Bonjour. It's good to be back!
how to cheer someone up in French

What is "miaulement"? + a new Paris tip on what to see in the city!

Ile st. louis in Paris, at the fleuriste's (c) Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the generous "welcome back" following Wednesday's post. I am touched to the core--or coeur--by your encouraging words and warm reception! These flowers are for you, en vous remerciant! Picture taken in Ile Saint Louis, Paris.

le miaulement


    : miaowing (or le cri du chat)

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word: Download MP3 or Wav file

Depuis le couloir, j'ai entendu le miaulement des chatons.
From the hallway, I heard the miaowing of kittens. 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"The Scoop"

Before I tell you what happened during my one-month sabbatical, I should tell you what happened just before it.

Cat litter. Cat litter happened.

Three days before my one-month departure we were a family of 6: four humans, two dogs. But in the early hours of November 4th--when the moon was high over the Mediterranean Sea and all the valley lay sleeping--our son smuggled home a kitty.

As I lie there in bed oblivious to the goings-on, Max came into my room. Speaking in hushed tones he informed me he had a Christmas present for Papa.

"But it's November, Max! Noël is next month."

"Yes, but they'll be out of stock by the holidays..." With that our 18-year-old motioned for me to follow him up to his sister's room.

Opening the bedroom door I saw my daughter's tousled hair. The rest of her was hiding behind a sheet. As Jackie lowered the drap I saw a second outline: that of a perky-eared interloper. 

kitty, bowtie, white socks, minou, kitten (c) Kristin Espinasse
Meet Pancho...

"You guys, no! No, no, no!" This was no time to take on a cat--not even an especially cute one with its natural bow-tie and white socks.  No.... But the miaulement of the fragile creature had my heart saying YES.

Meantime, three precious days remained in which to check off my To-Do list. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up before my one month absence. Already I fretted about household management--how would the kids and the dogs fare while we were away? And now a 6-week-old kitten!

True, Jean-Marc would return the week after the Seine to Normandy cruise--but I would be away for the month. Sure, my husband could take over on his return, but would everything run smoothly without the woman with the measuring stick? (Who would correctly measure the dog--and cat--food? Who would verify water bowl level? "You know," I kept reminding everyone. "An animal can go without food--but NOT without water!" I said this just to drive home the point--of course an animal needed la nourriture, too!)

"Look, I think it is best that we take the kitten when Papa and I return from our trip. Besides, it is only 6 weeks old--it needs another two weeks of mother's milk!"

Alas, it was too late. The kitten's mom had washed her paws of the responsibility. She was already out hustling on the streets again. And this was out of my control--but I could take responsibility for a kitten. It would need to be neutered, for one.... 

My pre-sabbatical To-Do list grew. Only now priorities were re-arranged: instead of a suitcase belt (sorely needed for my torn valise), "kitty milk" now topped the chart.  As count-down to departure loomed, I could be found whiling away the minutes in the supermarket Pets aisle. We needed infant formula for chatons and  kitty litter. But which kind of each? (There were several to choose from!) It was easy to linger among pet paraphernalia when my eyes caught on non-essentials like the jingle-bell collar (the green one or the red one?), or the jouets (the felt mouse or the plastic jingle ball). I didn't dare consider the cat skyscraper. Gosh no!). I grabbed the inexpensive toys. Tossing them in my caddy, I told myself I would deal with my husband's reaction later!  

Though I wanted our kitty to feel comfortable and to meet all its needs, I had my doubts about how this would all work out. Sure, the kids were motivated now. But would they really keep up their end of the kitty-litter/feeding agreement? And what about family vacations--already a tricky situation when it comes to pet care.

Mostly I wondered if we were capable of giving another living, breathing soul the attention and care it deserved. And what about the little creature's safety? After posting a photo of our adoptee on Facebook, a commenter wrote in: Please make sure he's an in-door cat. You will triple his life-span

Could we make sure? Were we willing and able to watch all the doors and windows... when in summertime we live les portes ouverts, or "doors open"? Besides, did I really agree with indoor cat philosophy? It had a kind of Stepford Wives feel about it: eerie and unnatural. To never feel growing grass beneath one's paws--to live in a contained world--that's no life for a cat!

But what do I know? Inexperienced, I would have to develop my cat philosophy and opinions along the way.  

And it looks like there will be plenty of experience to be had. Returning home from my sabbatical, groggy from jetlag, I tripped over a basket. 

"Oh, hello you!" I said, greeting our little minou.

That's when I heard not one miaulament.... but two!

(To be continued)

The pillow reads "Love you more." It's a gift I brought back for Jean-Marc. That's Pancho (beside ol' Mr Sacks), and do you see something under the couch? Surprised me too! Meet Lily, Pancho's sister. She's a calico.

Do you have any cat tips for me? Any ideas for a waste management system for those kitty crottes? How to control litterbox odor? Is your cat an indoor or outdoor cat? Declawed or not? Homemade cat toy ideas? Click here to answer or to see other cat tips.

French christmas music
Everyone loves this holiday CD! Listen to A French Christmas and "Mon Beau Sapin", "Saint Nuit", "La Marche des Rois", "Petite Ville Bethléem", "Il est né Le Divin Enfant". Order CD here. 

If you liked the LOVE YOU MORE pillow, pictured with above, you can order one here (great gift!)

French Vocabulary

le coeur = heart
la nourriture
= food
la valise = bag, suitcase
le chaton = kitty
le jouet = toy
le minou = kitty

Ile Saint Louis and a brasserie (c) Kristin Espinasse
More photos of Paris, where our cruise began. This is the entrance to Ile Saint Louis.

