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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

M is for -- Merry Christmas!

"Well, I see our staff is starting to put up Christmas decorations again," Little Debbie snorted. "Didn't we just go through this a few months ago?"

"Nope," Mattie sighed. "That was all of a year ago. The older you get, the faster time passes."

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting old. You don't have to remind me. It seems like only yesterday when our male human scooped me up off the front porch. I was shivering so much and was so hungry!"

Mattie closed her eyes, remembering her own rescue. "Our lady human had been feeding me and my sister out on the back stoop for about a year. One day the lady got sneaky and put the bowl of food inside in the back hall. Of course, I went in, was just too hungry to think about consequences. Before I could run back outside, she had closed the door behind me, trapping me in the back hall. I camped out under a sewing machine table for a couple of weeks until it felt safe to check out these new digs. So much better – I NEVER want to be outside again!"

"What about your sister?"

"Several times they tried the same food trick with her, but she was too smart. I've never seen her again. And then I heard my humans mutter that coyotes had moved into the area." Mattie bowed her head in grief. "I fear the worst. That's why it's so important for us strays or ferals to find humans who will adopt us and open those little cans of food and love us."

Mattie sat up straight on her haunches, whiskers twitching. “And that’s exactly why no-kill shelters are so very important and even necessary. Places like that find and rescue and take in strays and ferals and abandoned kitties and lost fur babies who will be loved and cared for until they find their forever homes.”

“Exactly!” Little Debbie punched the air with her paw, then began to carefully lick all sides of it. “And that’s why it’s so important for humans to donate to animal shelters, especially to cat shelters. I hope our staff will gift one with a Christmas check!”

“Me, too. Now! Ta da! It’s naptime. I’ll curl up on the loveseat and you head for your blankie. See you at dinnertime.”

Psssst, this is the lady who tricked Mattie into the back hall. I was fortunate to overhear the above conversation and have sent a personal check to our local cat shelter. I too want kitties to be safe and fed and loved until they find their forever home. Please find it in your heart to volunteer and even donate!

Merry Christmas!
M is for -- Mug.

The UPS guy delivered several boxes this morning. One was a small square box.

"Open it! Open it!" shrieked Mattie. "Maybe it's from Unka Steve. It's the right-size box for a new catnip toy."

Both cats shivered with excitement. I sighed, grabbed my little knife, and carefully slit open the box flaps. Immediately I realized it was a mug.

"Sorry, girls. This one's for me. But don't worry. Unka Steve says there will be a gift for you two."

I carefully peeled off the bubblewrap and set the mug on the carpet so the girls could see the picture on the mug. It was a cat with middle claws upraised and surrounded by the words, "I do what I want."

The two cats looked at the mug and then at each other. "That's a naughty picture!" and "We never talk like that!" 

I choked back a cough. "Yeah, right. You think I don't notice, but I see you two doing that a lot when we give you food you don't like and when Daniel doesn't scoop your litterbox as carefully as you'd like. And when I try to get Little Debbie's blankie away from her to wash it now and then." 

I continued. "This gift is for ME. Thank goodness you won't be able to get your furry little faces down into it to suck up my coffee. And apparently Unka Steve knows what I'm up against in this house."

"Well, okay then. Think what you will about us. Don't choke on your coffee," retorted Mattie. "And stop telling him lies about us. C'mon, Deb. Let's sit near the front door and wait for the UPS guy to deliver OUR gift from Unka Steve. I bet it will be one for Christian cats like WE are."

"Get comfy, ladies. You've got a long wait ahead of you." As I turned to walk away, my peripheral vision caught a flash of upraised paws with middle claws pointed toward the ceiling.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

K is for -- Krinkle, Krackle, Krunch.

It all started at Christmas 2007 with a candy cane -- a fabric, dried-catnip-filled candy cane, that is -- from my dear friend Steve (known to the cats as "Unka Steve").

Thomas Jefferson promptly claimed it and spent most of his (four) waking hours wrestling with it, clawing at it, tossing it around, leaping on it, drooling on it, sleeping on it, and generally mauling it until it was more pink and gray rather than the original red and white. The other cats tried to steal it to play with it, but soon came to realize it was Thomas's candy cane and no one else's.

The next Christmas Unka Steve played Santa again and sent the cats mice -- catnip mice. Cute little mice knitted-and-felt packed with dried catnip.

