Archive for the 'cats' Category

Tiger’s tale

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Any feline fanciers reading this blog may be glad to know that our cat Tiger came home Friday afternoon from the vet and seems to be doing OK. We’ve learned a lot about FLUTD as a result of this experience, and found that it’s much more common than we realized. Our vet has had three cats with urinary blockages brought in during the last week or two, and they all had been on a diet of Meow Mix dry formula; if you have a cat, I would strongly suggest feeding it something else.

Our own cat food budget is about to explode, as our vet has recommended keeping Tiger on Hill’s S/D and C/D prescription diet, which is specially formulated to keep his urinary pH level slightly acidic (6.2-6.4) to prevent the formulation of struvite crystals (the main cause of potentially fatal feline urinary tract blockages). It’s a delicate balance, as if the pH goes too low, a different type of crystal affecting the kidney can be formed. The S/D is about a buck-fifty per can, but it’s worth it if it will keep Tiger healthy.

We also learned that canned food is generally better for cats than dry food, as the extra moisture goes a long way towards preventing urinary problems. In fact, wet food is even preferred over prescription-formulated kibble. Taking it one step further, many vets also recommend that even if you do feed your cat only canned food, add about an extra teaspoon of water to the dish and mix it with the food into something resembling a slurry before you give to your cat. You can’t get too much moisture into their diet.

We’re happy that Tiger is doing better, but the down side is that for the next two weeks we are having to give him four pills a day, consisting of a muscle relaxant and an antibiotic dose twelve hours apart. For those who have never had the joyful experience of pilling a cat, the procedure goes something like this:

1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm, as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Pry claws from back legs out of your arm. Go get the cat from top of wardrobe, pick up half-dissolved pill from floor and drop it into garbage can. Call partner from den.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees. Hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get partner to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get partner to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink one beer to take taste away. Apply band-aid to partner’s forearm and immediately remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave only head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with a rubber band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot and drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call fire department to retrieve the friggin’ cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table. Find heavy-duty pruning loves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour a pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get partner to drive you to emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop at furniture shop on way home to pick out new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat. Call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

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Seriously, we would never trade Tiger for a hamster, as we love him even though he’s pretty damn useless right now … although not quite as useless as this cat.

On a totally unrelated topic, let me leave you with this useless joke: A Viennese fellow is walking along the Karntner Strasse and notices a banana peel lying in his path. “Alas,” he sighs, “now I must slip and fall down!”

Dewey Readmore Books, Library Cat

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

Note: Welcome Carnival of the Cats readers. Since the author of this blog has a special interest in both cats and libraries, this recent story from the Associated Press is particularly poignant.

SPENCER, Iowa – The final chapter is closed on Dewey Readmore Books. The 19-year-old cat, who became a mascot for the city’s library after being found in a book drop, died Wednesday in the arms of librarian Vicki Myron.

The temperature was minus 10 when Myron and another librarian found Dewey under a pile of books in the library’s book drop when they came to work one morning in January 1988.

“We didn’t know if someone abandoned him or if a Good Samaritan found him on the street and shoved him in the book drop to get him out of the cold,” she said. “His paws were frozen. We warmed him up and fed him and he just purred and cuddled. From day one, we felt he’d be the right personality for the public.”

Since then, Dewey became famous, Myron said.

She said TV crews came from as far away as Japan to do stories about him. Myron said she has found 222 “hits” for Dewey on the Internet search engine “Google.”

Dewey’s name was chosen in a local contest to name him shortly after he was found. He was named after the Dewey Decimal System, a system used in most libraries to catalog books.

Dewey, who Myron said still came running for cheeseburgers, boiled ham and chicken garlic TV dinners, had been experiencing health problems recently and was diagnosed with a stomach tumor shortly before Nov. 18, which was officially marked as his 19th birthday.

After his health rallied, he started “acting funny trying to hide” and Myron decided to take him to the vet and have him euthanized.

Library employee Kim Peterson said the staff is talking about having Dewey cremated and burying his ashes at the library.

Read the full story in the Sioux City Journal, or see Dewey’s official bio. This week’s Carnival of the Cats is being hosted by Catymology.

Remembering Cotton

Friday, November 24th, 2006

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday. In addition to today being the biggest retail day of the year (Why are you reading this blog? You should be out there shopping. Go support the economy! Go!), it’s also CatBlogging Friday, the day of the week when many bloggers post pictures of or stories about their cats. I used to be a regular Friday CatBlogger, but haven’t participated in quite a while. However, to honor of the intersection of CatBlogging Friday with the holiday weekend, let me tell you about a very special feline member of our family whom I pause to remember today.

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I’ll never forget the first time I saw her, a fuzzy ball of gray fur and whiskers not much bigger than a medium-size cantelope. Opening the door of our condo in Southwest Houston to leave for work that morning, I nearly tripped over her as she scampered under my feet into the house from our welcome mat in front of the door, where she had evidently spent the night.

