Archive for the 'cats' Category

The wayward cat returns

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Happy CatBlogging Friday y’all – this week’s Carnival Of The Cats #97 is here, so click on over and check out the furry goodness. My post today is an update on our feral friend that I first wrote about in December. Three weeks later we took him to our vet to be neutered and vaccinated, which he was not too happy about. He mostly disappeared after that, but we’re pleased to report that he’s back and trust is slowly being re-established. He becomes anxious when he can’t get back outside, and will sit at the door and cry incessantly until we let him out. But he’s staying indoors for longer periods of time, so I think it won’t be long until he’s fully domesticated. We’ve even let our other two cats socialize with him while he’s in the house; they’re a bit wary of each other, but there’s been no hissing, growling, or flying fur, so we think things are progressing well. The biggest problem is that we can’t come up with a name for him that we like. For the time being we’re calling him “P.T.”, which is short for “Puddy Tat” (as in “I tawt I taw a…”) as he slightly resembles Tweety Bird’s arch-nemesis Sylvester, but we’re not that keen on it. There’s nothing wrong with the name Sylvester, but it’s kind of a cliche for a black-and-white cat and we’d like something a bit more original. We could use some help in picking out a name. What comes to your mind when you look at that sweet feline face below? Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions, and thanks!

How many cats do you have?

Friday, January 13th, 2006

Due to the fateful intersection of Catblogging Friday with Friday the 13th, I thought that it would be only too appropriate for me to post a picture of a black cat today. It’s an old photo which I have scanned in, so please excuse the crappy color balance:

This is “Trapper”, the first cat Mrs. Toast and I had together after we were married. He was the sweetest, most affectionate kitty in the world. One spring day we were doing major housecleaning at our apartment and had all the windows and doors wide open. Trapper strolled in out of nowhere, casually plopped down on our living room carpet like he owned the place, and basically said “here I am, love me”. While this sort of behavior would be considered strange in humans (except, perhaps, in California) it seemed perfectly natural for Trapper and we adopted him on the spot. He was a beloved member of our family for several years until one night when he got into an unfortunate altercation with an automobile. As you might expect, the car won; we still miss him.

Mrs. Toast and I have occasional discussions about the optimal number of cats to have around the house. According to a recent pet ownership survey by the APPMA, the average number of cats per cat-owning household is 2.4, compared to 1.4 dogs per dog-owning household. We have two now, which we agree is the minimum number; a single cat needs a playmate so they won’t get lonely. Besides, they must also have another feline co-conspirator nearby with whom to hatch their plans for world domination. Beyond this, my wife is concerned that there is a point at which the addition of one more cat will cause her to cross the line from “someone who loves cats” to “that crazy cat lady down the block”, and we’re not exactly sure what that number is. We’re OK on three. Four is questionable, and things start getting dodgy when we’re talking about five or more. We’ve had as many as six at one time, although we found homes for two of them fairly quickly so our maximum cat population has really been just four.

My idea is that since cats love to sit in windows, you should count the number of windows in your house, and that’s how many cats you should have. Our home has eight windows: ergo, eight cats. Mrs. Toast has put the kibosh on this plan, but I still think it’s a sound theory.

This is one seriously pissed-off cat

Friday, January 6th, 2006

Well, if someone had just stuffed you into a cage, hauled you off to the vet’s office and had them cut off your balls, wouldn’t you be too? I thought so.

Happy CatBlogging Friday, everyone. Here’s an update to my earlier post three weeks ago about our neighborhood feline visitor. Kitty has been increasingly more friendly and playful, and finally overcame his fear enough to allow me to handle him regularly. Still, not knowing if he had any communicable diseases, it was necessary to shut our other two cats in the back bedroom temporarily whenever we let him in to feed him. So, we decided that yesterday would be the day of reckoning. After one botched attempt, I was able to get him in the cat carrier and to the vet, who determined that he was, in fact, male (with the long fur, we hadn’t been sure), was FLV-negative, and mostly healthy other than for a few fleas. Our vet is sympathetic to the plight of ferals, and after we paid for the exam and vaccinations he offered to neuter him for free, which was very nice of him.

