter tray in the bathroom, so she now has two side-by-side, one shallow and one deep. This came about after her seemingly exhibiting some distress when using her tray to defecate in; I bought her a new tray, but she would not give up the old one entirely, and continued to use one tray to urinate and the other to defecate. She is such a strange girl, as I have never heard of cats doing this before.
I am now looking forward to finding out what Christmas will be like with a kitten around. I can hardly wait to see her mesmerised by fairy lights, batting tinsel about, and doing the unexpected!

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around thirty weeks old
[Above - Qetesh at around thirty weeks old falling to sleep, resting like a sphinx.]

22nd February 2009
It has been quite a few months since Qetesh’s last diary instalment, and she has just passed her first birthday, so she has now gone from kitten-hood into junior-hood. Late last autumn I found the cheapest and most fun cat toys ever when I went out one afternoon with my six-year-old nephew. My nephew suddenly stopped in his tracks and started picking up conkers that had fallen from the tree next to our nearby church, which he collected and brought home with us; Qetesh found these the most fascinating things to kick about ever, so when I was next out I went collecting them myself for her, along with acorns. The acorns she loved even more, I think because they rattle as they roll around, and they often went missing for days on end, only for her to miraculously find them again. Both the acorns and conkers have long gone now, after either cracking or going missing, but for the few months she had them around they were easily her favourite toys, so I will certainly have to go conker and acorn collecting this coming autumn, too.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at thirty-nine weeks old
[Above - Qetesh at thirty-nine weeks old about to go out to play in the garden wearing her pink jumper.]

As winter began to approach I started to worry that she would not want to go out for walks and playtime anymore due to the terrible weather, especially the strong winds. After speaking to a friend that has an Ocicat whom told me about how her cat liked to wear jumpers, I decided to let Qetesh try out a jumper. Strangely, once we had worked out the best way of getting the jumper on her, she actually enjoyed wearing it, and once she was out playing in the garden she did not bother with the jumper at all. This meant that she could carry on enjoying the outdoors right the way through the winter, except for when it was raining, so it really helped, though she does not go for walks during the winter in case the weather gets too bad whilst we are out. At one point, when the jumper was still new, Qetesh even used to drag her jumper out the basket beneath her pram to cuddle up to, so it was clear that she was not disturbed in any way about wearing it.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at forty-four weeks old
[Above - Qetesh at forty-four weeks old dressed up in her Santa hat.]

Qetesh sat around in amazement when the Christmas decorations were put up, but luckily she never once attempted to climb the tree or anything like that: she was quite satisfied to lay on the stool by the window and knock the snowman and reindeer magnets off the radiator onto the floor; sit beside the television and push the Christmas coasters off the cabinet; or chew the polar bear picture. She even had her own special decorations to play with: Christmas tree, snowflake balls, butterfly, and Christmas crackers. The butterfly and balls were easily her favourites, and you could happily pass huge amounts of time dangling the butterfly about for her to catch or throwing the balls about for her to chase. Christmas morning was very amusing, as at first you could see the look of disgust from her at seeing everyone up and about so early in the morning, and without even putting any food out for her! But as soon as she glided into the living room and saw her new toys laid out on the floor, she was soon back to herself, investigating the foreign objects. The fury mice that came in her Christmas stocking were a huge hit, and she spent much of the morning dashing around the house at full pelt with the mouse hanging out of her mouth, and she also spent a lot of time playing with her new fling-ama-string toy. At New Year she got to play with her IncrediBubbles, which had her prowling about in the bathroom for hours, pouncing on un-popped peach-flavoured bubbles, and begging for more to be blown about.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at forty-eight weeks old
[Right - Qetesh at forty-eight weeks old ready to pounce.]

Over Christmas I did notice a spot of blood in the corner of her mouth, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with her and she was eating okay so I left her be, only to notice a week or so later that she now had no upper canine teeth at all: she must have lost her upper right one about that time. I took her to the vet, where I was told that the upper right canine tooth that had recently gone missing must have still been a kitten tooth, and not an adult canine like he originally expected, so she now has no upper canines and likely never will. She manages alright without them, though some foods she finds difficult to pick up and chew, so it is just a matter of getting used to what foods are best for her. Whilst she was at the vet she had to stay there for a few hours to get an abscess drained from her mouth and she was sent home with antibiotics. This is when we found out that antibiotics give Qetesh a poorly tummy, so from now on I have to get her pro-biotics any time she is to take antibiotics.
Qetesh has now passed her first birthday, discovering the joys of Da-Bird, which completely tires her out, and has still got plenty of growing to do yet, as the Mau does not reach its adult size until about two years old. She still also has amber eyes, but they seem to be gradually changing, just very slowly to keep me in suspense!