“Hey!” I shouted. “Where do you think you’re going? You don’t live here.”

The logic of this statement appeared to elude her, as she gave me a look that clearly said, “So what? Got anything to eat?” She acted equally nonchalant towards our resident Siamese, Tasha, who arched her back and hissed at this interloper to her domain, and then promptly ran and hid under the bed. Tasha may have acted brave, but she was a sissy when you called her bluff and this new feline wasn’t taking any of her crap. I liked her immediately.

She did seem hungry and was quite affectionate, so we fed her some Tender Vittles and played with her for a few minutes. It was then I noticed that she was wearing a collar and tag, which coincidentally bore the name of our own veterinarian. This was not too surprising since he was the closest fur-doc in our neighborhood, and I was somewhat relieved that she was not a stray. I figured she had just wandered in from down the street somewhere and would go back home after I went to work, so I dropped her outside at the foot of the steps as I left for the day.

She was still there when I came home that evening, so I decided it was time to call the vet and see who she belonged to. Maybe she was lost.

Our vet reported that she was owned by a family living near our condo, about three blocks away. He told me that her name was “Cotton”, which seemed like a pretty dumb name to me, but that was what was on his records. She was a little over a year old. I asked about her general health and whether she had been “fixed”. The vet said that she had been, but had borne one litter of kittens before being spayed; he then made the curious statement that “she wasn’t a very good mother.” I never found out exactly what he meant by that, as he didn’t seem to want to tell me. I could only suspect that perhaps she had killed one of her kittens or something equally horrible. Given her sweet nature, however, that seemed hard to believe.The next day, I took her to the address the vet gave me for her owner, and knocked on the door. A middle aged woman answered, and scowled at me when I explained how Cotton had shown up on our doorstep. “That damn cat,” she said in an irritated tone. “It’s always running off.” She didn’t seem to have been worried about her, or at all glad to have her back. Maybe it was the kitten-eating thing, I don’t know. In any case, I didn’t think much more about it until I went to leave for work a few days later … and there she was at the front door again. After feeding her and playing with her for a little while, I took her home again, only to receive the same stony response from her owner. No wonder the cat ran off.

I think you can guess where this is going: she was back on our doorstep again the next day, and when I opened the door this time she scooted in and plopped herself down on the carpet like she owned the place. It was pretty obvious that she had “adopted” us, and she became a beloved member of our family for the next twenty-one years. After a period of adjustment, Tasha accepted her as well, and they eventually became fast friends. Even though we weren’t exactly thrilled with the name “Cotton”, it stuck anyway. She did have cottony-soft fur, and the sweetest disposition of any cat I’ve ever had; she was particularly fond of being scratched at the base of her tail, which would make her thrust up her rump like she was in a kitty-porn movie. However, there was one exception to her gentle nature: she loved being petted everywhere except for her tummy. If your hand got too close to that temptingly fuzzy underbelly, the claws and teeth came out and you were likely to end up with bloody fingers. I could only assume this had something to do with her “bad mother” rap; she must not have liked being nursed by her kittens very much.

The years went by; in early 1992 I took a job as an engineer for a state university, and we moved 150 miles from Houston to East Texas. Cotton made the trip comfortably curled in my lap, watching the scenery go by peacefully as Tasha howled like a banshee from her cat carrier the entire way. Then in March of 2002, my 10-year state contract expired. The local TV station offered to hire me, but the position would not be available for a few months; as a result, I found myself with an extended block of free time that I had not had for many years … and probably would not have for many years to come. A flash of an idea struck me: I had always dreamed of visiting Europe, traveling leisurely by train wherever and whenever the mood struck me, so the next several months could be a golden opportunity to make this dream come true. Unfortunately, Mrs. Toast would not be able to go with me as she still had the same two-weeks-of-vacation-a-year limitation that I always had before this as well. But we decided that this was a chance not to be missed, so I bought a round-trip ticket to Paris (we had a friend living there at the time) and an unlimited Eurail Pass, and got ready for the journey of a lifetime.

Just two days before I was about to leave, Cotton became very, very sick. She would not eat, in fact she could barely move. She just hunkered down, with some sort of goop oozing from her left eye. A visit to the vet revealed that not only did she have an eye infection, but more seriously, her kidneys were failing. This is a common problem faced by older cats, and not much can be done about it. The vet estimated that based on her test results which were, as he put it, “off the chart”, she had two weeks, perhaps a month, left to live. As I was going to be gone for the next two months, my departure was bittersweet: I left home with a heavy heart, convinced that I would never see her alive again.Over the next few weeks, however, she rallied. I received excited e-mails from Mrs. Toast telling me that Cotton was eating again; a few days later her eye had completely healed, and soon she was running around the house with her usual level of energy and curiosity. I was so happy I nearly cried, and when I got home in late May she was there to greet me like always. Much to our surprise and delight, she continued to thrive for the next two and a half years.

