Tag Archives: cats

Status Update – Status Quo

Mar 15, 2017

Yeah, I’ve been really lazy about updating my blog lately. After I made such a big noise about wanting to post more often here so I can avoid the turmoil of FB. Well, the only excuse I can give is that nothing really exciting has been going on in my world. And you know, sometimes it’s nice when there’s just nothing to report.

Except maybe that snowstorm yesterday. We were forecast to get 12-16 inches. In the end, I think we got about 5 inches of snow with about a quarter inch of ice on top of that. I’m lucky that I didn’t lose power, but I did wake up in the middle of the night last night (which is normal) and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worried about whether my car is frozen into its parking place, and the fact that I don’t have a shovel to dig it out. But looking out the window this morning, it looks like a couple cars that were in other parking spots had no trouble driving over the snow that was plowed against the backs of all of our cars.

See, that’s about as exciting as things have been lately. But for me, that’s actually a grand improvement. I think I’ve mentioned before that this has been a tough winter for me and my stress level. But in the last week or so, things have been looking up. I’ll admit, I started taking a bit of St. John’s Wart, which may or may be what’s contributing to the upward tick.

Kitten therapy or just having this grumpy old man yell at me to snap out of it?

Side Note: Back in the 90s, I worked for an herbalist at his health food store, and I learned a LOT about alternative medicine. I’m incredibly sensitive to pharmacology, if that’s the right way to say it, probably because Mom never gave us a lot of medicine when we were growing up. Not even aspirin. But then, we were really healthy and didn’t need it. Nowadays, I find that holistic medicine works just fine for me, even though it does nothing for other people. As my old boss taught me, that could be because my system hasn’t adapted to allopathic drugs. It could also be because he taught me which brands and preparations actually work and which are glorified grass clippings in capsules. The answer, by the way, is that liquid herbal preparations are a billion times more effective than capsules, and the brands Gaia Herbs and Herbalists & Alchemists are pretty much the most reliable brands on the markets.

But anyhow, the reason I mention this is because I’ve heard a lot of storied from friends of mine who have been having serious problems with depression this year. Like, VERY serious. It makes me grateful that my anxiety and depression is just annoying, and that I can handle it with herbs and kittens. My heart really goes out to those friends. And it makes me grateful that I’ve had nothing to report for a while. Sometimes smooth sailing and calm seas can be just what the doctor ordered.

Status Update – Kitten Progress

Feb 17, 2017

It seems inevitable that when I’m trying to get things done under a tight deadline and I need to focus, I have cat drama. Well, not cat drama in this case. It’s more like this baby kitten of mine is going through her terrible twos!

So for those who don’t know, I’ve had two cats, brother and sister, Torpedo and Butterfly, for twelve and a half years. They were born to me. But Butterfly passed away in December. So, not wanting Torpedo to be alone, and seeing that he was mourning the loss of his sister, I got Justine, who was just about 6 months old at the time, mid-December. And she was cute and adorable and very, very shy.

Well, she’s not shy anymore! She’s totally come out of her shell and keeps getting into everything. She dashes around the house, chasing everything that moves and half the stuff that doesn’t. Her latest obsession is zipper-pulls, so if I leave anything with a zipper lying around, she HAS to play with it. She’s taken to napping on the couch with me while I write too, but sometimes that means climbing up on my lap desk to get an up-close and personal look at my fingers.

Justine is a typical baby. She needs to play. The other day, she was zipping around so fast that I thought she and Torpedo were chasing each other. Until I noticed Torpedo napping in his usual spot. Justine was running around so fast that I thought she was two cats! She’s also at the stage now where if something is on a table, she’ll knock if off, and if there’s a surface she hasn’t explored, she’ll jump up to explore it.

The thing is, up until recently, Justine has annoyed the heck out of Torpedo. At twelve and a half, Torpedo really is an old man, and his world has just been severely rattled. He’s been growling at her and swiping and chasing her around to establish dominance. But no more! For the last week or so, he’s been eyeing her differently and sniffing her without growling or chasing.

