Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meet the boys, Pt. 1: Riley!

You've (digitally) met me and Masheka, and you'll meet Cartoonist Baby soon enough. But there are two more members of our little Brooklyn family who deserve your attention!

First up, there's Riley (shown here in 2006 sneezing all over Masheka, and in 2007 participating in a book publicity photo shoot):

Riley sneezing on Masheka's shoulder Cartoonist/cat goofballs: Masheka, Riley, Mikhaela

Riley first sniffled his way into my life in May of 2004, mere days before I met Masheka. I had just moved to my first pet-friendly Brooklyn apartment, and there was a cat-shaped hole in my life. My parents had tried to lend me one of theirs, but she retaliated for this abandonment by scratching at my legs and peeing on my bed EVERY DAY (plastic tarps were no barrier to her mad urination skills).

So Mombi returned to Massachusetts, and I paid a visit to a cat rescue group. This time I wanted to adopt a sweet, loving lap kitty without vengeful urination habits. Finally, I just asked "who is your friendliest cat?"

That would be Riley. As soon as they opened his carrier, this little orange-and-white guy leapt into my arms and began purring like a steam engine. Instant cat love! His shelter name was actually "Reilly", but I changed the spelling in tribute to the Boondocks comic strip character.

But hours after I got him home, I began to worry. He just huddled on my bed, totally uninterested in food or water. Turns out he had a major respiratory illness, the equivalent of kitty pneumonia. So my first phone conversation with Masheka (before our first date) found me sitting on the kitchen floor with Riley wrapped in a towel as I tried--and mostly failed--to administer chicken-flavored baby food via syringe.

After two weeks at the vet hooked up to an IV and feeding tube (paid for by the apologetic rescue group), Riley recovered. And for the past six years he has brought a ridiculous level of joy to our lives. He's sweet, cuddly and playful, with a loud asthma-enhanced vaccuum-cleaner purr and a penchant for streaking madly around the apartment for no apparent reason.

Still, life with Riley can be a bit of a trial. There is nothing he will not bite, chew, scratch, cough (again, the asthma), sneeze or vomit on. Despite our obsessive use of cord-protection devices, he has twice managed to completely eat through the presser-foot cable on my Viking Platinum 730, occasioning expensive emergency trips to the repair shop. I have to watch him like a hawk around yarn, thread and elastic. I'm just glad he's never electrocuted himself!

And then there is his insistence on developing terrifying life-threatening illnesses on a regular basis. A seriously infected broken tooth (likely due to his unconventional choice of food materials) nearly killed him last spring; by the time he came home from his dental surgery he was a skeletal 3.9 pounds:

Riley comes home from the vet

He made a miraculous recovery and weighs nearly 8 pounds now... but not so long ago terrified us again by scratching a tiny scab on his neck into a giant gaping bloody wound. I had no choice but to serge him up a rib-knit T-shirt to keep his claws off it while it healed (he had destroyed the vet-provided version in minutes):

Jazz-playing turtleneck-wearing kitty

Masheka remarked that Riley looked ready to play jazz flute in this little turtleneck... but kitty was just relieved when we finally let him wiggle out of it. So: aside from medical necessity, sewing for cats = not recommended.

Next up in this extremely short series: Life With Ronnie!


  1. I love cats, and the turtleneck is hilarious! If only my apartment were kitty friendly

  2. I am a massive sucker for crafter cat photos. And the jazz flute turtleneck is STUPENDOUS.

    I too have cats with epic medical histories and craft grudges ("He PEED on my BERNINA??!"). You, like me, may find this Onion article relevant:


  3. ´Masheka remarked that Riley looked ready to play jazz flute in this little turtleneck`...haha, and how true! Cats are the best, aren´t they. I, too, have a cat and he´s old (19) and constantly snorts on everything. Not nice, but we love him anyway.

    Love your blog!

  4. Riley in the turtleneck is the best. thing. ever.


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