Thanksgiving had always been a special time for us, and Cotton seemed to enjoy the holiday almost as much as we did. On this day each year, she would get a rare treat: real turkey! Oddly, Tasha never cared much for turkey, but Cotton would happily devour little scraps of the bird that we shared with her from the dinner table, and especially liked it with a little gravy. Then she’d curl up in my lap while we watched football later in the day, or take a nap with us. Like I said, she was one of the family.November of 2004 found me again away from home; the TV station had consolidated its operations, and my job’s primary responsibilities were in Tyler, about 75 miles away from where we lived. As Mrs. Toast now had an excellent job at the University as a librarian, moving wasn’t really an option. At first I tried commuting, but the daily three-hour round trip drive became exhausting … so I decided to rent a small apartment in town for use during the week and come home on the weekends.As Thanksgiving approached, Cotton once again became very sick from lack of kidney function, and it was apparent that this time there would be no miraculous recovery. The upcoming holiday was going to be a long weekend for me, as I would be off work from Wednesday afternoon until the following Monday morning, but by early Tuesday of that week Cotton was fading fast. She stopped eating and using the litter box. For some strange reason, the spot she chose as being the most comfortable place for her was the bathtub. Mrs. Toast wasn’t sure she would make it until I got there, but Tuesday night and Wednesday morning she kept petting Cotton in the tub and telling her “hang on, baby, Daddy’s coming”.

I arrived at the house about 7 PM Wednesday night, Thanksgiving eve. As I sat down in my big lounge chair, Mrs. Toast brought Cotton in from the bathroom and put her in my lap. She looked up, and seemed to recognize me; as I gently stroked her fur, she began to purr, according to Mrs. Toast, for the first time in days. She sort of climbed up on my chest a little and buried her head into my armpit. For the next six hours, neither of us barely moved, other than I continued to pet her and talk to her lovingly. Around 1 AM on Thanksgiving morning, I felt her stiffen, and she suddenly kicked forcefully with her hind legs. I held her tightly, and after a few seconds she stopped. Several more minutes passed with no further movement, and I began to realize that she had died in my arms.

I was devastated, but also grateful that I had been given the opportunity to be with her in her final hours. I don’t know if such things are possible, but it was almost like she knew I was coming and held on until I got there. She had a good, long, happy life, and the last thing she felt as she left this earth was the touch of the human who loved her most. I had the overwhelming sensation as she passed that I had gently handed her soul up to God for safekeeping, and that brought me much comfort even as I grieved for her.

This Thanksgiving marks the second anniversary of her death, so I especially miss her this time of year. We had her cremated, and placed her ashes in a ceramic urn with her picture on it. It sits on our bookshelf, so in a way she’s still with us. Rest in peace, Cotton; we’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge. Maybe you weren’t a very good mother, but you were a great companion.

For more CatBlogging posts visit the Carnival of the Cats, being hosted this week by Scribblings.

Crazy Cat People of the World, Unite!

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Happy CatBlogging Friday once again, and a special welcome to Carnival of the Cats readers! Mrs. Toast is concerned that she is becoming a Crazy Cat Lady. While I think this is a stretch, I can say that she does have a symbiotic relationship with our furbabies, as you can see below:


Fortunately, she’s not the only person in this predicament. The people who designed The Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure certainly must know such a person, because this bizarre toy captures the essence of the Cat Lady Phenomenon, complete with bathrobe, checkered pajama bottoms, headband, wild hair, and a fanciful look on her face. And she’s surrounded by six cats that own her heart and soul.

Think you could be a Crazy Cat Person? Take this Quiz:

  • Do you get excited when you hear a can opener?
  • Do you think cats are smarter than people?
  • Do you feel Tom is more talented than Jerry?
  • Do you have more cats than ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends?
  • Do you bring new boyfriends/girlfriends home so the cats can meet them?
  • Do you later break up with them because the cats weren’t impressed?
  • Do you spend more on doctor bills for your cats than for yourself?
  • Do you buy the ice cream your cats prefer instead the kind you like?
  • Can you tell your cats apart by the roughness of their tongues?
  • Have you ever warned a guest not to sit on a specific piece of furniture because it belongs to the cats?
  • Do you own more than one piece of clothing with a cat on it?
  • Do you have a website devoted to your cats?
  • Is the sheet of instructions for watching your cats while you’re on vacation longer than a page?
  • Do you spend more on Christmas presents for your cat than for your family?
  • Do you buy more than one kind of cat food because a few of your cats are picky eaters?
  • Have you ever had to explain to a police officer that the stuff in the bag really is catnip?
  • Do you feel that the ancient Egyptian tradition of cat worship is the one true religion?

If you answered “yes” to 7 or more of these questions, you could be a Crazy Cat Person! Go directly to this site for an immediate feline fix, then proceed as quickly as possible to your nearest animal shelter and seek professional help!