Well, yesterday the day I’ve been waiting for came! The two of them sat down on one end of my couch together and napped. It wasn’t quite the cuddle-fest that Torpedo and Butterfly would have, but it was bonding. And to top it all off, Torpedo gave Justine a few good grooming licks. And that’s super important for cat behavior. Grooming means acceptance, and when one cat grooms another it’s a big deal.

I certainly think it’s a big deal. I know that Torpedo needs to feel bonded with another cat. And it makes me feel so much easier about all the travel I’ll be doing this coming year. I can go away knowing that they have each other.

Status Update – Yep, Still Sick

Feb 11, 2017

Breaking out the big guns!

Ah, yes! I remember back on Tuesday night when I looked up the stages of a cold, only to learn that days 3 and 4 were the worst, and that most colds last 7-10 days. There was a time when I could kick a cold in five days, but alas, those days are not now. Yep, I’m still sick. But I am beginning to see the light. I’ve passed on from the run-down, thick-headed phase, but now I’m in my absolute least favorite stage of a cold—I’m coughing.

My extreme hatred of coughing goes back about fifteen years, to when I had bronchitis. Man, I never want to be that sick again! I’d never experienced anything like it before, and I never want to feel that way again. I never realized how accurate a description the phrase “coughing up a lung” was until that point. And maybe it’s a myth, but I’ve always heard that once you’ve had bronchitis, your lungs will never be the same again.

Well, it certainly feels that way now! I hate coughing. But as much as I hate it, I am endlessly impressed by how well cold medicine works! Back when I had bronchitis, the only thing that made me feel slightly human was Delsym. Dude, that stuff rocks! So I always keep some on hand. But the problem is, it’s so strong that you can only take it once every 12 hours. So I had the whole debate this morning between Delsym or regular cold medicine. Of course, the regular stuff has the active ingredient in Delsym in it, so there’s that.

In the end (because I know you’re desperate to know about the outcome of this dilemma) I went for the regular cough medicine. I’m hoping it will dry out my sinuses and ease the inflammation in my upper respiratory system, so maybe I won’t have to worry about coughing. So far, so good.

But also, I’ve discovered that steam really helps me not to cough as much. Props to my writer buddy, Caroline Lee, for cluing me in to that one! I think I might go out and buy a humidifier today so I don’t have to keep running the shower and boiling water. Especially since I just noticed this going on with the pot of water I boiled earlier. *shakes head* Kitten!

Status Update – We Need A Cat Psychologist

Feb 01, 2017

Torpedo and Butterfly…a really bonded sibling pair.

Okay, I think I need a cat psychologist for my grumpy old man, Torpedo.

A little background for those who don’t know: Torpedo and his siblings were born to me when I lived in Alabama. I rescued their mom, Larien, from a coworker who was disappointed that she wasn’t cute anymore and was going to have her put to sleep. Nooo!!! So I rescued Larien and brought her home…where she promptly got knocked up. My fault, I know. I let her be an indoor/outdoor cat and procrastinated having her fixed. So kittens.

I had Torpedo and his sister, Butterfly, for twelve years, since the Athens Olympics (which is where they got their names. Torpedo was named after Ian Thorpe, the Thorpedo, and Butterfly was named after Michael Phelps, who won the 400m butterfly the day she was born). Those cats have moved with me everywhere, and I hadn’t realized how very attached to them I was…

…until Butterfly developed diabetes (in 2015) and died December 1st. It hit me way harder than I thought it would, mostly because I nursed her through about 10 days of declining health, until I had to make the decision to have her put down. That was a super sad day! But Torpedo was a huge comfort, even though he was in mourning too.

