Tag Archives: cats

Neville Stinkybottom

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So we adopted this cat a little while ago.  We had been discussing such things and then some friends posted a plea on Teh Book of Face about a stray who needed a home.  So it was that we arrived at the house of total strangers and collected him from them.  They couldn’t keep him because their stodgy adult cats were lodging complaints about the whippersnapper in their midst.  We could relate: we wanted another young cat to occupy the attentions of our kitten who was righteously pissing off our old lady cat, the Traditionally Built Hermione.

He’s a lynx-point Siamese, or looks like one.  He’s stripey and has Siamese markings and coloration, and the end of his tail is kinked like a fishhook.  His dazzling blue eyes are ever so slightly crossed.  He’s about half grown by now, and we’ve had him a couple of months.  We friended his interim-caretakers so they can see the pictures we post of him.

Nev

He’s an odd little thing.  He will allow you to cradle him in your arms like a baby.  He licks your hands too.  I once had a cat who did this and she was bottle-fed, so I have to wonder about Neville.

A conversation was had this evening about him.  The Lovely Rhonda and I were remarking to one another about the cradling and the licking.  He was in front of me on the desk licking my hands.

“Why is his butt always so stinky?” I asked, and TLR replied, “Well, it’s not just his butt.  Have you smelled his fur?  He stinks all over.”

“Now he’s licking my sweater.  It’s sticking to his tongue like Velcro.”

“And he’s not smart,” said TLR.

This is not an unusual conversation for us to have.

Goodnight, Mrs. Norris, wherever you are.

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So last summer we took in a tiny cat who had been abandoned in an empty apartment.  She was all of six pounds, and striped, and we named her Mrs. Norris after Filch’s cat.  Because Harry Potter.

She did not care to be held, nor petted overmuch, but would allow for some cuddling now and again.  If you sat on the couch she would sit on your lap if there wasn’t too much fussing about by dogs or children nearby.

She loved to sit on my desk so much that I had to create a little bed for her to keep her from sitting directly in front of my screens.  This became her haunt, and she and Our Hermione occasionally skirmished over it.

She was an odd little thing, keeping mainly to herself except when there was food to be had.  When I crate-trained Dobby using lunch meat, the demon hellspawn cat within was awakened.  She preceded me across the dining room toward the crates, yowling loudly and launching herself from surface to surface.  When the lunchmeat was offered she would snatch it away and devour it nearby with a zeal that was frankly terrifying, or would be in an animal weighing more than a small bag of sugar.  She was nearly as enthusiastic about Cheez-Its.  More than once she was caught making off with chicken bones left on dinner plates.  She was voracious and extremely focused.

In retrospect it was probably a couple of weeks ago that she started slowing down.  She was never terribly playful or active, so it wasn’t that noticeable until a couple of days ago.  Then it became apparent that she was losing weight.  She still wanted the lunchmeat, but today when I got home, the lunchmeat was still on the table with just a few chew marks on it.

Not, as they say, a good sign.

I took her to the vet this afternoon, which I had already decided to do in any case.  She had lost two of her precious six pounds, two that she could not really afford to lose, and was dehydrated.  The vet warned me, gently, that she was terribly sick.  They wanted to do labs.

Her labs were terrible.  BUN was off the charts.  Like a normal value is around 30… hers was 239.  This is an indicator of kidney trouble.  Essentially, her kidneys were failing.

She was only two years old or so.  We don’t know why they failed.  Maybe she got into something outside… we don’t know.  But the road to recovery was looking long, hard and expensive.

We made the decision to put her down, because it seemed like the compassionate thing to do.  Poor sick little thing.

Goodbye, Mrs. Norris.  We hardly knew ye.

Say goodnight, 2012.

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So it’s New Year’s Eve.

Shortly I’m going to log off and make fudge and take it over to some friends’ house and sit and play games and talk to people and eat things dipped into other things and drink things mixed with more things (but not very many things because I want to come home tonight safe and sound, so really it’ll be mostly soda) and aside from the fact that The Lovely Rhonda won’t be there, it’ll be a) lovely and b) essentially a repeat of last New Year’s Eve, except I drank more things that time.