14th September 2009

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around thirteen months old
[Above - Qetesh at around thirteen months old winning "Best Egyptian Mau Spay Female in the Australian United Virtual Cat Show Bushfire Appeal (click on image to see larger).]

It has been a while since this diary was updated, so here goes. Qetesh has had a full bill of health for many months now, which I am happy to report, so I have thankfully had no worries there. In response to the Australian bushfires that occurred on the 7th February 2009, a virtual online cat show was opened to make money for Victoria Wildlife, by charging a small entry fee. Qetesh was entered into this competition in the category for pedigrees. I was not expecting too much, as she is purely a pet, but thought that it was a good cause to donate to, and it is always nice to get to show her off. So, I was so proud and stunned when, on the 1st June 2009, I found out that she had won Best Egyptian Mau Spay Female in the show.

Cat Run built by ARB Creative
[Above - Qetesh's Cat Run built by ARB Creative.]

During last winter I had decided to get a cat run built for Qetesh the following winter, as she had been unable to go out to play when she wanted in the cold weather in case the wind and rain got too bad whilst we were out on our walks. I figured it was never too early to start making enquiries, so I asked advice from people that I knew had enclosures built for their cats: what they were built from; rough costs; and who they employed to have them built. Being told that most people had knocked their own enclosures up or had family members or friends do it, I was told that the best thing to do was to contact local joiners and handymen or professional run builders. This is where the fun began: I refused to employ a handyman, as I wanted it to be done professionally so there was less chance of it collapsing a week after it had been put up, so this left me with professional run builders or joiners. Run builders tended to be unbelievingly pricy and still wanted to keep to their own specifications of size and design, but very few joiners seemed interested in taking on the work because it was something they had never done before. When I finally found a joiner that I was happy with, I decided to go ahead and get the run built straight away, even though the original plans had been to wait until early next year, so Qetesh now has her own - very large - run to play in.

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around fifteen and a half months old
[Left - Qetesh at around fifteen and a half months old sitting atop of her polecat play station inside her new run.]

Seeing as Egyptian Maus are known for being a bit uneasy around strangers, I expected that having people here to construct the run would have been a nightmare for her, but she seemed to love it; sitting at the windowsill watching them work (perhaps this is just the general kitty nosiness, though?). I took her out for a walk around the garden on her harness a couple of times while they were here and it did not faze her one bit. In fact, I believe it has helped to make her more comfortable around people. As soon as the run was built she was straight out there to investigate her new surroundings. It was not long before she was demanding to be let out there first thing in a morning, letting herself in and out all day, and refusing to come in last thing on a night. A couple of times over the Summer months the window had to be left open all night to allow her to come and go as she pleased because she enjoyed being out there so much. At first she was still quite timid in the windy weather and come racing indoors once the breeze got up, but now she will stay out there in all weather: blazing sun, gusting wind, and even rain. Qetesh can literally spend hours on a high perch in the run watching squirrels and birds, befriending or trying to scare off neighbourhood kitties, and chasing insects and leaves around. She has also began a strange habit of climbing up the wire meshing of the enclosure to the top, which must be over seven foot tall, in order to stick her face in spider webs!

Aalspotz Kleopatra (Qetesh) at around eighteen months old
[Above - Qetesh at around eighteen months old laying under a bush for shelter from the sun at the public garden on Exeter Grove, Hull.]

On one of Qetesh's recent Sunday morning walks I took her into a public garden that people generally go to walk their dogs; it was quiet that day with no people or dogs about, so it seemed safe to let her enjoy the nature; hiding under bushes, squeezing between trees, and playing in the grass. She liked it that much that I took her back there the next week, though, all the excitement does make her very tired.