Shakespeare and Company bookshop (c) Kristin Espinasse
I took my friend Linda to a favorite Paris haunt

You don't have to be fancy or elegant to fit in in Paris. You'll still look charming.

street scene in Paris 5th arrondissement (c) Kristin Espinasse
Something about this soft-spoken bouquet, set on a modest table with its own cloth. Can the eyes ever tire of these scenes? To comment on this post, click here.

What to Do in Paris? I don't want to forget this latest tip by Lanier. This one's going on my bucket list!

They are now offering a guided tour of the kitchen gardens at Versailles which are run by the national School of horticulture. There aren't nearly the crowds you find at Versailles and you will see possibly every form of espallier known to mankind. It really is a worthwhile outing made even better by the lovely folks at la Cuisine Paris.  Posted by: Lanier Cordell

Thanks, Lanier! And for more tips on what to do in Paris, click here. (There are two pages of comments, so when you get to the end of the first page, click the link beneath the last tip to get to the next page.)

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Nancy Mulloy-Bonn

Welcome, back, Kristin! We have missed your stories and photos.

Alyssa Ross Eppich

Welcome back, Kristin!
I MISSED you and your lovely writing(not to mention the pictures!). And now we are all racing to Christmas. In between all the cat and dog and kid excitement, please make sure you relax and enjoy the season!

Donna Blazevic

Please, please, please keep your kitty inside. It will be healthier and will live longer. Even if it begs to go out, keep it in. After all, you are bigger, and your will should win out.


Congratulations on the new family members. As a cat lover who's lived with cats most of her life, I would say please don't keep them indoors. I quite agree with your feelings. The answer, in my opinion, is a cat flap. I have one in my kitchen door which my cat uses to come and go as she wants to - and she's now 15 years old.

Pat Cargill

My neice sent me the "love you more" pillow last Christmas. So great because we are always trying to "out-love" each other with that phrase. The kitten pic is adorable, with itty bitty Lily peaking out beneath the chair! I must have missed something- where were you for 3weeks? I know we were left bereft (of our French connection), but did not know your sabbatical took you to...


Welcome back to you and your expanding family!
As for kitties indoor or out, well most cats will do whatever they please.
After I rescued a half drowned kitten, our vet explained that an indoor cat's life would be far longer and an outdoor cat's life would be about 3 years. Since, I had just pulled him out of a ditch filled with water I figured he was living on borrowed time anyway. I vowed he would live a pampered indoor life but his piteous yowling to be outside proved otherwise. After 18 years he is still happy and healthy. Good luck with the kitties.

Norma Gosling

Hi Kristin,
Yes, welcome back and welcome to the new family additions.
We use clear plastic liners bought in among other places, Carrefour and then it is much easier to dispose of the litter when needed.
We have had cats for over 40 years and currently have only one, a Korat aged 17.5 and we love her very much. All our cats have always been allowed outside of their own free will with the use of a chatiere. Most of our cats have wanted to use a litter box, especially the girls. Until 11 years ago we lived in London and we brought 3 cats with us of whom "Nanny" is the last as we never leave her alone if we go away and it can become very complicated for us, arranging a temporary carer.
It most definitely should be the job of Max and Jackie to be the litter-tray monitors!
Thanks for the great posts!

Lee & Bill Mears

Welcome back, Kristin! I didn't know how much I missed you until I read this morning's charming post. Two gorgeous dogs and now two adorable cats. That's my idea of heaven on earth! What do Braise and Smokey think of their new family members?Over the years we have had dogs and cats (only one at a time though) and loved them all. Right now we have a 12 year old cat we adopted from our local Humane Society when she was 6 year old. The family who had her before had to give her up due to allergies. Her front paws had been declawed at some time so of course she is an indoor cat. We have always kept our animals in or on a leash. Our very first dog was killed by a car early in the morning when we let her run. That was a heartbreaking lesson for us to learn. Peace from Lee Mears in Bradenton, FL.

Maureen Kirby

To stop cat litter box/tray odour, feed biscuits that contain chicory (GoCat Indoor). It's amazing - no smells.

Our Lulu is a house cat -she watches the birds through the window.....and we are sure of her safety. If you must let cats out, please NOT at night.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I'm wondering what Braise and Smokey think about these two new fur balls. I think the kitty door is a good idea. My brother in-law has one for his cats but a raccoon decided he/she would use it too! Imagine waking up to a raccoon in your kitchen!

janet b.

my darling calico, MUSHY FARRENKOPF, is both an indoor AND outdoor cat, depending on the season (she doesn't enjoy cold weather either, just like me!) ~ to combat any catbox odor, i use an UNSCENTED cat litter (the perfumes used to scent these products are worse than the natural cat odor!) and i make sure to SCOOP OUT THE TURDS, ETC. EVERY SINGLE DAY. i keep the small plastic bags from my fruits and veggies close by, and empty the turds into one of those bags until ready for disposal. good luck with your two darling chats ~ they will provide much love, laughter and comfort through the years!

Julie Farrar

I have no words of wisdom about cats. One reason I would advocate an indoor cat, though, is that they are known to have a significant impact on songbird population. It's a huge problem in the UK.

How did you get such great pictures in Paris? The one day I was there before the cruise it was all rain and little inspired my photography. We just wanted to hurry back to our great hotel room and get dry and warm.

Mary Kennedy

Welcome back! Love the photo of the new kitty,I have 8 cats, all rescues. Re: declawing, please don't do it. People think it's no big deal and that's not true. It doesn't just remove the claw, it's a surgical procedure that removes a lot of tissue, causes nerve damage and many cats experience a lifetime of pain. I think declawing is banned in the UK and some states are banning it here. My cats are all indoor cats, it's much safer. Plus, don't you have some rather vicious dogs living near you? I think you said they attacked Smokey one time.
Loved your Paris photos!