I won’t be sorry to see the end of this year in some respects, because some Difficult Things happened, but there were other things that happened that were nicer.  So it’s not like it was the worst year ever.

We lost an ebullient backyard Lothario of a cat who mercilessly slaughtered every small animal that crossed his path.

We gained a petite girl cat who loves food in almost all forms and sleeps curled up in an impossibly small ball.

We lost the friendliest, most unassuming fetch-obsessed dog in the world, and with him the, um, fragrant clouds with which he liberally salted the house.

We gained a small black bundle of energy, part terrier, part wiener dog, whose only real fault so far is that he cannot resist the siren call of the hallway carpet if left alone too long.

We endured many discomforts that cannot be discussed here, and we were not always nice to each other.

We always made up and learned from our mistakes.  Mostly.

Okay, maybe just Rhonda did that part.

We did millions of loads of laundry, paid many bills, washed many dishes, and sent many text messages.

A few days from now we will stand in front of a bunch of weirdos our friends and family and pledge to keep doing what we already do, only now with certain legal benefits previously unavailable to us.   And we will eat cake and high-five each other, or something, and life will continue as it has but more so.

Come on in, 2013.  Stay a while.  Maybe about a year?

 

Frugality has its price

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So the large main cat came in looking all pitiful with one side of his face all swollen up.  It was so swollen and he was so pitiful that I dragged myself out of my pajamas and through the shower in the early evening on Christmas Day so that I could go to the store for kitty litter.  He’d need to be kept in overnight and taken to the vet in the morning.

When I got out of the shower I could just see that something had happened in the vicinity of his face.  I will spare you the gory Technicolor description of what followed except to say that it’s a good thing that The Lovely Rhonda is a nurse, and also that I understand why veterinary technicians usually wear scrubs, i.e. are not naked and dripping wet whilst tending to an animal with a large abscess.

At this point we figured that his face would now heal on its own and let him back outdoors.

The next day TLR texted asking me to pick up litter after all since he was back and looking sad again.  He went to the vet that morning and was reasonably patient while they shaved half his face and cleaned what turned out to be a pretty ugly open wound on his cheek.  A quick shot in the behind of antibiotics and he was good to go.  “Oh,” says the vet, “and keep him inside for two weeks.”

Which is like saying, “Oh and also?  Teach him to recite pi to the forty-seventh digit.”

This morning he meowed piteously at our bedroom door until I let him in.  All went swimmingly until he climbed on top of us both and began to yowl.  Suddenly the bed exploded into activity when Rhonda sat bolt upright and hollered, “YOUR CAT IS PEEING ON US.”

And so he was.  And it was disgusting.

Which is how I ended up in the side yard hosing out the litter box at eight o’clock in the morning.  I’d fashioned a small temporary one out of a plastic storage container but I feared that perhaps it was too small for His Majesty’s liking, thus leading to the fun this morning.  The old litter box was full of rainwater and used kitty litter.  O joy.

Later I entered the kitchen in search of disinfectant and an old dish brush to finish my delightful task.  “And by the way?” I said to TLR, “The next time one of us just hauls a full litter box outside and leaves it in the rain instead of emptying it, it’s grounds for divorce.”

“But you can’t divorce yourself,” says TLR.  “Because I’m pretty sure it was you.”

“Oh, I don’t know, right now I think I could,” says I.  Twenty minutes spent prising clay spiked with cat turds out of a plastic box will do that to a person.

Also?  If you are out walking  your dogs and you see your neighbor standing in their side yard grimly hosing a litter box out at 8am on a forty degree morning, you can feel pretty secure in the idea that they are not doing this of their own free will.

The litter box is now ensconced in the laundry room and Himself is driving us all crazy meowing at all the doors and windows.  I think we will be lucky to keep him in for three days.

I may never feel clean again.  I informed Rhonda that it might be easier to just start over and clone me from some DNA off the hairbrush.

Oh and?  I could have driven to the store and bought a new litter box in the time it took me to clean this one, but somehow it felt just a little excessive.  Apparently fifteen dollars is my threshold.

 

Yesterday

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So yesterday I woke up Angry, and the other six dwarves: Cranky, Pissy, Funky, Disorganized, Impatient, and Depressive.