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.” -Garrison Keillor

Happy CatBlogging Friday

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

It is all going to be OK.

I want to be in perfect harmony with my surroundings, like this peaceful B. Kliban cat. It’s not that easy for a lot of us. We tend to sweat the small stuff, letting things bother us that shouldn’t. We get stuck in situations we have very little control over. Sometimes we put our foot in our mouth, and say things that hurt another when that’s the absolute last thing we mean to do. We try so hard to make sense of the world around us, yet often come up empty-handed. We feel that if our lives are supposed to have some profound meaning and purpose, those secrets haven’t yet been revealed to us; instead, frustration greets us at every turn.

Yet, we go on searching. Some find comfort in religion or meditation, others turn to the old standbys: “sex, drugs, and rock’n roll”. Some of us are destined for greatness, others may play parts behind the scenes that are less visible but no less important. In the final analysis, it all comes down to a single word: love. If you have loved someone, or someone has loved you, you’ve experienced the most precious thing this life has to offer us. When the Beatles sang that memorable final line from Abbey Road — “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” — they were not the first nor the last ones to realize this simple Karmic truth. Love is, quite simply, the reason why we’re here on this planet.

And like someone said, it’s all gonna be okay.

We just have to believe it.

Lewis the cat lives!

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

Bringing you the continuing saga of alleged serial-scratcher Lewis The Cat (see previous posts here and here), this blog is pleased to report there’s been been a final resolution in the case; a Connecticut judge spared his life on Tuesday, but ordered that the Tuxedo Terrorist must remain indoors permanently.

“There are no exceptions. None,” said Judge Patrick Carroll, who also granted accelerated rehabilitation to Lewis’ owner, Ruth Cisero of Fairfield, Connecticut.

That means her record will be cleared if she successfully completes two years of probation. Previously, Cisero had rejected a similar offer because it also stupulated that she agree to have Lewis euthanized. Tuesday’s settlement carries no such condition, but Lewis cannot leave the house, even accidentally. Judge Carroll said the case is not about a cat, but about people having the right to live in safety in their neighborhoods.

Cisero had faced a charge of reckless endangerment. Neighbors complained that the cat’s long claws (Lewis is polydactyl, with six on each paw) and stealth allowed him to ambush several people, including an Avon cosmetics lady on her neighborhood rounds. Personally, I think Lewis should be commended for this.

The court proceedings were reported by several major news outlets, including CNN and ABC. (More updates here and here.) “Lewie,” as Cisero calls him, has become an international cause célèbre; in addition to his MySpace page and Wikipedia entry, a large photograph of the long-haired feline ran in People magazine last week with the headline “Dead Cat Walking.”

But Cisero said she would prefer to have never had the attention. “I never thought it would come to this. It’s been an absolute nightmare,” she said. “I haven’t slept well in months, and now tonight I can finally get a good night’s sleep.”

Ruth Cisero & Lewis

Cats in the sun

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Three Mouse-kateers

Friday, June 9th, 2006

Happy CatBlogging Friday, and a very special welcome to Carnival of the Cats readers. Today I’d like to re-introduce my feline family to you; click the photo for a bigger view.

These guys definitely keep me on my toes! To meet more cute kitties, check out this week’s Carnival, which can be found at Gigolo Kitty beginning Sunday evening. G.K. is one of the more creative catblogs out there, and his adventurous life of reaching for “Cheap Love, Tawdry Fame, and Easy Money” is well worth a look — check it out. Have a great weekend, y’all.

Lewis update

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Taking seriously this blog’s mission to keep the entire nation (well, at least the five or six people who read this) updated on the status of Lewis The Crazy Cat, here’s the latest CatBlogging Friday news:

As you may recall, owner Ruth Cisero (with Lewis, right) recently withdrew her bid for accelerated rehabilitation on the charge of reckless endangerment and opted for trial, because she would have had to agree to have Lewis euthanized. At her appearance this week in Bridgeport Superior Court, a hearing was set for June 20 to determine whether she could get the special terms and also have her cat’s life spared. Essentially, she was asking for the same conditions of being placed on probation (which would eventually lead to the charges being dismissed), without the stipulation of having Lewis put down — the reason she had rejected the earlier plea bargain offer. Her attorney Eugene Riccio said, “She’s on pins and needles. The animal is important to her. It’s a member of her family.”

The media frenzy surrounding the fate of Lewis, who allegedly attacked several people in Cisero’s Sunset Circle neighborhood of Fairfield, Connecticut, has only intensified since the previous court date. Not only does Lewis have his own MySpace page, but national coverage has included articles in the New York Times, as well as segments on major TV networks including CNN, Fox and CBS News. At Tuesday’s hearing, a throng of reporters and several satellite trucks gathered outside the courthouse. Numerous supporters, protesters, and animal rights activists, some sporting “Save Lewis” T-shirts, were also present to observe the proceedings. “There are killers out there that don’t get put to death,” said one. Another added, “He should be free to run around and be a cat.”

