Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday Indy

10 Wonderful Years with Indiana

24 Feb 2008
1998 Indiana came to live with us, about 12 weeks after he was born on 24 Feb 1998. Since he joined us he's been a wonderful addition to our family and a wonderful companion. Here are some snapshots of Indiana through the years and and the story of his life through his eyes.

I was born in Sydney on 24 Feb 1998 as part of a breeding program to establish Australia's very own pedigree cat breed. The breeder, Dr Truda Straede named me Nintu Gracious Guy. My life started out full of excitement. I travelled to the Sydney Royal Easter Show that year and with my brothers and sisters won the prize for best litter. I got a ribbon to prove it. Shortly after that my brothers and sisters started leaving me all alone as they all went to new homes. Before they went their separate ways we all had one last bonding session together, I heard someone say something about 'surgical procedure' and microchip.

Finally two people from Melbourne bought me. The day I left the cattery was amazing, I met my new parents and my new God Mother Aunty Michelle, said goodbye to my dear cat mother and father and left on a great adventure.

As I travelled to Sydney airport in my new mother's arms I learnt I was expected to answer to a new name. "Indiana." I was being named after Indiana Jones. Some said it was because of the adventures I had already had and were yet to have. But I really knew it was because I was just as handsome as Harrison Ford.

On they way to Sydney Airport I discovered the delicious smells of fish 'n' chips and would loved to have tried it, but had to be content with savouring the smells. I also learnt that I hated air travel and arrived in Melbourne huddled in the back of my cage. No amount of coaxing could get me to come out.

In my new house I got all these wonderful toys and there were great places to hide, like up in the chimney or inside the chest of drawers that I found I could crawl into through the back. But the very best thing I discovered at my new house was servants. Yes I had two of them. All I had to do was look cute and they would give me whatever I wanted. Food, games, food, cuddles, food and when I thought of it - food. Communication was sometimes a challenge as their comprehension skills were not well developed, but this was the life.

My first challenge was to put some structure into the servant's routine. They were not accustomed to waking up early, or planning regular meals. And of course shopping for groceries needed to be properly planned. They were soon to learn, nothing; I mean nothing, could be worse than running out of cat litter. Their own lives are still not well structured, but they are getting the message and I get my meals regularly now and they are early to rise. One small step at a time I guess.

Not long after moving to Melbourne I went to stay at a cattery for a few days. The minute they saw me they recognised my talent and I was photographed for a calendar. Yep! I was a celebrity, just like Harrison Ford.
1999 I started a tradition of having my staff photograph me on my birthday. On my first birthday, in 1999, I sat on the compost bin and posed for photos. The compost bin was full of wonderful smells and in Melbourne it could always be counted on to be warm place to sit.
Later, as the tradition continued I gave them some challenges to make it interesting, like not sitting still or not looking at the camera.

Life was going very well for me in those days. The training for my mother and father, AKA The Servants, was going well, although a little slow at times and there were the days they needed remedial training, but all in all life was good.

As I grew older my spots became more prominent. I also learned that I enjoyed the great outdoors. Unfortunately I was never permitted to participate in 'outdoors' without supervision. I became very adept at jumping the fence or getting on the roof of the house the minute one of the servants took their eyes off me.

Towards the end of 1999 I started to hear some new terms like USA and America. As it got closer to Christmas I started hearing it more. Then one day men came in a truck and picked up all my possessions. I was whisked off to a cattery and then I found out I was going to America.

Yes! at last! I was going to see Harrison Ford. I knew I was photogenic, I knew I could act, I knew people loved me and I knew how to work with servants. Yes - it could only mean I was going to Hollywood and I was going to be a star.

2000 the beginning of the new millennium. Qantas flew me to America, and I ended up in Seattle. Any plans of Hollywood, Harrison Ford and stardom were dashed. I had arrived in the Pacific Northwest. I was kept in a cattery for a few weeks then moved with my family to a den called an apartment. Those of you who watch TV will understand my disappointment, having readied myself for Hollywood - Tinsel Town; and what did I get? Northern Exposure!