I suspect this was a combination of hormones (because I am elderly) and a delayed reaction to what happened in Connecticut.

Those babies.  Those teachers.  Those families.  My heart hurts.  I think everybody’s heart hurts right now.

I’m not engaging in the gun control vs. mental health funding debate going fast and furious on Facebook, because I am not that kind of person.

Hello, I work in mental health.  I’m always going to be pro-mental-health-care-accessibility.  Which means funding.

And, although I don’t enjoy the thought of anyone shooting anything living, I’m not anti-gun.  Look how well it works to outlaw drugs.

So, I don’t know the answers.  And I don’t want to debate them here.

I just know that yesterday was a hard day for me with very little joy in it.  I did a bit of holiday shopping and found that I could not make up my mind about anything, so even a few small purchases seemed to consume half the day.  I did manage to pick up some silvery metallic hose to wear to the wedding.

OMG I’M GETTING MARRIED IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS.  Hair makeup flowers food music photos GAAAAAAAAAH.

And school.  And Christmas.

What were we thinking?

Today will be better, perhaps.  Already I woke up and thought, I will try on The Dress with The Silvery Hose and The Shoes. 

Everyone should have a shiny black dress with a smart little jacket that channels the spirit of Lucille Ball, and shoes that look pretty swell and don’t hurt to walk in.

And just now, the small cat discovered the cursor and batted at the monitor quite fetchingly, and also attempted to make off with my fuzzy hat which she has been sleeping on every chance she gets.   Come to think of it, yesterday afternoon when I got home I sat down on the couch for some quality time with The World’s Most Affectionate Cat and soon found myself with all three cats and two dogs curled up within five feet of where I sat.  It may account for the slight lightening of my mood by the time The Lovely Rhonda got home.  She is very tolerant of me and deserves a medal.

I’m staying home to avoid inflicting myself on anyone in case this is infectious.  I’ll get some stuff done and it will make me feel calmer.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

Crazy Cat Lady

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So I have this extremely affectionate cat.  His name is Heals, or as I call him Healsie, and he’s a black and white tuxedo cat.  You’d think he’d be more dignified than he is since he’s wearing a tux all the time but he’s definitely the farthest thing from suave and debonair ever.

This morning he entered the bathroom where I stood in front of the mirror getting ready for work.  He’s one of those cats that hug, so pretty soon he was standing on the counter wrapping his front legs around my neck.  He especially enjoys doing this fresh from the great outdoors, but this morning at least he wasn’t wet and dirty.  His paws were pretty cold though.

So I’m petting him and he’s rubbing his face all over my face and it’s all just a giant love-fest, and then he climbs me like a ladder until I’m holding him like a baby in the crook of my arm.  He’s still got his front leg around my neck and he’s rubbing and purring.  Until I try to set him back on the counter, at which point he climbs as high as he can get.

This is when I text Rhonda, “Heals is wrapped around my head.  It’s really making it hard to put on mascara.”

I have to go sit on the couch and hang out with him for a while in order to get him off me without getting scratched or snagged.    He curls up on my chest (because I’m sitting all slouchy) and pretty soon here comes Hermione, the Traditionally Built Cat, and after sniffing at Heals for a while she makes a huge point of laying across my legs while somehow keeping her back to me in disdain.

Then I realize that I’m sitting on the living room sofa covered in cats listening to holiday music, which I had turned on for company because I was feeling a little melancholy this morning.

At which point I’m all, “Oh, hey, whoa,” and get up and brush myself off like Noooo that wasn’t what it looked like at all.

And I backed away from the couch and turned the radio to Adult Alternative just in case.

Why I’m not so much of a dog person.

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So we got this new dog and his name is Jake.  And he’s a dog.  And he barks.

Jake barks at the doorbell.  Except, we don’t actually have a doorbell. Poor Jake!  How can he bark at the doorbell if we don’t have one?

I’m so glad you asked me that question.

Jake barks at the doorbell that rings on TV.

Guess how many doorbells ring on TV?