In all fairness, and as much as I think the clamor to have Lewis put to death is absurd, I must disagree with that last statement. As a number of comments to my last post on Lewis pointed out, there are many dangers to cats who are allowed to roam, especially in urban environments. Had Cisero kept Lewis indoors, he would not be in the predicament he finds himself today. And most certainly, for Cisero to allow Lewis outdoors after receiving the court order to keep him indoors, and knowing that he had injured someone, was irresponsible and foolish.

Interestingly, there is a new judge hearing the case, and it’s possible that this very blog may have played some small part in that development. One of the comments to my earlier post came from the son-in-law of previous judge Susan Reynolds, who was upset about the publicity generated by the case and wrote:

It’s a wild animal – if it were a raccoon or a possum, it would have been shot on-site (sic). But it looks cute and cuddly so everyone is standing up to defend it. Unbelievable.

A reporter called my mother in law to get her opinion on the case, and she said to him, “on the same day as this case, I heard one about a man who killed his girlfriend, and an arson case where the whole house burned down and killed three people, and you want to talk about this cat.”

If Reynold’s son-in-law made these same comments in other forums besides this blog where they were more widely disseminated, that fact could easily be perceived to indicate prejudice on the part of Judge Reynolds. However, this is merely speculation on my part, as the reason Reynolds turned the proceedings over to new judge Patrick Carroll has not been publicly disclosed; perhaps if my commenter returns he can clarify this for us. In any event, Judge Carroll will consider the probation request when the case reconvenes on June 20th.

Meanwhile, there’s some new designs over at the Save Lewis store. Drop by if you’d like to show your support by purchasing a T-shirt, mouse pad, coffee mug, or other tchatchke. Be part of a movement!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

I need to take a short break for the first half of this week, as I am going to Houston to be poked, prodded, CT-scanned, and asked to blow into tubes by various medical professionals. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this will be.

It never ends. (*sigh*)

But in keeping with this theme, here’s a very old joke before I go on hiatus:

A man brought a limp dog into the veterinary clinic. As he lay the dog on the table, the doctor pulled out his stethoscope, and listened to the dog’s chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, “I’m sorry sir, but your dog is dead.”

“What?” screamed the man. “How can you tell? You haven’t done any testing on him or anything. I want another opinion!”

With that, the vet turned and left the room. In a few moments, he returned with a black Labrador Retriever. The Retriever went right to work, checking the poor dead dog out thoroughly with his nose. After a considerable amount of sniffing, the Retriever sadly shook his head and in a mournful tone said, “Bark”.

The veterinarian then took the Labrador out and returned in a few moments with a cat, who also carefully sniffed out the poor dog on the table. As had his predecessor, the cat sadly shook his head and said, “Meow” He then jumped off the table and ran out of the room.

The veterinarian said “I’m sorry, but there’s no doubt whatsoever. Your dog is definitely dead.” The man finally sighed and said “OK, doc. I believe you. How much do I owe you?” The vet then handed the man a bill for $600. The dog’s owner went berserk. “$600! Just to tell me my dog is dead? This is outrageous!”

The vet shook his head and explained. “If you had taken my word for it, the charge would have been $50, but you insisted on Lab tests and a cat scan.”

Hyuk Hyuk. Regular blogging will resume on Thursday.


Cat Scan

Comfortable cat

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

I wish I could be this totally relaxed:


Do you think Fuzzy will let me have my bed back by tonight?

Catblogging: Lewis update

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Happy CatBlogging Friday, and a special welcome to Carnival of the Cats readers. You may recall that a few weeks ago, I wrote about Lewis the Cat, who had been placed under “house arrest” in his home town of Fairfield, Conn. for allegedly attacking several people including the local Avon lady. I promised you an update, so here it is.

Owner Ruth Cisero, who is facing charges of reckless endangerment in connection with the incidents, appeared in Bridgeport Superior Court on May 2nd before Judge Susan Reynolds. The judge made Cisero an offer of probation on the endangerment charge — but only on the condition that she would agree to put Lewis to death. This stipulation was demanded by neighbor Maureen Bachtig, one of the alleged victims.

Cisero refused, saying said she would rather leave Fairfield than have Lewis killed. The judge continued the case until May 23rd. Following Tuesday’s hearing, Cisero’s attorney Eugene Riccio told reporters, “I’m going to do everything I can to keep my client from having a criminal record and to preserve her cat’s life.”

Lewis’s plight has received international attention. There have been reports that some of the alleged victims may have provoked Lewis by pelting him with eggs or by squirting a water hose on him, which has outraged cat lovers everywhere. Supporters of the feisty feline have created a Wiki page for Lewis as well as his own site on MySpace, and he has even spawned this funny bit of fake news on Phat Phree.

