Little Blue Penguin, Little Blue Kitty

All around the Wellington coast the roads are spotted with penguin crossing signs.

No.  I’m not making that up.  We lived only a couple of hundred meters from one for years.

People told me about seeing them in the rocks, or (less ideally) having them nest under your house (apparently penguin intimacy is something you’d rather not experience at close quarters).

The penguins you get in Wellington are Little Blue Penguins, the tiniest species of penguin, and I was desperate to see one.  Sadly, in all the years I’ve been in Wellington, and for all our proximity to the signs, I’d never manage a glimpse. Finally, a couple of weekends ago, I managed to see a Little Blue Penguin.

It was sooooo cute!

Little Blue Penguin, thedreamstress.com

It saw me too.

Thought about it for a moment:

Little Blue Penguin, thedreamstress.com

Yeah.  Nah.

Little Blue Penguin, thedreamstress.com

Those people things aren’t all they are cracked up to be.  I’m over this.

Little Blue Penguin, thedreamstress.com

It was over me, but I wasn’t over it.  It was adorable and I wanted to see it again!

I guess I’ll have to go back to the zoo again soon 😉


In other blue news, you know  how blue jeans sometimes come with a label that says not to sit on light coloured furniture in them because you might stain the furniture blue? It turns out that if you have a light coloured cat and indigo dyed fabric, the inverse is also true.

Blue Felicity thedreamstress.com

Blue Felicity thedreamstress.com

It’s strange, but pretty cute.

I might have to re-name her Blueberry, and then she and Walnut can get together and make muffins (sadly, despite their obviously superior sewing kitty genes, neither of them will be making kittens).

Blue Felicity thedreamstress.com

Luckily the vet wasn’t too worried about it, though she did say we should avoid a repeat of the experience.

Blue Felicity thedreamstress.com

And it’s fading, so soon enough Felicity will be back to her bright, white self.  At least this was much less painful and scary than her last bit of textile experimentation.

Blue Felicity thedreamstress.com

So, here is my public service announcement for the week:  Don’t leave indigo dyed fabric where your cat can find it and sleep on it (and DON’T leave needles where your cat might eat them).


  1. It’s absolutely adorable!
    I had no idea that there were warm weather penguins, although there was that one scene from the Swiss Family Robinson when one of the sons saw some little penguins down the beach and cried out excitedly that there were Lilliputians. I though Robert Louis Stevenson was just making it up.

    Felicity is adorable too!
    That guy who wants to ban cats in New Zealand will get nowhere with his awful campaign.

    • Hopefully his stance will make people think about the responsibility of owning cats in a country where the rich native bird life had evolved without predators – and address the problem created by returning de-sexed feral cats into the wild.
      The little blue penguins seem to get on okay with all the seaside cats – probably even blue ones!

      • I do think his stance got a little out of hand, but I agree that it is very important to protect the native wildlife.

        Felicity is only allowed out of the house during the day (the SPCA advises that native birds are most at risk at dawn and dusk), but she really isn’t a danger at all – we’ve trained her out of catching anything, and she never managed anything more than mice anyway. If she’d ever shown any more ability as a hunter she would have had a bell as well.

      • Elise says

        Wow–no idea that was going on, although I’m glad that there is a more reasoned approach championed by many. No one wants a situation similar to Guam. The feral cats were getting out of hand in Honolulu, too.

        Albuquerque has a robust catch/neuter/release program. They provide cages for free and will do the operation, along with any other medical care. All de-sexed cats have a little notch of their ear cut. The city also provides free behavioral help lines, animal food welfare, etc. Very important things for owners of pets. The life of reservation dogs….that’s a different story all together.

    • Sorry about the double up – just re-discovering the ability to comment on lots of my favourite blogs. The needle incident must have been very distressing.

    • There are a number of different penguin species that live in slightly warmer climates than Antarctica. The winter water around NZ is still pretty chilly though!

      The Swiss Family Robinson was actually written by Johann David Wyss, not RLS. It was written in 1812 – almost 40 years before RLS was born, and at a time when there was still considerable world exploration going on, and an island with kangaroos and penguins and ostriches and zebra and anaconda all flourishing together was slightly more believable to the general public.

      I remember reading it as a child and desperately wanting such an island to be true, and my mother explaining to me how people in the late 18th and early 19th century were so excited about all the new flora and fauna they were finding in places like Australia, and the sense of possibility it gave the world.

      • Penguins actually live right up to the Galapagos Islands (marine biology degree showing here).

        Oh what a cute blue kitty.

      • Oops, I got it him mixed up with the other guy who wrote a classic about an island. That book has always confused me, I’ve read two different versions and they were nothing alike, one had pirates and one didn’t.

        I agree that birds are important and need to be protected, but a ban on cats is an extreme and crazy way of doing it. Your strategy is far more sane.

  2. That little penguin is too cute! And, poor Felicity and the needle! A little blue tint is nothing compared to the previous incident.

    • Isn’t it ADORABLE! It makes me want a pet one (though the stories about penguins under the house do give me pause!).