Welcome back Kristin! I have long wanted to write comments about your wonderful articles but have never had the guts, as we would say. But now that you have kittens I have a lot to say on the subject. Congratulations on the new darlings! If you are thinking of declawing I beg you not to. It is like removing the top digit of your finger, nail bone and all. And should you decide to let the kittens outside they would definitely be in need of their claws. That said, I am a strong advocate for indoor only kitties. Like some have mentioned, it does lengthen their life. It also keeps them from killing birds and other creatures, which when eaten can then give your kitties some nasty tummy troubles, the results of which you will not enjoy having to clean up after!! Inside, they also stand less of a chance of getting ticks and fleas etc. Lastly, remember what happened when your sweet puppy wandered away and was attacked by other dogs, that was horrible.
As for litter, I prefer clumping litter, it's easier to clean up and the old adage "you get what you pay for" is true, the better brands usually have better odor control. Your new kittens are quite beautiful and will bring you so much joy! There is nothing quite like a warm, purring kitten snuggling in your arms! And having two is perfect so they can play together whenever they want! Please let us know what you've named them! And many congratulations! 🐱🐱🐱


Hi Kristen,
Declawing is inhumane. It removes a joint, like amputating your first finger joint. If the kittens ever get out, they will not be able to protect themselves plus declawing throuws off their balance. I have 2 of the little furry guys- I'm what they call a "failed foster kitty parent". Couldn't bear to let the little fur balls go after 6 weeks of fostering. They are the loves of my life!


PS. I made a screened 10 x 12 x 6 kennel for my guys so we could sit and feel the breezes. I read with a kitten on watch and a kitten on my lap purring. Ocassionally, they change places. I intend to have my large deck converted into a screened in porch in the spring, but for now, the kennel I made will suffice.

Mary Kennedy

PS, definitely agree with Kristine on the advantages of the clumping cat litter. With 8 cats, I'm something of an expert on litter boxes. Sigh!


Hello Kristin!
Soooo good to hear from you again! I missed your stories and pictures a lot!
Cats are cats and.. I guess little Pancho will enjoy climbing up the trees or chasing mice in the garden! (he will be so proud to bring them to you as a present!)
His two new dog friends will take care of him for sure! Golden retrievers are so protective I am sure they already love their new kitty friend!


Welcome back. Cat advice: No declawing if an outdoor cat, and the latest methods do not remove a joint as stated above, but that is just common sense. My last cat was born in my house, went out every day and lived to be more than 18 years old. He probably would have lived longer but he inherited a propensity to kidney failure from his dear, sweet mother who showed up at our door carrying a secret (just one). We have had cats over the 45 years of our marriage and they have done pretty much whatever they pleased and lived a long happy life. With the litter box you just have to be diligent and scoop it often. If they go outside you won't have to worry about it anyway, they prefer the privacy of the outdoors. Good luck!

Jean(ne) in MN

I'm glad you are back, too, and with new family members to enjoy and love. You have many useful pieces of advice, but I must add, spay and neuter your kitties as soon as they are old enough. It is the kindest thing for all.

Alanna from Dallas

Kristin, I am thrilled you have returned to us!
Enjoy your new cats. Don't let anyone guilt you one way or the other. My cats have been indoor/outdoor for years and all have lived into their late teens.
I have heard one old wife's tale that before you let them out you should wipe their paws with butter as you sit on the front steps of your house. Hold them. By the time they have licked off the butter, they have the scent of the house and know where they live.
PS As you live in a more rural setting, I suspect your cats will become great mousers!


I was so glad to see the return of your blog in my Dec.4 inbox. I realized how much I missed not only the French vocabulary, but also the stories about les enfants, la maison, et les chiens. And now les chats!!
Looking forward to stories about your menagerie!

Karen in L.A.

Welcome back, and welcome the kitties! While it's true that urban indoor cats live longer, your less-urban setting changes the equation somewhat. Do what works for you and them!

Lynn at Southern Fried French

OK, I've owned cats for 30 years and I work with a cat rescue group so here's the scoop. I love the way that 2nd kitty snuck in and I think you must keep her. I mean look at that face!
There are 2 schools of thought on the indoor/outdoor thing. I'm for the outdoor--too mean to keep them in, unless you're on a busy street. BUT I put a bell collar on my cat, and that works for the birds (but not the mice, or baby birds). BE SURE you have a collar that is BOTH all elastic AND has a break-away catch, you can find them on Amazon or other sites. You will need a litter box either way--clumping litter is the only way to go. they won't use it unless they're sick or get stuck in the house too long. DO NOT de-claw! Too cruel and they can NEVER go outside after that. Cats need mostly wet food, not dry, and cream, not milk, as a treat. Cat doors are great but get one you can lock when you need to and be aware other cats (or animals!) can use it. You can get one that responds only to a chip that the vet puts under the skin, that's best. I've never had a cat door though. Bon courage and you are going to LOVE those darling babies! email me anytime with questions, I've been through it all. And welcome back! xxoo Lynn

skeptique were gone for a month? Tempus fugit.

You found le Navigator. Been a favo of mine for ages.

Next time Le Languedoc on bd de chequered tablecloths and the best confit de canard on the planet.

indoor-outdoor -- let the chat decide

declawed -- NEVER

toys -- never buy em. take a yardstick (or meterstick, tie a meter of string with a knot on the end, dangle it in front of les petites, and you're in for a barrel of fun. Or take a laser pointer and bounce it nearby and the chase is on


My daughter, a cat whisperer, just told me that black cats are the best - they love to cuddle! Have fun.