Most importantly, more than 500 “Save Lewis” T-shirts have been sold to raise money for a defense fund for Cisero. I’ve already ordered one, and I urge CotC visitors to check out the site and consider helping out as well.

One reason I am sympathetic to Lewis is that he bears an amazing resemblance to our new cat, Fuzzy. See if you agree:

That’s Lewis on the left, and Fuzzy on the right. I realize many Tuxedo cats look similar, but the likeness really is uncanny.

I also think Cisero’s devotion to Lewis (even at her own peril) is admirable, particularly in our culture that so often treats animals as disposable. I’m always amazed to hear stories of people who turn their cats over to shelters for what seem like trivial excuses: they shed, they claw the furniture, they’re too much trouble, they got new drapes and the fur color doesn’t match, or whatever. Many times they’re just abandoned for no reason whatsoever. Any true cat lover reading this blog knows that our “furbabies” are a real part of our families, and we could no more easily give them up to be killed than if they were our actual children. I could understand those who want to destroy Lewis had he been a pit bull who had mauled someone to death, but whatever damage he may have inflicted has been merely superficial — just a few bites and scratches. He doesn’t deserve to die for that, especially if he was provoked in the first place as Cisero alleges.

I’ll post additional updates on Lewis as they become available, but in the meantime please consider buying a T-Shirt to help support him and his owner. Thanks.

For those new to CatBlogging, Carnival of the Cats is a weekly roundup of cat-related posts and pictures. The Carnival is hosted this week by Pages Turned beginning Sunday evening.

More cats in the news

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Stories about cats continue to captivate the public’s attention. Following the saga of Emily in France last year and this gripping drama only two weeks ago, here’s another cat tale (sorry) just in time for CatBlogging Friday today:

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NEW YORK – With Molly the fugitive feline sending out distress calls from a few feet — or maybe just inches — away, animal rescue and city experts tried anew on Thursday to lure the 11-month-old black cat from the innards of a 19th century building where she has been trapped for nearly two weeks.

The low-key drama, with no end in sight, was playing out in the basement wall and ceiling of a Greenwich Village delicatessen, where Molly had been official house mouser until wandering into a narrow space between walls and becoming lost in what rescue supervisor Mike Pastore described as “a maze of beams and pipes, going every which way.”

With city building officials on hand to supervise, more bricks were hammered out in the cellar of the 157-year-old, four-story building on Hudson Street. The edifice is part of a landmarked historic district where alterations are prohibited without official permission. Pastore said he hoped Molly’s situation would be seen as enough of an emergency “so that we can knock out a few more bricks.”

In another move, two kittens were brought to the scene in carry-on cage, in hopes that their mewing might trigger Molly’s maternal instincts enough to draw her out.

Pastore, field director for Animal Care & Control, a private organization with a city contract to handle lost, injured and unwanted animals, said the rescue was the most difficult in his experience. “I’ve done this dozens of times — even in zero neighborhoods where you’re lucky to get out alive,” he said.

Molly’s meowing could be heard so clearly on the sidewalk outside the building that it seemed she might be a foot or less inside the wall, though blocked from view by vertical studs and other obstructions. “She’s right there,” said Pastore. “I’d like to be able to reach in and grab a piece of fur. That’s what’s so frustrating.”

On Wednesday, bricks had been carefully removed at various spots to give Molly an escape route. Molly stayed put. Pastore’s team later got a fleeting look at Molly through a tiny video camera snaked into the crawl space, but could not reach her. A cage, baited with food, was left overnight. Molly didn’t bite. Even catnip, the feline aphrodisiac, had no effect on the timorous tabby.

Amid the activity, business went on inside Myers of Keswick, a delicatessen that specializes in meat pies, clotted cream and other British food specialties. “I’m very busy,” said proprietor Peter Myers, who opened the store 20 years ago and kept Molly to catch mice. Television and newspaper reporters were on hand, and the story was making headlines across the United States and abroad.

On Thursday, a self-described “cat therapist,” Carole Wilbourne, knelt on the sidewalk next to the building’s outer wall and tried to coax Molly out with what she hoped were soothing words. “I hear you, sweetheart,” she cooed. “Come on, Molly, you can do it…everybody wants you to come out… nobody’s going to hurt you.”

After a few minutes, one of Pastore’s aides, wearing a surgical mask, emerged from the dusty cellar and asked Wilbourne to stop. “I think you’re stressing her out,” she said. Wilbourne complied, saying that she had been trying to “give inspiration” to the wayward cat. “I care,” she told reporters. “I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t.”

(Source: The Associated Press)

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Cat therapist? People get paid good money for this? Now, there’s a career I should investigate. Just call me “Mr. Toast, the Cat Whisperer“. You may laugh, but I’m getting a secret message from a telepathic tabby (right) at this very moment; he’s telling me that a fresh crop of thrilling cat pictures and stories can be found starting each Sunday evening at the Carnival of the Cats. This week’s host is Begin Each Day, and if you look into my messager’s psychic (or is it psycho?) eyes, you will suddenly feel an irresistible urge to surf on over there and check it out… :^)

I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!