LOTS of doorbells ring on TV.  And sometimes, when you’re up late watching a little TV by yourself because you can’t sleep or The Lovely Rhonda has gone to bed at 9:30 because she is in the ICU tomorrow or whatever — sometimes, the doorbell on TV rings really late at night.

And of course if Jake is going to bark, BY GOD I MUST BARK AS WELL says Otto.  So there you are just watching some crappy rerun of The Nanny or something in the quiet of the night and suddenly there is a cacophony of dog barking.  And you have to shush everybody before TLR comes out of Grone Up Land (as one of the kids spelled it) and murders us all with just a look.  That look.  That one look of flaming instant death.

It wouldn’t help to remind her that these dogs?  These noisy, hairy, smelly, flatulent dogs?  That bark at the TV and poop in the yard and chew things up?  These dogs were HER OWN DOING.

No, no.  That wouldn’t help.  Don’t do that.

Let’s move on to cats.

We have three cats.

They poop and pee discreetly in the bushes.

They have never barked, in my experience.  Even if a doorbell goes off on a TV show late at night, there is no barking from the cats.

Cat farts are seldom and, again, discreet.  They are rarely audible and only occasionally can you even sense that one has occurred.  (Granted, if  you do sense it, it’s too late and you are doomed.)

I have yet to meet the cat who will, left unattended, chew the right shoe off of a La La Loopsy doll left on the couch by one of the children.

Last night I was obligated to feed the dogs because TLR had worked all day whine whine whine and had to get up early tomorrow whine whine whine.  Ugh, fine I’ll do it if you stop whining.  So I went to head outside where the dry dog food is kept in a big plastic bin on the back porch.  Except I had picked up the big dog dish and Jake was so excited about FOOD OMG DINNER that he jumped up at my hand and knocked the dog dish out of it and it fell on my toe with a big metal CLANG.

And it hurt!  It hurt in that way that you have to hold really still and Not. Say. Anything. for a minute or else you’ll blister the paint off the walls with your colorful invectives.

And then I had to open the can of wet food to smush into the dry food, because I am now a short order cook for dogs, and the smell about knocked me over.  The worst part about this is that the can has to be cleaned out with a dish brush so you can recycle it, because the dog food sticks to the inside of the can like paste.  GROSS.

And then I fed them and had to sit in a cloud of dog food smell, dog-breath-after-eating-dog-food smell, and, after a deceptively short time, the smell that dog food makes when it has navigated its way through most of the dog.   TLR had already gone to bed so it was just me and the dogs and the smells.

And the doorbell on TV.

The prodigal cat

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So we went to camp for a few days and entrusted the care of the cats and our loyal dog Otto to a neighbor.  This neighbor is a true gem; she even took Otto to stay with her at her house for the night of the 4th, which was good because from what I hear it was like a war zone around here.  Say what you will about the rednecks of Vantucky — we are nothing if not patriotic.

Well, okay.  Maybe it isn’t so much “patriotic” as it is “willing to spend most of our money on fireworks.”  That being said, I’m happy to report that the house is still standing and does not appear to be singed, at least not anywhere that I can see.

Hermione the bomb-proof cat was in attendance when we arrived home around lunchtime on Saturday, and the neighbor brought Otto by as soon as I called, but Heals was worryingly absent.  He is inclined to cat about the neighborhood using the pet door as license to come and go as he pleases, and when the weather is fine he may not show up here for a day or so, but I was concerned that perhaps he’d gotten frightened or hurt in all the hubbub of Independence Day.  I began to fret openly before going to bed Sunday night.  I am ridiculously attached to that cat, and we so recently lost Grandpa.  And where there are rednecks and fireworks, there are accidents and there are things that are not accidental at all.

I don’t know what time it was but at some point in the night I was awakened to the raspy, desperate meowing of Himself.  He came bounding in and vaulted himself onto us, rubbing his face all over us and purring madly.  This went on for some time until he broke free, probably to eat, and he later returned to continue inflicting his affections on us.  I soaked it up.  There is such pure joy in a returned cat.

This morning he would not leave me alone as I prepared for work, attacking my feet in the hall and yelling at me from the bathroom counter.  I spent the first half of the workday spitting out cat hairs and smiling.