Elaine in CA

i have to weigh in on the indoor/outdoor discussion. Cats love sunshine outdoors etc. I do my best to keep my cats safe (coyotes in the hood: in at sunset and I wait as long as they let me to release them in the morning). I really feel sorry for indoor cats. I've tried several times to keep my feline pets indoors but in the end I cave to the call of the wild. My son lost his totally not so old indoor cat to cancer last year so I am not sure about the longer life thing. I seem to think quality of life much more important. Ask the cats they'll tell you. Declawing? never! they have sensitive paws and what would it feel like if someone removed our fingernails?
Welcome home Kristen


Hi Kristen. Welcome back, and you have a huge heart-open to all-both two and four legged. Whichever, indoor or out, the cats will love you-in their own way!

Terry Miller

I have two cats of my own. We got Willie, the younger, as a playmate for Ollie, the older, after we moved and tried to make Ollie an indoor kitty. Ollie was depressed for three months and getting Willie didn't really help. Finally, we let them both out and they are so happy running free! They rough and tumble in our backyard and have the best time. We found a cat door that fits into a window frame and it has a lock on it. Once it's dark, we call them in and lock the cat door until morning. They know the routine and all is well.
I'm with Elaine...quality of life for an animal is what I place importance on. Of course, we kept the claws and our cats go to the vet regularly...a cat vet, by the way, who also has indoor/outdoor cats of her own.
So glad you're back; you were missed!

Cassie  Alexandrou

Dear Kristin,
I always enjoy your wonderful photos and, this morning, one of them gave me a fun surprise. There was the street on Ile Ste. Louis which lead to our Hotel (Hotel Ste. Louis). In fact, we sat in that sidewalk cafe. I could see the very chairs in which we sat having a glass of wine as we watched the world go by. Such an amzaing city. Can't wait to go back!

As for the kitty -- she is adorable, but alas, being allergic, I have no words of wisdom for you. I hope everything works out.

Carol Kovacs

Welcome back ,Kristin..........i'm a new reader and enjoy your posts and photos. You are refreshing my high school French from long ago.
I had the same experience with the kitten 24 years ago. i wondered why my son kept his bedroom door shut all the time and insisted Inever go in there. Of course my suriosity made me check to see why. A tiny tiger baby was lurking under the covers of his bed. Our little "tigger" was just adorable but when it went outside, it brought us a bunch of freeloading fleas that required a total house cleaning and carpet scrubbing. We both learned that lesson the hard way. Tigger was a constant companion for Joe and loved to drape himself on shoulders while riding in the car !

Lanier Cordell

I always train my cats to go outside to use nature's litter box. Once they are trained to the litter box, I move it closer and closer to the back door and eventually outside. Once they are used to meowing to go out to use the litter box, the box disappears. My cats go in and out all day and stay in at night. They live quite long healthy lives (my last died at 21 years). This way I never have to worry about escapees or the inconvenience of a litter box.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Wow! Two kitties!

Living in Arizona with a desert landscape, my wife is constantly on the warpath against the feral cats. They love to use our entryway as a sandbox. Also, the males mark their territory.

On the subject of bathing cats, you might enjoy the poem I wrote called Cat’s Catastrophe

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Bonjour Kristi! Love your photos from Paris and the cruise, and ADORE the one of both kittens and Mr. Sacks. Brava! Keep them inside? Not sure how you'd accomplish that in summer in Bandol, and while it may increase their longevity, it will compromise the quality of their lives. My cat Chico had a perfect cat life for 12 years in Provence, but eventually met his fate. It's a tough choice. Whatever, never declaw. Glad you're back ma Belle!


Welcome back!!!! I missed you and your writing and photos! I adore you - you are so lovely and so normal at the same time! I feel that we are lost twins sometimes, although from reading other posts it seems alot of people feel that way about you! I LOVE the kitties - adorable! And I LOVE, LOVE the Love you More pillow!!! I am definitely getting one. My son and I have said that to each other for years! Glad you are back!!! And glad you had a wonderful reprieve. I hope you realize how very lucky and blessed you are in every way. Big hugs!!!



I hardly know where to begin with my list of ´ThankYou´s´regarding this mornings post. Thank you for sharing so many little details that make up the life you live. I am so inspired by your photo´s and I definitely want to join you on the tour of kitchen garden at Versailles next summer. Enjoy your day today my precious Kristi - you need a rest after your big vacation. As we all learn that lesson as life moves on - lots of new memories to stop and savor for a few days or longer. I guess you could do this in your garden. I think you should have J.M. set up a temporary plastic sheet greenhouse along the rock wall of your garden for this winter. That wall receives full sun. What a nice retreat for you away from the house this winter, and you can take Pancho and Lily with you. They would adore gardening.

Off to paint your first are the greatest photographer, what a lucky Mom I am.




I have two Siamese-13 and 11, indoor cats. And one white, bob-tailed fellow who adopted us 7 years ago-an outdoor cat. He is the most easy-going, amiable guy around and has won our hearts. Indoor is better, but not always easy-and sometimes I wonder if they should have a full outdoor life-maybe shorter, or longer indoor life. But, truth be told one of my Siamese wouldn't go out if you tried. Make sure your kitty litter is dust-free. Cats are great, and snuggling with them has seen me through some tough times. We also have a yellow lab who we all adore.


Also, me again, a perennial favorite cat toy-roll up a ball of aluminum foil and wrap a string around it and run through the house. Endless fun. If cats go out, expect a parade of little critters gratefully dropped on your doorstep. And when doors are open in the summer, sometimes the cats will make an indoor delivery as well!
And give kitties tons of affection now and you will have their loyalty forever!