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Update! Molly has been rescued!!

Gathering of the (feline) clan

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

We see all three cats hanging out together so infrequently, that it’s cause for notice (and a picture!) when it does happen. They tend to be more comfortable in their own separate spaces. Callie and Tiger, being siblings, are naturally close to each other, but when we brought Fuzzy (the Tuxedo cat) into the house we weren’t completely sure that they would all co-exist peacefully. There had been some hissing, growling and grumbling through the screen when Fuzzy first appeared outdoors. Fortunately, they have come to tolerate each other very well, as you can see from these photos:

That Fuzzy and Callie are sleeping side-by-side as you see them above is particularly amazing to us. Callie is especially fussy about being touched, so for her to allow Fuzzy this close is extremely rare. (Of course, it could be that she was asleep and unaware of it.)

The weather in East Texas was beautiful today — clear and breezy, temp in the pleasant low 60′s — making it a perfect day to open the windows and doors. This never fails to attract the cats. They love the smell of the outdoors, and also enjoy watching the birds at our backyard feeder.

We wonder if Fuzzy is thinking “I used to live out there!” in the photo above, but if so, he doesn’t seem to miss it all that much. On the contrary, he has completely adapted to being an indoor kitty, and seems to greatly enjoy the company of his new family.

For more cat photos and stories, don’t forget the weekly Carnival of the Cats; #107 is hosted this time around by The Scratching Post, so be sure and pay a visit. Have a great week!

Psycho-cat story sweeps nation

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Welcome Carnival of the Cats readers! No doubt most of you have heard about the incident featured in today’s CatBlogging Friday post, but here’s the scoop for anyone who may have missed it. The time: last week. The place: Fairfield, Connecticut. The story: cat wreaks havoc in neighborhood: The perp: “Lewis” (right).

The media furor began when the 5-year old black-and-white cat was placed under “house arrest” by local animal control officials after allegedly attacking several neighbors. Owner Ruth Cisero was charged with reckless endangerment after letting Lewis outdoors in violation of orders from the state attorney’s office. It is believed to be the first time a restraining order has been issued against a domestic housecat.

“It was on CNN this morning. It’s ridiculous,” said Elizabeth Oberhand, who lives next door to the tiny tiger. “The Associated Press probably got it on the wire and everybody ate it up.”

Lewis’s fame (or infamy, if you will) has spread far and wide, with hundreds of TV and radio stations, web sites, and newspapers covering the story. The paper that broke the news, the Connecticut Post, received thousands of hits and e-mails from across the country. Cisero said she was deluged with 120 phone calls from media outlets last week after the story first appeared; another 80 called Wednesday, including the BBC. “Inside Edition” dispatched a crew to Cisero’s home and plans to air a segment on Lewis. “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” also wants the cat to appear.

Two years ago, Donna Greenstein said she was attacked by Lewis while delivering an Avon catalog. According to her husband, “She was going to a customer’s house, dropping off a catalog, and out of nowhere the cat jumped her leg and wouldn’t let go. He bit right through her coat, right through her stocking. She is scarred for life.” The couple have sued Cisero in Superior Court, seeking more than $5,000 in damages.

Another neighbor and alleged victim, Maureen Bachtig, recently wrote a letter to the state attorney’s office complaining about the cat. “Although at odds with common perception, this cat is dangerous,” she states. “Unfortunately, the owner of this cat continues to be in denial of this threat to the children and adults in the neighborhood. Cats do not attack humans. There is something extremely wrong with a cat that does attack a human.” Bachtig wants the cat destroyed or declawed.

Lewis does have some formidable weapons: he is polydactyl, with six toes on each foot, and his claws are long and sharp. But on Wednesday, Lewis lay quietly on a carpet by Cisero’s living room window, staring at the forbidden outdoors while a photographer snapped pictures of him. He did not appear to be anything like a psychotic feline terrorist, and in fact seemed to be calmly enjoying the attention.

For her part, Cisero claims the alleged “attacks” have been exaggerated, and said she opened her house to reporters because she worried her silence might lead people to think she is “a crazy cat person.”

Cisero is scheduled to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on April 25. You can bet I’ll post a followup.

Friends for life

Friday, March 24th, 2006

It’s Catblogging Friday again, so here’s wishing everyone a great day and a pleasant weekend to come. Today’s photo features Callie & Tiger in a sweet display of sibling closeness. There’s a special life-long bond between litter mates, as you can see below:

Sure, they may piss each other off now and then — much like even human brothers and sisters do — but they still love each other. Callie in particular has a very affectionate nature about her, even when she’s giving me the ol’ hairy eyeball like this:

If you like cute cat pictures, you’ll enjoy the Carnival of the Cats, hosted this week by Scribblings. Surf on over for some warm fuzzies starting Sunday evening.