No, Torpedo, you can not sleep on the bed with me tonight…

And as I learned, cats actually do mourn. Torpedo demonstrated all of the behavior of a cat mourning the loss of a bonded partner. So, being the foolish human that I am, I figured the perfect way to help both of us move on was to get a darling new kitten. So halfway through December, Justine joined our family.

Justine comes from a feral background, so it took her a while to adjust and feel fully comfortable in her new home. But for the last few weeks, she’s been 100% happy, bouncy, feisty, and affectionate. She’s adorable! But man, she has so much energy.

However, as it turns out, Torpedo has been very grumpy toward Justine. He swats at her and chases her around. I figure it’s because she’s young and has way too much energy and annoys him, and because she’s not Butterfly. I think Torpedo still wanders around the house looking for his sister from time to time. He still misses her. And sometimes he gets really mean toward the kitten. Like, after I shut them out of my bedroom last night, at one point I heard a horrific yeowl. And this morning I found blood on the tile floor. But Justine won’t let me get close enough to see if I can find any wounds. Hmm.

How could you be mean to a face like this?

The other thing is that Torpedo now gets VERY upset when I leave the house for more than a little while. I was gone quite a bit yesterday, and he was restless and meowed at me a lot and just didn’t want to leave me alone at all when I got home. I started out letting them sleep on the bed with me, but as I’ve discovered, my quality of sleep goes way, WAY down when they’re on the bed at night. Well, mostly Justine, because as tiny as she is, she manages to take up an entire queen-size bed! Torpedo is much better at sleeping on the corner and not getting in my way as I toss and turn.

Anyhow, I definitely need a cat psychologist to sit down with Torpedo and let him know that it’s going to be okay. I’m not leaving him alone. And he’s never been alone a day in his life before Butterfly died. I also need that psychologist to tell him to stop tormenting the baby! She’s no threat to him. (Well, except that I think she will be when she gets a little older. She’s a dominant type) I’d settle for the two of them getting along. Especially since I have a lot of travel coming up this summer, and I’m either going to be leaving them mostly alone with someone coming in twice a day to feed them, or hiring a house-sitter to be here with them. And I’ve got a few quick overnights very soon too. I feel so guilty for leaving Torpedo alone, but on the other hand, he’s a cat and I’m not putting my life on hold because he needs me to sit with him.

*sigh* I don’t suppose cats do very well in therapy….

What’s the Point of Pets?

Feb 14, 2012

Last week a large portion of the chit-chat at work was about the new puppy that one of my coworkers and his wife just got.  I think the new little guy is a rescue dog, because apparently he doesn’t want to be a house pet.  My coworker said that every time he takes the dog outside it wants to run free and he has to force it to go back inside.  He already has a contractor scheduled to come out and install a fence in his backyard.

One of my other coworkers was talking just today about her complete unwillingness to leave her dog at a kennel when she goes on vacation.  From what I could overhear of the conversation, she doesn’t trust kennels to properly care for her pooch.

Sorry, but I can't stand bichon frise dogs

My closest neighbors have a little bichon-frise named Diesel.  Diesel and I have lived next door to each other for two years now.  And he still barks every time he sees me and chases after me if he’s outside when I walk past.  I always speak to him, in a friendly voice, mind you, and I’ve done the whole bending over to let him sniff my hand and recognize that I’m a friend thing.  He still barks.

I have two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo.  They are sister and brother.  I’ve had them since they were born.  Torpedo was literally born into my lap.  I had to do a lot of laundry that day.  I think I might have touched him before his mom did.  He likes to watch me get ready for work in the morning and talk to me when I’m on the toilet.  Butterfly is more stand-offish, but she does like to help me fold laundry and make my bed.  She’s always, always talking to me, and for the life of me I don’t know what she wants.  But both of my cats are incredibly astute about judging my mood and snuggling accordingly.