Janine Cortell

Dear Kristin:
Several months ago I lost my beautiful Maine Coon to a predator. We think it was a coyote.
Couchou was an indoor/outdoor cat and he loved being outdoors in our wooded yard. He was fine for 12 years...and then he was gone. I grieved so terribly. I now have another Maine Coon and will keep her, inside. If you can deal with the grief of a missing animal well then let it roam free. Vets recommend keeping cats indoors. There are many ways one can keep the cat happy. We have lots of toys and play with her often.

Cynthia Wilson

Wow! Cats are easy pets to have, however, as long as they have a litter box, regular access to food and water. I have always had cats, indoor and out, and I find them to be sweet, frisky and very independent. Bon chance!!!!!

Donna Grieder

Welcome back, Kristin!
You were missed. I decided that if you could give up writing the column for a month, I could make a small sacrifice of my own, so I stopped drinking Diet Coke, which had become a daily habit.:) It worked: thanks!
I've only had one cat. I used to tell my children that if they were to get a cat it would have to drop from heaven onto the house. day we heard 'le miaulement des chatons' from a sheltered corner of the patio roof. You can guess the rest...I agree with Lynn about the bell and break-away collar.

Jennifer Coute-Carmellino

Welcome back, Kristin! It's so good to be reading your posts again.
Oh, what wonderful gifts you've received....felines!
I look forward to hearing more about them. Many mischievous antics to come, I'm sure!
I'm a "cat person", and a Registered Veterinary Technician (nurse), and hope you don't mind I share a few opinions & tried & trues.
1) Though I understand the fear that causes people to keep cats indoors, you live in a perfectly adventurous place for a cat to enjoy outside. I would definitely bring them inside at night. Definitely.
2) Declaw?? NO. It's a horrendous surgery, a betrayal to cats, recovery is sad & long, and they often become biters once they learn they don't have claws, not to mention no extreme tree climbing. There isn't a single reason to declaw a cat. There are ways to deter them from scratching your furniture & curtains that work very well.
3) Litter box should be in a private location, away from heavy traffic, and not near their food/water, otherwise the chances of them avoiding the litterbox increase. You will have to teach them where it's located. Because you have 2 now, you may consider getting 2 litterboxes, to minimize any "laziness".
Pine litter is amazing at covering up the stink, and it's environmentally superior to the clumping clay, though the latter is more convenient. Empty it every 24-48 hours to avoid them feeling it's too full, and then they avoid it.
I'm happy to help you in anyway I can.
Have a most delicious time with your little ones! They're kissable.

Brenda in SF

I really missed your French Word a Day.
The latest photos of French storefronts and cafes will tide me over until your next post. I hope you are refreshed after your R&R. By the way, how do you say R&R in French?

Mel Anthony

In haste, so brief: Neuter - yes, of course. Declaw - no, no, no, no, no! Litter - much cat litter is dangerous due to inhalation of the dust it creates; the only safe litter our family (with 4 cats) has discovered is "Yesterday's News", a natural product formed from recycled newspaper. This comes from Canada, and can be purchased in France from several internet vendors - but we have never found it in a French pet shop or supermarket. Love the kitties and they will love you back.

Oh, and use a high-covered kitty litter tray with filters, and clean it daily. And let them go outdoors when they are old enough - it is a natural part of a cat's life and they will miss so much if imprisoned. Don't forget a catflap or two...


Welcome back Kristi and especially a welcome to the wonderful world of cats!!! Ours are now celebrating their 24th birthdays (we have two and, yes, they are definitely indoor cats). You might want to consider adding screens to your windows so that you can easily leave them open through out the warm months, without worry of kitties taking off outside. The added benefit will be that you will have less flying pests inside as well! What cute little kitties and I know how much Jean-Marc loves cats. I can't wait for the next installment.


Amanda Frost

Welcome back! Hope your cats add joy to your life. Whether you let them out depends on the hazards: busy streets, wild animals, etc. A bit of concrete advice about litter: I like Cat-San, fine grade (the blue and tan sack). If you remove the droppings carefully and put them in little plastic bags (as someone else said), the sand stays clean for months. We hardly ever have any odor (only if little bits are left behind)--then you can clean and add some bicarb. of soda to eliminate any smell. Or replace the litter. Have fun. Two cats is double the entertainment.


So glad to see "FWAD" in my inbox again!
Will enjoy reading about your kitty (ies).
Is Le Navigator right near Shakespeare & Co??? Looks very familiar.


Didn't realize how much I missed your blog 'til you came back! Always so very charming and interesting. And kudos to you for becoming a surprise! cat mom (I'm a dog mom and we are now on our 3rd adopted Sheltie). I often think that these little fur people are God's special gifts to us! And I love the little mustache...Susan Branch, another blogger, has a black/white cat named Jack that has a very distinct mustache. Check him (and Susan) out at Good luck!

Susan Souza

I so love your blog and your country this summer we we lucky enough to take our 13 and 19 year old granddaughters and 2 year old great granddaughter as well for a few days in Paris we had a wonderful time ..if only I could connivence my husband to stay for 6 months (the dream) I so missed your blog I live my dream through you. Your Mr Pancho and Lilly
Are too cute we have 4 cats and they are quite entertaining. We love all four 2 were our daughters and came to live with us when she was living in Japan
You and your family will do well with the love you give life.

Suzanne Dunaway

Kristin, you have a mas, so the kitty will "go" outside, but let me tell you that Cat's Best organic, FLUSHABLE litter is fantastic. Don't use anything else!!!
She's also young enough to potty train and you won't have to use litter at all----
more on that only if you ask.
She is a keeper...Loulou loved her on sight.