A felt, catnip-filled banana followed (see my blog post on August 6, 2013, "B is for -- Banana"). A year or so later, the cats got a catnip-filled Kickeroo toy.

And kickaroo they did!


Cats Rule Catnip Toy, Cylinder

[to be continued]
J is for -- Jack, or Jill?

A few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen and heard Mattie's and Little Debbie's strident arguing. They were having an animated "discussion" about something. I peeked around the corner and into the back hall to see them standing at the back door and staring out through the glass storm door at something on the concrete slab outside the back door. I quietly sat on the top step of the four steps that went down to the door and proceeded to eavesdrop.

Little Debbie: What's going on here? The staff has been giving our uneaten food to that cat.

Mattie (hissing): I've also noticed Daniel has been OPENING cans of our favorite cat food for that cat.

Little Debbie: And look at her -- or him! Getting chubbier and chubbier! Eating OUR food!

Mattie: I wonder if it's a boy cat or a girl cat. Maybe staff would invite him -- or her -- inside and we could have a new friend to chat with and snuggle up to. That cat actually looks harmless enough.

Little Debbie: A boy cat would be fun. Boy cats are soooooooo laid back! I miss Kuro. It would be cool to have a boy cat around again.

Mattie: The way this cat is getting chubby, I'm wondering if she's a girl. It might not be food that's making her chubby.

Little Debbie: What do you mean? Do you think she has a tumor?

Mattie (sighing): YOU think! Didn't your mother ever have The Talk with you? "The birds and the bees" talk? Feral girl cats loose outside. Feral boy cats loose outside. February is mating season. This cat might be pregnant.

Little Debbie (eyes wide): Ooooooooooooooo!!!!!! KITTENS! I can picture the fun already! We'll finally have PETS!


Mattie: And we need to somehow convince staff to get her inside before they are born. They don't have a prayer of surviving outdoors. Not with the coyotes that have moved into this neighborhood.

Mattie and Little Debbie sighed in unison and continued to watch the black-and-white visitor.

Deep in thought about defenseless kittens and hungry coyotes, I stood up and tiptoed back into the kitchen.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I is for -- Imagination.

I think that's what cats do during their daily sixteen-hour naps -- they put their imaginations to work and dream up stuff. The following is an example.

I had just finished reading Joanne's newest post, Rehabbing Horses Redux from our favorite blog, Horses in the Yard, and overheard this exchange:

Little Debbie (sighing): Well, that blog post was mostly boring!

Mattie: Au contraire! Remember the part about the lamb and something? Lamb and itis? I wonder if that’s like lamb stew. We should write that on the cat food list.

Little Debbie: Silly girl! Laminitis is a horse hoof inflammation, causing pain and lameness. Sheesh! 

Mattie: Excuuuuuse me! I don’t know anything about horses. But I did notice another thing, and there was even a photo. Did you notice?

Little Debbie: What?

Mattie: Horse boots. They are so clever! I want some, too.

Little Debbie (snorting): They wouldn’t begin to fit you! Your feet would swim in horse boots.

Mattie: How about CAT boots? Then I wouldn’t get sore feet from walking on the tile floors before the staff has swept up all the crumbs plus the cat litter you kick out of the litter box.

Little Debbie: Like you walk in the kitchen all that much – only when it’s time to eat. Otherwise you’re curled up and snoring on your warming pad.

Mattie: Granted, I wouldn’t wear them all that much. We don’t go outdoors -- which reminds me … dogs get to wear little boots so their owners can take them for walks in the rain and snow. Maybe cat boots could simply become a fashion statement. Hmmmmm.

Little Debbie (frowning): What do you mean?

Mattie: Well, wouldn’t I look real classy wearing little red cat boots -- such a fashionable contrast with my glossy black coat?

There’s even a famous story, “Puss in Boots.” I’ve seen pictures of him, very dashing in his black boots and feathered hat. I might even shop online to buy a sword and a red hat with a black feather. I’d look very, very cool!

... and removed december 2009 puss in boots shrek puss in boots character

Little Debbie: I suppose. What about me? What color cat boots would look good on me?