A few hours later it was a done deal, but things did not go so well after we got home. Once out of the carrier, Kitty immediately made a lunge for the back door, smacking headlong into the glass. He then scrambled up the drapes, and stayed there for the next two hours. Efforts to feed and reassure him were only partially successful, and we decided that the best course would probably be to let him back outside until he calmed down.

That was yesterday afternoon. We haven’t seen him since.

We are hoping that he will forgive us and come back once he gets hungry again, but we realize there’s a chance he may never return. He did seem to enjoy the affection earlier in the week, so maybe that will overcome his wild instinct. We’ll be very sad if not – we’ve gotten quite attached to him in the month he’s been hanging out with us – but we can take some comfort in knowing that at least we took one small step to help cut down on the huge number of feral kittens born each year, and that by getting his shots he has a slightly better chance of staying healthy.

One other CatBlogging item of note: here’s an article about recent studies on the evolution of early predatory felines into “the cat that has induced people to pay for its board and lodging in return for frugal displays of affection”, i.e., the domestic house cat. Researchers have new insight into how the species developed, migrating to new continents as sea levels rose and fell. Cats are natural roamers, which doesn’t give us much encouragement that our friend will be back, but it’s still an interesting read.

In closing, here’s a couple of pictures from last week. We’ll leave the back porch light on for him, just in case.

Future family member?

Friday, December 16th, 2005

Happy Catblogging Friday everyone, and with that spirit in mind I’d like to share a couple of photos of a feral backyard visitor we’ve had hanging out with us for the last month or so:

We’re not 100% sure if this is a boy or girl kitty, but judging by it’s demeanor and the lack of any noticeable “spraying” activity, we think that it’s most likely female. We also think there’s a good chance she’s already been fixed, because she looks old enough to be in season, but we haven’t seen any other males come a-courtin’ so far. It’s hard to tell how long she’s been in the wild; she’s very skittish about being approached, but we suspect she may have once had a home. That’s a common problem in this college town: a surprising number of students pack up and move away when they graduate, and just leave their former pets behind to fend for themselves. It’s hard for me to understand this throwaway attitude toward animal life, but it’s an unfortunate fact. A number of groups such as the good folks at O’Malley Alley Cats try to help control the feral population with TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) programs, but there’s only so much they can do. Also, some unenlightened members of the public actively oppose TNR efforts as worthless, in the mistaken belief that all feral cats are a nuisance and should just be rounded up and killed.

I’ve always had a soft spot for stray animals – cats in particular, and virtually every cat I’ve ever had in my life has been one that has “chosen” to give up the feral life and come live with me. The two we have now were part of a litter of four kittens we discovered living under our shed out back a few years ago. As best as we can tell, someone dumped them off inside our fenced yard. This photo shows them at the point when they were confident enough to sleep next to our back door (because they had figured out that was where the food came from!) but still afraid to come inside the house. It took many weeks of patience, feeding, and gentle coaxing before they allowed themselves to be touched. Ultimately, they came to trust us, and we found homes for two of them and kept the other two. They’ve now become cherished family members, although Callie (front right in the picture) has never been completely domesticated, and still hides under the bed at any loud sound or sudden movement. We came to the conclusion that they simply accepted us into their “pack”, and think of us as just a couple of other, really big, wild cats like themselves.

We’re still at the very tentative, early stage with this newest kitty as well, although I scored a major breakthrough yesterday when she allowed me to pet her for the very first time while she was distracted by the can of food she had her nose buried in. She’s even briefly ventured inside the house a couple of times, but run right back out again. I think it’s just a matter of time until she learns to trust me, and at the first good opportunity I plan to snatch her up and take her to our vet so he can check her out, verify her (his?) sex, if she has in fact been fixed (and neuter her if not), and get her shots. In the meantime, we’re keeping the other two shut in the bedroom whenever we open the door to feed her, so that she doesn’t have any contact with them until we’re sure she’s tested negative for FeLuke or any other communicable diseases.