Edie Schmidt


Lovely photos of Paris. I'd love to see the newly renovated Picasso Museum and on a more sober note the Jewish Museum in the Marias District is worth a trip.
As to your kitties, I don't recommend declawing which is cruel. We had a beautiful Abyssinian cat who was declawed and she was very neurotic. Please neuter your cats. We love them but we don't want to see so many feral cats leading short and desperate lives. Keep them inside if you can, but if you've got a safe place outdoor, let them out when possible. You can use old newspaper in you litter boxes. You might need to have one for each cat or a couple in different places.
Good luck and Joyeux Noel.

Edie from Savannah

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. I love it --- 2 dogs and 2 kittens. Your kids have good hearts - just like their mom! I have always had indoor cats ---- but see what works. They usually have a longer life span than outdoor cats.

Thanks again! I woke up to snow on the Oregon coast and your FWAD really put some warmth in my bones & heart!

Mary Iturrioz

Kristin: The Navigator is one of our favorite restaurants in Paris, having been recommended by a local many years ago. They have a resident cat (and dog) and you can usually see the cat sitting right out front ! I will send a picture if I can find it.
With kindest regards,
Mary Iturrioz

Diana Denny

Hi Kristin, I'm so glad you had a good holiday.
The kittens are, of course, adorable. In Victoria, British Columbia, birds are the issue regarding cats. We have always had cats, at one point 4 kids and 5 cats on a subdivision lot. The answer to the bird issue is a 'bib' . Our current young cat, now we are reduced to two of us and one cat, took to the bib very well. We use a small cat-harness and the bib, made of a light weight neoprene, slides over the neck portion of the harness. It can go on a collar, but we found the collars can pull off over the cat's head, which can not happen with the harness. (CatBib ™) is made in Oregon, I think. Sold here in 'Birder's' stores.
We have 'cat-doors' making it possible for the cat to be as free as he likes. After attempts at keeping cats indoors over the years, this is the solution.
If you are worried about leaving the cats while you go away, there are people who will 'cat-sit' for you.Offer your home to the right people, in exchange for cat-sitting and you'd be giving them a holiday along with yours. We have done this for apartment-living friends who love being here in our home and garden with the pets.
I hope this helps you make a decision. Have fun getting to know CATS! Diana

Marcia Douglas

What a sweet little kitten! Yes, cats do live longer if kept inside. Our white cat, Blue, just passed this Fall - he was 18 years old. I let him out through the summer as he loved to sleep in the lillies under a little redbud tree but he picked up a lot of fleas from cats already roaming free out there. Still tackling those fleas with my little Papillon dog Jasper. What a pain! As long as you treat for fleas and diseases, they can go outside. Farms have barn cats who do double duty.

Nancy L.

I can imagine you will have an ABUNDANCE of cat advice, so I don't think I'll need to add mine. Just enjoy them! xoNancy


Pancho is adorable and is the calico, Lily? Calicos are may favorite. They will have lots of fun in your home. Love the photos and recognized a brasserie in which I have eaten several times on Ile Saint Louis.

Joan Linneman

If you have not seen the "Gregory, il a fait boum" scene in Truffaut's "Argent de Poche," (with a kitty who goes out the window first), it's classic. I think that if you like to have your doors and windows open, there is no way you will be able to keep your kitties inside. But if you are outside a lot, they will stay close. We have a dog and cat, and they get along great. Enjoy!
Joan L

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Hi Kristin!

So glad to see you back. I'm laughing to myself about these photos because you've shared one of a "my" florist from when I lived on Île Saint-Louis, and I feel like I'm seeing it for the first time! All the times I have bought flowers there, shot photos of it, and just admired it, I've never noticed the window above it.

And I love that you shared a photo of Le Navigator, because I just happened to take a photo there the other day - with a couple kissing in front. <3

Looking forward to hearing about your November.


Nancy,                     Cambridge

I am heavily in favor of an outdoor kitty life; When I was a child- our cat(s) all enjoyed roaming outdoors, and had years of strong and interesting lives (ages 12+). More recently, we found an abandoned kitty in the Florida woods (wild?) that lived to be 15+, and a neighborhood cat had the (outdoor) freedom to adopt our home as one of his 3 families he lived with on my street. He hunted, visited everyone in turn, and lived to be over 18 years old! Providing a safe spot from night hunters and inclement weather is important- but you'd all be anxious and nervous trying to limit it's life experiences.
So glad you're back on line (and I guess the cat has been let out of the bag about JM's Christmas present, right?)


Welcome back, Kristin!

(Didn't have a chance to respond to your 4 Dec. post.)

Suzanne Codi

Wow, so many posts , pro and against letting kitties go outdoors.
We have always had cats and dogs together ( now 2 big dogs and 5 assorted kitties ( 2 black, 2 grey, 1 calico) and they have to have their claws if they live in a house with dogs. Also, they cannot stretch without them, and stretching is a necessity for them. AND it's inhumane to declaw them for all the reasons mentioned by your readers...
Killing birds is the number one reason to keep cats indoors. Ours look out the window at the birds, then catch the field mice that come in this time of year, or the big flies...They can easily get lost or injured outside, even killed by cars or other animals ( or birds of prey...)
Having 2 is wonderful, they will always entertain each other ( and you) and the kids can make toys ( wadded up pieces of paper, or feathers on a stick) to give them exercise...but they'll chase each other around enough for that, or run away from Braise and Smokey!
Have fun, what a great addition to your family, yaaay Max! And welcome back, tu nous a manque' !! xox

Bill Facker

Meeeow! Like enjoying the warmth of a cute kitten on a crisp winter evening .. it is great to snuggle up to your words again. Mahalo Kristin! Aloha