Mattie: Hmmmmm. You’ve got really wide paws. White boots would show up the white in your brown-black-white tabby coat but also make your feet look like aircraft carriers. Also, white boots will get dirty real fast. AND, I can hear it already. You’ll be clomping around like a two-year-old human boy who’s wearing his daddy’s shoes. Okay, then. Let’s move on. What about black boots?

Little Debbie: Ooooooooo, then I’ll look like Puss in Boots!

Mattie (choking with laughter): Um, no, you won’t. I guarantee it.

Little Debbie: True. I’ve got the wrong color coat, haven’t I.

Mattie: And you are a teeny weeny bit obese.

Little Debbie: I’m on a diet! I’m on a diet! Oh, and speaking of food, did you notice at the end of the blog post, she said, “These boots are wonderful for poulticing.” Isn't poultice like poultry? Does that mean we get KFC with our cat boots? Mmmmmmm, I LOVE chicken thighs!

Mattie: *sigh*

Thursday, January 21, 2016

H is for -- Hamster.

This afternoon Mattie and Little Debbie shyly asked me to meet with them on the loveseat in the living room at 3 p.m. Daniel would be at work, the other male staff person would be shopping at Walmart, and the house would be quiet. We could talk with no interruption.

After lunch, I kept busy on my Kindle, and I'm guessing the two cats were curled up somewhere, taking their afternoon naps. At five minutes to three, I heard muted meows and saw two furry bodies leap up on the loveseat, Mattie sitting at one end and Little Debbie at the other. I turned off my Kindle and inhaled deeply three times, then went to sit between them.

Thoughts tumbled around in my head. What this is all about? They are well-fed, have cozy beds and napping places, there are lots of toys to play with and windows to look out of, they are safe from the coyotes that have moved into our town, and they know they will be loved by us forever. What more could they possibly want?

I soon found out.

"We want hamsters! Mattie wants a boy hamster, and I want a girl hamster!"

My mouth fell open. I was speechless, but only for a moment. "For WHAT? To eat? You don't eat the food we serve you now. What makes you -- and me -- think you'll eat a live, fuzzy animal?" *gag*

Little Debbie vigorously shook her head. "No, no, no! We want them as PETS!"

"But YOU are pets," I countered. "Pets don't have pets!"

"Yes, they do," Mattie argued. "It's even in the Bible about the lion lying down with the lamb. As a Lutheran pastor's daughter, you should know that. Animals have pets. We want our own pets."  

I couldn't contain my laughter. "And do you know what Woody Allen said about that lion-lamb situation? 'Someday the lion will lie down with the lamb, but the lamb won't get much sleep.' It would be the same with you two and hamsters."

Without missing a beat, I continued: “That’s from Isaiah 11:6, The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.’ It’s about the time of peace when Jesus will reign as King over the earth AND NOT ABOUT ANIMALS HAVING PETS!”

“All right already,” Little Debbie said, leaning back into the throw pillow behind her. “Stop shouting.”

I slapped my hands on my thighs, startling the two cats. “And who’s going to buy the cages? After all, we can’t let them wander around the house. They’ll disappear forever during the first half hour! And who’s going to buy the bedding and water bottles and hamster toys? Who’s going to clean the cages? Who’s going to feed the little darlings and keep the water bottles filled? Answer me that!”

Both cats looked expectantly at me. Mattie spoke up. “You and the rest of the staff do such a great job taking care of us. What’s two more little bodies? And they’ll be in one cage, not two, so easier cleanup. Buy a cool hamster cage with several levels and a ramp or two and a little house for them to sleep in and a wheel for exercise. They like empty cardboard toilet-paper rolls to chew up and make soft bedding. Oh, this sounds like so much fun for them!” 

I choked back a scream. “And that’s another thing. You want a boy hamster and a girl hamster in one cage? Do you know what that will lead to? More hamsters -- LOTS more hamsters!”

“But,” Little Debbie countered. “I’ve heard that newborn hamsters look like cute little wads of pink Play-doh. So hairless. So helpless. Hmmmm, I wonder how they taste. Maybe they could be a snack for us, plus we’d be keeping our hamster population stable at only two adults.”

“No, a thousand times no!” I shouted.