We got an apartment in Issaquah, a bush town just like Northern Exposure. It had great views and a gas fireplace that I fell in love with, but except for a small balcony there were no yards there for me.

I also discovered the weather was upside down. Immediately I had to stop shedding and hang on to as much fur as I could. In February, for my second birthday I went shopping. The pet stores encourage pets to bring their people, so off I went. The only requirement was for people to be on a leash. I improvised with string. My first task was to find a leash so I could take my parents for walks out in the parks and gardens of our apartment complex.

My father was so proud of me when he discovered that I was already so big none of the cat harnesses would fit. You would not believe the indignity of having to go to the dog area to get a harness and leash.

The Pacific Northwest proved to be an interesting place to live. I met the vet at the Issaquah Cat Clinic. Yes a cat clinic. No ordinary veterinary practice. He was so happy to see me. He said I was what a cat should be like. Big, tough and all muscle. On some weekends when my parents went away I stayed at the vets place. All the girls that worked for him always made a fuss of me and got me out of the cage for lots of cuddles and games. Sometimes when the parents came to pick me up the girls cried because I was leaving them.

America also bought me other new experiences like being registered with King County. How humiliating was that? Back in Australia only dogs got registered and here I was, now having to be registered. I also had the experience of a rabies inoculation.

2001 Of course I had to finally give away the dream of stardom in Hollywood, but not to be defeated I figured that as I was in Seattle, the home of Microsoft and literally a neighbour of Bill Gates, then I should take up computing. Not sure why they had a mouse on this thing, but I eventually found that the top of the monitor was a good place to sleep in winter.
It was also where I first discovered snow. Lots of white stuff that fell all over the ground and froze your paws off. For some stupid reason my parents got all excited the first time they saw it falling. Me - well I wasn't so sure. I was a bit apprehensive about wandering around in the stuff and much happier when my father picked me up. Eventually, I chose to observe the snow from the comfort of my apartment. Central heating is truly a blessing.

For my 3rd birthday in 2001 I went shopping again. After all I was in America, the land where cats and even dogs can be consumers. Naturally at the pet shop they had all sorts of displays to tempt the finances of any cat. I also gave my parents a real treat by posing for photos under the Seattle Times.

One of the most memorable things that happened to me in 2001 was the great Seattle Earthquake. The Rattle in Seattle. On the 28th of Feb, just four days after my third birthday. It was a funny morning and I could sense something was wrong. I tried and tried to tell my mother I could tell it was coming but we just had a failure to communicate. She told my Dad on the phone at work I was acting strange. If you want my opinion, gossiping on the phone is strange when an earthquake is coming. When the vibrations started I ran and hid under the table. Just like they tell you on TV there. My mother just stood there in awe as everything shook around the apartment. When it stopped she scooped me up and ran outside. That felt so much nicer. Then she put me back on the ground. I can tell you, I still felt the vibrations and I was not too happy about that.

Here are two of my photos of the earthquake. One is my mother's fabric stash. She said the earthquake messed the cupboard up, but we all really know the truth don't we?

I had my parents get another tree in for Christmas and also took the opportunity to hit the slopes. No point having a fur coat unless you intend to use it.

2002 Came and went. My parents were learning to get the hint when I wanted a walk when I sat by my leash. I had learnt to escape from my leash whenever attention was diverted. I watched the seasons in Issaquah come and go through the panoramic windows or relaxed on the armchair in front of the fireplace.
By 2003 I had mastered the art of quilting and for workouts would attack the scratching post. Always pays to be prepared in case other cats or dogs came by. Although I pride myself on being very photogenic, there are some days you are just sick of the camera and all the media attention.
I started to master the art of standing up in 2004. My people thought it was cute, but I was actually practising to I could escape from the apartment. At last now, at least I could see over the balcony wall.
Then one day some very good news came. I was going home! Back to Australia. After I had learnt so much in the USA, it was time to bring the knowledge home. I had learnt important things like snow, shopping, coupons, computing, quilting, rabies, registration, Christmas Trees and earthquakes. You could tell I was eager to get back to Australia. I took a last visit to the ski slopes. Not going to be sorry to never see that stuff again and started practising in my cage for the long journey home with Qantas.