 

Why I Haven’t Been Posting

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The last post I made before this one was about our cat Grandpa.

Not long after, we found him in acute distress, howling and nearly unable to walk.  We took him to the emergency vet and found that he was suffering — immensely — with a total blockage of the urinary system.  He couldn’t pee.  And it was killing him.

By the time we figured this out I realized I’d seen him attempting to pee for long minutes around the edges of the yard in recent months.  This had been coming upon him for a long while.  Chances were high that he had already sustained significant kidney damage.

A thousand dollars might have saved him, a thousand dollars we could not spare, but it wouldn’t have been a guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again.  He would require special food for life that ALSO might not have solved the problem.  And all of the cats would have to eat this gold-plated prescription cat food.

Worst of all, we wouldn’t be able to let him roam the neighborhood freely to murder songbirds and rodents merrily all his days, a pleasure for which he lived and which he pursued with all his wild predatory heart.  (After which, of course, he would return home to sleep with the least dignity I had ever witnessed, on his back in a fluffy cat-bed with his wittle pawsies crossed and his belly fur tantalizingly exposed.) Many of our neighbors feed their cats outdoors and the cheap grocery-store cat food would be irresistible to such a cat-about-the-town.

Recently I had to explain to my daughter that sometimes grown-ups have to make hard decisions that nobody likes.  This was one of them.

R.I.P., Grandpa.  We loved you well.

 

Thanks, Grandpa.

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So early this morning The Lovely Rhonda and I woke abruptly to an odd screeching sound coming from somewhere in the house.

As the designated handler of such circumstances I sprang into action.  This involves swearing a lot and putting on my Superhero Glasses while scrambling into the living room to put an end to the noise before it wakes the children.

It’s spring here in all its glory; pasty Northwesterners are emerging into the sunlight, blinking and applying sunscreen, and there seem to be birds everywhere all of a sudden.  Plump, delicious birds that our cat Grandpa stalks and kills.  He stalks them outside but drags them into the house to kill them.  He does this with pretty much anything smaller than himself, not just birds but mice and other rodents, and I would not be surprised in the least if one day he drags a full-grown duck through the dog door.

I scanned the perimeter for whatever might have made this screeching sound and at first didn’t see anything but the dog who was standing in the laundry room door wagging his tail hopefully at me.  He was standing over a squeaky tennis ball so in my confused state I thought his tail was expressing guilt over squeaking the ball.  He’s the sort of dog who exudes a mild aura of guilt at all times, though, so I wasn’t sure what to think, plus the screeching wasn’t really of a squeaky-ball variety.  I didn’t see anything else and turned to re-enter the bedroom with orders to stand down when I heard a rather smug meow from down the hall.  And I knew the awful truth, and turned to face it.

The light was dim down there but I could see something motionless on the rug that resembled a squirrel, perhaps?  Something fairly long, with a light center and dark around the edges, and I took this to be a squirrel laying on its side, and there was Grandpa languidly rubbing freshly killed squirrel goobers on the nearby doorways, the cat equivalent of driving home with the deer strapped to the hood.  Ew.  I went to get a wad of paper towels and was stifling the heebie-jeebies at the thought of the weight of the warm dead body of a young squirrel, master of his universe until he suddenly wasn’t anymore.  We only have trash service every other week and it was just taken away on Thursday, so this thing was also going to fester in the hot garbage can for nearly two weeks. Ew ew ew.

But then there was a noise almost under my feet and I wheeled around to find that it wasn’t a squirrel at all, it was a really angry bluejay and as luck would have it it had fluttered and flapped to the sliding glass door.  The cat was on it in a flash but I shooed him away and slid the door open, and that jay was off in two big hops and a leap into the air.  It made for the fence and somersaulted determinedly into freedom like an action hero.  I swear this thing was the Bruce Willis of bluejays.  I think it was wearing a white tank top and had a slightly bloody cut over one eye, and if it’d had fingers the cat would have gotten one.

Grandpa is pretty miffed but he’ll get over it and go back to stalking the local wildlife, quite possibly by later this afternoon.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t, because this is what passes for excitement around here.  I may not be able to sleep for days.