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Exciting times with two new kittens. You are going to enjoy them so much! Bon week-end. (Again, so happy to be reading FWAD once more…)


Welcome back! It's lovely to read your postings once again. I love animals, especially les chats, and wish you many years of joy with your new additions. I have two kitties myself, and currently the three of us are living in close quarters (one room in a house) so anything is possible with ingenuity, a lot of love and plenty of scooping. I use crystal cat litter because it seems to really control the odor and less tracking of little bits of litter around the floor. They seem to do well sharing one box and if you do end up letting them go outside, you probably only need one box for yours. The (break-away) collar with bell is a great idea, birds are in danger (what isn't, these days?!). My only caution is regarding your neighbor's dogs---dogs that attack other dogs can easily harm cats, too, so make sure your kitty babies are safe. Once again, welcome back to your sweet home in la belle France! :)


Love your kitties. We have 2 cats (sometimes 4) that come begging for food - I don't think they are hungry they just like to come visiting. They are adorable and after they eat they go their separate ways. Both very loving. They are not ours but are beginning to feel like they are.
Welcome back home.


My family and I firmly believe in a cat's need to roam. Advantages to us is a slender lean kitty who eats lots of greens and has good cardio health. She will take birds down but her favorite to take down are mice. We love that she keeps our yard and home mouse free. She also does most all of her business outside and a litter box is only kept for the sake of rainy days and emergencies. We really like that. I don't believe a trapped house cat can get all the green food and exercise it needs. Declawing is evil but I believe that is illegal in Europe so I have no worries there.

Lee Armstrong

Darling post and darling kitties. I have two kitties who love to roam outside. I know they would not trade their joyful existence for a longer one.


Bless you for taking in the homeless kitties! And I agree with both sides of the indoor/outdoor debate. I want my cats to be safe, and would never let a dog of mine roam free wherever it wanted to, so why should a cat be allowed to? But I also don't feel it's fair to deprive them of experiencing the fresh air, lying in the sun, playing in the grass, and chasing bugs. So, at our house, we found a compromise - fenced in a part of the back yard so they can't get out of it (well, mostly! One loves to climb, and a couple of times has gotten over the fence.) And there is netting attached to the top of the backyard fence, so when I can keep an eye on them, they are allowed in the full back yard and are pretty well contained. There are many packaged systems of cat fencing and many ideas on various websites, but I just took the combination of them that worked best for us and didn't cost too much.
Bonne chance!

Veronika Delvaux

oh your kitty looks just like our Tuxedo... we got him when he was 3 day's old. Today he is now 6 month and we had him "fixed" today together with his adopted sister Betsy.

I love the story, the way you write!

Leslie NYC

Beautiful kittens!
I mix 1/2 cup baking soda in with 5 lbs. clay litter(natural) and rake it out daily. No odors. Good for 1-2 cats(just one box).
I have heard that clumping litter has harmful chemicals.
Definitely agree with others about not declawing.
You might try planting catnip seeds in the spring. "If you sow it the cats won't know it, but if you set it(plant plants) the cats will get it."
Have fun!

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

Oh, I can't wait to read the stories to come. I'm sure there will be many.

Que les jeux commencent et bienvenue chez vous !


The kittens are absolutely adorable, Kristin! We have two cats and have always kept them indoors, simply because a few years after adopting the cats, we expanded our human family and felt it was safer for our babies to be around indoor cats (outdoor cats sometimes contract parasites that, while safe for adults, can be harmful for pregnant women and young children). I have also, in the past, lived with an indoor/outdoor cat that loved her freedom to run around and hunt mice outside, then bring them to us as a reward (!) :) Regardless of what you choose to do with your two new feline babies, cats are generally easy to care for. Keep them fed, give them lots of love and cuddles (when they want them, of course), and clip their claws from time to time to spare your furniture. Enjoy your family of eight! :)

avril rustage-johnston

Welcome home, Karen; I've missed you.
Lucky, lucky you, to have not just one (very cute) kitten, but two - and the second a calico! Calicos are always female since the colouration is a genetic mutation rather than a breed type, but perhaps you already knew that. Did you know, though, that calicos are super-sweet-natured, cuddly and decidedly people-oriented? I envy you a kitten to watch growing up even as I enjoy my my 5-year-old calico, Little She, (named by my grand-daughter). Those kittens will turn your lives upside down and you will be glad they did/do. Watch to see how much fun discarded wrapping paper can be:-)


Hi Kristin! Welcome back. Congrats on your two new babies. I had to put my baby down a year and a half ago (he was 24) and I still cry all the time. I miss him so. Let's see: 1. Definitely make them inside cats. I know it'll be tough since they're kittens. 2. DO NOT declaw. It's mean. 3. Get them used to having their nails clipped. That will help keep some of the damage under control. You can do it yourself. It's not a big deal. 4. Lots of scratching posts and cat trees so they can play and hopefully keep off your counter tops. 5. Cat nip and wheat grass are fun. Good luck!


Dear Kristen
Welcome back and I too have been looking forward to your return. Please, please do not ruin your cats' lives and declaw them. That is simply inhumane like taking away a dog's bark. Cats need their claws and you can buy a good scratching post and keep it in the kitchen .. they will use that. There is also no reason to keep your cats inside particularly when you live in the country. Your cats will learn to look after themselves. Install a cat flap, feed them regularly and you can put a bell around their neck if you are
worried about the birds. However not all cats catch birds
and hunters and roadkill are a far bigger threat to birds in
France. You wiill also find that they will stop needing a litter tray when they get used to being outside or they will use it a lot less so don't worry too much about it. Enjoy, respect, and love your animals and you will be repaid with all the happiness they will bring. You are lucky to have them.