I’ll update my progress with Puddy Tat here in the blog, but let me close this post with a seasonal suggestion. If anyone reading this might possibly be entertaining thoughts of getting their child (or anyone else for that matter) a kitten or puppy for Christmas, please don’t buy one from a pet shop. Pet shops are notorious for obtaining many of their animals from kitten/puppy mills that breed them in some of the most disgusting, inhumane conditions imaginable. There are so many unfortunate animals that must be put down each year due to overpopulation and a lack of homes, and they don’t deserve this. Visit your local shelter, or the fine web site Pet Finder, to adopt a pet who is eagerly waiting to join your family. The love and gratitude in their eyes, and the knowledge that you have saved just one life, however small, will be well worth it.

Friday Catblogging (updated)

Friday, December 9th, 2005

Introducing a new feature here on WITW, which seeks “to provide a non-political respite from the vehement echo chamber that the Blogosphere spins itself into during the week, demonstrating that even the mightiest and meekest of pundits have a love of cats in common”. Even though it’s been around for a while, I’ve recently discovered Friday Catblogging, where posts only have a few simple rules:

(1) They should be on Friday (well, duh!)
(2) The post should be about cats (double duh!) – either pictures of your cat, someone else’s cat, or something to do with cats.
(3) Snarky political commentary, even if somehow cat-related, is discouraged. The “respite” thing, and all.

So here’s my first Friday Catblogging photo:

The sweetie in the middle is Miss Cotton, who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a year ago Thanksgiving at the ripe old age of 22. There’s a story about that, but I’ll save it for another day. In the meantime, if you want to get into this catblogging thing, here’s a few links to get you started:

The Oubliette

When Cats Attack!
Sharp As A Marble
The Daily Whim
Way cool Catbloggers Frappr Map
Finally, use caution when visiting IMAO and The Conservative Cat, who totally ignore the “no snarky political comment” rule.

CatBlogging Friday should be much easier than Half-Nekkid Thursday, as no semi-embarrasing exposed bare flesh is required. The phenomenon has even resulted in the following article which appeared in the New York Times last year:

The New York Times

October 28, 2004

On Fridays, Bloggers Sometimes Retract Their Claws


IN the vitriolic world of political Web logs, two polar extremes are Eschaton (, a liberal, often anti-Bush site with a passionate following, and Instapundit (, where an equally fervent readership goes for hearty praise of the Administration.

It would seem unlikely that the two blogs’ authors could see eye-to-eye about anything. Yet Eschaton’s Duncan Black (known as Atrios) and Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds have both taken part in a growing practice: turning over a blog on Friday to cat photographs.

“It brings people together,” said Kevin Drum, who began the cat spotlight last year on his own blog, Calpundit ( “Both Atrios and Instapundit have done Friday catblogging. It goes to show you can agree on at least a few things.”

Mr. Drum has moved on to write a blog for The Washington Monthly called Political Animal, which, despite its name, features no cats. But for him, watching bloggers step back from partisanship in favor of the warmth of cat pictures is a reminder of the March 2003 day when he discovered that his cats offered an antidote to stressful blogging.

“I’d just blogged a whole bunch of stuff about what was wrong with the world,” Mr. Drum said. “And I turned around and I looked out the window, and there was one of my cats, just plonked out, looking like nothing was wrong with the world at all.”

Grabbing his camera, Mr. Drum photographed his cat, Inkblot, and posted the picture ( He soon began doing it each Friday, attracting fans who just wanted to see the felines.

“I had a lot of people who were looking forward to it,” he said. “I started getting e-mails on Friday mornings where people were like, ‘Where’s catblogging? What’s going on?’ “

As often happens in the blogosphere, other people latched onto the idea and ran with it.

These days, all kinds of bloggers are Friday catblogging, often playing around with the concept, even as Mr. Drum has stopped.

Cosma Shalizi is one of them. A postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, Dr. Shalizi sometimes devotes Fridays on his blog, Three-Toed Sloth (, to what he calls “Friday Cat Blogging (Science Geek Edition).”