Merrydancer Kornflake "Petrie"

After spending two years living with me, Qetesh found herself with a new addition to the home; a sorrel-coloured, male Abyssinian kitten. When I first went to see the Abyssinian kittens at the breeder's house, I was surprised at how much more shy they were than the Mau kittens I had the pleasure of meeting previously, but they were still truly stunning felines. I picked the kitten I wanted, went home, and eagerly awaited the time that I could bring him home. The kitten is of show potential, with the pedigree name, Merrydancer Kornflake, but I have since given him the pet name, Petrie. I chose his name in reverence to an impportant archaeologist, William Matthew Flinders Petrie, who was awarded the title of "The Father of Archaeology" due to his significant discoveries throughout Egypt and elsewhere. On the 27th January 2010 Petrie had been born as part of a litter of four: Kookie, his fawn sister, is staying at the Merrydancer cattery; Kupcake (I believe is now affectionately called Milk), a usual brother; and a fellow sorrel brother called Kracker. Petrie's sire and dam have both now moved on from the Merrydancer cattery: Crystalpaws Frodo Baggins (born of Koperkat Drake Ramoray and Crystalpaws Lilac Ghost) and Highlight Jessica (born of Depussy Silver Cymbeline and Pinegrove Silver Callista). As the weeks passed while I was awaiting the new arrival, I worried more and more about how well Qetesh would get on with her new friend.
I brought Petrie home on the 30th April 2010. Following a long journey from Sleaford to Hull, he was happy to be finally let out of the carrier and free to investigate the kitchen and living room; he could not roam the full house right away as Qetesh had to be kept separated from him until he had familiarised himself with the new surroundings and was fully settled in. I spent some time getting Petrie used to his new home, and introduced him to some kitty toys to make him more comfortable, but eventually the inevitable had to happen: Qetesh and Petrie had to meet. I had Petrie enclosed in a large dog cage and let Qetesh into the room. She spent a while casually watching Petrie from afar, but gradually crept closer and began hissing at him. When he was let out of the cage she continued hissing and took up guard of the living room doorway to make sure he did not pass into what she obviously considered to be her territory. By the next day the hissing had died down and only occurred if Petrie physically invaded her personal space; by bounding up to her or entering a room that Qetesh had previously been occupying alone. Over the next few days Qetesh attempted to approach Petrie and initiate playtime, but Petrie had become slightly fearful and often responded to her with hissing and growling. Things gradually improved, though, with the two cats regularly enjoying a game of chase together, sleeping together, and even Qetesh grooming Petrie.
Within a week, they were both regularly playing together, and Qetesh began to take on a motherly role with him; checking up on Petrie when she had not seen him in a while and swiping her paw at him when he had been misbehaving. A couple of big fights broke out between them early on, though, which was quite worrying at first, but after getting some advice from the breeders, we were able to calm things down again. Fights seemed to appear from nowhere, with both cats squaring up to one another, bushing tails, growling, and hissing, before getting to the physical scuffle; Qetesh would often bite the nape of Petrie's neck and stand over him, like she was about to mount him, then kick him with her back legs before rolling around scrapping together. They had to be separated and kept in different rooms to cool off, but soon after they were crying for each other, wanting to play again. A mixture of jealousy and wanting to assert authority was what probably caused their arguements, so it was decided to have Petrie neutered early, get both cats some Bach Flower Remedy to calm them, and to make Petrie a "safe house" out of a cardboard box. These solutions appear to have worked, as they have never had anymore fights since, except in play, so they are much more friendly now. Both cats are kept in different rooms when left unattended, and started off by sleeping through the night in separate rooms, but now can sleep together.
Petrie has been here for almost six months now, so his character is really starting to show. He can often be seen carrying things around the house in his mouth; usually his toy mice and balls, but has been known to be mud, stones, leaves, twigs, and bird poop that he has brought indoors from the cat run. As well as enjoying playing in the run, he has also gone out in the garden on a harness; Petrie has not taken to it quite as smoothly as Qetesh did, as he would shuffle his bottom along the ground and roll about with the harness on, but he is still learning. The model-like walk that Petrie does is very amusing, as he seems to have perfected a swing to the hips as he glides around and tilts his head with an air of superiority; this makes him look though he really does believe he is royalty. Petrie has recently begun chirruping at his prey, often seen to be chirruping at a fly before pouncing on it, or chirruping at birds he can see out of the window or cat run. Hearing Petrie chirrup has now taught Qetesh to do it, too, as since I got her more than two years ago, she had never chirruped before now. One of the Abyssinian character traits is the affectionate head-butt. I had heard much about this, and had assumed it was reserved for their human slaves, but have found that Petrie will head-butt Qetesh in greeting, which did confuse her at first and angered her, so Petrie cooled off on his head-butting to Qetesh. Even though Petrie has potential to go to shows, at the moment he seems too afraid of being closed into cages, so I am concentrating on letting him enjoy the home-life with Qetesh for now, and see about showing him in the future.

*** Special thanks to Paul and Sue Threapleton of the Aalspotz Cattery for entrusting me with one of their beautiful cats and for giving me much apreciated advice along the way.


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