  3. LOVE the blue kitty paws AND penguins! Oh goodness, read the story of Felicity and the needle, yikes! I’m so glad my vet is also a good friend who tells me to bring the animals to her whenever I’m being “nervous”.
    A couple years ago I did a project for our local CERT team (emergency crews that help first responders in things like our pesky earthquakes) where I made several foldable stretchers from awning canvas. Come to find out that some outdoor canvases have coatings that offgas. My dad had it tested (I can’t remember off the top of my head what the chemical was!) and said the coating included a chemical that was an oxygen replacer, meaning it would be inhaled and like helium replaces what you take in and in this case alters your brain chemistry. UNLIKE carbon monoxide, which causes damage, this would clear as soon as you left the area. How did I see this? When the bolt of fabric was in the garage all the outdoor cats went through a personality change, became grumpy and ill behaved. When I brought the fabric in the house one of my cats actually attacked me to get to the fabric to first roll on it and then wouldn’t let me near. I had to throw a towel over Stuart to get him out of the room! I closed all the doors, opened the windows and sewed QUICKLY to get the project out of my house, with cats throwing themselves against the doors trying to get in to get their “fix”. When I asked my dad how bad this stuff was he said “It won’t cause any long term damage but please don’t put the bolt in the car and drive any distance.” This from a man who worked at nuclear reactors and designed their safety systems… I told the CERT organizers that they needed to air these items for at least a year to see if they could get rid of the imbedded chemicals (dad said they would eventually dissipate) because why would you put an injured person on something that is going to screw with their mental acuity?
    On top of all of that my vet told me that she has started telling people to NOT use Sunbrella type canvases indoors or around cats and dogs for much the same reason. I have NEVER seen my cats act as crazy as they did that day. Once the bolt was out of the garage the outdoor cats became their old selves within a day and my headache cleared up by that evening. Do I think it contributed to the blood clots I was diagnosed with a couple months later? I’ll never know…

    • Oh wow…what a story! Yeah, whether or not that dissipates I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near it! The personality change is fascinating – it makes you think about what chemicals can do to humans.

      I’ve known cats in Hawaii that got stung by centipedes and were forever different. Too much toxin for their little bodies 🙁

      • Elise says

        Poor kitties! So not cool. Ugh, forgot about those centipedes…

    • Lynne says

      Thank you for posting that, Loran! You were lucky to have your father to confirm that you weren’t exaggerating, and to give good warnings. I have multiple chemical sensitivities, and have discovered that many fabrics are treated with formaldahyde, among other chemicals to discourage insects, bacteria etc. That ‘new smell’ can actually be rather dangerous – important to apply the sniff test, and to let suspicious fabrics off-gas, if you have to use them.

    • Elise says

      Holy heck! Thanks for the sunbrella-fabric warnings, too. Last night, my dog Ivy started vomiting blood. Our emergency vet was very intelligent, compassionate, and not a jerk like Leimomi’s. The idea that a vet would tell someone not to worry about a *needle in their throat* rankles me. I’m glad that the other vets mentioned seemed kind to both animal and owner!

  4. I love penguins, they’re so cute! I’m up in Auckland and you do see them sometimes but I’ve never heard of them coming up to people’s houses.

    Cats are notorious, mine always sleeps in my fabric stash and gets up on the table and tries to rip up my patterns! I’ve never had my cat swallow a needle before, how awful!

    • I still want to see one in the wild! I wonder if there aren’t enough beachfront houses in Auckland to make nesting under them common. They are notorious in Wellington for the sounds they make nesting under houses, and there is so much coast on the Miramar peninsula and round the South coast that has a narrow road, and then houses, so all penguins have to do is cross the road and find a nice warm under-the-house-space to settle in to.

  5. Lynne says

    The needle story gave me the jim-jams! Poor Felicity and poor you.

    I once had a cat start swallowing a length of cotton with the needle on the end. Fortunately, I caught her with that silly look of surprised concentration on her face (the look people have when the length of spaghetti is sooo much longer than they thought it was going to be!) and managed to gently pull it out of her tum before she had got to the needle. It made both of us a bit more cautious!

    The penguin is beautiful – the blue looks right on him/her. When Felicity gets rid of the blue, she may well have a few days of looking extra-white. Remember the old blue bags people used to put in the rinse water? The blue colour made the white look whiter – blue light cancels out the yellow tinge, says a sensible-sounding site I googled. As the Reckitt’s Blue slogan used to say, “Out of the blue comes the whitest wash!”

    May Felicity soon glow again in all her purity!

    • The needle incident was not a good moment! The vet told me that swallowing bits of string and ribbon is even more dangerous for cats than swallowing needles, as the lengths of string get wrapped up in the intestines and cut right through them, where a needle can get padded with food stuff and pass through all the curves. I still want to avoid either!

      The shade of blue on the penguin is fantastic isn’t it? It makes me want to make a penguin inspired frock! That deep blue-grey is such a hard colour to find though – I’ve been looking for it for three years now for a specific project.

      Felicity isn’t looking whiter as it fades – more of a dingy blue grey in the creases of her paws. The original blue that they used to put in bluing was indigo though!

  6. Penguins are something we only get at the zoo in the Northern Hemisphere, and not such cute little blue ones (though penguins are cute in general).
    Little blue cat… your description of how this came to be made me laugh.

  7. That penguin is a beautiful shade of blue. On the other hand, blue doesn’t become Felicity nearly so much. 🙂

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