Waiter, there’s fur in my meatloaf sandwich

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Happy CatBlogging Friday, everyone. Today we present:

Now, using this Advanced Knowledge you have obtained from B. Kliban, see if you can identify which of the three pictures below is that of an actual meatloaf:


Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3

The correct answer, of course, is “Figure 2″.

If you’d like to see more meat loaf photos (or other cute felines), be sure and check out this week’s Carnival of the Cats, which will be hosted by Catcall, starting Sunday evening.

Update: Operation Domestication complete

Sunday, February 26th, 2006
World, meet Fuzzy:


The long process of converting our newest family member from feral animal to domestic house cat has been chronicled for some time now in this blog, and I’m happy to report that the story has finally reached a successful conclusion. The adventure began last November when we first spotted him hanging out in our yard; he was so wild then that barely cracking open the patio door would send him running off to hide. We began leaving food out for him, and after a while he would tolerate us sitting outside within a few feet of him while he ate. Gradually, we moved the food dish closer to the back door, then to the threshold, then a few feet inside the house. In December, we scored a major breakthrough when he allowed us to touch him for the first time, and he soon became more comfortable with being indoors.

A couple of weeks later I was able to snatch him up and take him to our vet to be vaccinated and neutered, which he was none too happy about. However, we recovered from this setback, and once trust was re-established the domestication process has seemed to move fairly swiftly since then. He began staying inside for longer periods at a time, and about two weeks ago we decided we were ready to commit to full ownership and keep him indoors permanently. We understand this is a point of controversy among some cat owners; there are those who believe it’s natural and enjoyable for cats to roam, and that it’s somehow wrong to deny them this pleasure. However, our decision is based on prior experience; other cats we’ve had that were allowed outdoors have had their lives tragically cut short (usually hit by cars), so our logic is that if we love them, this is the best way to keep them safe and healthy.

The only dilemma we then faced was what to name him. I am terrible at picking animal names, so we turned to WitW readers for help. Y’all offered a number of great suggestions (which I thank you very much for), but none seemed to stick; he acted completely indifferent when I tried them out on him. Then one day last week I remembered that a bloggin’ buddy has a cat she calls Mr. FuzzyButt, which I always liked. At that very moment, Cat With No Name was laying on the bed. The name seemed appropriate with his long fur and all, so I looked at him and said, “Fuzzy?” He flipped over, looked back at me, and made a “merrrrow” noise that I clearly interpreted in cat language as, “Yeah, that’s my name. What took you so long to figure it out?” So “Fuzzy” he is.

Surprisingly, Fuzzy’s been getting along very well with our other two cats. There’s been a wee bit of hissing here and there, but nothing serious – and in fact, he and Tiger have even been playing hide-and-seek with each other. We had frankly expected more territorial altercations, so this is a welcome development.

Well, there you have it: we’re now officially a three-cat household. Only five more windows left to fill! :^)

Squirrely cat photo

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Even though my Rolling Stones post earlier this morning (or late last night, depending on your point of view) contained the phrase “Stray Cat Blues”, it doesn’t technically qualify as Friday CatBlogging. So let me rectify the situation by posting this picture of Callie in an unusual pose:

I’ve noticed that the grey squirrels who frequent our back yard will often lay out in the sun on tree limbs and landscape timbers, with both hind legs stretched out completely flat behind them, but I’ve never seen a cat do this before Callie. Is she just especially limber, or do all cats have this ability but usually choose not to? (This is a rhetorical question, BTW … as if any human is able to comprehend the sublime workings of the feline mind.) But I’m curious to know if anyone else has ever seen their cats assume this same position.

This week’s Carnival of the Cats #99 is being hosted by Watermark, so go visit there for some cute critters this coming Sunday evening. In the meantime, happy CatBlogging Friday!

That sinking feeling

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Well dagnabbit, I almost forgot that it’s CatBlogging Friday again — how time flies! So let’s take a break from getting all worked up over the week’s political drama, relax, and check out the bewhiskered goodness. Today’s post features my favorite furboy Mr. Tiger, looking cute (as usual):

Did you know there’s an entire website dedicated to pictures of cats in sinks? I guess regular CotC readers are already aware of this, but I’m late to the party and have just discovered it. Now this is what I call media specialization, folks. I fully expect to also find sites devoted exclusively to photos of dogs on couches, ferrets in drawers, hamsters in pockets, mice in wine glasses, and who only knows what else.

Even though Tiger looks a bit surprised in the photo above, I think he’d certainly fit right in with all the other feline sink-dwellers. Here he is in a more relaxed and regal-looking pose:

Who could not love a face like that? In the immortal words of B. Kliban:

CAT: One Hell of a nice animal, frequently mistaken for a meatloaf.

Have a great week y’all, and thanks for stopping by my blog!