My brother and Skunkers (he's gonna kill me when he sees this)

My friend Kristine has a cat named Skunk, called Skunkers.  She was given that name because we found her in the greenhouse of my aunt’s house and thought she was a skunk at first.  She had been abandoned by her mother at a very, very young age.  I’m not sure if her eyes were even open yet.  Kristine hand-fed that little skunk and she thrived.  Today Skunkers sleeps in Kristine’s bed and acts as her therapist and alarm-clock.

Okay, what’s the deal with people and pets???  Why do we keep animals in our houses and treat them like humans?  Why do we let them run our lives?

Hear me out on this one.

I once did some extensive research on how animals were first domesticated way back at the dawn of history.  As you would expect, dogs and cats both were domesticated so that they could perform specific tasks for humans.  Dogs were needed to keep herds of larger animals in line, to alert hunters to possible danger and aid in the hunt, and to guard children.  Makes perfect sense.  Cats….  Well, I’m still not convinced that cats really are domesticated.  But they are useful for keeping pests away from gardens and food supplies and small children too, I guess.

It makes perfect sense to have domesticated animals working alongside humans.

Butterfly looking deceptively angelic

Dude, I live in an apartment on the second floor and my cats never go outside.  Mind you, they love to go out on the balcony, especially when it’s sunny and they can turn into puddles of cat on the concrete.  But there are no mice in my building.  Downstairs and over one Diesel does nothing but bark all the time and occasionally chase after things.  He doesn’t herd anything, and even though he might alert his family to intruders, he has no sense of discrimination at all.  And bichon-frise dogs are basically glorified chew-toys anyhow.

Why do we continue to keep animals in our house when they have no practical function at all anymore?  I mean, how many Labrador retrievers live in New York City?

I know, I know, it’s all about the emotional impact they have in our lives.  And countless studies have been done that show that people with pets live longer and are generally happier than their non-pet counterparts.  And I hope my kitties live very long lives with me.  But if you look at it from a purely practical point of view … what are we thinking?

I suppose that the evolution of keeping cats and dogs and birds and snakes and turtles as pets hearkens back to a time when they actually did have a function in people’s everyday life.  Why not let the hunting dogs pile into the family beds at night or the barn cat sleep in the house?  Maybe when they got older the family figured the good and faithful servants deserved some warmth and love at the hearth.  That makes sense.

But herding dogs living in urban apartments?  Chemotherapy for cats that runs into the thousands of dollars?  To me that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  And I know I’m going to get in serious trouble for this one, but treating pets like humans, putting them above people?  That’s just wrong.

Case in point.  My dad’s wife is a dog-lover.  She spends so much money on her Great Danes that it’s ridiculous.  Danes are not small dogs.  Hers have pretty much ruined the house they live in, tearing up the yard and chewing the molding in most of the rooms.  Her reaction?  They’re just doing what dogs do.  EXACTLY!  So why are they in the house eating gourmet food that is mail-ordered and ruining leather sofas?

This is what I have to deal with every night when I eat - aka Torpedo

Okay, what’s my point here?  My point is that we are silly, sentimental humans to bring animals into our homes for no reason other than that they’re cute.  I love my babies, after all.  We’ve always had cats and I only lasted about three months living on my own without a cat in the house.  It’s so nice to have another sentient being to come home to at the end of the day, especially when they wait by the door and stick their cute little faces in the window as soon as they see me.

But for gosh sakes, people!  They’re animals!  There’s no need to let them run your lives and send you into financial ruin.  Sometimes I think that we’ve completely lost perspective on the role that pets play in our lives.  They’re there for us to love and enjoy, but the way some people act you’d think we existed to pamper them.  The worst part of it is that I think in so many cases we’re doing our pets more harm than good by overfeeding them on foods they don’t naturally eat, keeping them in cramped conditions, and prolonging their lives long after they would have and should have naturally ended.  Is that really love?

So treat your pets well, folks.  Let them do what pets do in the environment they were intended for and within the time they are naturally allotted for their lives.  And don’t let them chew up your furniture!