Mattie looked thoughtful for a minute, then raised her paw. “Okay. How about this idea? – we each get a kitten. You’re used to feeding cats, cleaning out the litter boxes, and following cat rules. Don’t kittens sound like fun? Awwwwwwwwww! Fun, fun, fun! We can watch them play-fight with each other!”
“What a great idea!” Little Debbie enthused. They can cuddle up in my soft fur when they take naps.”

Mattie snorted. “I don’t think so! They’ll smother between your rolls of belly fat. And you’ll probably roll over in your sleep and crush them.” Speaking of rolling, Little Debbie rolled her eyes at Mattie. Mattie rolled her eyes at Debbie. I rolled my eyes at both of them and started to get dizzy with all the rolling going on.

“So,” Mattie continued. “Let’s get back to the topic on the table. Which can we have as pets – hamsters or kittens?”

I lightly clapped my hands. “What do you think about this idea? How about if we adopt an adult male cat from the local cat shelter?”

“Oooooooooo,” the two cats responded in unison. “Yesssssssssss! Of course, he’ll have to choose us, not we choose him.”

“Well, you two won’t be able to go to the shelter with me, but I’ll take your photos along and describe your personalities.”  

“Uh oh,” Little Debbie frowned. “Be sure to take photos that show off our best features and talk about how much fun and how wonderful we are.”

“Oh, to be sure,” I smiled. “I don’t want to have to force a male cat to come home with me.”

Mattie and Little Debbie jumped off the loveseat and struck various poses in front of the full-length mirror in the dining room. “Is my butt too big?” wondered Little Debbie out loud.

“Not only is your butt too big, but your thighs and stomach are too. They should rename you ‘Thunder Thighs’. You do really need to go on a diet and play with the catnip toys Uncle Steve sent us.” Mattie pushed her out of the way and strutted back and forth in front of the mirror. “Look at how thin and sleek and shiny I am! I play with those toys for a full half hour at least twice a day – and it shows!” She stretched out on the window sill so we could admire her sleek body and shiny coat.

I decided to end this happy discussion before it trailed off into who knows what side road. "Okay. then it’s settled. Right now, we’re grieving for Dido, but…”

“Who?” interrupted Mattie and Little Debbie.   

“Dido.” I found myself again rolling my eyes. “Probably this spring, the rest of the staff and I will visit the cat shelter to see if any male cat wants us to adopt him and come live with us -- not to replace Dido but to honor her memory.”

“Whatever. Spring sounds good. That’ll give me time to lose some weight,” said Little Debbie. “Be sure to interview any orange-and-white male tabbies, since we haven’t ever had one of those living here, and any black Maine Coons like Kuro. Here are a couple of photos to help guide you in case you forget.” 


"Sure thing." I stood up. "This meeting is adjourned." 

“And oh, check out the kittens, too,” the two cats chorused.

“No! The meeting has been adjourned already, and Elvis has left the building. Time to think about supper.” 

Friday, January 15, 2016

G is for -- Goodbye.

"Hey, where is our black sista with the blurry white spots on her back," asked Mattie. She lifted up her left paw and assiduously licked both sides of it. Pausing in her washing routine, she continued, "I haven't seen her around since this morning."

Little Debbie (aka Fat Debbie) reluctantly left her dinner plate and waddled closer. "You don't know?" she hissed under her breath.

"Nope. Haven't seen her lately and was just wondering. She parades around the house like she's some kind of princess. It's such fun to hide behind the recliner and jump out as she's sashaying by and bop her on her nose. So where is she?"

Little Debbie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "She's gone."

"Whaddya mean 'gone'? Like she stupidly ran out the front door when Daniel went out to get the mail? Doesn't she realize the temps are going to drop again? She'd never survive outside when it's zero degrees. She's just skin and bones and matted fur."

Little Debbie opened her eyes and took another deep breath. "No, not gone like ran away gone. Gone-gone."

"What the heck does that mean? Oh, wait! I get it. Our human staff -- as you know, dogs have owners; cats have staff -- finally realized what a pain she is and decided to give her away."

Little Debbie waddled even closer and gave Mattie's face a gentle pat with her paw. "It's even worse than that. You remember that the staff took her to the kitty doc-doc a bunch of times a few months ago to treat that bladder stone and her constipation, right?"

"Yeah. So? She got several enemas and special food and is okay now, isn't she? She even went back to rhe kitty doc-doc a few days ago, but nobody said anything more about that."