Our dear Kristin,
Your post today once again wrapped itself around my heart!
My dear maman used to say it's the biggest compliment and good luck if an animal(s) choses yoou and your home!These babies knew you would love and care for them!!
Natalia. xo

Diane Young

Well, Vivent les cbats! You have really touched a soft spot in many hearts with the news of the new arrivals. I had 7 cats one time but my mother cracked and took most of them to the Humane Society one day while I was at school. Quel dommage! With luck they will be around for years and you have many readers available to answer any questions about their care and feeding. Enjoy these precious additions but don't forget to keep us supplied with pix of Braise and Smokey. Great to have your blog to look forward to again. Vivent les chiens, les chats et la famille Espinasse!

Deanna in Oregon

Glad to have you back, Kristi.

Sweet kitties - we just had to put down our beloved 17-yr.-old (indoor only) cat from myriad old-age problems. I strongly advocate for keeping them indoors only - if you care for birds (many nest on the ground) and other useful native creatures (frogs, lizards, etc.). A bell around the cat's neck is totally useless in warning birds of the cat's presence; cats learn how to sneak up without jingling the bells. Other respondents have mentioned the disease problem; cats can also catch feline AIDS from infected outdoor neighbor cats. Cars also mow cats down. Outdoor house (and feral) cats are responsible for killing literally millions of birds in the USA every year (check with the National Audubon Society for details). If you want your kitties to have an "outdoor experience", chief Grape can build an outdoor fenced-in and -over kitty patio in your yard with a flap to let them go out when they want. There are books showing how to do this. Re. litter box odors - an easy fix is to sprinkle baking soda daily or whenever needed. Good luck with the darling kittens. (And DON'T get them de-clawed! It's cruel.) Best wishes.


It is not cruel at all to keep cats indoors...I have 4 rescue cats and they are healthy and happy, especially since I buy interactive toys like Da Bird and play with them often. And they love to look out a window from their ceiling-high cat trees...but trust me, as I feed a small feral community also, the cruel thing is let them outside where fleas, fights, diseases, cars, cruel people and many other dangers reside. Pancho est adorable! S'il vous plaît garder en sécurité à la maison!

Betty Gleason

Ah!!! Lily II, or is the number higher? Is that your name for female calico cats? Wishing them both a long & healthy life. On that subject I agree with you. My cats have been indoor/outdoor cats & have lived to ripe old age.

Jo-Ann Jahant

I love this story - I am a cat idolizer. Can't wait for part 2.


Kristin, How adorable. . . I am in love with cats (well all animals really) I totally agree with you, about letting them be both indoor and outdoors cats. I bet Smokey will watch over them and vice-versa. I always let my cats roam the outdoors and scratch out their domain and territory. Sure they will have to learn to be careful and select what trees to climb to get out of harm's way -- but what a rich and lovely life!! Get the ladder ready for helping them down when they cannot go backwards down a tree. Kittens bring so much joyful shenanigans to home and mine keep down the mice population as well.

Lorena Meunier

Chère Kristin - Your trip must have been fabulous! - I wish we had been able to join you. - Anyway, the kittens are adorable! They reminded me of our cat Kitzel who lived almost 20 years. He was an indoor cat, except for an occasional foray on the second floor deck as we followed a veterinarian friend's advice. He was neutered but still had his claws. (Declawing seems cruel to me.) Kitzel seemed perfectly content indoors. We used regular cat litter and clumping; I prefer the regular kind. It's always good to scoop during the day to keep the box tidy - cats are fastidious that way. Seeing your kittens makes me yearn for one again. - Amicalement, Lorena

Sandy Maberly

Wow, so much advice, lots of differing opinions and all good depending on what you think best. I order Georgia's scentless, clumping litter from Amazon and can get 20 kg for a good price ( better than in retail shops). It might be best to keep such young kittens indoors until they are a little wiser in the ways of the world, but I think they would appreciate discovering nature's wonders once they're older. They're precious and I know you will love sharing your lives with them!

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Chere Kristi,

So happy that you are home and writing once again. Now my Christmas season can truly begin with your pictures and stories that warm my heart and make me feel like I'm a part of a large worldwide family. You're a blessing in my life Kristin and I look forward to enjoying this season with you…

Sending love to you, your family, the doggies and new kitties (I pray they'll all love each other) and the warmest, most peaceful holiday season…..xxoo


Oh Kristin, I so love this story. My sister, brother and I used to do the same thing to my parents. We always hit up my mother first because she was such an old softy. We even managed to bring home stray kids! (Friends who needed a place to hang their hat in times of strife) Devil got its due though, my kids did the same thing to me, including kids. It was alarming how many kids were kicked out of their homes as teens. I had several rules of responsibility, but the most important one was that they call their parents and let them know where they were. At least there is an advantage in being a human they were assured a warm place with a friend. I can't wait until it happens to them! My daughter in law is a softy as well...

Hugs, bj

Emily Garaitonandia

Bonjour! I volunteer at an animal shelter and I know how tempting it is to take in every single kitty! When my husband and I had a cat, we bought a "self-cleaning" cat litter box. Perfect for even the laziest cat owner! It's too big for your babies right now, but when they're bigger it's brilliant.

Also, when they're a bit older, make sure there is one litter box per cat.

As for indoor vs. outdoor, my parents' cats were always both and they lived quite a long time. If you live set back from the road and have a decent amount of acreage, I say let the cat roam free. However, cats being cats they sometimes go off on their own for a couple of days, so if that would be too stressful for you, then perhaps indoors is best. Cat toys, scratching posts and oodles of playtime and your kitties won't mind at all! And a window near a birdhouse or bird-favored tree is the best cat "TV" you can get!

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