In those entries, interspersed among his thoughts on various academic disciplines, Dr. Shalizi ventures into scientific discussions related at least peripherally to cats.

On another blog, Spocko’s Brain (, the author wrote in one Friday posting: “I’m new to this blogging stuff, but from what I understand all the really cool kids post pictures of their cats on Fridays. Here’s mine.”

It was a giant Caterpillar tractor.

Even NASA has played along, posting a picture one recent Friday of the Cat’s Eye nebula (

Some participants take Friday catblogging very seriously. Laurence Simon, a 35-year-old Houston technical support engineer, decided a while back that with so many people catblogging, it would be good to have a weekly compendium of the best of each week’s entries.

So he began to post what he called the “Carnival of the Cats,” a roundup ( of that week’s Friday catblogging, available the following Sunday.

“The reason why I do it on Sunday evening is that most people aren’t online,” Mr. Simon said, “so on Monday morning, when people get into the office and are facing their first horrible cup of coffee, they can look at pictures of cats until they get screamed at for the first time of the day.”

For a while, Mr. Simon was the host of Carnival of the Cats, but he decided to pass along the honor. Now, a different person handles the Carnival of the Cats each Sunday, compiling a healthy group of Friday postings for that groggy Monday morning audience.

One recent host was Sharon Brogan, a poet from Missoula, Mont. Ms. Brogan is new to blogging, having been at it for only three months. But it didn’t take long for her to become a Friday catblogging convert (

“I enjoy it because it pulls together folks who wouldn’t even read each others’ blogs otherwise,” Ms. Brogan said. “People from all across the political spectrum, Web diarists and serious craft people. As long as you are into cats, you belong in the group.”

In any case, given the nature of the blogosphere, others have adapted Mr. Drum’s inspiration for their own purposes. There are a number of Friday dogblogging and Friday birdblogging sites. One can even imagine Friday mongooseblogging.

To some, the point is that posting pictures of their animals provides a chance to introduce a softer personality into blogs that are often hard-edged.

“It’s just nice for bloggers to do things that show themselves as ordinary people,” Mr. Drum said, “not just partisan political writers.”

Mr. Black agreed. It’s a “way to humanize me and a way to put a little bit of me into the blog without going into my personal life,” he said.

Of course, while Mr. Black’s readers usually come to Eschaton for his takes on the political landscape, many visit on Friday to check for cats.

“It’s the one thing that readers demand that I do,” Mr. Black said. His cats “generally get positive comments,” he said, although “some people think that they’re fat.”

WARM AND FUZZY – Kevin Drum at his office in Irvine, Calif., with Inkblot. One Friday last year Mr. Drum began a custom of turning over his Web log to cat photographs. “It brings people together,” he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

So there you go, everything you ever wanted to know about CatBlogging Friday. Happy CBF and have a great weekend, y’all.

Life Imitating Art (feline style)

Friday, October 14th, 2005

I warned you about the cute cat pictures…

Psst! Hey, you! Wanna see a photo of my cute, hairy little pussy?

Friday, October 7th, 2005

Now that I have your attention (you were expecting … what? get your mind out of the gutter), this is mainly an experiment to try uploading and placement of images in this here blog. If you’re into cute cat photos, I’ve got a boatload of ‘em but I’ll spare you – at least for now. I have two cats, and tend to take pictures of them when either (a) they do something adorable, which is fairly often, or (b) i’m totally bored, which also happens on a regular basis. So, a cat pic may crop up here and there on occasion. Blogger makes this pretty easy, and overall I’ve been quite pleased with how this thing works. Leave it to Google to take blogging to the great unwashed masses. It used to be that long ago (i.e., last month), publishing a blog was an arduous process that required a degree in computer science, so only those who really really had something important to say went to the effort to do one. Now, if someone of my ilk can blog with only a few lazy-ass mouse clicks, that’s gotta mean something, and I’m not sure it’s all good. The ten-horned beasts may not be far behind.