"Some stuff got fixed but something else was wrong that the tests didn't show." Little Debbie sighed.

"Oh, c'mon. She seems to be doing just fine -- yes, she's a bit skinny and her fur is quite matted, but she's been sitting in the windows, talking to the birds and squirrels, and sleeping on her heating pad (and on MINE TOO!) and using her litter box and eating like there's no tomorrow. In fact, she's been eating OUR share of food that we've turn our noses up at and is ruining our cat-like reputation for being finicky!" Mattie exclaimed indignantly.

"Calm down," Little Debbie warned. "Cats are supposed to be calm. Back to the subject of where she is -- I heard the staff talking quietly last night."

"And ...?"

"The staff's conclusion was that, since Dido isn't gaining any weight and she's really slowing down, maybe her time has come. And she yowls now and then. Supposedly, that's a sign of confusion and old-age dementia in cats."

"Huh? 'Her time' they said? Her time for what?"

Little Debbie closed her eyes again, sighed, then opened them. "Time for Dido to cross the Rainbow Bridge. In fact, the staff took her to the kitty doc-doc for the last time this morning. The kitty doc-doc gently sent her on her way across the bridge around 11:30."

A look of horror crossed Mattie's face. "So Dido's in kitty heaven now? Wait a minute! If she's gone, who am I going to pick on?"

Tears rolled down Little Debbie's cheeks. "I didn't like her all that much either. I hissed at her when she walked past me and tried to chase her into another room. I even called her nasty names under my breath. Like you said, she acted like a princess, but she never gave us any trouble. In fact, I was even a bit jealous of the attention she got. The staff liked to cuddle with her and brush her and carry her around the house like she was a precious human newborn baby."

"Nobody's ever gonna get me to set paw on that Rainbow Bridge!" Mattie huffed

"Oh, your day will come. You're young now, but the years go by awfully fast. I'm almost 14. My days are numbered. I'll be lucky if I make it to 15. The staff mentioned the kitty doc-doc guessed that Dido was at least 14 and maybe as old as 16, but he just didn't know. And I've heard kitty heaven is a cool place."

Mattie shook her head. "Hey! I don't want to be the only cat in this house. Think positively!"

"The staff loves rescuing and adopting cats, so you won't be alone long. Maybe that'll happen before I go to kitty heaven. I wouldn't mind a cute male around here again like Thomas Jefferson or Rasputin or Kuro. Kuro was especially nice. We can only hope. Meanwhile, remember Dido with happy thoughts and try to finish your dinner every evening. Dido won't be around to finish it for you."

* * * * *

The heartbreak of pet ownership is having to someday say goodbye. Nowadays, with good genes and regular medical care/intervention, humans can live as long as 100 years, or at least into their 80s and even 90s. With good care and a safe life indoors, a cat can live to be at least 15, and maybe even into its 20s.

She was a sleek, black stray with a white patch on her belly and another under her chin plus several blurred white spots on her back, like an angel had dripped white paint on her. She started to hang around our back door in early 2010, hoping for a meal or two. We gladly obliged. And so she hung around through the spring and summer.

We discovered she had been spayed and front paws declawed, so that meant she had belonged to someone, had maybe snuck out of her house, and maybe was greatly missed. We checked with area vets and shelters, watched for newspaper notices about missing cats, and looked at flyers posted on telephone poles and in area stores. Nothing.

We decided to invite her into our house and join our family that included rescued Mattie and Little Debbie (aka Frida Kahlo), adopted-as-a kitten Rasputin, and rescued Kuro (aka Boswell). She readily and even cheerfully walked through the open back door and made herself at home. We named her Dido and sometimes called her Princess Dido because of her fastidiousness and slow, regal walk.

We didn't know how old Dido was and wished she'd had a forehead camera that we could check back to learn about her former life. We also had no idea of how long she had lived outdoors. We figured with no front claws, it hadn't been too long.

What amazed us is that she never tried to dash out the front door when it was open, but sat down and waited patiently nearby for whoever left to return, especially if that person might just happen to bring in fresh catnip from the little garden next to the driveway. And it was like she was thinking, You can't tempt me to go out there. Been there, done that! No fun at all! 

Rest in Peace, sweet Dido.
We loved you so very much and will miss you terribly! We hope to see you again when our turn comes to cross the Rainbow Bridge.