There were many things I learnt being a celebrity in the USA. One of them was 'Rehab.' I knew I just had to try it before I finally went home, so I spent 30 days in a 'Rehab' centre in a place called Spotswood. And how appropriate for me being the spotted cat and the link with my celebrity status. Did you know Anthony Hopkins starred in a movie made there called 'Spotswood'? He wasn't there with me though.

Finally at the very end of April 2004 I completed my rehab program. The option I had was called quarantine. Take a look at the size of the gates. I should have realised it would have been no fun going in. To justify gates that big, my reputation as an escape artist had obviously preceded me.
For me, one visit on the quarantine program was enough! They run a simple program of tests and regular meals that are supposed to be 'nutritional'. Well they are not. Nutritional to a cat means quantity and I've spent years trying to drum that into the servants. They have never been good at understanding that and I usually have to resort to sleep deprevation to get my way.

Not sure why celebrities keep going back for rehab. I can only guess because it's a simple life that would occupy simple minds.
Now that I was back in Australia it was time to get settled in. Check the garden, at last I could run free in a cat safe yard. Although one day I did manage to get up on the roof and over the fence. Also got to check the neighbours next door. A yappy sort of dog that is always good to torment through the fence. There was always much entertainment checking the yard for possums at night too. And when I am with my mother, I'm very protective of her.
2005 I kept up my computing skills, advanced to judging quilts, kept an eye on new furnitureand totally enjoyed the freedom of roaming around the yard without a leash.
During the year I also settled into a routine of travelling between Melbourne where my mother works and Brisbane where my father works. Exclusively I travel with Qantas and they have always been very kind. They're just trying to suck me in to enjoy flying, but they can't fool me. As I have travelled more I have become skilled at recognising the signs. Cage coming out and bags being packed, which I took as a sign to hide.

The servants tried to trick me by packing bags behind closed doors and keeping the cage hidden. But you know what? They can be sly, but they're not smart. They can't hide the taxi arriving in the drive, and now, when I see a taxi pull up in the drive - I'm out of there baby! Just try and find me. Even in the two bedroom apartment in Brisbane, there is always some place to hide.

In between travel, I've been fortunate to have a sewing machine at both places, so I get to keep up my sewing skills. 2006 another year, another birthday and more presents. The best present I got by far was this great bed. My father got a car called a convertible. He had been keeping in the garage, I'm sure as a surprise for me. When I finally got hold of it the roof made such a nice bed and a great place to curl up on and shed the excess fur.

Despite my efforts to hide from suitcases, cages and taxis, the travel with Qantas continued. At the airport the check-in staff always look in my cage and even though I'm totally annoyed, sulking and glaring at everyone' they say "Ohhhh isn't he cute." Cute? The very idea. There is nothing cute to a celebrity about baggage class.
2007 and 2008 I kept up my interest in quilts, although my New Year Day photo looked like I may have partied too hard the night before. One of my very favourite places is the linen cupboard. Finally in 2007 we move home in Queensland - twice, when Dad finally bought an apartment. Here I'm supervising the packing.So that's been my adventures for the last ten years. On the way I have developed some phobias, dislikes and favourite pastimes.
  • I hate vacuum cleaners, but then again so do the servants;
  • I hate the front load washing machine, can't stand that one eye looking at me;
  • I love to torment the dog next door;
  • I hate taxis;
  • I don't like other cats near my place. I've even fluffed my tail up when a cheetah appeared on TV;
  • I love to eat;
  • I love being brushed and having my ears scratched;
  • I love getting servants out of bed;
  • I love all sorts of fabric, in quilts, in the linen cupboard or the ironing basket; and
  • I hate getting my temperature taken at the vets.

Friday, February 8, 2008


By the emails I've recieved, Indiana has made a big hit. Especially for Dy, here is a selection from Indiana's Album. Just to look at them you wouldn't realise he is really very camera shy and turns his head away from the camera when ever he sees one.

He is a big boy, weighing in at around 7 and a half kilos. He's well behaved, very playful and is always looking for a game or a cuddle. He walks on a leash, although to his own agenda. On the 24th of this month he turns 10 years old.